Wednesday, 20 March 2019

My ‘Dos & Don’ts’ For Applying For a Creative Freelance Role

A few notes on things that I (personally) think do and don’t work when applying for a creative freelance role with me...

A few months ago I put a call out on Instagram, because that’s the way we advertise for jobs these days apparently! But in all seriousness, I knew there were a whole heap of incredibly talented people following me on instagram, some of whom had already contacted me about working with/for me so it seemed the best way to do it. I was not expecting over 300 entrants for this freelance designer/illustrator role so firstly thank you if you were one of those people and by this point you will have received (or will very soon be receiving) an email to let you know if you were successful or not.

This feels like a weird thing for me to comment on because I actually know nothing about applying for jobs (apart from part time jobs like waiting on at a garden centre cafe and working at Topshop... my first ‘proper’ jobs when I was a teenager through to finishing uni) but I don’t actually know much about applying for creative/design jobs apart from what we were told at university (I studied Graphic Design at MMU). One of our briefs there was to design a brand/logo for ourselves and then create a CV/portfolio we could use when we left uni (or whilst we were still at uni). I and most of the year group HATED this project, it was horrendous, brand yourself.. how?! After loads of options I ended up just handwriting my name (haha) which I was told wouldn’t cut it and I also created a laser cut business card which was perforated in a circle with a collage of my smile in the middle and my contact details on the back, I actually quite liked it but I’m not sure anyone else did... anyway, fast forward a year or two after uni I somehow, half without realising created my own brand with me being ‘the face’ of that brand. Don’t get me wrong, there were A LOT of phone calls/emails/knocking on doors paired with a lot of hard work and doing loads of freelance work for people which I didn’t necessarily enjoy or think looked that good because it was all for different clients and didn’t feel like ‘me’ but on the side I was constantly doing my own thing and growing my own stuff in the background.

So now I’ve admitted I know nothing about CVs or applying for jobs because I made up my own job and it seems to have paid off, here’s my list of stuff I think works or doesn’t work:

  • Keep it simple. Obviously I wasn’t expecting to receive over 300 applications but that’s just little old me... imagine what big, massive companies are receiving. So, really, I don’t have time to read pages of information or your life story (sorry!) but also don’t just send a link or folder of work with no other writing/information/anything because it makes you look like a robot... find a middle ground somewhere in between.
  • Try and find a balance of informative and personal - I (personally) loved the applications that gave me actual real information about you (like the fact that you love cats and baking or whatever) because it makes you a real person. The person/people I chose had to be somebody I could get on with and have a chat with as well as being good at their job so yes do be informative and tell me about your work/what you do/have done but equally don’t try and be ‘too professional’ when it’s a company/brand/person like me I’m not a big corporate company I’m just a human writing and doodling away, drinking cups of tea and napping when things get a bit much (haha)
  • Attach your work on the email if you can - I think your work should speak for itself. Don’t send TOO much work. If you’ve got loads, possibly cut it down and only send work that’s relevant to the position your applying for or you think links in some way. Don’t send work you don’t like. And try to attach your work either via a PDF on the email (reduce the quality a little to fit it on) or via a link which has an actual hyperlink so it can just be clicked on/opened... again if we’re having to copy and paste the link ourselves and sometimes the link doesn’t work or isn’t spelt correctly then we’re unfortunately likely to just move on to the next one... there were quite a lot of links I tried to open that didn’t work. Also I wouldn’t recommend sending stuff via WeTransfer for the initial email, the links run out and it can all just get a bit messy. If you're successful or they ask to see more work then you could send via WeTransfer I think.
  • Personalise stuff - I also loved the applications that personalised their email/CV/designs etc with my name or The Happy News in some way... it shows you’ve taken time and gone to a lot of effort and also shows an understanding of me/the brand that we’re looking for.. Thank you!
  • If you don’t know the person/brand do your research, Google is a superb tool where you can find out loads of stuff about people/brands etc usually. If you get asked to do a phone interview or a meeting or trial it’s always good to have a bit of background info
  • Be passionate! It really shows when people are passionate about a job/application/brand in the same way that it reeeeallly shows if you’re not at all passionate (or bothered) about it and your mate has just tagged you in the advert and told you to apply. Don’t apply if you have no idea what you’re walking into.
  • Linking to the point above about letting your work speak for yourself,  I’ll be honest I looked at the work/website/portfolio before anything else because that’s obviously the most important thing I’m looking for and has to be right... I don’t really care much about CVs although I know they’re important to have and are good to be able to get ‘proper’ information about you but I only looked at the Cvs once I picked the shortlist of work I loved. If you’re applying for a creative job make your CV look creative too! Show off your style on the CV, I know they can be boring/necessary things but don’t think it has to just be grey and white.
  • Prove that you 'get it'. There's nothing more refreshing that when you can clearly see that somebody 'gets' the brand and more so that they understand the job role they're applying for and show knowledge and understanding of what else the job role may include (I.e. quick turnaround jobs, helping to grow a growing brand in my case)
  • Name your price. I hate this bit, even now, I just can't do it... to the point where I did a lot of stuff for free in the early days or for super cheap just because I wanted/needed the work (which I still think is okay because I learnt a lot). Say if your price is negotiable or not, be as firm as you can with it... get advice, Google! At the end of the day most of us here are creative so therefore aren't big into numbers and figures but you have to get to know to a certain degree to know what to charge for your work/time. It's absolutely okay to charge a standard rate and then drop it or do stuff for free if you want to help somebody out or do work for a charity or friend... I do that regaularly but I also have to be quite firm with costing because basically most people want everything for nothing. If you need/want the work be flexible but if you don't, stick to your price and don't budge.

Obviously, as I said in the beginning this isn't a blanket 'what to do and what not to do' but that isn't how any creative applications should work anyway in my opinion. I think the strongest applicants are the ones who adjusted (even if only ever so slightly) their application or CV/Portfolio to suit or link to the job they were applying for. Being and showing your passionate about something can go a really long way.

Keep smiling and creating,
Emily x

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Happy News by Emily Coxhead Gift Guide

I'm going to do two separate gift guides, one that shows you some of my sparkly Happy News products you might not know about and then another which will celebrate lots of lovely gift ideas, small businesses and unique things... First up is a collection of my stuff, complete with links to places you can get them all (hopefully!)

Let's go...

First up are The Happy News favourites... the things that make The Happy News what it is and have had a whole lot of love poured into them.

1. The Happy Newspaper Subscription

Up first (of course!) is The Happy Newspaper, a real (some people don't believe that bit and think it's an online thing) 32 page newspaper full of only good news. The aim of the newspaper isn't to pretend that terrible things don't happen but is a reminder that there is a whole lot of good left in the world, amazing things and people that we don't often hear about. The newspaper is advert free, minus a few promotions for charities and businesses doing amazing things... but we all want to hear about them, don't we?! It's super colourful and the whole thing is illustrated by me. It has been tried and tested from the ages of 8 months up until 100 and something years so it's pretty much suitable for any age... that was the plan, I wanted it to be as accessible to as many people as possible.

You can either buy yourself a cheeky subscription (here) which is £3.99 a quarter if you're in the UK or £7.50 if you're anywhere else OR you can buy somebody a gift subscription (here) for a whole year and they will receive a little gift card with their first issue.

You can find out more about The Happy Newspaper: here or have a look at The Happy News instagram: here

Next up are some of my favourite products that I also think would make superb gifts (if I do say so myself)... 

2. Make Someone Happy Journal

My book Make Someone Happy which was published in the USA and UK in February of this year. It is the most magic thing seeing it out in the world, being used and making a few people smile along the way. The general ethos of it all relates back to The Happy Newspaper, while no person can fix every problem, Make Someone Happy is your inspiring reminder that small, wonderful things are happening every day, and you have the power to spread joy too. For anyone who feels overwhelmed or needs a dose of kindness, this interactive pick-me-up will help you bring light to your little corner of the world, and the lives of those around you. 

It's supposed to be coloured in, drawn/written in, scribbled out, cut out etc etc... I give you prompts throughout such as:

• Find a feel-good news story from this week and tape it on the page.

• Write down the things that make you smile today. • Send a friend a care package filled with funny notes and their favourite treats.• Surprise a stranger by paying for their coffee.

It's available on: Amazon (£9.99) but there is also a page on my website: here which has links to all different places you can get it in the UK and rest of the world.

3. The Happy Jar

These little colourful things started life in 2015 in my bedroom and actually started when I was trying to find something for a friend having a rubbish time leading up to Christmas. It wasn’t going to be a happy time for either of us as our parents had split and we were basically dreading Christmas. I wanted something that would say happy Christmas without saying happy Christmas if that makes sense?! A little pick me up for the rubbish days and I couldn’t find anything anywhere. I’d done a similar thing for my Nan who was spending a lot of time on her own and I filled it full of all my favourite things about her and little happy messages. After I’d done them for a few people I decided to make some more and sell them on my Etsy shop. The Happy Jar was born! I used to make hundreds of these, each with about 25 colourful notes in each jar... they took AGES! But sold out the quickest! The messages I got from people about how they’d helped tiny amounts kept me just wanting to make more and more of them. Probably my proudest product and they still look exactly the same now as they did when I was making them in my bedroom, but now they can just be made on a much bigger scale and hopefully make a few more people smile. The jar comes inside a lovely little illustrated box so it's all ready to be gifted to somebody (or to yourself, of course!)

£7.99: Amazon/Amazon Prime (UK only currently, sorry!)

£5: What Sarah Did (I *think* she posts worldwide - I'm sure if you ask nicely she will do her best!)
£5: Calliope Gifts

4. 2019 Diary 

If you're anything like me, you like to keep your life organised... or at least try to! I'm so excited to have my first range of calendars and an A5 Diary in time for 2019, eep! Filled with my colourful illustrations/designs they'll (hopefully) help keep you going when your to-do list gets out of control.

A5 Diary: £7.69 Reading Space | £10.99 Calendar Club
Big Square calendar: £8.99 Calendar Club | £11.99 Amazon | £10 John Lewis
Slim Calendar: £6.99 Temptation Gifts | £7.99 Amazon

The rest of the products I've chosen, I'm not going to go into detail about (because there's LOADS) but all the links will be below each photo...

Unicorns and Magical Things 

Unicorn Necklace: £7.95 Thunder Egg, £7.99 Amazon Prime, £6.99 Calliope Gifts 
Unicorn Sticky Notes: £5 John Lewis, £4.99 Gift Crouch End 
Unicorn Mug: £10.50 Thunder Egg, £9.99 Amazon, £8 Gift Crouch End
Pack of Stickers: £5 John Lewis, £4.99 Gift Crouch End
Gold Plated Unicorn Necklace: £7.00 Gift Crouch End

A little bit of sunshine on a cloudy day 

Cloud Necklace: £8.99 Calliope Gifts, £9.99 Amazon, Matching photo clip: Live Spiffy
Keep Smiling Pin: £6.95 Thunder Egg, £6.99 Amazon, £5.99 Live Spiffy
Smiley Mirror: £5 What Sarah Did, £6.99 Amazon, £5 Gift Crouch End
Keep Smiling Candle: £8.99 Amazon, £
Small Canvas Tote Bag: £13 John Lewis, £11.99 Character Toy Store
Pencil Case: £8.99 Let's Make Something Beautiful, £10 John Lewis, £9 House of Fraser

To Make You Smile

Small Victories Mug: £9.99 Calliope Gifts, £9.99 Amazon
Pizza Money Purse: £5 Gift Crouch End
Llama Money Bank: £17 Thunder Egg, £14.99 Amazon
Happy Place Biscuit Tin: £9.99 Live Spiffy
Pom Pom Pen: £4 John Lewis, £3.50 House Of Fraser

Be you not them

Travel Mug: (on sale) £5.50 ASOS, £10 John Lewis
Heart Stud Earrings: £6.99 Calliope Gifts, £7.99 Amazon
Be You Not Them Large Pin: £6.95 Thunder Egg, £6.99 Amazon
I Will Not Compare Myself Mug: £9.99 Amazon, £9.99 Live Spiffy
Be You Not Them Candle: £7 Gift Crouch End, £8.99 Amazon

Chasing Rainbows

Rainbow Photo Clip: £6 What Sarah Did
Colourful Pencils with Messages on: £5.50 Gift Crouch End, £6 John Lewis
Look For Rainbows Photo Frame: £8.99 Amazon, £6.99 Live Spiffy
Look For Rainbows Mug: £9.99 Amazon
Chasing Rainbows Water Bottle: £10 John Lewis, £9.99 Gift Crouch End, £10 House Of Fraser
Chasing Rainbows 3 x Storage Pots: £5.50 (on sale) ASOS, £11 John Lewis 
Chasing Rainbows Large Pin: £6.99 Amazon, £6.95 Thunder Egg

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Results Day

Days like today are weird for various reasons, every year when it's 'results day' whether it's A-Levels, GCSE's or whatever they're calling them these days I see social media sprinkled with those reassuring words of "don't worry you don't need *insert results here*", "you can get a job no matter what your grades" etc. etc., which is all well and good and although I agree somewhat (grades are not the be-all and end-all) it's still hard to comprehend that when you're in that position and maybe even harder or more confusing when you've done your utmost to receive the grades you wanted, hoped and worked so hard for.

I can only speak from personal experience here but I was one of those students who worked their arses off when it came to revision, exams and coursework. I am creative, always have been and always will be and so I struggled massively with certain subjects (Maths especially!) and with exams/revision in general. Up until a few years ago I still had all of my GCSE revision notes because there were notepads and notepads full, all colour coordinated and decorated with gel pens and doodles in the hope that it would help me understand and remember stuff slightly better and I just couldn't part with the time and effort that had gone into them (as well as being a slight hoarder).

I used to loathe (slight exaggeration) the types of people who could just rock up to an exam with barely any revision or time spent on a certain subject and would be guaranteed a pretty decent grade when I'd be a shaky mess weighing up the amount of questions I just needed to get right to scrape a C at Maths GCSE... I guess that was their talent which I've no doubt would help them later down the line in life or in a career, my talent was drawing, writing, imagining, creating, dreaming and doing and I could never understand the school system but knew that things weren't going to change so I just had to do as best as I could even if that meant after school tuitions and meltdowns to my Mum.

The amount of time and energy I'd put in to stuff that I genuinely couldn't understand or couldn't see why or when I would ever need it is ridiculous when I think back... and no I never have needed to know about algebra or Pi and I'm sure I never ever will. I knew I *had* to go and do extra Maths tuition because I *had* to get a C grade, otherwise I *had* to take it as a subject when I went to college and would therefore forfeit one of the creative courses I was so desperate to study. I took Art and Graphic Design as my subjects in high school (you had to do 2 foreign languages, English/Maths/Science still) and I chose Religious studies as an extra option because I found the debating side of it super interesting. I put everything into all of it (apart from the languages oops, slightly regret that now but I only had so much brain space) and I, of course loved that my creative courses were mostly coursework, lovely stuff combined with a lot of time and hard work, I got *I think* 2 A*s in Art and Graphic Design and an A in Religious studies.

I scraped a C in Maths GCSE you'll be glad to hear... and guess what? If you're creative, work hard, earn a tiny bit of money and can do the very basic maths (or just use a calculator) you can hire an accountant (or ask somebody you know as I did in the early days) to deal with all the complicated Maths... who knew?! And the best bit... Maths is 'their thing' and they're really really good at their thing, like I'm pretty good at my thing and I can ask or rely on other people to do their thing really well and we all help and support each other.

It's quite a special thing when you realise everyone's not just cut from the same stencil. To have a planet full of all the colourful and important things that makes the world so great, we have to have a whole wonderful mix of different talents and passions.

I chose to study Graphic Design, Digital Photography and English Language at A-Level, although I was initially told I wouldn't be able to do this combination of subjects because it was 'too arty' (or something to that effect) but I was adamant and as I'd got A*'s in two creative courses they let it slide, with me feeling like I had to prove I could do it, again. Anyway I did, not always smoothly I must add.. The start of my time at college was flipped upside down after being dumped and losing a school friend in a horrendous car accident. I worked hard, I had fun and although it involved a hell of a lot of work I felt so much more free because I was focusing more on stuff I actually loved and could see me doing for a long time. It wasn't a straight path, college was where I started photographing my first music gigs which lead on to so many amazing opportunities and experiences, I gave up Ballet half way through college which I had been doing since I was 4... You have to make what feels like the biggest life decisions and they are at the time but they are all part of you and will never be taken away from you, you can try new things you can go back to old things and you might be taken down a totally different path but that's okay, that's what life and growing is all about.

I know, from talking to some friends that this isn't always normal, although I hate the term 'lucky' (I think you make your own luck) I do feel lucky that I found 'my thing' SO early on in my life and I wasn't going to stop running with it (felt tips and paper wedged firmly under my arm) until I'd reached the highest mountains. But saying all of that I still had to work hard and prove others wrong, take criticism and knock backs, find my own style and actually, eventually quite simply believe I could do this thing for a job... I could actually make my own job. I had no idea I'd be doing what I'm doing today, I knew I always wanted to do something creative but never in all my tiny dreams did I think I would tick all of the insane boxes I have ticked.

My Mum and Dad always brought me and my brother up to believe we could do anything we wanted, (although even they probably had their doubts at times) we could do what made us happy if we worked hard enough at it and we could carve our own way in the world and that's just what we're doing.

Try to find 'your thing' but know that that 'thing' could be a whole heap of different things that change slightly from time to time, and that's absolutely fine and actually quite necessary if you ask me.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Graduating and stuff

Hii you,

I wanted to talk a little bit about life after graduation/education and whatever else I chose to ramble on about here, but I basically want to shed a bit of truth and light on what can be a weird time... something that I wasn't prepared for and something nobody seemed to talk about just before we left uni.

I graduated FOUR years ago, in lots of ways it feels like it was a couple of months ago but at the same time it feels like it's been about 15 years but either way you shouldn't compare your timescales to anybody else's. I recently read a wonderful thing that Holly Tucker posted (see here) about everybody working to their own time zone and it's SO true. I had no idea what was going to happen after uni and certainly couldn't have prepared myself for everything that has happened, sometimes these things are spoken about as if they did, just that, they just happened... but it gives such a distorted view on the whole thing and it's not surprising people are left questioning why or how have they got to (x) and why haven't I?! The truth is, even with me... no matter how much I try to show and talk about the 'real' side of setting up and running your own business, you're never going to actually get a totally transparent and exact understanding of everything. Instagram and the likes makes it very easy to compare, as we know! But it also makes it very easy to judge and come up with our own idea of how a person got to a certain place or position... you can never stop people doing this but you can continue to be true to yourself and stay in your own lane kicking butts all over the place to make those dreams a reality.

I recently spoke on my instagram about a funny (I can laugh about it now) little story that I was reminded of when a guy I went to uni with messaged me on instagram, he now lives in Sydney but when he was back in the UK recently he bought one of my greeting cards for his Grandma and in his message he said "I still remember the day the tutors gave you shit feedback for your beautiful illustrations for the travel book brief at uni - and just look at you now!"... I didn't know anybody else had recognised it at the time apart from one of my best friends but I will never forget doing this brief at uni, in 2nd year I think, we had to design our own 'travel journals' and it was like the dream brief for me so I spent ages scrapbooking, researching, doodling, scanning stuff in, handwriting everything and making them into a series of little interactive travel books... only for one of the tutors (I won't name names, I think they meant well!) to slate it in front of the whole year group. I'll never forget how that felt. Anyway... me and my silly little scribbles got a book deal with Penguin Random House a few years later as well as all the other mental stuff that has happened since. When you get knocked back, even humiliated as difficult as it can be sometimes you must get back up and carry on... quietly but OH so determined. You'll get there. Promise.

I have never spoken about this story before apart from to my boyfriend and parents at the time when it really got to me, along with many other moments... We were asked to design some Penguin book covers for a new series of Wind In The Willows stories (again, dream brief) and again was pulled up in front of the whole year for handwriting the title... no idea why but anyway. I guess I've never thought to talk about these because I didn't think they'd changed anything but I'm sure deep down they did, I'm sure they made me stronger, more determined and able to handle rejection/receive criticism better... trust me you need a bit of all of this if you're wanting to work in any kind of creative industry. I don't hold any of this against said tutor, like I say I'm sure it actually helped me more than anything and they do like to test you to make sure you're not going to crumble in the 'real world' but I do think it's important to talk about these moments more...

Yes people have really disliked my work. No I haven't got every job I wanted. Yes I have been knocked back MANY many times. Yes I did do loads of freelance work after graduating which I never showed anybody I just had to do it so I had a few pennines. Yes I've made mistakes. Yes I've cried when I've been told my work isn't working. No things haven't gone smoothly. Yes I have ignored phone calls because I've been too scared to answer. Yes I emailed a million different people after graduating. Yes I did commissioned work for every friend/family/stranger I could in the meantime. Yes I knocked on many shop doors and asked if they'd like to stock my greeting cards. No they didn't all want to sell them (shock). Yes only about 4 shops wanted to sell them. No I didn't let that stop me. Yes I contacted Paperchase directly. Yes I stayed up until 6am every night designing more cards and products. Yes I spent every bit of money I had on printing new cards and products. No I didn't know if people were going to buy them. Yes I did craft stalls in the freezing cold. No I didn't get a first in my degree. Yes I got 1 point something mark off a first. No I've never got over that. No I had no idea how to set up my own business. Yes I went to some awful 'business workshops' in my local town. Yes I got rejected by people/companies. Yes somebody eventually read and replied to my email. YES they 'got it'. Yes they wanted to meet me. Yes I freaked out. No I didn't believe it. Yes I worked harder than ever before. No I didn't go out or socialise much. No I probably didn't sleep enough. No I definitely didn't go on holiday. Yes I was battling my own problems at home. Yes my work often helped me. Yes it was sometimes very difficult to put on a smile at a meeting or phone call. Yes I shared all the good bits on social media. No I didn't tell even some of my closest friends how I was feeling. No even my boyfriend didn't see some of the upset and meltdowns. Yes I kept drawing, scribbling and writing. Yes I set up my own business aged 22. No I still have no idea what I'm doing. Yes I still have meltdowns. Yes I worry and panic. No the feedback and responses aren't always positive. Yes I still let them bother me at times. No I haven't been lucky. Yes I have felt lucky but oh my I have worked bloody hard for it.

This is for anybody freaking out that they don't know what they're doing after graduation, or just generally in life... please don't worry. None of us do.

It's absolutely okay to not be entirely sure what you want to do or what you want to 'be' even though we're expected, from a very young age to be able to answer that question. It's okay and absolutely necessary (in my humble opinion) to do or be lots of different things and find what works for you. It's okay to do something which is in no way related to the degree you studied or have graduated in. Things change in our lives and that's the whole point of growing and learning. Your time at Univeristy will never be wasted because it gives you so much more than a piece of paper with a grade on.

My whole world was flipped upside down right after I graduated, my Mum left my Dad suddenly after being together for nearly 30 years. It's a weird time anyway but it was made so much more difficult. Being at home was hard, getting out of bed and to job interviews was almost impossible, emails were easier. Whilst going to business workshops and business meetings at my bank and other boring/important stuff I'd never considered I focussed on the stuff that made me happy above anything else, I wrote words of comfort to myself and others, I enjoyed writing again, I scribbled illustrations and enjoyed drawing again (education can almost make you forget the good stuff and why you chose that course or passion sometimes... so I went back to basics, quite literally). It's mad that I can do all of this for a living, it just keeps growing and growing and I can't quite keep up some days. What has happened, especially over the past 12 months has blown my tiny mind in all the best possible ways, I can't believe I got a book deal with penguin, or my cards in Paperchase and Clintons or my products in John Lewis. Dreams actually do come true... but it takes a lot work.

Being a freelance (this is what I called myself for the few years after graduating) is terrifying and magic in equal measure. There has been the highest highs and the lowest lows but they have shaped me and what I have created for the better I think. The past 4 years have felt like the unknown the majority of the time, like nothing's definitive and a bit of a waiting game... only recently have I been able to have even a tiny idea of what my career/future may look like but I'm so flippin' proud that I've been able to create that and shape it to what it is now and what it's going to become.

Keep smiling and dreaming,
Emily x

Tuesday, 17 July 2018



Quite a few people have asked where we stayed in St.Ives and Dorset so I thought this would be the best/easiest way to share photos/links/info with you.

Niall surprised me on my birthday (in Feb) that we were going to St.Ives in July (my favourite place in the world). We went every year as a family from the moment I was born pretty much and it will forever have a special place in my heart (Niall knew this... hence why he chose that as the place to propose to me eeeeeep!), there's just something about the sun, sand, sea and way of life down there which feels important and necessary to top up on whenever I can, it really does feel like home from home and is full of the happiest of memories.

Around the same time we received the invite for one of my best friends weddings, which was going to be in Dorset (about 3 hours from St.Ives and on the way was Niall's brother so we were able to nip in and see them too which was super lovely). So, basically without hesitation I got on Air BnB and booked an extra 3 nights in St.Ives and 2 nights in Dorset near the wedding.

a photo I took on arrival 

1. Ten Ocean View

The place Niall had already booked was a B&B near the Tate Modern in St.Ives, I've never stayed at this end of the beach (we always used to stay in St.Nicholas Court as a family) but it was still a good location for the beach, apart from the world biggest and steepest hill we had to walk up and down at least once a day (it kept us fit anyway that's for sure!). The B&B was called Ten Ocean View ( and had THE most beautiful view of my favourite beach, Porthmeor. This place was lovely, obviously with it being a B&B we got breakfast every morning (apart from when we had a lie in) which was up to 9.15am I think (don't quote me on that)... I usually just have the whole cereal/fruit/croissant/toast situation (although I do love a bacon butty) but Niall would normally have a full English breakfast or at least a bit of bacon/sausage which they didn't have, it was very egg/salmon based which was probably our only negative about it but we went for breakfast at Porthmeor beach cafe one morning and Niall had a full English and I had pancakes mmmm. The lady who ran the B&B was superrr lovely, she even put some balloons on our door when she found out we'd just got engaged!


2. Harbour One Cottage

This was the place I booked for a few extra nights through Airbnb and we loved it! Sam was such an amazing host, she properly made us laugh and made us feel at home (although made sure we didn't feel like we were "living with our parents" haha she did wash Niall's boxers for him though because of course he didn't take enough for the whole trip). We could come and go as we pleased, most nights ending up being late nights on the beach or eating/drinking on the harbour. The location was amazing, so great for getting to the beach during the day and harbour/town in the day and night. We managed to park on the island (almost involved a woman fighting me for a space but we got there) which was pretty cheap, about £24 for the whole time we were there I think?! (you'd have to spend more than that for one night parking in Manchester). We were able to drop our beach stuff/wetsuits off at the car on our way back to the cottage every night which was handy as the cottage is a proper Cornish cottage, super tiny and wonky but so lovely and quirky. Sam couldn't have been any kinder or welcoming, we chatted lots and she even gave me a facial on the final day (for just £20) which left my face silky smooth and lovely in time for the wedding. We would highly recommend and will definitely be going back there at some point.


The final place we stayed for the wedding wasn't near St.Ives we just tied it in with our holiday because it made way more sense than driving up and back down again after a few days. We loved this little place though and definitely want to go back and actually appreciate it more, because we had the wedding (we should've probably booked an extra day after the wedding) we basically just used it as a sleeping place which felt like a real shame because it was so beautiful and quirky. We had stopped off in Plymouth on the way to the hut to see Niall's brother and family so when we arrived at the hut it was pitched black, you drive up a farm track to get there and parked up in the barn... it felt like the most magic adventure when we arrived as we saw the little path behind a chicken coop with the hut lit up like something out of a Roald Dahl story at the end of the path. We got in and were greeted by so many lovely little touches... Homemade scones and bread, pots of homemade granola for the morning with a choice of fruit, glass bottled milk, freshly laid eggs from the farm and a vase of sunflowers to name a few of them! There was a little notepad next to the bed that you could leave a review and a doodle in, which I will definitely make sure I have time to do next time. And then when we woke up in the morning it was the most gorgeous view and SO peaceful sat having our breakfast on the picnic bench. We basically loved it and will definitely go back and appreciate it more and recommend to anyone else who will listen! It's the sort of place you could go for a peaceful break and cut off from everything and anything else and just eat nice food and drink lovely things to your hearts content.

Oh and a couple of people asked where the wedding venue was, which was about a 20 minute drive from the hut... so here you go.

Places I recommend in St.Ives:

  • Porthmeor beach cafe - we had breakfast here one morning, ice creams here a couple of afternoons (downstairs in the beach bit) and dinner one evening on the roof, we had tapas and the view of the beach/sunset was just magic.
  • The Rum & Crab Shack - I love a bit of rum and a bit of crab so this place was ideal. We shared the Jambalaya and ribs... they were amazing. And then we had a lot of cocktails and sangria... 
  • Porthgwidden Beach Cafe - Always amazing for the many years we've been, we got dressed up and went the night after we got engaged and sat on the terrace and had fish & Chips and more sangria. Would recommend booking this place as it's quite tiny and gets booked up.
  • Balancing Eel - in my humble opinion this is the best chippy in St.Ives, although we didn't go this year because we had fish and chips twice (once in Porthgwidden and then once because it was all that was open on the harbour, basically all the food places shut at 9pm FYI!). Near the sloop car park just off the harbour, you go up some steps to get to it. 
  • Emjems - If, like me, you love jewellery, crystals, fossils and stuff get yourself to EmJems, the loveliest little gem shop I always make sure to visit when I'm down.
  • Magpie & London - a lovely new little shop in St.Ives who stock The Happy Newspaper on their website. Charlotte who owns it is absolutely gorgeous and lovely. 
  • The Cornish Bakehouse - they do one of if not the best Cornish pasty (51 Fore St)
  • Arcade on the harbour - get yourself a slush puppy and/or some candy floss and go and pretend your 8 again, don't forget your 2ps. (you can just get change in there so don't worry about that haha)
  • 33 Fore Street (called Hudson St.Ives I think!!) - Lovely little gift shop if you want to get yourself or somebody a little gift on your jollies, we got our niece/nephew to be a little elephant teddy from there and also a hanging seagull carrying a cone of chips which I just couldn't leave behind and he got a lotttt of attention on Instagram when I posted a boomerang of it haha.
  • Olives Cafe - superrrr cute for lunch, I had a ham and chutney salad, Niall had a tuna butty I think.
  • Cream tea - I can't remember what it's called but there's a little cafe on the Harbour at the far end (near the deckchairs you can rent out) ... We had THE best scone we've ever had there... honestly so good.
  • Walk to Zennor - or just walk along the coastal path to the end of the rocks (see pictures below)
  • BBQ on the beach - ALWAYS. At least once. (or take away on the beach) Get a disposable BBQ from the Co Op in town or from Norway stores (oldest shop in St.Ives apparently!!) - If you really want to push the boat our (lol) make yourself a little camp fire and toast some marshmallows... but make sure you dispose of the fire properly afterwards, bucket of sea water and covered over in sand after most of the remains have disappeared does the trick.

I could list stuff forever but those are a few places/things we like to do.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Dear 16-year-old Em

Dear 16-year-old Em,

We’ve still got a lot to learn, but here are a few things that 25-year-old me would like to say to you (*sings* but I don’t know howwwwwww)… 

Never stop laughing, you might get sent out of class for laughing at times but when you read your yearbook you’ll realise that most teachers and classmates will comment on your infectious smile and laugh more than anything else. You’ll even win the ‘Biggest Grin’ when you leave school in a few months. I wish I could tell tiny Em that her worst feature, her “big teeth” will end up being her favourite (you grow into them!). Your smile may also play a teeny tiny part in you setting up your own business (oh yeah, by the way, you set up your own business 6 years from now?!). 

Happiness is more important than any grade you could get but do keep working hard to achieve the best you can, they won’t be that important, but I know you wouldn’t have it any other way. At every stage of your education you’ll feel like you’re being held back but ohh boy do you prove them wrong, I think the doubt from others actually strengthens your determination so just keep doing you… It’s such a cliché but hard work really does pay off. Please remember to rest and have some ‘me time’ as often as you need though, spoiler alert: you need it often! Focus on the stuff you’re passionate about, keep drawing, writing and taking photos… you are going to have the BEST opportunities with all of these, but I won’t ruin the surprises.

I could warn you about all the good and bad things that are going to happen, as there will be a whole bunch, but you need to experience all of these to shape the person you are now, writing this letter, and the person you’re going to become. Surround yourself with good people… those who bring out the best in you but please know that not everybody stays in your life and although hard to comprehend, it’s sometimes necessary. You may lose a friend who you thought would be by your side forever but never forget the memories and laughs you had, please thank her for me. 

Listen to your Mum, she gets it… and you. Your family will guide you and help push you to achieve your dreams and shape you to become the strong, independent but very sensitive soul that you are. Your sensitivity will be used against you… but never ever lose it, do you hear me?! It makes you, you. You’ll be told you’re different… that’s definitely a good thing. Don’t try and fit in, but you’ll realise that for yourself. Your broken heart will be fixed, it takes a little while but it’s important you just trust me on this one. You might not realise it or be bothered right now… I know you’re not overly affectionate or always great at showing it (that changes), but you are SO loved, whenever you feel a little lost you must remember that and remind those you love as often as you can too. Stay true to yourself and hold on to that childlike sense of wonder and adventure, we could all do with a bit more of that every now and then.

Lots and lots of love from Em x

P.s. your curly hair is amazing, don’t let anyone tell you any different and keep wearing odd socks, always.

Universal asked me to write a letter to my 16-year-old self to celebrate the DVD release of Ladybird, looking at teenage relationships with family and friends and what I’d want to say to myself about growing up and finding myself in this funny old world. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Let's talk about Imperfections

I try and talk about this stuff quite reguarly through some of my bits of design work... 'be you not them', 'I will not compare myself to a stranger on instagram' being two of my most shared pieces of work to date. I've gained a few followers recently, you see... for various different reasons and although that could be seen as daunting and off-putting at times, I don't feel the pressure to conform or to change me and I think it's super important that I keep talking about the stuff that affects us... every single one of us.

The majority of my following is female, 92% to be exact! So if I can share just a tiny bit of 'reality' to just a few of these people then I'll keep going on about it for as long as I can. I would want younger me (if growing up in this weird world) to have that person and the same for my little cousins or my new tiny niece... Being different is a good thing, being you is an even better thing. This is something that I'm grateful my Mum ingrained in me from a young age.

With Love Island starting last night in the UK (if you don't know, it's a reality TV show where people go to find love... basically that's what it's supposed to be in a nutshell) as well as the constant social media conversation and battle we all seem to have with ourselves and others I thought this would be a good time to remind you that what you see on Love Island (or any TV/film/magazine for that matter) and most of what you see on Instagram is quite simply, not real. 

The same goes for men... I think, the fact that us girls are feeling the pressure in this world must mean that it's having an affect on the males in the world too. Are they seeing the same filtered crap we're seeing and expecting to find that in real life, do they compare themselves to other males online like us females do and feel the pressure from the media to have a super toned body?! I'm going to ask all of these questions to some of my best male pals and report back!

There's a huge difference between having standards and having unrealistic expectations.

I can't emphasise that enough and it's becoming a huge problem, especially in young girls growing up in this world thinking that the likes of *insert unrealistic, filtered celebrity here* are "hashtag goals".

If you follow me on instagram you'll know that these days I'm constantly on my instagram story with no make-up on, hair hasn't been washed for four days and I've been wearing the same jumper for a whole week... So therefore, the photo above might not seem like much to most people, but I would never normally post a photo of this side of my face (I never normally take selfies to be fair, I don't know how people do it). I have three moles on this side of my face which I used to hate when I was younger (also the word 'mole' is hideous isn't it?) but I quickly realised nobody else was bothered by them so why should I be? I still think the one between my nose/mouth is ugly at times but we all have those moments and you can't really see it when I smile big enough which is a bonus. 

The second thing on this side of my face is a (sort of) birthmark... I say sort of because my Mum and Dad seem to think it wasn't there when I was born and when I was little my Dad used to say it's where he kissed me when I was tiny... So I thought it was a bit of a superpower for quite some time haha. You can almost always see it, even through make up... I don't wear much make up and I used to try and cover it up but it never worked so I just don't bother anymore. Whereas nobody (as far as I can remember) has ever commented on my moles, LOADS of people comment on this little mark... from people I've known for years who somehow have never noticed it to random strangers who have tried to wipe it off thinking it's lipstick?! (note to everyone... don't do that, there's only so many times I can laugh at that haha). So, yeah... That might not seem like much of a big deal to anyone else and it's not something that bothers me too much or I focus on but it's just one of those things, it makes me... me and actually... that's quite magic.

We're all different, we all have imperfections... embrace that shit. Slightly pimply skin n' all...

     I don't think I saw a single stretch mark or pimple on Love Island last night, maybe they had just hidden them really well because I don't know of any women in my life who don't have stretch marks, pimples or cellulite of some sort. Again, when I was a teenager I decided I need to try every cream and oil going to get rid of them, none of them worked and after a little while I realised there was more important things I could probably focus on. 

I was a dancer for 13 years growing up, ballet/tap... and all that jazz... and when I look back at photos of me aged 16 I did NOT realise how incredible my legs looked and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want my legs to still look like that now... BUT, I was dancing two, sometimes three times a week... I didn't have a business to run or much of a life to keep on top up, I basically had no worries apart from school/college work which was the reason I ended up having to stop... I had to decide whether I was seriously going to become a professional dancer (can you imagine?!) or whether I was more likely to go down the art/design/photography/writing side of things which I was studying at college at the time. 

Our bodies grow and change shape, my weight has stayed prettyyyyy even so far throughout my life but after I finished dancing (aged 18) I suddenly got hips and a bum and boobs and hey-presto... stretchies! (I like to give them a nickname, it makes them less scary). But seriously, please remember that your body is a reflection of you and your life, I'd rather have a little bit of a roly tummy but be able to eat biscuits whenever I fancy or get a take-away after a tough week. Everyone has a different story, you may have lost weight you may have gained weight, you may have had a baby or you might have had to have an operation... all of these things make us who we are and we should never try to hide them and definitely shouldn't be ashamed of them.

You are incredible just as you are. Don't let any instagram feed or TV show tell you any different.

Yes you can put filters on your photos, yes you can watch Love Island or whatever trashy TV you want to watch... Literally do whatever the hell you want but just everything in moderation. Notice the effect it has on you, if it's negative for whatever reason, unfollow the person, take a break from social media, turn the TV over or just do something that makes you happy... "Comparison is the thief of joy" and it couldn't be any more relevant to the world we're living in.

side note: I just want to add, I'm SURE the people on Love Island and wherever else have worked super hard to get their bodies looking like that... not always, sometimes it is filters and editing and even surgery but I'm not taking away from any effort they've clearly put in to looking that way ... It's just clearly not a reflection of what *most* people look like.