A colourful fashion blog supporting independents & sustainable fashion in Bristol and beyond since 2011

Friday 26 February 2021

Why slow and sustainable fashion is the new influencer on the block

Hello Sunshine! It's been a long time coming and I am sooo ready for Spring with its fresh starts, a new optimism for our future selves and the end of lockdown!

I cannot wait to ditch the coats and start wearing less, which brings me neatly onto todays topic....

A few months ago I saved a post that google decided I would be interested in, and for once, I actually was interested in it but the headline just made me feel a bit, well, uncomfortable...

"Woman wears same dress for 100 days"....

It was an article supposedly bigging up slow and sustainable fashion and it did, to some extent, but, as a person who whole heartedly embraces sustainable and slow fashion, my initial thought to that headline was simply...."Ewwww!!!!". 

This type of article for slow and sustainable fashion is not, in my view, helping to promote a realistic, sustainable lifestyle. It is actually scaring people off! 

"What? I have to wear the same dress, every day, for four months to be sustainable? No, it's not for me!" 

I can understand that mindset. Even as a big sustainable supporter I also DO NOT want to wear the same dress for 100 days! I will probably wear many of my clothes more than 100 times but not in daily succession thank you very much! 

Don't get me wrong, I congratulate the woman, for the sake of slow fashion in the fight against mass consumerism, her stamina to wear that dress for 100 days is to be commended...I'm just not going to do it and it isn't giving out the positive message that sustainable and slow fashion needs to right now.

The world is slowly being woken up to the nightmares of fast fashion so we need to keep that audience captive for as long as we can, not lose them to fast fashion as soon as all the corporate high street shops are open again. 

To make matters worse, a year ago, I read a similar article in The Guardian, I think, where there were lots of reasonably enthusiastic slow fashion supporters, like myself, lumped in with the likes of this bloke who confessed to be wearing his dead Dad's pants! NO!!! THAT'S JUST TOO FAR!! 

There needs to be a limit to how we encourage and champion sustainable lifestyles without bringing in the gutter trash journalism that terrifies the general public straight back to Primark and its fast fashion safety net. 

We need to gently ask people to stop buying fast fashion and to buy less.

Clothes do wear out so it is OK to replace them but buying just because you are bored, on a lunch break or out of habit is just not acceptable anymore! 

Shaking away that view that pre-loved clothing is unpleasant whilst changing the mindset that sustainable fashion is only for the middle classes who can afford it....I feel like I am repeating myself here but....supporting sustainable fashion doesn't mean buying ethically sourced organic clothing neither does it mean you have to stop buying clothes altogether. 

We have to make slow fashion fun, unique and the biggest new influencer on social media, that everyone wants to aspire to. This is where the independent designers, vintage stores, charity shops and your existing wardrobes come in, you know what to do! Get creative and look outside that box! 

The Six Items Challenge

A year ago I was up to my neck in Labour Behind the Labels - Six Items Challenge.

I wore six items of clothing for six weeks and it was HARDCORE! I would probably lose the plot if I wore the same dress for 100 days, but I did manage six items for six weeks.  

The Six items challenge asks you to create a capsule wardrobe and limit the amount of clothes you wear in support of garment workers who are suffering as a result of fast fashion AND change your mindset on over-buying!

The challenge is happening again RIGHT NOW. It only started a week ago so why not hop on board the slow fashion train and give it a go and see how long you can last???  

It's a challenge in itself to reduce down your beloved wardrobe to only six items that will also work together as a capsule wardrobe but it's totally doable. 

My biggest tip would be to include dungarees, jumpsuits and/or dresses that can be layered up, as this offers so many outfit variations, much more than separate pieces like trousers and tops. 

The other thing to consider is the season.... In the UK cold weather and grey days can be on the regular so your fave cardigan, hoodie or light jacket will need to be included. 

Accessories are also your friend with a capsule wardrobe, nothing changes an outfit more than an amazing headscarf, big earrings or a good ol' belt, so creativity is key! You have unlimited options with accessories and they will also help relieve the 'same outfit' boredom that creeps in around the end of Week 2! 

For those of you who are terrified of the idea of the Six Items Challenge, can I reassure you that underwear, sleepwear, sports gear, work uniforms, coats, shoes and accessories ARE NOT included in your six items. This was the game-changer for me. 

Find out how I got on in my blog posts from 2020's challenge in the links below and find out all you need to know about the Six items Challenge from Labour Behind The Label



After five weeks (and a lot of ridiculous and cheesy ideas) the IGTV series that accompanies this blog, finally has a name...Drumroll please.....EMTV  - You know like as in Emma, my name.....it was obvious really wasn't it? Plus, it was given the thumbs up from my, usually over-critical, 16 year old son Lucian so it must be good! 

In my next blog post I shall be sharing how a capsule wardrobe of six items of clothing from my wardrobe can be styled up to last the whole of the Six Items Challenge and perhaps I shall even challenge myself to see how long I can last! It would be really great if you also chose six items and joined me and Labour Behind the Label in supporting slow and sustainable fashion. Let me know if you want to take part! 

I'd really love to hear any feedback about this post and anything that is mentioned within it. It would be great to hear your views and experiences.

Please give the IGTV vlog that accompanies this blog post a watch alongside the other videos in the EMTV series. 

Thank you for supporting  - Big love XX

Taking on Labour Behind The Labels Six items Challenge -Part 1

Taking on Labour Behind The Labels Six items Challenge -Part 2

Taking on Labour Behind The Labels Six items Challenge -Part 3

How to complete Labour Behind the Labels Six Items Challenge

Friday 12 February 2021

Simple ways to support independent creatives on social media

You start to follow a creative on social media, you are loving their content, their inspiring photos, fun videos and what they create and you think to yourself, 'I'm gonna buy something from them one day, I'm gonna tell them just how amazing I think they are'..,...but you just press 'like' and scroll on through your feed, dishing out likes to a selected, and often random, few...We've all done it! We are all guilty of this!

Your favourite creative has no idea how much you like their work, whether they are a maker, a musician, a hair stylist, an artist, they can't read your mind. Instead, they are creating away, oblivious, that they are making so many people happy and inspired. 

They are unsure if the content /products/ music/artworks that they are creating is exactly what their followers want (despite having hundreds, even thousands of followers) and why? 

Because so many of us don't say anything, we drop them a like and follow, what more do they want from us?

They want feedback. 

They want praise, they want support, they want to know what you like and what you don't like, this in turn helps to motivate them and inspire their creativity further. It makes them happy. 

Why would I want to help them you may ask...Well, why not? 

We are a funny old bunch the British, stiff upper lip, slagging off success with a feeling that sharing your talents is to show off and being kind to others is a sign of weakness (seriously??). 

Well, this archaic view needs to be shaken off. You are all AMAZING and everyone has the right to be amazing and to be kind to each other without being accused of either being a fake liker or a kiss-ass! 

We are all having such a crappy time of it lately that we know what we are all feeling, so kindness is so important right now. 

There are various ways to share the love, virtually and physically (in person- can you imagine?) here are a few examples.


Supporting each other via Social media

If you are following and liking creatives you are already supporting, but could you do more??

The next time a creative shares a blog post, a video or a piece of music, why not actually take the plunge and interact with it? Listen to it, watch or read it? 

Why not go even further and share it on your own social media? Will it offend your followers? Certainly not! The more we all share indie creatives work, the more people will move away from mass consumerism and appreciate independent creativity! 

This is how important it is to say more than 'like'. If you really do like what you see, give creatives a positive boost and the motivation to keep going. You gotta share the love! 

We saw lots of support over Christmas for small business, with friends and followers sharing posts and links to online shops, THIS WAS AMAZING but why stop at Christmas? Keep sharing, it doesn't have to be the same small businesses every time, do some research, find new creatives and others will follow.

The next step asks you to part with your money, of course you should only buy something because you really like it (or actually need it) but do consider small business over corporate where possible and buy their stuff! 

Sharing the indie joy with my exclusive Emotional Waterfall Buddha! 

Hitting save on instagram

A brilliant tip to remind yourself of an indie made gift that you have seen on instagram is to save the post. You may not want the item right now but having it in your saved archives is a brilliant way to remember and rediscover it at a later date.

I have been hitting save constantly since I discovered this gem. It's almost like pinterest, where I am saving all my favourite things, from inspiration to self care tips to products that I love and want to buy, either for myself or as gifts for others. It's a win, win for both customers and indie business. I love it! Try it out and let me know what you think. 

Where is the save button you ask? Bottom right, below each post, looks like a square with a triangular chunk taken out the bottom. Where are your posts saved? Click on the burger (three lines, top right) on your profile page. Now get saving! 

Sharing on Instagram Stories is so EASY!!! 

One of the simplest ways to share indie creatives posts is to share them on Instagram Stories, just click that arrow (looks like a paper aeroplane see above graphic) and share posts direct to your stories. 

I share a few stories a day mostly via my Fruit Salad platform, I am so happy with who I follow on there, everything is so inspiring, so when I get a moment I share. 

It's not on my wall, its only there for 24 hours but it lets people know that 

1) I got their back...and...

2) That I really like something and want everyone else to see it and like it too. 

That's all, its easy and I am addicted to the cute gifs!! (Cute gifs optional). 

Please do this!!!! 

Commenting is super important

One of the best things you can do that comes for free is to simply write a small comment below a creatives post, to let them know you are there and that you are enjoying their content. 

Not only does this make creatives feel all warm inside, it also ups their engagement on social media really helping them to share their amazingness and reach more people who could become their future followers, supporters and customers! This is also the same with likes, saves and shares. Well done! You've done a good thing! 

It only takes a moment but your kindness to take time to write something from the heart  - other than a few emojis - will mean the world to a creative /small business. It will stay with them a lot longer than it takes you to write it, that's for sure! 

Sharing more Indie biz love - Introducing the lovely founder of 
Carny Valley Capes,  Cat Johnson

Indies supporting Indies

As I say in the vlog that accompanies this post, I would also encourage other indies to share the love and create communities within social media. It is so important to get involved and be present, not just as a content creator but as a follower and fellow indie supporter. 

If you want to up your following and reach (reach is more important than likes these days) you need to like, comment, share and create conversations with fellow makers, who will in turn, do the same for you; offering out handy tips, share new business opportunities and may even want to collaborate or work with you. 

I promise the more you do this the more you will feel part of an online or maybe when things are back to something relatively normal, a local indie biz community. 

Sharing the love & repping my fave I am R polo earrings!

When hugs are out of the question...

When we are allowed to see each other again and hang out in social situations with OTHER PEOPLE we need to start visiting our local indie owned shops, indie pubs and eateries, buying local produce, supporting your mates band or art exhibitions in person. No excuses! Just do it! 

We are so desperate to get back out into society but are we willing to change?  Or when some normality is restored will we be back to mass consuming and corporate supporting 'just cos its easier''???

Now is the time to make the change! Changing our mindset and lifestyles, supporting small and local, not just at Christmas, but all year round! 

The other thing is to support your family, close friends and colleagues in their creative endeavours and indie businesses. 

It sounds obvious but I know from personal experience that many of the people that surround me have never read one of my blogs, listened to my radio show or even looked at my Fruit Salad website. 

I often hear this from creatives and it seems shocking but I just think we have got lazy. There is so much happening on social media that we are not checking in with the creativity that is happening around us and on our doorstep!

Your friends and family need that boost from their nearest and dearest. So check in and acknowledge their creativity and give it the attention it deserves. It may even surprise you!

Praise means the most from someone who is close to you. Your friends and family are not mind-readers but they may think you are just not interested in what they do, so speak out and share the love! 

Amazing catsuits by Burnt Soul. Credit - Burnt Soul

Being thankful

I watched a great IGTV video from Bristol catsuit queens Burnt Soul this week, who were sharing tips on starting up your own small business, after noticing so many people had done just that during lockdowns. Instead of keeping the secret of their success to themselves they shared the love. 

One thing that stood out to me and made me think - I NEED TO DO THIS  - was Burnt Soul's display board in their studio (I've not seen it but it sounds AMAZING) with positive quotes, photos and feedback from all of their customers, reminding them how loved they are and that their hard work is really appreciated. Which is especially great if you are having a down day AND everyone has those. 

Everyone should have a positivity wall!! In my opinion!

In my next blog post I shall be discussing how some 'so called' sustainable fashion articles can, despite meaning well, give out the wrong message. This headline "I wore the same dress for 100 days" didn't impact me the way it was meant to. What does it conjure up in your mind? 

As always I am really interested to hear any feedback about this post (especially as it is pretty much encourages you to give me feed back) and anything that is mentioned within it that you would like to contribute to the conversation. 

Please give the IGTV vlog that accompanies this blog post a watch too.


This week I shall be taking part in the Bristol Market online market with my slow fashion brand Fruit Salad. I am also going to be doing an Instagram live chat on Friday 12 February at 3pm with sustainable fashion designer Evie from Daines Atelier, discussing what we shall be selling at the market and sustainable fashion. 

I have an exclusive code that you can use during the 24 hour virtual market - which takes place in Bristol Markets Insta stories - alongside 30 other small business makers - from 8pm Friday until 8pm Saturday 13 February.  Type in BRISTOL at checkout to get 15% off everything in the Fruit Salad online shop

Thank you for supporting XX Big Love XX

Thursday 4 February 2021

How looking outside the box can inspire creativity

No Debutante blogger and journalist


My goodness, why is everything so hard at the moment???

I started the day so positively, I had planned today's vlog and was mentally ready to smash it! Then the first of many home distractions and interruptions happened (watch the vlog to find out some of them), right in the middle of my 'record in one take' weekly vlog! 

Despite the chaos of home-life, I really want to keep posting a weekly vlog and blog as I actually enjoy it, so I refuse to be beaten by a few home distractions! 

By the time I did finally get back to recording the vlog, I was stressed out but wired and decided to just go for it and you know what? I think I got away with it! Find the link at the end of this post and make your own mind up! 

This week's topic is actually about looking outside the box to inspire creativity, so let's ignore the lockdown home-life madness for now and get stuff done! 

A rare, calm family moment! 

Adapting to change

The main inspiration that led to this weeks topic was actually stock, or a lack of it.

For the past month I have been having problems trying to get stock (beautiful pastel beanies for Fruit Salad) in from my local suppliers due to a mix of both Brexit and covid issues. It's been super frustrating and, to be honest, as a new business, I hadn't really given a thought to how Brexit may personally affect my business. 

In hindsight, I wished I had ordered lots more beanies in, not just because of Brexit, it's also the best time of year to sell beanies so there's a little note to myself for next winter! But hey! You live and learn.

On a positive note it has actually made me reconsider other ideas that I had in the pipeline for the future of a more sustainable Fruit Salad Beanie, that may now come into plan. Which can only be a good thing! 

However, I am now also getting very low on my stockpile of pre-loved garments and fabrics that I use to create my Fruit Salad REWORK collections, despite doing a massive charity shop haul back in October.

I long to be back in the charity shops sourcing new fabrics to rework but, due to current lockdown rules, that will have to wait until at least March! 

It's time to scrape the barrel and see what I can create with what I currently have in stock, which is also pretty sustainable too! It's a challenge, but I'm up for it. 

Repurposed jewellery by Elin Horgan
Repurposed Shapes and Spheres jewellery collection
by Elin Horgan

Repurposing and Recycling

Inspired by many of the amazing designers that I interviewed in my Indies in Lockdown blog series, I have learnt that working with what you already have IS possible!

During lockdown one, I spoke to jewellery designer Elin Horgan who found herself in a similar situation. Unable to get the components she needed from her suppliers, Elin decided to challenge herself and work with the stock she already had. 

By repurposing and recycling her scrap silver, Elin created a bold and beautiful collection of one off pieces named Shapes and Spheres, a totally unique way to keep her productivity and creativity flowing through a difficult time. Which I think is just amazing and super inspiring! 

Another creative who completely smashed lockdown one and adapted to the new change to her work and homelife was artist Emotional Waterfall, who, after realising she couldn't get to her studio, ended up turning a corner of her kitchen into her new creative space. 

By embracing her new set up Emotional Waterfall (aka Jemma Burnsnell) was posting daily inspirations and creations, even encouraging us to adorn glass jars and tins (basically the recycling) with amazing prints and colours. It was truly a joy to see her latest creations pop up on instagram

These two (of many) brilliant creatives have inspired me to rethink the way I work when life throws us (an albeit massive) curveball, to not dwell on what I can't do and focus on what I can accomplish. It's actually a really exciting thought! I literally want to start creating right now! Lets get the blog finished first...

Upcycled recycling by Emotional Waterfall
Amazing upcycled tins and jars
by Emotional Waterfall

Using media outlets to share your creativity

You may not realise it but, if you used lockdown as a creative window and turned your hobby into a side-hustle or a small business you have already started to look outside the box! You are selling on your own little online platform and for many of you  - due to bricks and mortar shops not being open right now - you have created your own little shop! Well done you! 

We are not just talking about creative makers here...As a multi-disciplinary creative, I am also a musician and a DJ. The music industry has suffered so much this past year and I have (we all have) completely missed experiencing live music as performers, creators and music lovers. 

I'm also saddened that my club night Bang turns 18 years old (I know, 18!!) this month and we cannot throw a big banging party to celebrate! 

However, I am really grateful to have been able to continue sharing music that I love via my radio show - This is Radio Bang. It has been a perfect (and the only) outlet for me to continue with Bang in one guise or another. I am also hoping to do an insta live DJ set too. 

Up until now I have been reluctant to DJ (or speak) on an insta live, despite presenting my own radio show and putting on club nights, ridiculous really! It's the same with performing with my band, I will stand up in front of a crowd of people at a gig and absolutely love it.

Bang DJs by Ania Shrimpton for Nitelife Magazine
DJing at Bang and loving life 
 Photo credit Ania Shrimpton for Nitelife

So, why does an insta live performance somehow seem to expose us more? 

Well, quite frankly, it doesn't! If anything people get to see the real, completely natural, endearing and lovable you! So just do it! 

Stepping out of your comfort zone is another way to look outside of that box and try something new. I completely encourage it! 

As I've said before it's all about video on social media right now and we need to be confident to use it. Never before has there been such exposure, so pick your medium, find out what works best for you and go with it. 

Since covid hit, we have all now become experts at adapting to change so let's use this new super ability to benefit ourselves, promote and inspire creativity! 

Whether it's looking outside the box to create something new from old or stepping outside your comfort zone and performing on insta live, I really hope I have inspired you to keep your creativity flowing! It takes some muscle but I promise you it will be worth it. 

Blogger and journalist No Debutante

In my next blog post I shall be encouraging us all to Share the love! With a look into how we can support each other more, in life as well as on instagram and in business. 

I am really interested in hearing from anyone who has any tips or stories on any of the topics discussed in todays blog post, so please do get in touch, get involved and share the love! 

Watch the IGTV Vlog that goes with this blog post and covers literally everything and more in-between in 11 minutes! Have a great week x 

Friday 29 January 2021

How to create great Instagram content without the stress

Despite all the lockdown madness and home schooling I still have my blogging mojo and would like to share my ideas on instagram content creation and how to get your own mojo back; whilst battling through this tough start to 2021.

Before we move on to my content creation tips, I would like to do a quick recap on last weeks topic on the instagram algorithm. It was really great to begin to create a community where we can talk about different topics, share tips, thoughts and ideas via social media.

The insta small business community agreed that the algorithm had certainly dropped engagement around Christmas, with some indie makers noticing a drop for quite a few months previous to this; with the feeling that insta certainly did seem to support corporate business over indie sellers.

Bec Denton from Dakota Rae Dust had a really interesting theory that may also have contributed to the Christmas drop in engagement.

Bec Denton designer at Dakota Rae Dust

"I definitely noticed a drop before Christmas. My stories views AND post likes and interactions dropped right off. I put some of it down to the increase in other similar businesses all upping their social media efforts at the same time, trying to push (their) Christmas sales". Bec Denton.

Did you notice this as a indie business or maker?

For me personally, I found the competition pretty full on if I'm honest, there was certainly a hardcore of sellers doing (insta) lives and posting loads of content BUT you want to get noticed and make sales right?

Or perhaps you were a potential customer wanting to shop small but found yourself overwhelmed with the amount of indie makers popping up on insta with their Christmas gift promotions? Maybe you were bombarded with corporate ad promos? Whatever you experienced, let me know! I'm intrigued!

Thanks to Bec and every one who reached out, I think we all agreed that trying to keep up with the algorithms is exhausting with many of us feeling beaten by it! Which is, sadly, just what instagram wants! Which leads me nicely to todays topic!

Motivating yourself to create that content....

As a newbie to product based selling (with my slow fashion brand Fruit Salad) this is my first January in business. I am learning this year, I have no expectations on whether the lockdown or a 'slow January' is affecting me or not. It's certainly a quiet time for sales......tumbleweed slowly rolls past....

Yeah, everyone is skint, but makers gonna make and sellers gonna sell, well that's the plan anyway..

After talking with various indie biz mates and insta community groups, it's clear that lots of us are feeling unmotivated and uninspired with a lack of content ideas for instagram. As January (and lockdown) continues many of us are STILL not feeling it and something needs to change, we need a boost!

After offering some motivational tips to a few indie makers (who seemed to appreciate it!) I felt I had something to share on content creation.

If I'm honest, I like creating content, as does my indie maker buddy Sophie Filomena who confessed, earlier this week, to be 'obsessed' with social media announcing she 'couldn't stop' creating content! Ha! Well good for Sophie, this needs celebrating in these times!

I can't say I am personally 'obsessed' but I do enjoy creating content and planning social media promos, I am, however, aware that many people hate it and find it stressful even (close your ears Sophie) boring!

It shouldn't be that way, especially if it is for your business. You should feel proud of your products and want to share them with everyone else. Why wouldn't you want your instagram platform to be the best it could be? It is, however, a very daunting and overwhelming thing to take on if your heart (and mind) is just not in it!

I am very much aware that social media can cause stress, anxiety and effect your mental health, I certainly do not want to encourage anyone to do something that may affect their wellbeing.

We all need to get the balance right and make social media posting work for us physically - how much time you can realistically spend creating content - and mentally - finding the times you are happy to post without causing stress.

This is REALLY important!!!

Sadly, the instagram algorithm doesn't care about your wellbeing so posting consistently - even if it is just once a week - will keep your content on the insta radar and popping up on your followers/ customers (and potential new followers/customers) feeds. Consistency is key!

Here are some tips based on my own personal experiences to get you inspired to create a back up library of posts without the stress - you will need put some work in initially but we cant just get everything for free, can we?

 Sophie Filomena 'can't stop' creating content!

Look at your instagram insights

Instagram insights hold a mass of information to help you to find out which of your posts have scored the highest in reach, likes, follows etc - You may be very surprised by what you find but these are your best posts!!

Insights enable you to be able to find out your best posts for all of the above and you can refine your search to include top posts for the past week, month, year and so on.

A quick tip here is to notice your Top 9 posts (squares) for each search only. This limits the amount of research you have to do and gives you the best of the best content.

Now you have a list/ a collection of images/ videos/ stories - whatever you searched for (yes, it sounds mind blowing but you can end up collecting lots of content and information to create new content - stay with me!) so what do you do with all this content and information?

Reuse your most popular posts

That's right, you don't have to constantly create brand new posts, if your 'Top posts' are still relevant to your business you can reuse them.

Nobody is going through your content with a fine toothed comb looking for repeat posts (unless they have far too much time on their hands) and if a certain piece of content worked for you last time, there is no reason why it shouldn't work again.

I have a rule, if I can't see that post in the past few months (or three thumb scroll through my insta wall) it's fair game!

Recreate your Top 9 posts

Whether its the Top 9 posts that got the most likes in 2020 or the top 9 posts that got you the most followers in the previous month, you can recreate these posts using your latest products / designs / makes.

If your Top post is a flat lay product shot, recreate that post using your latest creations/ products.

If another top post is of one of your customers with your products ask your customers to send in new photos, maybe offer a small discount to get them involved?

Customer photos are particularly helpful for fashion businesses in the UK atm as we are currently unable to produce photo shoots of our new products due to social distancing and lockdown rules.

It's also great to see indie makers using their own products, sometimes the best (and only) models for the job are yourself and your families. Get creative and get over hiding yourself away. Be your brand and think outside of the box!

Your Top 9 posts are always changing, as you add more content and the algorithms change. You will always have a never ending supply of content to reuse or recreate! Its a win, win!

Decide how often you can post

As I mentioned earlier, you have to be realistic about when you can post and find a time that suits you both physically and mentally.

Do you have a time to post every day? Do you need to post every day? Perhaps you can shorten the amount of time you post to just week days, leaving your weekends free or maybe you only need to post once a week?

Whatever you decide works for you, be consistent. Remember those algorithms like consistency and will continue to share your content with your followers whenever you post.

It makes sense to reduce the amount of content you create if you are finding it stressful, don't beat yourself up over posting a lot, it REALLY isn't worth it.

Following my (random) insta ban with my No Debutante account (see last weeks post) I became less inclined to post every day. I noticed that my followers and likes remained consistent - they possibly even started to rise - when I started posting less content! Which was pretty awesome, but I would never have found this out without taking (albeit an involuntary) step back from insta.

Find out what works for you, experiment with your posting until you find your own groove, where your content is still being shared and your followers (and hopefully sales) will continue to rise.

Make a plan

This is actually easier than it sounds.

There are, of course, social media apps (like hootsuite) that can help you schedule a years worth of posts if you really want to but I would suggest making things as simple as possible to reduce stress and a lack of inspiration / boredom. The less pressure you put on yourself the better!

Plan your posts once a week, I always decide on my content on a Sunday afternoon, ready for the week ahead. I select my images and email them to myself (or create a folder in google drive) so I have all my content in one place, ready to post.

I am a daily insta poster for my Fruit Salad account and I post every weekday morning around 10am - I often have weekends off posting unless I am taking part in a virtual market, have an offer that I need to promote or a new make I'm desperate to share!

I usually write my content copy (the words for my post) spontaneously on the morning that I post but if you find that difficult you could also plan your copy - Another tip here is to keep your wordcount to a minimum, if you are not a wordsmith and find this stressful, hashtags can say so much sometimes!

You can still be spontaneous!

Now that you have decided where, when and how you are going to post and have that library of content waiting to be used that doesn't mean that you rule out spontaneous posting.

If you have a new creation or a life moment that you want to share, screw your scheduled post and get it out there. We wanna see it! This also means you will have a spare (scheduled) post that can now roll over to next weeks posts, giving you more content to work with!

Amazing content by Dakota Rae Dust

Do your research - which types of posts work for you?

Going back to your Top 9 posts and insta insights, it always a good idea to see which types of posts work the best for you, perhaps its reels or maybe you get high engagement on stories? IGTV may work better for you or maybe you are all about photo content. Whatever works for you keep doing it.

Take time to experiment and find out what gets you the most reach or followers and also what you enjoy doing the most. Don't go making meet the maker or information videos if you don't like talking, make a reel instead and type in your words.

Push your boundaries but don't do it so much that you feel anxious, it's your platform, do what you like with it! You don't need to create reels just because everyone else is doing it!!

A tip here is that video is getting much more engagement and reach so perhaps find new ways to make video work for you in the near future.

Practise ideas and experiment before you share. I personally am not someone who really uses or enjoys tik tok but creating reels is fun and actually pretty easy. Hmmm! Perhaps I can create another blog post on video content in the future? Let me know what you think.

Remember to use a variation of products shots, lifestyle inspired content, inspirational or information graphics, people wearing/using your products (smiley faces are always a winner) on both photos and video.

One last tip - Reshare anything you post on your wall to stories, its instant content without the effort!

Don't worry be happy!

If you find it's all getting too much, take time out and post less regularly.

Do NOT obsess over how many likes and followers you have or compare yourself to others. Do your thing and you will get to know your usual amount of likes and how often you get new followers and learn to be happy with that.

Set yourself realistic goals, this will help you to recognise progress, understand what you need to work on and give you a little boost as your business grows at its own pace.

It's your platform so don't put too much pressure on yourself and try to have fun with it. 

All of the above ideas and tips are just that, ideas and tips. Do what you can and try and make things more manageable for yourself and your indie biz!

In my next blog post I will be discussing how lockdown and Brexit may be blocking indie business stock and creativity, sharing how I have personally been affected and starting a conversation with other creatives and indie businesses. Please do get in touch if you have anything to share on this issue.

Until next week, good luck with your content creating! I hope that this post may bring some inspiration and motivation to you, even if you are a fully established content creator! If you are the latter and have any tips and ideas, please do let me know so we can share them in the next blog post and vlog.

Speaking of vlogs, watch the latest IGTV video that goes with this post

One more thing....It's the Fruit Salad Weekender this weekend (Fri 29 - Sun 31 January) where you can get 15% off everything in our online shop! Just use the code WEEKENDER21 at checkout!

Big Love x 

Wednesday 20 January 2021

What is happening to the Instagram algorithm?

How are you doing?

Feeling those lockdown-winter-January blues? It's not great is it? 

Since getting my blogging mojo back, I have started making lists about different topics I'd like to discuss in future posts. The mind-blowing conundrum of a topic that is sitting at the top of my list is...

What the hell is happening to the Instagram algorithm? 

Has anyone else noticed a big change recently? Have you experienced a drop in likes, reach or followers?

If you are a person who uses instagram as a platform to share your skills, your business and as a promotional tool, you will know that trying to keep up with instagram's ever-changing algorithm is like a full time job in itself.

The Instagram algorithm is constantly turning on you with unpredictable mood swings, it loves you one minute and showers you with gifts (followers) and then dumps you for your more expensive mate (fast fashion influencers and corporate companies) my gosh, I think the instagram algorithm is like the worst boyfriend ever! 

One minute your posts are pure gold, the next there's a drought of interactions from likes, reach and potential new followers!? Basically, you've been dumped! 

Let's set the scene.... After instagram shamelessly decided to randomly freeze my No Debutante account (and a whole load of other indie businesses, for no apparent reason) for a few weeks in September and then (equally as random) decided to reinstate my account - my instagram posts started getting a lot more likes and I was gaining followers without barely having to lift a finger, posting just once a week, if that. 

Maybe instagram had felt bad about this shameless exclusion and upped my reach...(you think insta really gives a shit about all the users its pissed off?? Hmm, wishful thinking perhaps) whatever it was those likes just kept coming.

The irony is, having that (forced) break up from instagram made me realise how much I really didn't miss posting and made me question why I was posting quite so often?  Of course, at first during my insta lockdown, I was fuming but then it was just...Meh...

To clarify, as a small business owner, I am super happy this did not happen to my Fruit Salad business account as this is currently my only outlet to my followers and potential customers. Basically, I'm in way too deep with this account! More on that in a minute...

Lately, I've been speaking to other indie makers and businesses (the insta small biz community is so supportive) and it would seem that many of us did see a drop in - mostly - insta likes over the Christmas period. 

The worst thing is that this drop happened a week or so before Christmas, just as we were all trying to make Christmas sales in, quite frankly, the best selling time of the year. Everyone was encouraging each other to shop small and locally and support indie business, it was a super positive and exciting time! Small business was thriving!

So why??? Like Boris Johnson (and the Grinch), why did the bloody algorithm have to go and trample all over our joyous Christmas (sales)???? 

I have a theory....and it is a theory...but stay with me....

Instagram changed the algorithm to support big businesses. Why? well, they already have lots of followers and can afford to buy advertising on instagram. 

Despite us indies working our asses off with our super organised Christmas posting schedules and amazing Christmas gifts and offers, we were side-lined. Instagram replaced us with a corporate team! Waaaa! 

Worst of all, this also means instagram was supporting mass consumerism and fast fashion! Aargh! Don't get me started! 

The thing is, Instagram is a big ol' corporate business, so it's no surprise that it wants to make more money. 

Let's look at what instagram has given us, for free, it's pretty great to be honest.....A platform where we can share our creations/ photos/lifestyle/ opinions/ events, meet new friends from all around the globe, create communities, sell our products, share, promote and support each other....

Why would they do all that and not want something in return?  You think Instagram is just a super kind business that just wants to spread love and joy to all for free? It sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Well, it probably is.

Once insta started supporting small business and big business alike and giving them the opportunity to use their platform with its business accounts and product links (for free), they are surely gonna want to reap some of these rewards for themselves...

How will they do it? Well, the plan is already well on its way...Firstly they have encouraged us to upload our whole lives and businesses and got us addicted to using their platform with gifts of followers and likes. 

We then started loving and depending on it so much that when they do drop the ultimatum timebomb - that we have to start paying for this service or lose all of our followers -  all of us (unless another lovely, thoughtful platform comes along) will just bend the knee and pay up. 

I know, I know, my blog posts are usually all sunshine and light, full of possibility and inspiration, but the instagram algorithm is seriously one of the most annoying and frustrating entities ever! 

In my next blog post, I am going to share tips and ideas on creating content and getting around the instagram algorithms but until then I'd love to hear your experiences and views on this and similar subjects. 

Remember this is MY THEORY, MY OPINION, it is not all fact! Although I have read many an article that says otherwise about instagram's plans. What do you think? Does it make sense? 

If you are an indie business and did notice an extensive drop in likes/engagement on instagram from the week before Christmas and are perhaps still experiencing this now, do get in touch or comment below. Maybe your engagement went up? What the hell happened? I'd like to hear from you. 

One last, POSITIVE thing I'd like to add is to help and support indie businesses (and your fave insta accounts). 

Please continue to support indie businesses every single day, by liking, commenting, saving, sharing their posts and buying their amazing creations and products! This helps boost their reach AND improves their place within the algorithm. 

The same goes for all of your fave accounts, support them and encourage them to post more content that you love! 

Whatever you do keep it indie! 

Watch my IGTV Vlog on this topic

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Independent and sustainable creativity is thriving despite the pandemic

Hello! It's been a while since I graced the pages of the No Debutante blog, following a year that has seen everyone grow and adapt to this new world, where things have certainly changed in many ways.

As a journalist who had regularly supported and written about indie business and slow fashion, I found myself wanting to say so much that it became overwhelming. As more writers and (instagram pages!) stepped forward to share the indie biz love, unconsciously, my focus began to shift.

My side hustle turned small business Fruit Salad

My side hustle and fashion brand Fruit Salad had started to grow and take on its own identity, which was amazing (especially in a pandemic) and all my spare time....

- Not that there's much of it - imagine a fast, intense photo montage here, with a superfast techno soundtrack, I hate techno but it captures the mood/chaos perfectly, of me looking after a family and working a day job and all those other side hustles in fashion, bands and radio shows

....was taken up by just wanting to create and make! So, swamped in piles of pre-loved fabrics, I found myself asking... 'Am I not a writer anymore?' 

Seriously, with a lack of writing flow and consistency and mind-blowing covid confusion,  I had started to doubt my ability and (like in everything I ever do) imposter syndrome snuck in and made me think I was no longer a writer - maybe I never had been really...despite being a Fashion editor, copywriter and JOURNALIST! (my eyes are now rolling at my own stupidity).

Yep, It's been a mad ol' time for self-doubt but I've also learnt that if I enjoy a thing and I'm kinda good at it, I can drop in and out of it as and when I like. It doesn't have to be completed NOW, NOW, NOW! It can be considered, I can slow down and actually enjoy it, without adding unnecessary anxiety and stress.

My favourite writing space at the kitchen table!

The term 'writing a blog' has also changed, with many people now pretty much writing articles on a single social media post or creating regular video content and podcasts, blogs and the written word, as it currently exists, look to become redundant!

As a journalist and blogger,  I had felt a tug of resentment against this new style of journalism but only as much as the journalists who actually studied journalism feel about an untrained indie journalist like myself, who started off with a self promoting fashion blog and a random, yet regular, fashion spread in a weddings (yes weddings!) magazine, as I stumbled blindly into journalism. 

Y'know what? It's all good. We all have something to say and we can share it however and whenever we want to. It's so exciting that we now have so many platforms and formats that we can share our ideas, thoughts and stories. It really is a time to communicate, learn and collaborate! 

There has certainly been an explosion of support for both small business and slow fashion during 2020 and into 2021, as more and more writers, instagrammers, online markets and indie businesses themselves have come together, to share the love, (well, the government doesn't give a damn does it?) which is truly amazing! 

I have, of course, felt guilty about not promoting all the other amazing indie brands out there as much as I used to, but as a multi-passionate creative, who thrives on being busy,  I have learnt to slow down in life - as many of us have had to lately -  I have got over myself and realised I can't do everything at once and that's just fine. 

Honestly, if I read myself saying this a few years back, when I started the 'you only live once do everything now' quest (for no real reason), I'd think I'd been hit by a hippy stick (quite possible in Bristol tbh!). 

I still agree that you only live once and if you like a thing, you should do a thing but perhaps try everything in moderation and take a moment to smell the flowers! (Yep, definitely hit with the hippy stick). 

Hello Dodo from the Indies in lockdown series

Looking back at my writing during the pandemic I am really proud to have shared new indie makers and brands whilst spreading the word about slow and sustainable fashion. I really love my Indies in Lockdown series where I got to speak to so many indie businesses about their experiences and learnt so much.

If anything, supporting all these amazing small businesses and interviewing so many inspiring indie makers and creatives over the years has encouraged me to bring forward a passion that has been on the back burner for a long while, giving Fruit Salad the push it deserves!!!.....Of course, I feel like an imposter fashion designer now, despite previously working as a fashion designer in industry for years!

After I had readjusted my mindset,  I got my writing mojo back and popped myself back into the journalist room on a mission to share my knowledge on sustainable and slow fashion.

In lockdown two, I was super excited to be asked to contribute to the first ever edition of The Indie Guide, an independently published magazine created by a collective of indie bloggers, sustainable fashion designers and photographers. The aim of the magazine is to support sustainability, independent creatives and small business. 

Proudly holding my copy of The Indie Guide

My excitement to be writing again went into overdrive which meant I ended up contributing two articles (once I start I cant stop) including 'My Slow Fashion Journey' and 'How to become a slow fashion supporter'. 

These are sustainable subjects that I could continuously write about, probably forever, or until I've managed to convert the whole fashion industry and all its consumers (that's the whole population no biggy) to slow down and bring an end to fast fashion. 

It was so awesome to collaborate with The Indie Guide founders and so many other indie writers and independent makers and fashion businesses to showcase how great the indie fashion/creative industry really is. 

Despite a pandemic, independent creativity is totally thriving!  

Like myself, during lockdown many creatives were given the opportunity to spend more time on their hobbies and side hustles to grow and evolve them into functioning small businesses!

We really don't need the fast fashion corporate chains and trend obsessive fashion houses anymore! How empowering and inspiring is that?

All the prints with independent accessory designer I am R

Remember, we can all support indie businesses every single day, not just by buying from them and writing articles about them but by following, liking, commenting, sharing and getting to know a whole new community of makers (instagram's a good place to start). Do your research and find your new favourite brand/artist/maker! 

I shall sign off  'the first No Debutante blog post of the year' here, full of excitement of what's to come. In an ever-changing world anything can happen and why the hell can't it be positive eh? 

So start writing, start creating, try something new or just do your thing, take your time, there really is room for everyone to get involved, you are not an imposter, you are fabulous, you CAN do this! 

Spread the joy and Big love in 2021 x

Buy a printed copy of The Indie Guide 

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