Fast fashion – the True Cost.

Good afternoon to you my fashionista friends,

A short while ago, I watched a documentary on Netflix called “The True Cost” (an absolute must watch if you are as fashion conscious as I am) and it had such a profound effect on me. I knew immediately it was something I needed to research in more detail and share with my readers. Therefore, this month we delve into the world of Fast Fashion.

(All images courtesy of google images)

I was in tears by the end of the documentary as it goes into great detail about the working conditions in textile factories in some of the most poverty stricken, third world countries in the world. Mothers can be seen bent crookedly over their sewing machines whilst their newborn babies are swaddled in a blanket at their feet, whilst others earn so little money each month they have to send their children to live with relatives in distant villages because they cannot afford to provide basic human needs for their families.

It really puts a spot light on the influence of how Fashion has evolved so dramatically even in my lifetime. The demand for ready to wear collections; seen one day on the catwalk and then available in stores the very next is now the norm – but at what cost?

I was absolutely appalled to see how in some remote regions in India, because of the harsh chemicals used to dye leathers and suedes, the local rivers which provide drinking water to its inhabitants are now heavily polluted. These areas do not have access to bottled drinking water like we in the western world take for granted, so they risk severe illness and even death by consuming it.

Or when textile workers complained to their senior management about unsafe working conditions in a factory in Dhaka which was ignored, Rana Plaza came crashing down to a pile of rubble in May 2013, killing over a thousand people albeit barely making international news channels. These companies are under such pressure to produce garments as cheap as possible, with the notion of if they refuse, the fashion houses will just find another factory to fabricate their collection even cheaper.

It really puts me into such a conundrum. I, like everyone I know will shop in high street chain stores where you know you will be getting basic items at minimal prices because frankly we all love a bargain. That feeling of buying a dress which was originally £50 but only amounted to £19.99 when you go to the checkout counter is an instant endorphin boost. I wholeheartedly admit that with the world of social media and digital technology, the ideology of being able to wear a new outfit every time you socialise with your friends is highly coveted but not sustainable at all. What with rising costs of living, bills and supporting families – many of us do not have anything extra from our salaries to purchase frivolous clothing.

I also believe however, that spending a bit more on classic, well made items ensure they really do stand the test of time. A wonderful example of this is a well worn Burberry trench coat is now one of my prized possessions after it was handed down to me by my mum. It comes out in the Spring every year and must be at least 20 years old but utterly timeless in my opinion.

I guess my passion for Fashion has predominantly come from seeing masters like Manolo Blahnik lovingly going to his factory in Italy every few months where he insists on making the sample shoe of each style himself, teaching his staff the skills and quality he brings to his brand. And Dries Van Noten ensuring all of his textile factory staff are taught how to sew couture gowns and intricate sequin work by hand as he wants his legacy of dress making to continue long after his reign in the industry has surpassed. When you learn that a standard Michael Kors bag can be made in 20 minutes whereas a Hermes Birkin can take easily 24 hours as it’s all hand made – you can fully understand how the costs can vary so dramatically.

Personally I have learned that I as one person will never be able to change the world myself by refusing to wear animal products or only choosing to buy clothing from high end designers perhaps once a year instead of for that special occasion you would like to look your best for, but by consciously thinking about where the item was made and if you really need it instead of merely wanting it – day by day you can make a difference to your own life and your loved ones around you. I believe one small act of kindness or compassion achieved by us all, will collectively make a lasting impression in the world for our future generations.

Until next time,

Keya x

An ode to Oud

Good day to you my sweetly perfumed patrons,

Just over a month into my time here in the Middle East, I felt it imperative to immerse myself in the local culture and traditions as much as possible. It is such a different way of life to my own upbringing back in the UK, but immensely interesting.

As a predominately Muslim country, I have personally witnessed many people taking part in Wudu, which is the religious ceremony of washing one’s hands, faces, feet and arms prior to prayer. Another facet to this ritual of cleanliness is scent which is what I wanted to delve into in this months post.

When you walk into any fragrance store here you are instantly subjected to an overload to the senses. Firstly you have the utter visual beauty of the glass bottles displayed on the shelves, secondly the heady scents of incense, Amber and the rich woody texture of Oud fills your nostrils and finally tracing your fingertips over the amazing tapestry of presentation boxes can easily transport you to a traditional store in a souk in Morocco or Saudi Arabia.

Auod/ Oud or agar wood as it is also known, is one of the most expensive woods in the world with an average price per kilo as QAR 40,000. The wood can be burned on its own to perfume an individuals home, or more commonly the oil from it is used as the base for many perfumes. It’s rich, powerful aroma is instantly recognisable.

With agar wood as the base note of the scent, other delights like incense, Amber, or strawberry (the list could go on) are amalgamated to form the most incredible scents. Many are unisex with women preferring the bolder hints of the masculine eau’s and the lighter, more fruity feminine fragrances are used by men subsequently.

The delightful concoctions are not just limited to our skin either with many people opting for perfumed hair sprays and body musks to ensure they all are smelling deliciously fresh and clean in the summer heat.

These fragrances are not just a wonder for our noses either, the opulent and luxurious bottle designs would not look out of place in the palace of Versailles, however we too can have our own slice of exquisiteness on our dressing tables at home.

It is utterly impossible not to walk out of an Arabian perfume shop without having a huge smile on your face and more than likely owning your own personal scent bottle also. Our senses are heightened everyday with the world around us and sometimes a certain smell can remind us of a lost loved one or transport us back to a childhood memory at the drop of a hat.

We decide everyday what outfit, lipstick colour or shoes to wear, who says our perfume choice can’t be included in our daily routine also?

Until next time,

Take care

Keya x

Otherworldly Oman

Good day to you my travel loving adventurers,

I cannot believe it has been so long since I last posted, but once again I have flown the proverbial nest and I’ve joined my partner in the Middle East in his new career opportunity which is incredibly exciting.

Within 24 hours of arriving in Qatar, we were en route to Oman for a short break. Considering I have never been to the UAE previously, it felt very jet set visiting two countries in short succession but Oman is truly breathtaking and definitely a must visit.

On our first day we hired a car for the duration of our stay (which we ended up being so grateful for in the end) and checked out the local mall for some lunch. We then headed to the port where we glimpsed lofty vessels moored in the harbour from around the world and with the incredible backdrop of mountains and ancient forts dotted all around us.

We then visited the popular souk where we were met with sense heightening smells of incense and spices in the air, mixed with visual displays of pure cashmere scarves, harem trousers and to my delight oodles and oodles of silver jewellery. I managed to find the most incredible pair of sterling silver handmade earrings which were priced on the weight of the metal not a tourist laden price – it was a lovely memento to take back with me.

On our second day we embarked on an incredible drive through the mountain ranges once again an hour and a half out of Muscat to visit Wadi Shab. After browsing the night before, must do things in Oman this tropical oasis was one of them and it certainly did not disappoint 😊 We arrived at the location and had to get a little boat to the opposite island where we had a tough 30-45 minute hike through unbelievable scenery to the fresh water lake in the depths of the mountains. We happily plunged into the freezing cold water and embarked on the series of lagoons, eventually finding ourselves in a cavern where we climbed a rope laden waterfall to yet another water wonderland. It was spectacular, a real pinch yourself moment.

During our trip we also visited the magnificent Grand Mosque where I was asked to cover my arms and head in respect of it’s religious significance. We laid our eyes on one of the largest chandeliers and woven carpets in the world. I just couldn’t believe the sheer size of that vast but intimate space.

Another must see if you get the chance and are able to get a reservation is to have dinner at the Al Bustan Palace hotel. This positively regal establishment is beautiful beyond words and I am so happy we got to experience the heartwarming local hospitality. Our table overlooked the ocean and you could hear the waves lapping the shore as we dined. Our appetites were gracefully satiated with tuna sashimi, steaks and king fish with the freshest vegetables and Parmesan dusted fries. It is making my mouth water now thinking about it.

We completed our short trip in Muscat by visiting a traditional Omani restaurant where we tried camel Biriani, shark soup and beef Tagine with fresh dates and apricots. What an unlikely but delicious combination I can assure you.

And then before we knew it, we were on our way back to Qatar and our mini break was complete but wow with so many amazing memories to take away with us. Oman it was short, but oh so sweet. It is hopefully not good bye but see you soon.

Until next time take care,

Keya x

New Year, not new YOU.

Firstly welcome to 2019 and I hope you all had an amazing festive break with your loved ones. I hope you are all feeling rested, revived and ready to tackle the New Year ahead.

I have been procrastinating for days now about writing this post because the subject matter genuinely scares the life out of me, but alas if we cannot reveal our own flaws as human beings how can we be compassionate of others?

(All images courtesy of google images)

As those close to me would know, I have spent the last six months in talking therapy for a cleanliness OCD and also to deal with internal battles from bullying and an eating disorder when I was a teenager at school. In all honesty 2018 was the toughest year I have ever faced and although there were many high moments (the most prominent being when I met the love of my life) the lows were crippling, not just for me but my support network also.

I had been the way I was for so long, that I just thought it was part of my personality -just ME. Sometimes however, it takes a defining moment or catalyst to finally say those magic words – I need help and that happened for me in the early part of last year. Once I had taken that first step however, being assigned a therapist was a lot less painstaking then I imagined, and as soon as I met mine for the first time the floodgates opened and it felt amazing to finally talk to an impartial person about my childhood and how it shaped me into the person I had become.

I know this post is not in my usual style of writing if you have been a subscriber since the beginning, but in reality, life is not all sunshine and rainbows. I also cannot sing the praises enough of the Waltham Forest Talking therapies group through the NHS as they ultimately have changed my life forever.

Approaching the end of 2018, equipped with new lessons, tools and a belief in myself for the first time made seeing in the New Year with my amazing partners family in Sunderland even more poignant for me. This was the first year in as long as I can remember, it felt right to not set a New Years resolution. I knew that I wanted to go into 2019 using my new techniques and assertiveness skills to know that I AM good enough, I have a voice and being open and honest is ALWAYS the best policy.

This has been my own personal journey but the message I would like to leave with you all is that it is OK to ask for help, it’s OK to be open about working on your own mental health, it’s OK to not have your shit together, and finally it’s OK to be selfish and say to your loved ones I need time for ME.

Whatever challenges or hardships you have faced in 2018, I wish that 2019 is a year of growth, lessons learnt put into practise, transparency with those who you love most and ultimately just living the best version of you, you can be.

I cannot wait for all of the new content, research and most of all providing thought provoking posts for you regularly this year.

Until next time, don’t worry be happy 😊

Take care

Keya x

Friend or foe?

Good afternoon to you my loyal lovelies,

Since transitioning into my 30’s, along with seeing changes in my physical appearance, energy levels and career development – one other area I have really noticed a shift in is my friendship circle. For this months post, I really wanted to delve into the complicated world of maintaining those special relationships in the modern world.

(All images courtesy of google images)

At school I wasn’t one of the “popular”, the musical or the high tech computer sets of friends but I had a core group of around eight girls and we did everything together. I still think fondly back to the first time we got into a night club (we were so excited and felt so grown up) and also heading into London in style in our own limousine after prom night. Back then you felt as if you would be friends forever although when we all started going off to different colleges or getting work placements, the group whittled down to barely a handful by the time university or full time employment came around. I am lucky enough to still have one of my very oldest friends in my life from the first week of secondary school, it’s been 21 years and she is like a sister to me still.

I am so grateful that in my 20s I was able to travel to some amazing places around the world – real bucket list destinations like Bali, the Amalfi Coast and Brazil. Also working in Africa, Houston and Norway on secondment which was incredible for life experience (and passport stamps) but not so great for maintaining those important friendships in your life.

Don’t get me wrong, with the introduction of social media and technology like Skype and WhatsApp calls it does make the world seem a little smaller when you get that all important beep on your phone from your best friends, but as I have said before on earlier posts, sometimes social media can be as much a hindrance as a help. I still find it so strange how a quick text or comment on Instagram has replaced spending hours chatting in each other’s bedrooms, or how catching up over a glass of wine can be few and far between as life just passes by so quickly.

It’s amazing how you continually meet people as an adult also who just instantly feel as though they have been there forever – forging new friendships which mesh seamlessly with the old, reminiscent of the edges of a well worn patchwork quilt. Whether that be in the work place, doing one of your favourite hobbies or at a party through a mutual friend, I really feel as women we have an invisible bond which should be uplifting not belittling each other.

It’s universally ok and an unwritten rule too whether you have children or not, that because our lives are so full and busy – we cannot possibly expect to get a response to our message or voice mail immediately like we did when our phones were constantly glued to our hands as teenagers (quite frankly a few hours to respond is commendable, but a few days more likely)

In summary I guess I am trying to say that like any relationship, friendships also take work and effort. I put my hands up completely and admit that I tend to retreat into myself when I’m sad or hurting but if you are going through a particularly tough or difficult time and you lose friends because of it, then in my view they were not very good ones to begin with. Sometimes even when we feel as though we have 10 plates spinning in the air simultaneously, a simple voice note to your best friend is enough to let them know you are thinking of them and you are there to be a supportive hand when they are ready to open up.

What with all the controversy, wars, famine, poverty and huge social issues like the sheer number of people suffering with depression, mental health issues or loneliness – even if you have one special person in your life who you know you can always turn to for advice – CHERISH them as to me, having people around you who genuinely love and respect you is worth more than any materialistic item in the world.

Until next time, take care

Keya x

Art attack.

Good day to you my creative characters,

Firstly I must apologise for my lack of blog posts recently. Life can be so busy at times and in the last few months I’ve been maid of honour at my cousins wedding in Spain, moved in with my amazing partner and also been promoted to a new job – so please forgive me for not having a chance to give you all some awesome new material.

For this months post though I wanted to talk about Art and it’s many forms. This past weekend we spent our Saturday afternoon strolling around the vintage stores in Brick Lane and there is just a plethora of street art around each corner. We stumbled upon a pop art gallery which was simply incredible.

Some of the exhibition can be seen below:-

Whether it be Street, modern, classical, theatrical, pop or anything else in between – Art really can come in so many different forms which is what I love. We all have our individual passions and things we do in our free time to unwind or relax – mine is creative writing. Putting pen to proverbial paper is so cathartic for me as I am such an introvert in my day to day life, that dreams and my imagination can take me wherever I want to go when I sit down to write.

I have a keen interest in Fashion illustration and although I am not the best yet, I still enjoy seeing the picture form under my pencil tip with each stroke and the sense of satisfaction you receive when you see the finished picture is second to none.

Have you ever thought seriously about what makes you happy? Whether it be catching up on the weeks worth of tv soaps, feeling the wind cutting through your hair and your trainers hitting the tarmac on your thrice weekly jog or reminiscing with your close friend about childhood memories over a glass of wine – try to do what makes YOU jubilant whenever you get the chance.

As 2018 is frantically coming to a conclusion once more, it makes you realise how short life really is – the washing can be done tomorrow, the medical form can be completed later – now it is time to embrace your own version of contentment.

Until next time, take care

Keya x

Balance is not just walking in stilettos.

Good morning to you my joyful jugglers of life,

I am sure if you are anything like me, from a young age it was drummed into you in magazines or on the television that you can be a woman who has it all – a high flying career, a beautiful family, a successful social life and for there to even be time to fit in an exercise class or two for good measure; I grew up wanting to be that kind of woman. For this months post however, I wanted to talk about Balance.

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(All pictures courtesy of Google images)

As a woman of 32, I currently have a career that I receive a huge sense of satisfaction from although I feel is still in its earliest throes of progression. I have a wonderful handful of true girl friends who I have grown up and evolved with. The main difference now being our wild nights together consist of sharing a bottle of wine whilst putting the world to rights over a nice meal instead of coming home at 5am in last nights party frock. I have an amazing family who support me through the best, the worst and every other period in-between who mean the world to me. And last but certainly not least, I have a partner in my life who supports me in every challenge I face, who is my rock and makes me laugh and feel loved in a way that I did not even know was possible until now. And to top it off, after receiving my Spinning Instructor certification back in 2016, I also ensure I get some exercise classes thrown in each week too with me on the microphone 🙂

With all the positive elements of my life though, I too fall into the trap of not knowing how to juggle all of these things successfully at times. Are you nodding your head whilst reading this – its OK if you are! haha.

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I often wonder to myself if one day we are unable to keep all of these proverbial balls in the air and one drops, what will actually HAPPEN? If we realize that we accidentally double booked a dinner date with a friend on the same day we already said we would go to visit your partners family – will we lose that friendship or cause an argument? The answer is usually no, but why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to appear to the outside world we have it all in order? And in all honesty if that was the outcome which came from those situations, the next question you would need to ask yourself is are you surrounding yourself with the right kind of people who deserve your love and time? Now that is a hard question to ask yourself believe me but sometimes the answer is so enlightening and empowering 🙂

Another trait of women statistically is we usually would not put ourselves forward for a new role at work unless we felt 100 percent certain we could carry out all of the tasks required whereas men tend to be more confident that they can learn the required responsibilities once already employed in the job. Why do we sometimes doubt our capabilities when we know that we are just as right for that role as our male counterpart? It all comes down to having self Confidence and Esteem. I have learnt only in the last few years that I AM good enough and even know you may not have the necessary experience in a particular industry, it will translate to another in many circumstances. Finding those commonalities will mean the sky really is the limit for you.

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I will wholeheartedly raise my hands and say that I am a perfectionist in all areas of my life and I genuinely feel like super woman when I have managed to do a days work, taught an energetic spin class, cooked a healthy dinner, put a load of washing on and still managed to enjoy a relaxing glass of wine with my loved one before bedtime – but realistically not every day is like that. Some days, my only achievement is moving from my bed to the sofa and back again but with each passing year I have learnt that doing nothing is OK too.

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Which brings me perfectly to the very subject of this post – Balance. Life will always inevitably get stressful, activity filled and chaotic which will only increase when children are thrown into the mix but as my wise parents often remind me Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you cant get all your washing done today – we have another 60 years hopefully of doing it so it really does not matter. Or if you realize with a heavy heart you haven’t seen your best friends for a month, just pick up the phone and give them a call – sometimes just hearing your voice and letting them know you are thinking about them is enough until you next can see each other for a catch up.

Life can be tough enough at times, so why add that additional pressure on yourself to try to do everything all of the time – kick back, relax and go for that impromptu dinner date or picnic in the park. The routine can wait until tomorrow 🙂

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Until next time, take care

Keya x