Saturday, 31 December 2011

Retro - spective

It is quite incredible to think that this time last year I was still interning for lingerie companies.  Sometimes when I am going through a bit of a tough time financially it is hard to see my successes.  But 2011 has been a year that I have actually achieved a few things, despite my reluctance to acknowledge my success.  So in true bloggers style I am looking back at what I got up to this year.

January – Mid March

Like I say, this time last year I was interning at several Lingerie companies in my desperate bid to join the rat race and actually be paid for my skills.  I truly loved interning as I became a “Professional Intern” and the companies I worked for were nothing but kind and lovely to me.  Some people have horror stories about companies treating them like slave labour and you have to sell your soul to the devil for little or no reward – but it looks excellent on your C.V (note my sarcasm).  But I had a brilliant time interning and didn’t experience any of the nastiness out there.   I felt very grown up joining the commuters on their journey to London and reading the Metro.  Even though I loved the companies I worked for and learnt a fair deal whilst there, it was still incredibly frustrating and demeaning that no one out there would pay me.

I literally woke up on a Sunday morning (I remember the exact date!) and decided enough was enough and that only I could make my own future – relying on others was not an option.  It was like a light bulb had turned on in my head and I had had the realisation that in life, if you want something badly enough, you have to make your own destiny.  And so Betty Blue’s Loungerie was dreamt up.

I was due to go on Holiday at the end of March/beginning of April so it seemed natural to break with my interning and start off on my own when I came back from holiday.  (Enter lots of brainstorming and sleepless nights, in a good way, as I was all excited and had loads and loads of ideas!)

April – end of August

When I came back from holiday I decided that my grand unveiling as a brand would be at the Goodwood Revival in Chichester.  The perfect platform and audience to launch my brand and get my name out there!  I was certainly setting myself a big challenge, although I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of that challenge at the time!!  I had products to design, fabric to source, patterns to cut, swing tags to print, a website to get up and running, a logo to design, labels to have made, press releases to write, factories to source and liaise with, money to magic up, packaging to organise, blogs to get up and running, models to find, photographers to find for the photoshoot, MUA’s to find.........I’m sure there was lots else as well but I can’t remember in the haze of productiveness!  All in time for my brand launch in mid September.

I also had the good fortune of happening upon a wonderful group of ladies who have now become my friends and lifeline.   I joined the group Wonderful Women – Minding Our Own Business or #wwmoob if you will. 

Just one of our various fun filled meetings
What won me over was that the premise that being self employed doesn’t have to be as isolating as one might think.  The reason that I had not started my business long before April 2011 was that I am 23 and I didn’t want to become housebound and isolated because I have a business to run.  I wanted to experience life without all the complications and worries of a business not to mention the financial strain.  But through #wwmoob meetings I have come to realise that I shouldn’t have worried about these things – and in hindsight these things haven’t actually bothered me so far in my business’ journey.  Silly me!!  The group has been excellent in the way that it has made me think about my future and what I want in life.   I set up my business quickly and impulsively to sort out my problem of a lack of a job; why make no money working for others making money from my skills, when I can make no money working for myself in the hopes that I one day can reap the rewards!  Anyway I didn’t think about the end goal when starting up and #wwmoob has made me think about the bigger picture.  They have helped me to set goals and to dream bigger than I would have thought about on my own.  The only thing holding me back in life is myself.


Well September rolled around quickly!  My stock skidded in by the skin of its teeth (Literally the morning Goodwood opened its gates the package from my factory with my stock was couriered in.  Then followed a few hours of frantically sewing on buttons and checking that each garment was as should be.........many swear words were uttered in the days before and it has been the one time I actually felt stressed).
The weekend went swimmingly and it was lovely to hear all the feedback from strangers and passers by.  It is much more exciting to hear positive things from strangers rather than family and friends who feel obliged to congratulate me.  It was very exciting that people actually wanted to buy my products, as they feel like children to me.  Here are a few pictures of my personal highlights of Goodwood.

Me toasting the Launch!  Rather badly posed as my head is in shadow!
Tigzy and Miss Honey Bare setting up camp, isn't her head torch awesome!!
My friend Alex and myself in our Siren Suits all snugly as the weather turned nasty
Tigzy enjoying her new Vivienne of Holloway dress :)
Alice and I enjoying the sun in true "Glamping" style


After the highs of September, October was a tricky month for me.  I had really run myself down health wise.  I also hadn’t really prepared myself all that well for the next step.  I had been gearing myself up for Goodwood and now that it had been and gone it was a little bit like “well what do I do next?!”.  #wwmoob meetings were invaluable in their advice and support and helped me to come to the conclusion of what I should do next for my business.  Basically just keep going!!  Keep designing new must have products that are different and exciting, and keep striving for world domination!  So I devised a new product that is practical and pretty.  The Marilyn Rain Bonnet

With the success of Goodwood, I was also able to order more stock in higher numbers and this meant that I could lower my retail prices a little.  Now that I had a name out there albeit small, and a customer base I had more of an idea of how much to order and which sizes were most popular.  Basically the more you make the cheaper it becomes.  I want Betty Blue’s Loungerie to be affordable to most people so this was exciting for me to be able to pass on my savings.


November was a brand expanding month for me.  I visited the Start Up Britain Exhibition at Earls Court.  As I have said before my brand was set up in haste with a whirlwind of enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm however doesn’t expand a brand and make it a household name – it certainly helps but doesn’t give you business skills.  So in an attempt to grow my business and build upon my little success I have gone back to the beginning to learn about how to optimise my business.  The exhibition itself was a little dry unless you were there for a specific reason.  I was there to learn all about how to create a public profile for my brand so I listened in to lots of talks and seminars.  There were some great speakers there sharing how they got to where they are.  And guess what people, the secret is............HARD WORK.  Quel surprise!  Sorry there are no short cuts.  But I also learnt heaps more that I couldn’t possibly impart to you – you will just have to go to the next Start Up Britain and learn yourself!  I bought a few books at this event and have read them with much intrigue over the last few weeks.  I feel all knowledgeable now and hopefully the hints and tips in these books will help me to grow my business, fingers crossed.  But I suppose what I really learnt from this exhibition is that anyone can start a business if they have the right attitude.  I had absolutely no business background whatsoever, but I have managed to start my own brand in a relatively short time and achieve a little success along the way.  So if you have an idea that is unique and you have the right oomph to make that idea an actuality, go for it!


December has been a busy old month for me.  Also in terms of sales it has been one of my best months, yay for Christmas!  I started the month with much excitement.  I signed up to win a “key” to the Cointreau Prive club.  An exclusive London night club with interiors adorned by personal items from Dita Von Teeses’ collection of costumes.  I never expected to win one of the 50 keys they were handing out, but I only went and won one!!  I never win anything so it was doubly as exciting for me.  It coincided with the Benefit Beauty Xmas Bazaar, which I had a stall at, so along I went with ReeRee Rockette and Pip Jolley.  Pip also had a stall at the Xmas Bazaar and we both enjoyed meeting lots of people who could have their make-up done as well as peruse our various wares.  Then onto the club!  It was beautifully decorated and the cocktails were scrummy.  Dita herself was there that night, but unfortunately we missed her as she was in the swanky restaurant and we were in the downstairs bar/club area.

Here is a rather bedraggled photo of me (I had lugged my heavy suitcase full of stock for the Benefit doo around London so was feeling a bit hot and bothered!) and the beautiful ReeRee Rockette.

December also saw the launch of the much anticipated Nell Robe, and didn't she do well!!

This little baby has been my bestseller to date.  I had a rush of sales of this just before Christmas, so much so in fact that the Smalls are in their last few so if you are a size Small and want to own this beauty, don’t delay as they are nearly out of stock!!  I think it must be the festive red.......or maybe the sheer sexiness of this robe (which also makes it perfect for Valentine’s Day).  Nevertheless it has helped to end my year on a high.  And I am hoping that 2012 will bring even more fun, frolics and success; even in the face of economic doom.  I am however staying positive and keeping on making my future the future I want it to be!

I hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve and thanks to everyone who has joined me on my journey so far.  Here’s to 2012!

Betty xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Easy Glamour

I was recently really inspired by a Dita Von Teese quote:

"There are no ugly women, only lazy ones"

To me this sums up my brand quite well.  I want people to look and feel like a Hollywood Starlet, without hours upon hours of primping and preening, and without compromising comfort.  So I have the outfits sorted with my brand, but something was still missing.

I am a firm believer that if you 'put your face on' it somehow prepares you better to face the world.  Just as a fab Betty Blue's Loungerie outfit can instantly make you feel a million dollars, a bit of make-up can light up your face and cover a multitude of sins thus making you feel that you are a glamorous star.  But putting on your full face can often be a time consuming task.  When you are lounging and relaxing at home, the last thing you want to do is spend hours on your appearance.

So I have developed a Pin-up Girl inspired make-up look, that can make you feel and look fab in less than 5 minutes.  I recorded it for you and here is the how to video:

So now you really don't have any excuses!  It only takes 5 or 6 minutes out of your morning and has spectacular results.  So why not give it a go!!

And of course you can get the accompanying outfits at my website for the whole look at AND to celebrate the festive season I am giving you all FREE POSTAGE.  Yes even overseas customers can get free postage :) my little Christmas prezzie to you!  But hurry it only lasts until Friday 23rd December 2011!

Lots of Love
Betty xxx

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Pudding Vodka

Christmas can be an expensive time of year.  This year especially seems difficult because of all the doom and gloom surrounding the Euro, Banks, UK government.......ect ect.  I have stopped watching the news as it is just too depressing.  I am now firmly staying in the mantra of ignorance is bliss, very much believing in positive thinking too and that 2012 will be a great year, especially for Betty Blue's Loungerie!!!

So with the depressing state of our country, I have devised a few ways to save a little money on Christmas gifts but still giving a thoughtful and meaningful present.  I love making homemade gifts for people and last year I made jam with all the free fruit from my uncle's apple trees that I collected.  This year I decided to go one step further and make more sophisticated gifts - ALCOHOL!!  Because who doesn't love a bit of festive cheer.  I will now show you how to create this brill little gift.

You will need:

1 bottle of cheap Vodka (I was a little worried about the cheapness of this Vodka as I saw a Panorama type programme about illegal Vodka making factories - fingers crossed it won't kill anyone!)
about 35g of Caster Sugar
about 150g of Mixed Dried Fruit
The zest of 1 Lemon
The zest of 1 Orange
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 Whole Cloves
Half a Grated Nutmeg
1 teaspoon of Mixed Spice

I got the above recipe from a Hairy Bikers Christmas Cookbook and I roughly halved the ingredients as I don't tend to follow recipes religiously and am not using the whole bottle of Vodka as I am also making Limoncello (recipe will be blogged about in Jan time as it needs a month or so to develop).

To start off I zested the lemon and orange into a large bowl, adding in the cinnamon stick, cloves and grating in half a nutmeg.

To that I tipped in the fruit and sugar and gave the whole thing a good mix so that all the flavours are spread out evenly.

I poured enough Vodka in to cover all of the ingredients, and a dash more for luck!

One more good mix and then I covered the bowl with cling film to stop all the flavours and vapours escaping! This then needed to go into the fridge for 3 days to make sure that all the flavours had time to seep into the Vodka.  I stirred the mixture a couple of times each day to mix everything.

Three days later and this is what I ended up with.  The sugar has all dissolved into the Vodka, the zest has lost some or all of it's yellow or orange colour and the fruit has swollen up.

To finish the gift, over a separate bowl I placed a sieve with two sheets of muslin (usually used in Jam making) over it.  I tipped the fruit and alcohol mixture into this and let the mixture sit for a while.

You can see the Vodka seeping through here.  I also gave the mixture a good squeeze to get the last drops of liquid and flavour out.  And I ended up with this:

The Vodka

The Fruity Mix
You can re use the fruity mixture for your Christmas Cake for a true Austerity Christmas!  At this stage if you are super fussy you could use a coffee filter paper to filter the Vodka once more, but this is for my Uncle's Christmas present so I figured he wouldn't know the difference!

I bought this glass bottle from Lakeland in the summer as I was going to make Sloe Gin - but I couldn't find any free Sloe's!!  So I now have used it to hold my Christmas Vodka in, and it makes the present look posher than putting the Vodka back into it's original bottle or a plastic bottle.  I used a funnel that I also use in my jam making to help pour the liquid into the bottle; but if you strain the mixture into a jug with a spout instead of a bowl, it can often make it a lot easier to pour into bottles.

And to finish I added some festive ribbon around the neck of the bottle.  I wasn't sure whether to or not, but I think I may tie a cinnamon stick to it to make it look pretty and a little tag with a message on.  I also wasn't sure whether to slice some lemons and pop half a slice into the bottle to make it decorative, but wasn't sure how to get the lemon in there!  Or maybe I could put the cinnamon stick into the many ways to decorate it, what do you think?

I hope this has inspired you to have a go at making some flavoured Vodka, it smells like Christmas and I really wished I had made extra so I can try some!!  There are also many variations you could do on this as Vodka is a great vessel for flavours.  Cranberry Vodka?  Orange Vodka?  Limoncello? I even saw a recipe in a magazine for Turkish Delight Vodka, you can literally put anything you like in it!

Lots of Love
Betty xxx

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas PARTAAAAY!

Being self employed and in a fledgling business with just little old me (and whoever I have managed to rope in to help me for free) special occasions such as Christmas can feel as if they just pass by unnoticed.  No one to bring in cake and share it with, no one to dress up and go out on the razz in novelty outfits and no one to just share the fun of different occasions with.  Maybe that is a good thing?  More cake for me and I don't have to buy presents or pay for the staff Xmas Party!!!  But it also is a little sad.  So when ReeRee Rockette announced there was going to be a Christmas Party for our little #wwmoob group, I was very excited!!!  AND we had to wear Christmas jumpers and bring a secret santa prezzie.  WIN!

So the #wwmoob Christmas Party was last night, at a brilliant bar on Shorditch High Street.  Called the Drunken Monkey, it was the perfect place for us #wwmoob's as they serve an extensive list of Cocktails and also some delicious Dim Sum.

Statutory food/drink picture
I would just like to point out not all the above drinks were mine!  The Prawn Satay was though and it was AMAZING!!!  I also had two lots of the assorted Dim Sum which was equally amazing but didn't fill me up enough - hence ordering two lots of them :)

All the usual #wwmoob's were at the party, ReeRee Rockette, Pip Jolley, Alexis of Ruff Mutts, Rosie Night Feather, Little Miss B Hats owner Ellen......the list could go on! 

So sorry Pip I know you are gonna hate me for using this pic (don't think she was even drunk at this point haha!)......but look at their amazing matching Xmas Jumpers!!!

Katies hair :), Rubyyy Jones and Miss Honey Wilde who had her wears on display if you catch my drift ;-) can't see them though in this pic booo!

As well as some #wwmoob's I hadn't seen for aaaaaages, which was really lovely to see them again!

Moi with the lovely Burnadette <----- totally can't spell her name sorry! 
And I even met some new people, from the Norwich branch of #wwmoob!  Who I sort of knew on Twitter but I didn't meet properly until last night.

The lovely @Retrochick_uk, who does have a real name but it is much easier to remember people by their twitter names!  Here she is perfectly modelling some chopsticks.

The equally lovely @Glamour_ologist, who also has a real name but meh.  She is showing us all how famous her and @Retrochick_uk are along with @Missy_Vintage  as part of the glam team at @HistoricalSouce THEY WERE IN THE PAPERS!!!!  Local paper but a paper none the less so well done ladies, one step further to the #wwmoob's taking over the world!

The last picture of the night I have for you is of Ellen and I with our Christmas jumpers on.  If there had been a contest I would have won with my Christmas jumper as it was awesome............until Ellen turned up with her hand knitted creation and out did my efforts!  Damn you Ellen!!!!!!

Hahaha nice face @Retrochick_uk :-p
Unfortunately as I don't live in London I had to leave at 10:15pm to get my train, but I had a truly lovely short while catching up with everyone, drinking yummy cocktails and eating yummy food.  It was quite an eventful train journey home as it was blowing a gale!!!  Which was slightly surreal at Crystal Palace Station sitting on my own!  Like the Apocalypse!  I also could not find anywhere open at Clapham Junction to feed my drunken hunger which made me sad, but to be honest I didn't venture too far from my platform as I didn't want to miss my train.
Hope everyone else is having a lovely festive period with their office party's, I know I enjoyed mine :)
Lots of Love
Betty xxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Benefit Xmas Bazaar

So in case you didn't know already, Betty Blue's Loungerie will be at the Benefit Xmas Bazaar in Covent Garden this Thursday!!!  Pop along to see yours truly as well as some other great brands that compliment the Benefit products perfectly.  There will be discount galore, as well as lots of festive cheer and god will :).  A rare opportunity to get 10% off all Betty Blue's loungewear, sleepwear and accessories!!  And you get to meet me so it's a win win ;-p, as well as the brilliant Jewellery designer Pip Jolley.  Please see the leaflet below for more details.

Hope to see you there :)

Lots of Love
Betty xxx

Friday, 2 December 2011

Let the Festivities Begin!

Hello everyone!!  It is officially the start of the festive season yayyyyy!  I love this time of year.  For once people seem to be nicer to eachother and everyone seems a little happier than usual.  It love the snow (although this year it could be problematic as I have a business that relys on the post), and I especially love all the food and drink that is around.  As I love this time of year so much I thought I would let you in on a few of my Christmas traditions, as to me Christmas is all about those family traditions.

It is left to me every year in the Blue's household to decorate the Christmas tree.  It is partly because others are too lazy saying that I am the "arty one" in the family, and it is partly because I am the only one who gets so excited by Christmas :).  So today I put up my Traditional Christmas Tree.

In my family we have never had a real Christmas tree.  A lot of people choose real trees as they have a certain smell of Christmas and for them it is probably their family tradition.  Well in my family our tradition is to use our much loved plastic tree.  We recently bought a new one and it is very impressive.  This is because for about 20 years we used the same plastic tree we always had, and it became very threadbare, motheaten and sparse until we really had to get a new one!  The old one had a lovely little story behind it; my Mum bought it in Miami (of all places) when she was a Trolly Dolly for British Airways.  So it reminded her of the good the old days, and in turn reminded us all of Christmas' past.  But alas it died and we now have a very big, full looking tree compared to the old one!  So to start I assembled the tree and teased out all the branches to make it look like a real tree.

I always like to put our tree in a corner against a wall or two.  This way you don't have to decorate the whole thing - I have a short attention span.  We have a lot of furniture in our living room at the moment so it has been shoved behind a sofa this year, so there is even less of the tree I have to decorate WHOOP!

The first step is to check the lights work BEFORE you put it on the tree.  Luckily they worked first time, they didn't last year!  So I wound the lights starting from the top and working all the way down to the bottom.  I then alternated tinsel of red and gold down the tree, and popped the fairy on top who each year looks a little drunk as she tends to lean to one side ever so slightly.  And then the fun can begin!  The decorations.

As with the tree, each decoration has its own story behind it and they are lovingly used every year.  Each year we add one or two new ones to the collection to replace any old knackered ones or broken ones.  Some are broken and used again each year because they are just too special and sentimental to get rid of!  I have taken a few close up of some of my favourite old decorations.

This is one of those old broken ones that is too special to get rid of.  It is made of half an egg shell that has been painted and embellished and filled with a little nativity scene.  I love it as it reminds me of the hidden treasures of a Faberge egg.  The outside which you can't see is painted and has a gorgeously Christmassy red velvet ribbon trim.  What is so lovely about it, is I have never seen anything like it in the shops nowadays, so it feels even more special.

This decoration is SO cute.  It is a tiny little book with Christmas Carols in!!  The carols are written in sheet music as well as having the lyrics, and I can remember singing my heart out when I was little reading from this little book.  I didn't attempt to sing this year, I get complaints from my dogs :)

This one I made at nursery school when I was 3 years old.  It has a little bit of tinsel in it and some jingle bells, all encased in a little pouch with a ribbon and button drawstring.

In this photo is a sausage dog decoration that my friend Alice gave to me (she also came to Goodwood with me).  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with my little sausage dogs, Frank and Tess.  I am also a big fan of novelty sausage dog items, so this was the perfect present :).  There is also a motheaten fairy charm just above and to the left of the sausage, which is broken, which was bought from Salcombe, Devon on a holiday when I was a little girl.  To the right of that and above is a much loved snowman in a box decoration.  His eye is missing but he is much loved!

This piccy has my beloved egg decoration and to the left and just below is a new decoration that I bought at a garden centre near Bournemouth when I was visiting my sister yesterday.  The garden centre had an AMAZING Christmas display, and for those of you who follow me on twitter you may have seen the pic I tweeted of an amazing Hollywood Cinema Christmas display.  Well this is where that decoration came from, so I thought I would buy it to add to the collection this year a little slice of Hollywood sparkle.  I could go on and on about all the decorations in this picture as each one has a special memory and little story attached to it.  But I won't bore you.  All that is left is for you to see the finished result.

I have to say it looks more impressive in person!  The photographs don't do it justice.  But having said that, our Christmas tree isn't about being trendy, neat, matching or themed, it is about the special memories and sentiment that this time of year brings to us.  And it's tradition!

I hope you are having fun putting up your tree and not getting the festive grump some people do!

Lots of Love
Betty xxxxxxxx

P.S.  I put antlers on one of my dogs :D made me laugh so much!!

No animals were hurt in the making of this blog - promise :)