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Saturday, January 24, 2015

over to you & the questions you asked me

Earlier this week (or perhaps late last week) I reached out to you all – asking if there were any questions you might want answered. I tend to take the reigns when it comes to what I share here, so it was about time I put you in charge instead. And what good questions you asked, I tried to answer as best as I could, but some warranted far bigger responses than I anticipated.So,here it goes!

what were you like as a kid? any funny stories?

I was shy, hiding beneath a monobrow and a stack of books I carried everywhere. I wore men’s shoes and studied vigorously at school – a true nerd. We were given the option to wear trousers or a skirt as part of our school uniform. Most girls chose skirts so short they were scolded, or skin-tight pants. Me? I bought the boy’s baggy slacks! Cool kids didn’t like me but I was too distracted by Jane Austen to notice all that much. I enjoyed collecting stickers way past the acceptable age for a girl to own a ‘sticker book’ (remember those?!) and me and my other weirdo friends (all incredibly successful ladies now) would buy scrapbook after scrapbook, filling them up with clippings from magazines, drawings and hyperbolical musings on what life was like. I didn’t kiss a boy until I was 16, boys barely looked at me and the ones that did I had absolutely no interest in kissing. I spent my lunch breaks eating apples in the library, talking to the librarian, trying to up the limit on how many books I was allowed to take home. When I was about 13, my mother took me shopping for a training bra one weekend. Monday morning going to school, I had it strapped on, but it was so uncomfortable, I had to get it off me. So I rushed to the bathroom between classes, tore it off my body and stuffed it in my backpack. Somehow my poor little bra managed to fall onto the break room floor, all the kids were pointing at it and laughing, hysterically. Being the only one I had and knowing my Mom would be mad if I came home without it, I whispered to my friend that it was mine. She pointed at me and yelled, ‘IT’S AUDREY’S’ – the room exploded into a cackle, so loud and so embarrasing, I was determined never to come back to school. I skulked over, picked it up and to this day, I still hate wearing bras.

Do you regret university? is there anything/anywhere else that with the benefit of hindsight, you would have liked to study?

Being academically successful at school meant my teachers were my friends, and like any friend, they wanted the best for me. I wanted to go to London College of Fashion, but they encouraged me to head somewhere more classical, and after a failed attempt at Oxford (during my interview, I nervously burst out laughing at the professor’s Donald Duck tie, which was slung all the way around his neck) I ended up at Durham University studying English Literature. Now, Durham is a beautiful, charming town – and in many ways the perfect place for a naive girl growing up between the mountains and the sea to go. But, really it just wasn’t for me. My degree lacked the creativity I thought it would offer – and I didn’t quite understand why everyone had gone to boarding school and wore ugg boots. In hindsight, I would have been better off applying to Central Saint Martins or perhaps American University of Paris, and coincidentally, if I had, I would have met so many of my best friends far before I did. In terms of degrees, I would have been better off studying something a little less academic and more practical, such as Web Design or Creative Writing or Videography, – these are the sorts of skills that I could turn into money now.

If you had to pick another job apart from blogging, what would you envision yourself doing?

Blogging incorporates all of the things I love most, photography, styling, writing… and that’s why I love it as much as I do. But if I wasn’t blogging, I’d probably be a journalist of some sort – all my life I have loved words, I have always devoured books and from a young age I started writing. I even wrote half a novel when I was fifteen, a very sloppy attempt, but an attempt all the same. At high school I launched a newspaper called ‘The Girl’s Galaxy’ and I’d print hundreds of copies on the laserjet printer I got for my birthday and would give them out to everyone at school. Columns included school gossip, amateur editorial spreads featuring primarily Claires’ Accessories as well as photos of cute celebrities. It was riveting stuff! So yes, I’d say a writer/journalist – I love reading and while I do adore photography too, words have always been my first love.

Could you talk more about your equipment and how you edit your photos to get the look you like?

I have a Canon 5D Mark II and I use a 50 mm 1.4 Canon lense for all my Frassy photos. Usually I hire girls to take the photos, I set up the shot/camera settings and then they click away while I jump around. In terms of editing,  I always use Adobe Photoshop – and it’s software that I am endlessly learning, even now, after years of using it. I tend to always brighten my images and maybe sharpen them a little too – I like to change some of the background colours so that they compliment what I’m wearing. I never use flash of any kind – almost always preferring natural light.

What is your perfect evening? What is the most special place for you in Paris?

My perfect evening is an easy choice, a flashback Friday night to my first apartment in Paris, before my vivacious and incredible group of friends all left the city. There would be free flowing wine, we’d cook delicious food and at midnight, there would be at least 20 of us all having a great time in my living room. The police might come because the music would be too loud – and we’d make excuse after excuse and childishly promise to quieten down to only crank the stereo back up as soon as they left. They were simple nights but filled with some special memories for me – for all of us, and how I miss those weekends! And so the most special place in Paris for me will always be that first apartment of mine, in the 6eme, just off Boulevard Saint Germain, with exposed wooden beams, windows that didn’t quite close all the way and walls that resembled a scrapbook, covered in polaroids, posters and quotes of all kinds. If I ever get rich, I will go and buy that apartment, it’s funny though, I moved away years ago and yet, I still consider it to be mine. If you ever happen to be in Paris and find yourself on rue Mazarine, head to number 72, look up at the second floor window, I might just be standing there, coffee cup in hand & I’ll wave and smile at you.

 where do you like to work? how do you get anything done with all the running around you do?

I can only work at a desk, somewhere quiet – I rarely work out at a cafe or a library, I get distracted by people watching. It has to be me, a table or desk and my headphones.  Otherwise I am terribly unproductive. I am in awe of people who can work in bed or on a sofa, but sadly I just cannot. I find it so uncomfortable! I much prefer editing and writing via my huge desktop screen , funnily enough working via a laptop makes me feel cramped and claustrophobic, but due to travelling a lot, it is often my only choice. In terms of being productive amongst all this travel, I am not so sure except that I am working almost constantly. I love what I do so a lot of my free time is spent working – and really work and free time is so blurred as a freelancer – it all sorts of combines into one long project I am always working on.

 growing up, who were your inspirations?

My parents have always been my biggest inspiration. To me, they are  heroes, constantly loving and so incredible encouraging. I adore them, and today, they are not so much as parents but two best friends.  My Dad is a genuine business genius, he skipped university, became a salesman, started his own business and retired before I even started University. At 26, I am in awe of how smart he is – his advice and support was vital in making Frassy a full time career. As for my Mom, a beautiful vivacious blonde with a soul so kind she glows and a serious talent for designing and making clothes – she has made many many of my own ensembles over the years and she too runs her own small business selling all her incredible creations. She taught me so much of my creativity.

 Place you haven’t been that you’d most like to travel to?

Australia! I want to see Sydney, Melbourne, I want to dive in The Great Barrier Reef and photograph kangaroos! Some of my oldest friends moved to Australia years ago and their enthusiasm about their lives there has really sparked a curiosity in me – plus it is the only continent I have not yet been to!

 What inspirational words do you live by?

Oh I love quotes! I have notebooks full of them! But one I always remember is Soren Kierkegaard’s ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’ – it instills such comfort in me – a reminder that we must simply keeping living, without anxiety, without worry – and let the past teach us along the way.

 What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

As a child, my family would always go away to Indonesia for Christmas. We’d stay at the most luxurious resorts in Lombok & Bali, drink watermelon juice and our days revolved around the pool, the beach and delicious exotic dinners. They were sublime and simple and so pure. I would love to go back one day, maybe for my honeymoon, if I ever find a man to marry, that would be lovely!

 What inspired you to move overseas?

It wasn’t so much inspired, it just happened. At 8 years old, my parents decided to up-haul across the ocean to Dublin, Ireland. From there, we moved to Spain and then off I went to England and after, Paris. I’m not European but Europe feels like home to me. I love the diversity in cultures, languages, scenery – and all these incredible countries crammed so close together, so much to see, so much to experience. While I do miss the USA, especially my family dotted across the nation – Europe suits me – and I’ve grown up here. Saying that, my nomadic parents distilled an urge in me to live all over, and there are so many places I would love to call home for a year or two. Rome, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Berlin, Geneva – I want to live in all these places and so many more. And moving somewhere new, not knowing a soul, having to learn about a place along the way – it’s character building and a solid component of my personality I really cherish. I’d be comfortable to move somewhere new  in a months notice, if the opportunity arose  and I know I’d settle in quickly and enjoy the change.

what book do you think every girl should have in her arsenal?

Oh no, I cannot just limit this answer to one! Books are really the only thing I love more than clothes, I adore literature too much to name one sole book. So I will suggest some of my absolute favourites, books I’ve re-read, books I’ve lived by, books that have inspired me endlessly. They include: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Summer’s Crossing & Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Worn Stories by Emily Spivack, How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav, A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, How Should a Person be by Shelia Heit, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, D.V by Diana Vreeland, Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein, The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake, History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russel, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, Emma by Jane Austen, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, Legs get Led Astray by Chloe Caldwell & Women in Clothes by Heidi Julavitsh

 how did you get to where you are now as far as career goals? did you reach your goals or is there more you plan on accomplishing?

In terms of blogging full time, I was fortunate to start Frassy just before the blogging craze hit Europe – there weren’t many of us back then, so we got a lot of traffic. Timing was the biggest advantage I have had so far in making Frassy a profitable endeavour, which was always my number one aim. In terms of other goals, such as collaborating with brands I love and admire. A lot of the time this has come down to me contacting them, drinking coffee with PRs, forming personal relationships with the women and men  behind these brands.  I am  always on the lookout for new work, new projects, new directions I can take this website of mine in. Work doesn’t just drop into your inbox, so often you have to go out and find it – and the search is endless! But once the ball rolling, it can often start plummeting  down the hill so fast you can barely keep up –  and those freelance phases are truly exhilarating. They don’t come often but when they do, they are wonderful. A long term goal of mine was always  to improve the quality of my photography – and I did this via books, youtube tutorials and watching how my professional photographer friends worked their cameras, angles, lighting etc. I saved up and bought the Canon 5D as well as the dreamy lense more boringly called the 50 1.4. and slowly learnt how to use it.  And, while my photography has a long way to go, I have made progress that I’m proud of and am lucky enough to work as a photographer on projects unrelated to Frassy too. There is absolutely no way I am close to accomplishing my goals! I never will be. There is so so much I want to do, so much so  it often is a real source of anxiety for me. Right now, my priorities are writing my book and finding someone to publish it as well as finally start that videography course and learning how to create the sort of youtube videos I have always dreamed of creating (and no, they don’t include hauls)!

do you ever struggle to find new material to post on your blog daily? And what do you do to overcome this?

I used to go through creative stumps with blogging but after 7 years of going at it- I don’t really struggle with it anymore. Ideas sort of just come to me and very randomly too. And so while I don’t battle with the content anymore, I am constantly beating myself up over quality. I’ll reshoot an outfit over and over again until it’s just how I want it, I’ll rewrite, re-edit and re-draft over and over in hopes of creating content that I am 100% happy with. The problem is I am so very rarely satisfied with what I produce. My obsessiveness costs me time and money that I just don’t have. It became such an issue last year that I had to take a few steps back and let go of the unrealistic expectations I had as well as remind myself that this is a blog, not a magazine – and not every outfit & photo has to be picture perfect. Perfect is boring anyway! In terms of overcoming lulls in blogging ideas – I would suggest producing content that you really enjoy creating and indulge in the topics that feel natural to you. A good blog is marked by the personality behind it, so go with what you like, go with what you know – and talk to your readers about whatever you feel on a given day,  be spontaneous, be approachable, be you!

favourite movie / band?

I have impeccable taste in books, I have my University degree to thank for that. But I have rather terrible taste in movies, for me they are the junk food to all the healthy literature I devour. And, I don’t watch many of them either, between the books I prefer reading and the religious commitment I have to Grey’s Anatomy – there isn’t much time for cinema. So, movies I have really liked: Factory Girl with Sienna Miller, Life Partners with Leighton Meester, In Brugues with Colin Farrell and every single movie ever made by Wes Anderson. I also love How to Lose A Guy in 10 days, which is like a decade old, but who cares. Right now, in terms of music – I adore Banks. Her lyrics, her smokey moody eyes, the drama infused in her songs – they inspire me to write and to be whoever I damn well please. But my favourite music changes as frequently as my favourite colour, so ask me again in a month and I’ll have an entirely different answer!


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