Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Sequin Cinderella's 5th Birthday

This day five years ago I was just a girl with an idea. Sitting at home in a small town in Ireland, dreaming of working in the fashion industry, I wondered how the hell I could do it when I struggled to leave my family for more than just a two week holiday. A self confessed home bird, I was faced with the struggle of following my dreams and leaving everything behind or giving up on them altogether.
And then I began to wonder why I had to choose... with the whole wide world open to us in the form of the internet and a laptop, why couldn't I do both...
And so - The Sequin Cinderella was born.
My first blog post was sketchy, dramatic and short, I was teaching drama at the time and I'm quite sure a little of that leaked into my words. (You can read it HERE) but whether it was the perfect start or otherwise, it felt like a crazy leap into my future and finally I knew I was on the right path.
I spent hours and hours writing, editing, taking pictures, posing (awkwardly) and promoting the blog and before I knew it, it had spiralled and people were starting to sit up and take notice.
I will always remember the first time a company contacted me to work with my blog, it wasn't a designer brand or a high end cosmetic company but I felt that I had been offered a million dollars.
A fake tattoo company in Sweden wanted to send me some samples and I treated those tattoos as if they were fine diamonds because you know what? They weren't worth a lot in money terms, but people were taking heed of "The Sequin Cinderella" and that to me was worth more than anything.
(read the post HERE if you don't mind seeing my horrendously awkward pouts and poses)
I had a lot to learn, I didn't know the best angles to show an outfit, I didn't know how best to pose to not make myself look like I had a trout pout and I sure as hell didn't know how to edit a photo or design a website, but I learned and googled and studied and practiced until I could do the basics and it only grew from there.
Now I know I may not necessarily be sitting front row at New York fashion week with the top bloggers like I dreamt of when I first began blogging but looking back on the past five years at what I have achieved, I couldn't be happier or more proud. I went back to college to study fashion, released my own collection, have shown at fashion shows across Ireland and in April of this year I opened Sequin Cinderella Boutique. A life long dream of mine and something that I wanted to do since I was a little girl. My blog gave me the confidence to pursue it and I honestly don't think I would have done it if I had never taken the first step on this day in 2011.
Sitting here in my boutique today, writing this post with my own collection, a 5 year old blog and a severe amount of experiences under my belt, I feel like it has all been a dream... and I realise, it has. The girl, sitting at her computer, 5 years ago could never have dreamt of the path that putting those first words to paper (or screen) would lead her on and whilst I am still that girl and still dreaming of more, I am proud of the journey so far.
I have had the chance to work with some top international companies including Louis Vuitton, River Island,, Oasis to name but a few, been featured in numerous national publications, been chosen as a brand ambassador for Dubin Airport, won the Irish Blogger of the year award in 2013 and 2014 with RSVP magazine and been invited as the special guest to many events across the country.

Writing this post, I actually feel very emotional. When I think back over the past five years... there has definitely been many ups and downs... when I lost my beloved Grandmother I almost gave it all up, but something inside of me said "keep going". I'm so glad that I did and I am sure she would be very proud.
There were so many obstacles that could have stood in my way, fear of being ridiculed, actually being ridiculed, being trolled online... its all part of the game I guess, but when it happens to you, it hurts and you need to grow a thick skin very fast. Each part of it made me stronger and taught me a lesson along the way and I can only be thankful to have had those experiences.

So guys, If you have a hidden dream and you are reading this post, then I hope it inspires you to follow it. You can achieve anything you set your mind to and whilst it may not always work out in the way you thought, everything happens as it should and thats ok. You will have some crappy times and when they happen, its ok to lie down and say its crap. You don't have to be eternally positive but what you do have to do is see a future. Look beyond the clouds and see the potential of the sun in the distance. Life is what you make it and you are the leaders of your own destiny. Nomatter where you are in the world, where you want to be or where you have to be, never give up on the life you dream of. Some day you could find your "Sequin Cinderella" and your life could change forever!

So Happy Birthday to my blog... you have certainly changed my life, you have made that little girl with the big dream a very happy lady and for that I am eternally grateful! 
Nicola x

My "Fake Tattoo" collaboration (Cringe)
Hosting a charity Fashion Show
The first Fashion event that I organised as "The Sequin Cinderella"
Feature in Xpose magazine 
Winning RSVP Blogger of the year 2013
Guest at Belfast Fashion Week
Winning RSVP Blogger of the year 2014 and appearing at Cork Fashion Week
Debuting my own printed fashion collection
Showing my collection at FashionFest Derry 2015
Runner up as Young Designer of the year at Kerry Fashion Week & Irish Fashion Industry awards
Grand opening of Sequin Cinderella Boutique
My Baby

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kenzo Vibes and Autumn Leaves

When your favourite brand releases a collaboration with a high street store, then its pretty much a must that you queue online through crashing websites and frustrating moments until you get through to pick up some of your favourites. Well that is pretty much how my morning went on the day that the Kenzo for H&M collection was released.
It took me at least an hour, being 20mins late for work then selecting any size that was left in order to get my hands on some of them but I finally did and I was super excited when they arrived last week.

As you can tell, if you have seen my own collection, I am a print designer myself and I love strong colours & bold designs. The KenzoxHM collection was right up my street and whilst I loved the really eye catching pieces, I surprised myself when I found that my favourite piece of all was this knitted jumper with embroidered patches. 
Its so cosy but still so stylish with its wide sleeves, high neck and striking details. Its probably the most wearable of the pieces that I bought and ideal for throwing on over my little tutu ra-ra skirt from Primark/Penneys for this crisp Autumn day.
I absolutely love this time of year (when it is dry) - I am obsessed with cosy clothes and layers so these mild but brisk evenings are ideal for sweatshirts and casual strolls through the fallen leaves.
I even made a new friend along the way in the form of a gorgeous black labrador who decided he wanted to appear in some of my pics! 
Did you guys pick up any of the Kenzo x HM pieces? let me know what you thought.
Nicola x

I Was Wearing:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lisa Dee 6 Week Bikini Body

Recently I decided to try Lisa Dee's 6 week bikini body program (for the third time). I had tried it before and had incredible results but unfortunately I really struggle with will power and never saw it through to the end of the six weeks but this time I decided to give it one more shot.

Before I start let me state that I do not now, or have I ever believed that I was overweight, nor do I encourage weightloss. What I do encourage is a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet which is what Lisa Dee's program aims to promote.
It does not consist of a starvation diet nor does it consist of excessive exercising. It simply involves a few changes, some food preparation and a half hour of exercise from home each day. It is so simple and can be adapted to suit any lifestyle or ability.

In the video above, I was in my second week of the program and decided to wear my favourite jeans from my boutique which I lived in all Summer and were a little snug around the waist. On this particular day, I put them on to find that they were so loose in the waist that I would need to have them altered. Whilst they may have been my favourite jeans, it was such a nice feeling to see them loose like this.
I had spent the previous few months struggling with bloating, discomfort in my stomach and some kind of dietary disorder. I had been tested for celiac disease, put on tablets for my stomach etc. and nothing had helped, so thanks to Lisa's program, I stripped it right back to basics and with simple changes in my diet, my stomach shrank over night. I felt more full of energy, my skin appearance improved and if I had to deal with not being able to wear my favourite jeans then I could handle that.

Lisa has just started a new program called Slimbo for Chrimbo which you guys can check out on her Facebook page. She has numerous accounts from clients which show the success of her programs and how they make girls both look better and feel better. Lisa's Facebook page can be found HERE and you can contact her on there for any further information.

I may not have the best willpower but I will be trying out her Slimbo for Chrimbo program over the next few weeks and will keep you posted on my progress.

Nicola x
My before and after Pics

Laser Hair Removal at The Beauty House

One permanent battle that us ladies (and lots of men) have to deal with is that of hair removal. We have it in all of the wrong places, spend a fortune getting rid of it in some areas and another fortune trying to add it to our heads... one of life's greatest ironies eh?
If you are dark haired like me, you will especially relate to the struggle. Shaving is a waste of time, considering that by the next evening you will be in stubble-sville ready to repeat the entire process.
I had recently started waxing my legs which had definitely lightened the growth but it is still such a pain as you have to persevere with the awkward regrowth period in between times which is a constant rotation of opaque tights and jeans.
I had always been curious about laser hair removal, but with the crazy price tags and not being sure if it actually works, it isn't something that I ever decided to pursue. However when Jennifer from The BeautyHouse Bridgend contacted me to try it out, I jumped at the chance.

I did a video to show you guys the entire process which you can see above. (apologies about the unflattering angle and the ghostly colour of my legs but you can't wear fake tan and the less pigment in your skin the better the result).
Jennifer began by shaving my legs as the hair needs to be stimulated by the razor in order to have the best effect. She then sectioned off my legs using a marker in order to divide them into areas for better precision with the treatment. And finally the laser process began, which you will see in detail in the video.
I want to tell you that it was totally pain free but I can't... what I can tell you is that it isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Imagine someone snapping an elastic band against your skin over and over again and thats exactly how it feels. The whole process is over in a flash so any discomfort you feel is soon forgotten. There is very little to worry about when it comes to the aftercare process, all you have to do is stay out of sunlight & avoiding hot water & perfumed lotions for 24 hours.

At first I wasn't sure if it had worked. My hair grew within a few days and felt really sharp and stubbly as if I had shaved my legs. This panicked me as I felt that it hadn't worked but Jennifer did warn me that this was normal. The hair follicle that was left behind from shaving continued to grow out as normal but after a day or so they started to fall out and by the end of the week my legs were the smoothest they had ever been.
Even after waxing, by the third week I would have to start covering up my legs again, however I am now into my second month since having just one session of laser treatment and the hairs are so fine  that I could easily wear a skirt and you wouldn't even notice.
I definitely recommend trying out the laser. It might be quite expensive but if you add up all of the money you spend on waxing or shaving foams over the years then I am sure it balances out.

I have only had one session so far, so I will keep you guys updated after my next few sessions and of course do a follow up post but for now I am very impressed.

If you would like to contact Jennifer for yourself the check out her Facebook page - HERE or you can give her a call on 00353 74 9386006

Monday, October 17, 2016

Charred Emerald

I don't know about you girls but Victoria Beckham has always been an idol of mine. From the mid 90's when she was rocking "girl power" with the Spice Girls through to today when she is now a respected figure in the fashion industry - so when I heard she would be collaborating with Estée Lauder to bring out a new makeup collection I knew I had to have it.
Before it was even launched, I was extremely lucky to receive a few pieces from the collection thanks to The Loop at Dublin airport and I fell in love with them instantly.
The eyeshadow was my favourite - it was the Eye Metals in colour - charred emerald - not a colour I would usually go for, but as I had just picked up an emerald green jumpsuit in my boutique and they were the perfect match.
I applied the emerald eyeshadow all over my lid and blended it out using a peach toned "Benefit" eyeshadow. For my brows I used the Gimme Brow and the Ka-Brow (both also from The Loop) to shape and colour them! I literally could not live without either of those products.

It had been a while since I had shot a style post for the blog and I thought, what better excuse than a new outfit and makeup to get me back into the swing of things.
I was in Italy on a buying trip this week and there was the most beautiful secret garden in our hotel which made for the perfect setting.
The only extra touch that I added to the look was a pair of rose gold sandals from River Island.  I wanted to let the colours speak for themselves so I kept all other accessories to a minimum.

The Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder collection launched in Dublin Airport on the 1st of October and everything in the Loop is at least 15% cheaper than high street so next time you are flying through, be sure to check it out! You won't be disappointed.
Nicola x


Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Question of Today's Society...

Love her or loathe her, you can't help but notice Kim Kardashian. She is on our T.V's, our computers, our newspapers and our newsfeeds daily and whether we like it or not she is a household name worldwide and isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock recently, I am very sure that you have read about her armed robbery in France and I am more than sure that each of you have your own opinion on this.
Was this a set-up? Did she ask for it? Did her boasting of wealth make her vulnerable? Did her penchant for 'flashing the flesh' make her an easy target?
Those are the kinds of things that I have been reading on social media of late, albeit a lot less censored and in many cases much more aggressive. Many keyboard warriors have been brandishing profanities across their various accounts and whilst I, a blogger, am all too aware of the dangers of putting yourself "out there" and the risk of putting yourself in the firing line of abuse... I began to ask myself some serious questions about the society that we live in today and I have to say, it worried me... for myself, my future daughter if I am ever blessed with one and indeed the women of our world.
I don't doubt that many of you will read this and still remain on the same wavelengths as before but I felt compelled to write as I was deeply disturbed by the aggression with which many have come out in force to abuse Kim in the wake of this incident.

Ok, none of us know if this was a publicity stunt... and if it was... well it was a damn smart business move on her behalf because - as the man says "no publicity is bad publicity" and she sure as hell has got us all talking... but for the sake of this blog post, lets presume she didn't set it up... Lets presume she was there alone, faced with five armed robbers and terrified for her life...
The thought of a mother leaving two babies behind, of her family coming home to find her maybe shot and killed, her husband being in a different country unable to help her...
Thats a very terrifying situation to imagine yourself in and if, as we are giving the benefit of the doubt to believe, this is true... then my heart breaks for Kim the human... not Kim the celebrity.

Kim Kardashian is a lady of questionable morals, her rise to fame following a seedy sex tape is a bone of contention for many. Her desire to flaunt her naked body, whilst seen as empowering by few, is seen as trashy by most and I would worry that this is what role models are becoming in this messed up world that we live in... that being said... did all of the above mean that she deserved this attack? I very much think not!

I guess this led me to think of the ongoing debate and fight against rape in the world. The age old question of "did she deserve it?" - "did her clothing mean she was asking for it" - can our dress choice mean that we as women deserve to be violated?
This issue is one that effects women and indeed men across the world but all too often the people of the world are responsible for "Victim Blaming" instead of looking to the real perpetrator - the rapist.
I have often read articles or seen pictures in which women talk of those moments and they are questioned by outsiders... police, hospitals etc. and they are always asked things like... what were you wearing? The sad reality is that the women are then led to question themselves and doubt their actions rather than being allowed to feel anger towards the person really responsible, to grieve, to heal.

I know that Kim wasn't raped but it scared me to see her interview where she said she feared she could have been and that people reacted by saying she "should" have been... that to me is simply shocking.

Celebrities, especially reality TV stars, give us a voyeuristic view of most areas of their lives and that is their own choice, as is it ours to follow. They know the amazing perks that come with that and they are also very aware of the negatives. It is all part and parcel of the game they are in, but I wonder when we crossed the line of judgement, which was already paper thin in the first place, to view them as objects rather than people.

This is a Woman, An incredibly savvy business woman at that, a Mother, A Daughter, A Sister, A Wife... not that any of those labels define her, but just think of any one of those people in your own life, think of the choices they have made, the mistakes, the decisions and then try to tell me that she deserved it because of her own choices or the life she leads?
She is someone who means the whole world to many people... more than just being a picture in a magazine, more than just being a page on a newspaper, more than just being a person at the end of a media hype... she was the person at the end of a gun, her privacy and her safety sacrificed.
She lost so much more than material goods, but lets just think about those for a second... her engagement ring... a piece that many treasure was snatched from her posession. Yes its ridiculously flamboyant that her ring was over 4million dollars but so what? it was and I am sure she loved it and treasured it the same as women whose rings were 100 dollars. For a sentimental piece such as an engagement ring, money isn't the issue, its the meaning behind it and I am sure that hurt her very much to have it taken away.
Again I know the response most have had to that... she shouldn't have flaunted the ring, she shouldn't flaunt her wealth... they can well afford to replace it, I'm quite sure she can but I ask any of you ladies who are engaged, married, widowed, divorced, would a replacement mean the same? No.

I guess my point is that I have no idea when we as a society, as a population decided it was ok to ravage someone in trouble? Whether they put themselves in the firing line ("scuse the pun) or otherwise. When did it become ok to hide behind your computer and lash abuse on someone in a vulnerable situation? and when did we become so dehumanised? When did we stop caring?

If you have read up until this point and still feel that she deserved it, let me ask you this, if she didn't have so much money, if she was poor, struggling to put food on the table, would she have deserved it then? Or would your many posts online be of sympathy rather than aggression?
If she wasn't famous, would she have deserved it? If she hadn't had a sex tape or appeared in naked photoshoots, would you have felt sorry for her then? Would your hatred have turned to pity perhaps?
Then ask yourself if all of those things make it ok... if your answer is yes and you think that they do, then I am petrified for the future of our world, the future of our women and the future of anyone who is in any kind of vulnerable position in this life - because it is the people committing these savage crimes that we should be chasing and chastising and not "victim blaming" - enough is enough!

And if you are really sick of reading about the Kardashians... then don't... don't click into the articles, don't watch the show, change the channel, X out of the page... it really is that simple.
Nicola x

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Benefit Brows at The Loop

Do you ever look back at old photographs from the early 00's and think - thank the Lord for whoever it was that invented the eyebrow pencil?
I honestly think I spent my entire teens looking like I was in a permanent state of shock and trust me, that is never a good look. I even remember a makeup artist trying to colour mine in for me and I nearly slapped her... what was wrong with my head? lol
Anyway not only have things drastically improved in the line of makeup in the last few years, but so many different eyebrow products have been developed that there is no excuse for that look of surprise anymore and no excuse for bad eyebrows.
Benefit have really led the way in terms of all things cosmetic, making them fun and girly but also damn good quality. So when the Loop in Dublin airport sent me some incredible pieces from Benefits new brow range I couldn't wait to try them out.
The video above shows each one of them in use and whilst its hard to do eyebrows and hold a camera on the day you break your tripod (don't ask) it will definitely give you an idea of how each one works.
I have also included some pics for you below.
All products are available at The Loop who always have products at least 15% less than high street stores. If you are travelling through there anytime soon be sure to check out their benefit stand and stock up for your holidays! Your eyebrows and your teenage self would thank you for it!
Nicola x

Friday, August 19, 2016

Down the Garden Path

On the opening of my boutique, I wore this jumpsuit which I had in stock and to this day, I honestly don't think I have worn anything which has received such a huge response.
It is still one of my all time favourite looks so I just had to wear it again when my boyfriend and I took a trip to the Galgorm Resort and Spa.
It is such an unusual piece and whilst it may not be everybody's cup of tea, I just loved the sheer detail and the crop top feature underneath.
My sandals are from Zara and were a perfect colour to match with the blush jumpsuit and they are also so comfy which saved me from wearing heels and being miserable with sore feet for the whole evening.
The Galgorm Resort is one of my favourite places to visit. Its like a whole different world with lots of little hidden escapes and the most incredible spa that I have ever seen. The food, the surroundings and the all round experience are second to none and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to relax for a few days.
Nicola x


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Nail Studio Derry

One of the most frequent questions that I get asked is "Who Does Your Nails?" so I wanted to do a little post to show you guys the process and where i get them done.
I had always heard amazing reports about The Nail Studio in Derry/Londonderry and Jennifer, the owner had come highly recommended so when I decided to get them done, she was my first choice.
Up until December last year, I never really got my nails done, in fact, I would have been doing well to even have them painted. My friends always teased me because I spent so much time and effort on my appearance but I always had ugly nails. So when I started getting them done, there was no going back.
I get the acrylic extensions with a gel polish on the top. At the beginning, I would have played it very safe with my colours, always going for a different variation of nude... or if I was feeling extra adventurous, maybe a splash of glitter. But as each time has passed, I have become more and more experimental with colours and I just love them.
This time around I let Jennifer choose what to do, the only thing I really wanted to try was the new chrome effect so I got that in the rose gold on my ring fingers and a variety of nudes and a deep plum on the rest with a splash of diamante. These are by far my favourite set and I am already excited to see what Jennifer does next time.
Mine usually last for three weeks, I could get longer out of them but I hate when they look grown out so I get a refill on the third week and a new set every three to four months depending on the growth of my own nail underneath.
I highly recommend Jennifer and her talented team if ay of you guys are looking to try them out.
They are based on Carlisle Rd in Derry/Londonderry above Emma Harkins hairdressers and their telephone number is 02871372066. Otherwise you can find them on Facebook HERE.
Nicola x