Sunday, April 30, 2017

How Bargainista Fashionista became a Digital Mum


Hello! Just dipping a tentative toe back into the world of blogging and giving you an update on what’s happened to Bargainista Fashionista. 

Disclaimer: before you read any further, be warned this isn’t a blog post about a fashion bargain you simply must buy (although if that’s what you’re after, just scoot to the end). This is a ‘life’ post. 

Well, Bargainista Baby arrived in 2013, vying with Prince George to be the first to greet the world (Bargainista Baby won). I subsequently chose not to return to work, so a lack of fashion funds has meant my blog has been neglected for the past few years. 

But fast-forward to six months ago and I started to focus on me again (instead of the little human that’s taken over my world!), with the aim of earning some cash for the odd fashion splurge and hopefully more (like the bills!). 

I decided to upskill in social media with training company, Digital Mums. I thought I might even pick up some useful know-how for my blog along the way. And boy, did I (and then some).

So let me set the scene...

Life before Digital Mums 
Pre-baby, I worked at ELLE as deputy chief sub-editor. It was an office-based job, a long commute and even longer hours. Something I couldn’t feasible do post-baby without substantial childcare. Hence the heart-wrenching decision not to go back to work and to give up a career I loved and had worked hard to achieve. But put simply, I didn’t want to hand Bargainista Baby over to full-time childcare.


Then, last year, as I thought about what I would do once my son starts school, the career niggles started. I was frustrated at having years of editorial and publishing experience and my skill set just lying untapped because I’d become a stay-at-home mama. 

However, three years into motherhood, the thought of finding work was daunting. I’d been immersed in this baby bubble, speaking infrequently to adults and even less so about non-baby related topics. Hell, the old me would haven’t recognised the new me (especially my new sartorial style of Breton stripes and skinny jeans on repeat). And if that was the case, how on earth was I going to get back into the job market? 

I needed to boost my career mojo. Which is when I discovered Digital Mums. Its premise is to train mums in social media to equip them to find #workthatworks and create flexible careers that fit around family life. And its online social media marketing: associate programme was exactly what I was looking for to future-proof my skills. 

I sold everything I owned on eBay to pay for the course (true story). The clothes, shoes and bags of my former life were gathering dust, so it made sense to convert them into an investment for my future career. 

There’s a motivational quote that I saw when I started the course which reads: ‘She believed she could so she did’. That pretty much summed up my mindset and how I approached the application, the interview and the course itself. Each one nerve-wracking, but deep down I knew I had plenty to offer - first to the training and now to future employers. 

Life during Digital Mums training 
Students are partnered with a real-life business that they do their ‘live’ training with, which was one of the main attractions of the course for me. I felt on-the-job experience would be invaluable, especially as my programme partner was a bridal boutique. But one of my biggest hurdles turned out to be my client pulling out halfway through the course. 

It was a bombshell, but luckily, thankfully, a replacement was found -  a luxury holiday let - and I then had to put my skates on and catch up. Still, as Bargainista, at least I can say I got a 2-4-1 deal! I ended up working with not one, but two very different businesses. All great experience to get under my belt. 

So, up and running with client number two, I planned and launched a brand awareness campaign on Twitter and Facebook. It was fun! 

It was invigorating to come up with creative ideas for a campaign plan, hashtag and content strategy. And it was so rewarding to see the effects of my social media activity as I took control of my client’s channels. I immersed myself in a world of campaign planning and scheduling, social media advertising, analytics and KPIs, and as many hashtags and social media tools as Kim Kardashian has shoes and handbags. 

I won’t lie, the course is fast-paced. There’s lots to get to grips with in a very short space of time. Many weeks spilled over the 15 hours we were expected to commit to the course, especially the latter part when you’re knee-deep in running your client’s social media channels and have a lesson- and assignment-heavy week. 

There have been too many late nights to mention. I’ve barely watched TV, cleaned the house (eek!) or had a social life for the past six months. It’s been all-consuming. And that is where the mum-guilt has hit hardest. The number of times I’ve been focused on one Apple device or another instead of my child would equal some of my campaign metrics! 

But for all the hard work, it’s been hugely satisfying. Getting a Twitter follow from actress Sienna Guillory for my client was a top campaign moment. And smashing all my KPIs was pretty damn good, too. 

Another plus point about the Digital Mums training is your fellow students. You’re assigned a ‘cohort’, which is akin to Taylor Swift’s squad. This peer group of talented and experienced women from marketing, PR, communications and journalism backgrounds ensures you're not studying in isolation. There’s always someone on WhatsApp or Google Hangouts offering reassurance that you’re encountering the same issues or juggling the same plates. You learn from each other and provide encouragement and support throughout the course - and beyond as you navigate the freelance social media world.

And this cohort only swells in numbers once you graduate and join the rest of the Digital Mums alumni in the ‘DM Collective’. Trust me, this outnumbers Taylor’s squad dramatically.

Life after Digital Mums
After a pretty intensive six months, experience of working with two clients and a successful social media campaign, it’s time to ‘do the hustle’ as Digital Mums calls it and find work. With a CV that now covers print and digital publishing through to social media marketing, I can now call myself an editor/writer/blogger/social media manager. Wish me luck in this next step of my career!

The fashion bit
Meanwhile, if you’ve missed my Bargainista Fashionista tips, here’s the It coat that went viral last autumn and is now back in stock. Yay!

You may already know about this coveted blue and white coat from Zara. It spawned its own Instagram account and hashtag - #thatcoat - thanks to blogger Alice Frances, who posted sightings of the sell-out piece. People started contributing their photos, too, and there’s now over 8,000 followers and 400 posts about a £69.99 coat! Search #thatcoat on Instagram and there’s more than 4,000 posts, making it one of Zara’s most popular items on social media.

No wonder it’s been reissued. But it’s not just the power of social media and the column inches that make #thatcoat a hit. With a hint of Chanel about its design and the affordable price tag, it’s a great piece of fashion. And Zara has been clever enough to give the latest reincarnation a little twist from its predecessor, including a new colourway. Perfect for the school run, no?

Oh how I’ve missed talking about fashion. It’s nice to be back.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Selected's Revolution sweatshirt at ASOS

Hello! It's been a while.

I have to confess, I haven't bought much for me in the past year of Bargainista Baby's life. This is only my second purchase of 2014! (The first was a dress for his christening, but that's for another blog post.)

But I had to share this Selected sweatshirt with you pronto as it's such a bargain: £17 in the ASOS sale with an extra 15% off with the code GET15 makes it just over £14. With an original price tag of £60, that's more than a 75% saving.

Plus, you get two trends in one: sporty AND slogan. My favourite touch is the back-to-front 'e' which spells out 'love' when I look in the mirror. A small but pleasing detail.

This Selected sweatshirt is great for layering; it's generously oversized but short and neat so it doesn't swamp.

I missed out on the slogan sweats at Whistles this summer, which carried phrases such as 'Je ne regrette rien' and 'jolie', so this is the next best thing. (Talking of Whistles, Whistles menswear launched today!) 

Now, I'll admit, I chose this sweatshirt for its baby-friendly attributes (grey is a great colour for disguising dribble and food stains and cotton-jersey is comfy and practical for running around after a little one), but the best thing of all? I don't feel like a mum in it. Now that's revolutionary.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

M&S Bloggers' Secret Santa: part II


So you saw what I bought as my gift for the Marks & Spencer Bloggers' Secret Santa. Well, this is what I received…

A Ren Mini Gift Set for me and Spencer the Teddy Bear (see what they did there?) for Bargainista Baby. Anyone visiting my blog recently will notice that I've got a new little fella in my life, so it's very nice for him to be included in my Secret Santa gift and perfect to get some pampering products, too.

If you haven't visited Marks & Spencer's beauty department recently, check it out. As well as its own-label products, it now stocks some of my favourite beauty brands including Ren, Nuxe and Bliss.

Right, I'm off for a soak in the tub with my Ren goodies. Thank you Secret Santa – and thank you M&S! If you like the look of my gifts, they're now 50% off. Bargain.

Talking of bargains, if you've got babies to buy for this Christmas my top tip are these M&S Stacking Cups. They're a steal at £3, reduced from £6. Bargainista Baby has a set and they're awesome. They're so much more stylish and interesting than others I've seen, and great quality, too.

Friday, December 20, 2013

M&S Bloggers' Secret Santa: part I

I was sad to miss Team ELLE's Christmas party last week. Not only because it would have been fun to catch up with everyone, but because they did a Secret Santa. I love Secret Santas.

So when the online team at Marks & Spencer asked me if I'd like to take part in its Bloggers' Secret Santa, I was more than happy to oblige.

Assigned a blogger to buy for and a budget of £20, I did a bit of sleuthing to check out their style. This girl is cool! Black is a staple of her wardrobe, while statement jewellery cements her look. So I chose a black leather cuff from Marks & Spencer's Autograph range for £17.50. It's a little bit edgy and, thanks to the gold hardware, a little bit luxe.

I do hope she likes it as, along with the rest of my Christmas shopping, it was done in five minutes! But that's the advantage of purchasing online, it's quick and easy. So, if you've left your present buying until the weekend before Christmas, visit Marks & Spencer online now – there's lots of deals, offers and bargains to be had.

Btw, the Scandi wrapping paper pictured is also from M&S and it's now half price at £1.75. Being a perfectionist gift wrapper, I love the cutting grid on the reverse of the paper. Genius idea, M&S!

Come back tomorrow to see what I received as my Secret Santa gift.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Converse All Star for Bargainista Baby

There's a sneaker divide in our household. While the Stickman favours Superga, I'm a Converse gal. So to get Bargainista Baby on side, I got him a pair of mini Converse. (I'm shopping early as babies seem to grow so fast!)

Normally, I'd head to the Converse shop, which is above and part of the Size trainer store on London's Carnaby Street. But, as it's internet shopping for me right now, I visited Size online instead and got a pair of Converse All Star Ox Infants in red for Bargainista Baby. (They're going to look so good in his Christmas stocking!)

OK, £23 might be a little extravagant, but I think it's important to pledge trainer allegiances early. Anyway, there's plenty of room for him to grow into these considering he's not even crawling, let along walking yet! And, it goes without saying, Bargainista Baby is going to look so cool in his mini Converse.

Now, while I don't want to be too matchy matchy with my son, I did need a new pair of Converse myself. So I picked up a pair of Converse All Star Ox in white (£45) as my current Converse are so many shades away from white it's embarrassing. And Bargainista Baby, I'll try not to wear them when I've dressed you in yours. Promise.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Want a stylish wash bag? Thought so

Need inspiration for Christmas gifts? How about this Joules toiletries bag for starters. In the brand's distinctive florals, it's a reasonable £20. Plus, there's body wash, scrub and lotion to boot.

I love the design of this Joules toiletries bag. It reminds me of the style of handbags I heart right now, which look like two zip-up clutches that are sewn together. (My favourites are these from & Other Stories, Whistles and Zara).

A decent size (27 x 19cm), it's great for organising your toiletries. The two separate compartments mean you can keep your toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lenses and solution in one and your make-up in the other. And, made of a laminated PVC, the floral print is stylish rather than twee with a contrasting pink checked lining.

What's even better is that this Joules toiletries bag is part of Boots 3 for 2 Mix and Match offer. So buy three and they're £13.33 each. One to keep and two to give away as Christmas presents!

It's the perfect wash bag if you're packing to visit family for Christmas or going away for New Year. What better excuse to travel in style.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BellField's winter woodland T-shirt

As a new mum, hitting the high street has taken a bit of a back seat for now. Instead, it's all about internet shopping. Luckily, most of the high street is also available online, so I've been sofa surfing aplenty.

In need of a new pair of trainers for when I am out pounding the pavements with the pram, a friend pointed me in the direction of Bank Fashion which stocks brands such as Converse, Superga and New Balance. It doesn't just do footwear though, other labels include Cheap Monday, Superdry, Vero Moda and Zatchels.

So you won't be surprised to hear that instead of trainers, I got a new top! This BellField T-shirt caught my eye with its autumnal colours and cute woodland creatures. I like the fact that a flattering silhouette and wide sleeves make it more stylish than a plain old tee. And, at £18, it's a good educational tool, too – I can teach Bargainista Baby his animals while I'm wearing it!

BellField is a new label for me, so check it out at Bank Fashion. I love the Fair Isle knits and socks and the men's knitwear, too.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Prince George and that aden + anais swaddle

When I started this blog post about aden + anais, Prince George was yet to be born and I was still awaiting the arrival of Bargainista Baby. Now he's here and I'm finally picking up where I left off.

And this is where I left off at the start of July…

Shopping for a baby is a whole new world of retail therapy for me. While I've cooed over Baby Gap many a time, there's so much else to discover.

aden + anais is a case in point. An American label with Australian roots, aden + anais offers the prettiest designs and a more generous-sized swaddle than most (120 x 120 cm). 

And, being Bargainista Fashionista, not only do I love the focus on fashion, the options for multiple uses is great, too, from pram cover to burp cloth to nursing cover to summer blanket to changing mat cover to cot sheet to pram and car seat liners and more. Style and substance? Now that's what I call value for money.

I wonder if the Duchess of Cambridge has discovered this baby brand yet?

If only I'd published this blog post back in July! As it turns out, Kate was familiar with aden + anais as Prince George left hospital wrapped in one of its swaddles. The bird print from the Jungle Jam 4 pack (£44.95) should you care to know. The set features a menagerie of bird, monkey, elephant and giraffe prints.

Within hours of Prince George's appearance in said swaddle, the aden + anais website crashed. And just over a week later, the company had 7,000 orders for it, representing a 600% increase in sales.

But listen up Prince George, Bargainista Baby was a whole 10 days ahead of you in the fashion stakes, sporting the swaddles from the aden + anais Make Believe 4 pack. The red and grey colourway makes for a good unisex choice and I particularly love the bunting and star prints (pictured above).

I've used my swaddles in a multitude of ways. As well swaddling Bargainista Baby, they've doubled up as a cover-up when feeding him, a pram cover when it was sunny and a pretty backdrop for photos, too.

Prince George and Bargainista Baby aren't the only fans of aden + anais. Beyoncé, Sienna Miller, Jessica Alba, Selma Blair, January Jones, Lily Allen and Peaches Geldof are just some of the celebrities who have kitted out their babies in this brand.

Oh, and did I mention aden + anais sells more than just swaddles? With bibs, burp cloths, towels, wash cloths, sleeping bags and blankets on offer, it could be a slippery shopping slope for me and Bargainista Baby. Imagine if aden + anais did baby clothes, too!

Check out the full range at the aden + anais website and look out for great price deals and offers at Amazon, Hamill Baby and Natural Baby Shower.


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