A shopper carrying shopping bags on Oxford Street, London

One might imagine there are not many firsts left in online retailing but Peter Janes would disagree, fired by an ambition to revolutionise the way people shop on the web. The British entrepreneur is chief executive of Shopa, a London company claiming to be the world’s first online marketplace selling fashion goods through the recommendations of people on social networks. It offers 450 brands, with others including River Island in the pipeline, and is expanding into homewares and consumer electronics. Mr Janes says deals are in place to form partnerships that will eventually take this number beyond 10,000 brands. Shopa has more than 1m users and is projecting that it will reach 20m users by the end of 2016.

“What we have is in essence the world’s first social marketplace,” says Mr Janes. “We have the ability to associate an individual with a recommendation and to track that recommendation across any platform, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or something else, on any device.

"We can show users what products are trending, who their top advocates are, where their products are being shared and ultimately what’s being bought because of recommendations.

“We can attribute an individual; with a referral, which has not really been done before. We can see what is being promoted and where it’s happening and filter all that back to retailers or businesses who work with us. And we do it all in real time.”

Mr Janes, 33, a former sports agent at IMG and Wasserman Media Group, set up Shopa in 2011 after the sale, for a seven-figure sum, of his previous business, the Post Network, which had developed software allowing users to create personalised news feeds based on their interests.

Peter Janes mixes fashion with social media. Picture: Eddie Mulholland

He says he noticed at his last business the limitations of so-called “affiliate networks” – intermediary agencies that allow marketeers to reach individuals by having their banner adverts on thousands of blogs and personal websites, paying the individuals behind such sites for traffic and sales generated.

“Affiliate networks hadn’t really evolved in more than a decade,” he says. “Individuals couldn’t plug themselves into these networks and 70pc of all sales online were generated through word-of-mouth or recommendations from individuals. We set about trying to create the technology that allowed an advertiser or retailer to work with individuals within social networks.

“What has happened since 2008 is that an individual is able to influence an exponentially bigger audience than they were before because their sphere of influence has typically grown from maybe 100 Facebook friends to over 1,000 and they have now got Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, so their ability to touch others is much greater.”

Shopa secured patents for its technology in 2012 and has created what Mr Janes says is already the world’s largest affiliate network working with individuals. It holds no stock itself, pulling in products from retailers on its portal. Shopa takes a commission of between 15pc-20pc on sales, though it does not disclose its revenue. Each of its sales belongs to the retailer supplying the goods, which owns the relationship with the customer. But Shopa is able to track users who sign up, reward them for their recommendations and create a link between them and retailers.

“The key difference between us and traditional marketplaces is that users are discovering products based on the interactions of others,” says Mr Janes.

“When you go to Amazon.com or Alibaba’s Tmall in China you normally know what you want before you go there. They’re the best propositions in the world for allowing you to search for what you want, find it, buy it and get it delivered to you.

“What they don’t do very well is help you discover new products and brands you otherwise wouldn’t know about, based on interaction with people you know and trust. That’s what we’re doing.”
Shopa has 45 staff and offices in London, New York, Mumbai and Shanghai, and last year secured $11m (£7.2m) of funding from venture capital groups including Octopus Ventures and Notion Capital.

It has French, German and Spanish websites, is launching a Mandarin version this month and plans to be operating in 10 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, by the end of this year, and in 30 countries within three years. Mr Janes has recruited internet commerce executives such as finance director Adam Woodhouse, formerly of fashion website ASOS, and chief operating officer Nicky McShane, previously at advertising giant WPP. Shopa is now working on another round of financing to allow it to scale up its business in China.

"There’s only one social media-based marketplace out there and that’s us,” says Mr Janes. “We want to be a London technology company waving the UK flag globally. It’s a pretty ambitious project but we have aspirations to be the UK’s biggest global technology company. If we open up India and China in the right way, it wouldn’t be silly to suggest we could have over 100m members in three years.”

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Beyonce Knowles arrives for the 2015 Anna Wintour Costume Center Gala held at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Photo: EPA/JUSTIN LANE

The world of high fashion is most certainly weird and wonderful. On this, most people agree – especially those who work within it. What is isn’t, and has never been, is nearly naked. Fashion is definitely not about having no clothes on.

At Monday night’s Met Gala in New York, the typical flocks of eccentric and beautifully dressed celebrities were present and correct. There were also a few scantily clad folk, but we’ll come to them.

First, it has to be said that, traditionally, the Met Gala gives excellent fashion from the world’s best designers. We expect a Hollywood actress in an Oscar-worthy gown, a fashion muse in a stunningly pretty dress and a pop star in something quirky. So big thanks for delivering to Jessica Chastain who turned up in Givenchy, Alexa Chung in Erdem, and FKA Twigs in Christopher Kane.

However, it is likely that you missed their outfits completely.

 in Peter Dundas for Roberto Cavalli (EPA/Justin Lane)

Their effort was for nothing at the Met Gala 2015 – or should we say #MetGala, a Twitter hashtag that received almost two million mentions on social media. Because even though selfie sticks and social media were apparently banned from the event, a rather disturbing new cult - that of dressing not for the red carpet but for maximum ‘Likes’ on Instagram – has come to the fore via the surgically enhanced, almost-naked bottoms of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and Beyoncé.

These four divas, with a combined following online of 97.5 million, independently decided to dress for the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in clothes that revealed more skin than they covered, using sequins only to prevent their outfits from being censored completely.

Beyoncé, last to arrive at the event (and two hours late), spent ten minutes posing up a storm in her sheer Givenchy Couture gown with strategically placed baby pink and blue crystals, with husband Jay-Z looking on appreciatively. Within hours, an image of Beyoncé in the dress had more than a million “Likes” on her Instagram feed. The same went for Kim Kardashian, whose carefully choreographed poses highlighted her enlarged derrieire. Tacky.

In the old-world of fashion media, dressing for the Met Gala, an event inaugurated in 1948 as a museum fundraiser for the cream of New York society, always equalled the highest of high style and fashion innovation. Indeed, the Met Gala marks the opening of the annual fashion exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This year’s display, China: Through The Looking Glass, was also the supposed cue for the dress code of the ball.

Apart from Rihanna, whose caped gown with its 15-foot train took Chinese couturier Guo Pei two years to embroider, very few took the dress code at its word.

Sarah Jessica Parker in a dress designed by herself in conjunction with H&M and headpiece by Phillip Treacy (EPA/Justin Lane)

And the reason is quite simply – apart from fundraising in excess of $12 million a year for the museum – the Met Gala is no longer about what it says it is.

Instead, it is about the agenda of every fashion brand taking part to gain the maximum global exposure, and right now it really is all about “Likes” on Instagram, Facebook or on up-and-coming social media streams such as Periscope, Meerkat and the newly revamped Snapchat (which allows users to sign up to an “as-it-happens” feed of images). Indeed, if you want to feel like you actually attended the Met Gala, download Snapchat and look up American Vogue’s roll of images includes Beyoncé giving a curt “Hello” direct to camera and Justin Beiber joshing around with Olivier Rousteing of Balmain.

And here we get to the crux of the matter. By all accounts, most people will have already seen the Met Gala via their various social media feeds – so what is left to consume after that?

Amal Clooney in Maison Margiela (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

And what actually comes from “Likes”, and why do people want them? “It might look like a spontaneous event in terms of images, but I can assure you it probably took longer to organise the order of the limos arriving than it did to curate the exhibition,” says Jonny Ng, a digital strategist who works with luxury fashion brands. “The idea with ‘Likes’ is to be the most talked about brand the next day,” he says. “Fashion brands are very competitive.”

Richard Danks, of the Portas agency, adds: “There are hundreds of people out there whose job it is to get as many likes as possible. But the ultimate goal is to engage as many people as possible with the brand or celebrity to drive sales.”

There is also the question of whether Beyoncé, Kim et al are merely fuelling the objectification of women or citing girl power 2015. But that’s a debate for another day. For now, let’s enjoy the fashion.


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Summer beauty - it's a lot like regular beauty, but with the added struggle of stopping it sliding all down your face. When there's nowhere to hide under the flattering filter of winter clouds (seriously why is everything so bright?!), things need a switch up in the makeup bag department.

Luckily, we've enlisted some help.

Meet Britain's biggest beauty bloggers, the women who taught a nation how to contour (sorry Kim, they did get there first) and team behind budget-friendly brushes Real Techniques.

Makeup artists Pixiwoo, aka Sam and Nic Chapman, know their stuff (nearly two million YouTube subscribers can't be wrong) so we grilled the dynamic duo on their top five tips for summer:

1. What are three summer beauty looks that you'd suggest for 2015?

  • Skin as always is a huge story for 2015. Layer sheer washes of product to create a natural radiant base. Use creamy pearl highlights to the high points of the face to catch the light. 
  • A graphic liner can add something a little different to your makeup wardrobe. Bronze, olives and gold liner make for a nice alternative to the classic black.
  • Forget the harsh contour trend of last year and dab on a pop of colour to the apples of the cheeks. Cream blush will give you the most natural, fresh result.

2. What key lip colours are hot for summer this year?

It’s all or nothing for this summer. We have seen tons of barely there nudes which softly moisturize and enhance the natural lip colour or go full on vamp in a deep plum or rich, vibrant fuchsia.

3. Any favourite, easy looks if you're attending a wedding?

For any easy look buff on a tinted moisturiser, dab on a cream blush to the apples of the cheeks, curl the lashes and apply a few coats of mascara. Cream stick eye shadows are super easy to slick over the lid and if you’re lacking in the lash department then grab some individual short lashes and place in between your natural lashes to fill and give volume.

4. The 70s trend is huge at the moment - would you suggest going heavy on the eyes or lips?

Go for a bold eye. Use a cream base as a block colour all over the lid and softly buff over a powder shadow in a colour of your choice. We love soft plums or shimmering taupe’s blown out and blended low beneath the eye. Don’t forget the brows though even if it’s just a slick of clear brow gel to set them in place and frame the eye.

5. Three products that are in your handbag that you can't do without?

  • Real Techniques retractable Kabuki brush- Great for powder, blusher, bronzer and general clean up’s on the go.
  • MAC Hush Cream colour base- Use as an eye shadow base, a highlighter, an eye shadow or mix in with your body lotion to give skin a radiance.
  • Maybelline Brow Drama-Lightweight gel to separate brows but give them a natural definition.
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Selfie Sabotage: What Millennials Don’t Understand About Social Media

Taylor Swift takes a selfie with fans. (Photo: Instagram)

When my former student Cara phoned, begging me to recommend her for a P.R. job at a Connecticut college, I Googled her. She popped up in a thong bikini smaller than the one on Sports Illustrated’s last swimsuit cover. Previous pictures the 24-year-old had shared showed her side boob, bootie crack, and other body parts parodied on E! Fashion News.

“You have other assets to show off,” I suggested. 
“I’m proud of my looks.” 
“You can be proud — and clothed,” I said.

I applauded Facebook’s decision to ban genitalia pictures and restrict nipple shots from its 1.39 billion users, and quoted a Jobvite survey showing 55% of job recruiters reconsidered candidates based on inappropriate social media profiles. Still, the computer-age kids in my college classes were shortsighted when it came to covering up online. I explained to Cara how some older bosses might prefer more publically modest employees.

“Maybe older people are jealous they don’t have hot bodies to show off,” she countered. 
“Maybe this is why you’re unemployed?” I didn’t ask.

Buried beneath Cara’s beach bingo beer parties was a shot of her in a pastel dress. I offered the reference immediately — in return for her replacing her skin shots with a hirable photo. They disappeared before my eyes. She landed the job, but called me a prude.

Discussing this generational chasm, Steve, a 21-year-old IT programmer in my class said, “I wouldn’t work for an old puritan boss. I’d think: You’ll be dead soon and we’ll take over the world.” I was amused he assumed he’d never age or grow staid, and that eventually everybody on the planet would be selfie-stripping.

At least he argued. Kenan, my 30-year-old coauthor of a book on surviving the Bosnian war, posted a shirtless timeline photo of his chest tattoo. I reminded him that congressman Aaron Schock’s career derailed after he posting a bathing suit photo, picked up on TMZ. “If you want to be a political spokesperson be classy, not cheesy,” I instant messaged. Kenan de-friended me.

A Manhattan liberal, I used to be an edgy downtown partier. Until I realized I couldn’t be an urban feminist with my conservative father helping with my rent. I got sober, serious, and more successful. Teaching by night, I became a journalism professor approached daily for assistance getting internships, full-time gigs, clips, agents and editors. If I spied too much of my young “friends” and “followers” in my social media feeds, I’d warn the job-seekers asking for advice that sharing half-naked pictures were a half-baked idea — unless they aspired to model-hood, pornography, rapper-dom, or Kardashianism. Colleagues over 35 in other fields wouldn’t even interview someone who had publicly flashed their birthday suit.

Some students shared racy pics and videos using SnapChat, which allegedly self-destruct, memory-less. Yet even those images might hurt and haunt: They could be screen-grabbed and reposted by ex-lovers on revenge porn websites. With racy Smartphone photos, GPS coordinates allowed strangers to track you.

Debbie, a talented new author I was mentoring, celebrated her divorce by posting a shadowy photo of herself in a brassiere, captioned: “The bra I wore at my wedding.” I declared: “tacky.” She retorted: “empowering,” But her upcoming memoir chronicled being raped. “I’m worried that photo could hurt your credibility.” She insisted I was slut-shaming and judging her, squashing self-expression.


The author, Susan Shapiro. (Photo: Susan Shapiro)

Was I? I realized I was lucky I was a forty-year-old married author and teacher during the Internet’s rise. All my humiliating mating blunders, excruciating breakups, and addiction problems happened off-line. Documentation of my wilder days was hidden in photo albums in my closet. With close human pals and a real mate, I mostly used networking websites for work. Students helped me on sites where I could press one button to invite thousands to book events. When flashed by someone I barely knew, I de-friended, un-followed or blocked. But what about pupils and protégés I cared about?

I’d been hurt when my Midwest father likened my revealing first person writing to “running naked in the streets.” Had I turned into my judgmental Dad? As an artistic working woman who’d struggled for decades, I hoped to inspire, the way older mentors had guided me.

“Listen, it’s a beautiful photo,” I told Debbie, backtracking about her bra picture.
“It’s the first time I feel sexy again since the assault,” she confided. “Shouldn’t I feel good about my body?” 
“Of course.”

But I explained that once online, an image wasn’t yours anymore — you couldn’t control it or its context. I lamented how a newspaperman reused an unflattering picture of me I hated that someone else posted to illustrate a story, without my permission. It took ten emails and calls to erase. Still, Google my name with that paper and it remained. Some tech firms charge thousands to remove digital footprints.

I talked Debbie into saving her photo for a future tasteful woman’s magazine spread. Since many only published in print, it would have less chance of going viral or being trashed by trolls. It would be safer and more contained than sharing herself in one instantly gratifying post. I’d rather be protective and careful than cool.

So when I caught a risqué self-captured candid of Royal, a 29-year-old journalist who’d just interviewed me for an author profile, I messaged him privately. “You’re a great guy I enjoyed working with. But do I really need to see you in the shower?” The next day he tagged me in a picture of him wearing a suit. “Now that’s hot,” I commented.

He sent the link to the piece on me. I was surprised it came with a provocative publicity photograph of me on my roof, showing off cleavage in a tight black dress and high heels.

“That was thirteen years and thirteen pounds ago,” I joked, sending him a new JPEG. 
“When people Google you, do you want all the online pics they see to be old and boring?” he asked. 
“Okay, keep my glam shot,” I relented.

Immediately on Facebook, comments called the former me “stunning,” “hot,” and “fabulous.” I suddenly understood how easy it was to succumb to the attention-getting impulse. Turned out, millennials didn’t have the monopoly on narcissism. I even “Liked” myself.

[By Susan Shapiro] [Read More]

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Fashion model and blogger Danielle Audain of indie.electronic.alternative chats with a free fashion event-goer about the latest trends pulled from select King of Prussia Mall retailers. (Sabina Louise Pierce)

Fashion model and blogger Danielle Audain of indie.electronic.alternative chats with a free fashion event-goer about the latest trends pulled from select King of Prussia Mall retailers. (Sabina Louise Pierce)


At this Saturday’s LOOKBOOK Live event at King of Prussia Mall, Glamour and GQ magazines invite you to “Make a Date with style.”

With date-themed closets for him and her, complimentary beauty and grooming stations, style-themed games that let you pick your favorite looks and allow experts from GQ and Glamour to choose the winning looks and more, LOOKBOOK Live is a free event full of tips for that special date night outfit and spring’s newest trends.

Local fashion bloggers Sabir M. PeeleIan Michael Crumm and Danielle Audain will be at LOOKBOOK Live, offering tips and advice for the perfect look and shoppers can win a $2,500 shopping spree through a social media challenge.

LOOKBOOK Live will run in the Nordstrom Court on May 2 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

[By Layla A. Jones] [Read More]

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Blogging is serious and unpredictable business, and for a Fashion blogger, that means being picture perfect at the drop of a pin. That, of course doesn't matter if you don't have the right gadgets to capture the perfect new outfit or accessory, to leave your readers lusting for more and the brands calling.

Fashion and technology have been mashed together on many occasions to create gadgets that not only look amazing, but that simply the life of a fashion blogger, by providing the ability to create great images and blogs.


Freedom Pop Photon:

Stay connected at all times, whether you are traveling or simply choosing to work out of the house/office. For $39.99 you receive a small, and portable device, and FREE Wifi.

"Unlike DSL and Cable Internet technology that require physical at home or at the office connections, wireless Internet technology, including Wimax and LTE allow Internet access anywhere, anytime, with any device. Connect your desktop, iPad, iPhone, laptop or any device wirelessly, ensuring Internet access no matter where your life takes you. Whether you need to connect to the Internet from home, the office, coffee shop, hotel, or even at the bar, wireless Internet technology will connect you."

Although there are plans that cost more, you can get 500MB through the basic plan free of charge. Up to 8 devices with 12mbps download speeds.

Sabrent Premium 4 Port USB Hub

The sleek design of this MUST HAVE hub, a fashion blogger's perfect, useful companion. And useful you will definitely find it to be, especially when you start connecting all of your other little gadgets to your laptop, computer, or tablet. How awesome would it be, to be able to connect your devices without having to fidget with a computer, straining to disconnect and connect?


LEDs: 1 x Power; 4 x Status
Data transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps
Four downstream ports support high speed (480Mbps),
full-speed (12 Mbps), and low-speed (1.5 Mbps)
Supports up to 127 devices by daisy-chaining multiple hubs
Maximum of 500mA per USB Port
Reverse compatible with USB 1.1
Driverless installation
Some power-intense USB devices may require a AC-Powered USB Hub (See Model USB-HWPS)

Canon 50 MM F/1.8 II

Blogging has definitely created a new generation of photographers. Whether you are a fashion blogger, a food blogger, or even a lifestyle blogger, every image can either compliment your blog posts, or chase potential followers away.

With platforms like Pinterest quickly becoming the leaders in the social game, photography is becoming an important part of blogging success.

A 50mm f/1.8 lens should be a part of your photography kit.

Worried about blurry backgrounds?

Worry no more! Not only will blurry backgrounds be a thing of the past, but you will no longer worry about shooting in low light. Great quality, incredible images, and an unbelievable price will leave you wondering how you could have ever survived without this incredible fashion blogging must have.

Sony Cyber-shot QX10

Wouldn't it be easier to be able to just grab your phone and be able to take an amazing selfie of yourself wearing the next hottest accessory, to share with your instagram fans without having to worry about quality?

Thanks to the sony cyber-shot QX10, you no longer have to panic if you leave your camera at home, and a picture perfect moment presents itself. The QX10 is a lot more affordable than it's big brother QX100, making it a lot more affordable for the new blogger on a budget.


Clips to Smartphone and Shoots Uncoupled
18.2MP 1/2.3" Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
BIONZ Image Processor
Sony G 10x Optical Zoom Lens
25-250mm (35mm Equivalent)
HD 1080p Video at 30 fps
Built-In Wi-Fi and NFC Connectivity
Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
Compose and Adjust Settings from Phone
Saves Images on Smartphone and Camera

Sony Cyber-Shot QX100

The QX10's big brother, with a price point to match, the QX100 is definitely for the blogger with a lot more buck to work with, but offers a few more perks that his little brother does not.

Get the shots you want w/ manual control via smartphone
High-quality 30p HD video with low grain even in low light
Impeccable low light performance thanks to large 1" sensor
Bright F1.8 Carl Zeiss lens with 3.6x optical zoom


By combining photography and video, the Fyuse team was able to create an app that allows you to capture the spaces in-between. Rather than capturing one moment in time, you are now able to stitch little moments together in order to create, and capture moments that you may not have otherwise been able to capture.

You don't have to be an experienced photographer to capture these unique images. Simply download the app, and to capture your spacial image, move your phone around various axes.

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With social media sites playing a larger role in influencing fashion trends, Google’s fashion and luxury teams are working with major brands and retailers to influence fashion trends. Brands like Calvin Klein will incorporate Google’s fashion planning and forecasting in order to determine what’s hot and what’s not. And companies that fall under “fast fashion,” such as H&M or Forever 21, will be able to research how a trend is gaining momentum and mass produce an item for a cheaper price.

Lisa Green, who heads Google’s fashion planning and forecasting, thinks her team serve as “powerful digital consultants for our brands, not just somebody they can talk to about what ads they can buy online. They can say, ‘Google has identified this as a trend, and we have six weeks to get this out on the racks.’ ”

Google Shopping is able to track how consumers are responding to the latest designs or fashion trends by gathering information as people search, compare prices  and shop online. Trevor Davis, a consumer product expert at IBM, says this data in valuable to fashion brands and retailers. “People tend to make trend predictions based on a very limited number of observations, and that’s very hit and miss. The ability to detect trends very early on before they really become noticeable, and to follow them, is invaluable,” he said.

A separate but equally important factor is whether a celebrity wore or promoted the item on their social media platforms. When the Kardashian sisters dutifully wearing their waist trainers while they work out, the corset-like shapers are in full demand,. They can range in price from $20 to hundreds of dollars. Also, sales for jumpsuits have increased, after Solange Knowles-Ferguson wore a white jumpsuit to marry her husband Alan Ferguson last November.

Google’s fashion trends data has helped Southern and Western cities not known for fashion trends to take a place on the map. The owners of the Tulle Skirt Shop in Utah have seen a tremendous growth in their sales as tulle skirts gain popularity. Co-owner Sherene McClellan believes the trend comes from rural Utah women shifting from sultry looks to more feminine, romantic clothing.

While much of the focus here has been on the big names, small labels and boutiques also see the benefits of Google’s fashion activity. Technology helps even the small guy gain recognition for particular styles and compete in a larger fashion market.

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So you want to work at a startup. You know how to handle interviews and you know what startup skills you need. You know your strengths and can't wait to hustle.

Three years ago, I was in the same position. After working in the corporate world of fashion at Louis Vuitton and Aritzia, I was dying to work at a startup. I was particularly energized by Wantering, an up-and-coming fashion tech company, so I wrote a blog post on my personal fashion blog about why I thought Wantering was so game-changing.

To make a long story short, the founders were 'alerted' to my story via social media, the CEO and I ended up on a coffee date, and shortly after, I was the newest member of the Wantering marketing team. I have since been involved in a number of startup businesses, and I am currently working with Notey, a discovery platform that curates the world's best blogs.

Based on my experience, startups strive to perfect their product and find the perfect product-market fit. When it comes to hiring, startup founders likewise continually strive to find that perfect employee-company fit. After all, it's common knowledge in the startup world that "culture in a company is set by your first 10 to 15 hires" (Wall Street Journal). This may be surprising to hear but...what better way is there to show your would-be employers how awesome you are than through a blog?

Not only is a blog actual, tangible proof of your versatile talents and online prowess, but a blog also demonstrates your passions, creativity, style (both in writing and otherwise), and your ability to think outside the box and manage a brand (that's you!), all at the same time. A blog also gives potential employers a window into the way you work, like how you process information and solve problems.

Before we dive in...are you reading this article but, in all honesty, are having trouble imagining yourself at a startup? While they do get a reputation for their 21-year-old brogrammer CEOs, trust me! That doesn't mean there isn't a company, mission, and team that is a perfect match for your unique experience.

Or are you worried you have to be super techy to get in on the startup craze? You'd be surprised how far a little bit of tech skills can take you in an interview and on the job. Even if you're not a full-stack programmer, knowing some basics, like HTML and CSS (and blogging platforms like WordPress) can be the secret ingredient that puts you over the edge to getting hired. And blogging can be the perfect way to establish your expertise and prove your value.

Why blogging is good for you

If you're going to work for a startup, expect to juggle multiple responsibilities in the course of your career. Because startups are usually fast-paced, you have to learn on-the-go, take on countless responsibilities, and constantly (and efficiently) switch between what might 'normally' be delegated between five people — all on a daily basis. And blogging can help prepare you for a work environment like that (and even make you more qualified for the job in the first place). Here are four reasons why blogging will help you land a startup job:

1. You'll develop a strong personal brand

"Personal branding is very powerful because it sends a clear, consistent message about who you are and what you have to offer." (Aspire For Success).

Individuals can have as much presence as a big brand (or a growing startup), and blogging is one aspect in your 'personal brand toolkit' that will help your brand equity develop and thrive. It acts as an online 'window' into your personal self, a sentiment echoed by Ryan Hoover of ProductHunt: "If you read my writing, you will know how I think. If you agree with my analysis and recommendations, you will trust my product decisions. If you disagree, then we shouldn't work together anyway." (The Next Web).

Your blog will showcase the ways in which you are unique, how you differentiate from others, and what you have to offer, and your blog sets you apart from the crowd in far more ways than a snazzy business card can.

2. You'll reach people and get noticed

In the competitive world of startups, you don't just need to reach out to others and broaden your network — it's strategic to become an "influencer" yourself. Thanks to social media, this can be done by simply establishing a following in your area of expertise and/or interest.

A blog allows you to tangibly provide 'proof' of your authority. Not to mention, your social 'proof' will come in handy and garner you a little extra juice when it comes time to leverage your social mojo to help grow that startup when you're an employee.

3. You'll refine and develop your skills

You'll become an expert creator — a storyteller (through both words and images), communicator, and thinker. You'll be able to critically analyze and leverage the ways in which you developed your own brand and blog.

What better way to "wow!" your interviewers, provide proof of your skills, and showcase how you'll be able to bring those techniques to the table?

On top of all of that, blogging forces you to learn a certain level of technical skills — you may have to learn how to maneuver WordPress, learn some HTML, and even get the hang of SEO basics. Proving to potential employers you have a solid foundation of skills like HTML, SEO and even social media up your sleeve is absolutely essential if you want to work in the startup landscape.

Plus, 99% of startups have or want a blog of their own, for marketing and branding purposes. If you have the full range of skills and experience to manage and grow a blog, you bring a wildly valuable marketing skillset to the table.

4. You'll boost your confidence

Once you get your blog up and running and grow a bit of a following, guess what? Your confidence will increase exponentially. You'll become desensitized to communicating and publicizing your opinions. If you were reluctant to put yourself out there to begin with, blogging and owning your digital persona and thoughts will become your new status quo.

But what can I even blog about?

Okay, great! Starting a blog is a great move if you want to get hired at a startup, but what if you aren't really sure what to write about?

Not to worry, young padawans, here are a few topics of interest to blog about if you haven't the slightest idea of how to get started:

1. Your interests

This one is everyone's favorite — who doesn't like to talk about the things they love? These should primarily be related to the industry you're trying to break into (whether that istechnologyfashion, or 3D printing). If you really want to make a splash, stand out as anexpert. If you want to join a fashion startup, write about newsworthy brands (J. Crew versus Zara), analyze industry issues (the eco-friendly movement) and critique (or give love to) current practices you think need improvement. Gloria Chik, founder of the lifestyle blog,urbanebloc, did just that. After years of blogging about her interests — fashion, food — she was hired at Tunezy as their Director of Marketing before they were acquired by SFX Entertainment.

2. Your opinions

Stay up-to-date on current events (knowing what is going on in the world is always ideal if you want to be a real contender for a job), and then write about them. Include your own personal twist. If we wanted to read about facts and information searchable on Wikipedia, then we would go to Wikipedia. Opinions matter (and are much more interesting than dry content that lacks any entertainment value).

Are you dying to do front-end design work for an eCommerce startup? Share your thoughts on graphic design trends, admire an up-and-coming company's branding, or create tip sheets for others in your space. Another idea? Do your research to check if the founders or other employees at your desired startup have their own blogs. Comment on relevant posts and show you also have the brainpower to contribute thoughtful conversation.

3. You in the tech / startup space

Include stories on (for example) your favorite apps, product reviews, inspirational founders, and why you're a die-hard Xiaomi versus Apple fan.

Even better? Write a story on the actual startup you want to work at — like I did! Use their product, learn the company inside-out, and pen a post on why you love their latest features and why they are the next best thing.

Showcasing your "tech space" prowess will demonstrate your experience in the field, as well as your passion for it. Your future-employers would be lucky to have someone so plugged in!

If you're not already, I recommend reading and subscribing to the following tech and startup-focused blogs: MashableRe/codeFast CompanyVenture Beat and TechCrunch.

4. Your skills and knowledge

This is quite literally your time to shine — a space dedicated entirely to you. Make use of it. Showcase yourself and all the knowledge that you have! Look at what questions people are asking (those comment sections are so useful when it comes to brainstorming for content!) and answer them.

If you're a social media star, what Twitter secrets can you share with others? If you're acopywriting connoisseur, what tips can you share on writing headlines? If you're a web designer, what sites have you designed? If you're a developer, what apps have you worked on?

5. Your OTHER interests

Show how fabulous and well-rounded you are through your knowledge and interest in passions outside of "work". Whether that is food photography, philanthropy, a personal project (perhaps you're building your own 3D Printer!), or poetry — show yourself off! Cindi Leive, Editor-in-chief of Glamour Magazine said it best: "...you want to hire people who have something going on in their lives besides work." (New York Times).

And if you REALLY get stuck, try the Hubspot Topic Generator to help you turn keywords into blog post topics in a snap.

So there you have it. Even if you don't think you're a good writer, or you think you're not experienced enough to be considered an expert in your field, seriously, what's holding you back? Give yourself a shot, and allow the world to see through your eyes for a change.

If you really want THAT gig at THAT startup, blogging can give you the competitive advantage that makes you stand out. In the wise words of Ryan Hoover of ProductHunt, "Blogging is the new resume," and I wholeheartedly agree (The Next Web).

[By ALICE KO] [Read More]

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Like many millennial girls, Calla O’Malley’s first favorite perfume was Marc Jacobs Daisy —partly because the smell was floral and fun and partly because the bottle design was just so darn cute. There was just something about the way the bottle sat on her vanity that made O’Malley say to herself, have to draw that.

So she did. And the result was beautiful.

For the past year, O’Malley, a 25-year-old freelance illustrator, has been posting illustrations of her favorite beauty products on her Tumblr, The Palette. People can’t seem to get enough. It may sound odd, but there’s just something alluring about seeing your favorite eyelash curler brought to life as an illustration.

O’Malley says grabbing inspiration from beauty products is easy. She sees them as objects that are so artful and beautiful on their own, they basically do all the work for her when it comes to conceptualizing the illustrations. “I think so much goes into designing them, and I just love to look at them,” says O’Malley. “I even started filling up my house with beauty products as decoration.”

O’Malley says that since she has started posting her drawings, she has received a good amount of requests from readers to purchase her work, and we don't blame them. She takes cult classics and turns them into something you would want to hang on your wall.

We felt the exact same way, so we asked O’Malley to create a special illustration just for Allure. And we couldn’t be happier with what she came up with:

calla-allure-illustration.jpgCheck out O'Malley's blog and her her Instagram for more of her impressive work.
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Lord knows I love a selfie. But lately scrolling through Instagram is starting to feel like I'm flicking through the Stepford Wives Yellow Pages. (Young People, the 'Yellow Pages' was something people used to use before Google. It was a book? Like a Kindle but with real pages? OK, cool.)

Photo after photo, women pop up with near identical pouts, long hair extensions and brows which are, supposedly 'on fleek' (seriously, stop). And before you start typing a scathing "It's because you're jealous you ugly feminist writer lady" young keyboard warrior, I'll stop you there. Many of these women look all kinds of pretty, but what worries me is the homogeneous nature of their posts.

With a plethora of airbrushing apps and an eerily similar photo composition it's become a breeding ground for human Barbies. And my question is; when did our idea of beauty get so plastic?

Like many, I can see the virtue of a good Instagram filter. In fact, I would happily give the creator of said filter a giant snog for making my face look supremely better than it does in real life. And um, as if I'm going to post a photo without one when I'm contending with said Insta-clones. I would look like a swamp creature.

This homogeneous, and not to mention very narrow, ideal of beauty is one WAGs of the noughties championed but now it's making an appearance in the everyday lives of us mere civilians.

OK, so I have a confession. I haven't been into an actual real life club in a while. I'm almost 26 and clearly going through an early mid-life crisis. I would always choose a night in with a bottle of wine and the boyfriend over pricey drinks and pretension, so sue me.

But when I do go, I'm confronted with a sea of near-identical lady-bots, all in a uniform of body-con and fake eyelashes. And it makes me a little bit sad.

Now, at this point I must admit that I work in social media so I will defend it until my death (or at least until I get discovered by a top model agency and get whisked away on a private jet. Hi, Select, I'm ready whenever.)

But I do think it has a lot to answer for. As humans, I think it's natural for us to want to be part of something, whether that's a community in the physical sense or, more recently, online. However, I do think there's a danger of us slowly losing our individuality. Our little quirks and idiosyncrasies are what make us unique after all.

The impact of the Insta-clones can shake even the most robust characters. Following a particularly intense Instagram sesh I found myself longing for hair extensions. Even though, with my pixie haircut they would, quite frankly, look ridiculous. And this is no offence to those hair extension advocates - the point is it just isn't my style. Stop making me question my crew-cut, goddamnit.

Also I once tried some clip on ones for a night out and had to take them out an hour in because I was SO HOT. And I can tell you now, it is extremely awkward explaining why you have a clutch bag full of human hair.

Enter the one-woman game changer, Stefania Ferrario. She's changing perceptions of beauty, one unnervingly beautiful photo at a time. Stefania started the #DropThePlus campaign which aims to dismantle narrow perceptions of beauty in the model world. Yes, she's stunning. Yes she's white. But with her short hair (I'm biased) and curves which are enough to make a grown woman weep (me) she is a true inspiration.

And if you manage to scroll past the reams of lady-bots, you'll notice there is a bit of a movement growing. I may not be best placed to comment as a heterosexual woman, but I imagine social media provides the LGBT community a great platform to discover their true selves without judgment. Especially if you come from a little insular town in the West Country, such as myself.

Social media is a good egg really.

If the images we were scrolling through everyday celebrated a diverse range of beauty, maybe we'd all be a little bit happier with what we've got. And if the latest petition to take down that Bikini Body advert in the tube is anything to go by, people are ready for something different.

Whatever you look like, embrace it. Don't try to alter yourself to fit in with something you're not. And whatever you do, be your own kind of beautiful.

[By ] [Read More]

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