The Huffington Post


Have you checked out some of my contributions to The Huffington Post recently? I've interviewed a whole host of inspiring women in business. 



Do you love Pinterest as much as I do? Then we should be pinning twins! (Plus, who wouldn't want to look at the gorgeous array of shoes that I regularly pin?!)

Business Spotlight: Kim Edwards, Step & Lizzie


Kim Edwards is the Founder & CEO of online boutique Step. & Lizzie.She previously served as the Director of Inventory Planning at Wayfair, the largest online retailer of home furnishings in the US, where she implemented the Planning function. Prior to Wayfair, Edwards held Merchandising and Planning roles at and Wal-Mart. Edwards received her BSBA from Boston University and her MBA from Indiana University. She currently resides in Boston’s South End.

Check out my interview with her below and find out more about her exciting new venture! 

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
The most important thing you can do as a leader is surround yourself with a strong team. The team includes direct reports, outside vendors, mentors, anyone in your circle.

I am a college basketball fan and I often think about how Duke’s head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, describes putting together his basketball team each year. When the players are trying out Coach K wants to make sure the players have good basketball fundamentals: quick first step, solid free throw shooting, and strong passing skills, etc. He also places an equal amount of emphasis on how the players interact with their parents, the facility staff, and other players. He is looking for players who are respectful, willing to listen, and who will be good teammates. His philosophy is if the player has strong character traits and good basketball fundamentals, he can teach them the rest. He is willing to pass over someone with greater technical talent in favor of a player with a blend of character and technical skills.

That is the logic I use when making hiring decisions or even when I choose who to keep in my circle. If you have good, smart people in your life, everything else is much easier. You have a team of people who have a great amount of knowledge across a diverse set of functions who are willing to work together to achieve a common outcome. As you bring in these great resources, more people start believing in what you are delivering. Because of the strong character of your team, you can have honest conversations and the recipient knows you are giving feedback with their best interest in mind. You also start to attract more great people who want to be a part of the mix and the momentum snowballs.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Step. & Lizzie?
I have been very lucky to work at some of the most successful retailers in the world. At the larger organizations I learned solid business fundamentals, how to think about scaling, and how to solve problems creatively. Despite being large organizations, they were quite entrepreneurial, so I was given a lot of opportunity to think through and implement out of the box solutions at large scale using world class resources. I use these experiences in creative problem solving every day at Step. & Lizzie.

Working at smaller organizations gave me the opportunity to be even more entrepreneurial. At smaller companies, you are usually resource constrained and unable to implement the full solutions you would like. The ability to live with the messiness of completing what you need at a level that is sufficient for now then moving to the next thing is necessary for a startup. Those experiences gave me the confidence to launch on my own.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Step. & Lizzie?
Startup life is a roller coaster of emotions. The challenge is to consistently work through the plan despite the highs and lows. The greatest highlight so far was my first sale.  It is an unbelievable comfort to get that feedback loop from customers letting you know that this business is something they want. As a young business, the biggest challenge is still the uncertainty. There is a lot of patience needed at the beginning of a business.

What advice can you offer women who are looking to start their own business?
Know what your true goals are in life and how your business ties into those goals. Starting a business is scary. If your only goal in starting a business is financial gain, you will likely quit very quickly. Financially, it is a lot more comfortable to get a steady paycheck from a larger company. You need to be bought into the idea of something greater to have the patience to see it through.

My other piece of advice would be network, network, network. I am so lucky to have built a tremendous network over the past 15 years. As an entrepreneur you need to be able to know every function. Most likely, you don’t actually know all the functions today. So, you need a group of people who collectively know how to do everything well that are willing to spend some time teaching you what they know.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a work/life balance when you have a startup. The list of things you need to do is never ending and every moment you aren’t working is a moment the business isn’t being built. Also, if you picked a business you are passionate about, you don’t really want to stop working on it because it’s fun. When I decided to launch a business, I also made the decision to put my personal life on the backburner while I get Step. & Lizzie up and running.

I do a few activities to get my mind to wind down in order to maximize its performance. I try not to think about work the hour before bed so I can get a good night’s sleep, which is really important to be bright the next day. I also try to get outside for at least 30 minutes everyday which also helps recharge the batteries.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The STEM curriculum is critical for women in the workplace. Data analysis and engineering skills are must haves for job security in today’s workforce and they will only continue to grow in importance. I grew up in the Silicon Valley in a school district that was a few blocks from Apple headquarters. Most of my friend’s parents were software engineers. As a young girl, I had no interest in that field. The concepts felt so confusing. When I was in business school, I had two great business modeling professors, Dr. Wayne Winston and Dr. Don Harnett. They taught us how to build business models by breaking down problems and using Excel and other programs to do the math. The value was really in setting up the problem. Those courses changed my career trajectory. Before business school, I only knew how to add cells in Excel. By the time I graduated, my quantitative skills were strong compared to my peers in the workforce and that helped me advance in my career. In my day, girls tended to shy away from STEM subjects. I am happy to see the percentage of girls in STEM programs increasing because that will dramatically impact their earning potential and career options.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship has been important in my workplace education over the years. For me, corporate sponsored mentorship programs did not really work. I never felt comfortable opening up to someone who was assigned to be my mentor. I have had great success, though, in finding informal mentors. It is important to find mentors who you connect with and who have an interest in your succeeding. I think the best way to find a good mentor is just to meet different people and listen. Look for a person who knows things you don’t, who you believe has good judgment, and who is willing to take time for you. Do not pick a mentor just because they have a flashy title. Use thoughtful judgment. Also, have different mentors for different topics. One person might know how to manage up and get promoted. Another person may know the ins and outs of the function you are in. Some relationships only last the duration of you both working at the same company while others last decades.

I have also been a mentor to many people and it is incredibly rewarding. As you move up the ranks, don’t forget that you were once a 20-something too who needed the help of others as you moved along in your career. I feel like my career was kickstarted by a more senior alumni of my business school. We had a 30 minute phone call and he reached out to some of his C-level friends to help get me an internship. That internship got my foot in the door at my first post-MBA company and so on and so on. So, if someone contacts me for career advice, I typically respond, because it was the kindness of that one person who talked to me for just 30 minutes who helped launch my whole career.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I love to hear the stories of independent, successful female entrepreneurs. Over the past few years the success of Sarah Blakely (Spanx) and Bethenny Frankel (SkinnyGirl) has really inspired me. It was also exciting to see Marissa Mayer named the CEO of Yahoo!. In just the past few years, there has been this new wave of great female success stories of women who are using their innate skills to develop businesses for other women.

What do you want Step. & Lizzie to accomplish in the next year?
In the next year, I’d like to see Step. & Lizzie grow into a sustainable business that has legs. As part of that goal, I want to ramp up making the site a destination for smart, interesting women to exchange ideas and learn from each other in a fun way.

Step. & Lizzie

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would have been 85 today! Taking a moment to remember one of my personal inspirations, and one of America's First Ladies whose legacy can still be seen today. 

J Crew New Arrivals


White House Week


A new White House Board video was released this week, featuring Vice President Biden at the helm. The topic? Why it's so important to invest in America's infrastructure. Watch the video below.

President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law this week. Before the signing, the Vice President presented the President with the "roadmap" he asked for in the State of the Union -- on "how to keep a maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world." The report highlights successful job-training programs, details executive actions by the federal government, and aims to help more Americans in getting and moving up in high-demand jobs and careers. Find out more here. 

Forty-five years ago today, two American astronauts -- Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong -- landed on the moon's Sea of Tranquility, and Neil Armstrong planted the first footprint on the surface of the moon. As he made those first steps, Armstrong uttered that simple phrase we still remember today: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." President Obama joined all Americans honoring that giant leap forward, by inviting Neil Armstrong's wife, Carol, Michael Collins, the astronaut who piloted the spacecraft that orbited the moon, and Buzz Aldrin, to the White House. Armstrong passed away in 2012. Find out more about the mission here. 

Guest Blog Posts for Sylvan Learning



I've recently started blogging about my new business venture for Sylvan Learning! I'd love it if you could check it out!

Read my posts here. 

Flip Flop fun with CaliMojos


The sun is out in my part of the world, and in my eyes, there's been no better time to test out a new pair of flip flops!

SolarActive International, the largest global manufacturer of UV active colour changing products sent me a pair of CaliMojos, a pair of flip flops that changes colour immediately upon exposure to sunlight. Indoors they are opaque, and outdoors they become bright.

CaliMojos are made in Brazil, made with high quality and durable materials that are safe for the environment and for the owner. They are recyclable, nickel free and available in floral, tropical or butterfly design patterns.

The flip flops are super comfy, and are perfect for summer. Whether you are spending your vacation at the beach, in the city or at home, they are perfect for the season!

*CaliMojos sent me a pair of their flips flops to try and review.*

The Philip Stein Sleep Bracelet


I'm really intrigued by wearable tech, so when I heard that Philip Stein had introduced new colour options to its Sleep Bracelet I couldn't wait to find out more!

The latest fashions of the Sleep Bracelet offer a variety of colorful interchangeable ultra-soft material straps with high polished stainless steel and rose gold plated cases. The newly designed Sleep Bracelet features a front window display of Philip Stein’s proprietary Natural Frequency Technology.  Found in every Philip Stein accessory, the Natural Frequency Technology is finely tuned, similar to an antenna, to channel natural frequencies toward the bodies for personal benefit. As the cornerstone to the Philip Stein’s brand philosophy - Live in tune, the technology helps to promote a sense of wellbeing when worn on the wrist.

The new Philip Stein Sleep Bracelets offer a stylish accessory, designed for nighttime use. Wearers report benefits of falling asleep faster, sleeping more deeply, and waking up feeling more refreshed. The Sleep Bracelet is engineered for total comfort with an ultra-soft hypo-allergenic micro-fiber band. The band’s perforated holes allow the skin to breathe more readily, and the quick release mechanism makes interchanging bands a simple task.

Find out more by visiting the Philip Stein website. 

GIVEAWAY: Goodies from Julep worth $150+!


Political Style has teamed up with Julep to give a lucky reader the chance to win a selection of awesome nail products!

What's in the prize box:

  • Luxe Care Hand Cream ($20)
  • Oxygen Nail Treatment ($18) 
  • Freedom Polymer Top Coat ($18)
  • Ta Da! Quick Dry Drops ($14)
  • Essential Cuticle Oil ($18)
  • Five Nail Polishes ($14 each) 

This complete kit is worth $158!

Use the widget below to enter. The giveaway is open to all readers and closes on Tuesday 29th July 23.59PM EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Polka Dots at Tory Burch


If you love graphic dots then Tory Burch's new polka dot collection is a must-see! Check out some of my fave pieces from the collection below.

White House Week


President Barack Obama prepares to drive a Saturn SL1 vehicle simulator during a tour of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., July 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

This week at the White House President Obama took a quick trip across the Potomac to visit the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, a facility in McLean, Virginia that focuses on highway technologies that help make driving safer and smarter.

In the President's remarks, he talked about the importance of investing in new infrastructure technologies and renewing the Highway Trust Fund, as well as Congress's continued inaction on important policies that would positively benefit millions of Americans.

The President also hosted his sixth Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House, an annual tradition started by First Lady Hillary Clinton when she hosted a Ramadan Eid celebration dinner in 1996. Many consider President Thomas Jefferson to be the first President to host an Iftar dinner, as he hosted a sunset dinner to accommodate the fasts of an envoy from Tunisia over 200 years ago.

The Iftar is the meal after sunset that concludes the day of fasting during the month of Ramadan, a time to pray and reflect, to be reminded that we are equals in humanity, and to reaffirm commitments to helping the less fortunate, including those struggling from economic hardship and inequality.

Last night, guests were welcomed into the East Wing where a copy of the Quran owned by President Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was on display from the Library of Congress. At sunset, guests gathered in the Grand Foyer to break their fast with a date following the traditional melodic Muslim call to prayer led by a local student from the University of Maryland. Then finally, after a 16-hour day of fasting since sunrise, guests gathered in the State Dining Room for a halal meal with the President.

Laura and George W. Bush's Texas Retreat


I love to look at the homes of politicians, and the current issue of Architectural Digest has a great feature piece on the Texas retreat of former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura.

The 1,600 acre Crawford retreat was once referred to as the 'Western White House,' and its sustainable design was masterminded by architect David Heymann. The theme of indoor-outdoor living is heavily featured, and I love everything about it.

Click here for more photos and the full interview. 

Wish List: Tory Burch Insley Necklace


How gorgeous is this Insley gold plated, crystal and faux pearl necklace from Tory Burch? It's top of my wish list for the autumn! 

Momentage and Photographers Without Borders


Want to experience a new photography app and support a non-profit? Over the next several weeks, Momentage will be donating 10c to Photographers Without Borders for every individual moment a hashtag is posted on their app. Momentage is the first ever company to donate to a non-profit through the use of a hashtag (#photographerswithoutborders) until August 31st 2014.

I recently downloaded Momentage to my iPhone and love the look and feel of the app. The app is free, and it lets you craft and experience moments by combining hi-res photos, video, sound images, text and links into fun and editable collages. Momentage’s app allows its users to compose, edit and share life’s moments via collections of images, video and voice/sound. Photographers Without Borders (PWB) pairs up volunteer photographers and videographers with small charities and NGOs worldwide that need great photography and a platform for raising awareness to accomplish their goals.

I played around with some of the photos I took on my iPhone whilst in Toronto. What do you think?

To help donate to PWB download the free Momentage app in the iTunes store at Upload a Moment, add the hashtag #photographerswithoutborders and Momentage will donate .10 cents to Photographers Without Borders (PWB) organization.

Tory Burch for Fitbit- Preorder Now


The day has arrived- Tory Burch for Fitbit is now available to preorder! The Fitbit device comes in four designs: two silicone printed bracelets ($39,) a metal hinged bracelet ($195) and pendant necklace ($175.)

Visit Tory Burch to place your preorder! 

Top 10 Favourite Fashion Instagrammers


L-R: Tory Burch, Blair Ritchey, L Stevenson PR, Vestiaire Collective, Boden, AERIN, Anna Hart, Tommy Hilfiger, Sperry, J.Crew.

Instagram is one of my favourite apps and it always provides the perfect blend of escapism and fun. I try and upload several snaps a week, and I love checking out what my friends and favourite bloggers, designers and celebs have been up to. My top 10 favourite fashion Instagrammers are...

Blair Ritchey- Blair is an incredibly talented designer (and has been featured on Political Style in the past!) Her Instagram provides a snapshot into her design process, her studio and her fabulously stylish life in Ohio.

Tommy Hilfiger- for a daily dose of preppiness and all American cool I turn to TH.

AERIN- I'm a huge fan of EVERYTHING Aerin. Basically I want to live her life and be as cool as her!

LStevensonPR- Lauren Stevenson is the Head of PR and Communications for Harrods. I love her daily outfit snapshots and look to her for fashion inspiration for work and play!

AnnaEleriHart- Anna is the mighty cool force behind South Molton Street Style plus she is 45% Welsh! Her Instagram is super cute and features many cameos from her sweet dog, Lopez!

VestiaireCo- For a fun fashion break and updates on the latest stock, I love to pay Vestiaire a visit.

Boden_Clothing- For bright, British fashion, Boden is right at the top.

Sperry Top-Sider- When I'm dreaming of the sea (and the shoes I would wear,) Sperry is my first port of call.

Tory Burch- The Queen of prep, Burch's Instagram is perfect in every way.

J. Crew- And no list would be complete without J.Crew! This goes without saying.

Who are your favourite fashion Instagrammers? Let me know in the comments - and follow me here! 

AERIN Beauty


If you're like me, the chances are you love to try new beauty products. Step in AERIN- my new favourite! AERIN is the brainchild of Aerin Lauder, the granddaughter of the legendary Estee Lauder.  It's a global lifestyle brand inspired by the signature style of its founder, and includes footwear, clothing and items for the home. ( You may remember I wrote about Aerin's Beauty at Home publication a few months ago- it's an amazing book! )

In the beauty range I swear by the Rose Lip Conditioner. It contains intensive skin conditioners and a soft rose scent. I use it overnight to make sure my lips are perfect for the new day! Another great product is the Fresh Skin Compact Foundation which doubles as a concealer, providing seamless coverage.

On a recent trip I picked up a pot of the newly released Rose Balm. Crafted with an extract from over 350 rose petals, the pure-flower based balm soothes and deeply moisturises. It can be used on hands and cuticles, the face, eyes and lips. It is truly multi-functional! I was also given a sample of the hand and body cream- it smells divine!

Do you use any products from AERIN? Which are your favourites? 


White House Week


President Barack Obama has a pizza dinner with local residents who had written him letters, in Denver, Colorado, July 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This week, President Obama visited Texas and Colorado to meet with Americans who had written him letters. In Denver, the President met with:

  • Alex, who works at a furniture upholstery store in Denver, wrote to thank him for calling on businesses to raise the minimum wage.

  • Elizabeth, a rising junior at the University of Northern Colorado majoring in mathematics, wrote about how she's struggling to pay for school.

  • Carolyn and David, a couple from Denver with six children, wrote to let the President know how they were able to expand their chain of sandwich shops thanks to an SBA loan.

  • And Leslie, who's worked as a teacher for 26 years, wrote about the importance of early childhood education.

On Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to be the next Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The vote was 71-26.

Summer Reads


A few years ago I would religiously read every night for pleasure. Even through exam and finals season I would make time to read a few chapters of the latest book on my radar. Lately I've fallen out of this habit, and I am determined to get it back.

There's a few books that I want to complete over the summer- and so far I am not making bad progress! Here's what's on my summer reading list:

Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton - If you haven't heard that Secretary Clinton has released a memoir then I don't know where you've been! This book is a great read and reflection upon her time as America's top diplomat. What's next on her amazing journey?

Think and Grow Rich for Women by Sharon Lechter - Think and Grow Rich reframes Napoleon Hill's original concept especially for women. This book provides women with real life advice on how to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities and it has arrived on my lap at a perfect time!

Eureka! Making Brilliant Ideas Happen by Philippa Davies - I am so lucky to call Pippa a mentor and a friend. Her book Eureka gathers together neuroscience's most important findings to demonstrate exactly how we can tap into this source of inspiration to unleash creativity and drive our ideas into realisation. It's a fascinating and fun read.

My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel - Stossel's latest book is an account of his battle with anxiety, and a history of the efforts to understand the scientists, philosophers, artists and writers. I'm only one chapter in, but I am already hooked.

Latest Kindle downloads- Having a Kindle helps me to do some reading on even the most hectic of days. Lately, I'm reading some murder mysteries and books sent through NetGallery.

What will you be reading this summer? Let me know in the comments! 

Women in Business: Meredith O' Shaughnessy, Meredith Bespoke


Meredith Bespoke is something of an enigma in the world of events.  Its 36-year-old founder Meredith O’Shaughnessy is the industry’s best kept secret, and the woman the well-heeled turn to when the brief is a gathering which is to be the antithesis of the chocolate fountain and canapé, conveyor belt get-together.

With over seventeen years in the luxury event industry, founder Meredith O’Shaughnessy’s vision and ingenuity sets Meredith Bespoke a cut above the rest. Over the past three years Meredith Bespoke have built a stunning reputation, not just for the detailed creativity which goes into the planning and implementation of their productions, but for Meredith’s intuitive foresight for emerging trends in popular culture and leveraging this insight for the benefit of her clients globally.

Recognised in 2013 by Event as one of the “Fab 50 New Comers to Watch”, perhaps what differentiate Meredith Bespoke most significantly from other creative events companies are the other ingenious brands created by Meredith and offered to clients as an offshoot product.  Best known is Ohlala Macarons, which launched the UK’s first macarons and martini making workshops and handcraft macarons, so delectable and aesthetically pleasing that Meredith’s presence was requested at New York Fashion Week by Manolo Blahnik to ensure macarons were the order of the day. Vivienne Westwood clearly agreed, as at her recent bridal wear press day it was out with last decade canapés, and in with hand-painted Madagascan Vanilla and Gilded Orange Blossom Ohlala Macarons, which served as a beautiful accompaniment to the breathtaking couture on show.

Check out my interview with Meredith below! 

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I think having an unconventional upbringing has given me an open-minded attitude and a greater understanding that we all have different stories to tell. As a leader you need to respect that fact in others and draw out the best in them.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Meredith Bespoke?
With over 17 years working in nightclubs internationally the range of people that you work with is immense. The events we create at Meredith Bespoke are all about creativity and I still draw on my memory bank of the wonderful things I have seen, experienced and executed over the years.

My background has also infused in me a passion for events that are well delivered; it showed me that every single little part matters, from the drinking straws right up to the lighting, because people get joy from their entirety of their experience. It also taught me to think on my feet. Events can change in a split second, so you always have to be able to think laterally and beyond the immediate problem in hand. It’s these experiences that have shaped the way we design and run events today for our clients.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Meredith Bespoke?
While setting up a business from scratch is always a challenge, we added an extra layer to that by not accepting any external investment and bootstrapping everything. It’s meant that we often have to think of innovative ways to grow the company, but I honestly believe that it has contributed to our client’s faith in us. We have retained a personal touch whilst delivering the high standards the luxury brands sector demands.

In terms of highlights there have been so many but launching the America’s Cup Worlds Series at the Palazzina G Hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice has to be up in the top five. Having the Prince of Venice arrive via candlelit gondolier whilst the crews of the yachts danced disco provided a DJ we had flown in from London was pretty special!

Tell us about your new venture, Ohlala Macarons. 
Ohlala Macarons started off as a small passion and has now grown into a brand of it’s own. I have always loved the idea of deconstructing things that people perceive to be particularly hard and presenting them in a fun way. During our macaron and martini making workshops, a UK first, we teach the Ohlala Method of macaron making and allow people to create their own personalized cocktails. As with everything we do the focus is on fun and quality.

Recently we have started creating bespoke macarons for our client’s events. Including hand painted gilded Orange Blossom for Vivienne Westwood’s Couture Bridal wear press day and I was delighted to fly to New York to hand craft macarons for the Manolo Blahnik event for New York Fashion Week. Which was amazing, despite the snow storms!

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Be fearless. In retrospect I was very naïve when I started, but I think that helped carry me through some of the harder times.

Get advice that is external from your friends. My friends hand family have been amazingly supportive, but at the end of the day it’s your business and you have to learn to run it properly. We are on the Growth Accelerator program through Grant Thornton and have just been accepted onto the Innovation for Growth program with the British Library Business Centre. Both of these programs support us to constantly adapt and improve.

Just start. The first thing you do won’t be perfect, but that’s absolutely fine. It’s the starting that matters. And then listen, learn and adapt.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have a small puppy, Phoebe, who helps enormously with that. Whenever I need to step away and clear my head I take her for a walk around the hidden squares in Bloomsbury and that resets everything. It can be hard to step away from a new business, but I love what I do, which really helps.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I am the co-founder of an event called “How She Made It” that we host six times a year at the Club at The Ivy. This women only evening gives female business owners an opportunity to discuss the issues that they currently face, or might have faced in the past in the work place. There is still a huge range of challenges but it seems that women are finding their voices and feel more confident is asking for things such as variable working hours and breaking down the “boys club” culture that still exists in some industries. Encouraging women into high level positions and introducing flexibility in the workplace are both positive steps in the right direction.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I’m lucky to have a number of mentors who I turn to for advice and support. I believe mentorship to be hugely important; it has helped me not by providing direction for my business but has also been a calming hand when things have been a bit rough. Often a voice of experience telling you that you “are capable” is enough to spur you on. Personally they have encouraged me to take more time for myself and not allowed me to become too consumed by the business.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are incredible women doing some really inspirational things in the world at the moment. Anyone who is a trailblazer inspires me from Cindy Gallop, who is disrupting the porn industry with her “Make Love Not Porn” campaign, to Brigadier Nicky Moffat, who was the highest-ranking woman in the British Armed Forces. I’m lucky enough to bring these women together for the women only “How She Made It” events I founded with the incredible (and inspirational in her own right), Mary Keane-Dawson. Creating a platform for other women to share their stories and support each other encourages me to always strive that little bit harder.

What top tips can you offer Political Style readers who want to plan the perfect party?
- Be inventive. Always be aware of new trends and original concepts and then add your own unique twist.
- Think about how people will feel at your event, how will you welcome them? Who will you introduce them to? Be as personal as possible.
- It’s always a good idea to have an interactive element, it breaks the ice and encourages people to strike up conversations.
- Be a little bit outrageous, everyone wants something to talk about, so hire that glittery pink flamingo and put it in the middle of the room, people will love it!
- Make it fun! Parties are about bringing people together and creating new stories in their lives, so make sure they leave with a smile on their faces.

Meredith Bespoke

Simple Daily Make-Up Regime


I confess- I'm not someone who likes to wear a lot of make-up, but I make sure my daily routine regime is the best that it can be. I'm often in a rush in the mornings (thanks endless traffic jams,) so a regime that is simple and quick is one that I will subscribe too.

I like simple multi-use products, and many people often ask me what brands I am wearing. So, the secret is out!

I've been using Bobbi Brown products for two years, and was so glad I made the switch from another (well-known) brand. The SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer is perfect for my ever so pale skin, and provides me with the protection and coverage that I need. I hate shine, and the oil-free version gives a fresh and natural look. I also use the Pot Rouge in powder pink and gives just the right amount of colour for my cheeks. You can also use it on your lips! Garnier's Roll-On is great for hiding any dark circles, and it doesn't cake whatsoever.

For my eyes, I use Clinique's Quickliner for Eyes Intense in black, and Bobbi Brown's Everything Mascara. Both provide day-long coverage and don't cake.

I like to experiment with product for my lips, and equally love a drugstore chapstick as much as a higher-end lipstick or gloss. At the moment I love the Clinique Chubby Stick range. My two favourite colours are Chunky Cherry and Woppin' Watermelon.

What's your beauty regime? Tell me in the comments! 

The York Tote by Tory Burch


I carry a lot of stuff around with me, so big bags are my saviour. The newly released York Tote from Tory Burch is perfect for work and play, and comes in five great colours. I wouldn't mind one of the matching wallets either! 

Forward Fashion: Heidi Louise Griffiths, Lola and Me


I recently met Heidi Louise Griffiths, owner of Lola and Me at a networking event and was captivated by the fab pouch that she was carrying.

Heidi hails from my home town of Newport, and I am thrilled to feature her story- and her designs on Political Style. Read on to find out about her journey, and what she hopes to achieve with her business!

What is your background in design and fashion? 
My background is mixed with a broad selection of creative mediums. I started studying Fine Art as a college student where I experimented with photography, sculpture, print making and ceramics among other things. I then moved on to graduate University with a Graphic Design Degree before venturing to London to work within the Fashion Industry. It felt like a very natural progression for me individually, I'm very passionate about fashion and design. It was my years in London that fuelled my love for print.

Why did you want to start your own business?
When I was younger I never had a burning desire to become self employed, in fact the thought never really crossed my mind. It wasn't until I started to invest time in developing my own creative style or design handwriting that I starting to crave more and more creative freedom and independence. I wanted to experiment and this is difficult to do or express when you work for others. Now I run my own business I have complete control over the creative direction, this is stressful but very exciting. It keeps me on my toes and struggle to imagine it being any other way now.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as a business owner? 
I wouldn't have been able to develop Lola with out the experience I gained whilst in employment or if I didn't I would be going in relatively blind. I worked in Buying for many years and this gave me priceless knowledge about product development, range building, fabrication and garment construction. That's not even touching on business elements such as strategy, sale anaylsis and of course the manufacturing process. However running your own business is somewhat different, the risks multiply and you have to keep your 'eye on the ball' at all times. I'm lucky I have a very talented business partner who I share the responsibility with and who I know will be honest and constructive with me at all times.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Dirty Little Serifs and Lola and Me?
Every business and it's objectives is very different so each project we work on at Dirty Little Serifs means a fresh new slate and something new and exciting to work on. When a project is signed of and a client is happy it's hugely rewarding, it makes you remember that all the hard work you put in is worth it. When it comes to Lola and Me it's wonderful to have such great feedback from people on your product and of course sales! I've been very lucky to have customers blog about their purchases and others sending us pictures, this is such a great feeling to see items you've developed being put to great use.

I'm faced with challenges regularly, especially running two businesses. For one thing, time is precious. One of the most important things I've learnt is to take opportunities to step back and look at the bigger picture otherwise you develop a tunnel vision and this can be problematic.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
First and foremost I'd say do your homework. Doing your market research and putting together a solid business plan can be daunting, but it's worth the effort. Secondly I'd say be brave. Too many people with great business ideas never give themselves the opportunity because they're afraid. If you've got a great idea or a talent and you can make money out of it you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Thirdly be persistent. Starting a business is a marathon not a sprint, chances are you're not going to make your millions in the first 6 months. You have to keep asking questions, keep knocking doors and keep driving things forward, I'm still doing all of these things everyday.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Ha. This is something I'm working on. Running your own business can be all consuming, so switching off can be one of the most difficult challenges. However I try and plan as many social activities into my diary as possible as it means you become much more strict about your working hours. I try and exercise as often as possible as this helps with work and life. It aids me in staying focused and keeps my energy levels up, I try and do yoga when ever I can as this really relaxes me and clears my head for those moments I need complete quiet.

Who would be your dream customer that you would love to see using one of your products?
It would be somebody who really epitomises what Lola and Me is about. Someone who is bold and bright, who celebrates colour and is playful with their style, whilst still being strong, smart and determined. If I had to pick someone with a high profile, right now I would choose Emma Stone. She looks like so much fun and uses her fame well to project some very positive and clever messages about her charity work.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I think it's really important to learn from others who have been there, seen it and lived it. Whether employed or self employed, arrogance in believing in you know everything will lead to you falling flat on your face. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by a cluster of people who's opinions I value highly and I listen to on a regular basis. Wales had brilliant support networks for businesses from start up and beyond, these have been hugely beneficial to me. For me it's not just about learning something new, it can be a confirmation that you're on the right track with something or getting some un partial advise. It's also a good opportunity to relax and go out for a chat over coffee and who wants to say no to that :)

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I have huge admiration for women who have built great things, regardless of their sector.There are so many women who had made a significant difference to the Fashion Industry and these are the ones I aspire to. Vivienne Westwood and Diane Von Furstenberg for example are great players and contributors in the fashion game and in both cases success is unquestionable. I can only dream of emilating their achievements at this stage. But I also have a huge amount of respect for women such as Sophie Cornish. I love that fact that companies such as Not On The High Street are giving platforms for small business to grow and develop in a way that may otherwise not be possible.

What do you want Lola and Me to accomplish in the next year?
The next year is going to be very exciting for Lola and Me, I can't wait! I have so many ideas up my sleeve that I'm waiting to develop and materialise. We launched the start of our first range just before Christmas last year with a tiny range of accessories based around one core print, which has since grown to incorporate more prints and products. But in the next year we plan to expand this much further by offering a more diverse range of prints, acessory shapes and product types, this and finding more exciting ways to celebrate colour on a day to day basis.

SnapUp your shopping


Smartphones make it possible to do almost anything on the go. But when it comes to mobile shopping, constantly switching between e-mail, mobile apps and your web browser is slow and annoying. It’s tough to organize and keep track of the products you discover, and even harder to know when prices drop.

SnapUp made its debut in the past few days as an essential tool for every shopper to make it easy and fun to shop on your iPhone. By simply taking a screenshot of the item you’re already shopping for, SnapUp lets you organize and track the products you love. With a “snap,” the app tracks products on any retailer’s mobile app or website and compiles them all in one place.

How do you start snapping up your favorite things at the best price? It’s easy:

1.     Snap—Whether you’re browsing products in an app or in a mobile browser on your iPhone, simply take a screenshot of any item you want to keep tabs on.

2.     Organize—Simple swipe motions let you organize your snaps into customized dynamic lists so you can easily categorize and manage everything you’re shopping for.

3.     Buy—SnapUp alerts you when the price drops on an item you’ve snapped, so you can be sure you’re up to speed on the latest deal. Just click the “Buy” button in the app to purchase your item when the price is right!

“At SnapUp, we’re shoppers too, and we saw a need to reinvent mobile shopping,” says Shan Mehta, Co-founder of SnapUp. “But we’re not fashionistas trying to tell you what to purchase—we’re data geeks. As retailers constantly change prices and availability, and we’re committed to helping shoppers organize the products they love and get the best information possible.”

Find out more and download the app here. 

Links of the Week


4th July at The White House


White House Week


In the latest installment of Being Biden, the Vice President reflected on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Listen to the new episode here.

The President made a visit to 1776, a tech startup incubator in D.C. that supports entrepreneurs tackling major challenges in education, energy, health care, and other critical industries. The President’s visit coincided with the June jobs report, which shows the supporting role that startups and new businesses are playing in the American economy.

1776 was an outgrowth of the President’s Startup America Initiative to encourage and promote entrepreneurship. During the visit, the President had the chance to meet some amazing entrepreneurs.

As he said, places like 1776 are helping Americans “coming from a wide range of backgrounds -- we had former Army Rangers; we had lawyers; we had former HR folks, transportation experts, engineers -- all of them had the kind of energy and drive and creativity and innovation that has been the hallmark of the American economy.”

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at 1776, a tech startup hub in Washington, D.C., July 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Dr Biden was in Lusaka, Zambia this week her first stop on a three-country visit to Africa. Dr. Biden is joined by Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.

Dr. Biden’s trip to Africa will highlight the importance of girls’ education and women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society in accelerating economic development; improving health and educational outcomes; strengthening democratic governance; and fostering peace and security.

Upon arrival, Dr. Biden met with Zambia’s Second Lady, Dr. Charlotte Harland Scott, to discuss the major issues affecting women in the country, with particular attention to education, gender-based violence, health, and economic empowerment. They were joined by government officials to discuss activities that the local ministries are carrying out to empower women and girls.

After that, Dr. Biden visited the Shalom Community School and delivered remarks to underscore U.S. programs and priorities in education, health, and women’s empowerment. As Dr. Biden said, “The United States is committed to making sure girls and young women have the tools they need to not just survive – but to thrive in their communities."

Beacon & Lively Wearable Tech


Beacon and Lively
Wearable tech is at the top of my radar at the moment, and Beacon and Lively are the latest company to throw their hat into the ring.

The company has unveiled the first in a line of wearable jewelry technology—a stylish bracelet that both discreetly vibrates and lights up upon receiving a call, e-mail, text message, and other alerts, keeping users connected to their smart phones via Bluetooth LE. Starting in November 2013, the development of the bracelet took six months to complete. The bracelets are currently available for pre-order.

Dave Becker, Founder and CEO, brings over 15 years of experience in software sales and product management to the team while wife and co-Founder, Veronica Becker, brings experience with managing customers’ needs in the biotech and medical device industry. “Our first priority was to create something beautiful that people would actually want to wear,” Veronica said of the bracelet’s innovative approach to technology and design. “Functionality is important but the experience is crucial. People want technology to fit into their lives, not the other way around.”

The “smart” bracelet, which allows its user to be connected at all times without engaging in disruptive behaviors, is aimed toward fashion forward women who rely on their phones, yet want to remain discreet in professional and social settings such as meetings and dinners. The design of the bracelet was inspired by high-end fashions with dynamic lines, as well as light usage as a design accent. The sleek and restrained elegance of the bracelet is a call to current high-end and edgy jewelry, using architectural inspiration, such as city skylines. “Our product development efforts were focused on creating something beautiful and simple,” said Dave Becker. “Our bracelet is cast in metal like a traditional piece of jewelry. The experience is easy to personalize through the app which enables users to specify alert patterns and colors.”

Beacon & Lively was developed with the future in mind, evident through the brand’s mission to make staying connected effortless and fashionable. Key features include a sleek fashion-forward design, ambient alerts controlled by the user, discreet muting, battery length of approximately five days, water resistance, personalized profiles, and illumination-off mode. The bracelet comes in silver and gold, with more colors to be released, and it retails for $225.

For further information on the bracelet click here. 

June through Instagram


Preppy interiors at a members club | Toms and J Crew | Eureka moments thanks to Philippa Davies | My first conference as a business owner | the meaning of Laura | Dreaming of the Kate Spade selection at Indigo | New York Jackie | mini Laura | trip swag

4th July Entertaining


In the mood for a 4th July party? Check out my Pinterest board for some great entertaining ideas!

Follow Laura-Emily Dunn's board 4th July Entertaining! on Pinterest.

One Beat Designs Mlekoshi playground