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When it comes to prepping for a trip abroad, there are a number of things that most of us take into consideration before boarding our flight. And up there with confirming we have our passport is ensuring the safety of our luggage.

With that in mind, many of us opt to write our names and addresses on luggage labels, but according to some experts, this act is potentially asking for trouble.

Commenting on a move most of us have made, travel expert, Richard Clive Owens, explains that sharing your details on luggage labels ultimately announces "This house is empty, please burgle – and take your time."

"Don't put a friend's house because the criminals don't know it's a friend's house and will still burgle it," he added, according to mamamia.com

Offering an alternative method, Richard suggests we make use of our place of employment, saying: "Put a work address and mobile number on it.Then, even if your mobile has a problem, your name and work address will help you and your underwear get reunited."

And Richard's stalwart advice doesn't end there.

For anyone concerned that they're unlikely to reach their destination at the same time as their luggage, he advises taking a photo of your suitcase in order to present it to authorities if needed.

"Every time you fly, print this and carry it with you," he advised.

"If you ever lose your luggage, you can hand this to lost luggage when you arrive and, even if they don’t speak your language, they have everything they need to find your luggage."

This lad has thought of everything.

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Housework is a right pain in the proverbial, we know.

In fact, most people would rather spend their time doing anything else, but there are some tasks which many of us inexplicably enjoy.

From running a sponge over stained glass to seeing the clean track your vacuum makes across a crumb-filled rug, we like what we like and we won’t apologise for it.

And here are just 6 which bring us untold satisfaction…

Cleaning the bath

OK, it might not do wonders for our backs, but there's something hugely satisfying about seeing layers of fake tan and remnants of sudsy shower gel make their way down the drain, right?

There's just something about a clean bath and shower area that makes you re-evalute everything.

Vacuuming a rug

Some people love nothing more than creating a clean track through a dust-laden floor, and while we're right there with them, what we don't love is having to stretch the cable as far as possible and hope against hope it doesn't snap.

So, if you know that anguish all too well and vacuuming is your go-to household chore, you need a Dyson V8 cord-free machine in your life.

Not only do they clean floors, they quickly transform between stick and handheld mode to clean high, low and everywhere in between. Oh, the satisfaction!

Cleaning the oven

There's a reason so many people are fascinated by snaps of an oven before and after a thorough cleaning, and that's because it's like a brand-new machine.

Yes, it requires a lot of elbow grease, and you do spend more time than you anticipate on your hunkers, but hell is that finished product so worth it.

Just think of the delicious baking you can do in that bad boy now…

Cleaning out the fridge

Ridding your fridge of old produce and making room for new delicious items is a sure-fire way to make you feel on top of things.

Yes, you're being responsible and yes your mam would definitely be proud, but deep down you know that the task basically allows for a much-needed grocery spree, and you're only dying for a few treats.

Emptying the bins

Ok, we admit it, the task itself is pretty grim.

But tell us anyone who doesn't feel like they can take on anything after emptying every bin in the house, tying those bags tight and depositing them in the wheelie bin.

The sense of achievement, the sense of accomplishment and the sense of smugness negates any drop of bin juice that may have landed on your foot.

Brought to you by

Introducing a new way to clean. Balanced for easy handling of floor to ceiling cord-free cleaning.

Dyson cord-free machines don’t just clean floors. They quickly transform between stick and handheld mode to clean high, low and everywhere in between.

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Look, we're going to be honest here and admit that when it comes to vino we're far from aficionados.

Oh, we can make our way through bottles of the stuff no bother, but when it comes to differentiating between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, we're a little stumped.

So, when it comes to choosing a bottle at dinner, we tend to sidestep the menu for fear of looking utterly ignorant and instead simply request the house wine.

Not only does this approach prevent any potentially awkward exchanges, we generally assume that the house option is easier on the wallet.

But Lord, have we been wrong.

According to Ashley Ragovin, founder of Pour This, there is no hard and fast rule that says the house option will be the least expensive on the menu.

"There is no exacting way to classify house wine; it depends on whose house you’re in!" she explains in conversation with Bon Appetit.

By highlighting the varying approaches adopted by restaurants, Ashley explains that assuming you're saving a few by opting for the 'house' without looking at the menu is a fool's game.

"Some restaurants are excited to feature a rare find to expose their guests to something delicious. Some are just trying to purge the Sauvignon Blanc the wine buyer over-ordered to make room in the cellar." she says.

So, even if you dread that 'wine conversation' with your server, it's probably best (for your wallet) if you actually open that menu.

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So, in just over a week, I will turn 30-years-old.

I swear, I literally blinked and it happened.

One day I was 21 in a pair of knock-off Uggs and an over-reliance on Velour tracksuit bottoms, and the next I was 29 and lamenting my lost youth.

And while turning 30 is nothing to fear (or so I’ve heard), the milestone undoubtedly gives pause, and acts as a fairly handy platform to reflect on your twenties.

And this is what I realise I have learned…

1. The size on an item of clothing means nothing.

At this stage we know they are totally inconsistent, so why EVER get hung up on them?

2. You will ALWAYS feel better after you exercise.

No matter how tired or how miserable, 30 minutes of exercise will genuinely lift your spirits and energy levels.

3. Hangovers will catch up on you.

Enjoy your level 1 hangovers for as long as you can because there will come a day in your late twenties when a hangover means eight hours heaving into a wastepaper bin before a two-hour phonecall to The Samaritans.

4. There’s a lot to be said for comfortable shoes.

'Car to Bar' shoes aren’t for the fainthearted… or the flat-footed.

5. And even more to be said for a good bra.

The support! The comfort! The silhouette!

6. And then there’s the sheer joy of a hooded coat.

For a country as wet as ours, owning a hooded coat is still a novelty.

7. The way you’re treated by someone says more about them than it does about you.

Never forget that.

8. And what you say about someone says more about you than it does about them.

Be kind.

9. It’s never too early to save money.

Even if it’s just €5 a week, you’ll be thankful of the €260 at the end of the year.

10. The ‘you can sleep when you’re dead’ mantra is BS.

Sleep now; you’re bloody wrecked.

11. Your friendships will change, and accepting that sooner rather than later saves a lot of heartache.

Change isn’t always bad, but it is sometimes unavoidable.

12. You’re much more resilient than you ever give yourself credit for.

You will face challenges that you think you’ll never overcome, and guess what? You do.

13. Social media is a total swizz.

The day I see someone cutting their toenails into an empty Coke can on a Saturday night is when I’ll start believing it.

14. Keeping a diary is worth the effort.

Yes, it can be cringey, but for every toe-curling moment, there are ten laugh-out-loud memories.

15. Comparing yourself to other people is time wasted.

Be inspired; don’t be downcast.

16. The heartbreak you thought would cripple you will, in time, become a distant memory.

And guess what? You can also make that experience work to your advantage in the future.

17. Make time for your family.

You don’t know how long they’ll be around, and showing up means more to them than you’ll realise.

18. Spend money on experiences, not material things.

There are only so many photos of your designer bag you can show the grandkids.

19. Say yes, and figure it out later.

Hey, if it worked for Richard Branson…

20. Butterflies don’t last, but what follows is much more exciting.
 
Don’t ever lament the disappearance of butterflies if a feeling of contentment has replaced them.

21. Wearing your earphones does not entitle you to break wind in public.

You can't hear it, but everyone else can. And you know that.

22. It wasn’t a mistake, it was a lesson.

It might not feel like it at the time, but there will come a point when it dawns on you.

23. Water is your best friend.

And not just a hangover remedy.

24. Strong women will ALWAYS build you up.

Surround yourself with them.

25. Love is when home becomes a person.

Simple as.

26. You don’t need pully-in underwear, you need a dress you feel comfortable in.

Time to go shopping.

27. Make yourself known to your college tutors and lecturers.

A person is much more likely to help someone when they can put a face to their name, right?

28. Don't indulge in office gossip.

Yes, it can pass the time, but it's a seriously toxic way to go about it.

29. There is no ‘right’ way to navigate your twenties.

We’re all just finding our way.

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Having qualified as primary school teacher, StyleSavvy's Laura Jordan never imagined that her passion for fashion would ultimately result in a hugely popular business, piquing the interest of the press and public alike.

Now a highly successful style consultant, fashion presenter and personal shopper, Laura's journey from the classroom to the changing room was not without its challenges, but a genuine love for the job and a desire to reach people on a personal level means the StyleSavvy star is only in ascendence.

Here Laura recalls the moment she realised StyleSavvy had potential, the lessons she's learned along the way, and why The Devil Wears Prada rep has never sat well with her.

“Developing a business was never my plan which is the interesting part. I was a primary school teacher, happy out working away in that job, but I've always had an interest in fashion and shopping." she reveals as she chatted with SHEmazing

"And I soon learned I loved shopping for other people as much as for myself which was good news for my bank manager," 

“I went to the Institute of Design one summer. Obviously, as a teacher you have better holidays and more free time than you do in other jobs. I studied there one summer and ironically I now teach there so it’s come full circle. I loved it."

Laura didn't make any rash decision upon the completion of her course, saying: "I spent about a year, I suppose, deciding what exactly I’d do with that qualification, and I‘d go shopping with friends and friends of friends, and then it got to the point where I wanted to establish it as a business."

"It was not ever going to be just Laura going out shopping, I wanted a brand with it, but I always thought it would be a sideline," she explains.

"Many teachers have something else they do alongside their job, and I thought it would satisfy my interest and I would still have my normal job.”

She soon realised, however, that juggling both jobs was unrealistic.

“It grew and grew and I was trying to balance two things. I realised the challenge that was there at the start wasn’t there anymore, and I wanted to see if I could develop it, I just wanted to see where it could go."

"I went to the Enterprise Board, and that was a turning point for me. They have a business clinic, and they asked if I could come in the next day.”

Recalling the hours leading up to her appointment in the business clinic, Laura reveals that she poured her heart and soul into a plan to present the following day, saying: “I ended up staying up that whole night making a plan, making accounts to bring into them to show them I was serious. And they said it definitely had potential and I remember getting into my car and crying."

"I couldn’t believe other people could see potential in something I was only starting to see the potential in myself. And from then I took a break from school and haven’t gone back, and started pushing it full time.”

Considering the success of StyleSavvy, it's hard to believe that Laura's background in business is essentially non-existent.

"I don’t have a business degree. I have absolutely nothing. I have a genuine passion for making people feel good about themselves through the way they dress and their image and how they interact with other people. And that’s the reason I did it," she explains.

A steep learning curve, Laura saw the benefits of surrounding herself with people of varying skills, admitting: "I’ve always asked for help."

"You’ve got to surround yourself with people better than yourself. You need to put people who are better than you around you. Admit you don’t know how to do it, and you have to give control.” 

"The girl who ended up being my mentor was from the business clinic," Laura continues.

"She listened to my pitch, and I asked her would she mentor me and she would. We met regularly. She could be pretty blunt and she told me some hard truths but I’ll always be thankful for her."

Remarking on the initial day-to-day running of the business, Laura added: "I’ve literally had to learn how to use Excel. You learn pretty quick if you quote the wrong price. It’s been through trial and error. 80% of it has been myself with a calculator and trying to figure out."

And being a fully-fledged business owner means that Laura must accept that the standard workday no longer exists.

“For me, the downside of the job I do is that you can’t decide you’re working 9 to 5 and then turn off your phone."

"On average I work a 12-hour day because when you get home you have to look after social media. You have to be on when other people are off."

With a nod to her need to delegate and seek help, she adds: "I have someone who looks after my social now, I have learned that if I don’t take time off I get tired and sick and I can’t work.”

“I find it really, really hard to switch off. That is the biggest challenge of this job. It consumes you, it is like a child. It does take a significant toll on your social life and your personal life because you have to put work first."

"In this job, I do media work, present seminars, and a lot of shopping appointments. And I’m particularly conscious that with shopping appointments, this could be the woman’s treat for the year and I'm there to give her the best experience."

Admitting she rarely has an off-day, she adds: "I constantly feel pressure to represent the brand. It’s always in the back of your head. Just because of the nature of work that I do, girls are fascinated by it, and people will ask you about this, that and the other on nights out."

"I don’t have a typical day. My service levels are straddled over most areas, business, education or personal. You need organisational skill. You can’t afford to drop a ball.".

While StyleSavvy has received considerable praise since its launch, Laura acknowledges that her business is often subject to criticism.

"People say it’s an image-based analysis of a person. But you often see it changes the inside of a person. It boosts their confidence. It helps them push forward in other aspects of their life," she stresses.

And it sounds like this aspect of her job is undoubtedly the crux of the business – something Laura acknowledges when reflecting on client feedback.

"I get emails from clients who say you’ve changed your whole perspective on myself," she continues. "The shopping appointments aren’t lucrative, but it’s the foundation of my business. The core is working with clients."

And with a great reputation, satisfied customers, and strong client relationships, you'd be forgiven for thinking the face behind Style Savvy might be entitled to take her foot off the pedal for a moment or two, but that simply isn't an option.

"The higher you climb, the further you have to fall," Laura warns. "I don’t think any entrepreneur gets that feeling that ‘I’ve made it’. The pressure increases, but so does potential. You’ll never reach a plateau where you think 'I’ve made it'. You’re constantly striving. You see potential anywhere."

Having started StyleSavvy with little to no experience of the world of business, Laura is well aware that false starts are part and parcel of the journey.

"You have to remember you falter all the time, the same as everyone else, and I think that’s what makes businesswoman great."

"While we can be self-critical, it can stand to us in the long run. It works for us in business," she opines. "We’re shrewd enough to say I’m not sure if it’s working out and we need to change it. We’re great at self-reflection, we can be hard on ourselves, we all put pressure on ourselves, but that works for us in business. You can channel it positively."

"Occasionally women in business have a reputation for being tough and highly competitive. In the fashion industry I blame The Devil Wears Prada for that one. In business in general, women have a reputation that they’re tough hard and always stressed. It’s not the truth. Any I’ve met have been positive and encouraging and motivating."

And for the woman who hopes to launch her own business or make strides in her field?

Laura says: "It takes twice as long to get half as far. You do find you get impatient."

"Yes you have to push and struggle, but if you keep pushing it’s a reminder you need to take a step back and take a different approach. And always try your best to work smarter, not harder."

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If you're on Instagram, there's a pretty high chance you follow at least one food-focussed influencer, right?

The vast majority of us take inspiration from their creations, take heed of their gastronomy advice, and positively salivate over their uploads on a daily basis.

And as these influencers help to add more than a splash of colour to the Irish foodie scene, we were only dying to pay tribute to them at our inaugural SHEmazing HP Awards on May 4.

Fighting off competition from Yummy Dublin, Cocu, The Happy Pear and Gastro Gays, Ketty Elisabeth, the face of French Foodie in Dublin, took the crown.

Authentic, passionate and utterly charming, Ketty started her blog in 2012 and has watched it grow in popularity over the past five years.

Celebrating the win, she wrote: "I still can't believe it. It was down to public vote and there were some awesome people in the final, I really didn't think I'd won."

"Mr. FFID and I attended the very glamorous ceremony at the Mansion House and being there was already brilliant but then when Daniella Moyles announced me as winner (after a long pause that seemed endless) I was completely astonished. It all happened thanks to YOU!"

"I'm so glad that even after almost five years, you think I'm still worthy of an award, value my blog and trust my recommendations. I'm very grateful for you taking the time to vote for me, even though most of you have never met me in real life."

 "I was very touched by all the lovely comments on Facebook and Instagram from people who have been following for the last few years. I feel very lucky to have you and can't thank you enough."

"I've won awards in the past but this one is probably the most special because it happened during the week of my birthday and at a time when blogging and social media is changing a lot."

"As a foreign person it also means so much and warmed my heart," she added.

Congratulations, Ketty!

 

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When the foodie and #FitFam wave swept Ireland in recent years, the nation displayed a desire to fuel their body properly without sacrificing themselves to the Gods of Kale for all eternity.

And as it's not always easy to strike that balance, the contributions of Roz Purcell did not go unnoticed, so it's no surprise that the Tipperary-native took home our Foodie of the Year Award at the inaugural SHEmazing HP Awards in the Mansion House on May 4.

The face behind uber-popular Natural Born Feeder, Roz's impact on the Irish health food scene in recent years is undeniable.

Combining delicious meals with guilt-free treats, Roz taps into the nation's desire to learn about food and nutrition without depriving themselves, and she absolutely nails it.

 
Up against The Little Green Spoon, The Wonky Spatula, The Healthy Tart and Derval O'Rourke on the night, Roz was ultimately crowned winner, and was thrilled by the award.

"Thank you so much at SHEmazing and all the readers for voting and awarding me Foodie of the Year – one of my favourite nights out to date!"

Congratulations, Roz!

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There are few among us that don't rely on certain things to make our busy lives that little bit easier, right?

With that in mind, we put a call out for the gadget, gizmo, app or establishment that makes your day-to-day simpler in an effort to pay tribute at the inaugural SHEmazing HP Awards on May 4.

And as nation of foodies, it's no real surprise that food-focussed delivery app, Just Eat, took the crown at our gala in the Mansion House.

Up against stiff competition in the form of My Taxi, Chopped, Clarisonic Facial Cleanser and Water Wipes Cleansing Wipes, Just Eat reigned supreme.

Launched in April 2008, ordering on the go became so much easier and then these guys decided to grace our iPhone and Android devices.

Taking to social media on the night of the event, the Just Eat folk couldn't resist a food-related celebratory tweet, writing: "Winner winner chicken dinner! Thanks to everyone who voted for us in the Makes Life Easy Award!"

You guys earned it!

 

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When it comes to down-time, you guys refuse to settle for less (and rightly so).

So when it came to crowning the winner of the best spa in Ireland for our inaugural SHEmazing HP Awards, we knew we needed your help.

With your fingers on the pulse when it comes to treatments, pamper packages and spa sessions, you ultimately decided that Seafield Hotel and Spa deserved to take home the Pamper Me award on May 4 at our Mansion House gala.

Located in Co Wexford, the destination allowed visitors to luxuriate in serene surrounds before sampling some of the spa's wholly indulgent treatment packages – an idyllic spot for a much-needed getaway.

 
Taking to Twitter to celebrate the win, the resort paid tribute to their dedicated staff and their thousands of new and returning visitors.

Congratulations, guys!

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Along with her sister, Fiona, Rebecca Jeffery, 32, is the owner of Fi & Becs Design And Marketing.

The business provides branding, design, copywriting and websites for businesses and has worked with the likes of Mothercare, Matalan and the Lake District hotel chain.

Last year, Rebecca starred in series 12 of BBC’s The Apprentice – making it through to week six of the reality TV show. It’s an experience she describes as “whirlwind”.

A native of Manchester and a mother-of-one, she is passionate about her business, but insists that women don’t have to sacrifice their domestic lives in order to succeed.

“I was always told that if you’re nice in business you won’t get very far – and I’m happy to disprove that," Rebecca tells SHEmazing when she sits down for an exclusive chat.

"I did the whole corporate world thing before I was a mum – I had the long commute and the office hours. But starting my own business with my sister allowed me to step away from all that."

"And just because I have a young child doesn’t mean I’m not still really ambitious – we’re passionate about what we do."

Giving an insight into her working day, Rebecca explains: "I work from 9am to 3pm and then I take time off to play with my son and we have something to eat and do the bedtime routine. Then from around 7pm or 8pm I hop back on the laptop and work for a couple of hours."

Acknowledging the work / life balance familiar to most working mothers, Rebecca explains: "It’s about juggling and swapping things around. My own business allows me to do that."

"Even as the workload has increased and the client-base has grown, that is still the way that I work. Now Fiona and I have around 120 clients and some of that business – like Mothercare and Matalan – came to us specifically because we understand their target market.”

"I would never apologise for being a mum; I’d never sacrifice the time that I have with my son," she adds.

Reflecting on the weeks she spent in the boardroom in front of Lord Sugar last year, Rebecca explains: "I’ve always been a massive fan of the show but I don’t think I thought I’d be the stereotypical contestant. I’m not mouthy, I don’t like to shout, I’m not angry.”

“But I knew I had a unique business model that was working really well. I thought ‘well, that’s what I can bring to the show’. And I knew it would bring some publicity to my business also."

With a nod to the production team who saw Rebecca's USP, she says: "I like that the producers picked me because I’m a bit different to the standard."

"But then, the working world is changing too. There are more mumtrepreneurs, more people – not just mums and not just parents – want that flexible approach to working-life. There is a stronger desire for work-life balance.”

Perhaps in keeping with her attitude to work and motherhood, Rebecca's little boy was by her side when she got the call inviting her on the show.

"I was there desperately trying to give him a pack of crisps and an apple and stick on the TV to keep him quiet while I acted professional. I was flabbergasted and very excited," she remembers.

Vehemently dismissing the notion that you have to be cut-throat to succeed in business as a woman, Rebecca insists the idea is an archaic one.

“The one thing I would say to other women – and I’ve learned this from having my own business and from being on the show – is that you have to be yourself."

"There is no point in me trying to be some hard-nosed combater because that’s just not who I am. I’m warm and I’m friendly and I’m nice to people; that doesn’t make me a weak businesswoman.”

Rebecca accepts that her appearance on the show conflicted with her desire to spend time with her son, and admits her performance at points did reflect this.

“I had set my whole life up around my son I’m not used to being away from him and it was difficult. I hated thinking of Ollie being unhappy and knowing that my absence was the cause of that was heartbreaking. Even sometimes doing the tasks, I felt a little bit like a lead balloon; just distracted."

"I’ve travelled for work before – but this was different and harder. So being back with my son now and immersed in the business is definitely a very bright silver lining and I’m proud at what I’ve done both professionally and personally.”

 

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Carla McQuillan is a hairdresser and a native of Dublin.

Last year, she founded The.Space salon in Drumcondra alongside her business partner and best friend, Nadine Quinn. Also a former model, Carla collected numerous trade accolades before kickstarting her own business.

Still just 28, she wants to evolve the hairdressing industry – drawing on time spent in the likes of Paris and New York to in order to bring added extras to the average salon experience.   

"I finished my Junior Cert in 2003 and that summer I was desperate to earn my own money. At the time, Transition Year wasn’t compulsory in my school, so I seized the opportunity to get out and work," Carla tells SHEmazing as she reflects on her professional journey.

“The best part of a year and a half later when it came to returning to school for my Leaving Cert I just couldn’t face it – I felt immersed in all things hairdressing by then and didn’t fancy diving into homework, classes, and study," she explains.

“My dad, Patrick, had different views, however. He knew I was smart, a hard worker and good at what I did – but he also felt that getting my Leaving Cert and progressing on to college and all that was the best road to take.”

Determined to make it in the world of hairdressing, Carla found herself confronted with conflicting advice, but insisted on paving her own way.

"I thought I knew everything back then!" she laughs. "And no one, not even my lovely dad, could tell me otherwise. In the end – of course! – I got my own way.”

Hired by House of Colour, Carla recalls: “I was trained in everything and anything; that all still stands to me to this day and at the time it made me a really good all-round hairdresser who could become passionate about all aspects of the trade."

"While there, we were encouraged to take part in competitions and exhibitions; it was something that pushes you outside your comfort zone and truthfully it was invaluable.”

“On one level, competition work is pretty ugly, but it’s also technically brilliant. You hone your skills rapidly because you have to. I soon started picking up awards, and eventually settled on my winning formula."

Carla credits her early days on the salon floor with her ability to navigate potential pitfalls within the industry.

“It was an insanely busy time between working in the salon and all the competition stuff, but being manic even now doesn’t faze me," she tells us.

"It’s something I say to junior staff today; don’t get overwhelmed – just focus on you and the client you have in front of you. And that was me for ten years – during that time I set myself very clear professional goals and made sure I achieved them.”

Having proven herself over the course of a decade, Carla decided she needed to spread her wings, saying “Eventually you do get to the end of the road, and I decided to take the plunge."

"I went freelance, spending time in the likes of New York, and a couple of Australian cities, as well as working with celebrities, on weddings, and fashion shoots."

"I suppose because I was so busy, people kept on telling me that I needed to open my own place – clients were telling me to do it, but so were people I really respect in business circles.”
 

 

#Kevinmurphy #halobraid #zara @thespace___

A photo posted by CARLA ROSE (@carlarosehair) on

Recalling the advice she received at the time, Carla remembers: “Johanna Mc Aleese, who owns and founded Starla dresses, told me I was mad not to."

"A couple of years ago she gave me the whole pep talk. She gave me contacts to meet, and reiterated that as rents were so low then, that it was perfect timing.”

“But I did need a business partner – someone to carry the load with me and to complement what I bring to the table. Truthfully, Nadine Quinn was the first and only person I considered," Carla reveals.

"She was working in a freelance capacity at the time too, but I approached her asked if she’d be interested in coming on board – thankfully, she jumped at the chance.”

Embarking on the venture wasn't free of concerns as Carla fended off well-meaning advice against mixing business with friendship.

"Enough people tried to put us off setting up a business with a friend. We’re completely confident in each other, but everyone from our solicitor, to our accountant, to family – all with the very best intentions – tried to say: “Are you sure? Partnerships can go very wrong in this industry.”

“Of course it was scary, but it all also felt right. Actually, initially we kept things very much in check."

"We thought we’d pool our resources, get maybe one more person on board; we just didn’t want to get too overwhelmed. We wanted to build from the ground up and test the waters before taking the plunge.”

“Both Nadine and I are absolute perfectionists too, but we’re savvy enough to celebrate each other’s strengths and talents, as well as our weaknesses."

The turning point in Carla and Nadine's journey came when they found the spot which would soon become The. Space.

“A big milestone for us was finding our salon in Drumcondra. Moving that bit out of the city centre made it more affordable, but – more importantly – we were filling a massive gap in the market."

"There is a really young, hip, vibrant population around there and we quickly realised a modern salon was what they were crying out for.”

“We opened last spring, but a year ago we started getting the show on the road. Not every plan we’ve had, or every concept we’ve explored has panned out, and yes, it is high-pressure stuff, but we’re learning as we grow.”

Giving an insight into the dynamic which exists between the pair, Carla explains: “For our business, we role play and try to think ahead as much as we can – and that’s how we end up with our very best decisions."

Carla maintains that drawing on time spent abroad has done much to strengthen the appeal of the business.

“We try to be as creative as possible in everything we do – we both draw on our experiences travelling and working abroad too so that our clients have something completely fresh when they come into us.”

"That’s actually my mantra: forgot about what everyone is doing in Ireland and let’s kick-off a fresh perspective. So we hold yoga in our salon on Sundays. We hold events too. And everything in The. Space is gorgeous!”

 

Veiws to Marrakech

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There is little doubt that The. Space has far exceeded the 28-year-old's expectations – a fact she happily celebrates.

“We now offer services we didn’t at the beginning: makeup, and nails, for example. We started with three people and already we’re up to a dozen."

"Truthfully, ambitious as I am, that’s not something I anticipated. We’re open until 9pm a couple of nights a week to deal with demand. On Saturdays we’re out the door.”

And like any astute businesswoman, Carla is reluctant to move too swiftly until she's properly 'perfected' The. Space.

“Of course, we also definitely want to expand but I believe that it’s important not to move onto your second project before you’ve perfected your first."

"And that’s where Nadine and I are at now. I really feel so at home at The. Space – which is just as well as I spend more time there than I do in my house!“

 

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Amanda Thomson is the founder and CEO of Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Champagne, a range of reduced sugar bubbly.

Based in Winchester, a little outside London, she is a former television and radio broadcaster with the BBC.

Amanda was inspired to develop her brand after spending time at numerous media events, where plenty of junk food and lashings of sweet wines were rife.  

And so, eight years ago she packed up everything – moving to Paris with her husband, Ian, and two young children in order to hone her new-found trade.

Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Champagne arrived in Ireland last year and is now available in Brown Thomas and online via the Wines Of The World website.

“When I announced that I was packing up and moving to France to learn how to source and develop a range of low-sugar sparkling wines – most people thought I was pretty crazy," she tells SHEmazing! when she sits down for an exclusive chat.

"Firstly, I had a good job as an arts journalist in the BBC – not to mention two small kids and a husband to consider. But I was passionate about making it all work," she explains.

"That and I didn’t have a choice," Amanda laughs. "I’m not from a mega-wealthy background and I didn’t have an unlimited cash-pile to draw on."

"For me, Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Champagne was always very much a business decision, albeit one with lots of passion behind it and one that I feel was destined somewhat: my mother, who raised me by herself, was a trailblazing health food entrepreneur."

"Long before it became fashionable, she was singing about the benefits of healthy fats and the dangers of excess sugar," Amanda tells us.

Reflecting on the concerns raised by those close to her at the time of her career change, Amanda insists she knew their fears had little grounding in reality.

“I have a real galvanized spirit too; it sounds like something you’d hear on The Apprentice, but failure wasn’t an option for me when it came to the Thomson & Scott Skinny wines."

"And certainly, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it all right from the very beginning. I was fearless too; I went into plenty of meetings and was the person asking stupid questions. But you learn and you keep going.”

Like any entrepreneur, however, Amanda came up against her fair share of obstacles before hitting it big.

“It's not always been easy. Because the Champagne region, for example, is so strict about what is and isn’t classified as a Champagne, we had to get numerous elements signed off on before releasing our Skinny version."

"Little things can really hold-up a business. We initially did a soft launch in London; it’s an incredibly tough market – but if you can make your product work there, you’re probably on to a winner."

With numerous teething problems behind her, Amanda eventually saw the fruit of her labour when her brand made it into two of the best-known department stores in the UK and Ireland last year.

"The turning point came in April when Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco landed in Selfridges and it quickly sold out. We haven’t looked back since. We’ve now officially launched in Ireland and have arrived in Brown Thomas too."

There is a juxtaposition at work in Amanda's business – an element of her journey which she ultimately considers a strength.

"A big part of our success is definitely our start-up mentality that we’ve transferred into a very traditional arena; we listen to our customers and respond fast to their demands."
 

 

We @theofficialselfridges thanks for this image as THE drink of 2017 @selfridgesfood @saucecomms #skinnyprosecco @sancarlogroup

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"The wine-industry is very time-honoured and prestigious. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s full of older men in suits, but it can certainly have that appearance when you’re trying to break into it.”

Walking the line between wine aficionada and everyday consumer, Amanda adds: “I know the industry now – and at the end of the day, I also really love wine and appreciate it. But I know what it’s like to feel totally overwhelmed by the choices on offer in a supermarket, or to be confused by a long wine list in a restaurant.”

“On one hand, you acknowledge that sommeliers are incredibly talented people, but on the other, they don’t necessarily seem like they’re going to get the party started when they pop over to your table at a fancy restaurant," she laughs.

Honing in on a failing in the traditional market, Amanda sought to fill the gap, saying: “It’s not difficult to see that much of the wine businesses has lost touch – it’s not appealing to younger people for one."

"Ironically, however, Thomson & Scott discovered that that traditional approach really helped our brand and the concept of a lower-sugar wine. Because we are being really upfront about our produce – stating clearly that it’s low-sugar, vegan and organic. There is no cloak-and-daggers approach with Skinny wines.”

“And that approach is all backed up by what it fundamentally a great, delicious, product that we’ve wriggled into a great price-bracket. That gets word-of-mouth recommendations going and keeps people who try it coming back for more.”

Turning her attention to the future, Amanda plans to bring Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Wine to an international audience.

“From now on, we’re going to be spending a lot more time in Dublin and Ireland in general. Otherwise, going forward, we do have some deals internationally in the offing – the US being one area in particular we’re looking at closely.”

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