Hi everyone, today is a little different. I would like you to meet a fabulous, inspiring woman from the UK, Paula Reeves. The post is in her own words. First she will write a little about fashion and end with information on how her company started. She is quite inspiring. I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!
Remember How You Felt When You First Wore It
Many years ago, well before the age of the internet, I shopped for most of my clothes at a delightful little boutique in
. With a busy working and
family life it was perfect for me; convenient, friendly and helpful. Sussex
The lady who ran it knew her regular customers well and did much of her buying with specific clients in mind. Like many of them I was always eager to drop in whenever new stock arrived. The passion for new was compelling; jackets, trousers, dresses, I would avidly seek them out. Decked out in the latest the season had to offer I was quick to discard what had, up until that moment, been my favourites, often feeling that they had lost their lustre. These were then dispatched to an ever bulging wardrobe to hang forlorn and abandoned.
One day she gave me a piece of advice which has stayed with me for the past 25 years, and which has saved me a small fortune. “Remember how you felt when you first wore it” she said. Of course she was right. When I reflected on how delighted I had been when I first looked at a new outfit in the mirror in her boutique I realised that, apart from the passing years, I looked just the same in that outfit. “You should wear your clothes” she said, “If they were beautiful when you bought them they are still beautiful now”. This is certainly the case with classic styles which thankfully do not date. This advice is shared by Lucinda Chambers of British Vogue who has said, "I don't think I buy fashion-of-the-moment things. I buy things I will like when I'm 70".
As the founder of Black.co.uk and BRIGHT BY BLACK, I see beautiful accessories as the key to transforming classic enduring styles. I have selected a few of my 'old’ favourite jackets, some bought over 20 years ago, all worn with a simple black skirt or leggings and black camisole top. I have added a sprinkling of our new accessories to give them fresh updated looks.
How It All Began
I am often asked how Black began. The concept was born out of unexpected events which changed the course of my life. For decades I had thrived on the development and management of businesses, blessed with high octane energy levels and a passion for my work.
As the new millennium dawned it brought with it a serious illness which stopped me in my tracks. Adjusting to the loss of my health and the absence of a stimulating business life I had the opportunity, imposed not sought, to reflect. I recalled a quote I had often used, “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least”. Now so poignant it was the silver lining in a dark cloud.
Five years later, with my health much improved I turned my thoughts to how I might embark upon a new project which would be fulfilling, creative and constructive. To start again was both exciting and daunting. What would I do?
An inspirational trip to India acquainted me with the beauty and luxury of hand spun, hand woven pashmina ring shawls and the skill and craftsmanship involved in producing them. A far cry from the mass produced scarves of dubious fabrics erroneously bearing the pashmina name, the ring shawl, (so called because even a shawl 2 metres by 1 metre can pass through a wedding ring, so fine is the cashmere), is the jewel in the cashmere crown. A single shawl can take up to 200 hours to make and the signature of the craftsman or family who made it is discreetly embroidered in one corner. Each one is unique and very special.
The discovery of these beautiful shawls heightened my awareness of the importance of preserving unique skills passed down from generation to generation; skills which risk being lost in a world of mass production and cheap merchandise. Championing the ring shawl, as we do, is win-win. It helps sustain the livelihoods of the Kashmiri families who make them, and it brings the most beautiful luxurious shawls to discerning customers who may otherwise not find them.
The seed of a new enterprise was sown. As it germinated, so did the importance of working with people who really care about their craft, and who are quite simply good people. Coupled with my passion for the colour black and its accompanying palette of soft earthy tones, and for my love of accessories, the concept of Black was created. In its infancy I liked to use the acronym B L A C K to represent Black Luxury Accessories Created Kindly and this is still my watchword when sourcing products and selecting companies with which to work. Perhaps this is why we most often gravitate to family businesses with whom trust and partnerships enable fruitful relationships to thrive.
To my delight Black developed as a family business. As I was writing the business plan one of my daughters, intrigued by the concept, expressed an enthusiastic desire to join me. Together we launched BLACK.CO.UK in July 2006. Three years later my son, having just graduated, joined us. I have been blessed with the joy of seeing their talents and competence shine and mature and to pass on the experience!
Thanks to Paula for sharing her company with us. Isn't she beautiful? Stunning accessories. Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!
This was a sponsored post