The extraordinarily multi-talentented artist Jessica Zoob

I won’t try to pretend to have an educated view on art ( my university degrees are in banking & journalism )but I love going to art exhibitions and learning something new about the world, the artist and the perception that art gives us. For me, it’s not about the artist being well-known or being heralded by the press and art critics, it’s to do with the artist moving your soul, bringing some kind of emotion ( hopefully positive, rather than negative ) to the surface & giving you pause for reflection. A few years ago I saw the most beautiful paintings by the artist called Jessica Zoob at Medici Gallery in Central London. The paintings were as dramatic, as they were colourful and the memory of them continues to linger. Then one day last September, an interior designer friend of mine Davina MerolaSpace Alchemy Interior Design LTD ) mentioned Jessica’ exhibition

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Review of de Mamiel Botaniques range & Q & A with the brand’s founder Annee de Mamiel

There are many wonderful beauty professionals but I find myself more drawn to the holistic world and practitioners who apply their constantly evolving knowledge when developing products and who don’t rush to bring out more and more products, making skincare routine too complicated. I have been a long-term fan of Annee de Mamiel, having first heard of her from Home House staff and aromatherapist Michelle Roques-O’Neil and continue to follow her and her products with great interest because she never stops improving her products.

I don’t travel without Annee’s Altitude oil, a little magical potion that has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antiseptic properties ( put a few drops on a tissue and keep it next to you on a flight. You will arrive to your destination safe in the knowledge that you aren’t likely to have picked up any bugs from the plane’s ventilation system or do the same when you are coming down with a cold, with a few drops on your pillowcase before your head hits the pillow at night ). Annee’s concept of seasonal face oils is very applicable to the modern way of life and the idea that we should eat in season-why shouldn’t the same concept be applied to our skincare, as seasons put different requirements on our skin, body and internal health? She was at the forefront of mixing oils according to the seasons, addressing our beauty, holistic and emotional needs.  

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As yet I haven’t met Annee in person and or experienced her much-raved about facial but her approach to product development truly resonates with the way I view long-term beauty and well-being – simplicity, consistency and no gimmicks. Annee went through her own serious health issues, so she is the type of practitioner who is very picky about her product ingredient composition – hence whatever product she launches, genuinely can have words ‘safe and gentle’ on its label. Annee combines her knowledge of Chinese medicine with modern European beauty practises and creates her products by using aromatherapy, high-grade oils and infusing them, in small batches, with crystals. She doesn’t rush the process, letting things run its course and so when I heard that she was expanding her product range with Botaniques, I knew that when I will try them, I will be surprised like a child at Christmas.   

Annee’s approach to creating this range came from her clients requests and she wanted to combine her healing energy with potent skincare formulas. Botaniques comprises of Restorative Cleansing Balm, Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate, Dewy facial Mist, Rosey Lip Balm, Restoration Body Serum, Salvation Body Oil and Pregnancy Facial Oil.  

De Mamiel www.jamesbedford.com

I can’t speak about all the products in the range, so will share my thoughts with you about the ones I did try and then will offer you the genuine scoop – some product & beauty insights from Annee herself.

Restorative Cleansing Balm ( 50 mls, £46 ): I have used it throughout this strange weather winter and have to say that it’s been a beautiful, soothing treat at the end of many grey, cold, dis-heartening days. It has a delicate consistency that seems to melt into your skin as soon as you spread it all over your face with the fingers, enveloping you in a subtle flowery smell ( notes of chamomile, honey myrtle, rose geranium and fragonia ) and soothing your skin gently, as well as giving you a dewy glow when you finish cleansing your face. Take a little bit of the balm from the jar, warm it between your fingers for a few seconds and massage it upwards, all over you face and then put a warm muslin cloth on your face, inhale the aromas, focus on taking a couple of deep breath and then take the balm off. It also works nicely with a Foreo brush, if you use it. 

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I found that my skin felt soft to the touch and has more luminocity. The balm itself is wonderfully calming and grounding at the end of the day, turning your evening skincare ritual into a mini-spa experience. Knowing how rushed off the feet women are, on a daily basis, I think Annee developed this product specifically with this in mind.

Ingredients: Camellia oleifera (camellia) oil*, Aleurites moluccans (kukui nut) butter, Calendula officinalis, Helianthus annuus (calendula) oil*, Squalene, Oryza sativa (rice bran) oil*, Borago officinalis, Tocopherol (borage) oil*, Polysorbate 20 (derived coconut oil), Cera alba (beeswax)*, Rosa damascena (rose) wax, Sclerocarya birrea (marula) oil*, Mangifera indica (mango) butter, Adansonia digitata (baobab) oil*, Moringa oleifera (moringa) oil*, Ricinus communis (castor) oil*, Astrocaryum murumuru (murumuru) butter, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, Inulin, Alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, (prebiotic), Bisabol, Manuka honey, Daucus carrota (carrot seed) oil*, Melaleuca teretifolia (honey myrtle) oil, Agonis fragrans (fragonia) oil, Pelargonium graveolens roseum (rose geranium) oil*, Eriocephalus punctulatus (cape chamomile) oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil*.

Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate ( 100g, £38 ): I have only tried a sample of this product but it is definitely one of the gentlest, yet quite effective face scrubs I have tried lately ( even if you have sensitive skin ). Close your eyes and let the smell of warm hot chocolate take you back to memories of laid-back childhood afternoons. The cleanser/exfoliate has Vitamin C, Pearl powders, Rhassoul clay, Raw Cacao powder, Honey as well as Colloidal Oat Powder and no preservatives, so all you need to do is shake a little bit of the powder into the palm of your hand and add some water, ending with a mousse-like-consistency product. Apply it all over your face and gently buff-away dead skin cells ( be careful to omit your delicate eye area ). You can use it daily but I used it twice a week and found it a delicious and effective treat for my skin & senses ( nice to be indulged without consuming any sugar !). My skin felt brighter and smoother immediately and unlike with some scrubs, I can report no redness or irritation post use.   

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Ingredients: Moroccan rhassoul clay, Montmorillonite clay, French Pink clay, Colloidal oat powder*, Sodium bicarbonate, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) powder, Pearl powder, Red jasper gem powder, Raw cacao powder*, Alaea Hawaiian sea salt,  Buttermilk powder, Honey powder, Cucumis sativa (cucumber) powder, Santalum album (sandalwood mysore) powder, Aloe barbadensis (aloe) powder*, Camellia sinensis (green tea) powder, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) powder Chrysantheum  indicium (chrysanththeum) powder, Rosa damasena (rose) petal powder*, Boswellia carteri (frankincense) powder, Commiphora myrrha (myrrh) powder, Cedrus deodara (himalayan cedarwood) powder, Panax ginseng (ginseng),  Althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root powder*, Rose rubiginosa (rosehips) powder, Vanilla planifolia bean*.

Dewy Facial Mist ( 100 mls, £42 ): whatever your point of view of facial toners, this one is bound to change your mind and swing your vote if you don’t think you need one in your daily skincare routine. Spray it on your face once, inhale a beautiful aroma of wild rose & neroli and feel your skin feel cooler instantly. It’s drops feel like morning dew sliding off the grass stems and will sooth your skin by infusing it with extra moisture in the morning, reviving you during the day or soothing your tired brow at the end of the day. Even though I don’t keep the bottle in the fridge somehow it feels cooling against my skin ( possibly due to aloe and cucumber extracts ) and revives my senses as well, every time I spray it on. I re-apply it as I work late at night ( flower essences of Linden Blossom and Bee Orchid help to be grounded and stay focussed on any task at hand ) and thanks to Lupine peptides and Prebiotics your skin matrix will be strengthened as well.

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Ingredients: Rosa damascena (rose) water*, Citrus aurantium (neroli) water*, Santalum album (Sandalwood) Hydrolat, Cucumis sativus (cucumber) extract*, Senticosus Root (siberian ginseng) extract, Punica granatum (pomegranate) glycerol extract*, Honeyquat 50 (honey moisturiser), Panthenol, Aqua, D-Pantolactone (pro-vitamin B5), Hyaluronic acid, , Hydrolyzed lupine protein (lupine peptides), Inulin, Alpha-glucan oligosaccharide (prebiotic), Preservative Eco, Aloe barbadensis (aloe)*, Terminalia ferdinandiana (kakadu plum) extract, Syzygium luehmannii (lilly pilly) extract, Equisetum arvense (horsetail) tincture*, Symphytum spp (comfrey) tincture*, Achillea millefolium (yarrow) tincture*, Polysorbate 20 (derived coconut oil), Rosa centifolia (wild rose) oil**, Pelargonium graveolens roseum (rose geranium) oil*, Pelargonium x asperum (geranium) oil*, Santalum yasi (sandalwood) oil.

Rosey Lip Balm ( 10 mls, £10 ): this balm blends together Camellia, Monoi and Evening Primrose Oils and deliciously feminine notes of Rose Otto, Rose Geranium & Rose wax, making you feel like a pampered princess of beautiful land of fields. It’s easy to carry around and I find myself applying it throughout the day, attracted by its fragrance and softness that it imparts on my lips. It’s a lovely gift for young girls, allowing them to start the journey towards becoming a young woman with no nasty chemicals lurking behind or for older women who feel that their skin is starting to feel drier due to hormonal changes. This lip balm might make a more lasting present than a bunch of flowers that will start wilting within a few days.

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Ingredients: Camellia oleifera (camellia) oil*, Oenothera biennis, Tocopherol (evening primrose) oil*, Mangifera Indica (mango) butter, Cocos nucifera, Gardenia taitensis (monoi) oil*, Rosa damascena (rosewax), Calendula officinalis, Helianthus annuus (calendula) oil*, Cera alba (beeswax)*, Manuka honey, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Pelargonium graveolens roseum (rose geranium) oil*, Rosa damascene (rose) oil.

That’s the thing about Annee, through her experience, wisdom and life’s journey she seems to create products that pamper you and give natural beauty credibility and substance.

 Q & As with de Mamiel & Botaniques founder, facialist & aromatherapist Annee de Mamiel

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GAP: How did you become a facialist & aromatherapist?

AdM: At times I think I had so many things pointing me in this direction and I would tend to go on in my own direction, getting pulled off course and then an event would occur in my life which would put me back on this track. I have had problem skin as a teenager and well into my 20’s had severe acne and then, when I was undergoing treatment, my skin became incredibly dry. At that time there were no organic products that were readily available, so I began to make my own. This must have re-ignited a passion that I had as a little girl ,when the only Barbie thing I had was a Barbie perfume maker! Studying Chinese medicine also pointed me right back to skincare and essential oils and how these can make an impact on our wellbeing and therefore the way we age.

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In-conversation with Errol Douglas MBE over a blow-dry

It’s not every day that one is invited to meet the President of the British Fellowship of Hairdressing, who is also an MBE but I am no shrinking violet and so on a sunny morning in the middle of February I arrive on the doorstep of Errol Douglas salon in Motcomb street. The salon itself feels intimate but when you have a chance to walk around you realize that it is laid our over two floors and several languages are floating in the air, as clients are being attended to.

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Before long a tall and slightly imposing man comes up to me and greets me, before leading me to the chair. He is dressed casually in wool tailored trousers, impeccably white shirt and a mannish cardigan but a long chained necklace hanging from his neck alludes a little to rock’n’roll undertones. Errol appraise me and asks one of his juniors to wash my hair with the products chosen specifically for me.

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Errol opened his salon in 1998 and many of his clients have remained with him and his team ever since. Renowned for his stunning photographic work, Errol has won several of the industry’s most coveted awards and his work is often featured in the fashion and beauty press. He spends three days a week working in his salon, while the rest of his time is dedicated to participation in shows and seminars globally, presenting his hairdressing skills and creative techniques to a wider audience.  In 2008 Errol received an MBE for services to hairdressing from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ( and I was cheeky enough to ask Errol to recap the ceremony for me, which he kindly did – there is nothing like the pomp and ceremony of the British traditions of Monarchy-one of which is not to serve alcohol while you wait, just water ). 

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On the day that I meet Errol he is getting ready for London Fashion Week,  immersed in the mood boards in his downstairs office), clearly relishing the opportunity to unleash his creative powers, while guided by the vision of designers. He has already done ‘testing’ for four shows and his week has been full on, with no sign of respite, yet he is calm and un-rushed. One of the first things that surprises me about Errol is how he talks to his juniors. It is no secret that juniors are often treated like annoying puppies, at best,the feet, in many of London’s top hair salons but Errol is different. He involves his juniors and teaches them with patience and determination. Jo, the young girl who washes my hair and who has been working in the salon for seven moths, is going to accompany Errol for the fashion show on Sunday. Yes, Errol has years of experience and stature but he seems to take great pride in his job, as well as teaching his team, without the need to resort to sulking or acting God-like.

When it comes to his clients, Errol says that there is a great mix of nationalities, from Russians to Brits with French and Japanese thrown in the mix as well. It’s wonderful to sit in a hairdresser’s chair and hear one stylist speak bullet-fast French, while another one conversing in quite Japanese. The whole salon has a chic but laid-back vibe, with everyone getting on with their job and making sure the client gets what she comes to the salon for.

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Errol was born and raised in East London and tells me that from as long as he could remember ( four or five years of age ) he wanted to be a hairdresser. He was always interested in women, fashion and communication, thus opening his own salon allowed him to combine his passions ( including a great eye for photography – the photos on the salon’s walls wouldn’t be out-of-place in the coolest galleries and draw my admiring glances ). Errol says that it is impossible to be a good hairdresser without communicating well and making sure that you understand what the client came to see you for, yet he also strives to break barriers, from working with all kinds of hair ( Afro hair is very different to let’s say Scandinavian hair ) to the design and layout of the salon. His clients also vary in age and that requires additional skills as well.

Both of Errol’s brothers are academic, hence he is the only ‘creative’ person with flair in his family. Errol’s parents were quite strict & and weren’t at all happy with Errol’s choice of profession to start with and yet he got a saturday job in the salon aged 13, in order to learn and achieve what he wanted. He is now a father of three ( his kids ages range from 13 to 18 ) and while none of the children as yet have the plans to follow in his footsteps, he tells me with unmistakable pride that his daughter is keen to do fashion photography.

Family has given Errol roots and stability, so for many years he has been willing and able to give back, by way of mentoring young people and sharing his skills and years of experience. Errol’s salon is a working salon an d everyone is allowed and encouraged to expand their skills – after all, as soon as you stop learning you might as well make yourself redundant.

As we talk, with Errol pausing momentarily to think before answering my questions at times, he also worked his magic touch on my hair, putting it in rollers and blow-drying it in sections ( keep an eye on my review of Errol’s line of electrical tools ( ionic hairdryer & Treat /Style Keratin Iron ) with Corioliss, ).

Hair is our crowning glory and I was keen to find out what steps can one take ( apart from drinking enough water and eating a varied diet, including nuts and avocados ) in order to make sure that the scalp and as a consequence, the hair is healthy. Errol says that one needs to start with ‘the basics’ of a good shampoo and conditioner. You get the fundamentals right, your won’t fail to notice the results! A good hairdresser will ask you questions about your lifestyle, examine your tone of colour and complexion and will guide you, step-by-step, to the best way to maintain & style your hair at home. The thing is that blow-drying might look easy, it’s another story to try to replicate the process yourself -I should know, as I always start with a good intention but somehow gorgeous bouncy locks that Errol gives me, won’t be achieved by me at home any time soon-as far as I am concerned, some jobs are better left to professionals. For Errol the best compliment he can get is when his clients leave the salon and get the compliments on their hair.

Many salons that I have been to in the past feel too corporate, too busy and too manic to have true appeal but Errol made a conscious choice to put a small reception desk ( big ones make most clients feel intimidated ) and a big communal table where clients can sit down to read a magazine, have a drink or examine the photography around them. Before I leave, I notice an elderly chic lady our of the corner on my eye, enjoying a coffee and a glorious young thing talking to her-judging by the body language they weren’t related but both seemed to enjoy their exchange.

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When Errol switches the hairdryer off & I look at myself in the mirror, I am almost rendered speechless as before my eyes my hair went from a flat ponytail into a mass of shiny & bouncy waves. I feel more grown-up and pretty and luckily for me, with no effort on my part, might I add, my hair looks like perfection not on just that day but the day later as well.

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Errol also mentions a hair product from one of his friends, James Davis, that protects, hydrates & gently perfumes your hair. We all want to have beautiful, bouncy, shiny hair, no matter what our age and Herra Protect Hair Perfume was not only created in the UK, but fuses several qualities into one lovely product. It contains sunflower extract ( helps protect our hair from UV damage, colour fading, smoke & air-conditioning ), olive fruit extract ( rich in antioxidants ) and a signature epsilon fragrance blend that gently perfumes your hair while complimenting any perfume you already might be wearing. 

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What also sets Errol apart is the respect that he feels and expresses for his peers, in the industry that is notoriously bitchy. When I told my hairdresser that I was going to interview Errol, he smiled and said what a wonderful man he is and asked me to pass on his kind regards – that doesn’t happen often within the top milieu of hairdressing. Talking to Errol I understand why he is so well-respected within the industry – he manages to cut hair, to teach, do photoshoots and editorials, while continuously striving to learn and very generously sharing his knowledge while being down-to-earth and accessible. It is a testament to him that many of the people who work with him as stylists now, started their career as juniors at his salon. Maybe that’s the lesson that we can all take on board-be good at what you do and be generous with sharing your knowledge and skills, especially with the people who might not be as lucky as you are.

To find out more about

Errol
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In Conversation with nutritional therapist Amelia Freer at The Juicery

Nutritional needs should be on our mind daily, as what we eat and drink fuels our bodies and enhances our daily capabilities, yet many of us have a love/hate relationship with food, stemming from habits formed in our childhood, which follow us into adulthood.  So in order to dispel some myths and answer many pressing questions at the time when one of the most overused words in our lexicon is ‘detox’ The Juicery in Marylebone, led by its founder Cindy Palusamy,  hosted one of UK’s top nutritionists Amelia Freer. With bloggers and journalists, as well as the hotel’s staff listening in, Amelia talked in detail about what she does, what’s good for us and what changes we might consider gradually implementing into our daily diet. Later I was also fortunate enough to sit down with Amelia and ask her even more questions, on nutrition.

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The first thing I noticed about Amelia when I walked in was how glowing her skin was and how happy and welcoming she was to everyone who was in the room. As I came in slightly late due to earlier commitments, I started listening in on Amelia’s talk when the subject of gluten was discussed. Amelia mentioned that for her the moment of truth on the subject came when she listened to the lecture of Dr. Tom O’Ryan and learnt that gluten, unlike in Biblical times, now causes gut inflammation in many men and women. Gluten is a protein composite that gives dough its ability to rise and is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. We seem to be consuming more and more of it, indulging in pizzas, pasta, bread etc. not realising that consequences can occur in 10-15 years, when the first symptoms might start emerging and then multiplying. Amelia always works together with her clients and when she started educating herself on the subject of gluten, she tried making her own bread, which by her own admission was a disaster. Unless you are symptomatic, you don’t have to deprive yourself of gluten, instead just start eating brown rice and pasta, rather than traditional white varieties, which are better for you as they give you slow releasing energy ( when Amelia travels, it’s not uncommon for her to pack some of the foods into her luggage, when she knows they would be nearly impossible to source at her destination – Biona products are one of her favourites ).

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A major obstacle to proper nutrition in our day and age, with supposed bigger transparency, is the fact that manufacturers can’t really be trusted, with many of them intent on jumping on the popular bandwagon-no sugar, no GMO – so in order to form an opinion you must make it a rule to read a list of ingredients before making a purchase. Amelia herself is sensitive to dairy ( when we chat later she is drinking a black cup of coffee, while I am sipping on Juicery’s signature Maca blend. Amelia actually worked with the Juicery on their juices and smoothies menu and if you haven’t ‘drunk’ through it already, I would highly recommend this delicious journey of discovery ) but isn’t against meat ( it depends on what kind of meat you are eating, preferably aim for organic lean cuts and don’t ever eat charred meat ) but she reminded her audience of the ‘good vegan proteins’ found in hemp, chia or pea proteins which are much easier to digest by our bodies.

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How did Amelia become a nutritional therapist? Well, when she was young, she was eating a lot of junk food, so her body rebelled against it and she became ill. According to Amelia, her skin looked horrific, she had chronic IBS and once the flood gates of problems started, they didn’t want to stop. Doctors weren’t helpful, so Amelia decided to look into nutritional aspects of food, as the doctors that she saw told her to give up all the foods that she loved. Maybe it is one of the reasons why Amelia comes across as not just practical with her advice, but very grounded and empathetic.

Amelia Freer in Borough Market

In her 20s, Amelia studied for four years at The Institute of Optimum Nutrition ( she did it part-time ) but as she was nervous about the path she was taking, she didn’t tell many people about it. Innately it felt like she belonged on that path and everything that happened developed organically. Amelia’s health and well-being vastly improved, as did her skin, so when I asked her what was her ‘dietary model’, she replied that ‘the model is not to have a model’. She didn’t advertise once she started her practise but the word about her started spreading, bringing in new clients and collaborations. Amelia says that about 60% of her clients are women, the other 40% are men.

What’s the difference between the nutritionist and the nutritionist therapist? Well, according to Amelia there are four aspects to it:

– nutrition ( cleaning up your diet & embracing the right kind of supplements ),

– emotional health ( which plays a big part, and which unfortunately is often underestimated or misunderstood; a nutritional therapist considers how people relate to themselves, among other things. Every person is unique, so nutritional therapist, like a good psychiatrist, needs to be able to ‘read’ people and relate to them ),

– functional lab training,

– movement ( you can’t be well if you don’t move, hence the importance of daily exercise, whatever shape or form it takes, from running to walking instead of taking the bus ).

Another subject that has been gathering headlines since the end of last year is of course ‘sugar‘ but you have to remember that not all sugars are made equal and in actual fact our brains need sugar to function. Amelia  advises being in tune with yourself and never ‘forbidding’ yourself foods – if you ‘forbid’ anything it makes you crave the thing even more! Sugar from fruit can be beneficial, just try to give priority to let’s say red and purple berries, which are also full of antioxidants, apricots, pears, apples and eat less of bananas or grapes which are more ‘sugary’ in its content. Dark chocolate also does you good in moderation-again, try to choose a good quality one. Wave goodbye to white sugar but starting to substituting it for brown sugar, then coconut one or date syrup and see how you and your body feel about it.

My next question to Amelia concerned taking supplements ( Amelia often uses & recommends supplements from the US, as she says that their research seems to be ahead of the curve ) without doing the blood tests first. Amelia acknowledges that blood tests can be expensive, so she would never recommend having them unnecessarily. She starts assessing her patient as they meet, looking at things like the condition of their skin, hair, eyes and then recommending the blood tests that her client truly needs. Before you take a supplement it’s important to know if you have an underlying medical condition, as it might be a contraindicated to taking some supplements as their ‘fusion’ might cancel the effect of the medication you might be already taking.

Before Amelia sees a client for the first time she also asks them to fill in a very detailed questionnaire, covering a variety of subjects, from medical history to a three-day food diary and later marks the answer with an assortment of coloured pens. What this questionnaire does is not just help Amelia to understand her client and tailor make the plan, it also makes her clients think about their health and what they eat, how the food makes them feel from the energy point of view and how their lifestyle makes an impact on their health. Consider for a moment that what we eat affects our metabolism, our fertility or even our predisposition for certain diseases, like high blood pressure or diabetes.

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Amelia is a big advocate of weekly massages or at least regular massage and would refer you to a chiropractor/osteopath or acupuncturist, if she feels that you will benefit from it. When we eat the right way for our body and have an appropriate support network in terms of advice we can trust, we thrive and change in a way that might possibly extend our life-span. One day you might even have a light bulb moment that sugary snacks or airplane food hardly has any nutritional value for you and will start packing your own food or snacks to take on board.

I breached the subject of

‘eating
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Model magic: Bathing Beauty products and Q & A with the founder George Jones

Nowadays models are quite savvy, branching into arts, beauty, fashion design and photography but even a decade ago things were very different ( apart from the exception of savvy business-minded ‘supers’ like Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford or Elle Macpherson ), that’s why when I heard about Georgina Jones, a former model who now lives in Wales and creates skin and bodycare products under the name Bathing Beauty, I knew I wanted to know more.

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When I met George at the VegFest in Olympia earlier this year, what struck me initially was the fact that her stand was done with such creativity and attention to truly eye-catching beauty, I just couldn’t take my eyes away from it. George, with the kind, shiny eyes and luminous skin, wearing an apron over a pretty dress, welcomed me with open arms and asked her lovely husband to take over serving her customers, while we had a quick chat about the products ( some of which I was already using ). It becomes apparent within seconds not just whether you like the person or not, but also how passionate he or she is about what they do. With George the attention to detail is riveting-imagine taking old crates and cleverly organising a beautiful stand that showcased to perfection her various products, her Welsh roots, her bran’s ethos and drew both men and women in.

I have a habit of looking closely at people who work in skincare, to gauge how well they look after their skin and George has beautifully even, radiant skin. Yes, you can tell that she is a former model from the way she holds herself but she also has a motherly air with a coquettish streak. She doesn’t just repeat things about her products that you can read on her website, she tells you stories and gives you tips, asking about your skin type or  concerns that you have. She looks you in the eye and helps you chose things that you will love using. In my case I started with Mount Olympus, Bathing Beauty‘s fresh lemon and rosemary sea salt body scrub that transports me away to sunny moments on the beach in Europe.

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You take a small handful and spread it over your skin, inhaling a strong zesty aroma that wakes you and your senses up, while your skin sheds old, dull layer, like a snake and reveals a clearer, brighter skin. A winter staple that would work beautifully when you escape on warm holidays and will help you build a more even tan. It does have a rich consistency fused with oil, so you might want to give your shower or bath a lovely clean after using it – I view it as a lovely duality of skincare and physical activity .)

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Ingredients: Sea salt, Grapeseed Oil, Olive Oil, Lemon Zest, Rosemary Herb & Oil, Limonene, Linanool, Citral, Geranioul ( all four of which are naturally occurring in essential oils).

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Bathing Beauty All Things Nice: this brown sugar body polish fuses together Fair trade brown sugar, Peach kernel and Vitamin E oils, as well as vanilla and cardamon essential oils. To me it smells like Christmas – warming, spicy, uplifting, intriguing. I love using it in the morning, particularly if it’s cold or raining outside, as it wakes up my senses and gets my circulation going. It also leaves a gently subtle smell on your skin, like a warming veil. Add a steaming cup of freshly made coffee with cinnamon or cardamon, a little of coconut sugar and milk, as well as a steaming bowl of organic porridge and see if the day ahead goes better than your average day.

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Ingredients: Fairtrade unrefined brown sugar, Healianthus Annus Oil, Peach kernel oil, Cardamon essential oil, Madagascan vanilla extract, Tocopherols, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene (naturally occurring in essential oils ).

Sock Foot salve: this product has been given to me as a gift and I find that it reinvigorate my feet at the end of any given day. Massage it into your heels, as well as the nail beds, curl up under a warm blanket and wake up feeling light-footed. This concentrated balm comes in a handy screw top tin, which is handy in your travels, particularly if you go skiing or snowboarding.

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Ingredients: Butyrospermum parkii, Persea Gratissima calendula officinalis, Mentha x piperita, Melaleuca oil, Cera alba, Limonene and Linalool ( both naturally occurring in essential oils ).

Blanket: truth be told, I am completely and utterly smitten with this lavender and chamomile body balm ( or Balm lafant a chamri i’r corff in Welsh ). It has a texture that is like a ‘set’ whipped cream with a little oil undercurrent and it will envelope you in the soothing, comforting blanket of serenity. Take a little bit of it between your fingers, warm it up for a couple of seconds and spread it over your body. It will leave behind a gorgeous sensuous sheen, while moisturising and soothing your skin and imparting a sense of tranquility via your senses. Somehow this product makes you feel very feminine from the moment you open the jar and inhale its aroma.

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Ingredients: Shea butter, Peach Kernle, Borage Oil, Lavender essential oil, Roman chamomile plus naturally occurring in essential oils Geraniol, Limonene & Linalool.

Anoint Facial Oil for Shy skin: George was truly kind to send me this one to try together with Mount Olympus ( she did ask me what type of skin I have prior to it ) and I have to say that among the face oils that I already use and love, this one has now become a firm favourite. There is something in its name that makes me smile when I apply it but I also know that it soothes and cushions my skin and even when I have little blemishes or areas or redness, this oil makes it disappear, as I sleep at night. Pomegranate oil helps to regenerate the skin ( it is known for its revitalising and nourishing qualities ), chamomile calms it down, borage oil contains gamma linolenic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory qualities. This clear oil has such a calming aroma that serenity descends on me, when as I massage the oil on my skin. Anoint face oil also sinks into your skin almost immediately, so you can literally apply it and float off to sleep.

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Ingredients: Pomegranate oil, Borage Oil, Vitis vinefera, Mandarin Oil, Anthemis nobilis (chamomile oil ), Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, ASS05

Balaclava: this one is not a cream nor is it an oil – it is a protective face salve that George developed due to her own skin’s needs ( read about it in the Q & A below ) and that is bound to become your cold months staple, once you try it. Melt a little bit of it on the tips of your fingers and then spread it around your face ( I also moisturise my lips with it as well ), paying particular attention to the areas where your skin tends to be dry. Do it for a few days and see if you notice a difference, like I did. Somehow my skin tends to be better moisturised and gets less red even when you can feel the biting cold air, as you venture outside of your front door. I love everything about it product from the simple glass jar with its screw on lid  to how wonderful it makes my skin feel. It seems rich when you see it in the pot but once you apply it on, you realise that the eye deceives you-it glides over your skin and puts a gentle, protective shield over it, while looking like the lightest honey that has just been collected by the bees. This Face Salve is truly unlike any other protective face product that I have tried before and I can’t imagine my evening routine without it !

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Ingredients: Prunus Persicus, Peach persica gratissima, Avocado borago officinalis, Borage Cera Alba, Bees was Anthemis nobilis, Roman chamomile, Citrus reticulus mandarin, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol – naturally constituents of essential oils.

There are several things that set apart Bathing Beauty products in a very saturated market. Somehow models can seem hauty and unapproachable, yet George, while being self-assured, radiates kindness, compassion and care when she speaks to you through the products that she creates. She doesn’t waste words or recommend something to you in order to make a sale. She holds her Welsh roots dear and incorporates traditions of her land into her products and brand’s identity. Have a look at the lid of the jar of Blanket and you will understand what I mean.

Q & A with George Jones, founder & creative mastermind behind Bathing Beauty

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GAP: George, how did you get into modelling?

GJ: I grew up on read more

Charli Cohen-a sportswear designer to know & to support

Charli Cohen is a petit blonde power force to be reckoned with, even though she is only 23. We have met in the beginning of the year for a chat and after an hour spent in her company I walked away with a wonderful sense of marvel at how someone so young can have such a mature head on her shoulders when it comes to running her life and her business.

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For Charli fashion was always the plan, somehow deep inside she knew she was destined to work within it, but her fitness aspirations kicked in later, when she was in her teens, so by the time Charli was going to Kingston University, she knew that both were very important to her. Even at that tender age she knew that she needed to have proper qualifications to be taken seriously. By the time Graduation Week has arrived Charli’s esthetic was formed and even though she didn’t win the top award, she got the attention of the fashion press and Lycra offered to sponsor her with materials.

With Lycra’s mentoring as well, Charli was able to start her own sportswear label sooner that she expected and her The Vis Collection was previewed in July of this year. With meticulous research into fabrics and its qualities, as well as running a business and label’s infrastructure, no obstacle was going to get in the way of Charli’s determination ( Spring/Summer Collection is due to be presented in February 2014). Her premium, UK-made, technical sportswear collection bridges the gap between high-performance function and high-end fashion. As well as running her own business, Charli also writes her own blog, blogs for Huffington Post and offers nutritional and fitness consultancy to both men (about 30%) and women (70%) ( her initial client base started from the US) via e-mail and Skype. Charli looks at her customer’s needs realistically and takes into account their lifestyle and needs. Not bad for someone who is still very young.

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It is Charli’s conscious choice to manufacture her luxe sportswear line in the UK (the factory that manufactures Charli’s pieces also works with established British designers like Erdem and Victoria Beckham) while her fabrics, which are technical polyamide, are sourced from Italy. They are anti-bacterial, they draw sweat away from the body and they don’t loose colour as you wash them) and to run a truly British brand. There are 12 designs in the current collection, with some coming in two colour combinations. You can choose from a parka, a hooded jacket, a shorter jacket version, sweatshirts, two types of leggings, an oversized t-shirt, a bra, tank tops, track pants and long-sleeved tops.

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I have seen the presentation of Charli’s collection at the intimate yet very modern gym The Library in July and for the first time I actually saw sportswear pieces that didn’t ride up as the girls (models) did various sports demonstration with the in-house gym instructor. From doing yoga to boxing Charli’s pieces stayed put and the girls looked luxuriously glamorous even when they broke sweat on their faces.

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The fabrics are tactile, epitomising the luxury sportswear end of the market, highly practical and all of the items, even the parka, are machine washable. The fabrics that Charli chooses for her designs are made from the so-called ‘brushed’ fabrics, so they feel comfortable and ‘lived in’ thus you will feel equally at home in them when you workout or do a school run.

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It was a conscious choice for Charli to make her first collection more commercial than her graduate one. When I asked her what inspired this collection, she told me that it was inspired by people and their movement during their training. She paid attention where gussets and seams were for ease of movement, she researched to the minor detail how to put panels in so they are ‘color blocking’ in a flattering way and she zeroes on the muscles shapes and paneling in order to design pieces that would have a slimming effect.

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With all of the above said, don’t think for a minute that it has been an easy road so far. Charli travels to London all the time, presenting her collection, raising her profile via the social media and working on various creative collaborations. Her feet don’t seem to touch the ground and yet I have never seen her moan or complain about the difficulties along the way. Being a young designer in particular isn’t easy, in the market that is already saturated and very competitive (and while there is plenty of press interest already, when it comes to fashion and stockists, it is almost unheard of to be offered a concession until you present at least your third collection) and for now Charli hasn’t got a place to showcase her collection, so brave and daring as she is, she bit the bullet and launched herself into the

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Les Foulards de Juju: interview with the founder Julie-Anne Dorff

It all started with a Vogue profile and a picture of a beautiful woman, surrounded by her three children, talking about the complexities of balancing work and motherhood. The name Les Foulards de Juju also caught my eye and piqued my curiosity about the brand and its founder Julie-Anne Dorff.

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We exchanged e-mails and tried to organise a meeting, but in the meantime Julie-Anne kindly sent me some scarves to try on and to photograph. Imagine paisley scarves – cosy, unusual, with no annoying label tags. They come in different sizes, from small square ones that little girls love ( men can wear them as pocket handkerchiefs too) to bigger ones, cut similarly to a cummerbund that you can wear around your neck, like a neck-tie or casually tied on top of the trousers, instead of a belt. Add beautiful shawls to the mix, which you can wrap yourself in on a chilly summer evening-it reminds me of a paired down Pavlovoposadskye platki (shawls) but with a distinct European soul.

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One summer morning we finally met in a cafe close to Julie-Anne’s home. I saw a long-limbed young woman, in a slightly worn-in pink sweatshirt, with a flirty zip at the shoulder and dark shorts, her make-up-free face prettily flushed from a morning run and her hair tied in a high ponytail. There was a charming insouciance about her, with a calmly relaxed manner and a gentle smile playing on her lips. While she looked coolly French, there was warmth and a spark in her eyes and she really came alive when talking about her work and her children in equal measure.

Julie-Anne grew up in a French countryside, where she enjoyed the sense of freedom while toying with the idea of becoming a veterinarian, which later gave way to thoughts about journalism. In the end Julie-Anne followed her heart and studied for a Baccalaureate in Literature and Philosophy and then completed a Masters degree in Marketing & Communications at Emerson College in Boston. In France internships are an integral part of the educational process, so when an opportunity arose to do some fund-raising for

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Q & A with Ekaterina Igumentseva, founder of Organic Burst

This week Fiona Klonarides, founder of The Beauty Shortlist, a website that I love for its wealth of information, as well as for its always uplifting visuals, has been running the Green Beauty Week , raising profile of organic brands that aren’t only eco-consious but also effective; interviewing beauty experts about their favourite products and health tips and showing us how to become a bit more conscious of the effect that all of us have on the environment. Whether we like it or not, environmental changes are taking place and if we want the next generation to have a good life we really do need to make changes to what we put on our skin, how we recycle, questioning our food sources and manufacturing process and ingredients. So I thought it would be very timely to publish my Q & A with Ekaterina Igumentseva, a fellow Russian living in London, who founded Organic Burst, a company that supports its suppliers, produces five supplements-Baobab, Maca, Spirulina, Wheatgrass and Acai that really do make a difference to your overall well-being ( you can read my review of the Organic Burst supplements here, to give you an idea if you already haven’t tried them-no excuse really, as you can buy them online not only from Organic Burst website, but also from stockists like Wholefoods Market and Ocado now ) and runs her business with ethical wisdom well beyond her young years. She is one of those young women who give me hope and make me think that not only women can rule the world, they can do it with kindness and dignity.

Q & A with Ekaterina Igumentseva, founder of Organic Burst

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GAP: Can you please tell me a little about your professional path leading to the creation of Organic Burst?

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