Sometime in 2007, I was browsing through a Facebook photo album of an old school friend called Tammy. She had recently moved to London and was attending wonderful vintage fairs and fashion events with her new friend, Nadia. I remember being so inspired by their pics of cupcakes in Portobello and vintage bits and pieces. I didn't get a chance to see Tammy while I was in London but one day while walking around Durban's Market, a girl stopped me to ask about a bag I was carrying. It was Nadia! I instantly recognised her from Tammy's Facebook pics and we got chatting about blogging, fashion and friends. We are now bona fide besties!
Nadia is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She is always sending thoughtful texts and making goodie bags for her friends. She also happens to have an amazing sense of style and a great eye for interiors. On Saturday, I popped round to her charming flat for a catch up and a good old browse around. We spoke about her London job at Burberry, her current job as a Ladies Footwear Buyer at Mr Price, her Cupcake Couture collection and clothes, clothes, clothes. Join us as we go into girly overdrive!
What was it like working at Burberry in London?
♥ It was an amazing learning experience. Don't imagine The Devil Wears Prada, although my manager had certain ideals and personality traits that made Anna Wintour seem tame. There were truly inspirational days...for example when we got to send luggage and shoes to the Sex & the City Movie set (Miranda wears a pair of silver Prorsum heels to Carrie's wedding). However, like any job there were exceptionally tough days too. The majority of people that I worked with were Italian and I was a young Afrikaans girl in the big city. Another highlight was that I was the same shoe size as the models! As shoes returned from Fashion Week, I usually managed to score a pair. Imagining that I was walking a mile in the same shoes as Agnes Dean made the days seem manageable. I miss Burbs a great deal and value the days that I spent there. It opened many a door for me plus I met my fiancé Daniel there. What more could a girl want from a job...shoes and a dream man! Oh yes...101 tips on negotiating with Italian men...priceless!
What's a typical day as a 'Ladies Footwear Buyer' like? I'm picturing high heels piled high around your desk!
♥ There are days when shoes are piled high...just about everywhere. We joke that we shovel shoes more than we buy them! Our business runs in seasons and currently we are reviewing products for Spring 2010 so there is a shift in routine as we work on building a range that includes all the right shoes. When my days return to normal I start my mornings by being at the office by 7:30am and wishing for Starbucks! I check various sites like Vogue, Elle UK and Who What Wear for some daily inspiration as well as Drapers for the latest fashion news. I also check what the dollar price is a the moment. Most days are spent answering mails, checking on new samples, writing orders, approving styling on future orders and working with our suppliers to get the best possible products. Just because our products are cheap doesn't mean we don't put a great deal of effort into making them exceptional. At some point in the day we also prepare samples to send to various magazines as per our great marketing team's briefs. We usually have a couple of meetings in the afternoon and I always ensure I have some lunch.
Your Cupcake Couture accessories are tres manigifique! What inspired you to start making accessories?
♥ Before heading to London in 2006 I owned my own accessory brand called Glam Accessories. On returning, I wondered if I wanted to build it again but was looking for the right mix. It wasn't until I made a tape measure corsage as a gift for a fashion friend's birthday that I found the right elements. It was an instant hit and within the week I had orders. A dear friend...Kelli urged me on to take a stall at I heart Market. I decided to take the bold step armed with a head full of ideas. Cupcake Couture was so well received at the market and has continued to grow. My inspiration comes from far and wide and sometimes the oddest things spark an idea.
You're a very busy gal between working full time, creating Cupcake Couture and blogging. How do balance it all so stylishly!?
♥ It ain't always so stylish when you are living it! Late nights, mega applying of eye cream and positive thinking to get through the days are the less glamorous elements. I make sure I write down what I have to do like lists and goals for the week. I also have a really supportive fiance who always assists me in achieving my dreams. My family are also super helpful and my Mom sometimes runs Cupcake Couture's errands when I am shuffling those shoes at the office. I am to invest in a Blackberry this year to deal with the ever growing Cupcake Couture to do list. The CC supporters, blog readers and their comments remind me that it is always worth it. So...keep up those comments as they make my days bright and joyful!
You have a very enviable wardrobe my friend! Good organisination seems to be the key to the order. How often do you take stock of it all?
♥ I was the in the habit of doing it almost once a week, but I am too busy now. I do try to just be neat as a way of life which makes the "stock taking" a great deal easier. The aim is at least once a month...to assess what I need and don't.
What is your philosophy when it comes to buying clothes?
♥ Quality versus quantity. I love interesting accessories and add these to staple pieces to keep them current and interesting. Comfort is also a factor whilst still filtering style into it all. Basics and staples are essential as well as a couple of seasonal, cheaper pieces to add variation. I would love to wear vertiginous heels every day, but neither one of my jobs allows for teetering around. I love pumps and brogues!
If you could only save two items in a fire, which would you choose and why?
♥ Only two! Is that possible! Well...my Karen Millen blazer and my Topshop jeans. I would love to say something a little more exciting, but practicality is the ingredient to eternal style and those two pieces transcend seasons.
You always look amazing, hun. How would you describe your personal style?
♥ I do? Well thank you! I am always torn between quirky styles and more fashion forward pieces. I would say that my style is a mix of brilliant basics with fun pops and hints of individual and unique elements.
You're getting married this year! How do you want your special day to look and feel?
♥ I would like the day to be a relaxed one. Friends and family must mingle, enjoy delicious food and drink plenty of wine...oh and don't forget the cake! I want to be myself with just slight air of feminine beauty and elegance. No strict traditions, just love and joy!
You've got a couple of exciting new projects on the go. Can you tell us a bit about them?
♥ Well...this week I am launching The Package Project so watch the Cupcake Couture blog for more details. It promises to be a fun initiative to make new friends and the aim is to grow the South African blogging community. I am also working on a top secret business plan that focuses on style. Hush...hush. This year will also see Cupcake Couture expanding and growing its icing covered wings and hopefully soaring to new heights.
If I could send you to London for the day, how would you spend it?
♥ I would stop for a Starbucks for a hot choc to fuel my day. I don't do coffee. I would meet up with my best friend Ruby who lives in London to hit all our favourite haunts starting with Liberty for buttons and ribbon and Waterstones in Piccadilly for some magazines and books. Kingly Court for some vintage treats, Nottinghill for a Bloody Mary at Twelfth House and a long chat. Golders Hill park for a picnic with Pimms and Fruli - this place will take your breath away. Assuming this would all be possible we would then head to Frock Me Vintage Fair for Biba dresses and lacy glove shopping. Belgo in Chalk Farm for dinner and coconut beer or Holly Bush in Hampstead for gourmet pie and prawns. Last, but not least late night dancing at Koko in Mornington Crescent followed by a cab ride to dreamland. It sound like there is a lot of alcohol involved in the trip...oh well. might as well make the trip as fun as it can be. Ha Ha. Oh and to really push the limit...I would need an extra day to go and shop the lanes in Brighton!
Your flat is blissfully calm, chic and characterful. How did you go about creating such a lovely space?
♥ Daniel, my fiance, is a furniture designer and carpenter for Woodnewz so we designed some pieces together to work with the space. We always feel that our flat is a work in progress so we don't buy anything for the sake of filling an empty space instead we shop around and reinvent items. For example an old Polaroid camera becomes an ornament. Retro pieces incorporated with antiques makes for a diverse look which mirrors both our styles. Find what works for you and don't conform to decor norms.
♥ Nadia's Durban Faves ♥
Cafe: Vanille Cafe for pomme frites and hot choc.
Interiors Shop: I like shopping at markets for interiors or I look at sites and then recreate items. For inspiration I head to a shop in the Midlands, but the name has left me.
Clothing Shop: Mr Price of course! Besides Mr P, I find that Woolworths does quality staples. I also love Kloof SPCA for their amazing vintage collection and ridiculously cheap prices. Oh and for brilliant basics like Breton tops or plain longer length tees I always go to Pick & Pay Clothing. The majority of the basics are 100% cotton and the fits are perfect. My friend Danka from Black Butterfly is my favourite local designer and she can sew beautifully.
Restaurant: The Shamrock Inn in Durban North. You have not lived until you have eaten at this dilapidated pub. The service is amazing and the food beats any gourmet spot in town. Think floral wallpaper!
♥ Nadia's Dressing Table ♥
Blusher: Elizabeth Arden Bronze Beauty
Perfume: Tom Ford Black Orchid
Lipstick: A slick of MAC gloss or Eight Hour Cream lip balm in the colour Blush
Mascara: Rimmel Lash Flirt
Nail Polish: Revlon Vixen so classic and just perfect
Eye Shadow: MAC in Shale Satin
Where can we find your Cupcake Couture goodies?
♥ At Fat Tuesday in Kloof, Mooi in Glenwood Durban and at Carol Clark in Durban North. Also there is a For Sale link on the blog so you can shop it up there too.
Here are some of the photographs I took at Nad's home. If you're hungry for more, please feel free to browse the Flickr set. You can say hi to Nads here and stock up on Cupcake Couture while you're there. Enjoy! x