November 2013 archive

Impulse Buy: Toast Pyjamas

| Impulse Buy

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It is cold. Freeze-your-nipples-off, frostbitten-fingers-from-texting-outside, weeing-ice cold. I do not like it. I especially do not like it at night. I wear bed socks all year round. That heatwave we had this year? Bed socks. Travelling through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore? Bed socks. I like layers. All the layers. And I love pyjamas. Not those bottoms and a vest top “sets”, which are pyjamas-lite, the low cal version of nightwear, no, I like to be covered. Insulated. Cosy. Full coverage is safe to answer the door in without flashing the postman. I like cotton pyjamas – softer, avoids night sweats. I don’t like masses of zips, fasteners or buckles – they dig into you and keep you awake at night. I like pockets – to keep your phone in when you’re carrying a stack of books and a glass of water upstairs. I like these pyjamas from Toast. Comfortable, warm, nice retro pattern, pretty collar and cuff detail, pockets. They are a little on the pricey side at £69, but I think they’re worth it. They’d make a great gift from Santa.

photo copy 2You can buy Toast pyjamas here.

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Impulse Buy: Umbra Waste Paper Bin

| Impulse Buy

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In the late summer of 2002, I moved to that shiny capitalist hub, Canary Wharf. Among the list of general items I needed to make my flat a home – bottle opener, reading light, bottle of champagne – was a bin. The choices of bins I found summed up my continuing troublesome relationship with this piece of functional furniture.

First up I discovered some seamless, sculpted attractive bins, available in a range of colours, which I’d have been proud to have in my home. They cost £395 each. £395!! For something you put your junk mail and used teabags in. I’ve been known to splash out in my time, but if I’m spending hundreds on an item I at least want to wear it. (And, yes, thank you to the person that instantly thought: you could put it over your head! I am not in the habit of channelling an 8-year-old pretending to be a Dalek, as my fashion icon. Not yet, anyway.)

The other type of bin I could find? Garish, tacky, and cheap looking. And thus my eyes were opened to the world of two bins. A pattern that is repeated ad infinitum all over the retail world. Finding a bin that is visually pleasing, but doesn’t cost the same as a winter coat is endlessly trying.

I’ve been looking for one for my bedroom (which is styled in rich chocolate brown and gold, with art deco touches), and finally I’ve found it! Umbra’s waste paper bin in espresso brown. It’s a wood texture, dark on the outside, and golden warm wood on the inside, like a chocolate covered toffee. And it sits perfectly in my bedroom. At £19.99, it’s not the cheapest bin, but it’s certainly not hundreds either. Well worth the wait.

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Umbra Woodrow waste paper bin costs £19.99 and is available from here.

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Impulse Buy: Clarissa Hulse Double Duvet set from TK Maxx

| Impulse Buy, Uncategorized

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For years one of the stylists I represented worked with TK Maxx, and they were always so friendly and upbeat to deal with as a company. But that’s not the reason why I hold this store dear to my heart. Oh no. I love TK Maxx because it is a crazy-assed barmy bargain jumble of a store. I love their frenetic collection of stock – designer frocks, man’s socks, coat hangers, cheese graters, herbal tea, Cornish fudge! It’s like Willy Wonka came to life, took a load of LSD, and was put in charge of buying for a national store. Walking through it is like playing the conveyor belt on the Generation Game. Cuddly toy! You can have hours of fun in there. I popped in for some knickers today, and what caught my eye? A beautiful patchwork (and usually £65.00) Clarissa Hulse double duvet set for £34.99. 100% Cotton Sateen. Sod the panties, this is perfect for my spare room. TK Maxx-ed out my card again.

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I bought my Clarissa Hulse Double Duvet set for £34.99 from TK Maxx.

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Authors: How to Run a Twitter Competition, & Why it’s a Good Idea

| Writing

Running a Twitter competition, where you offer people the chance to win a prize, is a fabulously fun way to engage with new and existing followers. It is also, if done well, a great way to promote your book or a forthcoming event you’ll be appearing at. Below I’ve mapped out a recent campaign I ran on Twitter:

The aim: to promote an event I will be appearing at.

The prize: A bottle of Moet and a signed copy of my book Confessions of a Fashionista.

The plan: Ask people to retweet information about the forthcoming event, as their entry for a randomly selected prize draw.

How I did it:

1. I drafted a tweet that would tell everyone what they needed to know:

– I’m running a competition!

– Oooh look at the amazing prize I’m offering.

– This is how to enter.

– I’ll pick the winner at random.

– I will announce the winner on this magic chosen day. (I decided to run my competition over a number of days, including both weekdays and weekends to maximise it’s exposure.)

 ‏‪@TheAngelaClarke 23 Oct 

Want to ‪#win a bottle of Moet & a signed copy of Confessions of a Fashionista? RT my next tweet to enter draw – winner randomly selected Monday.

 

2. I drafted a tweet to immediately follow this, which contained information about the forthcoming event I wanted to promote.

 ‏‪@TheAngelaClarke 23 Oct VIP fashion supper in #StAlbans on 30th Oct – £30 gets you 3 courses, wine, a signed book & ME! Ltd tickets left: my.allaboutstalbans.net/book-tickets/D…

3. I scheduled my tweets, using Tweetdeck, to display across a number of days (I find there’s high Twitter traffic at around 7.30am, 1.30pm, and 5.30pm on weekdays). Alternatively, HootSuite will autoschedule your tweets when it judges the largest amount of your followers are online. Be careful to slightly alter the content of each tweet if you’re posting a similar message repeatedly – this limits the chances of Twitter mistaking it for spam and rejecting it.

4. I kept a note of all of the times I tweeted about the competition. Scrolling back through my Twitter account, I find the original tweets. Then I expand them to see who has retweeted them.

 Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 17.08.30

5. I highlight, copy and paste all of those who tweeted, and therefore entered the competition. I transfer this to a Word document. I then repeat the process for each time I tweeted about the competition. So, if you retweeted me more than once, your name will enter the hat more than once (handy hint for the future there).

6. I delete the photos of everybody’s profile picture (to save ink), and then I print it.

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7. I then cut out each of the names until I have a pile of entrants.

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8. I fold each of them up, and place them into a hat. Or a hat substitute, like this handy box I had in my study.

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9. I shake the hat/box, and select a winner at random. (Confession: once, the person I picked out the hat was my editor, who had kindly spread the message and retweeted the competition tweet. I decided that it wouldn’t be wise to award her the prize, so on that occasion I selected again.)

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10. Then I notify everyone by my Twitter feed who has won the competition. And ask the competition winner to let me know their details privately. Don’t forget to recycle your strips of paper, or donate them to a nearby hamster.

This may seem like a long and laborious process, and I’m sure many of you are thinking why? Why go to all this bother, Ange, when you could just be having a nice glass of wine and some cheese over the latest book you’re reading? The answer is very simple: it’s extremely competitive in publishing right now, and you should do everything you can to stand out. Nearly 3,000 books are published every week in the UK alone (ta, Wiki). It’s a bun fight out there, kids. A competition is a great way to spread the word about your work. The wine will still be in the fridge when you’re done.

P.S. If anyone knows of an app that will randomly select a winner from specific retweets do let me know!

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