Category: Life

The Range Rover Evoque, Sky High in the City of Sails

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I was introduced to the Land Rover family earlier this year through my role as the Land Rover NZ Polo Ambassador. Stemming from this, I am now immensely grateful for and appreciate the opportunity to work more closely with Land Rover and am excited to help them launch their newest addition The Range Rover Evoque.

You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl

Despite my love for the countryside and the quintessential Land Rover, I was excited to hear that Range Rover were about to launch the new Evoque, a model designed for the contemporary city life. Considering I spend my weekdays rushing from meeting to meeting, my after work time navigating the small streets of Ponsonby and my weekends working on my blog, bouncing around the city from shoot to shoot, the Evoque is a great fit. Branching out from the larger Land Rover family, it is not hard to see at first sight that this vehicle is designed for the most challenging inner city parallel parks and tight, sharp, street corners.

Its what’s on the inside that counts

The Evoque is incredibly compact for an SUV and the design team have done a brilliant job, designing the cabin with minimal visual clutter.  With a love for fashion, I appreciate the elegant lines and contemporary materials that have been used to craft the interior.

Men will never fully understand a women’s appreciation for natural light. I will kneel in any corner to capture the right light when applying my make up and always prefer to shoot outside. The Evoque must be a woman, as she has chosen to feature a sliding panoramic roof that opens to fill her cabin with natural light plus this feature creates a wonderful sense of space.

#OOTD

The outfit of the Evoque is just as impressive as its interior. With its sophisticated coupe like silhouette, flush door handles that deploy with the press of a button and a set of striking “heels” the Evoque is building a designer legacy just as the Diors of the world have done with fashion.

So here she is, the Range Rover Evoque, sky high in the city of sails.

(Shot by the incredible Jared Donkin. Wearing Trelise Cooper Spring 19 collection and Mi Piaci)

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Frill Seeker

I am so excited and grateful to be working with the NZ Polo Open this year as their event ambassador, sharing the sport and wider experience to a new audience and adding a bit of fashion along the way. Here is my full interview from the recent NZ Polo Open mag in the Herald at So Hotel with LandRover and Superette.

How did you wind up being a style blogger?

I work in social media, specialising in influencer marketing so to be able to understand what’s required to create content from an influencer perspective helped me understand how best to work with them on behalf of my clients. So that coupled with my passion for fashion, led to a blog and a slowly growing family of local followers on Instagram.

Any involvement in polo – do you play, ride, watch?

I was first introduced to polo by my girlfriend Sami. I went along to the NZ Polo Open with her one year, stomped some divots and drunk champagne under her friends gazebo in the boot park. I spent the afternoon sitting in a camping chair watching the ponies race from end to end. It really is one of the most exhilarating sports to watch.

In-between chuckas I equally enjoyed all the gorgeous fashion strolling past, a mix of the true polo fans and those who were wandering out from the Verve and LandRover areas. That’s what I love about this event. It brings together a true mix of people, the polo community and those who are out for a new social experience. I’ve had a lesson but apparently I look too upright so maybe I need to go back a for a few more ha ha ha

What’s a failsafe outfit for the polo?

Ohhhhh where to start! This season I’m loving delicate layers, gorgeous sleeve details, large bows and two piece sets. I am a girl who loves colour and there is definitely room for pops of colour throughout the polo crowd, but a failsafe option would be keeping to the softer pastels, whites, creams or linen… do pop in a bright lippy or a bit of colour with a statement shoe though!

What advice would you give for a first-time polo attendee?

Watch your champagne intake and take the time to learn a bit about the game before you go. Its easy to let the day can get away on you with all the socialising and people watching, but I would urge you to get behind and support the reason we are all there in the first place.

Where do you stand on heels at the polo?

I wouldn’t want to spend the day balancing on the grass trying not to fall over in front of thousands of spectators. So in my opinion heels are simply a no. A wedge or a thick heel if you prefer the height, but there are few events of this nature where a stylish flat is perfectly acceptable so this is a great excuse to add a new pair of flats to your collection.

Are there ever days where you hate everything in your wardrobe and, if so, what do you end up wearing?

I wouldn’t say there is anything I hate in my wardrobe. I am good at donating to charity every 6 months so I try and keep my wardrobe to pieces I actually wear. But I do get behind on my ironing so there are definitely days where I have nothing to wear as its all backed up in that pile. On those days I tend to wear high waisted jeans, a silk singlet, a blazer and a high pair of stilettos (the one thing that can pull together the most average of outfits).

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One Morning in Paris – H&M Around the World

One morning I woke to message on Instagram from a young Parisian photographer Adem. He was reaching out to compliment my use of colour and the aesthetic of my feed. He mentioned that if I were ever in Paris, he would love to collaborate and show me around the streets of his home town. Three months later we met outside a local cafe in the 7th district, grabbed a coffee and croissant with my darling Sami Downey, and spent the morning shooting amongst his streets and against backdrops that I had only ever dreamed of.

This is one part of my series Around the World with H&M. This shoot features pieces from the Bonjour Paris collection, a limited edition edition collection that celebrates the French Contemporary style and one that has had a huge influence on my own and I know Sami’s.

This was our morning in the city of love.

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Two Days in the City of Angels for the Solo Traveller

In my twenties my budget was limited, and the opportunities to travel would come after months of stringent saving. Each day was precious and I would squish in as much as the day would allow, waking early and walking right through until dawn. But that is how you should travel in your twenties, seeing and experiencing everything, regardless of a lack of sleep or tired legs.

Now Im 33 and although the days are just as precious, Ive seen the sites – especially in LA. I’ve sat under the Hollywood sign, walked the boulevard and experienced the diverse range of cocktail and dive bars. This time I wanted to wake naturally, sip my coffee from my hotel room over looking the city without any plans, and just wander under the palm trees against the balmy breeze.

Although I had a few friends to catch up with, I spent most of my days exploring alone. There is something quite liberating about wandering a somewhat unfamiliar city without anyone to fall back on. I walk my own path without compromise, allowing each new turn guide me to new pockets of a city. But with that freedom comes a sense of insecurity.

As a solo traveller, I value the advice and recommendation of other solo travellers. Not only for their personal experiences exploring, but for their advice on travelling safe. If you are to travel solo, experience the most out of each opportunity, meet the people and explore the hidden streets with confidence by investing in a comprehensive travel insurance plan. For this trip I partnered with Worldcare Travel Insurance who provided me with a complimentary GoComprehensive policy that included the higher limits and extended benefits I needed to feel secure and confident exploring while in safe hands as a single women in my thirties!

My taxi dropped me at the entrance to The Beverly Hills Hotel. Its peachy pink walls and immaculately landscaped grounds are somewhat intimidating. Walking through the entrance I thought of all the celebrities that have walked up the same stairs on their way to The Polo Lounge and all the famous producers that have sipped on their cocktail while signing movie deals. I sat at my table for one, in the 9am sunshine with my muesli and  green juice, watching the guests filter in for breakfast. If you enjoy people watching, this is where you want to locate yourself for a few hours. Take a stroll through the grounds and around the bungalows covered by arching banana trees. The place is an Instagram dream.

From there I walked down North Beverly Drive and into the hub of Rodeo Drive. The neighbourhood streets are so wide yet relatively quiet. There is a real mix of housing. From Spanish styled homes to french county inspired properties landscaped to perfection. It was such a dreamy stroll. Rodeo is beautiful. Its peaceful window shopping during the early morning, plus you miss the snap happy tourists. The YSL flagship store is the largest in America and is the home to my dream wardrobe. 

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From there I took a cab to West Hollywood to Alfred Tea. Nestled into North Alfred Street, Alfred Tea is a picturesque tea room serving up delicious thai tea, matcha and nut milk goodness to addicted locals. I sat outside in the courtyard eavesdropping on a young girl confidently interviewing a string of hopeful retail staff. Others had their laptops out working away in the sun. Thats what I love about LA, everyone is out and about, making the most of what their community has created. Opposite the street is Isabel Marant tucked into a lusciously green courtyard. A beautifully photo op.LRG_DSC02054LRG_DSC02041IMG_4501From here its an easy stroll down Melrose. Home to Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and a string of brightly coloured feature walls, there is no shortage of Instagram spots on this street! But Melrose is like the Brady Bunch of the family of suburbs in LA. It’s a mix of vintage stores, higher end designers, gorgeous furniture stores and boutique eateries like Carrera. The LA heat can get a bit much during the peak of the day, so I popped into the corner cafe for a kale salad, hooked up to their free wifi and watched the young girls pop in for their ‘LA’ sprinkled coffee, posing by the old school pink phone that hung on the wall. Attracting many of the worlds fashion bloggers it has become a must see attraction for millennial tourists!LRG_DSC02067LRG_DSC02068LRG_DSC02070IMG_4820IMG_4489The next day I took a cab out to Venice beach. Although being about 45mins drive, taxis are relatively cheap so I definitely recommend taking the trip out. I would suggest staying away form the hustle of the main strip and explore the back streets and canals and peer into the multi million dollar properties (most of which are holiday homes). Each house has its own character that I assume reflects that of its owner, illustrating the diversity found within the Venice community. From large modern homes like Karens off Californication, to tiny little cottages that have been well loved and passed down through generations. It’s unique side of LA that makes exploring its streets so interesting. My favourite was the little home that lived behind the pink flamingo fence. AN5A4078AN5A3626IMG_4810I popped out both nights for a bite to eat and a cocktail. The first night I met a friend at Mama Shelter, a relaxed rooftop venue in Hollywood that has the most striking view of the sun setting over the hills. Dressed with tropical plants and sprawling loungers this is the perfect spot for a casual evening drink or a relaxed dinner with friends.

The second night I popped out to Catch. An LA hotspot for the rich and famous (apparently). A rooftop sanctuary covered in floral creeping vines and exposed brick walls. With a 2 week wait list it seems this is a spot that can be quite selective with its guests, not surprising knowing that it caters of the likes of Quincey Jones, David Beckham and the Jenner girls. After a course of sharing dishes such as Lobster Rolls and Wagyu Short Rib Tacos and a few Lush Lemonade cocktails, we ventured out to the streets, through the awaiting paparazzi and back home to bed.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Worldcare Travel Insurance who have supported my trip around the world, across 7 countries, helping me write, capture and share my experiences. See more about my GoComprehensive Plan here*and apply my code for 10% off LIFEINMYTHIRTIES10

 See you again soon LA, take care of your angels.IMG_4686

*Disclaimer
*Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision please consider the policy wording. 10% discount offer is valid for online purchases only and expires on August 31 2018. 10% discount applies to Worldcare standard pricing and any additional premium for pre-existing medical cover but does not apply to any additional premium for specified items or other discounted offers.

 

The Must Have Accessory of 2018

I’ve heard a few rumours about iPhone batteries – for example, when you update iOS it can reduce your battery life, or that Apple design the batteries to have a short life, encouraging iPhone loyalists to keep up with the new versions. But to be honest my short battery life is likely to be due to excessive use of Instagramming and capturing all my little moments.

The fuse in my car charger is broken and I am often maximising every opporuntity to charge up while on the go. Now I throw my iPhone into my handbag and keep it charged on my pink marbled lipstick charger from Richmond and Finch.

The established Swedish fashion brand have recently launched their SS8 collection, painted with peonies, butterflies, floral jungles and paisley flowers, Made for the perfect flay lay, they are as functional as they are fashionable with 360 Drop Protection.

After years of protecting my cases, I am officially working with Richmond and Finch to offer 20% off your purchase using Holly20.

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Weekend Parfait – with Sofitel

I quite openly have a few guilty pleasures – shoes, fine dining, candles and fresh flowers. But a weekend escape at a luxurious hotel would be the top of the list. I remember when I was travelling through Asia in my early twenties, I saved up enough money to book myself into one of the 5 star hotels. I was by myself and didn’t leave the room for 2 days. I loved spending the time alone, ordering room service and inroom massages. I appreciate the experience that a stay in a beautiful hotel offers and this was something I was willing to sacrifice a few more nights on the island for.

Noting much has changed since then, I will mix in a few 5 start hotels when I travel but that doesn’t mean I am flippant with my money. I just choose to sacrifice other things in order to allow for my hotel experiences. I rarely go out in the months leading up to my trips and can live quite happily on the basics. So I do.

My first Sofitel experience was during a trip down to Queenstown. As I do, I chose to save up so I could experience my weekend away at the French establishment on the lakefront. To this day it was one of my most memorable hotel experiences (and I have had a lot). The french butler knocked on the door a little after we were settled in. He introduced himself as our main point of contact during our stay. He was beautifully mannered and immaculately dressed in a Parisian styled three piece. So when Sofitel Wellington asked me to spend a weekend away with them, I was confident that this experience would live up to the first.

Aki, Claire Andrew and I packed our suitcases with 20 odd kgs of outfits and accessories to see our way through two full days of shooting. As you will know from my Instagram feed, I am drawn to contrasting patterns, bold colours and detail. I like to shoot in settings that draw you in, backgrounds that have you zooming to explore a little further. Sofitel Wellington was about to be the feature of some of my favourite photos to date.

The French influence paints its way through the hotel picking up and celebrating the local Wellington flavour as it flows through each of the beautifully created spaces. Deep forest green velvet loungers are complimented by the golden bronzed glow of the lobby bar. The foyer lined with mint green, high back arm chairs carry you through to Jardin Grill, a restaurant that has confidently established itself as a uniquely exquisite dining experience. It is no surprise that it is also the most expensive restaurant fit out in New Zealand with the custom floral wall paper that sings its way up the walls and across the ceiling.

The rooms define luxury – sleek and golden. The black tiled bathroom pops with golden features while the bedroom lightens with warm tones and fabrics encouraging you to snuggle in and experience the bespoke Sofitel bed – yes they have their own bed line that is made in France and shipped around the world to ensure they can control the quality and consistency of their luxurious sleeping experience! It is no surprise that they stretch the window across the width of the room. At first glance it can easily be mistaken for a painting. The lush green hills are quite literally picture perfect.

The hotel sits on the hill above Lambton Quay. Take one of the small walkways that connects The Terrace to Lambton Quay and you are in the hub of the shopping district in minutes. David Jones is a must. Peruse the Christian Louboutons and Valentinos or spritz yourself in Tom Ford and Jo Malone. Wellington is definitely a city to explore by foot (wrapped in a jacket and scarf on those windy days of course).

The streets are built up around the culture of the city. The designers and high end stores are found in pockets scattered across the CBD with some of the best coffee stops and restaurants found down the alley ways. I blogged about Havana Bar in my last blog here. We enjoyed a lunch of champagne and perfectly cooked pork belly followed by a mini photo shoot capturing the colours and latin influence. After a quick stop at Wellington Chocolate factory tasting their free trade delectable dark chocolates we were soon back in our rooms for the 5th outfit change before enjoying a few of the gin cocktails in the lobby bar.

Dinner was a mix of blogger chat, planning our shoots for the following day and worrying about the food ‘fomo’ we would get if we were to order different dishes. I started with an entree of Paua and Scallops, followed by Wagyu with (believe it or not) the most deliciously moreish brussels sprouts! The plan was to pop out for a night cap but as we sank into our chairs after trying to finish every last crumb on the table, we rolled our way back to bed. I couldn’t be happier as I lay like a star fish and drifted off to sleep in quite possibly the worlds most comfortable bed.

Two days simply wasn’t enough. I’m sitting in the lounge watching the rain bucketing down as I write this, feeling more inclined to book my next trip down. An easy hour flight, it is the perfect way to spend a rainy weekend, a romantic getaway or an escape on your own for one of New Zealand’s most luxurious hotel experiences at Sofitel Wellington.

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Banh Mi Caphe in the City

Always on the hunt for new backdrops, colours and textures to shoot, Tori and I got it in bucket loads in the Victoria on the River precinct of Hamilton. An established local lunch spot for the last 4 years, Banh Mi Caphe has recently experienced a fresh new look in it’s new home right on the river.

Having spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, I prefer to eat at the local street stalls and food markets. The food is consistently more fresh and flavoursome than what is offered at the restaurants and hotels, because the recipes are refined and perfected through generations. That’s exactly what has the locals hooked on their new inner city eatery, Banh Mi Caphe.

The whole family contribute to the dishes that flow out of their kitchen. The majority of the menu is made up of recipes that Anh (co-owner) learned from her grandmother. The herbs are grown in her mothers own back yard and the baguettes made fresh by her father. The family is truely at the heart of this establishment and it’s success.

Next time you are passing through Hamilton make sure you stop in for lunch or dinner. Open from Tuesday to Saturday Banh Mi Caphe is located at 298 Victoria St, Hamilton.

My favourites were the Lemongrass Tofu and Mushroom Banh Mi, Banh Chuoi Banana Cakes and the Goi Cuon fresh rice paper rolls – but its safe to say the entire menu is ridiculously moorish.

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Outfit H&M

Black Boots Mi Piachi A/W 18

hollyxxx

 

How To Look Victorious at the Races!

There are two types of events that highlight my year; weddings and the races. Why? Because over the years I have subconsciously built a wardrobe full of dazzling outfits, alongside a collection of statement accessories that are not exactly your everyday Ponsonby night attire. So, they patiently hang in the darkness of my closet waiting for their season to flourish – the season of weddings and race days! Two occasions where New Zealand women can dress to the nines, celebrate fashion and boast the creative and extravagant side of their personality.

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Ellerslie Racecourse is home to some of New Zealand’s most attended racing events; The Melbourne Cup, Karaka Million, Twilight Races and this March the highly anticipated Auckland Cup Week with the  Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day coming up on 10th March.

Over the last few years I have attended a number of these events, eagerly keeping my eyes peeled as I stroll through the clinking of champagne glasses and mingle my way through the hosted areas, taking a mental note and visual inspiration from the diverse range of women and their individual interpretation of race day fashion – all the while feeling relaxed, excited and daring! It’s not just a day for the wealthy and fashion fierce, it’s a day that brings together fun, anticipation, that outdoor feeling and friendship.

It’s not only what you are wearing that makes the races such an attractive outing!

Let’s be honest. There is nothing more sexy than a man or woman waving that winning ticket in the air. There is an immediate happy reaction we all have viewing the smiles of a victory for someone, whether it’s $5 or $500 ! So don’t be too concerned with dollar amounts, celebrate looking victorious with whatever you might win and for the wins of those around you.

Here are a few of my tips:

The Boxed Trifecta Percentage Bet:  I would normally choose 6 horses at a 20% bet. This means that if three of your chosen six horses place in first, second and third in any order, you win 20% of what the horses are paying, I generally bet $20.

Place your bet early and be organised: Know your bets and place them as you arrive. This way you can relax, cheer with a few champagnes and find yourself a prime spot amongst the crowd. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out what bets to place, especially after a few champagnes!

Spread your bets out: Rather than betting on the final race, place smaller bets across a number of races. More chances to wave those tickets!

Take Cash: I learnt this the hard way. I waited eagerly before the final and only race I was betting on that day, only to find that they didn’t accept credit card or eftpos. With the race having already started I dashed back to join the rest of my friends hoping to celebrate their wins and …. the bet I was going to make won!

I arrived early to the Karaka Million a few weeks ago, before the crowds of fashionistas and race day fanatics arrived, to shoot a few different race day inspired looks from Trelise Cooper (first two looks) and H&M (second two looks).

If you’d like an excuse to dress up, drink champagne and party in the sunshine, then you can get your tickets here – www.ellerslie.co.nz

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The 101 on Urban Polo

Just lately I’ve enjoyed colouring in my calendar weekends with new experiences and opportunities to meet people beyond my own circle. I still enjoy a Saturday night getting ready at 10pm to enjoy a cocktail on Ponsonby Rd but switching to a 10am ‘get ready’ time is taking on a new appeal. Particularly getting ready for fashion, music and sporting events like rugby, cricket or the Karaka Million.

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I attended the NZ Open for the first time out in Clevedon last year and until then, my only experience with Polo was watching Vivian Ward turn heads in her wide brimmed hat on Pretty Woman. This month I experienced the Urban Polo, an urban take on the traditional game and an opportunity to open the sport up to a wider audience, bringing it into the inner city. Played on a significantly smaller field, Urban Polo brings its spectators closer to the game, ponies and action.

With its mix of sunshine, social mingling, music and some of Auckland’s finest hospitality, the Heineken Urban Polo has established itself as one of summer’s most talked about events, popping up in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington.

For those of you who are new to this sporting summer highlight like me, the guys at Urban Polo have shared a few tips to help get you through as if you are an event regular:

  • Two teams, 3 players on each side.
  • Players are designated ‘attack’ or ’defence’. Each has the job of furthering their own goal tally while preventing the other team scoring.
  • The game begins with a throw-in, ball is rolled between the teams.
  • The line of the ball is a ‘right of way’ established by the path of the ball – player who struck the ball last has right of way.
  • Teams change after each goal is scored.

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And of course there is the fashion! But what exactly is the fashion brief for an Urban Polo? Simply put a garden party/urban lens over what you would expect to wear to a day at the races. Fascinators and hats are not an expected element to an outfit, however most welcome. The urban polo is an opportunity to integrate pops of colour, a tailored pant or a flowy dress or skirt. Have fun with accessories, statement jewellery, bright bags and with this dodgy weather I’d add a blazer draped over your shoulders just in case. I don’t think I need to state the obvious, but don’t try your luck with a pair of stiletto heels – wedges, block heels or sandals.

I recently spent a morning out at Ainsley Polo, the breeding and training ground for some of the worlds best polo ponies. Living and working in the city, I rarely get to see the countryside at this time of the day, it was incredibly idyllic. I watched the players during a practice game. It’s such a peaceful sport, so graceful. The sound of the ponies as they galloped by made me re-think my inner city lifestyle! Ainsley Polo also offer Polo lessons, whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned polo player – they will have you covered with the best teachers in the game. I’m excited to try one myself next month. Head over to their site for more info: www.ainsleypolo.com

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Outfits from Witchery and Ketz-ke

Photos by Tori Hayley 

 

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Girls With Dreams Become Women With Vision

Kiki is a ten-year-old budding photographer. Having bought her first DSLR from her step mum Cat, her dream is to become a professional fashion and lifestyle photographer and she is taking every opportunity to get herself there. She shoots and edits all her own images and has learnt how to use and adjust the settings on her camera simply by trial and error. When I heard of Kiki’s creative passion I immediately felt a connection to her and a sense of responsibility, to do what I could to help fuel and nurture her adolescent passion.Holly - Myers Park, Cat-3451

You can never be too old or too young to have or be a mentor. Yet I feel it is something that we shy away from. Either we feel a sense of pride to achieve our goals in isolation or feel a sense of failure by accepting guidance or potential criticism from others. Or, when there is an opportunity to be someone’s mentor, it is difficult to set aside time for someone else. However, I guarantee that the most successful people in any industry are those who have identified and partnered with a mentor and/or have been someone else’s.

I jumped at the opportunity to work with Kiki and we quickly set up our first shoot together. I selected some fun tees and bright colours from H&M and we met in Albert Park in the 26-degree heat and started shooting. I was intrigued by her soft nature and enjoyed watching her as she skipped between looking through the lens and adjusting her settings and focus. She was aware of her surroundings and space in which she had to work, moving around me to capture long, wide and close up shots. Jumping in and out of the flowers she had an eye for depth of field and captured the shot beautifully.

We are already planning our next session where I will take Kiki into some of the PR showrooms and introduce her to some of the industry professionals. It will be an opportunity for her to style the outfits herself, encouraging her to think about patterns, colour and features that all contribute to the art of photography.

As we strive to develop our various industries it is important to acknowledge the role our youth will play as they will pick up where we leave off, bringing with them a fresh perspective, new talent and lessons learned. So let’s continue to nurture their raw creativity, feed them with confidence to succeed and constantly challenge them to finesse their creative flare.

5 reasons why we need to mentor our youth:

Confidence: simply having someone behind them. Someone there to say “I believe in you” even when they fail, is sometimes all they need to pick themselves back up again. It’s a tough road on your own!

Accountability: As they set their own goals they need someone that will check in with them along the way. When things go slightly off track it’s easy to give up, but checking in with their mentor as they check off their goals will keep them accountable for their own success.

Share lessons: Not everything needs to be learnt the hard way so lets pass on what we have learned, helping them understand what challenges we faced and how we over came them.

Networking: The art of networking not only teaches them to connect and collaborate with others but also the importance of being kind, open and approachable. This will give them confidence to introduce themselves to others and build a strong network of people to support and motivate them.

Inspire: opening their eyes to the wider industry, showing them a glimpse into the field they could be playing in down the track keeps the dream evolving and alive.

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These pieces are all new season H&M so keep an eye out in store!

hollyxxx

& Kiki

 

Escape To This Inner City Dream

It’s been a big year, professionally, emotionally and physically. I’ve ticked off some significant boxes on my ’30 Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 35′ bucket list; I’ve achieved a lot professionally, I’ve travelled, dated, spoke in front of over 200 people and made a few more best friends who I now simply couldn’t do life without. I couldn’t feel more accomplished as I say goodbye to the beast that was 2017, but it certainly has taken it’s toll. I haven’t given my body a minute to rest and it’s something I know I am often guilty of.Grand Mercure Holly Estelle Blog

We often escape the city in search of a relaxing weekend, but it’s never really a full switch off. We either wander the streets, explore the beach or go for long walks and make the most of every minute. But that’s not a real rest. A few weekends ago Tori and I locked ourselves inside the walls of the luxurious Grand Mercure Hotel, situated right in the heart of the city. We shut off. Sipping our champagne while perched on our north facing windows, we peered down onto the bustling city street. We didn’t feel guilty for being inside on such a beautiful day. Closed off from the distraction of a computer, chores and life admin, we wrapped ourselves up in our plush white robes and lazed about enjoying all the amenities, the crisp white sheets, the deep tub and the deliciously prepared food brought right to our bed. It was just what I needed and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience. From every smile that greeted us in the hallway, to the judgement free look we received when ordering our french fries and Brussels Sprouts (its our thing) the personal touch on our experience was felt during each and every minute.

As you will see, the place is an absolute dream. From the fitness and yoga studio where you can select and follow hundreds of interactive fitness classes to their intimate library and sky high Attic Bar which celebrates the sparkling city and harbour views, the Grand Mercure is a holiday in itself and I cannot wait to go back in a few months and refuel within their walls again!

Of course we threw in a few outfits from Designer Wardrobe and H&M and shot our way through our home away from home!

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Follow them on Instagram for more from this blissful inner city escape

hollyxxx

Everything You Need To See In Singapore In Two Days (the spots you wont always find on google)

Singapore is one the most popular stop over destinations for New Zealanders. Whether we are on our way to Europe or off to the islands of Indonesia, we have all spent our fair share of time window-shopping Changi airport. I often hear that this is as far as many of us go and Singapore isn’t given the chance to be stamped in our passports. It’s just another big city, it’s too much hassle or too expensive to stay a few days or we just want to get the 30 odd hour flight to London over and done with.

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Well, Singapore is one of my favourite cities, I go every year and fall more in love each time. So I want to share some of my favourite experiences then that next time you book your flights, you will go beyond the walls of Changi, stamp your passport for the first time, take the $25 – $40 cab into the city and fall in love just as I have.

But where on earth do you start when trying to plan two days in such a bustling, diverse city of must dos? Well, Booking.com are celebrating their latest campaign ‘First Times’ and have asked me to partner with them to share my love and inspiration for those first time travellers to Singapore (and every booking made via this Booking.com link over $80 will receive $40 back!) Yes, you can hop on Google and tick off the token attractions but in my experience it’s not the attractions that pull on my heart strings, it’s the little less frequented spots, unique to Singapore that in most cases only the locals and expats (and now me) know about.

I’ve pulled together the best bits to squeeze into a two-day stop over that I guarantee will have you booking a full ten-day holiday back!

Day One

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Grab a coffee and an almond croissant while you gather your thoughts in one of Singapore’s oldest heritage sites. I think we can all agree that the biggest struggle for travelling kiwis is trying to find a café that can serve a decent coffee, but nestled amongst the local eateries is Tiong Bahru Bakery. Where east meets west, it’s become a tourist attraction in itself with the smell of their freshly baked pastries and ground espresso drifting down the streets each morning luring in crowds of addicted expats and locals. Sit outside and watch groups of friends chattering away or grab your coffee takeaway and …

Wander through the streets! Dubbed as the Ponsonby of Singapore, Tiong Bahru offers a more relaxed, boutique, local experience than the bustle of Orchard Road or the arctic temperatures of the shopping malls. Keep an eye out for these spots:

  • Tiong Bahru Market – full of fresh fruit, flower stalls with Orchids for $15, little clothing stalls and local food like the famous chicken rice guy who is up for a Michelin Star this year! It’s here that I bought the blue dress above everyone asking me about!
  • The street murals by Yip Yew Chong that pop up in the alley ways. There are four so see if you can find them all!
  • The art deco architecture along Eng Watt St
  • Plain Vanilla Café for a delicate sweet treat (has an air-conditioned work space if you need to email or cool down!)
  • Tiong Bahru Club for a beer on the street while listening to some smooth southern jazz
  • Books Actually. I always like to visit a new bookstore. B A has a gorgeous selection of locally published books capturing the Singapore charm plus the literary classics and out the back shelves of second hand books.

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Walk to Bakalaki Greek Taverna for an early lunch – 5 mins walk

The quality of the eateries in Singapore is setting a very high standard for international gastronomy. Beautifully decored spaces preparing equally beautiful dishes are what I have come to expect from this city, and Bakalaki is one of my latest additions. Whisked away to the heart of Greece, we sat outside in the balmy breeze enjoying THE BEST Greek salad served with a big slab of decadent feta and a lamb Moussaka. The darling men running the restaurant treat you like family, a genuine welcome as if it were their home. We were treated to fresh Baklava to take home and a shot of their delicious Lemoncello.

Cab to Blair Rd – approx. 5 mins from Tiong Bahru

The Shop Houses of Singapore paint the city with their vibrant colours, striking tiles and cute shutters. You can’t miss them and like me will find yourself hanging out of the cab window trying to snap a picture. But the residents of Blair Road have taken the ‘pretty colourful shop house’ to an entire new level. Their homes are pieces of art with detailed trimmings, delicately painted tiles and mix of bright, bold colours. Unlike some of the other neighbourhoods, Blair Rd is relatively quiet making it the best area to take pictures without cars parked outside and the distraction of the shops and cafes on the street level.