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Q&A With Kirsty Dayment of Ambition Fashion

Ambition Fashion is a recently established e-boutique offering unique and fresh designs so you’re always looking on-trend. Created by Kirsty Dayment, the online store stocks both mens and women’s clothes and accessories, which are always up to date and available nationwide. Read our exclusive interview with Kirsty below, to find out more about Ambition Fashion, and how to start-up your own e-boutique.

How and when did you first launch Ambition Fashion?

Ambition Fashion launched eight weeks ago but like anything worthwhile, it’s been in the works for a long time. I’ve been running my first company, Ambition Models for 12 years now, and as you know, modelling and fashion go hand in hand. A while ago, I was talking to a designer who desperately wanted to break into the industry and start a label, but they were a bit lost on their next step. Then funnily enough, I spoke to another designer, and they had the same problem. I then realised I had the capability, knowledge and contacts to help these talented people and the concept of Ambition Fashion was born – not only was it going to be an online retail store, but it was also going to have an agency aspect to it. That’s one of the many reasons on what sets us apart from other online fashion retailers.

With your recent success, could you share some tips for women looking to start up their own online boutique?

I think people misjudge how much work goes on behind the scenes, so anyone wanting to start up any business needs to do their research before even deciding if it’s something they truly want to pursue. Specifically for setting up an online boutique thought, a major tip is to know your competition – can other people wanting what you’re selling access it from another place? What differentiates you from them? How are you going to make someone purchase from you instead?

Other things to keep in mind is how realistic does your product play into people’s lives? Everybody wears clothes, but fashion is a luxury. You want designs that people will actually wear and implement in their lives, or at least want to.

Deciding to ride solo or form a partnership is also vital – even if you decide to take the journey alone, you’re going to need help from other people, so those end up becoming partnerships in a way too. Choosing those people based on their capability to maximise your brand’s potential is what I deem to be the most important value. Lastly, remember to set achievable goals, and don’t forget to have fun!

With plenty of emerging designers already on board, how do you find these unique and often up and coming collections to feature on your store?

Having a strong interest in supporting local labels is a big factor, but also websites like The Loop has become helpful, and of course, Instagram! Now that I have launched, designers have started coming to me, so it really proved that I was right in knowing there are lots of talent out there that just needed the right people to guide and help them to their full success. But back to social media – it really has changed the fashion industry in so many ways. It’s given designers a whole new channel for them to be promoted and noticed on.

The website also offers a fashion insider aspect, which really sets it apart from other websites. How important it is to identify these trends to your readers and future customers?

I’ve always said Ambition Fashion is a multi-faceted business. We’re a fashion agency, we have a retail store front and our online boutique also have a fashion blog aspect to it. At the end of the day, anyone can sell something on the internet, but we actually work really hard to make it a community. Fashion Insider helps us establish a relationship with our customers but also people who are curious about us – we claim we know our stuff, and I think Fashion Insider is further evidence of that. Both the blog and the newsletter has a real ‘editorial’ splash on it and I’ve built my team based on people with that experience. I know I sound biased, but the newsletter really is different to any other newsletter you get from an online fashion boutique – it’s almost like a slice of a magazine.

Could you share a little bit of what’s next for Ambition Fashion?

Well I can’t give too much away, as surprises are always fun and more exciting, however I can reveal the Ambition team is growing. We’re constantly finding ways to improve and if you’ve been reading our newsletters, you could definitely attest to that.

Something else I can share is two of the designers that I represent, DANYELLE shoes and streetwear label Beautiful Kaos are in the midst of shooting their look books for SS14, so keep an eye out – you will definitely be hearing more of them soon.

www.ambitionfashion.com.au

August 25, 2014

Q&A With Chef Karen Martini

In the lead-up to spring, we have enlisted celebrated chef, restaurateur and food writer Karen Martini to chat about just some of her favourite dishes of the season. Lighter meals such as soups, salads and beans are a must since they won’t weigh you down but still keep you feeling full and satisfied. Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Karen Martini, and to find out her number one ingredient for most meals.

What are some of your favourite meals to prepare in the lead-up to spring?

A soup a week at the moment! Usually one with a chicken base broth-style. My latest soup recipe is a lima bean, ham hock and leek, which is quite nice for winter. I accentuate the flavours using smoked paprika. Traditional Minestrone never goes astray too!

Everyone wants a quick and healthy dinner recipe. What meal would you recommend if someone doesn’t have much time?

Apart from the obvious stir-fry; which is not a go to for me, I think quick grilled lamb cutlets and a salad are my favourite.  Spaghetti with chilli, garlic, lemon and spinach is always speedy (available in my new cookbook KM Home).

Could you describe some of your favourite lunch and dinner recipes?

Truthfully… my next book is all my favourite dishes; it was shot off my kitchen bench! I am big on salad and vegetables, mixing it up with new herbs, grains and spices. A whole baked fish with bay and lemon is a favourite, and grilled whole fish if you can get your head around it.

What is one essential ingredient that people can use in every single meal?

Let’s just say my kitchen bench is never without a good salt, a good olive oil, lemons and garlic.

With spring just around the corner, what are some light and healthy meals we should be eating?

With spring around the corner, a substantial breakfast is a must. Start the day off right with super foods and supplements. Special K Nourish is perfect for this – full of nutritious ingredients such as quinoa, pepitas, almonds and cranberries. Another favourite is mine is poached eggs, avocado and feta on toast. Throw nuts and pepitas in there for texture and flavour.

August 22, 2014

Q&A With Specsavers Style Ambassador Pip Edwards

Specsavers have teamed up with uber-cool Swedish fashion label, Cheap Monday to create a range of 12 distinct frames. While Cheap Monday is known for it’s statement jeans, the eyewear collection has a down-to-earth vibe, and by partnering up with Specsavers, is an affordable price for it’s younger customers.

Specsavers style ambassador Pip Edwards was enlisted to launch the new collection of eyewear, since they offer a contemporary twist for fashion-conscious buyers. “Cheap Monday specs are perfect for those who want to freshen up their look and stand out from the crowd! Specs should reflect a persons personality just as much as their outfit, make up or hairstyle would.”

SHE‘SAID’ had a chat to Pip Edwards about her own personal style, some of her favourite frames, and better yet, some style advice for those off-duty days.

How did the collaboration between Specsavers and Cheap Monday come into fruition?

Specsavers approached me because of my already established connection with Cheap Monday (Pip is the Design Director at General Pants Co, which stocks Cheap Monday), since it was an obvious alignment in terms of being involved with them and understanding their aesthetic and vision behind the brand. Then, coming on board as the Style Ambassador for the partnership which is very exciting.

What are some of your favourite frames in the collection?

Well for me what I was showing you are some of my favourites the two-tone glasses, since a pop of colour is really important. You have your black frames but then the colour on the inside is really refreshing. Then also the camouflage design which you picked up with the blue inside were also another favourite. It’s all about picking frames which work with denim, and pop-back with the actual apparel.

Q&A With Specsavers Style Ambassador Pip Edwards

How would you style this pair to create a killer outfit?

Seeing those frames in different light will be really versatile since you can style them with double-denim, black or even with an office appropriate look. But will still give the entire outfit an edginess which is also important. Overall just contrasting the colours is the key to a good look.

Describe your fool-proof outfit if you’re out of ideas.

Double-denim!

I like that too! Although does the shirt have to be the same colour as the jeans/shorts?

I think it all has to be in the same tone. But at the same time I do like a bit of a contrast. At the moment I’m wearing a denim shirt with black pants, but I don’t often style black and blue together. I normally like wearing blue on blue denim, but I always like the jean slightly lighter and the shirt a bit darker. I mean, it doesn’t really matter but it has to be in the same tone.

What type of shoes?

It would have to be a heel! Any kind of major killer stiletto.

What is one accessory all women need in their wardrobe and why?

Definitely a difficult choice, but I think it would have to be a good belt for me. Or a killer pair of earrings – particularly hoops. But that’s it! You just wear those and let that be the main feature in terms of accessories.

Cheap Monday frames are priced at AU$199 for 2 pairs and are available in Australia exclusively at Specsavers. Every frame includes PENTAX single vision lenses, a scratch-resistant treatment, and a bespoke case and cleaning cloth as standard.

August 6, 2014

Q&A With Costume Designer Steven Noble

Costumer designer Steven Noble has worked for a variety of films to create individual looks which not only set the mood, but help the film to come full circle. His most recent work has been on The Two Faces of January, hitting cinemas June 19, which is a beautiful film set in the sun-kissed ruins of 1960s Athens, starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac. SheSaid exclusively chatted with Steven himself about creating looks for the three very different main characters, where he gained inspiration, and how you can incorporate the 1960s trends into your own style.

Firstly, what a fantastic film with intricate details in costume and set design which transported viewers to 1960s Greece! What are some key trends to look out for if women want to recreate this look but still keep a modern influence to their outfit?

Some key silhouettes at the time would have to be the much fuller skirt with the petticoat underneath, or a dress which has been cinched in at the waist which is what I went for with Kirsten’s character (Colette). But I really think it’s about choosing the best silhouette for your body shape, but take those classic 1960’s shapes and mix it up with a modern piece.

We especially loved Colette’s (Kirsten Dunst’s character) dress in the opening scene of the film at the Parthenon. The pastel yellow outfit cinched in waist, also seeing the iconic Chanel 2.55 bag which is still so relevant today. How important was it to create these looks for the big screen, but still remain historically accurate?

The whole world is watching the film, and also my peers as well so it was extremely important to be accurate to the period. But obviously to bring your own point-of-view onto it and your own finger print with it, and hopefully create something that does the job and feels genuine. But also to remain fresh, modern and create something we haven’t seen a million times before in another film or even television.

Is there a particular process you have when coming up with certain outfits for characters? Do you sketch?

You obviously need to read the script first of all, which can offer lots of characterisations in terms of which will give you a little more insight into the personalities we’re dealing with. Then I always like to read the novel as well which can give additional insight, influence and inspiration and after that start looking at footage and fashions of the time. Now with the internet you have instant access to a billion people’s old photographs which is amazing and then start coming up with mood boards for each character and create clippings with additional swatches and sketches. You then take it to show the director and the actors, then head into conversations about it all. If they’re successful, the sketches are then made up in mock-fabrics and followed by fittings. It’s an extremely exciting and organic process that can go into very different directions once you start working with the actors and the clothing itself.

Sounds fantastic. Which character was the most fun to dress up, and where did you gain inspiration from?

It’s hard to say really, because the three main characters have such different elements which were great to work with. With Rydal (Oscar Isaac’s character) he was a bit more put together, travelling through Europe for 1-2 years so his clothes were based on Greek clothing at the time. Then with Chester (Viggo Mortensen’s character) you’ve got someone who had more money so his style was a bit more high-end from that period. I couldn’t actually say I have a favourite, I’m afraid! I liked all three, but for different reasons.

They were great, my favourite was Chester actually. I didn’t expect it to be, but by the end of the film the Panama-style hat’s and beige suits really won me over!

I think that if perhaps I had to make a decision it would have to be Chester as well. It was finding those beautiful finishing touches that really brought it to life; trying to find the right cufflink or the right shape of shoe, the right sock. That was probably the most exciting when he (Chester) came together. Strangely in Viggo’s fitting, I travelled to Barcelona since he couldn’t make it to London; he had no idea what his costumes would actually look like until he put them on that day!

Many thanks to Steven Noble.

Image via StudioCanal

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 13, 2014

Q&A with Rachael Finch

Model, TV presenter and fitness lover Rachael Finch gave birth to her first child in late September, and as the Australian Summer Stonefruit ambassador, Rachael has embarked on a ‘keep fresh, fit and healthy’ campaign. We couldn’t wait to catch up to see how she keeps fit and healthy as a new mum!

Congratulations on the beautiful addition to your family! What have the first few months of being a mum been like?
Thank you! Beyond amazing. I can’t describe how much joy Violet has brought to our lives. Yes it’s challenging at times but I think it’s the best thing we will ever do as humans!

What is your weekly fitness routine like these days?
I try and do something physically active every day. I like to mix it up so that my body doesn’t get used to one thing and I’m working different muscle groups. I love yoga, Pilates, dancing, walking and swimming the most. If I am busy with work I’ll do things like park a couple of kilometres away so I have to walk.

What are some easy ways new mums can get fit and healthy?
Taking Violet out walking every day is one of the best things I can do for me AND Violet. We get fresh air, vitamin D and exercise (she gets a nap). Taking the time to prepare meals for the days ahead to save you time is also a great idea. I love making a big batch of natural protein balls and keeping them on standby throughout the week. I have some of these recipes up on my blog.

Do you manage to get any me-time?
I make sure I schedule time in for myself, I think this is just as important as family time and work. I love getting massages and going to my favourite cafe for breakfast and a cappuccino.

What’s one of your go-to quick healthy summer dinner ideas?
Aussie stonefruit is at its best throughout summer so I love using varieties of it at dinner time for something different! One of my faves is a simple Chinese stir-fry with plums. I use organic beef, plums, bok choy, ginger, garlic and a little soy sauce served on a bed of brown rice. It’s so quick to toss together in the wok and great for lunch the next day!

What’s coming up for you this year?
Fashion week is coming up in April which I’m really excited about. There are lots of great things happening within Speedo so I’m looking forward to working with the team. It’s always a lot of fun working on the racing carnival with Seven, that’s one of my favourite gigs.

February 26, 2014

Q&A with Adriano Zumbo

When you hear the name Adriano Zumbo, what do you think? If you’re anything like us here at SheSaid, then what springs to mind is nothing short of deliciously delectable, out-of-this-world, flavour explosions in the form of macarons, desserts and now…Tim Tams?

That’s right, Australia’s most celebrated patissier Adriano Zumbo has teamed up with our favourite bikkie – Arnott’s Tim Tams, to bring you three serious flavour sensations. Zumbo has taken the classic chocolate varieties and added his unique twist, creating tantalising Raspberry White Choc, the seriously addictive Salted Caramel and the deliciously decadent Choc Brownie Tim Tam flavours, all in celebration of Tim Tam’s 50th birthday. So prepare yourself for a Tim Tam coma come March, when the limited edition flavours hit supermarket shelves Australia-wide.

Last night SheSaid had the chance to taste-test Zumbo’s Tim Tam creations and chat with the man himself about Tim Tam slams, inspirations and his all-time favourite dessert.

How did the Arnott’s Tim Tam and Adriano Zumbo collaboration come about?
Arnott’s got in contact with me and it started from there. It’s been a 12-month process with lots of meetings, but I thought it was just a great opportunity to work with such an iconic brand, a brand that has been a part of me since I’ve been a kid.

What is your favourite childhood memory of Tim Tams?
Eating the whole packet! When I was young I used to play a lot of sport, so I could burn it all off though – luckily!

Are you a fan of the Tim Tam slam?
I don’t mind a Tim Tam Slam every now and then, but I’m more traditional – I just like to eat them.

You have created some of the world’s most unique desserts. What inspires you?
Inspiration for me is everywhere. It’s life – the people you meet, your friends, when you’re in the supermarket, going to a restaurant or even just things that happen during the day. I believe that everything and anything is inspiration. You might look at the shape of a roof or something, and then think of the shape of a cake, or a design that you want to put on it. It all depends on the person though, what they see as inspiration, what they can absorb and what they take from it.

What is your all-time favourite dessert?
I’m very simple – it would have to be just simply ice-cream and custard.

Do you have any tips for budding young patisserie chefs out there?
It’s a great industry, but sometimes it can be tough. You have to be able to take things, because that’s what makes you a better chef. Always have a dream and chase it – if you have nothing to chase it’ll become a boring job.

Adriano’s top three tips:

1. Know what you want
2. Have tough skin
3. Learn from your mistakes

If you would like the chance to try Adriano Zumbo’s Tim Tam limited edition creations before they go on sale in March, an exclusive tasting will be held today in Sydney at The Star, Shop 1, Café Court from 4pm – 8pm and in Melbourne tomorrow at 14 Claremont St, South Yarra from 7am-7pm.

February 19, 2014

Q&A with Masterchef’s Samira El Khafir

It’s been a busy few months for Samira El Khafir since finishing in the top 3 of Masterchef 2013 Season 5. The much-loved cheftestant has been working on a cookbook, is about to open a new cafe and devoting herself to charity work, including becoming ambassador of leading post natal depression charity, PANDA. It’s a cause she feels very passionate about since suffering from post natal depression herself. SHE’SAID’ chatted with Samira about her Masterchef experience, why helping women is so important to her and her plans for an exciting – and delicious – new year.

Congratulations on your Masterchef success! What have the last few months been like since coming third on Masterchef?
Thank you! It’s been so overwhelming, but more importantly I’m back home with my children and husband. I missed them so much as they are still young, and Mariam the two-year-old did not quite understand why mum was leaving, then returning for a couple hours and leaving again, that was really tough.

It has been very bizzare trying to get back to a normal life and readjust again after living in the house for nearly six months with complete strangers, making strong bonds and having to leave again and go back to the life you had. What I am still adjusting to is being stopped by so many people in the street, when I am shopping and anywhere I go, people are so lovely – wanting to talk, take photos and inviting me to their homes and businesses. I have had to send my husband on most trips as I can’t get anything done outside anymore due to the overwhelming supporters!

The great news is I am working on my new book deal that will be released in June 2014 and the opening of my new café Modern Middle Eastern Cuisine at the new Islamic Museum of Australia that opens in February 2014.

I have also accepted a role with PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) as an ambassador, as well as with Goodlife Health Clubs – I see these roles as very important as I can assist with a message to women that your mental and physical health are two factors in life that we must focus on.

What did you learn about yourself from appearing on the show?
I discovered that no matter how nervous one is at attempting something new, the human mind always finds a way to adapt and cope. I was so nervous at not being chosen or being critised that I very nearly didn’t enter, however I pushed myself and said it would be worse if I don’t enter and not know what could have been.

Once thrown in I adapted and really grew in confidence. Not to say it wasn’t very difficult at times, however I really grew as a person and discovered new things about myself that I never dreamt I could ever do.

Having suffered from postnatal depression, how do you now deal with issues of anxiety and the fear of failing?
I have learnt to keep a positive spin on everything I do, even if something is negative I will find the positive in it and make it a life experience. Keeping myself busy with an outlet is important – for me it’s cooking and exercise. I can not tell you how much it has benefited me mentally and physically to be working out at Goodlife Health Club and having a passion with food.

You just have to get up and make an attempt – but not to say this works for everyone. My best advice to anyone suffering from this illness is even if you are unsure, seek help. Talk to a friend, family member or even your GP as it does take a load off your shoulders to be able to express your feelings. Usually this is the toughest. Remember, you do have help out there. PANDA are great, they have a call centre ready to answer your call to assist in any way shape or form. This was the first step I took along with talking to my family, which is why I have made it a goal of mine to assist as many women as possible. If I can assist at least one person and then that person recovers and they assist another the chain reaction begins and we can fight this mental illness.

What would you like to achieve as a PANDA ambassador?
As well as the above, I am really keen to ensure migrants are also aware that help exists in this great country. It is very difficult coming from non-English speaking backgrounds as the illness is not understood or accepted in most cultures. I want to be a spokesperson for these women and say “yes it exists and we need support, don’t be afraid as you can beat it and return to a normal healthy life.”

What is the key message you would like women to take away about post and antenatal depression?
You can recover no matter how deep you are suffering. The first step is to talk to someone and most importantly, contact the PANDA helpline at 1300 726 306 or just jump online – it is confidential and they can really help.

What are you looking forward to cooking this summer?
Summer fruits are so great to work with in summer, then there is our family’s famous BBQs with spicy lamb kofta, skewered chicken with Middle Eastern spices and you can’t leave out a great tabouleh or baba ghanoush. And I’ll be working on some new flavours and recipes like my chilli mango prawn salad  and watermelon with feta and mint salad.

What’s coming up for you next year?
Oh, where do I start! It’s so exciting…my new café will be open to the public in Feburary at the Islamic Museum of Australia and my new cookbook will be released around June. There are numerous appearances for PANDA and Goodlife coming up as well as charity work. I am also starting a new cooking course, Halal Cooking. Really excited and looking forward to a wonderful year.

Have you suffered from postnatal depression? Share your experience in the comments…

December 3, 2013

Making Australia’s Best Gelato with Gelato Messina

Since Gelato Messina’s inception in Sydney’s Darlinghurst in 2002, there has been one clear goal: to set the benchmark for gelato in Australia. To do that, the team at Gelato Messina does not compromise on quality and their product is made fresh on the premises daily, offering a diverse range of over 40 flavours.

From the meticulous roasting and endless grind of pistachios, to the baking of their own apple pies and brownies, absolutely everything is made lovingly in house by a little team of mad professors. By using real ingredients, they achieve full bodied texture and flavour in all their recipes, earning them a loyal following (and huge lines out the door every night!).

Now, with the release of their first cookbook, owner Nick Palumbo is sharing his famous gelato recipes and methods with home cooks. SHESAID chatted with Nick about his tips for making perfect gelato at home, how to judge a good gelato and his favourite gelato flavours of all time.

What are your best tips for making gelato at home?
You need to ensure that you have a double boiler as heating milk in a pan is not a good idea as it can catch and burn.

Also, can’t stress enough how important it is to chill down your mix as quickly as possible to avoid bacterial growth. Best to use an ice bath and then place the mix in the freezer to chill down the mix to 4C.

Before churning, best to place the gelato mix in the freezer for 30 min to chill it to under 4 C and at the same time, turn on the ice cream machine 15 minutes before you put the mix in. this will ensure you cut the churn time so that you get a better quality gelato with less chance of large ice crystals forming.

Your salted caramel and white chocolate gelato is your most popular gelato – what makes it so good?
It has to be the offset between the sweetness of the caramel with the added salt crystals.

How do you judge a good gelato?
Taste and then texture. It should not be grainy but velvety. Structure is also important, it should not be sloppy and should not be hard and chalky.

Finally, temperature perception on the pallet. It should not give you too cold a sensation.

What are your all-time favourite gelato flavours?
It has to be tiramisu because it combines all the good stuff: egg yolk, vanilla bean, Marsala wine, coffee, savoiardi biscuits and cocoa

Second, a straight forward, extremely dark spiced chocolate gelato.

And in summer, mango sorbet and coconut pandan combo.

What are your favourite gelato shops around the world?
Berthillon in Paris.

What ingredients are you looking forward to cooking with this summer?
Blood plums, white nectarines and apricots…I just wish they were available all year round!

What do you cook for yourself when the shop closes?

Pasta, then pasta and then when in doubt, pasta.

My favourite at the moment is pasta with pistachio. I came across this dish when I went to Bronte in Sicily to buy pistachios for our pistachio gelato. The owners of the pistachio plantation made it for me – here’s the recipe:

Sauté onions and anchovies in olive oil, then blend your pistachios to a course paste, fold through and then smash it with Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh basil.

Gelato Messina, by Nick Palumbo. Hardie Grant Books, RRP $39.95

gelatomessina

November 7, 2013

Q&A with Guy Turland of YouTube Cooking Show Bondi Harvest

We’re huge fans of Bondi Harvest, the hit weekly YouTube cooking show set against the background of one of the most stunning beaches in the world. Chef Guy Turland and director Mark Alston combine their passion for food with their laid-back attitude, to produce super tasty (and super healthy!) recipes using only fresh and local produce.

SheSaid chatted with Guy to get the inside scoop on how it all started and what he’s excited about cooking this summer.

There is huge hype around your cooking show, Bondi Harvest, and it’s only getting bigger. How did it all come about?
We’ve got large goals for Bondi Harvest and are super pumped for it to have grown so quickly. Mark, who’s the other half of Bondi Harvest and behind the camera, approached me about the idea while doing a test shoot for a different cooking concept. It was funny when he was pitching it to me, it sounded like he was doing a rundown of my life – “it’s a cooking show about seasonal, sustainable food featuring surfing and spearfishing based round Bondi Beach.” Yep, that I could do!

We started filming in secret on and off in between our day jobs about 18 months ago to see if we could commit to the concept. We launched it only eight months ago, it’s been a crazy fun ride ever since.Two trips to the USA, and now doing a pop-up Bondi Harvest restaurant at The Depot in North Bondi.

bondiharvest

What would you say is the best part about your job?
I love what I do, working with my mates, and I do it from the most beautiful beach in the world. I then get to share all this and connect with a worldwide audience through YouTube – it’s mind blowing.

With summer just around the corner, what are you looking forward to cooking most?
The summer BBQ – after surfing all day, firing up the BBQ on my balcony. Slow BBQ’ing a big bit of salt spice-crusted beef, some cold beers and some mates.

What are your top three summer ingredients?
Summer berries, zucchini flowers and kingfish.

If you could cook for anyone, who would it be?
Heston Blumenthal or Kelly Slater. Would love to pick their brains…I think I’d be crazy nervous in the kitchen that night!

October 24, 2013

Inspiring Business Women: Bondi Chai’s Melissa Edyvean

Being a non-coffee drinker meant Melissa Edyvean often felt a bit ‘on the outer’ at café gatherings with friends and, certain that she wasn’t alone, she decided to introduce premium chai latte to the Australian market. The only obstacle being that she, and her partner Martin, had never started a business before.

Since its launch in 2005, Bondi Chai now sell over half a million serves of chai a month in Australia and exports to a growing number of countries, including India – the home of chai!

“The learning curve was more a cliff than a curve, but I am  really enjoying the roller coaster ride of a new business experience,” says Melissa.

We chat with Melissa about the trials and tribulations of owning a business, what she would do differently and her tips for other women starting their own business.

What gave you the idea to start your own business?
We were already running our own PR/Marketing consultancy when we discovered chai latte whilst on holidays in the States in 2000.

My partner Martin started that business when he lost his position as the Australian MD of a Japanese company that was shut down by the banks during Japanese economic collapse in 1989. He’d never been made ‘redundant’ before, so it shook him pretty badly and he made a commitment there and then that he would never again work for another company.

One of his previous lives had been as a senior political journalist so he started his own business in PR/Government relations. We got together in 1999 and I joined him in that business – I have a graphic design background so I was able to add another dimension. After discovering chai latte, we decided to add a small chai latte ‘arm’ to or company.

We knew nothing about the food and beverage industry, but when we looked around, we couldn’t find any chai latte in Australia and it seemed to us that it was only a matter of time before something that good would be brought here by somebody. We just thought “why not us”?

We didn’t really get serious about it until a few years later when the US brand we had been working with was sold and the new owners just cut Australia out of their sales plans. That gave us the opportunity to blend our own product and we had a few ideas about how to improve on the brand we’d been selling so we spent about the next eight months creating a brand, creating our own recipes, getting a business plan together, organising finance (we set up a $100k line-of-credit – remember those! – against our home). All while still running our PR company to keep food on the table. We launched our own product in May2005, and both Martin and I went full time in August that year.

What makes your product different from other chai brands?
The principal difference is that it was blended from the start to dissolve in milk – a feat which most food scientists said couldn’t be done – but we insisted that they prove themselves wrong, and we found someone who could.

The milk-soluble formula, in turn, delivers all the other attributes that have made our product the most awarded of its kind in the country – creaminess, great taste profiles (no two chai latte brands are the same and can vary from ‘undrinkable’ to ‘unbelievable’!). Our product is also low-dose, meaning lower costs per serve to the cafe owner than every other chai latte we’ve encountered.

It’s gluten-free, low caffeine and has none of the ‘industrial nasties’ often needed to make a milk-drink with powder and water. And it has just been selected as one of only four beverage finalists in the Healthy Food Awards.

Finally, I’m not aware of any other ‘western’ chai latte being sold in India – as is our product. You can enjoy a Bondi Chai in many places around India – even in the most prestigious hotel in the country – the Oberoi Hotel – or a café in Kathmandu!

Who is your business inspiration or mentor?
There’s an old saying about “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and we’ve been fortunate to have many teachers ‘appear’ when we’ve needed them. We’ve built a completely outsourced business model which we manage from home – and with only one full-time employee – so we’re always conscious of finding people who can learn from or be inspired by.

There have been lots of people – Oprah Winfrey, Robert Kiyosaki, Dr John DeMartini, Sir Richard Branson and most recently by our new sales manager who inspires us every day with her enthusiasm for our product and the energy she puts in to sharing it with as many people as she can.

Our mentor, for many years now, is Peter Irvine, a co-founder of the Gloria Jeans empire. We read Peter’s first book, thought it would be wonderful if he would offer us some advice and went to a breakfast he was speaking at so that we could meet him. We were over the moon when he agreed to help us.

What, if anything, would you do differently with your business?
We strongly believe that the only real mistake you can ever make is not to learn from your mistakes.

I hope we’ve learned something from everything that we’ve done or that’s happened that we wish had turned out differently so in that sense, even when things didn’t go the way we had originally planned or hoped, the lessons we learned definitely made us stronger.

What tips would you give women wanting to start their own business?
Get advice from people you respect but always go with your own gut feeling. Learn as much as you can – by doing as much as you can – early on, when the ‘school fees’ are lowest.

Do your research – make sure your product or service is the best it can be and that it’s something that’s truly needed – remembering that just because you like it won’t necessarily mean that other people will.

But if it’s a great product/service that people really need, enough people will pay for it to keep you going while through your years as an amateur and learning to become a pro.

We hear things like “you’re a woman, you can do anything” all the time these days, and of course that’s true. But I do think we’ve also got to realise that while we can do anything, we can’t do everything.

When I was growing up only rich people had a housekeeper come in a clean or do the ironing. But when I realised that my time was worth more when spent in my business than cleaning the house, it just didn’t make sense any more to be trying to do that job as well.

What’s next for Bondi Chai?
We have so much we still want to achieve with our product and brand – both in Australia and overseas. Some of our bigger plans include major expansion overseas with distributors in three new countries currently under way. We are also working on several co-branding and licensing arrangements in a range of complementary products that will help us to expand our brand.

Who are your most inspiring business women? Tell us in the comments!

October 21, 2013

Q&A with Surfing Legend Sally Fitzgibbons

Sally Fitzgibbons is one of the hardest working athletes in world sport – and her incredible passion makes her one of SheSaid’s most inspiring women. A child surfing prodigy who dreamed of emulating seven-time world champion Layne Beachley, the 22-year-old holds the record for shortest time ever to qualify for the world tour, in 2008.

Addicted to any form of competition that involves a bat, ball, watercraft or finishing line, the ever-energetic Fitzgibbons lives for sport and for perfection. When she’s not on tour, you won’t find her shopping or attending a plethora of parties and events but instead doing anything possible to get an edge on her rivals.

Fitzgibbons is outspoken about the plight of women’s surfing, often going in to bat for her comrades in the name of equality. And with her infectious lust for life, endearing charm and clean-living lifestyle, she has become not just an amazing surfer but the ultimate role model.

She’s never had a drink, never tried a cigarette and the only speeding ticket Fitzgibbons has every received in her Mini was courtesy of dad, Martin. No wonder she’s proud to be an Arrive Alive ambassador, supporter of numerous charities and the reigning Australian Bachelorette of the Year.

SheSaid chats with Fitzgibbons about how she stays healthy and motivated, and where she gets her inspiration from.

What is a typical day’s eating plan?
I have to be really flexible when it comes to an eating plan as I’m constantly travelling around the world competing for the most part of the year. I try to keep it pretty simple and eat mostly a diet of fruit, vegetables and a variety of meats and quality proteins. Being lactose-intolerant I am a little restricted as to what I can eat and it can get tricky on the road but I love trying different cuisines around the world – often including some cultures’ ways of eating into my own regime. Like eating more of a dinner meal for breakfast; chicken soup or a stir-fry with vegetables and protein. It seems to keep me going for longer. I snack on fruit and nuts and I’ll often have a Red Bull before or halfway through a training session to help me push through.

How do you train on an average day?
Day-to-day my training sessions are forever changing according to what location I am in. I try to use my surroundings and create sessions around what I have in front of me. I use my training to help me see and explore all these amazing locations I get to travel to. I make my training sessions out of the water into a bit of an adventure, it can be anything from running to famous landmarks, biking, hiking, swimming or paddling kayaks or boards up and down the coast.

Having a competitive running background I love jumping in fun runs whenever I get the chance and Charity events like City2Surf, Biarritz Breast Cancer Run and I am also ambassador for Run Wollongong’s inaugural run which is raising money for Wollongong Children’s Hospital. It’s so much fun getting active and bringing a community together with exercise, it’s an awesome vibe. I’m also in the gym everyday for strength and conditioning on top of the my training sessions in the water.

How do you stay motivated?
I had the dream from a really young age that I wanted to become an elite athlete but wasn’t sure which sport I would make it in, so I signed up for every single one under the sun. Being driven by myself and my own will power to want to achieve this goal meant that I was constantly self motivated. I want to be the best so bad that I know myself how much hard work and long hours I need to put in. Great partners like Red Bull who are really supportive of my training definitely help when it comes to setting goals and making the impossible happen. There is still so much I want to achieve so this is what keeps me motivated and moving forward.

sallyfitzgibbons

You have amazing skin – what’s your skincare routine?
It is hard to keep your skin protected from being in the harsh elements and the sun so much but I know how important it is to look after it and save it from getting damaged as best you can. I use a lot of Garnier products in my daily regime to moisturise and rehydrate my skin after surfing and use the BBcream as an all in one daily foundation with the SPF in it for my day to day go to. When we travel to extremely hot places I layer face suncreen with a foundation coloured zinc. Making sure at the end of the day you cleanse and clean your skin to avoid break outs.

Where are your favourite surfing spots in Australia and around the world?
That’s a really tough one to narrow down. There are so many amazing waves around the world and right at home in Australia. My top few in Australia would be the breaks on the South Coast of NSW where I have grown up Sandon Point, Werri Beach and Seven Mile Beach, Bells Beach in Victoria and Margaret River in WA.

Abroad I would say Fiji, Mexico and Hossegor, France are up amongst the top performance waves that I enjoy.

How do you like to relax?
I find it hard to sit still and relax, even in my time off I like doing a lot of things in a day. I love going hiking with friends or going on long adventurous runs. I am a bit of a sports fanatic so I try to go to big games and sporting events with friends and family.

Who inspires you?
I’ve always had a great passion for sport from this my inspirations were elite athletes at the tops of their sports. I loved watching those magic moments when you see them achieve their ultimate goals. Claiming World Titles, Olympic medals and personal bests. There was something really special about seeing someone’s hard work, dedication and sacrifice pay off. Athletes like Cathy Freeman, Kerryn McCann, Ian Thorpe, Robbie Maddison, Kelly Slater, Layne Beachley, Rodger Federer and Adam Scott are definitely ones I’ve drawn inspiration from.

What changes if any do you think we’ll see over the next 5-10 years in women’s sport?
In our sport of surfing I think you will really see it take off in the next 5-10 years. It’s gathering great momentum amongst fans and the public around the world and more great sponsors are wanting to host Women’s World Tour events. With the talent level at an all time high in our sport it is only fitting to see it get thrust into that main stream spotlight and have the addition of great events in world class waves for us to perform on.

As an Arrive Alive ambassador, how do you convince your friends to be responsible with drinking?
For me it was a lifestyle choice not to drink. I always wanted to wake up for the early dawn patrol surf and wanted to go and train and drinking never really fitted in with that. But I love going out with my friends and having a great time without alcohol. All I need is a Red Bull to keep up with them on the dance floor! I also like being able to look out for my friends too. I would always be able to drive everyone home at the end of the night and I felt that need to make sure everyone got home safely.

What’s your life motto?
A smile will take you the mile. Love what you do and make the most of every moment.

October 8, 2013

Why Eat Organic?

It’s National Organic Week from 4-13 October, so we chat with Sophie Speer, marketing manager at five:am organic yoghurt, about why eating organic is important.

five:am was founded by surfer, long-time yogi and successful entrepreneur David Prior with the help of Gippsland Organic Dairy Farmers Cooperative farmers Peter and Wendy Wallace. None of their organic milk products contain any nasties, meaning no chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones.

The five:am philosophy is that you get a unique view of the world at 5am. There’s those who embrace this time – to cycle, surf, do yoga – or otherwise greet the new day with a purity of mind, body and spirit. Ever employee lives by this philosophy, kick-starting each day with either yoga, meditation, gym, a wee-hours surf or a bike ride to work – don’t you wish your workplace embraced this philosophy?

Why is eating organic so important?

There are so many reasons but it all boils down to organic food being better for the environment, better for our bodies and ultimately our health. Organic farming restores the earths nutrients and keeps toxic chemicals out of our soil and water ways. Eating organic means we’re keeping all sorts of nasties out of our bodies; not just chemicals but artificial colours and flavours, hormones and antibiotics too. If you’re eating any animal products, organic is also a guarantee that the animals have been treated humanly.

What do you say to people who think organic is too expensive?

It’s true, generally organic products do come at a premium. I think we’ll see this price gap reduce over time though as more farms convert to organic techniques and the industry manages to achieve greater economies of scale. But if you weigh up the costs of eating conventional food on your long term health, organic doesn’t come up as more expensive at all! What’s more, having seen first-hand the lengths organic farmers go to achieve and maintain organic certification and their dedication to producing the highest quality produce, I think organic is worth every cent.

What are your favourite ways of eating yoghurt (apart from straight out of the tub!)

I love a breakfast (or dessert) parfait with layers of fruit, yoghurt and nuts. Smoothies are another great way to get a few dollops of calcium and protein rich yoghurt goodness into your day. I blend protein powder, almond milk, frozen fruit and five:am natural no added sugar yoghurt. Yoghurt is also great as a base for dips. I just add some finely chopped cucumber and mint plus a squeeze of lemon juice to some five:am greek style yoghurt and drizzle it over meat or fish.

What are your best tips for living a healthy lifestyle?

Regular exercise is definitely key but I think the trick is to find something that you enjoy doing and not get hung up about whether you’re really good at it or not. It’s just about getting out there and having fun, if you enjoy yourself you’ll keep going back for more.

When it comes to healthy eating, I like to do a six-week detox every spring. It’s a great way to reinforce healthy eating patterns year round. Generally though I’m not a fan of the extreme fads that encourage people to completely cut things out of their diets. ‘Everything in moderation’ is my mantra.

What is your favourite piece of inspiration?

My favourite piece of inspiration would have to be a graduation speech called ‘This is Water’ written by award winning America writer David Foster Wallace. The speech has been made into a nine minute video that you can check out on YouTube. It’s truthful, funny and so inspiring! One of the main points David makes is that the way we experience our lives is up to us. We have the power to choose how we see the world. He gives a really simple and very funny example of standing in line at a supermarket at the end of a stressful day. He makes the point that in that moment we can be impatient, judgemental and self absorbed or we can choose to see the positives of our situation. We just have to make the conscious effort to see the positives and the more we do, the easier it becomes.

Is eating organic food important to you?

September 30, 2013

Laura Csortan Puckers Up for Bright Pink Lipstick Day

Grab your lippies ladies. Only your brightest hue will do. A slash of vibrant colour on your pout and you’re selfie-ready for Bright Pink Lipstick Day (September 20).

Former Miss Australia-turned-TV-presenter and media personality, Laura Csortan, 36, will be donning the ‘brightest, most obnoxious shade of lippie’ she can find to support Pink Hope, to raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Laura chats to SheSaid about why she’ll be supporting Bright Pink Lipstick Day, her new role as Sydney Racing Ambassador for Australian Turf Club and she shares some of her beauty and style secrets.

Why are you supporting Bright Pink Lipstick Day? 

Bright Pink Lipstick Day is a fantastic initiative to get your girlfriends together and have a bit of fun wearing your bright lippie to highlight an issue – hereditary cancer. It is at the forefront of our friends, family and society in general.

Will you be puckering up with bright pink lippie? What shade will you be wearing? 

Absolutely! I’ll probably have it all over my teeth too but I’ll give it my best shot! I don’t have a signature pink shade but I will be on the lookout for something bright and obnoxious! It will certainly get the message across.

Is your partner Chris [Joannou, Silverchair bass player] a fan of bright lippie or does he prefer more of a natural gloss on you? 

He prefers no makeup at all so bright pink lipstick will scare the bejesus out of him.

brightpinklipstick

How has Pink Hope founder Krystal Barter inspired you? 

Cancer is an issue that touches everyone. We all have someone we know or someone close to us who has been touched by cancer. I’ve got a few girlfriends directly affected by breast cancer and this particular strain – BRCA1 – so for Krystal to start Pink Hope after having a preventative double mastectomy herself and about to undergo ovarian preventative surgery next year – it really highlights the fact we need to look at prevention rather than a cure. Having someone who is not afraid to get up and talk about it, takes the mystery out of it.

Angelina Jolie’s decision to go public about her preventative double mastectomy brought incredible attention to the reality of hereditary cancer.   

Angelina going public was incredible for Pink Hope. The charity experienced a 700% increase in families reaching out to them, which is why they need additional funding. The more high profile people coming out and speaking about their experience is just what we need.

Has hereditary cancer touched your life?

Thankfully my family and I have not been directly affected. But I certainly keep on top of my regular check-ups. I am very aware.

As Sydney Racing Ambassador for Australian Turf Club, what’s the one fashion faux pas that irks you the most at the track? 

There are a few! I like to think of racing as a classic, classy event. Tight frocks, boob tubes and clunky shoes are not racing attire. I like to think ladies should follow some of the dress guidelines.

Describe your style in a word?

Effortless.

First serious fashion splurge?   

A crème Prada handbag. I love it and still use it, rarely, because it’s crème and I’m scared of marking it!

A fad you wish you never followed? 

I did live through the 80s. I did get stuck into the ra-ra and bubble skirts.

One clothing item you can’t live without? 

My black leather pants.

Fashion tip your mother taught you? 

Never wear anything too tight. God love her, she’s still right.

Whose wardrobe would you most like to raid? 

Cameron Diaz. She always look fab. I like her bubbly but stylish personality.

What’s the most worn thing in your wardrobe?

I like strong basics. I have a beautifully cut Helmut Lang blazer that I wear to death.

Who is your style icon? 

Elle Macpherson. I love the way she frocks up.

What would someone learn about you from looking inside your wardrobe?

I’m not big on colour. I’m very much a black, white, navy kind of gal.

What do you wish you had the nerve to wear?

Sometimes I have the urge to go a bit grunge but I don’t know how to pull it off without looking like a dag. Some people make it look so good and I put it on and I look like I need to go back home and clean the house.

What are your beauty bag essentials? 

I can’t go anywhere without my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream for my lips. Especially when travelling. I have a Clinique bronzer that works a treat all over – my décolletage and face etc. I love black eyeliner too.

What foundation do you wear?  

I’m wearing a great Elizabeth Arden one at the moment.

Favourite skincare products? 

I fluctuate all the time. I will use a commercial brand like Clinique and then mix it up with a plant-based product with no additives.

Favourite salon beauty treatment?

An all-over body massage. You come out feeling completely rested and revived.

Biggest beauty blunder?

Plucking my eyebrows until there was barely anything left. With bushy eyebrows back in, I am thankful they grew back.

Best beauty tip you’ve picked up? 

With all the travelling I do, I have a Vitamin-C serum I use on my face. Letting your skin absorb a nice, rich serum on the days you don’t have to wear makeup is a must.

Favourite beauty bargain? 

Bio-Oil.

Favourite fragrance?  

Tom Ford Black Orchid .

Bright Pink Lipstick Day – Fact Box

  • Pink Hope is Australia’s only genetic cancer charity developed to support families who face hereditary cancer. Bright Pink Lipstick Day, launched in 2012, raises money to help high-risk families to be educated, informed and be proactive, ultimately helping them take the right step to reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Pink Hope founder and BRCA1 carrier, Krystal Barter, was 22 when she discovered she had the gene fault that gave her an 85% chance of developing breast cancer and up to 65% of ovarian cancer. Krystal’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had all fought breast cancer.
  • In 2009, at age 25 and with two young sons, Krystal had a pre-emptive double mastectomy. Krystal is now a healthy 30-year-old Mum of three children and plans to have her ovarian preventative surgery in 2014 to make a final stand against her family’s cancer curse.
  • In Australia, it’s believed nearly 250,000 men and women carry a hereditary gene that puts them at increased risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and other cancers.

How You Can Help Raise Money and Awareness 

Bright Pink Lipstick Day is supported by Revlon, who are releasing a limited edition shade called ‘Pink Hope’, on sale in September from Priceline, Target and selected pharmacies. Revlon will donate $25,000 from sales of the limited edition lipstick to Pink Hope.

Gather your girlfriends, pop on your brightest lipstick, pucker up, pout and pose for a good-cause selfie. Share your good work on social media using hashtags #brightpinklipstickday #pinkhopeaus #revlon and make a donation to Pink Hope. For more information on how to donate visit www.pinkhope.org.au

September 10, 2013

The Skinny on Quitting Sugar

Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar was one of the year’s Australian publishing sensations, spawning a mini-industry telling people how to kick the white stuff. The former Cosmopolitan magazine editor and erstwhile sugar “addict” says she once consumed the equivalent of 25 teaspoons a day, much “hidden” in foods and drinks.

A health and life crisis made her re-evaluate her lifestyle and ultimately recognise a link between her OTT intake of the sweet siren and years of mood disorders, fluctuating weight, sleep problems and thyroid disease.

By radically moderating her sugar consumption “I lost weight and my skin changed, it cleared,” she says, “but I also started to heal. I found wellness and the kind of energy and sparkle I had as a kid.” Her personal experience resulted in the book, interactive website and cult following.

As with any apparent diet “miracle”, I Quit Sugar has already generated a counter-movement with nutritionist Cassie Platt soon to publish her own book, I Didn’t Quit Sugar.

It’s created a stir in the sugar bowl with Wilson blogging in her book’s defence that “I don’t suggest quitting all sugars. I certainly don’t advocate quitting glucose. I’m very clear: fructose is the issue, mostly in the form of sucrose.  I agree, quitting all sugar, and carbs, could create health issues, such as hair loss.

“Yes, yes, yes, the title of my book is I Quit Sugar. But when we say “sugar”, most of us are referring to sucrose or table sugar (the stuff they put in doughnuts), right? And within about three words of opening the book I highlight I’m referring to fructose specifically.”

Okay, so that’s two women’s experiences. But what are we talking about, really? How much sugar do those of us not committed to a radical lifestyle change (but who’d still like to lose weight, feel and look brighter etc) need to give up? What are “good” and “bad” sugars”? After all, fruit has sugar and fruit is good for you, or so we’ve been told for generations.

Is sugar really the devil – or “Satan’s crystals” as some colourful detractors have dubbed it? There was a time when it was just blamed for rotting your teeth and making you overweight.

Now, over the past decade, sugar has been deemed a culprit behind everything from obesity to feeding cancer cells to ageing the body (particularly the skin) at an accelerated rate (glycation), heart disease, dementia, macular (eye) degeneration, chronic kidney disease and failure, and high blood pressure.

There’s always impressive-sounding studies and statistics to support such claims. If you’re not a scientific expert, though, it’s hard to digest what’s best for you.

The biggest problem with sugar is that, these days, it’s everywhere, whether you know it or not, and it comes in far more processed forms than nature intended. It’s to be found in such sources as Macca’s French fries, breading on most packaged and restaurant foods, hamburgers sold in restaurants to reduce meat shrinkage during cooking, canned salmon (before canning, it is often glazed with a sugar solution), cured/sliced meats such as ham, turkey and chicken, bacon and canned meats, stock cubes (which usually contain MSG as well), many peanut butter brands, dry cereals and carb-dense foods, particularly highly processed ones such as commercial bread and rice.

A telling comparison:

  • In 1822 Americans consumed 45gm of sugar every five days, or the amount of sugar in a can of Coca Cola.
  • In 2012 Americans consumed 756gm of sugar every five days, or 58kg of sugar a year. That’s the size of some adults!

When you eat sugar – and, especially, too much of it – your body can deal with it one of two ways:

  • Burn it for energy. Great if your body is firing on all cylinders and you have a fast metabolism.
  • Convert it to fat and store it in your fat cells. With today’s stressed lifestyles and diets, there’s more scope for fat storage. Excess sugar is used to provide the energy our body needs rather than drawing on our fat stores.

When your pancreas detects a rush of sugar, it releases the hormone insulin to deal with the blood sugar spike. Insulin helps to regulate the level of sugar in the blood; the more sugar in the bloodstream, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells.

If too much insulin is released, blood sugar drops below normal levels causing hypoglycemia – essentially a sugar “crash”. Our bodies respond by craving sugar and this is where the “addiction” cycle can come into play. We consume more sugar and the process starts again. The more severe the blood sugar spike, the more insulin required. This means it becomes easier to skip using sugar as energy and go straight to extra insulin and fat storage.

We’re not genetically designed to consume the amount of sugar we’re currently eating. For that reason, our brains get the “happy feeling” (eg. spike of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin) from sugar that we could otherwise get from exercise.

So is eating less sugar the answer? Actually, it’s only part of the battle.

You’ve probably heard of the Glycaemic Index. It’s the calculation of how quickly a particular type of food increases your blood sugar level, on a scale from 1-100 (100 being pure glucose).

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, from the University of Sydney’s School of Molecular Bioscience and Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders, also author of the best-selling Low GI Diet franchise, talked to She ‘Said’:

How bad really is sugar for you?

No worse than any other source of carbohydrate (starch, glucose etc).

What are the side effects (apart from weight gain) of eating too much sugar?

Some studies suggest that it increases the level of triglycerides (fats) in your blood and liver, but this type of study usually involves a supra-normal dose. When more realistic doses are used, there’s no difference.

What are the side effects of having no sugar at all?

Studies suggest that people who avoid sugar end up eating more saturated fat. It’s called the sugar-fat seesaw and it’s well documented in all population groups.

When people become overly zealous about deleting all sugar (indeed, any type of food) from their diet, can it can cause feelings of deprivation that eventually make you obsess over and crave the “forbidden fruit”?

Absolutely agree. And the liking for sweetness is programmed into human brains. Many primates are “frugivores” – they get the majority of their calories from fruits.

What are the benefits of reducing sugar in your diet?

If you get currently more than 25 per cent of your calories from refined sugars (the average is actually 10-12 per cent), then cutting down may improve the nutritional value of your diet. But it’s no guarantee. A completely sugar-free diet if often high in refined oils, refined starches and alcohol, which are also empty calories.

How much sugar should an average person consume each day and from what sources?

Most authorities say 10 per cent of your calories can safely come from refined sugars – that’s 200 calories in a 2000 calorie diet, and that’s 50g of sugar, or 10 teaspoons.  My recommendation would be to use this sugar to increase the palatability of bland but wholesome foods such as muesli, porridge, yoghurt or jam/honey on wholegrain bread.

Is there such as thing as “good” and “bad” sugars?

No. Nature provides a mix of sugars, including sucrose, glucose and fructose. Some ignorant people think glucose is better than fructose but that’s wishful thinking. If anything, glucose alone would increase your risk of diabetes.

What is your advice about finding balance in your diet overall, and keeping your sugar intake at acceptable levels?

Eat a higher-protein, lower GI, Mediterranean diet because this will help to control appetite. Go to bed early, get a good night’s sleep and get 30 minutes of exercise a day.  THEN allow your appetite to guide food intake. Eat for both pleasure and wellbeing.

If someone is keen to give such a low-sugar diet a go, how would you recommend they go about it?

They should seek advice only from people with university qualifications, preferably with APD after their name (Accredited Practising Dietitian).

Is sugar the enemy, or do you indulge your sweet teeth? How do you feel about sugar? Tell us in the comments!

Jenni Gilbert is a longtime journalist with a passion for sourcing and sharing information about how to look and feel better, inside and out. Jenni’s resume includes Editor-in-Chief of New Idea, launch editor of Good Medicine magazine, London correspondent for Fairfax’s The Sun newspaper – she even covered the wedding of Charles and Diana! – Deputy Editor of Who, senior writer for Woman’s Day, News & Features Editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly and much more. Family, friends, her cat, travelling, Pilates, yoga, holistic health and anti-ageing treatments are what makes Jenni’s life go round.

September 9, 2013

Melanie Notkin is The Savvy Auntie

Melanie Notkin is a speaker and lifestyle expert living in New York. She is a best-selling author and the founder of SavvyAuntie.com, one of Forbes Top 100 Websites for Women in 2011 and 2012. Notkin spoke to us about her Savvy Auntie brand and the special role Aunties play in the raising of children.

How did Savvy Auntie come to be?

Savvy Auntie grew out of my own need for resources on how to be the best aunt to my nephew and nieces that I could be. From the moment I first heard I would be an aunt, I felt enormous love and responsibility for these children. Parents have a multitude of books, websites, blogs, etc. designed just for them, but we, the besotted, beloved aunts had nothing to help guide us and no community to connect us. In the summer of 2008, I launched Savvy Auntie, the multi-platform lifestyle brand designed for cool aunts, great-aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids.

At what point did you realise being a mother may not be in your own future, and how did you come to the point of embracing your role as an Auntie instead?

I don’t think of aunthood as an ‘instead of motherhood’–type role. Many Savvy Aunties go on to become mothers but never lose their connection with their nieces and nephews. While I don’t know that I will ever become a mother myself, unfortunately, I know that my role as aunt is a gift. It’s a gift to the parents who know that their children are loved and in safe keeping when they are with me. It’s a gift to the children who have another loving grown up in their lives who offers them another perspective and different experiences. And it’s a gift to me, of course.

I consider myself ‘childfull;’ I choose to fill my life with the children I love.

You talk about the term PANK (Professional Aunt No Kids) – how common do you think PANKs are in today’s society, and why might we be seeing more of them?

There are 23 million PANKs in America, or 1 in 5 women aged 18+ who have a strong bond with a child in their lives. There is a growing trend for women getting married and/or having children later than ever before. And so yes, quantifiably, the number seems to be on an upswing. But I also see more and more women embracing their aunthood and taking on a more active role in children’s lives, whether nieces and nephews by relation or by choice.

What role do you think the Savvy Auntie plays in modern families? How do both parents and children come to rely on them?

As parents are stretched between work, parenthood and everything else, the Savvy Auntie plays a valuable role, whether it’s simply giving relief to the mother of a newborn so she can shower and rest, or contributing generously to a niece’s or nephew’s college savings plan. In fact, 34% of PANKs expect to help pay for a child’s education, while 45% of PANKs offer economic assistance to parents by providing kids with things their parents cannot or will not offer them. And 43% of PANKs often buy things for kids that parents won’t buy them. Collectively, with a baseline of just one child per PANK, this group spends $9 billion a year on their nieces and nephews.

Of course, it’s not just financial gifts. Nearly 7 in 10 PANKs say they are a role model to their nieces and nephews. From the time they are very young, the quality play time aunts offer a young child can help develop the children’s cognitive, emotional and social skills. I’ve dubbed that time QualAuntie Time. And as children get older and need advice or comfort, the ConfidAunt steps right in.

What are your visions for the future of your Savvy Auntie Brand, and how has social media helped you get to this point?

The Savvy Auntie brand includes SavvyAuntie.com, a Webby Award nominee for Best Family Site and a Forbes Best 100 Website for Women. My first book, Savvy Auntie – The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids (Morrow 2011) was a national bestseller. The 6th Annual Auntie’s Day is Sunday, July 27, 2014. And the 5th Annual Savvy Auntie Coolest Toy Awards will be revealed in time for the holiday shopping season. But I am very excited by the Savvy Auntie social media platforms where that I get to connect with tens of thousands of women on a daily basis. There is a wonderful and engaged Savvy Auntourage, over 93,000 strong, on Facebook.com/SavvyAuntie and many aunts connect with me directly on Twitter @SavvyAuntie where I’ve been tweeting since 2007.

There’s a lot more to come with Savvy Auntie and I cannot wait to share those projects with this amazing tribe of women as we get closer.

Are you a savvy aunty or a PANK (Professional Aunt No Kids)?

September 2, 2013

Skin Care Tips With Skin Expert Emma Hobson

If there’s one expert on skin care, it’s Emma Hobson, Education Manager at the International Dermal Institute. We chat with Emma on which skin care and beauty products she can’t live without, how to really cleanse and moisturise your skin, and what the best anti-ageing ingredients out there are.

Which 3 skin care products can’t you live without?

I can’t live without age reversal eye complex. This is an awesome, eye care saver containing highly active cosmeceutical product containing retinol and ARG-LYS Poleptide , stabalized Vitamin C, Niacinamide and a UGL complex. Which reverses the multiple signs of ageing around my eye area (fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles and dehydration).

I simply can’t live without is Power Rich™ ; this is the ultimate multi-functional product that packs an incredible punch of Dermalogica cosmeceutical active ingredients to address my ageing skin needs. It’s the ultimate restructuring cream, and one of Dermalogica’s premium super performers.

C-12 Concentrate is my third can’t-live-without product. After way to many years in the sun when I was younger, I suffer from hyperpigmentation on my neck and face. Since skin discolouration/uneven skin tone is the number 1 sign of premature ageing on the skin I need to ensure I keep my pigmentation at bay.  C-12 Concentrate does this,  it’s a high potency treatment  containing a proprietary peptide called Oligopeptide-34, Zinc Glycinate, Phytic Acid, and various botanicals and mineral amino acids that all targeting the pigmentation. This product keeps my skin looking luminous and improves its clarity.

And which 3 makeup products can’t you live without?

1. My Lancôme Dolls Eye Mascara- just the best for defining my lashes, creating length without clogging or smearing.

2. My MAC eye shadows, I have way too many, the ease of application, the variety and depth of colour they offer and the colour lasts all day.

3. Dermalogica’s skinperfect primer SPF30, this provides a great canvas for my foundation making it easy to apply, I need less foundation which lasts day to night on my skin. It heightens and improves the colour of the foundation I am wearing, it has an SPF30 to help protect my skin, AND since it is a skin care product too it is packed full of cosmeceutical age fighting ingredients.

What are your best tips for cleansing and moisturising your skin?

Cleansing
To get a really squeaky clean skin I would recommend the use of a pre-cleanse oil. Cleansing oils are a fantastic new type of product that you use ideally for your first cleanse, they deliver a level of cleansing traditionally experienced in the professional treatment room. They work on the principle that like attracts like. The oil in the product attracts the oil as well as the dirt, make-up and debris on the skin surface. These are simply massaged into the skin with light fingertips. They help liquefy sebum without stripping the skin or compromising the barrier function. Therefore, when you wash off the cleansing oil you will thoroughly wash away all the dirt, surface oil and debris. This ensures your second cleanse with your normal cleanser, really cleans the skin so it is squeaky clean.

The great thing about these types of product is that they are excellent at removing sun screens off the skin surface. A sun screen can often sit on the skin and result in skin congestion or sensitivity. They are also fantastic at removing waterproof mascara and long-wearing lipstick.

One of the secrets to effective cleansing, is to cleanse the skin twice (morning and evening),that’s right double cleanse!

You follow the pre cleanse oil with a good cleanser which needs to match your skin type for your second cleanse. If you have oily skin, you need a cleanser with a stronger surfactant (degreasing agent) and one that does not strip the skin of oils (i.e. soap or products containing S.D alcohol) these normally come in the form of clay based cleanser or a gel facial wash. Equally if you have an oil dry skin you will need to use a milder cleanser with less surfactant, they often come in the form of a milky/ creamy cleanser. For a combination skin the cleanser sits in the middle of the cleansing spectrum (re surfactant) and can be a light milky cleanser or a gel facial wash. If you have a some sensitivity, choose a cleanser ensuring it has no know skin irritants (free from artificial colours and fragrance) and has calming and soothing ingredients. If you have a very traumatised/sensitised skin choose a cleanser that normally states ‘for environmentally sensitised skin’. These come in milky/creamy formulas or cleansing gels.

There is no need to change your cleanser during the seasons as your skin type does not change winter to summer, what does change is your skin condition, being perhaps more sensitive and dehydrated. If your skin is environmentally sensitised (disregarding your skin type) you may want to choose a cleanser specifically for this skin condition. These cleansers are formulated to be gentle and help repair the barrier function of the skin. And are great for people who are so sensitised they can’t even tolerate water on their skin, as they can be completely removed with soft  tissues instead.

You will notice if you have chosen the incorrect cleanser as you will not be getting the results you should expect such as clearing the skin from congestion,  helping prevent breakouts form reoccurring. You may find it has to strong a degreasing agent and the skin becomes dehydrated or your skin can become sensitised to the cleanser.

The correct cleansing routine would be to firstly ensure you have your hair back from the perimeters of your face, this will enable you to clean the often neglected hair line and around the ears. Then apply the correct amount of product (check product instructions) to the skin with clean hands. With a facial brush or your fingers work the cleanser into your skin in light circular motions from top to bottom or vice versa. Pay special attention to the areas where you have congestion such as the nose, forehead, neck or chin.  Ensure you take your cleanser right up to your hair line and around to the back of your ears and under your jaw line and down the neck as these are common areas for congestion, often due to poor cleansing. It should take about one minute to cleanse your skin; research at the International Dermal Institute found that most people spend less than 10 seconds on cleansing!  It is essential to use  the correct amount of product , and if it is a gel to mix it with sufficient water otherwise the gel remains too concentrated and can result in irritation, dehydration or poor results.  Most cleansers these days can be used in the shower as they are easily washed off.  There are some cleansers which have been developed for environmentally sensitised skin, these are for people who can’t tolerate water on their skin so they can be completely removed with tissues instead.

Moisturising
For your moisturiser, ideally this will be applied over your toner. By applying a hydrating spritz toner it will boost the hydration levels of the skin and prevents dry skin patches (which soak up heaps of moisturiser) you will then only need about half the quantity of moisturiser than if you hadn’t spritzed, that would need about the size of a pea. If your moisturiser is also your sun protection you will need to apply about half a teaspoon for the SPF to be effective.

To combat dry skin think  PROTECTION, HYDRATION AND MOISTURISATION. Choose a moisturiser with lots of hydrating and soothing ingredients and one that acts as a protectant (may contain silicones that form a protective barrier over the skin),there are many ranges now that have products designed specifically for harsh/extreme weather conditions. You may want to choose a moisturiser with a slightly higher oil content but note ‘only slightly’ if you feel your skin is more flaky, dry and dehydrated. If the skin is oil dry, then it needs additional nourishment which can be easily found in a good moisturiser.

It is no longer necessary to use a ‘thick, greasy’ moisturiser as there are now such fantastic ingredients and formulations available that can be really effective without being too heavy or sticky on the skin. Look for moisturisers that contain a complex of vitamins A,C,E, Panthenol (B5), as well as essential fatty acids found in many vegetable oils such as Evening Primrose oil Borage Seed oil, Shea butter, Jojoba oil,  a great ingredient to combat dry skin is Betaglucan derived from Oates. It is important not confuse (as so many people do) a dry skin (skin lacking oil) with that of dehydration (a skin lacking moisture). If your skin feels dry solely from dehydration, you will need a lightweight moisture rich, moisturiser which may have little to no oil content.

What are some of the key ingredients we should be looking for in skincare products as we get older?

  • Arginine/Lysine Polypeptide: A peptide that acts as a sugar trap, binding free sugar that would react with proteins to form AGEs.  Provides an anti-glycation effect
  • Palmitoyl Pentapeptide & Olgiopentapeptide:  for deeper fortification of collagen structure. They stimulates collagen & works similarly to retinol & vitamin C.  Helps skin re-structure the extracellular matrix
  • Glucosamine HCl : Helps stimulate collagen production, fights AGEs, inhibits melanin formation, inhibits MMPs, stimulates Hyaluronic Acid, defends against ROS and inhibits AGE formation
  • Glycine Soya Protein (Soy)
  • Genestein
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate being a non-acidic, stable form of Vitamin C that stimulates collagen formation in the skin while providing antioxidant protection, inhibiting melanin formation and inhibiting MMP enzymes that contribute to collagen degradation.
  • Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract protects against Reactive Oxygen Species (free radicals), fights the formation of AGEs in skin and inhibits MMPs.
  • Vitamin A, E and Beta Glucan
  • Hyaluronic Acid & Cross Linked Hyaluronic Acid provides intense skin hydration.
  • Yeast Extract helps stimulate wound healing, collagen formation and increases oxygen utilisation in skin.

What’s your favourite Dermalogica product and why do you love it so much?

My favourite of the three above would have to be…ohhh this is very hard……Power Rich. It is such an amazing multi-functional skin performer, the results I get from it are fabulous especially as I am so concerned with trying to inhibit the ageing process!

What are your can’t-live-without skin care products? Tell us in the comments below!

July 30, 2013

Q&A With YouTube Beauty And Fashion Guru Shaaanxo

When we wanted to talk about the latest fashion trends and beauty must-haves with an expert, we knew the perfect girl for the job. Meet Shannon Harris, a.k.a. Shaaanxo, one of YouTube’s most-watched beauty and fashion gurus. With over 400,000 subscribers, this blonde bombshell, who hails from New Zealand, shares her favourite latest fashion trends and gives us some insight into what it takes to be a YouTube style star.

In your vlogs, you always look totally gorgeous. If you had to sum up your style in one sentence, what would it be?
Why thank you! I would say my style is always changing, but it’s simple and girly most of the time.

What are you loving, fashion-wise, for the winter of 2013?
Infinity/loop scarves! So boring, I know, but I love the way they look. Bright ones (I have a bright coral one) really amp up my boring winter outfits. I usually stick to black skinny jeans and a cute jumper.

When the seasons change, a lot of women decide that it’s time to make a hairstyle change. Your long blonde locks are very pretty, but have you ever rocked a different look? Maybe even one you ended up regretting?
I used to have brown hair, ombre hair, and the one I regret – half-red and half-brown hair. The whole “underneath one colour, and on top another colour” kind of deal. It was awful! I want to go bright Rihanna Red one day, though!

Okay, imagine that you’re going on a ski trip during the coldest week of winter. You can only bring three beauty products. What are your three winter survival beauty must-haves?
I would bring Trilogy Rosehip Oil to hydrate my skin – it’s a lifesaver when my skin looks and feels dull and dry. I would also bring my lip balm – I love Maybelline Baby Lips and Nivea Lip Butters…they’re super hydrating and smell awesome. And mascara so I could look a fraction better! Its a beauty must-have for all seasons, of course.

What advice do you have any advice for aspiring YouTube style and beauty gurus?
Be yourself and don’t give up. Your own personality will bring you out from amongst the crowd. Don’t expect your views to blow up in a week, month, or even a year. Persistence is key! I went for months without more than 50 people watching me. And lastly, only do it if you have the passion for it! Seems silly I know – but if your heart and soul is with the topic you are talking about, people will see that and connect with you!

Would you take Shannon’s advice and take a stab at YouTube glory? Tell us in the comments!

Image: Shaaanxo

July 29, 2013

Q&A With Skincare Queen Marie Jenkins, Founder of Kosmea

Marie Jenkins, Australian mum, entrepreneur success story and founder of skincare brand Kosmea, shares her skincare and beauty secrets with SheSaid, plus her tips for starting your own business.

You have amazing skin – what’s your skincare routine?

Now that I am about to turn 50 in a few weeks my skin craves moisture and protection.  Rose Hip Oil is always my staple at night and nothing else. In the morning it is very important for me to get some oil on my skin immediately after my shower and especially if the skin is left damp. The Radiance 24/7 oil is a  powerhouse of 100% certified organic berry oils in a base of rosehip oil. I then apply our Eighth Natural Wonder Revitalising Serum, this contains Myxinol which is a trade name for Hybiscus extract which has proven to be a natural alternative to Botox – it lifts and tightens the skin instantly. I then finish it off with our Replenishing Moisture Cream – this as a fantastic day cream packed full of antioxidants and shea butter.

What’s are your 3 can’t-live-without beauty products?

Eighth Natural Wonder Revitalising Serum

Concealer, the one I like best Benefit Erase Paste

I cannot go without a great lipstick or lipgloss, my favourite lipsticks are by Tom Ford.

What’s your favourite Kosmea product and why do you love it so much?

Its hard to pick a favourite but the one product I attribute my hydrated, healthy and happy skin to is the Eighth Natural Wonder Revitalising Serum. I instantly feel my skin is lifted, plus the formulation splashes my skin with moisture, essential antioxidants and rose hip oil’s powerful fatty acids. You must try this one!

What are your top tips for women thinking of starting their own business?

If you have an idea, just go for it! I started off at home with a DIY facial masque and had an idea. To fund my idea, I sold my family car and 20 years on Kosmea is the leading expert brand for rose hip oil in Australia. I am creating skin care products that I passionately believe in and I am surrounded by my family in my business. I am very lucky!

How do you juggle running a business and being a mum?

I have been lucky in that my family have decided to work with me in our business. Of course sometimes this mean taking work home with us. We simply have a rule that at the dinner table there isn’t work talk. We talk family talk instead, I relish this time with my family. Plus I love cooking!

July 15, 2013