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Mary_Porta

Are Leather Trousers Strictly For The Young?

I read with some interest in today’s “Femail” Janet Street-Porter’s view that leather trousers should not be worn by the over 40s.

Janet_Street_Porter

She describes Mary Portas’s legs as looking like “badly packed black puddings”. Well then, this begs the question: at what age should one wear leather trousers? Is there a statutory age?
Surely, age does not come into this. Any item of clothing can look wrong on any person of any age if not worn with the right combination, not suited to the body shape, a poor fit or inferior quality fabric.

Mary_Portas_Leather_Trousers

Mary has got it right. The leather trousers are part of the package and her look is actually very stylish and dynamic. Elle McPherson, Sharon Stone and Carol Vorderman also look fabulous in their leather trousers. They wouldn’t look so good in knee length polyester pleated skirts, twin sets, American tan tights and sensible shoes (to perpetuate the age stereotyping). It’s all about making the most of what you have and projecting an image that you’re comfortable with, whatever your age or indeed shape.

That’s what we are doing with Vida Moda, we are aiming to give larger women a better choice of clothing, shouldn’t we have the same opportunity to dress stylishly?

Joanna

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Lightening strike

The perils of hosting in the Cloud

Dear readers

We’ve had a bit of a horrendous week so far. Our eCommerce engine, the software gubbins that runs our online shop lives in the “Cloud”. This bit of “Cloud” is owned by Amazon and is their European Data Centre, based in Dublin Ireland. Apparently it is huge (we’ve never seen it, bit think it is a big shed of some sort). Anyway on Sunday a nearby transformer (not from the movie) got hit by lightening and exploded and caught fire cutting the power supply to both Microsoft’s and Amazon’s Data Centres.

Amazon Web Services

For some reason that is too complicated for me to be even interested in Amazon’s generators didn’t work so all the hundreds of thousands of servers living in the shed switched themselves off in a huff. Apparently servers switching themselves off in a huff makes techie people have sharp intakes of breath.

So it took clever electricity people and Amazon people a 4 to 5 hours to restore power to the Datecentre. Then they started switching on the servers so customers could restart their applications. However some of the servers that switched themselves off in a huff were grumpy and did not want to play (including hours). (The technical term for this is “corrupt”). Amazon told our eCommerce partner (a different company) to leave it with them and they’d try to jolly the servers along.

Over 24 hours later Amazon contacted our eCommerce partner and told them the servers couldn’t be jollied along and needed the equivalent of a visit to The Priory for a full detox and series of spa sessions to restore them to full vigor. (I’m paraphrasing madly here because the techie explanation is just too exciting).

Upon arrival at the Spa all the servers were booked in and ready for their treatments. It then transpired that the all the treatment lotions were rancid. They were rancid because the spa had mistakenly started adding extra ingredients to the lotions and so they couldn’t be used. Now these lotions are uniquely formulated for each customer (server) and absolutely essential for the successful treatment of general dishevelment and grumpiness in servers.

There was only one thing to be done. New batches of lotion would have to be made by hand from a fiddly set of ingredients. This process takes a very long time. Days in fact. It nearly 2 days to make the batches of lotion and treat the grumpy servers, before they could be pressed back into service.

The effect on us has been traumatic. We’ve consumed quantities of cake, tea and alcohol, even a bottle of Grandmothers Sherry has come under threat of consumption.

So what’s the lesson? Well for us it is still that the Cloud is good, it is the inevitable future for provision of technical services. When it’s on song it is excellent. However the caveat is that support systems and emergency plans need to be so much better because the consequences of a failure on this scale are enormous and correspondingly very difficult and time consuming to recover from.

Ironically Amazon experienced a similar failure in the US in April, clearly they didn’t learn anything from it. So come on Mr Jeff Bezos, take your head out of your kindle ebook thingy, get your DataCentre emergency systems sorted out because businesses like ours that depend on the service you provide and need it to work reliably, plain and simple. You are no longer just selling books, you are playing with the economy and peoples’ livelihoods.

This does not take away from the efforts of the people on the ground at Amazon and at our eCommerce partner who worked tirelessly over the last 3 days to restore service. They kept us informed and while that is important and useful it does hide the fact that 3 days of “no existence” for any business is not good business.

Our site http://www.vidamoda.co.uk providing designer fashion for plus size ladies is live once again don’t forget our 50% off summer sale is still running so come along and have a browse!

Thanks for your patience and we are really sorry our store has not been available to you over the last 3 days.

Joanna Davis

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Plus Size Red Scoop Neck Top with 3/4 length Sleeves

Models wearing fat suits, this is crazy!

Models wearing fat suits:

This week there was an article in the Daily mail which we found disturbing and to be honest irritating. The Daily Mail reported that Saffi Karina a 27 year old size 12 model, yes size 12 is classified as a plus size in the modelling world went on an assignment and was advised that they needed someone a couple of sizes larger. She was advised (the article doesn’t say who by) to get a padded garment made to add inches to her bust, waist and hips, the article then goes on to label the item as a “fat suit”.

Marquita Pring who is also a model and is size 12 to 14 has also worn these suits and said ‘It’s better for me because I can still be healthy and work out and have the body I want. It’s a little bit of model magic.’ . Well good for you Miss Pring but really you should be aware that just because people are larger it doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhealthy or unfit!

Why on earth is this necessary? There plenty of beautiful women around who are larger and indeed a good portion of the population is size 16 and over. We wish the media would wake up to this fact and stop insulting people who are over a size 10! This is really disturbing, one of the other points about these “fat suits” is that they don’t help the body look natural, they won’t move properly and therefore clothes won’t flow around the body properly.

The models we’ve used on Vida Moda, our online store are size 16 and 18 respectively. They are beautiful and shapely and healthy and they made our products look wonderful! They didn’t have to wear fat suits and we didn’t use an airbrush to re-touch their shape. Browse our site and have a look! Our models are shown 100% naturally to reflect the nature of the real women (size 16 and upwards) who are our customers.

Quotes courtesy of the Daily Mail online article from 01 August 2011

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Is There a Real Women Revolution?

The Real Women Revolution

Garnier Logo

It’s interesting to see the advertising watchdog came down on Garnier last week for misrepresenting the effects of their products by using computer enhancements. Could this be the beginning of a new revolution to depict women in a realistic light? Are we supposed to believe that wearing a particular garment will make us look like the model and is that look really achievable? How about the mascara adverts where in small print under the advert it states that false lashes were worn, or hair products where extensions were used to show flowing, glossy locks? It seems that women are in many cases striving to attain a look that actually doesn’t exist because it’s computer generated or prosthetics have been used to create the effects.

One can accept that, for the sake of selling, aesthetics, vanity etc the use of make up, hairdressing, styling are, in most cases essential, but where does the illusion end? Is it so terrible to show a bit of a double chin, laughter lines, larger midriffs – this list is not exhaustive. Let’s face it we all know that as we put on the years we also tend to develop different physical characteristics and we’re not so gullible as to believe that any cosmetic product or garment is going to change that. Or are we?

Representations of women as paper thin, both computer enhanced and sadly self inflicted, has had a devastating effect on girls and young women in recent years and it’s questionable whether the image can now be re-balanced. If it can, then something powerful is needed to help effect that change – like the Media. But then again isn’t the Media one of the main instigators of these unrealistic images?

What do you think? add your comment and let me know!

Joanna Davis

Vida Moda | Designer Fashion for Curvy Women Size 16 to 24 | 50% off Summer Sale Now On!

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Having It All? – Hilary Devey – Telegraph comment

I read with interest yesterday’s Telegraph article in which new Dragon’s Den member Hilary Devey comments “women can never have it all – it’s how God breeds us”. This is actually something I’ve been pondering a lot recently. I was born in the 60s, grew up in the 70s and have never questioned the assumption that women can have it all. The feminist movement, socialist politics and general optimism of those eras really did inspire girls to see their lives as full of unlimited possibilities, which to an extent they were.

I attended a large comprehensive girls school in central London where despite being a single sex school, almost all subjects were available to study. Suddenly the prospect of university education for working class girls was a reality and no longer was the prospect of a House wife’s life considered the norm. However, now in my late 40’s I sadly have to admit that Hilary may be right. Having worked full time all of my adult life, been in a long term relationship and having children I now realise that I haven’t been able to climb to the heights that I expected I would. When it comes down to it, the ultimate responsibility for childcare rests with me and quite honestly that feels right. I never had any ambition to be a career mum and certainly don’t consider myself to be a helicopter mother but childcare is always the first consideration both in terms of how I juggle my time, the employment I take and the salary I accept.

My own parents both worked full time and I remember mum working all day in one factory, rushing home to give us four kids and Dad our tea, then rushing off to work in another factory at night. She did all the shopping, housework, everything. I remember being ill and mum taking me to school and telling me not to tell anyone I felt ill because she had to work. That’s the way it was then and I’m sure mum never felt she had it all – she was too busy and knackered to stop and think of anything like that.
I am a lot more fortunate than she was in many ways and can’t say my life has anything like the slog hers had, but it is extremely difficult trying to carry on working because I enjoy it and achieving anything like what I could have if I didn’t have to spread myself around so much. Of course it’s easier (logistically) for women who are in high paid jobs because they can afford the Nanny, Cleaner, Personal Assistant but is it really about that either?

I can remember being sent to school holiday clubs because mum worked and absolutely hating it, being envious of friends whose mum’s didn’t work and were with them during school holidays. I remember school friends who used to go home for lunch because mum was there to cook for them and sometimes I’d go with them – it was lovely. That’s why I really want to be with my children during school holidays, after school, when they’re ill. Actually I enjoy being with my children and feel that they’re my greatest achievement.

I don’t know if Hilary is right in believing that mother’s feel this way because it’s the way God breeds us. For myself it could be my own childhood experiences or it could be genetics but I suspect it may be a combination of both. Certainly I feel at the age of 48 I am heading for burn out in trying to achieve it all and rather disappointed that it appears to be impossible but I would still encourage young women to try. What do you think? Add a comment reflecting your opinion!

Joanna Davis

Vida Moda | Designer Fashion for Curvy Women Size 16 to 24 | 50% off Summer Sale Now On!

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Write a guest post for us

Calling Bloggers – guest post slots available on our blog

Our blog is about women, their empowerment, their achievements and successes, their lives and of course plus size fashion and related issues. That’s quite a range of topics and we’d love to hear from you if you’d like to write a guest post on our blog. For your post to be considered it must be related to one of the above topics. We’ll publish one post per week and feature it on Twitter and Facebook. We want to hear from you. Tell us your story of success in business, life or helping others. Perhaps there is something that is special about your business or activity that promotes or empowers women and celebrates their achievements, we’d love to hear about it. In return we may wish to be allowed to write a guest post for you blog.

We are focused on finding the best designer clothes for larger women who deserve to look and feel good. So we’ll give give special consideration to posts related to this area. We know there are lots of talented and successful ladies out there running their own business and supporting families as well, we don’t know how some of you cope with demands of both, because neither is easy!

There is an enviable positive spirit amongst the women we listen to on Twitter each day and it’s very inspiring. We wrote a blog post a few days ago about inspiration in general and we’d really love to share more examples of women doing well.

So leave a comment if you’d like to participate or contact us now on Twitter or on Facebook to let us know what you’d like to say.

If you want to see what we are offering our customers please browse our online shop www.vidamoda.co.uk or read some of our other blog posts to understand more about us.Write a guest post for us

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John Lewis and the value of “Beigeness”

India Knight has written an excellent piece in her Sunday Times column today. It’s all about John Lewis thinking about changing it’s image to broaden it’s appeal, to shake off it’s “fuddy-duddy” image. Craig Inglis who is Director of Marketing at John Lewis is reacting to the accusation of John Lewis being “beige at times”. John Lewis is embarking on the biggest revamp revamp of it’s marketing and advertising in 147 years according to an article in Marketing Week Magazine. India is somewhat aghast at the notion that John Lewis is going to change it’s approach and lose it’s “Beigeness” to compete with the likes of Tesco and other large supermarkets. India presents a good set of arguments for not making such a change, all of which I agree with.
Never Knowingly undersold
If john Lewis did greatly change it’s approach I would be somewhat dismayed. John Lewis is not that “fuddy-duddy” or indeed that “Beige” yes I’m sure it needs to revamp and update many of it’s stores. We have a lovely John Lewis store in the Grafton Arcade in Cambridge, it is modern, well stocked and very popular and not just with “ladies of a certain age”. John Lewis in my mind occupies an almost unique position in British retail, it has a personality, this is expressed really well through their staff whose attentiveness and ability to provide excellent customer service is well documented. I cannot think of single other high street retailer that currently has such an effect. Marks & Spencers is an obvious direct competitor to John Lewis and Waitrose, but even though they are good, they don’t have the same level of personality that John Lewis has.

John Lewis has managed to maintain it’s retailer dignity rather than be consumed by the retail commerce conveyor belt and the shallowness of celebrity glamour and instant satisfaction that others seem to suffer from. People buy from people. John Lewis is all about people. You go to John Lewis because they represent in no particular order; quality, top products, fabulous customer service and reliability. Its not a shop to rush around in, it is a lovely browsing experience and you’ll always discover or spot something new that you didn’t know they stocked. They don’t get everything right but they are streets ahead of other retailers on actually having a personality.

Tesco is totally soulless, it represents a core function, the weekly shop – which we all need – and that is fine, it has it’s place too. They are very good at what they do, they are cheap, obviously lots of people like that. However they don’t have the best quality produce and they’re not great at customer service, that may be fine for their customer base. So I hope Mr. Inglis knows what he is doing, I’m not saying don’t change anything, change is proactive and should be happening all the time BUT be very careful about changing the personality of the retailer, especially one with such a unique reputation. If John Lewis has to stoop to the level of Tesco to compete on the high street at the expense of it’s personality then it will be a sad day for British retailing.

In setting up our online business we have modeled our philosophy on certain elements of a number of retailers, elements that we admire and feel are important to customers. John Lewis is one of the retailers that we admire. Tesco’s isn’t.

So next time you are in John Lewis, have a little think about why you’ve gone in there, how you feel while you are there and what you like about shopping in John Lewis. Appreciate it because it may not be the same in a year’s time. Please feel free to add your comments to this post so others can read your thoughts about the importance or not of British retailers having a “personality” and don’t confuse this with “brand” or “marketing” because it’s not actually the same thing at all.

This post is inspired by India Knights Sunday Times Column on Sunday 5th June 2011 titled “Sing – nice and softly, mind – if you’re glad to be beige”

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What inspired you today?

Last night I attended a local networking group Cam Creative to pay tribute to the memory of Bonnie Cotier who died in a tragic accident on April 23rd. In honour of Bonnie’s memory people were asked to tell the group about something amazing they had done recently or something that inspired them. Bonnie was highly regarded by the people in the various networking groups that she was member of and she was heavily involved in Cam Creative. I hadn’t yet got to know Bonnie really well but I had spoken to her often enough to realise she was a person that stood out because of her personality and her approach to life, business and people. She was a dynamic person who had a hand in many different projects some of which we heard about last night and clearly had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm to participate and contribute 100% to the projects she was involved in.

So those who wanted to, could stand up and say a few words about what had inspired them. Personally, I struggled with this, after some reflection I didn’t feel I could stand up and tell people about something obvious or spectacular that inspired me. I’ve worked very hard to achieve whatever amount of success I’ve had in life. But again I suspect that’s a common story for a lot of people, I’m just an ordinary person doing ordinary things.

However things have changed in the last 12 months or so and thinking back over that time I realised I stumbled across a source of inspiration I never expected to find. Its not loud and explosive, or in your face. Its rather quiet and subtle but it is insistent and nurturing. It played a big part in my decision to start a business 6 months ago. The business an online store selling plus size clothes to larger women. It’s very early days and it’s a risk, there’s no real telling at this point whether it will succeed or not. The point is, I had the idea to set up this business more than 12 years ago. I did nothing, instead I pursued a career in a discipline in a corporate environment which has gone well for me over the years. Despite being difficult it was still a “safe” option.

The question is why did I start my venture now and not 12 years ago? The answer is of course complex and like a lot of people I can easily come up with a list of why I didn’t start it years ago. Coming up with the list of reason why I started it now is less easy. One of the influencing factors is that I got involved in a local networking group, initially to learn more about social media but pretty soon my thoughts turned to my dormant business idea and I decided to give it a go. I was inspired by simply talking to the people around me at these groups. They are from all walks of life and are running all manner of businesses and I found their energy and positive vibe (often in the face of difficult trading conditions) very inspiring and it helped me get up and do something about my idea. Every time I go to one of these events I make some new contacts and I always come away with something new to apply to my fledgling business.

A number of people I’ve met in the networking group have helped me set up and their efforts are woven into the fabric of my venture and I’m grateful for their contribution. While I wasn’t lucky enough to work with Bonnie she certainly is an exemplar of the type of person I’m referring too and I know she provided inspiration to plenty of others as they sought to develop their business or idea. In fact if you want see how Bonnie inspired and helped someone else then please read the previous post on this blog about an exhibition that Bonnie was instrumental in organising in Cambridge starting on June 7th.

So if you are an entrepreneur starting up or are already well established take a good look around the people at the next networking event you attend. Seek out the ones that like Bonnie, might inspire you and help you do something amazing. They are out there and they will help. In return you may find you can also provide some inspiration to others.

Please add a comment telling us about people that have inspired you, or if you have a story about how Bonnie inspired you please feel free to share it here, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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