Wednesday, 12 November 2008

250 days to go: Frontier Woman

I have to say the inspiration for most of my outfits is, to use one of my childrens’ favourite words, “random,” to say the least.
However, today’s outfit is inspired by the lovely, Andrea Sef.
As regular readers will know, my working life is very varied.

Apart from the freelance articles I write and the two days I spend working as a writer in residence at a prison I also spend one day a week as a media consultant for the women’s enterprise agency, Train 2000.
Train 2000 has a special place in my heart.
It was back in 2003 when I was struggling to hold down a demanding job at the Liverpool Echo and juggling it with caring for four young children (then aged, 3, 6, 8 and 11) that they offered me an alternative – working for myself.
All their services are free of charge so I figured I had nothing to lose.
For three months they guided me through the mysteries of business plans, self assessment, book-keeping and generally boosted my flagging confidence until October 31st 2003 I logged off my “Echo Reporter” tag and became a freelance writer and media consultant.
That was five years and I haven’t looked back since. Three years ago the Train 2000 press officer went on maternity leave and they invited me back in an official capacity.
My work at Train 2000 entails raising the media profile of the organization and the thousands of clients they support into self-employment.
Once I month I run a Do It Yourself PR Workshop where I advise new business owners how to raise their media profile.
I love these workshops and can hardly believe I get paid to meet such amazing women. Women like Andrea.
Last year Andrea attended my PR Workshop after launching her own soft furnishings business.
For years Andrea had made curtains for family and friends who persuaded her to start her own business, which she did with the help of Train 2000.
Sadly for Andrea, after a promising start the Credit Crunch took hold and curtains were no longer top priority for many Merseyside households.
Things had got so bad that Andrea was literally down to her last £10 with a court case looming where she was appealing to keep her home.
Like the good mum she is Andrea didn’t tell her lovely daughter (who was preparing for the Miss Liverpool 08 Beauty Contest).
Instead with a smile on her face and hiding a heavy heart she scoured eBay looking for a cut-price gown so her daughter could go to the Ball.
She didn’t find a gown but she noticed that net petticoats were selling night after night.
When most people would give up Andrea decided “in for a penny in for a pound” and spent that last £10 on yards of tulle.
That £10 turned into £60 and Andrea invested the profit back into more material.
In just a few months she turned over £6,000 and now has her very own eBay shop.
Only one shop in Liverpool was selling petticoats, The Rose and Anchor in Wood Street and when they heard about Andrea’s wares they asked her to pay them a visit.
After examining the vast array of petticoats the boutique owner immediately cancelled their overseas order and placed orders with Andrea.
“I hit lucky with the Prom Season but the business is becoming not only recession-proof it is a growing market with weddings and balls and the growth in the followers of Rockabilly and Burlesque. I am now looking for new premises for a workshop. It is so exciting,” she said.
Having met Andrea I can tell you that her success has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with talent, skill, vision and a desire to succeed.
Although my blog is an advert-free zone I am making an exception for Andrea so visit Andrea's store and take a look.
And after speaking to Andrea I scoured my wardrobe for this petticoat which I wore underneath a summer skirt.
I love the way it swishes and flounces AND keeps me warm.
Wearing it with these boots makes me feel like a Frontier Woman.
If you haven't got one already now you know where to look!

I am wearing:
Boots – Clark’s
Skirt - ?
Sweater – French Connection (at least five years old)
Cream thermal top
Red Scarf – Marks and Spencer
Petticoat (from an old dress)


Michelle@Life with Three said...

What a cool idea -- and it looks great! I can just imagine how much fun it is to wear and how it feels swishing with each step. :)

Sheila said...

What a great story, thanks for the inspiration, Jane.

You look great! I would love to swish my skirt like that.

see you there! said...

Inspiring story. The petticoat takes me back to about 1950. Crinoline petticoats, all the rage. They were a little scratchy and it was hard to close the closet door when they were stuffed in there.


Anonymous said...

Jane, the link doesn't work! Ebay says the store "doesn't exist". Great writing today, Jane!

Isaac Mizrahi loves crinolines! He says it takes some nerve to wear them, though. I guess you've got it!

Jane said...

Darla - I never thought about that!
Karen - I don't know what happened as it worked before. I have re-done the link and it seems to be working again. Thanks for letting me know.

Heather Bestel said...

First of all - five years has flown by so quickly, I can't believe it.

Secondly, what a fab story and an inspirational woman. I bet you've written some articles about her!

The petticoats are gorgeous on her site and yours is so sweet, it transforms the whole look and (I bet) feel of the outfit.

a cat of impossible colour said...

What an amazing story. Both you and Andrea are very inspiring women.

Christina Lee said...

great story. I don't know what it is, but I just love you in pink-it really lights you up! and the swish swish is great too!