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Originally from South Africa, Michelle has lived in the UK since 2004. Due to a lack of good restaurants in Essex, Michelle says that she was forced to put her apron on and get stuck in. Since setting up her blog, Greedy Gourmet, Michelle has switched careers from programming to food photography. In this spotlight, Michelle who appeared on our top ten food blog ranking, chats to us about where extracts the inspiration for her cooking, reveals who her culinary icon is and why veganism will be the next big thing in the food industry. If you could describe your blog in three words what would it be? Easy family recipes How did you get into blogging about food? When I moved to the UK in 2004, I didn’t have a clue how to cook. Converting Pounds to South African Rand, I found restaurants hideously expensive and, quite frankly, the offerings in Essex are not all that great. So, I started cooking and documenting my journey, and haven’t stopped since! What are the biggest challenges and greatest rewards of being a food blogger? The face of blogging has changed so much over the years and the biggest challenge for me is keeping up with new technologies. Nothing stays constant and it’s a must to keep up to date with the latest trends. There are plenty of rewards though. I’ve met fantastic fellow bloggers along the way and love connecting with my readers, especially when they have positive feedback. Great food (exercise is a must!) has been enjoyed along the way and lovely travel opportunities arose as well. What’s your favourite recipe? My favourite recipe depends on my mood. Right now I definitely wouldn’t mind steak with a blue cheese sauce! Name one ingredient that you can’t live without? Salt! Where do you draw your cooking inspiration from? Cookbooks and the internet. Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration – I’m awestruck by people’s creativity. Who would you consider a culinary icon? Would it be weird if I answered that I don’t have one? I don’t care if someone boiled a potato, mashed it, deep fried it twice, and then crumbled it on top of some other weird concoction. Instead of faffing around with food, I’m much more impressed by individuals who work tirelessly to help spread the word on environmental matters and educating the public about making better choices for their health, animals and the environment, i.e. making the world a better place. What do you think is going to be the next big thing in the food industry? Veganism. Or at least I hope so. The irony hasn’t been lost on me that I answered steak in question 4. I didn’t know about the atrocities happening behind closed doors in agriculture. This is why I’m systematically converting to vegetarian and ultimately veganism, spreading the word as I go along. How do you like to work with PRs? I love working with PRs and coming up with a custom solution for each campaign to have maximum impact and longevity for each client. It would help if PRs payment wasn’t in the form of “exposure”. What’s one piece of cooking advice you’d like to share with our readers? Don’t ever be afraid to try a new recipe or cooking with a new ingredient. Even if you “fail” you’ll learn something! You’re a popular food blogger, but are there any food blogs that you follow? Running a blog is quite time-consuming, so the only blogs I read are the ones that will help with blog growth, such as SEO. What’s next in your career as a food blogger? To keep doing what I’m doing. I love capturing authentic recipes with chefs in different travel destinations!
Natasha Nuttall is an award-winning blogger and the author behind Graphique Fantastique. Describing herself as a freelance graphic designer by day, blogger and vlogger by night, Natasha is used to wearing many hats. It was after Natasha moved to London in 2014 that she decided to pursue a career in graphic design and since then she has not looked back. Having established a successful blogging career, Natasha has worked with big brands such as Fanta, Winsor and Newton, Snapfish, Specsavers and MTV. In this spotlight, Natasha who recently appeared on our graphic design ranking chats to us about why she loves being a part of the blogging community, building successful relationships with PRs, and why she is driven by wanting to make a difference. What inspired you to create your blog? It’s actually less of a what, and more of a who. I started my blog back in 2009 on the recommendation of my college tutor, Chris. He had just started a blog of his own and said that I should give it a try. This was back before blogging was really ‘a thing’ and I saw it as a way to put my design work from college out into the world for feedback. Honestly, it’s a bit cringe to look back at those posts now, but I haven’t deleted them as it shows the journey and how far my blog (and design) has grown. What opportunities have been presented to you through blogging? I feel lucky to have experienced a lot of cool things thanks to my blog and the online world, sometimes I can’t really believe it. There’s been geeky design related things like being invited to the reveal of the Pantone colour of the year, being one of the first to visit the GF Smith Showspace when it opened and spending time with my favourite designers – those are definitely highlights. But all of the events aside, the best thing has been finding a community of like-minded people. The #cbloggers community might be quite small, but everyone is very passionate about what they do and super supportive. Most of my URL friends are now IRL friends, all thanks to blogging. What has been your experience with working with PRs and marketers? As a whole, it’s been positive and I’ve enjoyed working on some creative and fun projects. My blog doesn’t really fit into one of the loose blog ‘boxes’ e.g. Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle, which in my eyes is a strength. Over the past eight years, I’ve met and built relationships with a lot of great PRs and brands who really ‘get’ Graphique Fantastique. As someone whose currency is ideas, I always try to do something different – a new angle on a product review or a graphic twist to the visuals. But there are still many PRs that are confused by my blog and don’t necessarily see my relevance or the potential of working with a creative influencer. It’s a shame, but you can’t win them all! What kinds of PRs or campaigns are you interested in working with/on in the future? As a creative, I’m open to lots of different things as I will put my spin on it, along as it’s relevant of course. My content is all about ideas and being relatable, with graphic influenced visuals. I’ve been transitioning and working on defining the ‘creative lifestyle’ niche, ultimately to help more people to understand and discover creativity. A lot of people have no idea what Graphic Design is, so I’m doing my best to inspire & inform people of the part that it plays in everyday life. But in the future, I would really love to start pairing design and travel together – I need to set that ball in motion. Watch this space! Do you consider social media an important tool in directing traffic toward your blog? Definitely! Twitter plays a big part in getting the word out about my new posts and vlogs – it helps to create a buzz and get the conversation started. Comments on Blogs aren’t as common these days as people tend to respond to Tweets & updates on Facebook for ease. Getting the balance right is tough, especially because you don’t want to spam your followers – nobody likes to be spammed. Although, sometimes I’m guilty of spending too much time on Twitter when I should be working on my Blog content. Oops! What has been your proudest achievement as a blogger? I’m sure most people would expect me to say winning Best Young Person’s blog at the UKBA in 2014 or being mentioned on this list even, but for me it’s about making a real difference to other people’s lives. The most rewarding blog posts have been the brutally honest ones (like having a bad time as a graduate and quitting my job) where I’ve been overwhelmed with the support. Then there is the other side of it, where I’m supporting people through bad times, helping them figure out a plan of action and reassuring them that they can turn it around. I love to chat and give advice (or my opinion at least because I always have one ha). Graphic Designers are naturally problem solvers, so I just love helping people really. Will you be working on any exciting projects or campaigns this year? I mean, I can’t believe that we’re already a quarter of the way through the year but there’s still plenty of time for lots of exciting things! April brings National Stationery Week so I’m working on cool content for that, but who knows what the rest of 2017 will bring! As always, I’m open to ideas…
Over the last couple of years you may have read about how British coastal towns are enjoying a revival and in particular how Margate is the new Shoreditch!! Anyone who has visited Margate will know this isn’t true (thank God) as a theme park, gallery, vintage shops and an Arts Club, do not make it Shoreditch or even Dalston, and the only people who want it to be the new hipster destination are the mainstream media, desperate for a strapline and a story! Margate is still a traditional seaside destination complete with amusement arcades, a sad High Street (due to a huge out-of-town shopping park) and more than its fair share of very real poverty. But it also has beautiful, often run down buildings, stunning beaches and a really interesting arts scene. Yes, Thanet may be UKip’s heartland but the positive energy, inclusive and friendly community and sense that anything is possible, is attracting creatives from London and beyond, who are helping to turn a once downtrodden town into a creative hub. This isn’t about house prices (although affordable housing helps) but about a group of like minded people coming together to make art, start small businesses and get involved in the local community. The Turner Contemporary Gallery is situated on the seafront, on the same site where Turner stayed when visiting the town, and has contributed to the towns burgeoning art scene. It has a great programme of exhibitions and events and is well worth a visit. Entangled: Threads & Making is currently showing until May. Featuring sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewellery from the early 20th century to the present day, the work from over 40 international female artists looks at the possibilities of embroidery, weaving, sewing and wood carving, using unexpected materials such as plants, clothing, hair and bird quills.
I’ve never worked with a stylist or personal shopper. Having worked in fashion most of my life, I’ve always trusted my own instincts and been comfortable with my own style, although I have often wondered what someone else might ‘do’ with me, style-wise. In my year of Nothing New I was concerned I might get bored with what I’ve got, so when my friend, the stylist Tamara Fulton, offered to to come and give me and my wardrobe and me a mini style makeover, I jumped at the chance. Tamara is an excellent stylist, she’s worked on a multitude of brand campaigns (I first met her after admiring one of her Toast shoots) and is currently goods editor for Hole & Corner magazine, but she also really enjoys styling private clients. She is calm, thoughtful and funny, so I knew that submitting to her outfit choices would be easy. Being comfortable with your style and clothes shows in your face, according to Tamara, but understanding what you want is not always easy. She works by gently nudging her clients out of their comfort zones in order to put together a better version of themselves. We started by me sorting out my wardrobe running rails (I don’t have a posh cupboard) into categories, all the blouses /jeans/jackets together. As you may remember, I have quite a lot of clothes, some of which I don’t wear much. Everyone wants something slightly different from these sessions apparently, but I wanted Tamara to try and make some of my unworn items work harder, by suggesting new ways to wear them, and to help me ditch stuff that just didn’t suit me. We went through every item, looking at silhouette, colour, fit and identifying clothes I no longer wore that much. Getting rid of problem clothes that don’t suit you can be hard, according to Tamara, there’s a lot of emotion tied up in them and cutting lose from ones you’ve out grown, have fond memories of or just can’t bear to say good bye to is tricky. Tamara suggests moving them out of sight as a first step. Pull out anything you can’t fit into or don’t wear and put it away. After a period of time (perhaps a year) go back to them and deciding their fate will be easier.