#CRAZYBLOGGERS: The Drama-Free Chat For Unconventional Bloggers

crazybloggers blogger chat

A little while ago I was having a conversation with Jordan about how awesome it would be if there was a chat for bloggers like us; and by bloggers like us, I mean freaks. Proper weirdoes who LOVE to tweet, but are slightly bored by the prospect of tweeting about Monthly Favourites for a whole hour, yet again.

I decided to have a go at hosting one after a random survey showed that loads of my followers were up for it. It all came together in less than 24 hours, and before I knew it, I had hundreds of notifications from people all over the world, tweeting about our first topic, Adult Content, under the new shiny hashtag #crazybloggers. For some people, crazy is not a word they want to embrace, and that’s exactly the point.  A lot of us have been unfairly labelled a crazy bitch in our lifetime, have we not? But to me the word means wild, unconventional, unpredictable, weird, random. And all those things are good in my book, or blog.

The ethos behind the chat is this. We want to create a drama-free, welcoming chat for every type of blogger to discuss the hush-hush, embarrassing, hilarious, or dividing issues in blogging; the things people don’t want to bring up because they’re scared they’ll lose followers if they do, or be labelled as “out there” or “too crazy”; a chat where people will actually experience the opposite, and GAIN followers for speaking their mind. Foul language is encouraged, and an open mind is essential. So far, it’s been a huge success; many people got in touch with me after the chat to say thanks for getting them so many new, like-minded readers! This makes me incredibly happy, because deep down, all I really want is for bloggers to come together in a haters-free zone and have a good time.

For now, I will be hosting over on my main account, @hollycassell, and Jordan will host on hers, @hellomissjordan. But for chat updates and such like, you can follow the super-official  fancy-pancy account we made over on @CrazyBlogChat. Once that is built up a little bit more, we'll probably start hosting from there, as well as putting names down for guest host spots!  If you want to come join us (and I really hope you do) then we’ll all be tweeting under #crazybloggers every Thursday night at 7-8pm GMT. Bring your inner crazy bitch.

Going Red The Natural Way: Lush Caca Rouge Henna

lush caca rouge henna review
It’s a messy business, henna. I remember watching my mother patiently cake her own head in dark green sludge when I was a child, emerging four or five hours later with a bright coppery mane of curls. I remember helping her reach parts that she couldn’t do herself, carefully spooning it onto the nape of her neck or behind her ears, trying not to touch the skin. Even with all the modern-day updates, applying henna is pretty much as ceremonial, tedious, and hilarious a process as it must have been back in ancient Persia, where it originated. At the end of the day it is very much like smearing a big cow pat on your head.

I won’t go into details about the process (to learn how to apply Lush henna, find full instructions here) because that would take forever; instead I’ll tell you what I thought of the product and results. Most henna has a distinctive dried-leaves kind of smell, and this is no exception, although it has been perfumed with some lovely natural oils so it's not too intense. I left it on for 3 hours, but you can leave it on overnight if you want to. The great thing about henna is that there is no such thing as too much. The results will vary depending on your hair colour, but for images of how it turned out on me, just scroll down to my previous post.

The thing I really, really loved was that it left my hair in BETTER condition than before. Usually any kind of colouring will do damage, but henna fills your hair follicle, leaving it softer, thicker, and shinier. Don’t expect it to turn jet-black hair into Ariel’s fiery mane, as henna cannot lighten hair, only add more colour. However, if you’re interested in going the chemical-free route, and want a colour that looks like you were just naturally blessed with it, I couldn’t recommend this enough. I’ll definitely be buying more and reapplying within a month, to maintain my new auburn look!

If you’ve ever tried Lush bricks, or any kind of henna, please do share your stories below!

I Did A Thing

holly cassell

I love people watching in big cities. You see so many striking humans who are totally committed to doing their own thing, living their own lives, going their own way. I often calculate how long it must have taken to put together an outfit/hairstyle/make-up look/whatever that I see on passers by, and I find it genuinely inspiring. I want to have the guts to live that way. Life is really too short to be resolutely low-maintenance, and so miss out on embodying your own vision.

Am I wrong is saying that most of us have a hair-idol? Someone who, no matter how many styles we try out on ourselves, has always been our idea of Perfect Hair? Call it hair-on-a-pedestal, if you like; it’s usually a colour/texture that is almost unachievable for us. People always seem to want what they don’t have, after all. My hair-idol is a character from a film called Perfume who has bright red, shoulder-length curls, and has been for years. And yet I’ve never really tried (until now) to recreate it, because, well…I was too lazy.

holly cassellholly cassell

But you get to stages in your life when you not only want a complete makeover, but you get sick of things never being how you truly want them to be, just because you’re too lazy to work at it. You start to think, if not now, when? With this in mind, I picked up a Henna brick from Lush (of which there will be a full review coming soon) and went to town on myself. I’m nowhere NEAR where I want to be yet; I’m still growing out my awkward fringe, and I want more red tones, some layers and other tweaks. But at least I’m getting there.

This post isn’t just about hair. Although hair is super important. What I’m really trying to say is that most of the time - whether with clothes, hair, our relationships, our jobs – we are settling, because we are lazy. And I don’t want to settle any more. I don’t want to ignore my gut when it tells me things don’t fit, and that there is something better out there. I don’t want to sit back and admire on other people the things I know I could have for myself, if I only insisted on it. And so I guess this post isn’t about a make-over, either. It’s about being unashamedly high-maintenance.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

yankee candle christmas cookieikea holly ligts
Blue Tree Decoration, John Lewis // Candle, Yankee Candle Co // Holly Light Caps, Ikea

It’s that time of year again, for sure. This time around, I’m not holding out until 1st of December. Oh no. The baking starts now. Basically, I’ve had too exhausting a year to wait; I feel like someone needs to come and inject Christmas straight into my femoral artery, like a muscle relaxant that’ll leave me with a dreamy smile and half-closed eyes.

This Christmas will be so different from last year; it will be the first Christmas with me and my brother living independently from our parents, (even though they are practically right next door, haha) and with our own apartment to decorate.  Some people are no longer here to celebrate with us; either because they are in heaven now, or life has simply called them in another direction. Some of us have new obligations, new careers. The most important change of all (not really, but still) is that I have a kitchen all my own, to bake vegan treats in. I’m going to be that annoying girl who stuffs everyone full of cake as soon as they walk through the door. And I’m more than happy with that.

Defining Your Aesthetic Or Personal Brand

Finding a signature style is one of the biggest challenges any creative person (or wearer of clothes) will encounter. I've tried out many different ‘looks’; some of them cute, some of them…not so cute. Even now, as a supposedly grown-ass 23-year-old woman, I get frustrated with my wardrobe, my hair, my make-up, the decor of my apartment, the layout of my blog, and just about everything else in my life, for not representing me as I want them to. Some days I want to rip it all up and start again, and I’m here to tell you that’s okay. It’s never too late to find your real style. In fact, from scratch is the most creative place to start.

creating a personal brand
How Do You Want To Make People Feel? Maya Angelou said that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. How do you want to make people feel? How do you want your readers to feel when they visit your blog? Or when they look at your photographs? How do you want to make people feel when they meet you in person? Choose your layouts, content, outfits, or whatever else, with that in mind. Think about the emotion you want to inspire in someone, and then consider how to achieve that. For example, if you want to make people feel calm and relaxed, you’d choose very different things to those that would make someone feel inspired or excited. A good way of figuring this out is to write down what emotions certain colours/words/images bring out in you, and then ask people if they feel the same.

Start A Pinterest Board Pinterest is an amazing tool for finding imagery you like and collecting it all together in organised groups. Make a board and call it something like Blog Inspiration, or whatever. Make it a Secret Board if you are rebranding and don’t want anyone to know about your new look! Collect everything you think is relevant and beautiful and inspiring, until you begin to notice emerging themes. Some of the themes in mine when I first did this were fairy-tales, the colours red and pink, female-centric photography, and Americana. Look for the similarities in your Pins; this will help you narrow your vision to a finer and finer point.

Learn From The People You Stalk Whether it be an amazing Instagram account, a blog, or a celebrity who’s wardrobe we want to steal, we all have style icons that make us wonder how on earth they do it. It’s never a good idea to copy someone, and the whole point of this post is to help you find YOUR OWN style, but a big part of that is learning from other people’s successes. Look at what your icons are doing right. Identifying their magic formula will help you find your own.

Keep A Scrapbook Keeping a scrapbook is a more intense way of creating a mood board. Making your own images gives you more control than you have on Pinterest, and it helped me find a style that was all my own. If I could wear my collages on my body, I totally would. No two scrapbooks will ever be the same, and you’ll be surprised how individual your pages will look.

Find Your Key Words, Colours, And Concepts Whilst you’re doing all this, take note of words, colours, and ideas that you go back to over and over again. These will be your signatures. You might be surprised by what comes up. A concept that I explore a lot, without ever really meaning to, is love. Love is one of my most used keywords, even when I’m writing about make-up or food. Every post I write is like a love-letter to whatever I’m writing about. You might find that you have a similar pre-occupation with friendship, spirituality, or beauty. Run with it.

Be Ruthless You won’t be able to include everything you like in this new, defined style of yours. There will be things that you will have to just admire on other people, or enjoy in private. A big part of defining your aesthetic is editing out the things that don’t belong. They say consistency is key, and that’s true; but remember that what you’re essentially doing here is figuring out who the fuck you are and what you stand for, which can take longer than an allotted weekend! Give yourself permission to rip things up and start again. Trust me, you’ll be doing it all your life.

I Want Some Red Slashes To Go With Those Long Eyelashes

lipstick for crooked teeth
I have an obsession with red lips. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed. Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to paint myself, to create shape and colour, to draw myself anew. My lips are my most-complimented asset, and yet they sit on top of crooked teeth, my most obvious flaw. This creates a strange conundrum – I both wish to draw attention to my mouth, and distract from it. I do my make-up with a relaxed face, pouting - but after I am done, never manage to hide my ugly-pretty grin. It is an awkward situation to have both my favourite and least favourite features so close together, rubbing against each other every moment, each one made a little worse and a little better by the other’s presence. I know nothing is ever meant to be perfect, and my teeth no longer bother me the way they did when I was little, and wishing for invisibility. I almost enjoy the juxtaposition now; I use my smile as a weapon, to surprise those who spend too long on my soft and harmless lips, and begin to think me harmless too. I enjoy watching people watch my mouth, dizzied and confused as I flash a bright blood-soaked smile at them, threatening honesty. Sharp teeth to go with my sharp tongue. I catch sight of my mouth in mirrors, and these gashes of red paint – curled around white fangs, like a great wound that never heals - make a kind of sense that I could never have designed for my own face. And so I paint myself, almost religiously, sacredly, to represent the blood my words will draw.

My Totally Unexpected (And Somewhat Problematic) Love Of Hollister

hollister scandal

I don’t want to like Hollister. Let's get that straight out of the way. I don’t want to be able to go in their store and find ten, twenty things I would buy without a second’s thought. But I do. And I can.

There are many, many reasons why I am reluctant to admit I’m a fan. Why, until recently, I hadn’t even gone in to look around. I would like to say it was a matter of principle, and I guess partly it was. There has been much controversy over their store “models” - i.e, sales assistants - who have to look, behave, talk, and even smell a certain way in order to be employed there. There has been much written over the words of their CEO, Mike Jeffries, who was famously quoted as saying that his store only sold small clothes because he didn’t want plus-size women wearing them (you can read an excellent article about the whole thing here). These were the things I brought up when people asked me why I didn’t like Hollister. But then I asked myself – if that’s true Holly, why do you go in American Apparel, king of the pornagrahic up-skirt campaign shot, who don’t even employ women with short hair? Why do you go in Topshop, with their angora rabbit wool and uniformly size -00 mannequins? When you think about those things, Hollister’s limited sizing seems forgivable. So why do you make excuses for other shops, but not for Hollister?

I realised, much to my chagrin, that essentially it was a question of branding. I am not the kind of girl that I thought would shop in Hollister. I thought I would hate the infamous perfume they spray on all the clothes, but instead I loved it, and bought one. It smells like watermelons and California and now when people hug me they breathe in my hair as if I’m a salty-skinned surfer goddess just emerged from the sea, and they tell me I smell amazing. But I simply didn’t want to see myself as a Hollister girl, which when you think about it, isn’t ethical of me at all, but just very, very pretentious. 

Take American Apparel, for example. They seem to cater for the Tumblr-cool hipster crowd, and everything about their image seems made for an Instagram-ing vegan feminist like me. But that’s just their image. Like that ridiculously unnecessary “rustic” chalk board in Starbucks, it’s all just for show. Due to all this misleading branding and the real company policies that I find on Twitter, I’m running out of places to shop. I don’t go in H&M because too many of their things have disintegrated in the washing machine. I hate shopping in Primark, as it’s no fun checking your purchases for SOS markings after a shopping trip. Which leaves what? Jane Norman? Looks like it’s back to charity shops again.