Musings By Mai

Musings Blog

Author Archive

Thursday

4

January 2018

0

COMMENTS

Crypto Portfolio Building – 2. First 20 Crypto Coins Analysed

Written by , Posted in Investing

Ok so what do I mean by “fundamental analysis” in the context of crypto? Well whilst alot of people went crazy on how far up this new unknown store of value called Bitcoin has skyrocketed, most people are just following the fashion and this stuff is a repeat of history. So I totally get why some are saying there is am impending bubble bust and massive correction coming. But what makes this “ponzi scheme” different is how interestingly useful the underling new technology is. Basically, the blockchain is a public (that is open to all), decentralised (that is not controlled by one power or a government body but actually for the people) general ledger (that is an account storing information) immutable (that is can never be changed once recorded) concept.

Thats all it is. Why is this useful? Because in short there are so many world applications for it. At a very basic level I no longer need the middle man of a bank and their associated fees to transfer money from the UK to say Brazil. Its also not hackable because the records are unique and immutable. Getting rid of the middleman is always great for the end consumer because things can happen faster and more cost effectively. You see whilst thats just a basic exchange of value concept, I can use the same technology to build a system to ensure baby food when bought isn’t “fake” by ensuring every digitized code for each product is unique cannot be changed once recorded to the ledger. You can then run an app on top of that so as a consumer you check the ledger to ensure your baby food is authentic and not fake because that code is unique to the ledger of the company you bought it from. Literally you can build ALOT! For this very reason digital currency and blockchain deserves your attention ideally sooner rather than alter. At the moment yes people are using Bitcoin as a speculative (that is gambling like) store of value. Some companies like Amazon are starting to adopt it as a form of payment but one of the biggest problems Bitcoin had is how slow the transactions are. So say I buy a pizza and although the technology is robust and not hackable in itself it takes 3 hours for the pizza company to get conformation I paid before they start making my pizza… you see the issue here. VISA processes thousands of transactions per second whereas Bitcoin is in the one digit range. It has a long way to go and improvements are bing made but in comes Alternative Coins developing better solutions and also a variety of solutions using this same block chain technology.  So fear not if you think you have missed out on THE ultimate crypto as I will do some digging to find some alternative coins that have potential in terms of the underlying problems they try to solve using this block chain technology.

1. Ethereum
Overview – As I write this the top 3 cryptos are Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. here is the thing, Bitcoin is being used as a store of value and currency of exchange. Litecoin solves some of Bitcoin issues and so is faster. However Ethereum is different (CPU led – we will talk about that later) as you can actually build application on top of its blockchain tech (BTC). Its had corporation adoption and even a little more support (Jamie Dimon CEO of JPMorgan story here).  As I am more of a fundamental kind of girl, I immediately I’m more interested in this coin as it has practical value not just as a basic exchange of value but to build useful applications. It allows smart contracts (that is a digital form of a contract that allows quicker negotiation and transactions WITHOUT a middle man. So bye lawyer, bye bank, bye anyone that wants to make a quick buck on my simple business contract with my customer/supplier.
Why – It has a strong and growing applicable use of Blockchain Tech to industry. It has a fork scheduled 18 Jan (scarcity) so prices likely to hold and/or go up.
Current price – £700
Suggested allocation – £200. I would rather base my portfolio on ETH than BTC. It still has great potential to rise as a major top 3 with more “usefulness” than BTC.
Bitcoin
Overview – Digital money exchanged online.
Why – Its the “gold standard”. Every 4 years the amount mineable reduces, when it does price goes up like in 2013, 2017 e.t.c. Also they just started futures trading on it which means those holding contracts will want to hold underlying asset. Whilst its not as ‘sexy” as ETH application building wise its certainly a worthwhile base given it started the whole thing…
Current price – £10k
Suggested allocation – £100
LiteCoin
Overview – Like Bitcoin but faster. Think this will allow mini transactions like buying coffee etc everyday usecase application.
Why – Growth potential in terms of adoption is strong. However when adoption increases will that drive drive up or down? Honestly not sure about this coin though Charlie Lee (founder) has high hopes. I think IOTA could be a contender for its eventual “usefulness/applicability”
Current price – £170
Suggested allocation – £100
Qtum
Overview – “made ready for business” is the motto. Its basically a better Ethereum build geared towards mobile phone usage.
Why – Huge potential for developing world here I think. Adoption of mobile phone usage even in poorer communities is strong so this has some legacy as well as small business usefulness. Also he is being mentored by Jack Ma founder of Alibaba and Aliexpress (gateways to China trade worldwide). Its technically better than NEO the “Chineese ETH” just doesnt have as much marketing currently so possibly an underdog that will rally up. Also unlike Ethereum you don’t need to learn tis new language to use this as a developer, works with Javascript so adoption is much easier than Ethereum. eventually?
Current price – £45
Suggested allocation – £200-250
Neo
Overview – Bascially like Ethereum for China
Link –
Why – Most of the world doesn’t realise what an economic success China is (2nd largest in the world currently and in my opinion will take first position within a decade or two. China most populous in the world, they like to invest in their own couples with the benefits of ETH has great potential. I do think QTUM still has the edge though.
Current price – £80
Suggested allocation – £50
Binance Coin Token
Overview – An exchange. It covers lots of alt coins you can exchange for BTC and ETH.
Link –
Why – Top exchange. Great volumes. First to list alot of tokens. Easy to use platform. Though I’d be concerned about people like Amazon muzzling in. They just bought a couple of crypto domains today. Who knows why but coupled with heir brand name, almost everyone with an amazon account would find it super easy if Amazon simply ensured it was the first to list alt coins or had enough of a variety. I am really unsure of the longterm potential here.
Current price – £7
Suggested allocation – £35
Waabi
Overview – Digital token backed by safe products. Use the waabi token to purchase and accrue benefits like discounts and then products are tagged in China and globally and can be checked in database. Once unlocked then that code is unusable but people will pay for genuine food and alcohol period. Especially in developing countries.
Why – Working product literally been in development for years since the scandal of fake baby food being bought in China. Not like QR codes that can be changed. No need to change supply chain or raise packaging. Mckinsey led supply management team onboard. With $461 billion worth of fake goods in circulation globally, well…
Current price – £2
Suggested allocation – £15
Red Pulse
Overview – Realtime business intelligence platform for China.
Link –
Why – Great idea but I am not sure I understand this coin and what its built on properly. I think its built on NEO? In which case you are increasing your exposure on the underlying if already vested in NEO.  Those that can verify pieces of news request from entities get rewarded with tokens? In principle seeds of a good idea I just don’t get it in that the need to use blockchain to execute this idea is not “critical” or integral and therefore can’t evaluate how they intend to use it effectively. The idea in itself though is absolutely brilliant.
Current price – 29p
Suggested allocation – None
Tron
Overview – Worldwide FREE content entertainment system. By Justin Sun Chineese millionaire millennial aiming to create a decentralised internet focussed on entertainment and gaming apps. Like Qtum is another protege of Jack Ma. Should hollywood get even more scared? Time will tell.
Link –
Why – A hardworker (also a coder – developer for Chineese snapchat) and great marketer are fundamentals  I can work with 🙂 Whilst entertainment doesn’t immediately interest me, his idea is a good one and could be a game changer for the industry so if not many coins on the market can currently give exposure to this niche/concept with a team as strong as Justin’s then surely its worth some exposure to see how it plays out from a portfolio diversification perspective?
Current price – 15p
Suggested allocation – £100
TenX
Overview – Crypto payment platform. It holds ETH tokens.
Link –
Why – Sorry I don’t understand why we need a payment platform. Unless it a way to exchange and pay with a basket of altcoins to a retailer than for example only takes bitcoin
Current price –
Suggested allocation – None
Monero
Overview – Private currency. it has no pre-mine.
Link –
Why – Sounds like a copy of BTC.
Current price – £300
Suggested allocation – None
OmiseGo
Overview – Payment crypto.
Link –
Why –
Current price – £15
Suggested allocation –
Cardano
Overview – Ethereum of Japan (ADA) or “Ethereum Killer”. Blockchain protocol, smart contract, solves some problems of Ethereum. Uses proof of stake, good way of getting rid of miners. Languagw is Haskell.
Link –
Why – Fundamentally interested in concepts being built on Ethereum and gaining exposure to another Asian country balances/diversifies portfolio.
Current price –  90p
Suggested allocation – £50
QCash
Overview – Currency based on QTUM.
Link –
Why – Currently can’t find alot of information on it. its new.
Current price – 10p
Suggested allocation –
Lisk
Overview – Block chain platform using javascript.
Link –
Why – Its tryin gto compete for developers in areas like App store where centralised platforms like Apple and GooglePlay dominate
Current price – £13
Suggested allocation – £30
Cindicator
Overview – hybrid intelligence for effective asst managers using AI
Link – https://cindicator.com/
Why – AI has a big role to play in the future, mixing this in with financial management is great, good to get some exposure.
Current price – 11p
Suggested allocation – £40

 

Thursday

4

January 2018

0

COMMENTS

Crypto Portfolio Building – 1. Getting Started

Written by , Posted in Investing

Only investing what one can afford to loose using predominantly fundamental analysis to develop a basket of “cryptos” that have potential for longer term gains. You can of course leverage and also use alot more technical/ sentiment analysis and price action but thats just not my style. I am looking to hold cryptos I think have good fundamental ideas/solutions for the longterm (partly because I think digital currency has a future AND the blockchain technology will revolutionise our lives) and less concerned about short term fluctuation and volatility.

I think Bitcoin has paved the way but I get this feeling its not necessarily “it” and we have only just started. Similar to how “Hi5” paved the way to connect with old school friends, was highly successful then crashed and burned when the more elegant solution came of Facebook that has far weathered the storm in terms of longevity. This is akin to Yahoo and then Google etc etc history repeats itself type of paradigm thinking. It will be interesting to see how this market evolves, what we end up building on block chain technology that revolutionises industries and changes our ways of life for the better.

So you understand where I am coming from better, watch this top 19 industries blockchain will disrupt video here.

Ok to the basics…

Get A Wallet To Store Your Cryptos

You need to first get a wallet. You can have a digital wallet, hardware wallet or paper wallet. For a quick start, I’d opt for the digital and use a platform like this to obtain one able to store Ether/coins based on this technology: https://www.myetherwallet.com/  use this site for a buying guide on coins you are interested in, its a step by step process pretty easy: https://getcrypto.info

You then need to be able to purchase from an exchange. Now you can leave your coins on the exchange but its not advisable incase they get hacked. Always transfer it back into your wallet! Coinbase is quite a popular one but due to skyrocketing demand everyone is trying to get on a platform so it may take a few days to have your identity verified – be patient. Once you get access connect your bank card and hit buy then store your coins offline in a digital/hardware or paper wallet. YOU CANNOT LOOSE YOUR WALLET PRIVATE KEY DETAILS!!! Otherwise your coins are “poof” gone! Never share it! And never discuss how many coins you have, lets keep our lives and relationships simple 🙂

For my first set of 20 coins I’ve been looking at from a basic fundamental perspective visit here. And if you are totally new to crypto, read my basics for what these words like crypto, blockchain, exchange mean here. Honestly its not that complex so get to grips with it. Its going to change our lives quite literally…

Sunday

10

May 2015

0

COMMENTS

Help! My baby won’t sleep through the night

Written by , Posted in Baby Chronicles

I remember prior to having a child, this was the bane of many young mothers I was around. I hardly came across anyone that had figured how to achieve this monumental task till I met a lovely Scandinavian lady who although had the privilege of a nanny still stood out to me in how she managed her child. Long before I became pregnant, I asked her for help even though I didn’t need it yet (I tend to like to plan ahead on things 🙂 ) and she recommended a routine led approach to parenting and suggested I read Gina Ford’s The little contended baby book which I did. Now please note, this is not a sponsored post for Gina, neither am I saying there is something wrong with whatever approach a parent decides to opt for. I also don’t rate people that bash Gina because she has no children of her own (side note this is rude, is pushing out a child all that it takes to qualify a woman to be a mother? …thats a post for another day). I just think if you haven’t figured it out and she has given she worked with over 300 babies and most women have an average of 1-4 kids …It begs to reasons that listening to the woman with clearly more experience is a good idea. In addition Rachel Wadlove’s Sleep solution carries on a similar ethos though a bit feistier in style at times 🙂

Please ensure you check with your midwife if you are unsure of anything as I am not qualified in any areas of the sciences, just a new mother who has found these resources tremendously useful and seen that they do work after all. I have been asked by a few ladies to share my timetable and really hope it can be of benefit. First here are a few pointers to help you understand the principles behind what you are doing:

1. Remember every child is different. It may take a little longer for your child to adapt to the routine but be patient, persistent and persevere….it will work eventually. I have heard of babies as young as 6 weeks get into it, mine took a little longer and didn’t start to sleep through till 2-3months partly due to my midwife not recommending I start till about 6 weeks to get him on a routine.

2. You must get into the habit of a bedtime routine, the rest of your day is then structured around this. Providing a routine encourages baby to be less fretful as they have the security of what to anticipate next the more you teach them. Its also great for you as you can know when you will be free, able to talk and can time your outings and strolls more easily.

3.  Its very important that baby gets most of their nutritional requirements during the day…not at night! By 6 weeks, baby can go 3-4 hours between feeds, if you find you are feeding baby still every 2 hours especially on the breast where you do not know how much they are receiving its possible baby is not getting enough or not reaching the hind milk the fuller fatty milk that keeps them content for longer. There are a range of reasons why this could be the case but the most popular issue is usually positioning and a local breast feeding counsellor can help. However, I prioritise baby’s need to eat over the type of food. This is where I suggest if necessary, supplement through combination feeding some expressed milk or formula in a bottle so you know baby is eating their daily requirement at day time feeds. There is nothing wrong with formula! There are babies who cannot breastfeed because their mother is no longer that grow to be strong healthy children. It takes more than exclusively breastfeeding your child for 6 months to grow a healthy child. This I will discuss in another post more fully.

4. Establish day time naps not sleeps. Yes baby needs restful day time naps as babies can get overtired after about 2 plus hours of being wakeful. This is why they can sometimes cry and its not a cry necessarily for food but tiredness as they are trying to wind themselves down to sleep but are still young and learning. You need to teach baby and establish morning (45 mins-1hr), afternoon (2-2.25 hours) and evening (15-30mins) naps. When baby gets the required naps in the day, it helps them go down to sleep better in the evening as they are not overtired and more relaxed. Do not underestimate the power of a good nap, you know what it feels like when you get a short but good nap!

5. Learning to soothe. In order for baby to go down and sleep at required times, you need to teach baby. Yes! you need to teach them as they will only learn what they get used to doing. I urge you to avoid rocking and patting baby down to sleep. As whatever you do becomes their sleep association which you may find harder to break later when they should have outgrown it. So if they suck a dummy to sleep they will develop that habit. If you use a dummy make sure you take it out before they fall asleep otherwise you will later have to go cold turkey to get rid of it. Also, sometimes it can be useful to give baby a little of their next feed if they are too fretful and won’t go down easily just in case, they may still be a little hungry for another few mls, but be careful especially when using the breast for comfort you do not do this too often and even if you do like the dummy scenario make sure you wake baby up so they are half asleep before you put them in their cot so that they learn to go to sleep themselves. This can involve some level of crying but it shouldn’t last long (5-10mins, if a child is over 6 months crying down instead of out can take longer as the older they grow the wiser they get. Easier to train them from younger but still possible to train them nevertheless) and shouldn’t be a whaling type of cry unless they are new to this, it may be a little harder initially. You can try the crying down method if its a little too harsh for you by leaving them for 5 mins first, then check and reassure, then 10 mins,  and more before checking on them to reassure them but avoid picking them up. Please note, you should never leave a hungry, soiled or ill baby to cry out or down. You are not making them cry but rather allowing them to cry down for controlled periods of times when they are fed, clean and not ill.

I hope this has given context to the timetable. Try to be guided by it as much as possible especially starting bedtime routine at 6pm so that by latest 7pm baby is washed, fed, in bed and tucked in. You have to be committed to waking baby and feeding baby at those times regardless. If you let them oversleep the time periods in the day, it will catchup with you in the night with more wakeful hours for you. Remember that as much as this will help you get more sleep at night, you are ultimately doing it for your child and teaching them lessons like discipline, independence and helping them grow into healthy well mannered individuals. You will not regret laying a good foundation with this training. Gina also found it easy to eliminate colic in babies once they were placed on a routine that ensured they were properly fed and slept well. This is our timetable at 6-12 weeks. Eventually we will drop the 10.30pm dream/late feed once weaned unto solids. I will upload this timetable at a later date. Click to enlarge and print.

Baby sleep techniques

Inspired by Gina Ford and Rachel Wadlove baby techniques

Sunday

10

May 2015

0

COMMENTS

UK GE Election 2015 – Making Your Voice Heard

Written by , Posted in Musings

“I think it’s important to learn how to sacrifice some of your wants today to ensure financial prosperity in the future.” – Tara Fela Durotoye, successful CEO House of Tara International.

What does such a statement have anything to do with the UK general elections? Everything. In fact if you can’t connect why I challenge you in that you have failed to completely inform yourself on the merits of what you ought to have considered before voting. Before you clap me down on the various policies the party of your preference put forward that were right for the country, indulge me for a moment to explain.

Running a business or even a group of people towards a common goal is a tough feat. A feat most of us are never really prepared (rather trained) for through school and takes a tremendous amount of resilience to stay the course with in establishing success. It is very easy to make jabs at a company on how they could do x,y,z better but when you are in the driving seat and realise that if you want to increase your staff pay today (in the short term) it means you cannot also afford to increase their pension contributions (for the longterm). What a perfect world and an easy job it would be if you could just do both and “always perfectly” make your employees happy… right? Except the reality is you can’t. Often we have limited resources to contend with. In the same way, how nice would it be for you to be able to go on all the extravagant holidays you wanted in a year and pay your rent or mortgage at a far down the line future date instead and just well…enjoy yourself! Sounds a tad too ridiculous? Well it is! You have to (not suggesting you do or even considering you do but have to!) make sacrifices and choices, planning for the future and putting off some wants today in future anticipation you can enjoy them better at a later date, or not…the choice is yours.

Now take on managing an entire economy. What makes you think that compromises are not inevitable? Put aside whether you are more socialist or capitalist and come to terms with this – we are where we are. Explanations are good for us to learn from and that but to move forward we will have to make sacrifices in building the future economy more of us will thrive in. There are merits to policies on either side but they both have consequences to face now and in the future. Lets take the NHS for example. I for one I’m immensely grateful to have access to a largely reliable yet imperfect medical system. There are countries in the world (and yes even developed ones) where access to such facilities can only be dreamt of. There is a part of me that feels we ought to be more grateful for what we have, because there are people out there that work even harder than you do and simply don’t have that privilege.

The NHS as you can imagine is a socialist concept. The idea that we all chip in our bit and have access to good quality healthcare regardless of social class or background is a novel and brilliant idea. Now thats all well and great, here comes the hardwork that requires thinking…how do we pay for it? Before you open your mouth to rant on about how it needs to pay more, do this more and do that more, try something that although difficult will help in galvanising these ideas more clearly. Think. How do you pay for it? Well we all chip in our bit through taxation. So naturally, if you want to get more out of the system what could you do to “make it better”? Tax more! Now who would like that? So we all want to get these tremendous benefits but how many are willing to pay for it? There has to be a place for understanding that the pressures of running a large scale, national socialist welfare system where you allow people not work to chip in their bit (with the exception of those unable to i.e. disabled, babies e.t.c.) means you go to the other extreme where you start to penalise people that do work hard, earn their kip and then decide they should put way more into the system to support others that won’t. On so many levels that is wrong and just bad manners and a thoroughly poor way to train up the next generation. Stop looking for someone else to pay your way through that is “privileged” and do your bit. Then here comes the next question, well there are lots of hardworking people who really shouldn’t be taxed anymore than they are as it will continue to squeeze their standard of living in the same way those people that work really hard and are fortunate to accumulate their fortunes should have the option afforded them to be able to choose how they wish to spend their money. Well since we can’t go abolishing the NHS completely,  instead of  taxing everyone, we could tax the rich but will that ever be enough? And isn’t that argument just tired already? The reality is we have to look at ways to make the system more efficient and less wasteful. This is where the privatisation of the NHS kicks in or at least elements of it. Please stand up now and offer a better idea other than taxing more, abolishment or privatisation if you have one and if not then try to understand. You cannot take out of something you do not put into. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices now for a better tomorrow. The truth is, selecting even an alternate party into government does not guarantee you a better economy for the future in the same way that Labour’s Tony Blair discovered. Whilst he campaigned against the privatisation of the NHS by the Conservatives prior to his ruling term, he quickly had to do a u-turn after his second term and continue down that path of “modernisation” because the realities of running such a significant welfare system that is in many ways imbalanced in its inputs eventually puts pressure that common sense solutions must prevail even if they do not satisfy all.

Avoid being encumbered by press stories that seek to appeal to the intellectually inept who fail to do any thinking of their own and are easily swayed by the opinion of others without doing any research or analytical thought themselves. I saw someone in support of an alternative party, annoyed they had lost push a press story that listed all the reasons that we were in trouble as a nation because Conservatives were in power. What this person failed to realise is a quick scan of points 1 to whatever highlighted consistently an opinion based on “they plan to sneakily do this and plan to sneakily do that”. When you understand this is a real job you couldn’t even dream of being able to handle for a day, respect those in power whether you agree or not and do your bit to make it a better tomorrow for the next generation. What that means, I leave up to you to decide after some careful thought and analysis of your own.

 

Thursday

20

November 2014

0

COMMENTS

The Secret Club of Haute Couture

Written by , Posted in Fashion

“Paris is always a good idea” – Audrey Hepburn

Paris, the fashion capital of the world, the birthplace of haute couture where the elite of the fashion world congregate twice yearly to view the latest inspirations from the couturiers of high fashion.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, Audrey Hepburn, 1961

Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Today, the term haute couture has been so overused and misused that for some, its simply lost its true meaning and representation. In the past, for an item to be considered haute couture it had to be made in Paris, by a house that met the standard of the Paris Chamber of Commerce (the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses) and even till today, price is never advertised because if you have to ask then you simply can’t afford it.

Haute couture is a handmade exclusive custom piece of clothing for a specific individual. Today there are many tailoring houses that produce good quality and relatively stylish garments across the world.  Some are new players to the market and their talent and eye cannot be denied but “tailor-made” even for you doesn’t actually qualify a piece of clothing to be haute couture. It really is simply just a bespoke or tailored piece of clothing and should not be confused with the former even if the brand is relatively “known”. There are a finite number of brands recognised by the Chamber in Paris as houses that qualify to have their clothing labelled haute couture. Brands such as Dior and Chanel are part of this exclusive yet limited collection of designers.

Valentino

Fashion model Katoucha wears a Valentino Haute Couture 

Then understand this, to be part of this “haute couture elite club” money is not enough to grant you access. This club does not rely on celebrities wearing the designers items to make them credible – in fact the inverse is true, if it is overly advertised it becomes highly undesirable to them. To join this elite group, whilst money is an obvious prerequisite, desire to acquire the finest and most expensive clothing money can buy is the finishing caveat. As its often said, money can buy you alot of things but not taste. You must cultivate like a purveyor of fine arts, a desire to understand and appreciate these pieces of clothings as works of art in their own right. Many clients of this world  are often not known, the secret rich as some may say, a world connected by relationships and an allegiance to maintain sartorial elegance for all of their life. This is not a quality that is often evident in the nouveau rich, they are mostly acquainted with forms and methods of displaying wealth and designer labels, but this must not be confused with haute couture taste or representation and belonging.

Chanel-show-001

Chanel show Haute couture shows

You may ask, some of the designs seen on the catwalk are completely unwearable, in fact they often look like artistic constructions that are totally impracticable and who would consider such flamboyance as a tasteful form of wearable expression? You have completely missed the point. The haute couture pieces serve as wearable forms of art. They are the catalyst to the entire fashion industry in terms of the source of inspiration that filters downstream. Take yourself back to the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestly (editor at high fashion editorial Runway) so unabashedly corrects Andrea’s misunderstanding that her low quality blue cerulean jumper was a choice she made to show her lack of care and disregard to fashion and ultimately a choice she has made for herself. As Miranda succinctly corrects her (paraphrased) “that blue cerulean was first featured in 2002 by Oscar de la Renta in a collection of gowns, it then filtered to Yves Saint Laurent as military jackets, and then quickly to 8 other designers, the department stores and then a clearance bin at some low end store on the high street…” the point being simply, that choice was made for her by the elite of the fashion world, the haute couturiers, and that process of filtration thereby means even the lowest brands at the bottom of the fashion food chain look up to this world for guidance and inspiration on what to create, even if it is a cheap imitation of the original construct of art.

                            Meryl-Streep-Devil-Wears-Prada-500x338TheDevilWearsPradaCerulean2_zps984aa55b

The Devil Wears Prada Movie Scene

The term coined for the diffusion of these brands is called “pret-a-porter” – ready to wear. This is the world of popular and known designer labels that some have confused with haute couture. Brands like Alexander Mcqueen have their diffusion McQ, Donna Karen as DKNY and we could go on. It is this ready to wear that isn’t custom made but produced in larger quantities that help reduce the cost to the consumer and provide access to that “taste of culture and high fashion” so many crave to be a part of. Make no mistake, most haute couture brands with the exception of a few such as Chanel make most of their profit from the masses that indulge in their more affordable pret-a-porter world through clothing, perfume, accessories and anything that features the brand image. From ready to wear you filter to high end department stores on the high street that provide even more affordable imitations of these trends and then right down to high street that reduce the quality of materials even further to make it yet more affordable.

HaydenWilliams

Illustration by Hayden Williams

You will hear some say “I must get my wear out of this outfit…cause I spent xyz on it” possibly a ready to wear or high end department store item when actually within the haute couture world, the inverse is true. It is often not a repeated item of clothing for engagements and one that will usually end up in a museum as a donation (with the advantage of writing it off as a tax loss to the purchaser). It really goes to further epitomise what haute couture means for these elite group of individuals, exclusivity, art and a prime investment. It is worth every penny…or kobo spent and if you cannot understand that, then you cannot enjoy the indulgence and pleasures of the secret club of haute couture.

This is a feature piece delivered for (Autumn 2014/15)   Masterpiece magazine – The art of fine living

Monday

17

November 2014

0

COMMENTS

New Year! New Business?

Written by , Posted in Business

As the new year swings round, many will consider it a great opportunity to make a resolution to loose weight, join a gym, stop smoking, start eating healthy, go back to school etc. A growing choice particularly with the climate of how the job market is changing is to start a business. Over the years and with the help of technology, starting a business has become incredibly easy for almost anyone to do. It is this low barrier to entry that often causes people to believe that turning a hobby into a business seems easier than it is. Why not combine your passions and natural interests into a profitable venture people will pay you for? Something you would happily do for free but can get paid for a living to do! Sound too good to be true? Then yes it is not as easy as you may think. Here are a few lessons I have learnt and some of my successful mentors have shared with me over the years that I found invaluable advise.

1. A talented cake maker does not a cake entrepreneur make!

Just because you are naturally gifted at something does not mean you need to commercialise that gift. The skills required to function in that gifting are not the same skills required to run a business. This often happens with creative business owners that focus on how “great the idea” is and not enough on the foundation and “behind the scenes” of how the lights stay on in a functioning business. The boring stuff finance, marketing, dealing with difficult or demanding clientele cannot be underestimated. The best way to explain this is simply the McDonald example. Could you make a better burger than them (most resoundingly – yes you could!) but are you as profitable as they are? What these organisations do is find ways to ensure their systems can run well and the focus is on building and maintaing those systems not actually on making the best burgers ever. Ask yourself if you have all the skills required to start a business in the field you are considering. Could you go develop some of those skills or possibly consider outsourcing them to more capable experts?

2. Who is your market?

This is probably one of the telling signs that shows whether you have done any research into your chosen venture. If you cannot describe your target market in one short sentence,  a few bullet points or find yourself thinking “everyone” is a very valid and positive response therefore guaranteeing your success to as wide a market as possible, then you need to consider possibly doing some more research. The benefit of knowing your market is focus. If you are not focussed you will more easily waste your time, energy and money. E.g.  spending your advertising on a target market uninterested in your product or service.

3. Start at the end

You should map out where you see your business taking you over a period of time knowing that the journey to whatever you will define as success is not overnight. Spotify (a digital music service) is a growing (as of May 2014 has 40 million users) and successful company but guess what? they are still waiting to make a profit and have been in business for over 6 years! and their investors are somewhat ok with that journey as they still maintain their investment support with the expectation of future growth and profit in mind. A practical example of how you can apply this is as follows. If you know you earn a salary of £20k a year and are thinking of going into business full time, this means if the service you provide produces a profitable income of £500pcm per client, you will need an average of 4 clients a month to maintain a similar lifestyle. Now how quickly/easily can you get and retain 4 clients monthly in your chosen field? This is why it may be wise to consider starting your business as a side project first as your clientele builds up. The best route to starting usually depends on your personal situation. If you have dependents you may find you need to be more conservative in your risk taking than if you were younger and/or single with no dependents.

4. There is power in unity

These days, it is rare to get funding for a startup from an angel or venture capitalist without having a co-founder involved. To the investor it reduces their risk and studies have shown your rate of success actually goes up when you partner. It is rare for one person to possess all the skills required to run a business/idea well and you can leverage from experience, skills and even sharing the cost of items. Don’t get caught in the “I brought the idea to the table so I should get more debate” Ideas account for in my opinion 30% of what makes a venture successful, it is the people that execute and bring the vision to life that actually do most of the work. Without getting caught up in the details of this story, the Winklevoss twins brought the idea of a social network to Zuckerburg, but it was Zuckerburg that benefited the most because he did the actual work to bring the social network – Facebook to life. So be wise but be fair if you want to get the best out of a partnership.

5. Count the cost

I once read a book called “The Dip” by Seth Godin and it quickly sums up to this, count the cost before you start the journey. Starting is easy thats why so many people do it. However if you do not plan to or have it in you to go all the way then don’t waste your energy and time because every journey to success will have its “dips”. Similarly know when to quit, know when its not working out and don’t be afraid to change course quickly. You may even discover a better investment of your time is not to start a business but actually increase your value in the work/career space.

6. Failure is part of the process

Not speaking negatively but failure can be one of the most effective modes for human learning. You can’t read everything in a book! If you start a business today and it becomes a success tomorrow one day something will go wrong and the likelihood is because you did not encounter challenges along the way and learn how to adjust and overcome them, you would probably fail, lose and have to start again because there is no substance to your success. You just “got lucky” and don’t actually know or understand what caused your initial success.  This is why a low risk approach to starting can be beneficial to the learning process eg. multi marketing programs, partnerships etc. The process of building a business educates you but also develops you as a person if you are willing to respond to the lessons it can teach. A good example to anchor this concept is Thomas Edison. His story is a great one for why not to give up but it also demonstrates the process of failing continually yet learning till you get it right. He invented the light bulb on his 1001st trial. His response to failure “..I didn’t fail 1000 times, the light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps”

7. Get a mentor

If something is important to you, getting a coach in that area is a great resource to help. I used to think a mentor had to be in the same field to be beneficial but found that to be untrue. If someone has been in business for a period of time successfully, there are usually lots of transferrable concepts that apply to any business they can advise you on. It took me a year to apply an idea a mentor gave me as I thought they couldn’t possibly really understand my business well enough to tell me what areas to focus on. When I did, I saw the results wishing I had listened much earlier on. Of course it helps to have an industry mentor if you can but remember a mentor does not necessarily have to be someone you see physically, they can also be obtained through books you read and online channels of learning.

So in conclusion…

If you decide starting a business is the right fit for you, remember you will be a new entrant into that market and your competitors will not handover their market share or customers willingly. You will either have to find new ones or fight for your market share and work hard. Most definitely harder than you would even at the most demanding of jobs. So maintain your passion and do your homework….and just start already!

All the best on your new venture.

Further reading and resources

All available on Kindle, Audible.com as well as Paperback form.

May has been running one of the leading event companies in London for over 5 years. They specialise in the planning and production of events in the UK and internationally.

Draft article proposal for V2V Insider Magazine 2015

Friday

18

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

Sunday

13

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

Monochrome Mania

Written by , Posted in Personal Style

Michael Kors Black and White Bag

I am still in love with all things monochrome. From interiors to bags and even Vera Wang’s 2014 bridal collection, its a classic you just can’t go wrong with. Saw this walking down MK Covent Garden shop and made a bee-line for it!