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‘An organised desk is an organised mind: that’s my mantra’

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Just in time for fashion month, The National Student sat down with blogger and YouTuber Hayley of Frock Me I’m Famous - the lifestyle blog that melds fashion, travel, beauty and interiors to create an aesthetic experience that you absolutely will not be able to stop scrolling through.

Image courtesy of Primark

Hayley is part of Primark’s #deskgoals campaign, which aims to highlight how a tidy, organised workspace is an absolute essential when it comes to productivity and a healthy mind at uni.

Here, she gives us her thoughts on everything from travel and fashion to photography and study tips - so with her help, you can get ready to start the new term looking and feeling your very best…  

What does a typical workday look like as a fashion and travel blogger?  When your career is based on the things that you also love to experience in your free time, how do you separate your personal and your professional life?

There’s a blurred line between my personal and professional life; it’s something that I’m currently working on and trying to be a bit better at.  

When you’re self-employed I often feel like no job is ever finished, and you’re constantly thinking “I need to be doing more, I should be doing this!”  I tend to work a lot of evenings and weekends but I think I’ve realised in the last couple of months that life is too short to constantly be working!  I need to give myself some downtime, and  I find that I’m actually more productive now that I’ve started giving myself the evenings and weekends off. I make sure I prioritise the things I need to do and really focus on that - being more productive in an eight-hour day rather than working through until 11 or 12 o’clock at night when I’m so tired.

You started out as a blogger who very much did her own thing, but you’ve since started to collaborate with companies like Primark. What are the perks of working with a specific company? How did you go about forming relationships like that?

For me it was something that happened quite naturally; I started my blog about six years ago and I’ve been full time for three years.

I used to be involved in lots of Twitter chats and then I remember gradually starting to be invited to different events. I just started to build up brand relationships on a very organic basis.  I used to do a bit of beauty blogging where brands would give me products and I would write about them, so I kind of learnt what brands I really loved working with and I always have a rule that I only work with brands that I personally would buy, or that I think my readers would love.  

Working with Primark is a dream because I shop in there all the time.  I was a student myself once so I didn’t have that much money and was constantly trying to shop and style on a budget.  

Primark is incredibly affordable. Do lower prices make you more willing to try out bolder trends that perhaps you otherwise wouldn’t?

I think that my style is really experimental and completely depends on what mood I wake up in; sometimes I’ll love a biker jacket and boots and other times I’m dressed completely in pink.  

I do think that with trends and the high street you’re able to purchase more and experiment more at a much lower cost, that’s why for me with high-end pieces it has to be a classic- a pair of boots or a handbag that you’re going to wear forever and can style with multiple different outfits. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

Fashion can be so expensive and students often have limited time and money.  Do you have any advice on how to shop more efficiently?

Before I go out one of the main things I try to do is have an idea in my head of what I’m looking for, be it from Pinterest or Instagram or a specific trend, because sometimes it can be quite overwhelming to go shopping and be bombarded with loads of stuff which is then hard to narrow down. There have been times where I’ve bought something that just wasn’t a logical purchase, so I would always go for pieces that you can wear in various different ways and that you know you will definitely wear, rather than just buying for the sake of it.

How much has your job contributed to you being able to explore more of the world?

About five or six years ago I went backpacking for three weeks around Thailand and Laos and I wrote about that - how we budgeted for it, things like that.  Travel has always been something that I’ve loved, and that’s the first instance in which I remember it crossing over with my blog. From then on I wrote about family holidays, where I was going away, or destinations that I wanted to visit, slowly introducing it more into my writing.  

It wasn’t until I went full-time and became a little bit more recognised as a travel blogger and not just a fashion blogger that I started to get invited on press trips.  In 2016 I did a personal project: I had a goal to travel to 12 countries in 12 months and as I started to do it brands started to see what I was up to.  I think about half of them ended up being press trips, whilst the other half were holidays or trips I’d planned myself by contacting tourist boards.

Image courtesy of Primark

Would you say that travelling influences how you dress?

Yeah, absolutely.  Whether you like it or not, when you’re travelling you always have to dress for that climate and culture; in some countries, you have to be more covered up, or you might be on a trip where you need to wear walking boots.  Whatever it is that you need, travel and fashion go hand-in-hand.  I’m really inspired by other cultures, and not just clothes but interiors as well; everywhere I go I’ll always buy something for my house because it reminds me of where I’ve been.  When it comes to fashion, I get inspiration from everywhere - prints, colours, how people wear products. I always come home and feel really inspired to inject what I’ve seen into my own wardrobe.

Is there a particular country or city that you’ve felt especially inspired by?

Paris! I find that French women are just so chic and effortless.  I know it’s a cliché, but even if they’re just wearing a striped top they’ll have their hair and makeup done perfectly, and they just have this cool, urban, rock-chick look.  Even though I absolutely still appreciate it when people try hard with their appearance, I love it when something is thrown together effortlessly and just works.

You have thousands of Instagram followers now and your platform keeps growing; are there any aspects of the fashion industry that you want to be able to address more?

It’s not directly linked to fashion, but I work with a lot of local women’s refuges and about three years ago at Christmas I launched a campaign: I reach out to brands that I’ve previously worked with and they donate things like coats, hats and gift sets which I donate to these refuges, and last year I also made up some bags for homeless people in London which contained warm socks and gloves.  

As an influencer, when you have a voice and a platform, I like to see people using it, being proactive, and raising awareness.  Even if you encourage one person to do something good or donate something to charity, that’s the most rewarding part of the job - being able to make a difference.

Let’s talk about the #deskgoals campaign with Primark. What are your tips for best arranging your workspace with the products in the range?

For me, an organised desk is an organised mind: that’s my mantra.  I have to make sure my desk is clear at the beginning of the day, so I picked up a few of their storage boxes and letter trays to keep it really tidy.  I also love candles and when I’m working I find it’s really relaxing to light some candles and have some music on.

So #deskgoals really applies to you then?

Absolutely.  About three weeks ago I had a massive clear out and before that, I felt like I couldn’t work.  I just wasn’t settled and I knew it was because of my room so I spent a couple of days clearing everything out and now I feel like I’ve hit a reset button.

Image courtesy of Primark

You mentioned your candles, but what one item on your desk couldn’t you live without?

It would have to be my Primark weekly planner. Because I travel quite a lot I need to plan ahead and know what’s going on in my diary and on my blog, like whether I have any collaborations or posts that I need to upload.  Basically every morning I sit and have a coffee and plan out my week and that way I feel like I’m much more on top of my workload because I know what’s going on that week.  I use it every day.

Is there anything else you’d recommend to help students make the best workspace for more successful studying?

Just have a simple desk set-up with your laptop; keep it super clear, and invest in some really good notebooks.  I tend to have one notebook for each topic to keep everything separate: one for YouTube, one for my blog, and so on.  Only keep essentials on your desk and don’t overcrowd it.

Have you ever repurposed any other homeware items from Primark that weren’t specifically intended for use at a desk?

One of the things that I love buying is the wire storage boxes.  I also use them for my beauty products in the bathroom, and for herbs and spices in the kitchen.  They’re about £4 each and I buy a couple every time I’m there because I know I will find some way to use them, even if it’s not what they were originally intended for.

Part of the campaign involves taking photos of your workspace - do you have any photography tips?

Using natural daylight is the biggest one.  I try not to use any artificial lighting and then I use [Adobe] Lightroom to edit my pictures afterwards because it offers a nice afterglow.  Keep the space tidy too; mess won’t make a good picture. 

A theme and colour-scheme also help; when I was photographing my desk I bought some flowers just to make it look a bit prettier, and I also picked out a desktop screensaver that helped to make the whole set-up nicer and tie everything together.  I think it makes a picture more visually pleasing.

And finally, jumping back to fashion, many of our readers are about to return to university - what would you advise students to wear?

I would say comfort is key when it comes to uni because I remember sitting in lectures and being in class for hours and as much as you want to look nice, I think that you can really strike the balance between being stylish and being comfortable. I’m a massive fan of chunky knitwear, and I’ve also just picked up a checked coat from Primark because it’s best to invest in one statement coat which can be switched up with skirts, dresses, jeans, and jumpers.  Versatile pieces are good because they can be worn in so many different ways and you can get the most from your money.

Want inspiration for your uni room? Check out #Deskgoal on Instagram and find Primark’s products online here

Follow Hayley on Instagram and Youtube - and visit Frock Me I'm Famous here

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