Sunday, 21 July 2019

Craft Yourself Calm (#gifted)


I am a person who truly believes that crafting has therapeutic values. Through my own mental and physical health struggles, crafting has provided me with an outlet, focus and comfort.

Once hospitalised for severe mental illness, I had over a year's art therapy where I tried to let go of my perfectionism and enjoy the flow of being in the moment of crafting. I have also ran a small crafts business for many years which encouraged me to eventually complete an A-level in both textiles and graphics; each of which I excelled in. To this day I still am engrossed in crafts, from making handmade Christmas presents to creating leads for my dog. So, when the 'Make & Mend Co' invited me to their festival (#gifted) I was buzzing at the thought of getting stuck into some new art forms.

Survival Techniques Mural

Rachel and Lydsay are the creators of the 'Make & Mend Festival'; hoping to spread a passion about restoring, repairing and rejuvenating. It is held each year at the stunning Preston Hall Museum in North East England, which holds a glorious walled garden, grand ballroom and even it's own old-fashioned sweet shop! No expense had been spared on the decoration, making it a totally instagram-worthy location filled with art from Survival Techniques, banners and a large centrepiece in the ballroom. 

Mum and I were booked onto a workshop in the afternoon but arrived early so I could have a look around first. We saw a whole array of workshops including bookbinding, macrame and flower arranging. Each workshop cost a small fee of £10 which I personally think was extremely reasonable for the crafts which were being created. We carried on through the village square, where a number of free drop-in workshops were present and had a look around the craft market.

 Bookbinding with Cloe Sparrow. Macrame hanger with Naomi Graham. Summer wreath by Blummin Nora.  Origami lampshade by Namita Vijayakumar.
Following through the walled garden, we arrived at the wellbeing garden just in time for some relaxing yoga. This was one of my favourite activities because Kerrie Murray who ran the class was extremely inclusive in the session. Being a wheelchair user, any activity (especially one involving anything which involved movement) means I have to sit out or the instructor panics. Not this time. She explained the exercises I could do sat down and asked me to use imagery when the rest of the class were standing up to ground myself; as a disabled teacher myself I was very impressed!

Kerrie Murray Dru Yoga

Lunch did not disappoint us with both vegan, gluten and diary free options on the menu (WHAT?!) meaning we could relax in the sun whilst enjoying our food. It was time for our workshop with The Crafthood and we were making knitted necklaces with recycled t-shirt yarn. The workshops was fantastic! The instructions were easy to follow, we both made a piece of jewellery we would wear and on the way home I ordered 2 large balls of yarn so we could make more - officially hooked! I particularly love the way that the yarn used is all recycled because of the huge amount of waste in the fashion industry. Also, I also love The Crafthood as a business with their 'buy one, gift one' scheme which gives back to the community through donating a workshop to a local charity when you purchase a workshop. Fabulous work!

 Workshop with The Crafthood. Lunch at The Sitting Room.

Overall, we had a fantastic day out and will definitely be putting it in our diary for next year. It reminded me the importance to put some time aside for self-care again and that I can incorporate things I love, such as crafts, to relax and rewind. A very regenerative and restorative day - thank you Make & Mend Co!

Kate x

Sunday, 14 July 2019

So you want to be a model...


The modelling industry is known as being competitive, fierce and fast-paced. I have grown up watching programmes like 'America's Next Top Model' which has both scared and inspired me to take my own plunge into the modelling world. And, I'm here to provide you with an honest documentation of it. 

As a 6'1-6'2, long legged, slim girl, I was scouted for modelling at a young age. At 14 I was picked up by STORM where I seriously considered a modelling career. Then, illness hit. I became a wheelchair user and thought my modelling days were long gone. Over the years I'd do the odd (usually time-free) job modelling bridal wear but  in doing so I'd try hide my disability.

After battling with my conditions for several years, now knowing that it was life-long, I decided to go for my first modelling experience in my wheelchair. I was invited along to a casting for a pageant/agency and as soon as they saw my wheelchair I was completely blanked. I left in tears, followed by my furious mum and it put me off both the profession and the people involved.

Fast forward many years and I hear of Zebedee Management as a mutual friend recently signed with them. Zebedee are an inclusive agency, representing models with all kinds of disabilities and that's why initially caught my eye. Reading into the agency further, I saw they had some absolutely fantastic success stories with amazing brands and were really pushing boundaries in the fashion industry (and beyond). I am majorly into inclusivity as I focus a lot of my public speaking on it, so seeing an agency with this as a top priority really drew me in. 

I decided to apply for the agency and after a test shoot I was signed. It was a big step and I have to say, a risky one too. Would I get a job out of it? Would my health manage? Is this just going to be a costly hobby?

So, after being with Zebedee for a few moths now I wanted to share with you 5 things you should know when joining an agency like Zebedee: 

  1. You need to be super flexible. Train at 9am tomorrow? Of course.  Many brands work to short time scales and also give you details last minute. It isn't unheard of to get details the day before. Flexibility is key and can be hard with a disability, which is why agencies like Zebedee do their best to negotiate start times/stays/etc. But, sometimes a brand needs someone urgently! Being near London is a bonus because most jobs are based there, but if you're not in the capital, you definitely must be able to travel. 
  2. It is going to cost you money. We won't beat around the bush about this one. The test-shoot costs money. The agency takes a cut of any earning. Traveling costs money. This is all totally normal. It's up to you to decide how much you can spend on this and what jobs you're willing to accept. Sometimes, the experience is worth the cost to get your foot in the door. But don't go into this thinking either you don't need to invest money in it or you're automatically going to suddenly be a millionaire.
  3. Your disability matters a lot. So do your talents. Unlike your 'average' agency, Zebedee are obviously representing those with disabilities. You will be casted because of your disability which is actually such an amazing thing. Your talents matter too, whether you have experience in sport, public speaking or magic... you'd be surprised at what directors specifically cast for.
  4. The days are long. My first job was for a TV advert and I had a 12 hour shooting day. You start early with hair & make-up then have the rest of the day on set. It does depend on the production but especially with TV it's not a quick 1hour job. The good news is that the crew were fabulous with my disability. I usually only get up out of bed for 2 hours a day so you can imagine how much I pushed myself to film. I had food/water breaks, always had my legs elevated, rests to lie down and was kept warm. But, it's something to bare in mind when applying. 
  5. Nothing is guaranteed. But, you could get the most amazing experiences. I'm not going to sit here and type 'You'll 100% have a job within 6 months' because not one agency could guarantee that. But, I can share my experience. I have worked my bum off behind the scenes and it paid off. Not all of it is about the agency pitching you, it's about improving yourself and making those opportunities come to you too. I've been incredibly lucky that I have had 2 jobs come through in just a few months with the agency but I know that it's not going to be guaranteed regular work and because of this it could never be my full time profession. But, I have loved each experience and happy-cried at each one thinking 'wow, Kate, look at you go' because I couldn't believe the opportunity. And, it's worth every penny and every ounce of energy.

If you are a committed person, who is in the position to be able to travel and willing to initially invest then I honestly would definitely recommend it. The hardest decision for me was whether joining the agency would affect my health and in all honesty, it did. But, I'm the kind of person who has the ability and the support at home to grab every opportunity then pay for the consequences later. And, I make that decision. It's so so worth it. Zebedee is an agency who is there to support you every step of the way and I 100% can honestly recommend them, I've already just recommended one of my friends to them. I'm incredibly excited to see what my future brings and have my eyes firmly set on being able to model for a big brand one day! 

Top - Zebedee Shots         Bottom - Joe Laws, Katie Meehan, Brook-Rose O'Brian

Follow my progress at @katestanforth on instagram 
My Zebedee Profile - If you want to have a nose.
Zebedee Website - Accepting applications until end of July - let me know if you apply!

Kate x

Monday, 8 July 2019

Sunderland Beauty Week #gifted


Sunderland Beauty Week
It's been Sunderland Beauty Week, and boy, did they deliver. Now, I'm not going to pretend I'm your average beauty blogger. Disclaimer: I'm not. But now I'm venturing into the world of both beauty and lifestyle I want to share both my journey and tips with you, so here we go!

My Background
Background: I am a disabled model with zebedee. Often seen sporting an inspirational tee, bold lower eyeliner and a cute AF assistance dog. With limited energy and high pain levels, unlike many other bloggers, comfort is my fashion choice and easy is my beauty regime. 

Getting Lost
I was kindly invited to Sunderland Beauty Weeks VIP night (#gifted) and we went on a beauty safari around the centre. Firstly, what I'd like to say is I found the centre both very welcoming and accessible (I will be doing a full accessibility review soon) so if you are someone with additional needs, it's one of the good'uns. We set off on our jolly way to visit a whole array of stands and after the first stand... I got lost. Yes, I was slightly sidetracked speaking to a lovely woman and lost my group, meaning I trekked around the centre with security for a good 10 minutes to find they were just at the counter behind me. That's how I (literally) roll. 

The Good Stuff
We were lucky enough to have some fantastic talks, workshops and samples. Over the past few days I have been trying out some of the products and I've chosen my 5 best picks which I think are good buys, especially if you are an energy saver. What I mean by this is I admire the people who do the 3-step skin routine followed by the exfoliate, cleanse, tone, moisture, muslin, etc but I'm just not that girl. I'm making a conscious effort to take better care of my skin but it has to be quick and easy, so here are my top 5 products I'd recommend!

5 Easy Products For A Fresh Face
  1. Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter - I saw the lady from body shop use this to remove make-up and everyone was raving about it. I tried it that night and have used it ever since!
  2. No7 Skin Illuminator - I had a no-make up day and popped a bit of this on to make my skin glow.
  3. Benefit's 'Precisely, My Brow' Pencil - I swear by their brow gel so you can imagine my excitement when I saw a mini brow pencil in my colour (I wear 4) in my goodie bag. Filling in your brows makes a huge difference to your face, even on no make-up days, so it's well worth the investment.
  4. Bobbi Brown Colour Corrector  - Not a stand we visited but I could not live without this product. I have such dark under eyes and the colour corrector makes the world of difference. Try using a peachy tone for dark circles.
  5. Lush Fresh Face Mask, Rosy Cheeks  - As a pamper night I love a face mask and with sensitive skin a clay based one like LUSH is perfect. LUSH hosted a fabulous workshop for us on the evening and were definitely the most disabled-friendly hosts, well done!
All of these products can be purchased from The Bridges Sunderland - Happy Shopping!

Kate x