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Thursday night in London: Blogging, Instagram and home offices

The main event this week was the Habitat UK Office Gossip event held at the Hoxton Hotel last night. The theme? Home offices and the rise of freelance work culture. The talk covered everything from the emotional reality of what it is like going freelance, to the logistics of launching your own business and working from home. It was a packed night, with seats being found last minute to accommodate the huge crowd who attended to hear from the key speakers.

The speakers included: Alex Stedman who is a freelance stylist and edits her blog The Frugality, Erica Davies who used to work as fashion editor of The Sun and now edits her fashion and lifestyle blog, The Edited, and Freddie Harrel who went from finance to fashion, and then launched her style blog. It was an enlightening talk especially since we’re seeing the rise and rise of the ‘side-gig movement’, which we touched on in our recent report Millennial Workforce: Shifting Priorities (subscribers check it out here). We are in the midst of a digital revolution, which is helping Millennials to have multiple jobs, or set up their own businesses and work remotely from their phones. And talking of phones, one of the challenges that the panelists spoke about was how to create out-of-offices when you are freelance, and since some of the panelists were mothers they talked about the lack of maternity leave that you have as a freelancer.

All the panelists agreed that having a separate work and home space was important, as well as creating time boundaries through apps like Freedom (which helps you stop being distracted by your phone) to Spark (which manages your email inbox for you). As all the panelists are digital influencers, there were lots of questions about social media, from ‘when to switch off from answering DMs on Instagram Stories’ to how they crafted their organic follower growth vs the more seedy route of buying followers (pro tip: put more effort into your channels and you’ll get an authentic rise in follower growth and engagement). And is the blog dead? The panelists largely said no, it’s a place that they control without changing algorithms, and it helps them see which content their community really likes. Though an interesting point from Freddie was that she switched to longer instagram posts and captions, moving away from blogging, as she finds that that platform works better for her. So, it was an interesting discussion all round.

But that wasn’t all. Yesterday, we also popped into the launch of the first London store from The Cords & Co. The Cords & Co which we profiled here, and was set up by Mikael Söderlindh,  previous owner and founder of Happy Socks. The attempt with this new brand is essentially to make corduroy cool, and since the catwalk is suggesting that corduroy might be the new denim, the brand’s timing couldn’t be better. The new store is based at 2 Silver Place in Soho, round the corner from Rag & Bone, APC, and right next to Our Legacy, so it’s definitely in good retail company. The store is small in size but delivers a strong retail offering, from mens to womens, as well as unisex outerwear (some nice long corduroy coats for winter) and even branded stickers.

If you are on the lookout for a new lifestyle store, last night also saw the opening of  L’Estrange Apartment on Berwick Street in Soho. The store offers up menswear alongside in-store exclusives from Danish furniture brand Menu, some plant based Greenery from Patch and sustainable home goods from Yuyu.

And final both Wednesday and Thursday night was packed with interesting fashion/digital talks held at the Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation space in London. With Wednesday’s talk focused on image rights and ownership in the digital age, alongside fashion writer Navaz Batliwalla from Disney Roller Girl and Thursday was all about how to build your digital strategy with expert Karinna Nobbs.

So it was a busy, enlightening week!

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