Kelly Ann Schiavo

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A little while ago, I was offered to trial Ariix Prime oil in Calm as I’d posted on my social media that I had had some trouble sleeping. Not least, so had my children and this meant our house had turned into a bunch of nocturnal bats!

Lisa Michelle Pugh, CEO of Diamond Boss, sent me a message asking me if I would like to try her product. Now, in all honesty, I usually either don’t bother reading such messages or I politely decline. In this case, I had been following Leah for a while and thought she seemed to be a lovely reliable girl so I took her up on the offer.

A few days later my little parcel arrived and our journey back to forty winks avenue commenced.

Ariix Prime is fundamentally an essential oil. This is what they say:

“Prime is the easy, natural solution you’ve been looking for to restore harmony in your life”. That’s a pretty bold statement!

So, did it restore harmony in mine? This is what we did.

For the children, I carried out the usual routine of bath, story and bed but in introducing Calm I explained that I had been sent a magic potion to help my children sleep. With ingredients including Neroli, Bergamot and Roman Chamomile, it smells divine. When I opened the children’s oil (pre-mixed by Lisa with a carrier of coconut oil), my three year old son said “Mummy, it smells like Italy!”. Being an Italian family, my children are used to the smell of fresh lemon and sure enough Ariix Calm either smells like an Italian lemon grove, or if you’re Northern English like me, a good old dollop of Lemon Meringue! It smells good enough to eat.

I gently massaged it into the children’s temples and pulse points, as advised by Lisa, and tucked them in. They were asleep within minutes and were so rested they didn’t wake all night. I had to physically drag my four year old daughter out of bed at toilet time! Thinking it was a fluke, I followed the same routine a second, third and fourth night until my magic potion had run out. The same thing happened. Ariix Calm was successful in restoring harmony to my children’s sleep, so much so that they were quite annoyed when it had finished.

I’m not a beauty or pamper kind of girl and I confess to going to bed with panda eyes having not washed off my makeup. Horrific I know, but oh well. So, the thought of making time before flopping into bed to massage my temples was a bit alien to me. However, it was bliss! I made time for a quick facial, I used my Ariix Calm as advised by Lisa (she provided a neat potion without carrier oil for me) and low and behold, I slept like a baby!

So whether you’re four or forty, Ariix Calm is a huge winner for me! I’m not an essential user or buyer and I don’t normally entertain such things but I’m glad that I trusted Lisa enough to give it a go.

An actress and drama teacher, Lisa is clearly an entrepreneurial bossbabe! She is a lovely lady and provided a lot of information with the parcel as well as pre and post follow ups which I thought was extra considerate. I would highly recommend Lisa and Ariix if essential oils are your thing!

To contact Lisa for a trial of your own Ariix Prime Calm, go here. To find out more about Ariix Prime, go here.

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Written by KellyAnn Schiavo

*Disclaimer: this is not a paid post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 16:26

An Interview with Kitty Fuller

Inspirational Women: Kitty Fuller, Fashion Illustrator & Artist-Lecturer at Rare School of Fashion.

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Over the last few months, CEO of Fashions Finest, Deborah St Louis, has been working closely with the ladies at The Branding Initiative. It was a pleasure to finally get to meet her in person when we were both invited to #BeInspired at Bentley Birmingham for an evening of luxury cars and fashion for Female Entrepreneurs.


Bentley Birmingham are leading the way amongst the luxury car industry in realising that the female empowerment movement represents women, globally, not only fighting for places on corporate boards but also in carving their own nichés as entrepreneurial superstars! And let me tell you, at the Bentley Birmingham ladies event, organised by Chameli Chowdhury, we met a fair few female entrepreneurs that are, for want of a better phrase, kicking ass!

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Upon arrival, we were greeted with a chilled glass of Ruinart champagne. The scene was set with pop up areas dedicated to fashion, jewels, art and a showcase of NSPCC Childline, Bentley’s choice of sponsored charity. Bentley aim with this event was to “combine inspirational names from the worlds of luxury style and fashion” and they didn’t disappoint!

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With only 20 Bentley dealerships across the UK and 4 of them managed by Sytner, Bentley Birmingham is switched on to what it means to use affiliate, attraction and digital marketing to increase exposure to the brand and broaden their client base. Marketing towards women is a smart move. Connecting luxury cars to other luxury items like fashion and jewels is an even smarter move! I mean, what other luxury car brand is so in tune with women in business that they showcase luxury shoes and handbags to match the car?!

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Meet “Purple Rain”, the stunning Bentley that comes with bespoke hand made shoes designed and crafted by Kate Spence. Kate designed for and managed the Jimmy Choo brand for seven years before establishing her own luxury couture footwear brand for women in 2012.

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Deborah St. Louis was especially keen to listen to the keynote from catwalk designer Alice Temperley of Temperley London, Deborah’s connections to London Fashion Week with Fashions Finest being the second largest off schedule event organiser for LFW.

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Throughout the summer Bentley Birmingham are exploring what inspires people and how that inspiration becomes a luxury item and creating something exquisite that perfectly balances form and function. Female entrepreneurs are the perfect target market to add huge value to that. What inspires us? What drives us? We’ll be interested to see what Bentley Birmingham come up with. What we would love to see is a catwalk show, showcasing up and coming designers, mixing new innovation traditional luxury. With more events lined up like that of #BeInspired, we have no doubt that this is going to be an interesting summer for Bentley!

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Deborah St Louis and Melanie Jones were delighted to meet Jenny Lee Holt at the event, a huge supporter of The Branding Initiative and fellow female entrepreneur and Director of Spectrum Telecoms. Together we browsed the cars, fashion and diamonds. Luxury bespoke jeweller S.P Green of Birmingham showcased some stunning pieces at the event and we had our beady eyes on a beautiful diamond and sapphire piece – blue and white to match our logo of course! What better way to spend a Friday evening?!

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Deborah St Louis and the ladies at The Branding Initiative would like to express huge thanks to Bentley Birmingham for the invitation. We look forward to working with you more over the coming months.

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For more information about Bentley cars, please contact Chris Gretton.

For more information on The Branding Initiative, our services or our programs, please contact us here.

Written by KellyAnn Schiavo - Co-founder of The Branding Initiative, Women in Business Ambassador & Blogger

No Needles, No Effort. 

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Growing up I was never really a princess, make-up and nails kind of girl and even today I prefer flip flops to heels and only wear make up at weekends (mostly).

I’m quite loyal to my make-up and don’t tend to shake it up by using new brands. I’m 40 and I’ve never had surgery. I wouldn’t entertain messing about with my face for the fear of it going drastically wrong and I don’t much wish for people to see my lips enter a room before I do!

I was intrigued therefore when I was introduced to Transformulas Lip volume gel – beauty with surgery. It claimed to add volume to lips without surgery or needles just giving “volume, definition and less wrinkles”. The wrinkles bit caught my attention as I’m getting a bit older and don’t fancy the idea of a train track mouth so I thought I’d give this product a go.

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Transformulas Lip Volume comes in a handy box containing a 10ml handbag sized silver canister of lip gel and a sachet of hydrating cream called ‘hydration gold’ (it is actually gold!). Note that the product claims to ‘enhance’ women’s lips so if you rush out to buy this, don’t expect to resemble Kim Kardashian over night! Whilst the results vary for everyone, it is suggested that you see results immediately.

Note: Contains macadamia nut oil.

Here’s what I found:

Having washed and moisturised my face using my normal products, I conditioned my lips using the hydrating gold. Once that had appeared to dry in, I applied the Lip Volume gel. I was expecting a stronger tingle than I got and was surprised that I didn’t see any results immediately. It looked and felt as though I had applied a layering of Vaseline or other lip gloss.

However, after about an hour, I returned to the mirror to check and I swear my bottom lip did look fuller. Was it all in my mind or did this product actually work?

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I followed the instructions using the gel three times a day for ten days. Whilst my lips, when the gel is on, are smooth and do appear more defined, I’m not sure if they are more voluminous. The gel is extremely conditioning and as the size of the container is a bit bigger than a normal lip gloss, I did use it throughout the day as I normally would.

After a few days, I applied lip liner to create more definition (again, definition created by the liner or by the product?) as it suggests on the box and a coating of my usual gloss. Only then was I surprised to see that my lips did in fact look more luscious and plump!

For best results Transformulas Lip Volume should be used 3 times per day for 30 days and claims to ‘work with the body’. I’m not sure how it works with the body as no other information on this is provided. After the 30 day application, you can reduce to once a day or wear over lipstick as a conditioner.

My overall verdict on Transformulas Lip Volume is that it is super creamy and super conditioning. My lips felt. I’m not convinced that it volumised my lips by working with my body but once lip liner was applied, it did add to the volumised effect and that lasted for as long as my lipstick stayed on. On the box it says “use with a lip pencil to gain the look of natural glossy lips with the benefits of a lip balm”. This is exactly what the product I did, so: hydrating and conditioning is a thumbs up whilst volume is a thumbs down as I think this was created by the illusion of the lip liner, not by the product.

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Disclaimer: I am not an ambassador of the Transforumlas brand and all opinions are my own.

Written by KellyAnn Schiavo - Blogger, Women in Business Ambassador and Co-founder of The Branding Initiative

Monday, 16 May 2016 18:16

A Not So Lazy Urban Sunday

Sunday is family day in our house. It’s not so much a day of rest but a day of doing. We like to spend time with the children just hanging out with no plans and no stress. We decide what to do as we’re doing it and as with most outings it usually starts or ends with food and drink.

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Today wasn’t any different. We headed out to the Greenwich Peninsular (think O2, Emirates Cable Cars and surrounding areas). We originally intended to go to the Greenwich Ecology Park which is amazing for the children as they can bird watch, pond dip and spot water scorpions but as we approached the river, I was side tracked by the distant beat of an African drum.

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We stumbled across the Urban Village Fete and let me tell you, it was the best day out we’ve had as a family in ages! The atmosphere was amazing, the sun was shining and there was literally everything there from music to crafts, food and drink, clothes and even luxury dog food!

The Urban Village Fete was set up to put a spin on the traditional fayre. It was colourful. It was modern. It was innovative. Even the cranes that littered the Thames skyline were coloured! The fete attracted a really good mix of local suppliers, craftsmen and performers. At one point, the DJ was taking requests from the public which resulted in about 100 people dancing on green grass banks to Madness’ Baggy Trousers – coming from Liverpool, it was a pivotal cockney moment for me and it was a pleasure to join in with the crowd!

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There were so many cool people selling their wares but my favourites definitely were Little Sparrow Tea, Pinkster Gin and the Bus Bar Company – all drink related, go figure!

We Brits love our tea and I am no exception to that rule. Imagine my excitement when I found Little Sparrow Tea that claims “each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage”. I kid you not, the display was mesmerising! I tried the Russian Caravan and sure enough I was transported straight to a trail of caravans transporting tea from China to Europe via Russia. It’s said that the smokiness of the flavour comes from the fires lit at night to keep the tea transporters warm. It definitely warmed me up!

Next up was Pinkster Gin, totally English with its HQ out near Cambridge. It’s a pink artisan gin made from berries and it’s so tastily refreshing. My summer is most definitely sorted!

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After browsing the stalls, we took the children to the activity area where they drew, made paper vegetables and made dream books for the library. This was great as I instil in them to work hard for everything so writing down their dream got them thinking as to how they will achieve it. They now realise it’s not so easy to get to Disney Land after all!

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I absolutely adore days filled with random surprises and this didn’t disappoint. I was spotted taking colourful photographers by another photographer which resulted in my pictures being included in her gallery. When you’re out doing what you love and people you don’t know show their appreciation, it totally makes everything you strive for worthwhile.

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Before heading home we, we sat chatting to revellers who had perched themselves with direct access to the Bus Bar Company – an old route master totally kitted out as a travelling pub. As I sat listening to the music, watching the people and seeing my children enjoying themselves, I felt utterly grateful to live in such a buzzing, thriving city where you can go out for a leisurely walk and happen upon a totally adventurous day.

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Sundays were most definitely not made to be lazy!

Written by KellyAnn Schiavo

Disclaimer: All pictures and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 12:05

Italian Street Style: 5 Tips for Inspiration

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Before I married my husband I didn’t pay too much attention to fashion. I was a student and happy in thrift store hand-me-downs, mixed with high street latest must-haves. Then, I was a traveller and spent the best part of 18months hanging around beaches in Thai fishing pants and flip flops. My nails were chipped and unpainted. My hair was bleached and crispy from the sun and my lips hadn’t been glossed in months!

Marrying an Italian was a revelation. Having style is like breathing air in Italy. The nation is brought up on “la bella figura” which literally translated means “a good figure”. It’s better understood as “a good image” and of course, Italians love to have a good image!

I had to up my game. I had just married into a country where Valentino designs the police uniforms and the footballers are kitted out by Armarni! Slowly I introduced colour into my wardrobe, I wore nail varnish and make-up and over time, I “Italianised” myself.

Italian fashion is so effortless. When I’m in Italy there’s nothing better than sitting at a cafe in a piazza and watching the world go by. The girls look glamorous and the men look polished. They don’t even try. I make so much more of an effort with my appearance when I’m in Italy. It’s not a case of fitting in but more a case of not standing out!

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Here are my top 5 tips for achieving the Italian look, Street Style:

1) Accessories – Italians, male and female, love to match! Never leave home without a bag, necklace and sunglasses. Styles and shapes need to coordinate. If the necklace is small, the ring is huge! There is no age limit on accessories – it’s a cultural norm.

2) Big Hair – Italian women love nothing better than a blow dry. The bigger, the bouncier, the curlier, the better! Looking coiffed is almost a birth right in Italy!

3) Colour – It has to match. Colour coordination is big business. The shoes, the bag, the belt, they all have to complement each other, not necessarily in the same tone but you must accent your outfit.

4) Make-Up – Never EVER leave home without it. If you’re not made up, you have no self respect. Simple as that. Make-up matches the outfit, it finishes you off. Eyes are usually bold and lips soft. Nails and feet must be painted at all times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother in law without varnish!

5) Mess it Up! – Once you’ve done all of the above, mess it up. Don’t look like you’ve worked too hard. You’ve managed the chic, now you need to adopt the style. Street style is huge in Italy when on Saturday’s you’ll find Tewnty-Somethings meandering around the piazza purely to show off their outfit. They’re tailored but trendy, cool but casual.

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Italian street style is not about making an effort. It’s about being chic. The women are elegant and feminine whilst the men are suave. Style in Italy comes as easy as eating pasta!

Written by Kelly Ann Schiavo