Hi everyone, today is a little different.  I would like you to meet a fabulous, inspiring woman from the UK, Paula Reeves.  The post is in her own words.  First she will write a little about fashion and end with information on how her company started.  She is quite inspiring.  I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!




Remember
How You Felt When You First Wore It
Many
years ago, well before the age of the internet, I shopped for most of my
clothes at a delightful little boutique in Sussex. With a busy working and
family life it was perfect for me; convenient, friendly and helpful.
The
lady who ran it knew her regular customers well and did much of her buying with
specific clients in mind. Like many of them I was always eager to drop in
whenever new stock arrived. The passion for new was compelling; jackets,
trousers, dresses, I would avidly seek them out. Decked out in the latest the
season had to offer I was quick to discard what had, up until that moment, been
my favourites, often feeling that they had lost their lustre. These were then
dispatched to an ever bulging wardrobe to hang forlorn and abandoned.
One
day she gave me a piece of advice which has stayed with me for the past 25
years, and which has saved me a small fortune. “Remember how you felt when you first wore it” she said. Of course
she was right. When I reflected on how delighted I had been when I first looked
at a new outfit in the mirror in her boutique I realised that, apart from the
passing years, I looked just the same in that outfit. “You should wear your clothes” she said, “If they were beautiful when you bought them they are still beautiful
now
”. This is certainly the case with classic styles which thankfully do
not date. This advice is shared by Lucinda Chambers of British Vogue who has
said, “I don’t think I buy
fashion-of-the-moment things. I buy things I will like when I’m 70
“.
As
the founder of Black.co.uk and BRIGHT BY BLACK, I see beautiful accessories
as the key to transforming classic enduring styles. I have selected a few of my
‘old’ favourite jackets, some bought over 20 years ago, all worn with a simple
black skirt or leggings and black camisole top. I have added a sprinkling of
our new accessories to give them fresh updated looks.

How It All Began
I am often asked how Black began. The
concept was born out of unexpected events which changed the course of my life. For
decades I had thrived on the development and management of businesses, blessed
with high octane energy levels and a passion for my work.
As the new millennium dawned it brought with
it a serious illness which stopped me in my tracks. Adjusting to the loss of my
health and the absence of a stimulating business life I had the opportunity,
imposed not sought, to reflect. I recalled a quote I had often used, “Things
which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least”.
Now so poignant it was the silver lining in a dark cloud.
Five years later, with my health much
improved I turned my thoughts to how I might embark upon a new project which
would be fulfilling, creative and constructive. To start again was both
exciting and daunting. What would I do?
An inspirational trip to India acquainted me
with the beauty and luxury of hand spun, hand woven pashmina ring shawls and
the skill and craftsmanship involved in producing them. A far cry from the mass
produced scarves of dubious fabrics erroneously bearing the pashmina name, the
ring shawl, (so called because even a shawl 2 metres by 1 metre can pass through
a wedding ring, so fine is the cashmere), is the jewel in the cashmere crown. A
single shawl can take up to 200 hours to make and the signature of the
craftsman or family who made it is discreetly embroidered in one corner. Each
one is unique and very special.
The discovery of these beautiful shawls
heightened my awareness of the importance of preserving unique skills passed
down from generation to generation; skills which risk being lost in a world of
mass production and cheap merchandise. Championing the ring shawl, as we do, is
win-win. It helps sustain the livelihoods of the Kashmiri families who make
them, and it brings the most beautiful luxurious shawls to discerning customers
who may otherwise not find them.
The seed of a new enterprise was sown. As it
germinated, so did the importance of working with people who really care about
their craft, and who are quite simply good people. Coupled with my passion for
the colour black and its accompanying palette of soft earthy tones, and for my
love of accessories, the concept of Black was created. In its infancy I liked
to use the acronym   B L A C
K
to represent Black Luxury Accessories Created Kindly and this is still my watchword
when sourcing products and selecting companies with which to work. Perhaps this
is why we most often gravitate to family businesses with whom trust and
partnerships enable fruitful relationships to thrive.

To my delight Black developed as a family business.
As I was writing the business plan one of my daughters, intrigued by the
concept, expressed an enthusiastic desire to join me. Together we launched BLACK.CO.UK in July 2006. Three years later my son, having
just graduated, joined us. I have been blessed with the joy of seeing their
talents and competence shine and mature and to pass on the experience! 

Thanks to Paula for sharing her company with us.  Isn’t she beautiful? Stunning accessories. Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!




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