Scottish blogging sensation Amanda has had her successful (and seriously stylish blog) Honey Pop Kisses for almost five years now. She’s also a firm fixture at Fashion Week, editor of online magazine fashionfixdaily.com and has just launched her own subscription box, designed to celebrate and supply indie brands and vegan beauty right to your door step. We catch up with Amanda and ask her how she landed her dream career…
So Amanda, where did it all begin for you?
I worked in the fashion industry since I was 15 and I got my first job at a vintage store in Glasgow and then I studied garment technology at uni and then I worked for a designer in London and then I worked as an assistant buyer for Next. I started blogging just under five years ago when I was working for Next because I found my job was quite creatively suffocating and I needed some sort of outlet to talk about the fashion I was interested in. I didn’t start the blog so I could make it my career, it began as more of a hobby and I think that’s what kept me going at the beginning – because when you start out you don’t get any freebies. It’s just a labour of love.
How do you stay inspired?
You have to keep up with the real world, no matter how inspiring things are on the web. I like reading books, I like going to museums, I love going to London Fashion Week – that gives me months of inspiration. Even just talking to other people in the industry is always really inspiring. Luckily in Scotland we have lots of amazing designers; I know Sam from Isolated Heroes and Hayley Scanlan really well and it’s nice just to phone them for a chat or pop into the studio or go into a design event. It’s a really nice community up here so it is really easy to stay inspired. There is also an online group chat called Scottish Bloggers so if you go on there, say you are having a really hard time, and people will always be really supportive.
How important is networking?
It’s key. It’s a very social job so if you don’t meet anyone then you are not making any connections – and it’s the same in any industry. You have to make an appearance and you have to talk to people, that’s how you get ahead in the game. Don’t be afraid to talk – if you go to an event and you don’t know anybody just go over and introduce yourself and start talking. I do that all the time and I have really bad anxiety. It makes me feel physically sick but I know I have to do it. It’s just about putting yourself out there.
What’s an average day for you?
Oh it’s very glamorous! I do some dog walking and then I go back to bed to do my emails! Luckily I have got a little office in my house so sometimes I just barricade myself in there and get through everything. But if I’ve got an event I’ll go out and I’ll try arrange as many things in one day as possible. I’ve just moved to Dundee so it makes it more worth my while if I’m going to Glasgow or London if I am there for five things instead of one or two.
Where did the idea for your subscription boxes come from?
I wanted to move my blog on for a while but I didn’t really know what to do. I am really into cruelty free beauty and I already subscribe to TheVeganKind beauty box which is amazing. Originally I thought I might do a beauty range and I know a few people who own a few beauty companies so I began looking into that but it is all very technical and while I love makeup and beauty by history is clothing. I don’t really know how it goes together or anything about formulas. Maybe in the future that will be a labour of love but I was looking for something that could be inclusive for everyone.
My husband owns Abandon Ship Apparel and I suggested he did a subscription box for t-shirts and then I thought, ‘Hang on, why did I give you that idea – that’s a great idea!”. So I then pulled together a few ideas and realised I wanted to focus on indie designers around the world. But I also wanted to include vegan beauty because that is what I use and what my forte is on my blog.
Why are cruelty-free products so important?
People are becoming more aware that people that companies are still testing on animals. I recently interviewed two vice presidents from Estee Lauder and it was insane. It seems to be all about saving money – but people don’t realise what’s going on. Lots of my friends I didn’t realise that Estee Lauder are sold in China. I want to introduce vegan and cruelty-free skincare and makeup to people that might not think that the cruelty still happens. My subscription box is £20 for a month and you get four items and then a surprise gift every month. The first box’s retail value is like £45 so it is really good value for money. I don’t want to give out something that is unobtainable. I want it to be available to everyone and not restricted. All inclusive, that’s what I want!
What can people expect from their boxes?
All the boxes are themed so the first box is all about self-care so I tried to think about what I do to make myself feel better when I am feeling down. Because I have worked with a lot of brands through my blog I just emailed them asking them if they would like to be involved. And everyone was really positive and through talking about it I’ve been approached by other brands too. So it is going really well and that’s why I think it is so important to build up connections with people. One of the brands that’s involved in the first box, I met at at a fair last year, spoke to her briefly and then sort of kept in touch via social media. It all sort of snowballed from there . I think when you do make those connections in real life – or even online – it is important to nurture them and to keep talking to people.
What are your top tips for helping to maintain connections?
Just talk to them like they are a normal person! People forget that the PRs for massive companies are also just people in their thirties who like the same things you do and can also be really shy. Be professional but be personable. That’s what people look for in blogs I think. If you have spoken to someone in real life and they are a PR for some company, just follow them on social media and if they put up a picture you like just comment and tell them how much you love it. It’s important to make the connection but not force it, don’t hound people! I feel like you need to be calm but if you do want something just be honest! People aren’t these big corporate monsters that Devil Wears Prada makes them out to be. Some people are – and I’ve had my fair share of meetings and interview that have been horrendous – but the vast majority of people are lovely. It’s good to remember that you get more for being nice than being nasty.
What is your biggest tip for bloggers out there?
It is really important to stay true to your blog but it is also important to stay true to yourself. I think you can always spot the bloggers that write about anything as long as they get paid. I’ve been contacted by plenty of brands and I’ll say no because their products won’t make sense on my page. L’Oréal asked me to come down to London to shoot for one of their adverts and I had to say no because they sell to China. It will definitely further your career if people think you are genuine and you’re not just saying something because people paid you to say it. Especially if you are just starting out a blog it is good to be aware that the people who are getting paid for blogging now, who are getting paid, have been blogging for four or five years. When they started they weren’t getting anything, they were just plugging away on their wee WordPress just talking about stuff they like. It’s crazy that that has now turned into a career for lots of people but I do think it is important to be aware that these people do other things as well. I’m an editor at Fashion Fix Daily and I just started Honey Pop Club and other people I know have make-up jobs or PR companies so don’t go into it thinking it’s the only thing you want to do or that it will be your sole area of income because even freelance writers – they don’t make a lot of money. If I didn’t have anything else I would be eating beans on toast for the majority of the month. I feel like it is good to be aspirational but it is also good to be realistic and not but all you eggs in one basket.
Lastly what did you think about Vogue saying bloggers were ‘heralding the death of style?‘
It was obviously a total dig at bloggers and it is just completely unfounded. First of all people blog because they love clothing, it’s not like we think, “This is a ridiculous outfit, I must wear it”. People like Susie Bubble have completely changed the face of the fashion industry. When you look at her and see her wearing 17 patterns and still looking amazing then you start to think, maybe I could wear that! People like her encourage us to be more adventurous with our clothing. I think the comments were really underhanded – I know editors and I know they are given clothes for free. They only go to certain shows because the designers advertise in the magazines. Calling out bloggers for things they have been doing for years is just creates a them and us mentality and it shouldn’t be like that at all. It is not like we are out to get them or anything – we aren’t coming after your jobs. There is room for everybody!
Honey Pop’s Top Blog Recommendations
I am obsessed with Leandra from Man Repeller – it’s a little bit unhealthy.
I love Emma Gannon, I feel like her podcast is amazing.
These frames above my bed were drawn by the v talented artist @alicetams and she's the latest guest on my podcast. In 2013 a *very similar* design to one of her famous Birds in Hats drawings was being sold on a Xmas jumper in a well known supermarket and she fought alongside her lawyers to get compensation because wtf. Hear the whole story on the pod and how Alice built her illustration business from scratch. So much respect for her, and independent businesses for the win. 💖🎄💖🎄💖
Victoria for In the Frow is unreal – her photos make me just want to burn my camera and become a better person!
A night with @diormakeup that I'll never forget. Never felt so sassy and confident as I did in this jumpsuit with a bold red lip. I can't wait to share more pictures over on the blog soon! ❄️#DiorGirlsUKI #DiorForever Makeup by the wonderful @joeyclouter83 for @Dior and photography by @alexandrautzmann. The jumpsuit is on inthefrow.com/shop or the link is on my instastories 🙂
I love watching Jamie Genevieves’ tutorials and I just think, ‘God please paint my face!’
And obviously I love Scottish bloggers – Kate La Vie, Amy from Little Magpie, Sheri from Forever Yours Betty, Wendy from Thank Fifi – all her travel posts are amazing.