This blogging thing has taken me to some weird and wonderful places over the last couple of years. The most unexpected, however, would be the back of a Hackney carriage in Central Paris.
This is where I spent last Tuesday, a guest of the French men’s fashion retailer Celio*. I was there for two reasons: firstly to be interviewed on camera for a video the company was making and secondly to check out its autumn / winter range of goods.
The Hackney carriage was a nice touch. This is where most of the interview took place and it was designed to give the interview a British feel, what with me, you know, being a bit British.
Interestingly, however, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t attended this year’s BritMums Live. Allow me to fill in the gaps…
A trip to Paris made possible by BritMums Live
I used to be a frequent visitor to France and would quite often shop at Celio*. It was very good for buying basics like jeans, T-shirts, polo shirts and the like. It’s a mid-market brand and very competitively priced but the attention to detail is generally very good. There’s usually a splash of colour here, a bit of piping there or some other detail that makes the clothes stand out.
About 10 years ago life changed and I simply found I wasn’t visiting France as often. I was never near a Celio* store so subsequently stopped buying the clothes.
On the run-up to this year’s BritMums Live, I felt the need to invest in some new outfits. I thought I’d see what Celio* was up to. For all I knew, it may have opened some stores in the UK over the past decade.
I googlewhacked the company and was delighted to see it had launched an English-language website selling internationally. My outfit for BritMums Live was purchased and off to the conference I went in a red linen shirt (Friday) and blue linen trousers and white cotton top with piping detail (Saturday).
An inspirational speaker and session
On the Friday of the conference, I attended the How I Did It session. The panel featured Emily Johnston of Fashion Foie Gras. I was very keen to hear what Emily had to say. Just a few weeks beforehand I’d diversified my blog and quietly added a men’s style section as an experiment. In terms of visitor numbers, the experiment was working out very well indeed. Despite this, I knew there was plenty of room for improvement and thought Emily might pass on some wisdom.
Emily didn’t disappoint. She mentioned that she has a love of Ralph Lauren and had, in the early days of her blog, often written about its clothes. Her blog repeatedly came up in Ralph Lauren’s Google Alerts and eventually the company made contact with her to see how they could work together.
Inspired by Emily, I went away and wrote a piece about Celio*, accompanied by some selfies (not the best, but they did the job). I thought I’d be cheeky and emailed it to Celio*’s press office.
I received an enthusiastic email of thanks but heard no more. A couple of week’s later, however, I was contacted by Celio*’s digital, ecommerce and CRM director. He took me completely by surprise and asked if I would appear in a video the company wanted to record about my experiences as an online customer and blogger (initially to be used at a convention of several hundred Celio* employees but who knows where it may end up!).
It was a great experience. The Celio* guys were a great bunch to work with and I hope to do so again in future. In terms of the autumn / winter collection, its higher-end Celio* Club range really stood out. The range has been revamped and improved and it’s well worth a look. Yes, okay, I might have returned to Blighty in possession of a few items.
The early bird got the blogging opportunity
During the course of the film shoot, I discovered that the timing of my blog post had been spectacular, even if I say so myself. I was completely unaware of this, but the international website had been launched just a few weeks before I published my post. This meant I was the only international customer to have purchased products via the site and subsequently blogged about them.
It was an astounding piece of luck. While luck played a major part in this tale, it wouldn’t have happened without BritMums Live, Emily or indeed, Celio*.
Photo credit: Ania Wilk-Lawton of Photography for Parents. Photography for Parents are specialists in providing hands on photography workshops for mums and dads. For more information about its workshops and online courses, visit the website.