Posted in Lifestyle, The Empty Box Company

The Harrogate Bridal Show Part 1 – Background Info

Over on Instagram last recently I’ve been chatting a bit about The Harrogate Bridal Show. I’ll be visiting the show as an exhibitor this weekend, and I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about what it’s actually all about!

What is The Harrogate Bridal Show?

The Harrogate Bridal Show is an annual trade exhibition and takes place in the exhibition centre of beautiful Yorkshire town, Harrogate.

It’s where wedding dress designers & manufactures go to showcase their newest collections which are yet to launch. Bridal shop owners attend and it’s a chance for them t not only preview the new collections, but also to catchup with the designers/brand owners and chat all things weddings & business!

The show doesn’t just host wedding dresses though. You’ll also find bridesmaid dresses, men’s suits, Mother of the Bride outfits, and bridal accessories. Fashion shows also happen throughout the exhibition (my favourite part!), which makes everyone feel super glam. Oh I do love the bridal industry!

Why am I going?

In January, you might remember I wrote about what I’m up to at the moment. One of my posts was about The Empty Box Company. Not sounding familiar? Have a read of it here.

The Empty Box Company is my parents’ company and over the course of this year I’ve become more involved. Their company has been a part of my life since the day I was born (they actually set it up in 1988 – 7 years before I came on the scene!). And as an adult I’ve really started to realise what an impact it’s had on me as a person, and how much I care about the business. So I feel it’s only natural I’d want to dip my toe in!

Right, back to Harrogate… I first attended the show when I was 14 months old (my parents were brave), and I went back pretty much every year of my childhood. Whilst it’s an incredibly hard-working weekend for my parents (Something I’ve recently come to appreciate…) for me & my brother it was a bit of a jolly. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from our time in Harrogate, but as an ‘adult’ I’ve always had other commitments so haven’t been back. However, this year I’ll be there, working away, and I can’t wait!

Next Post

As I’ve rambled on for long enough in this post, in my next post I’ll chat more about the work I’ll be doing at the show and the preparations that I’ve been involved with in the build-up.

All the photos from The Harrogate Bridal Show have come from their Facebook page. And the images of the boxes belong to The Empty Box Company.

Posted in Lifestyle

Shopping Locally & Saving the Environment

I was thrilled with the response to my recent Instagram story about shopping locally, and figured there’s a conversation to be had here.

If you didn’t catch it, I filmed a short clip of the fruit & veg at a greengrocers where I live and wrote about how I’ve started shopping locally (aka from independent stores, rather than supermarkets) predominantly for fruit & veg, but to be honest I try to get as much as I can! Afterwards, I had many messages about others trying to do the same thing, which is brilliant! And definitely something we should be raising more awareness about.

Save Monday & Feel Good About It

For me, saving money is brilliant but not quite as brilliant as feeling good about where I’m spending it. We’ve all got to spend money on food, so why not spend it in local places and support local businesses & farmers (particularly in the West Country!).

That aside, shopping at a local greengrocers has been financially beneficial too. I compared what I bought this week to the prices at Morrisons and as it happens I saved about £7. That might not seem like much, but £7 every week adds up pretty quickly! Plus, that’s not a gram for gram comparison. The veg I bought from the greengrocers was definitely bigger than the veg I usually get in Morrisons, so I’m sure if I compared them gram for gram I’d be saving even more!

Shopping Locally & Saving the Environment

Being strict about where my food comes from has always been a big thing for me. Where absolutely possible, I buy produce from inside the UK. Fruit, veg, milk, eggs, meat etc goes without saying, but I’m also conscious of where my cupboard products are from too.

This is so important when it comes to the environment. Now, I’m not one to preach… But I’m going to anyway!

It is our responsibility to be more aware of where our food is coming from. Yes, it’s lovely to have an unlimited supply of out-of-season fruit whenever we want it, but we need to be thinking about how my poison is being spat into our atmosphere from the amount we import from overseas. (I appreciate the topic of imports/exports is a tad touchy at the moment… *Don’t mention Brexit*). Still, we do have to be aware of the environmental impacts.

shopping locally and saving the environment lila bailey blog

Now, let’s talk about plastic… The carbon footprint from imports is only a small part of the environmental impact. We are all aware of the plastic epidemic, and there has already been a huge push to reduce the amount of plastic that are ending up in our oceans. Still, you walk into a supermarket and are bombarded by so.much.packaging. Unnecessary amounts of single use plastic.

Yes, supermarkets have now started trying to eliminate the amount of plastic used in packaging, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

I’ve found that 90% of items at a greengrocers are loose, and they provide paper bags that can be reused and recycled. So, you can do an almost entirely plastic free shop. What’s not to love! Something to consider when trying to reduce your plastic consumption or carbon footprint…

REDUCE . REUSE . RECYCLE – we’ve all heard it before, but are we all doing our bit?

Conclusion

Before I get any backlash, I’m very aware that not every town has a greengrocers or something similar, and not every person is able to shop like this. This post is just about raising awareness, and if you’re able to, then do.

If you’re interested, the greengrocers I’ve started shopping in is Continental Fruits in Tavistock. We’re also super lucky to have many independent food shops in our town, including Roots & Vines, Crebers, Eversfield, and Cakes Bakes ‘n’ Shakes, all of which I frequently buy from!

If you’ve come from Instagram (and read my whole caption) you might be interested in doing the WWF Carbon Footprint calculator, so I’ve linked it here.

I also hope you enjoyed the photos of me unpacking my shopping…! I promise my next post won’t be as preachy, and don’t forget to check out my last post too.

Have a very happy weekend! (Here’s an image for the road…………)

shopping locally and saving the environment lila bailey blog
Posted in Lifestyle

Early to Mid Twenties… What no-one told you

So I thought I’d write a little more personal post today, and explain what’s been going on in my world recently… Navigating the early to mid twenties is something I’ve found surprisingly difficult. Did anyone else just assume that everything got easier once you were officially an adult? Because I definitely did, and I was definitely wrong. It’s not been an overly easy time and I hope this post might help others who could be going through the same thing.

24 is here, and I can only describe the earlier part of this year as a bit of a quater-life-crisis. We all know about the mid-life crisis, but no-one really talks about the earlier years: namely your early to mid twenties. Perhaps it’s just a part of growing into adulthood, and something everyone goes through. But anyway, it’s nice to shed a bit of light on the subject nonetheless. For a while I was really struggling with the whole topic of ‘the future’. I know where I want to get to, but how on earth am I going to achieve it? How do I get from here to there? Will I ever make it? You get the idea… And part of that meant falling out of love with most things, especially in a work sense. I wondered about a total career change numerous times, but mostly I just wanted to run away to a remote cabin by the lake (with Euan, obvs) and hide away from the world.

Maybe I should get into travel blogging… (jokes, although how fun would that be!).

I’ve not been amazing at talking about it either, not even to Euan. Which I think is mostly down to the fact I can’t actually put it into words, or certainly not whole sentences. I guess overwhelmed is probably the most accurate way of describing it, but it goes a whole lot deeper than that. Also, I’m very good at beating myself up over the tiniest thing. So in a slightly more fragile state than normal you can but guess how unhelpful that trait has been…

Basically – in short – I spent a good few months feeling like a total failure, for no reason other than it’s what I kept telling myself. (Yes, Euan, I did just manage to admit that I’m my worst enemy). I knew deep down that I was actually doing fine and actually in a really good place. But despite knowing that, the doubt still came and still felt totally overwhelming when it did. I would get stuck in a place which I found incredibly hard to pull myself out of. A lot of crying and soooo much self-doubt. It makes you want to give up everything and start over again, and feels like you’ve ruined your life somehow. When I managed to get out of one of these moods, I’d look back and think how utterly ridiculous it was to have thought all of those things. But that somehow doesn’t seem to make it any easier at the time.

I guess it’s largely to do with the fact that the decisions I make now really are starting to shape and impact my future and the direction I take my life in. And I think this is pretty common for people in their ‘early to mid twenties’, and probably beyond too. The older you get, the harder it is to have freedom in a lot of ways. If I want to make something of my life, if I want to have a thriving future, I have to work towards that now. And in my moments of despair it often felt like I wasn’t achieving that and so need to just give up.

It’s not something that’s always easy to talk about, but the few times I have had conversations about it I’ve felt sooooo much better afterwards. I’d be surprised if there’s a single person on this planet who didn’t spend large portions of their 20s feeling like this. Which I found to be a huge comfort. You’re not weird. You’re not a failure. You’re not destined for disaster. In actual fact, you’re just human.

Some Top Tips

To be completely honest, I don’t think there’s any ‘quick fix’ for something like this. But if you’re navigating your early to mid twenties (or any age for that matter!) and feel like you’re having a bit of a quarter-life-crisis, here are a couple of tips that have helped me:

  • Firstly, something that really really helped me was weirdly enough a personality test. I actually took it just to calm myself down, but when I got the results and they described my personality to a T it made me realise that I am who I am and the reason I think/behave in certain ways is all part of my personality. Not because I’m broken or weird, but because that’s just who I am. Even just answering the questions properly & honestly opened my eyes to a lot about myself. It probably won’t work for everyone, but here is the link if you fancy giving it a go.
  • Talk about it. It’s so easy to pretend everything is fine, especially when other people around you assume that everything is fine. But keeping it all to yourself is detrimental. Trust me!
  • Don’t compare your life or achievements to others. Whether that’s your friends or – like me – people (‘proper’ adults) who have made it already, it’s just not healthy and makes everything worse. Everyone is walking down their own path, and there is no right or wrong way to do life. So just do you!
  • And closely linked with the above, don’t keeping focussing on what you think you should be doing. Like I said, there’s no right or wrong way to do life so there’s no should or shouldn’t either. (Well, to a point. I mean you shouldn’t break the law for example…).
  • Lastly, figure out what you want and keep going. Let your mind wander, put yourself out there, and invest in yourself if you need to. Even on the bad days, keep pushing and don’t give up because if you stay on the right path and are determined, you’ll get to where you want to go.

I hope that if you’re having a hard time, this post has helped a bit. Talking about it has definitely helped the process for me, just to get my head around it for the most part. And if you’re going through something similar and want to talk, I’m just on the other end of email or Instagram for a chat! And this isn’t necessarily felt by people in their ‘early to mid twenties’, it just so happens that it is the most common time for a quarter-life crisis, and it’s also the age category I fall in.

And for something a little lighter, take a look at my last post.

lila  bailey blog previous post
Posted in Lifestyle

Bradstone Manor – What am I up to Blog Post Series

Aaaand, finally! Bradstone Manor… A new project with a new venue, and it’s very exciting!

You can find my previous posts in this series here, here, here, and here.

Bradstone Manor blog what am i up to blog post series lila bailey

Bradstone Manor – The Venue

Bradstone Manor is tucked away in the Devon countryside and is absolutely stunning. Pure tranquility some might say! The wedding space itself is a beautiful barn with two floors, a bar area, and separate kitchen space. An incredibly unique venue that you can really make your own.

Bradstone Manor blog what am i up to blog post series lila bailey

With a church situated within metres, it’s the perfect place for a gorgeous country wedding. And if a church ceremony isn’t your jam, there are plenty of places nearby for registrar ceremonies. Or how about a non-legal ceremony in the courtyard instead?

There is also accommodation onsite in the form of the Gatehouse… Amaaaaaazing!

You can find out more by visiting their website.

Bradstone Manor blog what am i up to blog post series lila bailey

Where do I come in?

Okay, so the venue is run by Romilly & Mark who live at Bradstone Manor, but they don’t have a background in weddings… So that’s where I come in!

With the venue hire, couples get me as their wedding co-ordinator. This basically means I’m there from an hour or so before guest arrival, until after the first dance in the evening. I’ll be keeping an eye, making sure everything is running smoothly (and on time!), as well as greeting suppliers, liaising with the caterers, and any other on-the-day bits which need sorting (there’s always something).

If couples want a bit more from me, such as help with set-up or clear-down, or perhaps even supplier sourcing & management, I’ve put together a brochure exclusively for Bradstone Manor couples. We’ve got two couples booked in already which is brilliant!

I’m super excited about working with Bradstone Manor for many reasons, but as my other work is not based around wedding co-ordination – more admin etc – it’s lovely to be doing it here.

Bradstone Manor blog what am i up to blog post series lila bailey

And…

So that’s what I’m up to! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the different areas of the wedding industry I’m exploring at the moment.

Keep your eyes peeled for an exciting blog post series, coming in April!

Posted in Lifestyle, The Empty Box Company

The Empty Box Company | What am I up to Blog Series

Harking back to my post earlier this week, I’m now onto what I do at The Empty Box Company (catch up with my previous two posts here and here).

The Empty Box Company is my family’s business which has been running for 30 years (older than me!). With it being the family business, I’ve – obviously – always been involved. But as I’ve got older (and into the wedding industry) I’ve helped out more & more, particularly on the marketing and social media side of things.

the empty box company what am i up to blog post series lila bailey blog

The Empty Box Company

The company itself predominately makes wedding dress boxes to protect and preserve your wedding dress after the ‘big day’. Because of this, it’s really not surprising I’ve chosen a career in the wedding industry – I’ve grown up in it! And it will always hold a special place in my heart.

The Empty Box Company also makes all sorts of other boxes (empty ones, obvs). Including home storage boxes, hat boxes, and keepsake boxes (and many more!). Starting in Surrey, and expanding 10 years ago when we moved to Devon, we now have two workshops. One in Surrey and one in Devon!

You can find out more about the company on the website.

the empty box company what am i up to blog post series lila bailey blog

Where do I come in?

As I said, I’ve always been involved (hard not to be). But about 5 years ago now I helped exhibit at the first ever London Bridal Show, which is also when I realised I just had to be in the wedding industry. So my own journey working for different companies within the wedding industry began!

It was also when social media really started to reach businesses properly. It’s hard to believe that it was only 5 years ago that the big Instagram boom started to happen, but it was! I setup an Instagram account for The Empty Box Company (Facebook had been around a while) and went from there.

I also started to get more involved with the marketing side of things, and contributed to projects with a fresh eye. 2 years ago we decided to hold an open workshop event for the first time, and (as I was studying weddings & events at the time) it was my job to assist with the organisation of the event.

I’m now doing a lot of PR work, as well as writing blog posts and creating social media content (such as videos, Facebook groups, and -yep – more Instagram posts), plus we’re holding another open workshop event in April which I’m in charge of promoting and executing.

the empty box company what am i up to blog post series lila bailey blog

Why the family business?

Anyone who’s grown up with their parent’s running their own business will understand how much their business can end up meaning to you. The Empty Box Company has been the foundation for my whole life as I know it. I felt the stress in the earlier days when my parents were working incredibly hard to make a living, and I’ve seen first-hand how hard work really does pay off. Like with The Bishop’s Palace, it really does get in your blood. And for me I actually consider it to be my blood. My parents built the company from nothing, with a bizarre idea that no-one else believed in, and it would’ve been so easy for them to give up and get ‘normal’ jobs. But they didn’t. And from that they have created something wonderful which I cherish so much.

I could honestly type for hours about the company and what it means to me, but I won’t! Instead, give us a follow on Instagram (@theemptyboxcompany – because who doesn’t love pictures of beautiful boxes, right?!) and think of us for any and all box-related needs!

the empty box company what am i up to blog post series lila bailey blog
Posted in Lifestyle, The Bishop's Palace

The Bishop’s Palace – What am I up to Blog Series

So following on from my post about my interview at The Bishop’s Palace (and subsequently getting the job!) here is more about the Palace itself and the work I do!

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

The Bishop’s Palace

Aka the most wonderful place in all of the lands – plural. I’m not joking, The Bishop’s Palace is genuinely magical. I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous towering medieval buildings, the incredibly beautiful gardens, the community spirit, or all 3! But I L-O-V-E it there. On one of my first days, a colleague said to me ‘it really gets in your blood’ and that has since resonated so much with me. It’s true – it honestly does get in your blood.

The Bishop’s Palace is run by a trust, meaning it’s a non-profit organisation. Any money they do make goes straight back into the trust to preserve the buildings & gardens and make it increasingly desirable and accessible to be enjoyed by all. And it’s so amazing to work for a company who runs on that basis. Plus, I have a huge number of amazing colleagues across many different departments, and we’re all left to get on with our work to the best of our abilities. No micro-management or lack of belief in our abilities (which, as you may know, is something I have had the displeasure of experiencing previously).

Obviously, people have to make money. But I feel that when making money out of people’s weddings becomes the focus of the business you may as well be working for an enormous corporate chain. Turning every wedding into a business development opportunity, for me, loses all meaning of what the wedding industry is about. And, as a bride-to-be I have actually rejected suppliers for my own wedding on that basis. Anyway, slightly off topic there. But my point is that at The Bishop’s Palace, your wedding is contributing to the preservation of an 800 year-old site, and I think it’s magical!

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

What I do

Now onto the fun stuff, what do I do all day? Well, as the Wedding & Venue Manager, I’m the face of the wedding and private hire department at The Bishop’s Palace. I deal with all incoming enquiries, and have a system in place for following up with enquiries and generating show-rounds. I’m also the person who conducts all of the show-rounds and (hopefully!) turns them into bookings.

A lot of my time is spent on the business development side of things. My first couple of months were spent focussing on a small re-brand of the wedding department to bring it up to a higher standard. I’ve also been accumulating previous wedding images, and over the next few weeks I’ll be submitting those to various blogs & magazines to get featured. I’ve created a specific ‘wedding’ Instagram for The Bishop’s Palace (@bishopspalaceweddings – go & give it a follow!) to keep the wedding department separate from the huge amounts of other things that go on at the Palace.

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

As the manager, I’m also responsible for all wedding & events staff. Making sure they’re working the hours they need to, approving holiday, managing office hours vs function hours, and keeping everyone happy! We have a weekly team meeting in which I have to give a brief overview of private events that are happening at the Palace, and once a month we have a management & trustee meeting for which I have to prepare a management report and be present at and contribute to the meeting (which usually lasts most of the morning).

Alongside all of that, there are various meetings with other team members (chefs for example) and meeting with local suppliers to build professional relationships. The list goes on! But that’s the bulk of it. And I couldn’t be anymore thrilled that this is my life!

the bishop's palace blog post what am i up to  lila bailey blog

The Travel

I’ve had a lot of questions about how I’m finding the travelling, how long does it take, etc. To be honest, it’s really not that bad. It takes me 2 hours almost on the dot and it’s a really easy & pleasant drive. I’m only there 2 days a week (usually Mondays & Thursdays), so only doing the journey twice which makes it very do-able. I think if it was 3 days or more I would definitely struggle, but it’s not, so, yay!

During the drive I mostly listen to podcasts which is actually a wonderful use of my time. The times of day that I’m travelling are also, in my opinion, ‘lost’ times of day anyway. In the morning, I would just be in bed for a bit longer and have more time to get ready. And between 5pm-7pm all I’d do is probably cook dinner and maybe do some chores or go to the gym. Euan has dinner covered on those evenings and chores & gym can be done on another day!

And that, is that!

So, there you have it! That’s what I get up to on most Mondays & Thursdays. If you want to know anything else, just drop me a line. And please do consider The Bishop’s Palace as your wedding venue if you’re getting married!

Photography by Simon Biffen