Date Posted: Wednesday 7th February 2018
DIARY directory recently caught up with fashion bloggers Alice Shreeve and Hannah Coniam-Thompson from Belle & Bunty. Having met whilst studying at London College of Fashion together, the duo decided to join forces in 2003 and create their own fashion-turned-bridal label, Belle & Bunty. Initially having a blog alongside the brand's website which showcased inspiration behind their collections, magazine press and images of celebrities wearing their designs, the pair redesigned the blog and separated it from their label in 2015 after gaining traction on Instagram. Having shared their #ootd's, daily musings and London lifestyle on the platform, the creative partners had developed a good following so when brands started contacting them, they recognised a business opportunity separate to their label. Now Belle & Bunty is not only a thriving bridal label, but also a succesful blog which covers fashion trends, style tips and tricks Alice and Hannah have learnt along their fashion career.
|Country of residence:||UK|
|Biggest Readership Locations:||UK & USA|
|3 main areas of focus:||Fashion, Beauty, Bridal|
|Skin tone/type:||Alice: Fair/Normal; Hannah: Medium/Normal|
|Hair colour:||Alice: Red; Hannah: Blonde|
|Hair type:||Alice: Thick/Curly; Hannah: Fine/Straight|
|Height:||Alice: 5'8; Hannah: 5'9|
How do you split your time between blogging and your bridalwear company?
We split our week literally down the middle, Monday - Wednesday we use as days working on the blog (shooting, writing, PR meeting and styling) and Thursday - Saturday is for the bridal business where we hold appointments in our London boutique, do fittings with our tailors and oversee the manufacturing in our London workshop. Inevitably things get switched around but as there are two of us we try to split the workload with Hannah taking the lead on all things digital and Alice on the bridal manufacturing, enabling us to manage both. They are two very different businesses, with the blog and social media being fast-paced while bridal is a much longer process but we do have a fantastic team around us that means we can maintain the balance.
Do you have any professional help with the organisation of the blog?
We use professional photographers to capture the majority of our imagery - whilst we art direct, find locations and style all our looks ourselves we rely on them to produce high-quality photography. Occasionally we work with digital agencies on specific projects but on the whole, we like to manage our own blog projects and relationships with PRs so we can talk directly with them about ideas and the content they’d like us to create.
Your blog covers fashion, beauty and lifestyle – what posts resonate with your readers most?
Fashion definitely is our main area. As we are both London College of Fashion trained fashion designers with 20 years experience between us, we really feel this is our area of authority. We know about fabrics, fits, garment construction etc. so feel like we do have advice to offer in that area. We also occasionally post about business or our thoughts on the Instagram algorithm which was a recent blog post that got a phenomenal reaction!
How do you go about planning your social posts? Do you have any social media top tips?
Firstly although it may not look like it, blogging and being an active Instagrammer is very time-consuming! We don’t just sit around in coffee shops drinking pink lattes! If you are an aspiring influencer on a whole, gaining a good size engaged following will not happen overnight. It takes a lot of time to dedicate to creating good content and if you want to start working with brands this also won’t happen overnight! If you are willing to put in the hours creating imagery and also actively engaging on social media platforms like Instagram then that's great as it really is a fun community to be part of but just be aware there is a lot that goes on in the background! We use a few apps for Instagram in particular: for editing, we can use A Colour Story or VSCO and Planoly to plan out our feed. We are also part of the Reward Style affiliates programs so use their app to create LiketoKnow.it posts and to create links for Instagram Stories swipe ups which are proving to be a really popular way for our followers to now shop as it is so easy.
You’ve worked commercially with a number of brands, what’s been your favourite collaboration to date?
We are really lucky to have been offered some great collaborations and worked with some of our favourite brands. The Dune project is great because its where our two worlds collide. We get to wear our bridal pieces with their bridal accessories. We have some really exciting collaborations in the pipeline including one with Oasis that is launching this month…. and going to be in the window!!!
What are specific things that you look for when working with brands and PR companies? Any pet peeves?
We both trained in design and textiles so we are really fussy about product and quality. We like to find gems all over from high street to designer but the quality for us is key. You can get great quality on the high street likewise many designer brands can be all style over substance. For us, if a brand can create a beautiful product and deliver quality it's well worth a collaboration, whoever they may be. Our only pet peeve is when companies don’t acknowledge that they are asking us to work for them on projects and then say they have no budget. There is no other creative role in the industry that would be expected to work for free yet bloggers are constantly being contacted about projects on the expectation that they will do it without payment. Slowly more and more brands are allocating budget for influencer marketing and realising its real value but still, there are a lot of companies who need to get onboard!
What’s been your biggest high and lowest low?
We are currently working on a big project with a high street brand where you will be seeing our faces instore and in the windows which is amazing and an exciting opportunity for us as bloggers! Lowest points recently come down to Instagram and its frustrating algorithm! We work really hard, as so many bloggers do, to art direct really beautiful and unique imagery so it is saddening when a photo is beholden to Instagram's algorithm and doesn’t get the reach we’d wished for it.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
We think the key to any success or at least the chance of it, is knowing who you are - what your brand stands for, and having a good strong aesthetic and message. We have had our label for 13 years now and we have really learnt to define what it is we are. No brand is going to be everyone's cup of tea and I think when we realised and accepted this we started to be ourselves. The key is that we love and believe in what we do, we are passionate about creating something beautiful both for the women we make dresses for and the readers of our blog.
Tell us a little something about yourselves that we don’t know?
We do mention them occasionally but you won’t see our kids in our images! Alice has 2 girls and Hannah a little boy but we feel that as our blog is about fashion on a whole there's no need to feature them (plus we like to keep that part of our lives a little bit secret!)
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