There aren’t many things that make us happier than food and travel. So when we get to put our two true loves together, as you can imagine, we are a bunch of happy folk here at House of Coco.

We’ve put together our roundup of the best foodie hotspots to inspire your inner piglet to hop on a flight…

Denver, Colorado –
From green chile synonymous with Colorado’s ancient Pueblo communities to buffalo in the Old West, Colorado’s culinary scene has been integrated into the culture of the state for centuries. For those looking for a quirkier dining location, Linger an ‘eatery’, is set in a former mortuary, whilst Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox serves American food in a former brothel.

Taste of Denver: For a real taste of Denver, a three hour walking food tour will give visitors an insight into the ever expanding food scene of this vibrant city. Sample Zoo Ma Ma’s infamous noodles which are inspired by her mother’s home cooking and then wander down to the Wynkoop Brewery for a tipple at the oldest brewery in Denver, finished off with a trip to Milk Box, one of the most popular ice-cream creameries in the city.

Greater Palm Springs, California –

The Greater Palm Springs area is a burgeoning foodie destination plating up for Hollywood A-listers and being home to the largest date growing region in the US. Creative chef-driven restaurants and gourmet stores serving local specialities such as Date Shakes are driving more food lovers to the area. Thanks to the ideal farming conditions in Greater Palm Springs, the popularity of farm-to-table restaurants is increasing, with La Spiga and Workshop Kitchen & Bar offering the freshest dishes, whilst making use of the best local produce.

Desert Tasty tours: Visitors can take a walking food tour through the desert and experience the best food Greater Palm Springs has to offer, whilst also learning unique insights about the history of the area from an expert guide. Choose to explore El Paseo or Palm Canyon Drive over the course of three hours and expect many tasty dishes, from award winning Bill’s Pizza to nationally acclaimed toffee and popcorn shop, Brandini Toffee.

Newport Beach, California –

While Newport Beach is mainly known for its beautiful coastline, there are many tasty restaurants to be found around the area with freshly caught seafood and scenic waterfront dining. As locals in Newport Beach have one of the highest average incomes in the area, the food options tend to match their high standards.

Dock and Dine: Eat like a local and experience a classic Newport Beach dining experience. Choose from over a dozen restaurants and enjoy a dinner cruise whilst docked in the marina, sampling the best food, food truck catering and stunning views on offer. Cannery Seafood of the Pacific is a favourite with the locals and offers visitors a menu packed with freshly caught local seafood to complement their impressive award-winning wine list.

Portland, Oregon –

Portland is globally renowned for its gastronomy scene. Home to over 700 street food trucks, food festivals, food specific walking tours, farm to fork concept dining and an ever expanding vegan offering. Portland is the place for foodies to head to this year, as Delta have confirmed a seasonal direct flight from London Heathrow, operating 4th May – 26th October.

Hands-on culinary experiences include:

Tea Tasting Appointment at Smith Teamakers: Coffee or beer might come to mind when you think of Portland’s craft beverage scene, but tea is also on the rise. Founded in 2009, Smith Teamakers blend and pack teas and botanicals in very small batches from the world’s best producing regions. Take a guided tasting in their new tasting room in SE Portland which has unique, artisanal, and highly curated range of products.

Tasting at Teutonic Wines Urban Winery: Local wine geeks have fallen hard for Teutonic’s Swiss-German-style wines since Barnaby and Olga Tuttle debuted their pinot noir in 2008. Since then, Teutonic has sold out vintage after vintage. The Tuttles’ wine is unique, including a few, like silvaner and chasselas, that practically no one else in Oregon makes. The Tuttles aim to introduce their bottles to a wider audience with an urban winery and tasting room in Southeast Portland.

Sacramento, California –

Sacramento is known as the Farm to Fork capital of the US AKA foodie heaven, with the lower rent prices and ideal climate, the city has seen an influx of Bay Area chefs as it is much easier to set up shop here and with the easy access to all the organic produce they come up with the tastiest menu offerings. 96 percent of the country’s tomatoes come from within 250 miles of Sacramento, as well as 95 percent of California’s sushi rice, exported in mass to huge sushi industries such as Japan.

Get hands on with a local cookery class at Sacramento Natural Food Co-Op: From udon noodles to Indian street food or entertainment with cheese, the Co-Op offers something for everyone with the opportunity to get hands on in the cookery class. They also offer wellness seminars and gardening workshops, helping to make connections about important food, health and environmental issues in support of local family farms.

San Diego, California –

Renowned for its unique flavours and a collaboration of chefs from both sides of the border, Mexico’s Baja-Med scene combines California’s emphasis on fresh and local ingredients to create a delicious and unique new menu, fondly known to the locals as ‘Cali-Baja’. Fish tacos and grilled octopus on a tostada are amongst the favourites. This Mexican heritage also influences art, culture, music and architecture.

Taco making at Galaxy Taco: Trey Foshee’s Galaxy Taco is a celebration of the culture and cuisine of Mexico, where you’ll find simple foods done well. A casual Mexican restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, Galaxy Taco grind their own masa from non-GMO heirloom corn to make their tortillas. The lunch menu is an interpretation of Mexican street food, with an emphasis on seafood and tacos and the dinner menu has additional family style offerings.

San Francisco, California –

With the huge production of fruits, vegetables, seafood and livestock surrounding San Francisco in California, chefs are able to create fresh authentic meals that are enjoyed by both locals and tourists. San Francisco is home to an array of restaurants offering a wide selection of foods, including the Mission District, the city’s exuberant hipster neighbourhood with Latino roots where restaurants like La Taqueria serving up one of the best burritos in the area. Home to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, any trip to San Francisco must include a taste of the Asian cuisine, including dumplings from Yank Sing or noodles from M.Y. China, prepared right in front of your eyes.

San Francisco visitors can test their own culinary skills by taking part of one of the many culinary classes within this diverse city. The Wok Shop, located in San Francisco’s Chinatown, host ‘Wok Wednesday’s’ for visitors to develop their Stir Fry Skills learning from advanced ‘wokers’.

Santa Barbara, California –

Foodies in Santa Barbara can take a Famers’ Market Foodie Stroll with Bouchon’s executive chef, Greg Murphy, for a true ‘farm to fork’ wine country cuisine experience. After perusing the fresh produce with the chefs at the Santa Barbara Food Market to select ingredients, diners can see the fresh food transformed into a three-course dinner paired with local wines. A market tour and three course dinner with wine costs $95 per person. For budding photographers, Eat This Shoot That! offer food or wine tours with an interactive photography element. The Funk Zone Food & Photo Tour explores the food of Santa Barbara’s newest neighbourhood, with eight tasting locations, spanning 3.5 hours. Visitors can learn foodie photo tips and tricks using a smartphone, with backdrops of hidden graffiti art and galleries. $99 adults, $89 children.

Setouchi, Japan –

With the ever increasing popularity of Asian food around the world and the increase in Japanese restaurants throughout the UK, including the opening of Japan Centre in central London, Japanese food has never been so hot. What better way to taste the Japanese delicacies than to travel to Japan’s Inland Sea, Setouchi, and try its fresh produce for yourself.

Udon Taxi Tour: Foodies rejoice, as Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, is the Udon capital of Japan. Here visitors can watch the dough being hand-stretched and noodles boiled over a wood fire. Big time Udon lovers can even hail an Udon Taxi that will take them to explore famous Udon spots across the prefecture – easily spotted thanks to the giant replica of a bowl of Udon attached to the car roofs.

Sonoma County, California –

Visitors to Sonoma can enjoy an array of culinary experiences, including the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail or the Farm Trail. A year-round cornucopia of fresh produce is available even in the most remote corners of this fertile region, contributing to an abundance of award-winning restaurants and wineries.

For a hands-on experience, visitors to Sonoma can join a cookery class at Ramekins, where they capture the essence of Wine Country living with fresh foods, fabulous wines and good company. Hands on classes are hosted throughout the year, with a huge range of cookery options on offer. Whether it’s learning to cook a favourite seafood dish or perfecting Italian pasta, these cookery classes will complement every taste bud.

The Islands of Tahiti

French Polynesia benefits from amazing weather all year round. It’s a virtual Garden of Eden, where exuberance and abundance go hand in hand. Farmers grow a wide variety of fruits, spices and vegetables, combining aromatic qualities with nutritional benefits.

Guests to The Islands of Tahiti can take their hand in the kitchen and learn the traditional culinary arts, including at some of the large hotels where the chefs organise culinary workshops. Every Tuesday and Thursday, guests at Le Meridien Tahiti are introduced to the techniques used by the chef, to understand the blend of exotic Asian and Western flavours using the freshest and finest of locally grown and caught produce.

Camille Defago might only be 21 years old, but this girl is one to watch. Born and raised in Lima, Peru she is passionate about fashion. Her mission as a designer is to empower creativity in to everyone that wears her clothes and she offers something original, vivid, and extrovert with her designs. Think bold and bright, Camille Defago is the brand that will brighten up even the darkest of days.

Entrepreneurial from a young age, Camille was always destined for greatness. We spent some time with her to find out more about her, the brand and her plans for the future…

Tell us about the journey that lead you to Camille Defago the brand… Oh my god I’ve been through so much, hahaha. When I was 15 I started designing collages but didn’t have the confidence to publish them or show them. When I moved to Buenos Aires I decided to create a Instagram account with a fake name and started posting my collages. I started getting lots of engagement and reactions so I decided to change the name to By Camille Defago. Then I moved back to Lima and printed my collages on big frames, I sold every single one of them. This encouraged me to create my first brand called Viva la Vida, it was a brand of men’s swimwear that were printed with my colorful collages. I had such a terrible experience making my first summer campaign for Viva la Vida (because of the photography and video team) that when I sold every swim short I decided to leave the brand aside and not continue with it. I didn’t want people to know me as a random brand, I wanted people to know me by my name, Camille. This is when I decided to launch myself as a designer and started creating pieces under my name as a designer. You want your customers to feel empowered when wearing your designs, how do you achieve this? I achieve this by offering extrovert, colorful, joyful designs. Each collage has a story and great memories behind them. People highlight from the rest each time they use my clothing because of the color. I don’t want them to feel ashamed about standing out from the croud, from breaking boundaries, for being different and original, I want them to feel empowered, GREAT. Achieving this through strong and bold collages. Bright, colourful and bold, your designs make a statement. Who is your dream customer? My dream customer would definitely be top celebrities. I would love someday to dress Chiara Ferragni, Alexa Chung, Bella Hadid and other jet setters. But my actual dream customer is a girl who is confident of herself, who loves everything about her, LOVES to travel and spend her summer’s in Mykonos or on the beautiful beaches of France. She is confident, strong, bold, she is light and definitely stands from the crowd. She doesn’t care what people think about herself, she is true to herself and to her personal essence.

Only 21, you have achieved so much with the brand already. What has been your proudest moment?

I know I have achieved a lot of things by now but I have so much to go through. I have so many projects, visions and idea to take my brand to the next step. My proudest moment was my first fashion show which was this December 2019. We put on a great show: 20 international and national models, we did it at a huge house which was built 50 years ago so it had a renaissance twist to it, my collages were projected on the walls of the house, 150 guests, it was amazing.

Talk us through an average day at the business?

We have a weekly team meeting every Monday in which we talk about each months objectives and each team member’s tasks. Once a month in a week meeting we brainstorm about new ideas and visions that can be added to the brand. In this way I involve my team members and consider their ideas and opinions. I want them to feel as part of the family, part of The C Team. I want them to be as passionate to the brand as I am.

What are your plans for the future? I have changed my mind many times. I wanted to open physical stores in London, Dubai, Japan, New York and others. But learning about the new consumer now a days I have decided to invest 100% on e-commerce. Our consumers are changing into online consumers, not physical. So now my plans for the future is to focus on keep selling worldwide through fashion e-commerce platforms. I also have in my plans making pop up’s in beaches like Mykonos, Ibiza, Majorca, Sardinia, Santorini, Marbella, Corfu and other top destinations. I want to focus also on creating mind-blowing fashion editorials, amazing marketing campaigns, and taking my brand all around the world! My plans for the future and my main goal right now is to have the opportunity to showcase my collections at any fashion week: Paris, London, NYC, Milan. Anyone of them would be great and huge for the brand. Since launching the brand, what has been your highlight?

Definitely having the possibility of being featured on respected fashion magazines. Literally when I started my brand, my long term goal was to be showcased in Vogue. I had less than a year with the brand and I was featured on the most respected fashion magazines in the world: Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveller.

Looking back, is there anything you would do differently? I believe everything I have been through has happened for a reason. I wouldn’t do anything different because it has made me who I am today as a designer, brand and person. I have learned so much in the business, without even studying Fashion Design. (I study communications hahaha). I know all of my experiences will take me somewhere big.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list? 

Definitely, The French Rivera, Mykonos, Amalfi, and Bali.

What quote do you like to read when you are lacking motivation? “You will never influence the world by trying to be like it” For anyone wanting to start their own fashion business, what advice would you offer?

Everything is about taking risks, you got to take risks in order to grow.

Don’t worry about stress, its just part of the process. That’s the beauty of it. Enjoy it.


What are your plans for the business in 2020?

My future for this year is to produce a swimwear collection for summer 2020 (Europe & USA), focus on creating mind-blowing editorials, and creating a beautiful campaign that involves my country, Peru. I will take and empower my collages into the three regions of Peru: Coast, Highlands & Jungle..

Find out more… www.camilledefago.comCamille has recently launched a blog on her website to talk about entrepreneurship, culture, fashion, art, and other factors that have made her and the brand what they are today..Instagram:Brand: @wearcamilledefagoPersonal: @camilledefago

Designer Sarah Jane Bourque’s foundation is her unyielding commitment to excellence forged over 24 years as a professional designer.

Here, she chats to us at House of Coco and tells us more about her journey…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I launched Seneca Jewellery in the fall of 2017. Previously, I was the designer for my former jewellery brand for 15 years. I sold the business to start and grow our family. During that time I thought a lot about my future. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would create if I were to start another collection and that is how Seneca emerged.

What’s your background?
I studied fashion design at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia and at Woodbury University in Los Angeles; after graduating cum laude, I entered into an emersion program, where I studied haute couture in Paris. I then moved to New York City and was a luxury handbag designer for Barry Kieselstein-Cord. It was there that I was drawn into the magical world of jewellery. My mother was also a jewellery designer who definitely influenced my path as well. Following several wonderful years, I scratched an itch and moved to the desert southwest (Phoenix, Arizona) to start my own jewellery collection — Saint by Sarah Jane. Saint became a national brand for over 12 years and was sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. It was a fun ride!

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
I am the sole owner and creative director of Seneca Jewellery. I work with top-notch, local artisans and jewellers to create my pieces. As a startup business, I think it is very important that I understand and know how to do every aspect of the business from the accounting, inventory, stone purchasing, designing, marketing, PR and forecasting. Over time, I may loosen the reigns, but for now I do not want to have any potential blind spots.

If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Nothing that I can think of — perhaps because 12 years at my previous company taught me so much about how to execute and what mistakes to avoid. Also, luckily, I am surrounded by some sharp people who are not afraid to give me their opinion when asked.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
The hardest challenge is conveying the how well made the pieces are made – the quality craftsmanship of the collection; trying to build customers’ trust and assure them that the images they are seeing on the website are just as nice and in many cases nicer in person. For now, I embrace the challenge and enjoy the freedom to design for my customers, while not being beholden to corporate America.

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I walk 12 miles in the morning, 5 days a week.

2019 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
I have three main goals this year: 1) continue to build out the collections 2) increase my private clientele with custom pieces and 3) gain more brand recognition.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
British Vogue’s and Tatler’s interest in featuring my collections. Also, seeing how proud my children are of me.

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Paris. I have so many happy memories there from school and work trips.

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Dr. Hauschka’s Eye Balm, IS Clinical Pro Heal Serum and Precious Nature Oil for my hair.

Style means….?
So many things! Style is your mood, your essence, who you are and sometimes who you want to be or what you want to say. The way you dress and carry yourself is your calling card through life. At this stage in my life, style is about dressing to suit my lifestyle. My lifestyle is very active and casual, so I really enjoy simple dressing with pops of luxury.

Best thing about London to you?
The people, I loved the people!

Statement shoe or statement bag?
Statement handbag, but I don’t think I should have to choose!

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear every day?
A white t-shirt.

Favourite love song?
“Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green

Best place for a coffee?
Home ☺

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
You can’t change someone. You can only change yourself.

Guilty pleasure?
20 minute naps.

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to go somewhere in Asia. Perhaps Japan. The Japanese culture intrigues me.

In the future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
One happy customer at a time! As my customer base continues to expand, I will continually re-assess Seneca Jewellery’s growth, with quality and craftsmanship being non-negotiable.

Find out more…

Instagram: @senecajewelry

Twitter: @senecajewelry

Facebook:Seneca Jewelry

With the memories of the long hot summer fading faster than your tan, the time has almost come to dust yourself off, update your wardrobe and prepare to get on up to get down for the 2018 party season. And what better way to kick off the most hedonistic time of year than with the return of the city’s most legendary cocktail party?

Back by popular demand, The Leeds Cocktail Experience returns on Friday 9th November to iconic event space Aspire for a fun-fuelled evening of entertainment, hot dancefloor cuts, and of course, the most ingenious and Insta-worthy cocktail creations in the north.

Are you ready to go on a global cocktail tour that covers NYC, Cuba, London, Paris and Japan to name just a few?

Guests will be able take their pick of premium pours from no less than 16 of the city’s finest bar brands, who will be under one roof for one night only. Those involved truly represent the cream of the crop as far as the Leeds nightlife A-List is concerned, allowing you to embark on the most epic of bar crawls without setting a foot outside. Each bar will be partnering up with a luxury liquor brand, ensuring the cocktails are top-shelf.

Hippest hangouts
The Domino Club has become one of the city’s hippest hangouts and has long been known to those in the know, but they will be in attendance to dazzle the crowds with their magical mixologists. They are fresh from being named as one of the best secret bars in the world by cocktail aficionado Simon Difford, one of the world’s leading authorities in the bar world.

The award-winning Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar will be on-hand to show party-goers the finer things in life like only they can. They will be hosting the shiny VIP bar, which will be available exclusively to special guests who upgrade their ticket. One for the true connoisseurs, this is where you’ll find some absolute diamonds when it comes to International liquor.

Discerning local foodies will be delighted to discover that chef extraordinaire and restauranteur Luke Downing will be bringing his best bartenders to the party, to mix up cocktails so cutting-edge they seem almost other worldly.

Manahatta and Neighbourhood will all be bringing their own unique take on NYC-style mixology to the table, whilst Revolución de Cuba will leave your heart in Havana oh-na-na, with their distinctive Cuban twist.

An international affair

The whistle-stop world tour continues to Japan, where rooftop-bar Issho will be blending exotic ingredients that will capture your imagination and tantalise your taste-buds. Neighbouring bar Banyan will also be in attendance with a game-changing cocktail that will leave you wanting more. Dirty Martini will also be making a trip across the road to deliver their distinctive twist on Bond’s poison of choice.

Other brands confirmed include Be At One, Oracle, The Botanist, Banyan, Below Stairs, Malmaison, Smokestack, newcomers Lost & Found and Dirty Martini. Once again, the party will take place over two floors and feature a range of entertainment, including the latest sounds from the city’s best local DJ’s.

The Leeds Cocktail Experience first stirred the city’s interest back in October 2016 and was an instant success. Two sell-out parties followed, with each one getting bigger and better, reflecting the very best of Leeds nightlife scene. Organised by one of Yorkshire’s leading PR agencies, Pink Gorilla and Hairy Lemon, it has now become a hotly-anticipated staple in the Leeds’ social calendar.

Pink Gorilla Director Jordan Odu had this to say about the brands fourth soiree ‘’It’s hard to believe it’s almost two years since our first party, but then time really does fly when you’re having fun. The Leeds cocktail scene has evolved massively since 2016, and our fourth party will be the perfect place to experience the huge amount of homegrown talent and diversity we have access to.

‘’As ever, our event is as much about the people and the partying as it is having the very best bars, bartenders and cocktails under one roof, and so guests can expect a night they won’t forget in a hurry. We hope to see you at all the bars for a cocktail or three!’’

Tickets are available from Eventbrite now, with early bird offers available on a first come, first served basis.

Follow Pink Gorilla on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates on The Leeds Cocktail Experience. The party lands on Friday 9th November and runs from 6:30pm-11pm. More information to follow…

Catherine Blades is a force to be reckoned with, a powerhouse and true boss babe who founded a company of the same name. Catherine Blades Couture, the award-winning wedding dress designer, explores the world of art, love and female consciousness and a name that should be on everybody’s lips. When you think of weddings, you need to think of Catherine Blades Couture.

Catherine Blades provides a fully bespoke service creating stunning wedding gowns and occasion wear that are unique to every client.

Her intimate knowledge of cut and fit set her apart from other designers. She is a highly skilled dressmaker, taking your ideas and transforming them into the dress of your dreams. The warmth and personal service you will receive at the Blades Bridal studio makes having a dress designed and made by her a truly wonderful experience, one that has her clients feeling at ease, and thoroughly enjoying the process from beginning to end.

Catherine learned her craft with some top-name designers, including Alexander McQueen, and over the past 20 years has refined her skills to become a couture dressmaker, designing and handcrafting exquisite gowns using a mix of traditional and modern techniques, luxurious fabrics and stunning embellishments. Catherine designs with innovation, and her creations are cutting-edge.

Catherine works from the beautiful Blades Bridal studio, set in the tranquil countryside on the Berkshire/Hampshire border. All dresses are designed, made and fit by Catherine personally and her attention to detail leaves her clients owning a truly stunning bespoke gown.

Catherine is not just a couture designer. She is an artist in her own right, creating stunning works of contemporary art and exploring the art of bridal in a totally different way. Her work as an artist allows her to bring that creative vision to her design work, which sets her apart from so many other designers.

Here, we spent some time with Catherine to find out more…

Tell us about our journey so far to get to where you are today…

Working for Alexander McQueen and being a freelance creative pattern cutter, working in the wedding industry was not at the top of my list. Whilst freelancing, I found myself working in a reputable bridal shop. The very first customer I had sent flowers to me at the shop as it was the best service she’d ever had. I think from that moment I was pretty hooked, knowing that I had the ability to use all my skills and make a difference to each and every bride during this life transition filled my heart with joy. I worked in retail for 12 years before Catherine Blades Couture began in 2012.

It was the day of Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s Royal Wedding that cemented the fact it was time to open my own studio. Having worked for McQueen and also the lady who created the flower girl’s dresses, I felt that it was my time.

My philosophy has always been the same, each bride should be totally unique and have something designed and created just for them. Having sold 5 of the same wedding dresses in one day, telling each girl how utterly lovely she looked, it felt fake. I didn’t want my brides to feel that they were on some sort of conveyor belt, so now each dress is designed working closely with the bride, using my expertise in cut, fit and design, to create a dress which conveys not only the way she wants to look, but the way she wants to feel.

I work with the most incredible women, the most luxurious materials, and, in the most tranquil of settings on the Hampshire, and Berkshire border, in South East England. I spend my days creating bridal gowns that are loved and cherished by their wearer.

You recently made a pivot in your business and want to take a slightly different direction, tell us about this…

I have discovered, whilst on my creative journey, that what seemed to be the ideal job, has now become a quest for true connection to one’s heart, soul and authentic self, in a time when, as women, we are learning to embrace a new sense of femininity, we need a bit of courage to love ourselves in totality. From the pit of my stomach, I knew brides suffered from a lack of self-love, and as female consciousness rises, the need to express this through art has become a must for me.

The new direction of my business aims to express how to love ourselves fully. This journey is detailed on my blog, The Art Of Bridal.

I shall be getting all romantic, positive and creative. Showing you how I work for my brides, and what inspires me, and also take you on a journey of self-discovery, as I embark on producing some exhibition pieces for an art show that combine a variety of creative, philosophical and spiritual works, helping us, as women, become more connected to the divine feminine, peace and balance within our hearts.

When people say “I Love My Job,” part of you thinks “Yeah right” or “Is that even possible”, but for me it’s true. Everything I do is in the pursuit of becoming more whole, in order to serve my beloved brides. From the ability to manage my own stress to pushing my boundaries of creativity to meet a bride’s desires, the sense of reward is immense and for these opportunities of growth, I am truly grateful.

There is no other dress that is as important as your wedding dress. To me, a wedding dress is a sacred gown, that empowers the bride with love for herself, and the journey ahead, representing her in all her glory, and radiating her inner beauty. The seams, fabric, cut and every detail must be infused with deep love, confidence and the pure potential for a successful loving life. This is my Zen and hopefully, it can be felt in abundance by the wearer.

What is it like working in the wedding industry?

Working in the wedding industry has been an absolute joy. I’ve met some incredibly talented and supportive individuals. Coming from a bridal retail background it is exceptionally different having your own business. I now have the ability to support and connect on a social level, an essential part of both my business and my personal growth. I’ve built some beautiful relationships with my clients and other business owners alike.

One of the most important relationships I have is with my colleague, right-hand woman, former wedding photographer and graphic designer, Jo, of Grey Card Creative. We work closely on my brand direction, website and promotional materials, and have a great working relationship as well as friendship.

Collaborations have been essential in order to bring my visions to reality, starting with ex-bride Chrissy Lippett of Smart Frames Photography on some branding images and artworks. I have recently collaborated with Sam Lucas of Sam Lucas Photography and the husband of one of my brides. Sam is an incredibly talented individual, and we have worked closely together on creating branding and artwork together in the past year. My mentorship of him has been most rewarding for us both.

Tell us about the most important relationship in your life…

The most important relationship in my life is the one I have with myself. This may sound egotistical, but I’ve come to realise, in the last few years, that when my connection to myself is in balance when my mind is focused, and when I’m creating from the heart, this is reflected through each and every relationship around me.

This has not always been the case. When I was in a state of war with myself, when my self-talk was aggressive, this was reflected in the lesser amount of love and connection I was able to give to my clients and to others around me.

My home life is one of laughter and love with my husband, daughter and dogs.

Although different to my home life, the relationship I have with my brides is one of great depth and honour to be part of such an impactful time in their lives. I’m lucky enough to class the majority of my brides as friends. This individual connection to me is like gold.

The one relationship that I value above all others is the one with my daughter Sophie. She is 15 years old, and is part of a generation that is under such pressure, more than any other generation has had before. As I connect with her, the work I create is my legacy to her.

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care to me is about creating a reality that feels like a dream, allowing stillness and clarity every day. The social world we live in has us pushing constantly, breaking down boundaries, and presenting the best version of ourselves. Self-care and a balanced life to me, are the same thing. I keep it very simple, but these simple daily habits mould my day and mental state. I awake early and work the best in the mornings.

I take a long walk with my dogs in the woods every afternoon, no matter how busy I am. This always clears my head and helps me to work more efficiently.

I have a Himalayan salt bath every evening and go to bed at a decent time. These simple habits help me to live a wholehearted life, where clarity and balance are essential.

In fact these are the topics of my art. Clarity is discovering your authentic self, not the one you’ve been told or programmed to be, not the one that society would lead you to become, but a version of yourself that comes from the heart, from a deep understanding of who you are and your connection to everything around you.

A life that leads to being calm, centred, transparent, joyful, fulfilled, balanced, and inspired to live as a fearless, free and joyful master of incredible clarity and integrity.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness,” Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly. “It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”

I am forever tweaking and learning how to be the best version of myself and it’s not always pretty and perfect, sometimes we have to unravel a little in order to learn how to live the right way.

Top of my travel bucket list is…?

The top of my travel bucket list is visiting Japan and Tibet. I have always been fascinated by a zen way of living. Oh and Burning Man!

Outside work, what do you like to do to switch off?

I take a long walk with my dogs in the woods every afternoon and take pleasure in being in nature.

Family time is important to me, and I make sure that my life/work balance is considered.

Looking back over your career, what has been your highlight?

The highlight was the day I found my sanctuary. A random set of circumstances lead me to take an alternative route, driving past a to-let sign. I turned left past a beautiful grand house, and opposite some tennis courts was the studio, a converted and extended stable unit, with a wildflower meadow and romantic mown path leading to some grand oak trees. I fell in love instantly, not only with the location but the potential of who I could become there.

There is always a moment with every bride when I’ve created her vision, and I know that all the hard work, worry and endless hours of hand stitching have paid off. When the deepest of connections happens, and the bride is transported in her mind and heart, standing next to the person she loves. This has to be the highlight for me with every client.

Yes, I drive a sports car. Yes, I have the freedom of being my own boss. But the real highlight of this career is making other people happy, and it fills my soul.

Is there anything you would do differently?

There is always a darker, more serious side of me, that wants to come out and play. I think it’s the Alexander McQueen influence in me. My art allows that, and also the red carpet dresses that I’m creating. I think if I were to do things differently, I would have started my artwork sooner, but I often think that maybe I didn’t have enough to say then, and the timing is perfect right now.

I would have worried less in the early days if I’d known what I do now. The first 2 years were torture, feeling like I had to have everything figured out, scared to make a mistake, and scared to get anything wrong. The loneliness was intense and my inability to share my vision was frustrating. I felt I had to be everywhere and know everything, whilst raising a young daughter and keeping a happy marriage. The standard pressure of being a woman in business these days. Now I realise it is possible to have it all, and not be under so much self-inflicted pressure.

What does 2020 look like for you?

In 2020 I hope to produce some of my best work to date. My dream is to exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery and have a Harper’s Bazaar front cover. To dress the stars and provide centred guidance. The change in my business has opened the cage door, allowing me to function as the truest version of myself. As an artist, as a soon-to-be reiki master, and as a master couturier.

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There’s a Victorian mansion that has sat proudly overlooking Derwentwater for over 200 years, but with a new luxury spa, restaurants and selection of stunning suites, the past here isn’t nearly as relevant as the present.

The Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa sits on the edge of Keswick’s Lake, a landmark hotel that has been rejuvenated into the oasis it is known for today. The original building has of course been renovated, extended, pulled apart and put back together again many times to house two restaurants, a spa, conservatory, countless lounges and almost 100 bedrooms.

We visited the place on a couple break, and the first thing you notice is how un-fussily romantic it is. It’s not a big show of white doves and fireworks, it’s slow dancing kissing in the rain… unless you go in the winter then you can almost guarantee snowfall.

And where’s the most romantic place to go when it’s snowing out? The outdoor pool of course, heated to a temperature just enough to keep things on the PG side of “steamy”. The pool is jewel in the crown that is the Falls Spa, with its treatment rooms, aroma steam room, herbal sauna, ice fountain and drench showers.

If you’re in need of notching up the romance a little, there’s even a Champagne bar actually inside the spa. Now that, is sexy.

The interior of the softly contemporary hotel tells a different story. Windows cover the walls where pictures would usually hang when there’s not such an impressive view on the other side. There is a collection of art too, showing off the area through a series of picture postcards and vintage photos of someones happy memories.

The rooms are neutral, with flashes of bold colour here and there. It’s definitely worth the extra few quid to secure a view of the lake, because after all that’s what you’re here for. If you’re on a blowout, go for a suite for bigger space and a much more decked out room with a Scandi vibe, huge beds and marble bathrooms. Most of the suites come with a balcony too with sweeping views.

There are several dining options, but one restaurant in particular sets the hotel apart from most classic British countryside Victorian hotels. Mizu is an award winning Asian fusion restaurant, blending Japanese, Malaysian and Thai cuisines. The result? A tangy combination of perfection set against a backdrop of contradictions.

We’ve become known to be a little unpredictable, but one thing that will always reign true will be our love for tasting menus. Choosing dishes can sometimes be a bore, and any chef that goes to the effort of creating this type of menu is clearly very, proud of it. Here, there was good reason. For two people, there’s a selection of sushi and sashimi, miso soup with tofu, beef tataki (seared beef with blue cheese and sesame seeds), crispy ginger shrimp. The showstopper is the perfectly tender teriyaki lamb cutlets – served with crispy leeks, fresh chillies on a choice of either sticky rice or yaki soba noodles. Asian cuisine in a countryside location is one of the most refreshing things about this place, and going to bed full has never been so satisfying.

CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is an active ingredient of the cannabis plant that is being used by over 500 million people across the globe. When it was discovered in the early 19th century, it became a rage across the world. Currently, CBD is enjoyed in many households across the globe in different forms. Traditionally, people only knew of this compound as something that could be inhaled through smoking, but now there are various ways to consume it. People like to infuse it in food items, desserts, drinks, beverages, smoothies, edibles, skincare products and a lot more, however, in this feature, we will tell you about a few ways CBD oil is used in the food and its benefits for the mind and body.

1. CBD Oil Brownies

If you are a fanatic CBD fan, you must try to cook brownies infused with CBD oil. The reason why 0.5 billion people consume this compound is, it can treat anxiety disorders and depression. Luckily, CBD oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can easily have a strong impact on the endocannabinoid system of the body. CBD brownies are easy to cook, and you can enjoy them at home with a cup of tea. Furthermore, as they are infused with a little amount of CBD oil, you can easily carry them on a trip as well. Make sure to put them in a tight air jar before leaving the house. Intriguingly, CBD can relax your mind, so having a brownie everyday can improve the quality of your life easily.

2. CBD Oil in Cookies

Using CBD oil in cookies is another tip for making quick snacks at home. Because cookies can last for a long time, so can CBD oil in them. All you need is a good quality CBD oil that can provide the benefits you’ve been looking for. Despise purchasing CBD oil from a local vendor as such people often compromise on the quality of the compound. When taking CBD oil cookies at home, it is best to check with a doctor to know the right dosage. Especially if you’re consuming CBD for health benefits, there is no harm in researching on the correct dosage for the body. This will help you in understanding the compound even better. Try different flavors such as chocolate chip, vanilla or peanut butter when making these cookies.

3. Edibles

Do you want to carry CBD on a travel trip? Worry not because making edibles out of this compound is the easiest and the safest method to carry it. If you don’t have hands-on experience of making CBD edibles at home, you can purchase them online. Don’t forget to read the customer reviews before settling for an option. Fanatic CBD fans love edibles because they are easy to carry and simple to make. Depending on what you like, there is a recipe for every kind of CBD edible on the internet. CBD edibles are consumed by over 100 million people across the globe. This is enough reason for the popularity of this compound.

4. CBD Sandwiches

Although it sounds weird, many restaurants in Japan sell CBD sandwiches to fanatic fans. You can also purchase a CBD sandwich in any South Florida café for as low as $5. However, you need to be of the legal age to consume this compound in public and private. CBD sandwiches can be made with different flavors and toppings. You can add olives and the meat of your choice. CBD sandwiches complemented with CBD smoothies is the perfect meal for lunch. You can also cook them for a couple of friends on holiday. Because CBD oil doesn’t cause sedation, eating multiple sandwiches won’t do any harm.

If there’s one thing we pride ourselves on here at House of Coco, it’s good taste – and we’re not just talking about our heels. Whether we’re jetting around the world or checking out our hometown haunts, food is an integral part of what gives any destination its sense of place. To celebrate the launch of our food issue, we asked #TeamCoco to tell us about their ultimate dish. Here are the best things we’ve ever eaten…

Rachael Lindsay – The hot chocolate served at Angelina’s in Paris is so dark, devilish and divine that I recommend it to everybody who mentions they are going to the French capital. It is served in an antique china jug, full of thick, melted chocolate, and comes with a huge plate of whipped cream. Stir up the perfect chocolate to cream ratio and you will be in chocolate heaven. Unbeatable during winter when the cold French wind chills, or for any time of year really. For those with a real sweet tooth, it is perfectly accompanied by a Mont Blanc, a dessert of pureed sweet chestnuts and yet more cream, that resembles the snowy peaks of the French Alps. Tip: get to Angelina’s early in the morning to beat the queues.

Emma Harrison – The tasting menus at Textur in Aalborg, Denmark (pictured above) – not only is the food delicious, but they have a great approach to food waste and use only the best seasonal products. I really enjoyed Thompson’s in Newport on the Isle of Wight too – he did an amazing fillet of John Dory with a beautiful fennel choucroute and raisin purée as well as a chilled pea mousse. Lastly, in Georgia, I recently discovered, and loved grits!

Rachel McAlley – My absolute favourite food I’ve ever eaten while away was in North Goa on Anjuna Beach. I caught a little boat from Calangute to the famous flea market at Anjuna Beach and it was lunchtime, so I went to a little shack inside the market and ordered a Goan Fish Curry. It was served it as a Thali, and OMG it was the fittest food I have ever experienced. There were around 7 or 8 little dishes presented in a large silver tray, the main dish was Goan Fish Curry and then there were 3 different vegetarian dishes, a rice dish, a dish of hot chillies, some bread (Goan Pita and Chapati), and a glass of lassi. Seriously, I want to go back right now, just to eat this.

Alexandra Delf – Mine has to be eating SUPER fresh sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. We got up early for breakfast and had the most insanely delicious breakfast of mixed sushi, no one spoke English so we pointed at pictures above the little shops and hoped for the best. What we got was a selection of freshest sashimi on a bed of rice. The best thing was exploring all the nooks of the marketplace to choose where to eat – a breakfast with a difference, which I literally crave every morning now!

Laura Bartlett – One of the best things I have ever eaten has to be lobster on the beach in Grenada. It had been freshly caught and cooked with Caribbean spices and we ate it whilst listening to people playing steel pans as the sunset. I’ve never had lobster since as I just know it will never be as good!

Jenna Clarke – I’d have to say my favourite food experience this year was definitely eating fresh Sashimi straight from the Caribbean Sea whilst in St Lucia. Sitting by the pool at Marigot Bay Resort, sipping on prosecco and eating freshly caught salmon was an absolute dream.

Vanessa Gainford – By far, it has to be the ‘Loaded Tater Tots’ in Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal Studios, Orlando – a steampunk themed eatery specialising in extraordinary culinary creations.

Beth Roberts – I’m never sure if it’s the setting that makes the restaurant or the food, but either way – Hotel Esencia on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula has it down. Slow-cooked pork tacos with sweet salsa, avocado fries and a cold local beer is always going to be delicious. But eaten overlooking the blindingly white sand of Xpu-Ha beach after a dip in their secret cenote? Unbeatable. A close second would have to be the huevos chilaquiles (spicy Mexican eggs) at local cafe Colibri in Mexico’s Isla Holbox – the prettiest pink cafe peppered with hand-painted hummingbirds.

The world has so many beautiful cities with breathtaking scenery, activities to do, and places to visit. Many of these towns are very famous, and it’s a dream of every intrepid traveller to visit them. Such cities include London, New York, Moscow, Tokyo, Dubai, and even Singapore. However, there are several cities that are so underrated but have very captivating sceneries. These underrated cities in the world often provide unique experiences and hidden gems that are equally enchanting. Cities like Budapest, Bled, and Moscow are considered to be off the beaten path, but they are the cities that will give you the best experience in the world. So, go ahead, book that Jettly flight, and explore them! Listed below are the most underrated yet very scenic cities around the world.

Auckland, New Zealand

It’s among the major cities in New Zealand. The city is a Metropolitan centre on the North Island that boasts two harbours, magnificent natural landscapes, and volcanoes. It has an intriguing mix of traditional Maori and a little touch of western culture. There are very many activities to do in Auckland. These include visiting the Skytower, the Auckland Domain, the zoo, the aquarium, the war memorial museum, and the Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Banff, Canada

This is one of the cities I must go back to. The city is filled with very many fascinating places and sceneries to visit, for example, the Banff National Park, and the magnificent mountains and lakes. Apart from the wildlife and scenic views, Banff has very great restaurants with delicious meals, delightful boutiques, and shops. One can also visit the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Bow Falls, the Cave and basin National Historic Site, the Tunnel Mountains, the Upper Hot Springs, and many more lovely sites.

El Nido, Philippines

With a very gorgeous and clean beach, this resort town on the Filipino island of Palawan is truly an off-the-beaten-path town. The city is known for its beaches with white sands and coral reefs and amazingly clear waters from the lagoons. Near the town is an island known as Shimizu that has water filled with all kinds of fish. The areas also have very many diving sites, such as the Dilumacad island tunnel that leads to a cavern under the water.

Mendoza, Argentina

Mendoza is the largest wine region in Argentina. During my visit, I was excited to visit one of the bodegas for a wine tasting and a tour around the wineries. Apart from that, the city streets are evergreen and leafy, and the buildings are full of modern art decor on buildings across the city. I also got a chance to visit the Museo Municipal de Arte Mordeno, a city that displays modern and contemporary art.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary that is divided into Buda and Pest by the Danube River. The city is also referred to as ‘the Paris of the East’ because of its magnificent architecture that makes Budapest look and feel awesomely unique. Several places that make Budapest a great destination include the Danube River, the ruin bars, the thermal bath, historic churches, and the castle hill. Their traditional Hungarian cuisines are to die for.

Safed, Israel

Also known as Tzfat, this is a city in the Northern District, Israel. Tzfat is said to be the birthplace of Kabbalah. It was also regarded as a Holy city shortly after the Jews were expelled from Spain in the early 1940s. It is also the highest city that is elevated over 900 meters high in Galilee. The city has the top attraction centres frequently visited, including the Bat Ya’ar ranch. Soul and Art fine art gallery, Abuhav synagogue, The Ashkenazi Ha’Ari synagogue, and the Old City of Safed.

Galway, Ireland

Galway is known for its wild ‘stag and hen’ parties. The Irelanders are known to throw the wildest bachelor and bachelorette parties before getting hitched. The city is also known for its Irish character and spirit, starting with the pubs, their Irish folk music, and delicious cuisines. On the last trip I took to Galway, I was privileged enough to visit the breathtaking cliffs of Moher. I also visited very scenic and educational places, including the Spanish Arch, the Galway cathedral, the museum Lynch’s castles, the Atlantaquaria National Aquarium, a ride on the Aran Islands ferries, and even shopping on the streets.

It’s a well-known fact that as a society, we’re over consuming and for our our planet, it’s becoming a huge issue. Annually, we buy around 80 billion pieces of clothing (more than the whole population of the UK) which has shown a 400% upsurge over the last 20 years. Producing these clothes involves considerable work and resources. For example, the amount of water required to produce the 80 billion garments as mentioned above would fill 32 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. This just highlights the extent of how our shopping habits have simple become out of control, and it’s a growing problem that needs addressing sooner rather than later.

However, it’s worth noting that water consumption isn’t the sole part of the problem. The dangers of fast fashion is something that transcends through many different areas and we need to understand that the consequences of our consumption isn’t just impacting the environment, but vulnerable communities around the world as well.

To acknowledge the problem, it’s important to know the definition. Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Although you may be unfamiliar with the full extent of the ideology surrounding fast-fashion, you’re most likely buying into it without the harmful intent because you’ve been taught no better.

It’s the duty of our elected governing bodies to talk about these issues, but it isn’t attracting the attention that it should be.

What the clothes are made of

At one time, brands would release a new collection of clothing every season. However, this is something that we’re now seeing on a monthly or weekly basis – in some cases, new clothing can land on the shop floor every day. With more items of clothing to choose from, more materials are being used – but to what costs?

Believe it or not, cotton accounts for almost 50% of the total fibre used to make our clothes. Research has also suggested that 90% of it is genetically modified and uses a large amount of both water and chemicals, which is undoubtedly having an impact on our land and health. As well as this, cotton is responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use. Is it worth it?

Experiments have suggested that it can take 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make a pair of jeans. The cotton production scene has badly affected Kazakhstan for example, as in the 1960s, the country was home to the Aral Sea which covered 68,000 sq km and was one of the biggest inland seas in the world – home to aquatic life and a core attraction to tourists. Today, the water has disappeared and it is simply dry land. One of the rivers that once fed into the Aral Sea diverts into cotton production farms and is heavily absorbed. Again, is it worth it?

Aside from cotton, leather production has been known to have dangerous implications against the environment and human health. So much so, studies have shown that leather tannery workers are at greater risk for cancer by between 20-50%, and the harmful chemicals involved are known to pollute natural water sources which is having a devastating impact on nearby communities.

As we’ve mentioned, there’s a much bigger picture to the number of items on the shop floor. In recent months, ocean pollution has become a significant topic discussed by the media – with a specific focus on plastic. But, did you know, that the washing of polyester sheds microfibres and they do not biodegrade, so they’re adding to the levels of plastic and therefore impacting marine life.

With the frequency of new garments making their way to the shop floor, countless environmental corners are being cut and it’s simply not acceptable. But is there a fix? Or a way that we can ease pressure on the problem?

There is a solution to this issue, but it requires a joint effort from all parties: the consumer, the brands, and the authorities who are in a position to put legislation in place to reduce the catastrophic implications.

It’s important that we say that consumers aren’t required to boycott the big brands they’ve grown to love over the years. However, what we do ask is for you to shop more consciously – do you really need that new dress or blazer that looks exactly like the one you bought last week? Are you really that worried about what people will say about you sporting the same jumper in two Instagram pictures 12 months apart?

If you’re always spending at the same stores, you’ve probably never thought of shopping for fair trade clothing, which is becoming more popular and offering fashionistas a more edgy look while helping vulnerable communities across the globe. As well as this, upcycling old clothes that are still in good condition but no longer suit your style could be an option! We can’t forget second hand clothing from charity stores either… there’s so much on offer that can help solve the international crisis of fast fashion.

Fashion at its core is an art form, and no one should be limited with the way they want to express themselves. But when it equals devastating impacts on the environment, then it’s time to question whether it’s actually worth it – and more than likely, it’s not. With scientists predicting that we 25 years left to fight climate change, which side will you take?


Why Do We Over-consume?

36 Facts About Fast Fashion That Will (hopefully) Inspire You to Embrace the Slow Fashion Movement