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We’re living in a world where we’re all trying to do better. Whether that’s trying to make it through Veganuary to see if a vegan lifestyle could be adopted or trying to live more sustainably, we’re all doing our bit to make the world a better place.

One brand that is doing just that is The Natural Deodorant Co. which was co founded by Laurie and Brett, a brand that was born out of the desire to create the perfect natural deodorant.

Tired of spending time and money on natural deodorants that needed to be reapplied every couple of hours, they decided to create their own.

Interest in natural deodorants is set to continue as consumers seek out natural and sustainable products in their day-to-day routine. Every one of their products is 100% natural, free from preservatives, alcohol, artificial fragrance & palm oil. They are all certified cruelty-free and registered with The Vegan Society.

The story behind the brand is really inspiring. Here, we spent some time with Laurie to find out more…

Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching your brand The Natural Deodorant Co…

Building a sustainable brand is at the core of what you do. Why is this important to you?

I believe that we all need to start making sustainability a priority. Our deodorants easily match the effectiveness of mainstream deodorants and antiperspirants without plastic packaging or questionable ingredients. If we can make sustainable swaps easier for peo- ple, they’re far more likely to consider them.

How would you describe your brand in three words?

Honest, effective + approachable

How do you want women to feel when wearing your deodorant?

Confident! Fresh and free from the stress and embarrassment that comes with body odour.

If you to describe your personal style in three words, what would they be?

Casual, comfortable and cute.

Talk us through an average day in your life…

I’m up at 6am to feed the dog and give myself 30 quiet minutes with a coffee before the children wake. I don’t touch my phone or laptop at this time of day. Once they’re up it’s all- go to get everyone dressed, fed and out of the house.

Straight from the school run I go to the gym to do a HIIT session, then home to tackle emails and tasks. As co-founder of a small business I tend to wear a lot of hats. One mo- ment I might be writing compliance documents, the next I’m discussing ad campaigns, talking to journalists or paying invoices. I find working for myself can feel very chaotic if I’m not careful, so I keep a bullet journal and write absolutely everything down.

At some point in the day I take a long walk with our lab, Roux which is a great way to step away from everything and calm my mind. Then I’m back out for school collections, after school clubs and so on.

I squeeze as much as I can into every day, but it’s a juggling act. I personally find it easiest to work in slots throughout the day and break my day into smaller parts.

At some point in the day I take a long walk with our lab, Roux which is a great way to step away from everything and calm my mind.

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

Social media has been incredibly important and transformative for us. Instagram was how we carved our identity and found many of our incredible customers. It’s also the place that led several buyers to us over the years. Whilst it can now seem like a noisy and over- whelming space, when we launched in 2015 we were one of the only natural deodorant brands in the UK actively using social media so it really allowed us to stand out.

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

I’ve been very keen to explore Scandinavia for a long time and I’m actually going paddle boarding in Norway this summer so I’m very excited!

What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?

I don’t tend to use motivational quotes, I find caffeine works better for me.

What’s next for you and the brand?

More scents, teen deodorants and hopefully getting effective, planet friendly natural De- odorant into as many hands as humanly possible!

What’s your main goal with the business in 2022?

My main goal is to get back to our ‘why’. During Covid and Brexit we’ve been so focused on just getting through each day or task that sometimes I forget why we started! So this year we’ll be having lots of fun telling our story and telling people about why our products are so incredible.

What does self care mean to you?

Almost always, it means slowing down. Turning inwards and seeking peace. Choosing nourishing foods, taking breaks without devices, going to bed early, reading a book, deep breaths, stretching…and recently I’ve restarted my cold shower experiment. But, to be honest, cold showers never feel like self care initially. They feel awful! Haha.

Where can people find out more?

Find us online www.naturaldeoco.com. On Instagram or Facebook.

Queen of Hoxton, the queen of cool East London rooftop hangs, is welcoming the return of its winter Alice in Winterland pop-up, which took TeamCoco babe Hannah Tan-Gillies down the rabbit hole (in this case up) into the wonderful world of Lewis Carroll’s fantastical tale.

A firm fixture in London’s nightlife calendar, the fabulously immersive Alice in Winterland pop-up is appropriately over-the-top and transforms Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop garden into a world of mind-boggling possibilities. After climbing the spiralling staircase, guests are rewarded with a special drink – and can only guess whether they shall shrink or grow, as they enter a red and white circus tent – filled with floating teacups, cards and everything else you can imagine.

Here, you can meet the White Rabbit, explore vibrant visual displays, get a glimpse of the Cheshire Cat, peek into the keyhole and explore a world where nothing is quite what it seems.

To celebrate the pop-up, Queen of Hoxton has also launched an appropriately ‘mad’ cocktail menu which offers a few jaw-dropping potions to tantalise your tastebuds. We loved the ‘Wonderland Winter Warmer’ which was a warm, bubbling spiced rum and sherry concoction, perfect for drinking around the rooftop’s fire pit. ‘Alice’s Awake Potion’ is the pop-up’s version of an espresso martini, complete with a salted caramel twist, while the ‘Always late After 8’ is a dangerous blue-green vodka and crème de menthe blend.

The ‘Jam Jar Jabberwocky’, a blend of Kopparberg Gin, apple and lemon juice and topped with ginger beer is as easy on the eyes as it is on the palette while the ‘Mad as a Hatter Mule’ blends portobello and blueberry gin for a sensationally delicious take on a Moscow mule.

The Alice in Wonderland pop-up also offers a short but satisfying menu which includes the Wonderland Burger, Queen of Hearts Katsu Burger and Mad Hatter’s Vegan Burger – all wonderfully hearty – and perfect for a night out in winter.

So, grab your watches and take a trip to Winterland where you can go on a truly mad tea party – unlike anything London has ever seen.

To book visit https://queenofhoxton.com/

Over the course of the last 18 months, lot’s of people have used the slower pace of life to their advantage by finding out where their passions truly are and for Michelle Davidson, she turned that passion in to her pay check.

Here, we delve behind the brand, One of a Kind Designs, and get to the heart of what makes Michelle the force to be reckoned with that she is today…

Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching your brand, One of a Kind Designs

I think everyone would agree that the last 18 months have been a little bit odd to say the least, and like many of your readers who are ‘solopreneurs’, I started painting furniture as a hobby. In fact, it all started with a beautiful Victorian wooden chair that I had acquired, with lofty plans for a grand transformation. A chair became a chest of drawers, a writing bureau, a drinks cabinet and, frankly, anything else I could get my hands on!

I never dreamt that one year later I would be selling my furniture on my own website, having attended the first ever UK Furniture Painters Business Academy Conference or have my story published in an international lifestyle magazine! It’s been a whirlwind of a year.

Not long after picking up my first paintbrush, I knew that I had found my passion! I discovered my love for creating unique designs with vintage furniture and around the same time I also realised that I was not alone in my passion. I started to get lots of interest on my personal social media pages when sharing my transformations and I thought that there may be an opportunity to work on other people’s household projects.

It quickly grew into more than that as people have come to me looking for inspiration, or for me to help them realise their own vision. From then on, it seemed that there was a market for creating bespoke vintage furniture.

Before long I was considering the real impact of my work. I was rescuing beautiful furniture that was often destined for landfill and turning it into something that would be loved and treasured for many more years. This was eye-opening for me.

My mission now is to provide an alternative to mass-produced, fast-furniture, which is often made up of poor quality materials making it just another aspect of our wasteful, ‘throwaway’ culture, and if I can inspire others to do something similar, I will have achieved something wonderful.

How did you discover your passion for creating bespoke furniture?

By accident actually. I was looking for a new creative outlet. Over the years I had tried tapestry, dress making, candle making and as much as I still love to do all those creative hobbies, once I picked up a paintbrush and saw the effect that I could have on an old piece of furniture, I was sold!

I love taking an often unwanted piece of quality vintage furniture and transforming it into a statement piece for the modern home. These pieces are full of history and character. What I do doesn’t take away from that, I am conscious of the nature of the piece and whether it is a restoration project or I paint and decorate it, my goal is for the piece to be loved and used for many more years, rather than it being left to ruin.

How do you want people to feel once they purchase your furniture?

It’s actually remarkable how emotive a wonderful piece of furniture can be. I have had customers tell me that opening up the packaging and taking off protective bubble wrap to get to their piece reminds them of childhood Christmas mornings. You can’t quantify that emotion or put a price on it, the excitement is unique to every individual, to see their vision realised and the feelings that it creates is something very special.

I want people to be impressed and love the piece as much as I have loved creating it. I want them to feel proud of their decision to choose a sustainable way to furnish their home, recognising the positive impact that decision has had.

I have met so many people who never knew that painting furniture was even an option. This has opened their eyes to being able to get a creatively bespoke piece of furniture to their exact specifications, you can’t get that on the high street.

I pride myself on working closely with clients, listening to what they require and using my professionalism and creativity to exceed their expectations. I love seeing the excited expressions on their face when we are discussing colours and designs, then the happiness when they receive their piece delivered direct to their home.

Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do differently?

No, everything has happened exactly as it should have. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I have learned that I need to trust in myself, my ability and the processes I go through. I am a big advocate of just putting one foot in front of the other, it doesn’t matter how small those steps are, if they are a positive action, they will get you to where you need to go.

Tell us more about your interior style at home…

It’s a work in progress! We moved into our family home 8 years ago and everything needed refreshing. I was pregnant with our twins at the time, so we kept a simple design at first, cream walls and cream carpets throughout. Now we are taking it room by room, injecting our personality into our home. Last year we completely renovated our kitchen, it now fits what our family needs – a large cooking area, dining area and comfortable seating area for those infrequent quiet moments! It goes without saying that my business has infected the whole household and my twins have their own pieces, painted by their own hands in their bedrooms, I wouldn’t say they are immaculate finishes but they are certainly unique and loved by my two crazies!

If you to describe your brand in three words, what would they be?

Wow, can I use nine words please:

Unique, sustainable, creative, personable, friendly, inspiring, passionate, transparent and quality.

What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to launch a business?

Focus on a few things at a time, don’t stretch yourself too much or you will get overwhelmed. The first year is tough, but if you do it right by working smarter, not harder, the rewards are exhilarating. Trust your instincts, ask for support and be open and honest. People need to know and trust you so don’t be afraid to be yourself.

How would you describe your personal style?

I’m not an extrovert, my style suits my mood and my diary, I love to dress up all glam and head out on date night, but I also love my ‘slouchies’. Most of my casual wear is paint splattered and I’m okay with that, it’s who I am now.

Talk us through an average day in your life…

I have 7 year old twins, Murray and Isla, 4 cats and a dog, a 20 year bank career and a new business. Life is busy. Each day I try to build in self care, it’s so important. If I don’t function well, everything else suffers. I feel more focused and in control if I can meditate first thing in the morning. I also enjoy getting up early to walk the dog before everyone else is about. I have the most amazingly supportive husband, we definitely share the house work and childcare. I work for a bank during the day and the evening and weekends are my One of a Kinds Designs time.

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

It’s massive. Social media has opened up my business to groups of people I could never have dreamt of reaching without it. It gives small businesses like mine a platform from which to shout about our business, showcase what we can offer, reach and engage with customers and build relationships.

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

Great question! I love to travel and I have a few favourite places that I would love to visit again including Lake Garda in Italy, South of France and Croatia. I went on my honeymoon to Egypt and my husband still teases me that I didn’t go into the Great Pyramid at Giza so that could make it on the list. I’m not really a sun worshipper so one destination that I would love to visit is Scandinavia and Russia. The scenery, culture and architecture would be amazing.

What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?

Practice makes progress, this is a big motivator in our house. It’s about continuing to put one foot in front of the other. My husband always says ‘A march of a thousand miles begins with the first step’, I like that.

What’s next for you and the brand?

To share my passion for refinishing furniture. I want to teach others. I run online courses and workshops and I offer 121 programmes as well.

What does self care mean to you?

Looking after yourself by doing what you need to do when you need to do it. It’s about being attuned to your body and mind so that you recognise when you need to take action for yourself. For me this can mean a walk, meditation, yoga, or spending time with my husband and family.

Where can people find out more?

If you head to my website www.oneofakinddesigns.co.uk you will see my furniture collection. There is also information there on the training courses and workshops I offer.

I am also on Instagram and I have a Facebook page and two groups which you can join to learn more about what I do or to learn to paint furniture yourself.

This is an inspirational story from Lorna Mackinder-Clark, founder of Leeds Centre for Aerial Arts. She tells us how she launched her business, why she launched her business, and her exciting plans for the future.

Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your business Leeds Aerial Arts…

I started Leeds Aerial Arts in 2013 after being awarded a KICKSTART bursary of £300 from Yorkshire Dance. I had trained in Aerial with Wired Aerial Theatre at university and wanted to share my love of this new and FUN form of exercise. I taught the first class in September 2014 and classes quickly grew into so much more…

Our classes became a place for building strength inside and out, to step out of your comfort zone and get that I-can-do-anything amazing feeling! I love that I get to spend my time with amazing women, cheering one another on, the energy is like nothing else. I opened our first venue in Leeds City Centre in 2018, we quickly outgrew that and moved to a new space (a whopping eight-times the size) in 2021!

What’s been the biggest challenge in business you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Oh gosh the pandemic! – While teaching a class on Monday 16th March 2020, my phone made the dreaded sound of a BBC News alert: ‘People should avoid unnecessary physical contact.’ I looked around the room. My aerialists were supporting one another, giving each other direction, encouragement, physically helping one another to work out the sequence being taught. At the end of the session, I explained the alert. We said our goodbyes. (I encouraged one of the students to look into teaching training during the time away!*), and I knew this was a moment of change.

I went home (and cried) before contacting my team and beginning to form a plan, sure we could teach some sessions remotely, but our specialist equipment was pretty integral to 99% of our classes! There were safety implications to consider, no one had aerial equipment at home, and at this point, I remind you, NO ONE had heard of Zoom! We ran a free taster class two days later. This class helped to give feedback and insight to form our online timetable of activities. We made the decision that our doors would close on the Friday, by which time we had a full weekly timetable of classes ready to go to support our community to continue to train, physically through stretching and strengthening, and mentally by being there for one another as a community. The hashtag #traintogether was formed. That Friday evening the PM announced that Gyms must close, and on Monday 23rd March 2020 the country was ordered to stay at home.

The gang showed up, our army of strong women logged on in their living rooms, in their garages and from their makeshift home offices and rose to the new normal. We offered free challenges, live classes, pre-recorded classes, focused workshops and worked with our clients to keep evolving our timetable to suit their needs, with the focus on using all of this work for not if but WHEN we returned to training in person. I created a complete library of Aerial Hoop tutorials on Patreon so that those with equipment at home could continue their training safely with my knowledge and support.

The financial burden was enormous. We were not given any reduction in our studio costs, and I had a responsibility to my team of instructors to help them as freelancers to keep their income stable. Our client base helped to fundraise £3000 which went straight into our studio rent, with each supporter receiving a limited edition t-shirt as a thank you. This time was challenging, but it showed me that Leeds Aerial Arts is a community, rather than a place. When our clients need us we are there, and in return, they showed up for us.

I think those new to aerial imagine it could be a bit of a ‘fad’ but the loyalty from our clients shows that that is not the case. In Leeds Aerial Arts our clients have found a place to try something new and unique, to succeed in something they once thought impossible, and the ability to consistently move the goalposts and strive for more. In our online classes, they have nourished and cared for their bodies through lockdowns, showed up for themselves and worked as a team. There is always a next level with aerial and the only limit is how far you are willing to take yourself.

If you were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?

Its all about the ‘Can-try attitude’. We don’t care about what you can DO before getting started in a class, just that you turn up ready to give it a try!

What advice would you offer anyone thinking of launching an aerial fitness business?

Get a great venue and get a great team! Finding the right spaces has always been a challenge, we need height and lots of space for our equipment which often comes with a hefty price tag. Especially if you want to make your classes accessible and in a central location.

But above all it is the team. I cannot stress how much love and respect I have for my team. When clients come to class they are stepping out of their comfort zone and so it is integral that my team are inspiring, motivating and sensitive to the feelings of their clients. We find the fine balance between encouraging our clients to challenge themselves and be the best they can be, whilst being approachable, listening to their needs and ensuring that they always feel safe. There is so much trust in this space, Leeds Aerial Arts is really not your average gym!

Talk us through an average business day in your life…

I feel as though after several years in business, I am only just getting to grips with my routine, partly because in a fast growing business things don’t stay the same for long!

An average day for me begins early, I am often at the studio by 8:30am I am fed, I have listened to a podcast or some high-vibe tunes on my drive in and am ready to go! I like to get, what I call, a ‘Power Hour’ done first thing. I put my phone on airplay mode and set a timer to do one hour of uninterrupted work – this is often working through my inbox, or on a list of tasks set the night before. I know the mornings are my most focussed time of day, and so this is how I work best. After a cuppa, i’ll spend some time on a bigger, more in depth task, for example planning a new campaign, or brainstorming for a new class. Switching between mental and physical work in a day can drain my focus, and so I have learnt to structure my time to get the most out of my working day.

People generally start arriving at the studio around 11am which means I switch to tasks which require less focus, before beginning my warm up, playing on the aerial equipment and teaching my lunchtime class. The next few hours are busy, I am chatting to clients, to my team and beavering away in the background. I like to enjoy a big lunch and go for a walk in the afternoons, especially if I am teaching in the evenings. Before the end of the day there is nothing more satisfying for me than ticking the completed jobs off my to-do list and setting a plan for the following day. I do this four days a week so that I can enjoy a long Friday doing my own thing!

It might not work for everyone, but spending some time learning how I work best has helped me to find the balance between productivity and over-working.

Business can be an upward struggle at times, what do you do to stay positive?

It’s all about the people for me, which is why I don’t think I will ever stop teaching. Whatever has happened in a day, teaching a class and chatting to the clients always reminds me of the bigger picture. I have got really clear this year on the ‘WHY’ of my business, and this strong sense of purpose always pulls me back. I am privileged to have a business which helps me to make an income whilst making an impact. I am not sure that my clients realise that they equally have such a positive impact on me!

What is your go to quote when lacking motivation?

I have a Pinterest board full of them! But my favourite at the moment is: “If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed”

I also enjoy… “Better an oops than a what if!” I don’t know why that always makes me laugh!

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

It has been MASSIVE! A lot of my aeralists find out about us through recommendations from friends and word of mouth. As aerial is so visual, almost everyone who joins a Leeds Aerial Arts class takes photos of their achievements and shares them on their social media. We have over 5,000 posts under #leedsaerialarts on Instagram! I think that the impression could be that aerial is only for dancers or gymnasts… But when people see their friends killing it online, more women think “If they can do it, and they look like me, I can probably give it a good go too!” – They would be right!

How do you want people to feel when they first take part in an aerial fitness lesson?

Whenever I teach a group of new beginners most people arrive feeling nervous, they might not know what they have let themselves in for, and often people are quiet and avoid making eye contact with me! Honestly if I had a pound for every person that said “I am probably not going to be able to do this.” I launch in to break the tension! Within about five minutes of class the mood changes to “Someone grab my camera,” “I didn’t think I would even get off the floor today” and “whats next?!”

I absolutely LOVE teaching beginners for this reason. Everyone leaves that first class having achieved so much more than they thought they would, aerial is sociable so it is a great way to meet people, and there is always a next level, next challenge, next amazing feeling. It’s a real workout, using muscles we don’t often use which means the morning after aches are real! But another reason my clients love this aerial fitness is that it doesn’t FEEL like exercise at the time, moving your body shouldn’t be a punishment, it should be FUN. And my wonderful team are always on hand to make sure that you are training safely and within your limits.

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

I am obsessed with Scandinavia, I have been to Iceland twice and I have my sights on Norway next. I love the attitude to life and work in this part of the world. I would really recommend the book ‘The Year Of Living Danishly’ by Helen Russell, it makes me want to relocate everytime I pick it up!

What’s next for you and your brand?

We are still within a period of huge growth after opening this larger venue in June 2021. Next I want to meet and work with more instructors, from more disciplines, to bring more inspiration to my amazing community of clients.

I am also working on practicing what I preach and stepping out of my own comfort zone, doing things like this! Sharing my business, our values and welcoming more people to our community.

Where can people find out more about Leeds Aerial Arts?

You’ll get a real sense of who we are from our Instagram feed @leedsaerialarts
To view our timetable and book to begin your aerial adventure visit leedsaerialarts.co.uk

We recently interviewed new business owner Natalie Firth of Just The Fox Kitchen who has been working tirelessly these past few months to get her new nutritious meal prep delivery service off the ground. In the interview we find out about her cooking history, the most recent chef she has worked with, plus all her ups and downs of launching her brand new business.

Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your brand Just The Fox Kitchen…

I’ve always loved cooking food and have been a chef for many years now. Before I started Just The Fox Kitchen I worked as the executive chef for Matt Healy’s Gron Kafes where I really fell in love with creating recipes that were delicious and nutritious.

I had the idea for a meal prep delivery service that wasn’t focused on diet culture. More on eating well to make you good inside and out, for a while as I felt this was a real gap in the market. Aimed at busy people that like good food and eating well but are just too busy to cook everyday and make lunches for work. Allowing customers to ‘reclaim your time’ and get on with the things they enjoy doing.

I’ve always wanted to work for myself and build my own business, so this year I decided it was going to be my business year, and I would finally make it happen. So I did plenty of market research, tested recipes, worked with an amazing business women on branding and marketing, and I launched Just The Fox Kitchen in March this year. And it’s been all go since.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Everyday there is a new challenge when setting up and running a business, I learn something new everyday. I knew how to cook and what I wanted the Just The Fox Kitchen concept and brand to look like but I had no idea about marketing, website building, social media ads etc so its been a steep learning curve.

But I think my biggest obstacle was my own confidence and building that up to a point I felt like a could launch my own business. I’m lucky, I have a great support network and I work with some amazing people who help Just The Fox Kitchen grow. When I look back on the Just The Fox kitchen journey so far, I’m amazed at how far I have come in such a short space of time and that keeps me motivated to keep pushing forward.

Just The Fox Kitchen

If you were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?

I’m not sure I have a business mantra in the strictest sense of the word. I believe that the effort you put in you will get back out in everything you do. I have a life I want to lead (that involves lots of holidays) and I work hard and set weekly, monthly and yearly goals to achieve that. What it comes down to for me is living life to its fullest and making everyday count.

What advice would you offer anyone interested in venturing into the freshly prepared meals industry?

Know your market and what they want and do lots of research before you start. Food wise, test, test, and test again. Freshly prepared food that is delivered to customers homes needs to be made to last a few days and still be great quality. It is a very different product to preparing food for a restaurant where it is eaten straight away; test all your recipes, leave them overnight and check the quality. Also get customer feedback and work on building positive relationships with suppliers and customers alike. I would say I’m an introvert and don’t like putting myself out there for praise or criticism. So this was a big hurdle for me to overcome. But if you don’t know what your customers think of the product you supply how will you grow?

Talk us through an average business day in your life…

I’m a real early bird, waking up around 5-5:30am. I like to get up and moving straight away but I can’t function without firstly having a cup of tea, no milk or sugar. I walk my dog around Temple Newsam Estate (in Leeds) which is a great way to start the day, I can clear my mind and focus on what I want to achieve that day. If it’s a kitchen day, I will have placed all my ingredients orders the day before so it arrives at the kitchen first thing in the morning, so I can get straight to work prepping food for that days orders. I have a small all female kitchen team, they make the days fly by as we are always laughing. Once all the food is prepared we can then start ‘bowling up’ the meals. We then quality control check every meal, collate orders, load vehicles and I then delivery to customers homes or offices. I also deliver to fitness studios, yoga studios and cafes that retail, or nourish and balance bowls as grab and go options. It’s a long day but I love the sense of achievement and talking to customers. When I get home I respond to emails and messages, Check my to do list and make a plan for the next day. I then chill out, sometimes with a glass of Prosecco

Business can be an upward struggle at times, what do you do to stay positive?

I try to plan nice things to do each week that may be seeing family and friends, a new fitness class, or my favourite thing to do is go out for dinner . When you work for yourself it can be very hard to switch off from work mode. I know lots of great women that are killing it with their businesses and I find it really helps to speak to them. We can give each other advice and support and sometimes we rant and joke. It frees up any tension I may have and puts things into perspective.

What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?

Though she be but little, she is fierce

I’m not sure why I adopted this quote (maybe because I’m only 5:1) but it has followed me around since University, so much so I had a print made for my home and when I read it I get a boost of energy and determination. ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce.’ Its from a midsummer nights dream.

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

I think for a food business social media is key. There is such an active food scene on social media becoming part of that at local and national level is very important. Most of my customers have come from social media word of mouth and viewing posts. Just The Fox social media is growing organically which I like. What I think is very important for a business on social media is to be honest and positive. All the images and content that is on @justthefoxkitchen is of the food that I made and the views that I believe in. When used in the right way social media can be a great way to build a business.

Just The Fox Kitchen

How do you want people to feel when they first order and try your meals?

I built Just The Fox Kitchen around the premiss that to eat delicious and nutritious food you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen every day. So when you order from me I want you to feel pleased that you have reclaimed your time and you don’t have to worry about that age old question ‘Whats for dinner?’

When eating my meals I want you to be happily surprised that nutritious food can look and taste delicious. I’m not a fan of diet culture, calorie counting and feeling guilty if you have a brownie. I believe in intuitive nutrition and listening to what your body needs. Food should be enjoyed and eating should be a pleasurable experience. So I want everyone that try’s my food to feel happy eating it and feel energised to carry on with their day.

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

There are so many places I still want to visit, Iceland, Costa Rica and Scandinavia to name a few. But I think top of my bucket list is to travel down the west coast of America. This was my plan for my 30th but unfortunately Covid put a stop to that. I’m planning again for next summer, I want to hire a vintage mustang (my dream car) and just drive down the coast. Eating as much food as I can handle on the way. California, in particular San Francisco is at the forefront of new culinary trends so I can’t wait to try new ingredients and get inspiration for new Just The Fox Kitchen recipes.

What’s next for you and your brand?

This is Just The Fox Kitchen’s first summer season so we have a big summer of festivals and catering events planned which I’m super excited for. I love catering parties and celebrations as they are always happy events to be a part of. I also have my first ever chef demo at Harrogate food and drink festival coming up on August bank holiday weekend. I’m nervous/excited for that one. Aside from this, I’m working hard on building our subscription and meal delivery service. I have just launched our office and work lunches. So you can now order delicious and nutritious Just The Fox meals to your office or work place every week. As a new business my main goal for this year is to build the brand and let as many people as possible know about Just The Fox Kitchen and what we do.

Where can people find out more about Just The Fox Kitchen?

All the information you need about Just The Fox Kitchen is on our website Just The Fox Kitchen we also have an active social media account @justthefoxkitchen are weekly menus and new business news is on there. If you have questions about our food or for enquires you can message me via social media or email natalie@justthefox.com and I will respond as soon as I can.

Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your Mum or Mother figure this coming Mother’s Day, Sunday 14th March?

There are so many choices for beauty gifts from facemasks to fragrance, to bath & body care, and we’ve put a few little ideas together for you to take a look at.

Face Mask

SJO Skin, Happy Honey Mask with Brush, £44, SJO Skin

Get ready for your next holy grail. This dense pudding-like texture is a rich velvet blend of 31% Swedish Värmland Honey and gently exfoliating Coix Beads. An indulgent multitasker, that re-energises and nourishes while caring for your natural skin barrier. A non-drying formula, it provokes a delicate warming sensation for the perfect invigorating mask ritual. Like a warm fluffy blanket on a cold evening.

Värmland Honey holds a unique nutrient profile through pollination in local Swedish Wild Forests, including Heather, and Canola plants. Known for being anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, to help heal and nourish. A natural antioxidant-rich composition of Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Vitamin B and Vitamin C energises and brightens for a fresh and plump complexion.
Calamine calms and soothes, while Chinese Coix Grains and White Kaolin Clay form a gentle exfoliating blend to ease congestion, clean impurities and free dead cells and debris from pollution and natural built up tissues. Finally, humectants Glycerine and Corn-Derived Propanediol are the hydration heroes, joining this formula for a luxurious masking experience.

Fragrance

Marc Jacobs, Daisy Eau So Intense, £68.50 (50ml Eau De Parfum Spray), The Fragrance Shop

This fragrance note is exactly as you’d expect – sweet, fruity and delicious. Perfect for every day use, it’s like spraying a little happiness around. Created by world-renowned master perfumer Alberto Morillas, the fragrance is vibrant, with sparkling bursts of strawberry and pear revealing a sweet homey and elegant rosebud heart. Not only, but also a lingering trail of soft vanilla, balance by a crisp, green moss, envelopes you in a truly unique, enticing blend.

For all fun Mums, strawberry is a beautifully sweet note that can evoke powerful summer memories, just the positive pick me up needed right now.

Hand Cream

PCA Skin, C&E Hand Renewal, £56 (29.5ml), PCA Skin

Like our face, our hands are under constant external attack from aggressors like ultraviolet radiation, ozone, and urban pollution.

Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E can mitigate the long-term damage caused by these factors, resulting in healthier skin as we age. Described by the brand as an “invisible glove for the hand,” PCA Skin’s C&E Hand Renewal cream relies on vitamin C to promote collagen production, which has the potential to thicken the dermis, diminish fine lines, and is essential for firm, youthful skin. On top of that, vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it protects skin cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure.

Furthermore, it also inhibits melanin production in the skin, which helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots, even out skin tone, and enhance skin radiance. Finally, vitamin C helps to repair damage from sun exposure and collagen loss by encouraging healthy cell turnover and regeneration. Additional anti-ageing ingredients help to increase cellular turnover and reduce inflammation and emollients moisturise and hydrate hands.

Shower Wash

Avishi Organics, Sanskriti Wellness Wash, around £23.85, Avishi Organics

The Sanskriti Wellness Wash from Avishi Organics is a lovely gift for mums who are in need of a little pampering. Moreover this organic body wash is perfect for helping with stretch marks, dryness and skin that has lost its elasticity.

Helping to balance gentle cleansing with over 20 rejuvenating Ayurvedic herbs, plants, and oils to revitalise the skin and senses. Bergamot essential oil uplifts. Melissa flower oil calms the senses. Geranium delivers a sense of grounded-ness to the mind. Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel target impurities. Shatavari and Ashwagandha super herbs boost skin health. Not to mention, ginger softens and smoothes, while Manjistha cleanses and purifies, and Marshmallow root protects the skin barrier.

Body Set

Lush, You’re The Best Gift Set, £16, Lush

A trio of shower and body products for your number one. Let them know they are better than all the rest with these sweet, relaxing products for shower and body pampering. Containing Comfort Zone Shower Bomb, which is like a softening comfort blanket, Sleepy Body Lotion, which is soothing and relaxing lavender, and Mamma Mia Shower Scrub, which is pink and vanilla.

For more Beauty from House of Coco

Put your hands up if you have already set dates with your friends for a boozy afternoon in London. *Puts both hands in the air.* With the end of lockdown on the horizon (everything crossed), we’ve put together our hit list of Londons best terraces to visit this spring…

SOUTH

The Refinery Bankside

Located on Southwark Street, in the heart of London’s Bankside and just behind the Tate Modern, The Refinery offers a stunning al fresco terrace where you can enjoy everything from an early morning coffee and breakfast through to dinner and late night cocktails. Open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 11pm.

Open from: 12th April

www.drakeandmorgan.co.uk/the-refinery-bankside

Cinnamon Kitchen, Battersea

In the newly developed Battersea Power Station, The Cinnamon Kitchen’s latest outpost offers beautiful views of the Thames and socially distanced outdoor tables. As spring approaches, dine out on comforting curries with a dangerously addictive spiced plate of chicken tikka and cheese naan for dipping.

Open from: 12th April

NORTH

St Pancras Champagne Bar by Searcys

Home to Europe’s longest Champagne Bar, St Pancras by Searcys is the perfect spot to meet with friends under the iconic arches of the station. Looking out to panoramic views of the magnificent station, the spacious 98-metre bar is decked-out with terrace seating and individual leather booths (seating up to six), complete with ‘Press for Champagne’ buzzers. With an extensive list of champagnes and wines, the bar will be serving a new Searcys Bubble menu, featuring a trio of champagnes paired with small plates, as well as the Staycation Afternoon Tea, served in a stylish suitcase.

Open from: 12th April

Drake & Morgan King’s Cross

A few moments from King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations, this central London bar and restaurant boasts an extensive all-weather terrace alongside seasonal menus, tempting cocktails and fine wines. The perfect pitstop after an afternoon of shopping at Coal Drops Yard or to grab a bite while you wait for your train! Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 11pm.

Open from: 12th April

Rudy’s Vegan Diner, Camden

Located in the famous Camden Stables Market, Rudy’s Vegan Diner has plenty of outdoor seating and delicious veganised versions of classic American junk food. Chow down on meat-free burgers and giant seitan hot dogs or live out the NYC Deli fantasy with Rudy’s Reuben – sandwiches stacked high with ‘pastrami’ between two slices of homemade rye. Don’t skimp on dessert with melt- your-mind dairy-free freakshakes to bring all the vegans to the yard.

Open from: 12th April

CENTRAL

Mariage Frères, Covent Garden

Cocktails, champagne and Covent Garden shopping – sounds divine after months of lockdown, right? Luxury French tea emporium, Mariage Frères’ will open its chic Tea Terrace for al fresco dining and drinking on 12th April, serving refreshing iced teas, chilled champagne and cocktails alongside picture perfect afternoon teas.

Open from: 12th April

Aquavit London, St James’s Market

Nordic-inspired restaurant Aquavit London is a must-visit this spring – the spacious terrace is the perfect spot to catch up with friends over a cocktail or two as you indulge in Head Chef Jorjon Colazo’s Scandi menu. From langoustine bao buns to traditional Swedish meatballs, and everything in between, there’s something to suit every taste.

Open from: 14th April

The Rooftop, Leicester Square

The Hippodrome Casino, entertainment cornerstone of the West End and UK’s largest international-style casino, will reopen its new al fresco rooftop bar on 17th May. The Rooftop, an all-day and late-night al fresco terrace bar, is spread across three spacious floors, offering an open-air oasis in the heart of the West End. Perfect for after work drinks, guests can also enjoy a delicious dinner in the sunshine – think USDA beef burgers and roast salmon fillet.

Open from: 17th May

EAST

The Happenstance, St Paul’s

Head to The Happenstance in the heart of the City on Paternoster Square, home to a beautiful all-weather terrace overlooking London’s most iconic landmark. Catch up with friends and family whilst you sip on signature cocktails and enjoy an array of moreish dishes from delicious sharing boards, to fresh salads and fully-loaded burgers. Open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am-11pm.

Open from: 12th April

The Sipping Room, West India Quay

Venture East to The Sipping Room, transporting you to a place far removed from the concrete jungle. Relax and unwind on the expansive Thames-side terrace and enjoy creative cocktails from the dedicated outdoor bar like the Good Night Out; a refreshing mix of Tanqueray 10 gin, Crème de Mure, lemon, champagne & gold shimmer or why not try the London Spritz; Tanqueray gin, cucumber, elderflower, apple, sprigs of mint and lashings of soda. Cosy blankets and hot water bottles are also available for those chilly nights.

Open Wednesday – Sunday,11am-11pm.

Open from: 12th April

Devonshire Terrace, Liverpool St

Moments from Liverpool Street Station, Devonshire Terrace is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of City life. Drink and dine alfresco with family and friends on the sophisticated yet welcoming terrace, with its beautiful glass domed roof to protect you from the elements. The perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine, leisurely lunch or boozy brunch. Open Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 11pm.

Open from: 12th April

The Parlour, Canada Square

Located in the Park Pavilion on Canada Square, a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf station, The Parlour is a gorgeous bar & restaurant perfect for all-day drinking, dining and unwinding. This stunning alfresco terrace, complete with its own bar and overlooking Canada Square Park, is the ideal location to enjoy an afternoon with friends over good food, fine wine and creative cocktails. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 11pm.

Open from: 12th April

Cinnamon Kitchen, Devonshire Square

Cinnamon Kitchen’s all-weather terrace in Devonshire Square is perfect spot to escape The City and drink or dine on the colourful Indian-inspired decking. Sip on a spiced infusion like the Assam Manhattan or Coconut Kir cocktail, or go all out with an al fresco brunch this spring.

Open from: 12th April

We can’t wait to see you there…

So, you’ve left it too late (again)! Not all is lost, just get online and order some of these fabulous belated Valentines gifts.

It doesn’t really matter what day of the year it is because it’s always wonderful to send someone a gift to let them know that you love them. Even, if you are sending a little something to your mum, dad, best mate or your lover, these little treats will go down a storm.

Skandinavisk, Sense Candle Gift Set, £49, Skandinavisk

Belated Valentines Gifts

Three candles are included in this gift set, and each has a special meaning of love. Rosenhave is Danish for ‘rose garden’, and Nordic rose gardens are precious places. RO is Scandinavian for ‘tranquillity’ bringing peace and calm from the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. LEMPI is Finnish for ‘love’. In Finland, there is an old saying, ‘Love doesn’t have to be perfect, but genuine’. In other words, this is the perfect belated Valentine’s gift.

Lush, Love Me Do Bath Bomb, £6.95, Lush

Rose-filled bath bomb, a simple yet perfectly romantic gesture. Plus, the muslin cloth, tag, and raffia can all be composted, a sign of love to both the planet and your special person! Above all, this makes a wonderful gift.

Cheddar Gorge Cheese x Wimbledon Brewery, from £5.95 (190g), Cheddar Online

The tasty Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company’s Wimbledon Brewery Copper Leaf Cheddar is a gentle mellow traditional cheddar combined with the extraordinarily delicious Copper Leaf Ale – a real match made in heaven! Therefore, need we say more?

Drinks

Gusbourne Rose 2016, £49, Gusbourne

This delectable wine is delicate pink in appearance, with soft summer berries and floral notes on the nose. Made from a blend of estate-grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, Gusbourne’s Rose has a crisp freshness and is presented in a special gift box, making this the ideal belated Valentine’s gift.

Eden Mill, Love Gin, £30 (70cl), Eden Mill

Not just for Valentine’s, this new sustainable, crystal-cut bottle of gin is at the heart of the Scottish distiller, Eden Mill’s mission to be completely carbon neutral by 2025. Moreover, this is an excellent gift of love to your special person, and the planet!

Buck & Birch, Wild Night In Hamper, £24.95, Aelder Elixir

The hamper contains one of Buck & Birch’s award winning liqueurs, a wild cocktail for two, a recipe card for a mouth-watering meal and a host of foraged ingredients. In conclusion, you will create your own homemade masterpiece.

Are you into wellness and wellbeing? Read more here…..

Emily Beckloff is the Founder & Chief Elf at International Elf Service, a brand that is passionate about creating a small window of make-believe time, which young children are able to believe in. Formed in 2010 when Emily used to write Elf notes to her children, the company has gone on to spread copious amounts of joy and magic ever since.

The international Elf Service is the kind of positivity we all need in our lives right now and so we spent some time with Emily to find out more…

Tell us about the journey that led you to launching the International Elf Service…

I first started writing the International Elf Service letters when our eldest child was 3, back in 2009. In 2014, after enjoying the letters as a family ourselves, I launched International Elf Service online for other families and children – anyone really aged 3 to 99! – to enjoy. I love seeing so many families enjoy our Christmas Elf Letters year on year and seeing the children’s’ names on their personalised letters each year, brings a smile to my face every time. It’s a real honour to be a part of their growing-up.

I was curled up in front of our fire reading ‘Letters from Father Christmas’ by JR Tolkein, where he wrote notes to his children from the North Pole. I suddenly thought … I could leave our two very young children a note each day from the North Pole in their wooden Advent House. It would be such a lovely, experience-rich and chocolate-free Advent Calendar idea. They were teeny tiny notes at first: things like, ‘Father Christmas lost one of the buttons off his jacket! He ate nine helpings of Cherry Pie, and it pinged off and flew somewhere behind the Giant Lollipops in the Elves’ Workshop!’.

Then as the children grew, the letters got more substantial … until they turned into one long Christmas story with a new ‘bit’ being published each day, just like the pages of a book. And there, International Elf Service was born!

I grew up in the countryside, and would spend all my time submerged in books, crafts, music and nature. I’ve always been so Christmas-mad that I drove my parents potty! I constantly wanted to be making or doing something ‘Christmassy’, and I wanted more than anything, to know what life up in the North Pole was really like! I’ve never really warmed to the big brother concept that ‘Father Christmas and the Elves are watching you’, because to me Christmas magic is for everyone, no matter what. It isn’t related to behaviour in any way, and it’s there to be enjoyed and experienced by all. I’ve always been an avid reader, devouring piles and piles of books as a child – often reading several at once! I loved being inside the different worlds and the riches that reading can give. I’ve always wanted to pass that love on to others, and write stories that children really want to read and immerse themselves in.

You’re passionate about Children’s’ wellbeing, why is this important to you?

Children’s mental health and them having a sense of wellbeing and ‘belonging’ is so important and something I am deeply passionate about. Sometimes children find their ‘big’ feelings can be a little difficult to understand or manage, which in turn can affect their relationships with others. This is where we hope our magical personalised Fairy letters and Tooth Fairy letters can help. I’m a firm believer in talking things through as a really helpful way to process thoughts. Talking with and listening to our children does all sorts of wonderful things. It improves our bond with them, which ultimately helps them to form relationships and to build self-esteem. Our Fairy & Tooth Fairy personalised letters are designed to support children’s emotional health & development, and to make brilliant conversation starters between parent and child. We have a range of letters addressing a variety of normal childhood worries and feelings, where our Fairies do their best to help reassure and teach children a little bit about them. Big messages in little letters.

As a mother of three, how do you juggle being present for the children and also building a brand?

Having three school-aged children, I’ve found I need to be very organised with my time, both for work and family time. I’m so lucky to be able to work from home, which means I get more time with my children than I would otherwise. I make sure I protect the blocks of time before and after school to spend time with them, and we all eat together as a family too … which I think is so important to do if you can. This is the one part of the day we’re 100% focused on the kids and they love it. It’s such a precious time, which I’ll miss so much when they’ve grown up and left home.

I start work in the morning as soon as our children have gone to school. I go for a run three mornings a week and then I answer emails and do any urgent ‘task based’ jobs first. Once I’m on top of things for the day, I put my creative hat on and get creating!

I’m always frantically finishing off emails as I walk up to collect my youngest from school. I also work every evening, often until 1am on the run up to Christmas … replying to customers, sorting out orders and making sure I have enough materials and stock. It’s very busy!

Christmas is most likely your busiest time, how do keep the business flowing throughout the rest of the year?

It’s Christmas all year-round at International Elf Service! We make personalised Birthday, Fairy & Tooth Fairy letters all year round, but I start writing the new Christmas letters each year from January to March, working closely with my fabulous Editor who lives in Italy. Then my amazing illustrator, who lives in France, works away at creating the bespoke designs and illustrations for each individual letter – so each one is different every year. We then ‘tweak and perfect’ and then the boring tech-side kicks in; stitching everything together and putting it all into the backend of the website, ready to have the children’s individual names added to every personalised letter and envelope. We make fun and magical new videos and take new photos each year – one featuring our adorable, obliging and much-loved Christmas mouse! Then it’s time to source our recyclable, eco-friendly materials, wood spirals and twines, making sure we have enough materials for the orders. The orders usually start coming in from around June/July when the new annual Edition becomes available. Then it ramps up to dizzying heights in November ready for International Elf Service Elfie’s Christmas Advent Letters Ultimate Story Bundle Advent Calendar to make it into people’s houses on time for the first letter to arrive on 1st December!

Do you plan on expanding the brand in the future, if so, how?

International Elf Service is all about taking children on unforgettable, magical literary journeys to both the North Pole and Fairyland – all through handcrafted, personalised letters. We offer a range of magical letters for all children including giggle-inducing Birthday letters; themed fairy letters covering a range of big feelings or experiences that help support children’s emotional wellbeing and development; and enchanting letter bundles from the Tooth Fairy. We’ve already launched our new International Elf Service Personalised Christmas Memory Box Tradition and International Elf Service Personalised Baby’s First Christmas Memory Box Tradition boxes. They enable you to preserve 20 years of special Christmas Day family memories, by recording key events on 20 beautiful personalised pages.

We have a lot more to come too – our Elves and Fairies are very busy right now!

We have some very exciting 2021 plans, but unfortunately Mother Christmas made Elfie, Father Christmas, me and the team swallow a bright-yellow-fizzy-not-giving-secrets-away-drop (so delicious I wanted another!)

But I can tell you that our product range is expanding (much like Father Christmas’ waistline during lockdown!) and we have some really exciting new literary options coming for older children and newborns.

We are constantly evolving our products and listening to our consumers, asking our Elves and Fairies what they think too! We’ve had huge demand for more family keepsake traditions, which is why last year we launched our Personalised Christmas Memory Box Tradition and Personalised Baby’s First Christmas Memory Box Tradition boxes for families.

There’s so much more to come and all designed to encourage children’s literacy and support their overall wellbeing and development through reading. Mother Christmas also suggested that lots of elderly people (much like herself) also love to read the news from the North Pole. So, we are working closely with her to help spread Christmas magic and cheer … not just to our younger audience, but to everyone who loves to transport themselves to magical worlds and immerse themselves in the magic of literary journeys.

Looking back since launching, is there anything you would do differently?

Starting your own business is both exciting and utterly terrifying. In hindsight, after the enormous interest shown and the natural growth of the business, I would have scaled faster. I would also have totally ignored any signs of Imposter Syndrome (the feeling that you’re totally inadequate compared to everyone else) and just got on with it. It really is the most unhelpful feeling and doesn’t actually change anything, except make a nuisance of itself and make you more cautious.

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

I really love travelling and have been lucky enough to go to all sorts of places, including the Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland, which is north of the Arctic Circle (mind blowing), Egypt, Peru, Ecuador, The Galapagos, Africa, Asia … but I’d really love to go to Northern Greenland. It looks and sounds so incredible and there’s something so very special about being in the arctic – the air, the light and the sheer enormity and beauty of all that nature around you. It’s an indescribable feeling.

For any aspiring entrepreneurs, what advice would you offer?

Be passionate about your business and be you. You are your brand, and no-one can be you as well as you can. Keep moving forward, taking one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice and feedback. If there’s a problem, there will be always be a solution … it’s just a case of finding it.

What has been your proudest moment since launching the brand?

My proudest moment came the first year I launched. A mum wrote to me to tell me that her eldest daughter (who has autism) never really engaged with her siblings, but since receiving Elfie’s Christmas Advent Calendar Letters, she’d been reading them out to her siblings each day through December and it was really helping them to connect. I hadn’t anticipated that my letters could have such a positive impact on family life in this way and I found it incredibly heartwarming.

When lacking motivation, what quote do you like to read?

It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done – by Nelson Mandela.

This quote is so, so true! Just keep at it and suddenly everything will slot into place and you’ll feel really happy with what you’ve done.

Where can people find out more?

Grab a hot chocolate, get cosy and join us at https://internationalelfservice.com/ (or @internationalelfservice on insta) to escape with us into a world of magic, adventure and the perfect literary gift for any occasion!

Photos by Petra Gatek @petras_gatto

Alcohol use disorder is one of the most common addiction problems in the world. In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted a survey among Americans aged 12 and above and found that 51% of the surveyed sample reported binge drinking in the previous month. Additionally, their report found that over 14 million people above the age of 12 had an alcohol use disorder in 2017.

Binge drinking isn’t necessarily the same as alcohol use disorder, and neither is it a definitive predictor of alcoholism, but binge drinking is indeed a very possible risk factor for an individual to develop an alcohol use disorder. You might be familiar with binge drinking as a teenager or young adult especially in college, where the drinks flow unlimited at parties and students stay up all night drinking. A common definition of binge drinking is having 5 or more drinks on at least one day within the previous month, while heavy alcohol usage is binge drinking for five or more days in the last month. Binge drinking and alcohol is commonly associated with having a social life, and drinking a lot seems to be the cool thing to do with young people. Is it then possible, then, that social and cultural factors can lead to alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder? Definitely so! In this article, we will explain the role of alcohol in our human social lives and culture to show how alcohol use disorder can come about.

The historic role of alcohol in human lives

Alcohol has been a part of human life literally since the dawn of time. Ever since Neolithic prehistory over 4,000 years ago, substances with intoxicating potential have been a part of human culture with pretty much no exception. The early days of the agricultural revolution were founded upon cultivating grain that was used to make both beer and bread. Every culture has had its own form of alcohol no matter how crude. This nearly universal use of alcohol throughout human history and evolution indeed suggests that alcohol is an inextricable element of human life and civilization, and does suggest as well that there are some benefits to alcohol from an evolutionary perspective. Since the first recorded drinking behaviors, alcohol consumption has largely been a social practice and activity. As the years went by, attempts to curb the consumption of and control alcohol-induced behaviors have been difficult, as was seen through the failure of the Prohibition era. The most successful methods of inhibiting alcohol use have largely been religious doctrine and sacred rules that ban alcohol consumption as a rule.

Cultural differences regarding alcohol

The associations and behaviors regarding alcohol differ from culture to culture. For example, alcohol is associated with sociopathic behavior and violence in Western countries like the United Kingdom, Scandinavian countries, the United States, and Australia. Meanwhile, in countries in the Mediterranean like Italy and Greece as well as some South American cultures, drinking behavior is mostly social and peaceful. The cross-culture variation is a product is many different factors, but the conclusion is pretty clear for this variation: alcohol-induced behaviors are determined by socio-cultural factors and not the biological and chemical effects of ethanol.

In all societies, the overall consumption of alcohol is controlled by government regulations such as taxes, curfews, and laws such as age restrictions, leading people to purchase fake ID’s – click here to learn more. There is another layer of self-imposed regulations in terms of how much can be drunk, at what time, and in what contexts. Some socially-imposed regulations on alcohol include instances like no drinking at work, or socially appropriate times to drink, for example, 10 am would not be a socially-accepted time to drink a copious amount of alcohol. There are, of course, differences in these accepted norms about alcohol use according to society, and a study on government laws regarding alcohol consumption have the following four traits in all legislation:

  1. Banning of solitary drinking
  2. Prescription of sociability
  3. Control of social alcohol consumption and behavior
  4. Age restrictions (ban on underage drinking by law)

The cultural symbolism of alcohol

Alcohol is seen as a powerful symbol in many societies, due to its power to alter human behavior against its will and hence is seen as a way to both construct and manipulate the social world. There are three main ways that alcohol is used as a symbol:

  1. Label to define the type and nature of a social situation

The presence and type of alcohol at a social function is often used as an indicator of what the function is. For example, a casual night out with friends is usually marked by drinks such as beer, while a wild party is connoted with shots and a black-tie event will usually have wine and no hard liquor. The amount of alcohol drunk will also differ according to the norms and social expectations of each type of function. Binge drinking will likely occur during parties, while more “refined” events such as dinners and galas call for social propriety and self-control.

  1. Indicator of social status

Alcohol can also be an indicator of social status as there are many different types and prices associated with various alcohol. Beer, for example, in most cultures might be considered a cheap drink that people of lower social status drink. Beer is commonly associated with lower income levels and perhaps rowdy and “less refined” people. On the flipside, alcohols such as high-quality wines are associated with the upper-class and “fancy’ people. Whiskeys and scotch are also a “rich man’s drink”.

  1. Differentiator of gender

You might be familiar with how some people call cocktails a girls’ drink. It is certainly true that we use alcohol to differentiate gender. Scotch and whiskey are commonly stereotyped as a man’s drink that is accompanied by a cigar, while bright-colored, sweet-tasting cocktails like Cosmopolitans are seen as a female drink.

Conclusion

As we can see, alcohol plays a very big role in our social lives. Alcohol has many cultural associations and implications that we often use as a social gauge and metric. We can hence see how alcohol use disorder might come about should a person be in a social circle that binge drinking is frequent and not associated with negatives. Having a social circle that does not pride itself on excessive alcohol use can help to stop encouraging drinking habits.