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We’re kicking off this year’s Girl Boss coverage with even more in-depth interviews and exploring the inspirations that get amazing female entrepreneurs going and the hacks that keep them on top. We start our new series with the smart, creative Jerelyn, founder and designer of italian-made shoe brand Jerelyn Creado.

HOC: Great to meet you, Jerelyn! You’ve been on quite a journey, in terms of your career and geographically…

Jerelyn:Yes and I ended up in Italy! I moved to Leeds back in 2010 from Mumbai and while I was studying there, I fell in love with a wonderful Italian man. He invited me to move to Italy with him, so I did!

Moving away from Leeds was difficult as it’s the city in which I learnt to be independent. It was the first city that I lived in on my own, without my parents. I had lots of friends and enjoyed everything about the city. I will always remember Leeds as the city where I actually discovered myself, but then again life moves on and change is good. Now my friends have a little holiday spot in Italy!

Moving to Italy was a big step, but I was excited to start something new, learn a new language and a new culture. Once I was living in Italy, one of my favourite things to do was window shopping in Milan and it was always the shoes that attracted my attention.

I did my research and found out about course in pattern making, prototyping and footwear design. We moved back to the UK and from then until where I am now with Jerelyn Creadowas me saving up for the course and moving back to Italy to pursue my new obsession. It was tough to spend time away from my now-husband but he was behind me all the way and encouraged me to start my own brand. We recently moved to Granada, as you can probably tell, I adore travelling. Jerelyn Creado shoes are made back in Italy and being able to travel for work is absolutely wonderful.

HOC: Before we get into the important stuff, please tell us some hot tips about Italy?

Jerelyn: Haha, of course! I can’t get enough of the food and the style in Italy. My top tip would be a gem of a place; the gulf of Gargano in Puglia is a must visit. It’s the part on top of the heel of Italy that protrudes. It’s beautiful, the people are wonderful and the food and wine is amazing!

HOC: What we love about your brand is that you are a strong woman, designing beautiful shoes for other strong women.

Jerelyn: Thanks for saying that! I’ve been inspired by so many women but above all, my mother. My mother is and always was very independent. She managed our home and her job at the same time and we never wanted for anything! Not only is she independent but she is also very strong and patient.

Over the years I have been lucky to befriend and work with a lot of women. Of course, not all of them have been pleasant and kind, but it’s not those women that have left a mark on my life. The ones that have influenced my path are the ones that are not only strong but are also successful and compassionate. They helped me to become the person I am today and therefore when I created Jerelyn Creado they deserved to be part of it, which is why I’ve named many of the shoes from my collections after them.

For instance, Jovita is a childhood friend of mine. She is a few years older and I have always looked up to her for advice. She is like the older sister I never had. She was a top student at school and excelled at almost everything. She was always composed and very poised growing up and even now. The heel I designed in her name represents her because apart from her being good at everything she does she is also very easy going and fun. The design of Jovita is based on this personality. The red is the fun and easy going side while the perforations in black patent leather is the elegant/independent woman on top!

Women sometimes don’t realise that other women look up to them and inspire them. It’s very important for all of us to lift each other up and not put each other down.

HOC: What fantastic inspiration for naming your creations. Where does your design inspiration come from?

Jerelyn: The inspiration for my first collection came from men’s shoes; I have always loved to dress up a pair of Derbys with monk straps with tights and a dress or an Oxford shoe with a short jumpsuit. With my collection I wanted to create a similar vibe, but with heels or the saddle of the penny loafer on an ankle boot, the monk strap on a pump with toe cleavage. I love little twists on the classics and, of course, some bright colours!

A walk always helps with a creative block. I used to live in Wales, by the seaside and the fresh air proved to be very helpful. Runs have always been good for me as well, being active makes my brain sort of wake up.

HOC: What do you love about what you do?

Jerelyn: The whole process of designing footwear excites me; from researching for materials to going to fairs like Linea Pelle to find the perfect piece of leather. I love the detail I go into during discussions with the artisans about the different types of heels and even the brainstorming I have to do when I don’t find what I want and need to find a solution.

My favourite parts of it all are late night designing with music on and the day I go to the factory to see my designs come to life as prototypes before production.

I like to be present during the production phase and to get my hands dirty. At the end of the day, it is my brand and I want to be wholly part of everything. To me my shoes are my children, I want to be present for every moment in their lives!

HOC: What are your ambitions for Jerelyn Creado this year?

Jerelyn: My dream is to see my brand in Harrods, Selfridges and Browns in London and La Rinascente in Milan, Barney’s and Bloomingdales in New York. Realistically, these are part of my 5-year plan.

For now, we are enjoying selling direct to customer as I love the interaction. We’ll be showing at various fairs like Moda Made in Italy and hopefully launching a small pop-up store during London Fashion Week in September.

I would like to see Jerelyn Creado shoes in more stores and would love for more women to experience the style, comfort and craftsmanship of a quality pair of shoes. I am also planning to introduce a small men’s line as I have had a few requests.

HOC: In addition to your footwear, what other female run fashion brands do you love?

Jerelyn: I have always loved Isabel Marant, I love her designs; they’re very rock girl mixed with Parisian chic. I have watched a few documentaries on her and she seems super cool, I love finding out about the person behind the brand!

Another female designer who I admire is Victoria Beckham; she is truly someone to look up to when it comes to looking after business, family and doing all of that while looking absolutely stunning. I also like Giulia Rositani , that brand has lovely prints!

HOC: If you weren’t running Jerelyn Creado, what could career plan B have looked like?

Jerelyn: I used to be an event planner (back office) and I probably would’ve still been doing that or teaching kids English in Italy or Spain. When I was much younger, 12, I did want to be a model, but I’m only about 5 feet 3 inches!

If I had any advice to give to myself earlier in my career it would be to trust myself and my decisions and not be bothered about people’s opinions. Everyone has a right to have an opinion and it’s important to take the good out of it and not be affected by the bad!

To shop Jerelyn’s gorgeous collection of shoes head to jerelyncreado.com

After good views, the feeling of wanderlust and a touch of wine? Then you need a weekend escape to the famous wineries of the The Hunter Valley. The New South Wales wine region is a two-hour drive north of Sydney and is home to more than 150 wineries, it’s incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike which makes it a must-do if you’re Sydney based or travelling through. Naturally we had to go!

The Hotel

Now, if you’re planning to visit the The Hunter then Crowne Plaza is the hotel for you. We stayed for one night at this perfectly located hotel and can honestly say, it was a top resort to enjoy a HOC city escape. We checked in on a Friday afternoon and excitedly headed to our suite, which was equipped with everything we needed… a fridge for our wine, 2 TVS for the ultimate chill out, a HUGE bed for maximum comfort and a knockout bathroom with shower and a bath, big enough for two – it was a heavenly base for our wine tasting adventure.

Another great thing about Crowne Plaza is the services they offer, you can arrange everything through them which is super helpful if you’re not really sure what to do or which wineries to see. There are a myriad of wine tasting tours online (you can get a little lost!) so the ease of booking everything in one place takes the stress out of it all. Exactly what a weekend break should be – stress-free! There’s actually a lot more on offer than we realised as you can add brewery tours to your list as well as chocolate factories and cheese shops – it’s literally food and drink heaven. We were only visiting for the wine (don’t judge us!) but if you plan on staying a little longer you can include spa treatments and golf activities to your itinerary, and guess what, Crowne Plaza cover all of that too!

The Wine Tour

Once we had dropped our bags and freshened up, we headed straight back down to the lobby to meet our tour guide, his name was Bill and oh my, what a gem he was. Bill worked for Two Fat Blokes, a unique wine tasting tour company which is one of Tripadvisors highest ranking tour operators in NSW – what an accolade, eh! Bill collected us from outside the hotel and immediately made us feel welcome with his warm ways, so on we hopped and off we went, admiring the beautiful rolling hills covered with succulent green vines as we drove further into the valley. Our first winery was the McLeish Estate, this is one of Hunter’s most awarded vineyards so we knew we were in good company. It is located in Pokolbin and is famous for its Semillon, a crisp white wine which has won many awards including ‘World’s Best Semillon’ – so a pretty big deal. We can confirm it was delicious and captured the elegance and freshness of The Hunter Valley. We enjoyed a few of their famous wines whilst being inundated with knowledge, needless to say we boarded the mini-bus that little bit merrier.

Next up was Gundog Estate, a different experience from the last which was great for variety, we were welcomed by a joyful host who dived straight into the tasting (yay). Another award winning cellar door (Two Fat Blokes really do take you to the best of the best!) who are a boutique producer of premium Semillon and Shiraz, in fact, Matt Burton who manages Gundog Estate, was recognised as ‘Hunter Valley’s Rising Star’ in 2010 before going on to be a finalist for Winemaker of the year in 2015. We ended up buying a few bottles here as it really was SO divine. Our palettes had been teased and we wanted more.

Our last stop on this 3 hour tour was at the home of Two Fat Blokes, their gourmet kitchen and winery was on a beautiful site and made for a lovely final stop off. This time we were treated to some cheese tasting too – they really did leave the best until last! Our tasting experience consisted of 9 delicious cheeses accompanied with wines that complimented them impeccably. Bill was our host for this bit and guided us through this dreamy cheesy experience with a wealth of knowledge. Each of the cheeses we sampled had been allowed to reach room temp which is actually the best way to eat them, not straight out of the fridge. Who knew! Our tastebuds were alight with flavour so once the tasting had finished off we went to their jam-packed deli to purchase some of our favourites, this included a Maffra Red Wax Cheddar from Victoria and a Labna made in The Hunter Valley.

The Dinner – Redsalt Restaurant

Our delectable afternoon had really got us in the mood for even more delicious food, so once we arrived back to the Crowne Plaza we scrubbed up and got ready for dinner in the hotel’s onsite restaurant, Redsalt. An easy yet innovative menu bursting with the regions finest produce, Redsalt restaurant was a great way to round off the day. We started with espresso martinis as need a little livener before embarking on the three great tasting courses; we shared yummy oysters and enjoyed main dishes of Salmon and tender beef, rounding off the meal with chocolate tart and fruit sponge. It’s safe to say we really pushed our bellies to the limit but it was so worth it!

Saturday Strolling

Ahh the bliss of staying in a hotel is a lazy morning. After enjoying a ridiculously comfortable night’s sleep we lazily got ready and ventured down to breakfast and oh wow, what a treat that was. As you know, we love travel and feelings of wanderlust here at HOC, but another thing we’re absolutely obsessed with is FOOD. So how lucky were we to not only enjoy a fabulous dinner in the Crowne Plaza’s restaurant, but to also load up on what has to be one of the best breakfast offerings we’ve seen. It was super busy (we know why!) so didn’t get enough good photos to really do it justice but picture this: freshly squeezed fruit juices, warm pastries, eggs any way you want, a full English breakfast, a coffee bar and a cereal & toast station. There was food everywhere and we were in our element. Once we filled up on grub we said goodbye to the amazing Crowne Plaza and made our way back into the valleys to explore some more.

It was such an enjoyable stay, enhanced by the beautiful scenery and entertaining wine tour, makes it the perfect weekend away especially if you’re looking to escape the city with your partner or embark on a wine-filled weekend with the girls. Live in Sydney, or heading through New South Wales on a big backpacking trip? Then make sure you plot The Hunter Valley on your map.

#CocoMusic – the festival season is finally here which means it’s time to start donning your wellies and glitter. There are some incredible boutique festivals in Britain and whilst some of the well-known with larger festivals like the Isle of Wight and Reading might be familiar, it’s time to shine the light on some of the small but perfectly formed summer festivals that may not be on your radar. From dance and indie to folk and pop, map out your summer with our handy festival guide.

Eden Sessions – Cornwall (23 June)

Whilst most of the fantastic Eden Sessions tickets are sold out, there are some tickets left for ‘A Beautiful Day Out at Eden’ at the very cool Eden Project in Cornwall. The 23rd’s line up includes a stellar line up of bands including festival favourites The Levellers.

Check out: New Model Army and Reef

British Summer Time Hyde Park Festival – Hyde Park (6th -15th July)

Held over two weekends, the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park has attracted the likes of former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, Bruno Mars and Michael Buble. BST seems to have the Royal stamp of approval with the likes of Prince Harry enjoying The Killer’s back in 2017. Some of the days are now sold out, but there are still plenty of great acts to enjoy.

Check out: Roger Waters, The Cure and Santana

Larmer Tree Festival – Dorset (19th-22nd July)

Taking place within the Victorian Pleasure Gardens on Cranborne Chase, an area of outstanding beauty nestled on the Dorset and Wiltshire border, LTF 2018 will be hosting an awesome female focused line up in recognition of 100 years of suffrage.

Check out: Tune-Yards, First Aid Kit and Susanne Sundfør

Bluedot Festival – Jodrell Bank Observatory, Manchester (20th – 22nd July)

Set against a backdrop of the iconic Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Bluedot combines a truly stellar line-up of music with a ground-breaking programme of live science experiments, expert talks and immersive artworks.

Check out: Chemical Brothers, Public Service Broadcasting and Gary Numan

Standon Calling – Hertfordshire (26th – 29th July)

Fast becoming one of the festival favourites, Standon Calling is in its 13th year and pride themselves on daring to be different, opting for a purposefully eclectic and creative programme of artists.

Check out: Paloma Faith, George Ezra and Goldfrapp

Camp Bestival – Dorset (26th – 29th July)

Set against the dramatic backdrop of Lulworth Castle in the heart of Dorset, Camp Bestival has to be one of the friendliest festivals in the UK and as well as the music has a varied programme of events including food from the likes of River Cottage, animatronic dinosaurs and a gin festival.

Check out: Clean Bandit, Simple Minds, Huey Morgan and Basement Jaxx

Bestival – Dorset (2nd-5th August)

With UK festival exclusive headliners London Grammar and Jorja Smith on the bill, Bestival is set to be a force to be reckoned with. Festival goers can also enjoy the likes of hot yoga, dubstep dodgem rides, wood-fired hot tubs and what is on everyone’s Christmas list – East 17’s Christmas Party! Likened to Camp Bestival’s older sister, this years theme is all about the circus!

Check out: Chaka Khan, Jimmy Cliff and Grace Jones.

Boardmasters – Newquay (8th – 12th August)

You don’t have to be a boarder to enjoy the effortlessly cool Boardmasters festival in Cornwall which mixes the best boarders in the world (surfers and skate) with high octane action from music covering pop through to dance.

Check out: Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Years & Years and Becky Hill

Green Man – Brecon Beacons (16th-18th August)

Offering an enchanting glimpse into a unique world, revellers to the Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons can enjoy a mixture of late-night revelry and day time relaxation coupled with a dazzling display of music.

Check out: Bo Ningen, Fleet Foxes and The War on Drugs

Beautiful Days – Devon (17th – 19th August)

Beautiful Days is the Levellers’ family music festival organised by DMF Music which takes place at Escot Park in Devon. It has a non-commercial feel with the festival eschewing any sponsorship or advertising.

Check out: Manic Street Preachers, Suzanne Vega and Feeder

RiZE Festival – Chelmsford and Staffordshire (17-18 August)

Formally known as the V Festival, RiZE is a strong contender to challenge Glastonbury as the biggest and best UK festival. With incredible acts such as Liam Gallagher, the Stereophonics, Bastille and more, RiZE caters for all music tastes and festival goers can expect an incredible weekend of live music plus a huge hub of the best food and drink on the festival circuit.

Check out: James Bay, Manic Street Preachers and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man

Creamfields – Cheshire (23rd – 26th August)

Lauded as one of the UK’s leading dance festivals, Creamfields attracts tens of thousands every year seeking to party to the finest names in dance, along with immense visuals, lighting and pyrotechnics.

Check out: Carl Cox, Eric Prydz and Armin van Buuren

Victorious – Portsmouth (24 – 26 August)

Located in The Common and Castle Field in the beautiful seaside location of Southsea, Portsmouth. Revellers can expect an eclectic mix of live music and DJ performances, from some of the biggest names in the music industry, as well as a medley of locally sourced food markets and ale stalls, an arts and craft marketplace, a jam-packed kids arena hosting themed games, live performances and much, much more.

Check out: The Prodigy, Happy Monday’s and Paloma Faith

Festival No 6 – Portmeirion, Wales (6th – 9th September)

Festival No.6 is an intimate, bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture, taking place in the magical village of Portmeirion in Wales. Visitors can expect a huge focus on arts, music and food with appearances from Michelin starred-chefs who will be preparing food full of incredible Welsh produce.

Check out: Jessie Ware, Friendly Fires and Djanjo Djanjo

“Corsham”, I say with a dreaminess about my tone when asked where I’m going ‘THIS weekend’ (You’ve got to love being judged for being socially busy!). “Corsham, in Wiltshire, near Bath” I say. I say, not really having a clue where that is, let alone knowing what The Methuen Arms could be a base for. Why am I going?

What would your reason be to stay at The Methuen? I’ll tell you, it’ll either be a wedding nearby, a girl’s trip to the countryside or a quick and dirty weekend away.

We booked a girls trip. Two badass, fierce babes who were going to blow the roof off Corsham. We were going to get there, get ready and paint the town Instagram red, tear through the local bars flirting outrageously with any smooth operator that looked our way and finally collapse in bed with a kebab!

NONE of which happened. Instead, we had a very well needed, super relaxing stay in this beautiful, and historical building. With The Methuen you get a nice cosy village pub feel, mixed with unbelievable dining and super stylish and incredibly cosy rooms. It’s all fireplace and fairy lights, inside and out.

Key players at The Methuen include Ash and Abi the owners. For a fairly young couple they’ve achieved a lot here, building the profile of the venue, making each and every detail instagrammable and creating a great feel with their welcome. They’ll do pretty much everything to make sure you don’t forget The Methuen Arms in a hurry.

Along with their personal efforts, you get 5 star customer service from the bar and restaurant staff and award-winning Head Chef Leigh Evans pleases every sense with his culinary creations.

Use this trip to catch up on the gossip about those dating apps you’re using, find out about your friends potential dates and tell her about the guy you’re kind of into at the moment, eat some memorable food and sit back and look around the bar and take in village life.

Essentially what you get here is very special accommodation that uses the little touches to give you pure, home felt comfort with the level of luxury that a girls trip deserves. It is a base for catching up, having a few drinks and in the end… avoiding flirting with the locals at all costs after all.

You can explore nearby Bath, Bristol and The Cotswolds, continue on to Wales if you’re heading North or Cornwall if you’re heading South… Either way… enjoy your little pit stop at The Methuen Arms.

Rooms start at £140 and take about £60 for your dinner and a few drinks.

Enjoy… We definitely did.

www.themethuenarms.com