Carnival

This year we foreswore the banging sound systems and took the Minx to see the Carnival parade. And yes, I do need to set up a Flickr account.

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Goldbrick House


PICTURE FROM GOLDBRICK HOUSE BLOG

Entrepreneurial readers may be as fascinated as I was by this blog, written by the team behind Goldbrick House, a new restaurant which has just opened in Bristol. It charts the ups-and-downs of opening a restaurant, from the initial idea to the eventual opening, and all the problems they encountered along the way.

I found it to be scary but inspirational reading, with sums of money at stake in a totally different dimension from those I have to fret about with mirrormirror. I thought I had enough problems keeping web designers etc. in line, but at least I don’t have to worry about planning permissions, acoustic reports and anxious investors. But lots of fascinating stuff about choosing the menu, developing the branding and logo and, of course, the interior design. Having seen the mood boards on the blog, I’d love to see the finished rooms, but can’t yet find them online. Oh and a friend of mine has just eaten there and was highly complimentary.

I wish now that I’d been blogging during mirrormirror’s development phase, though I don’t honestly know how I would have found the time. But there is something incredibly satisfying about creating something from scratch (we were even excited when our VAT number came through!) which you don’t get so much when watching a business grow slowly from day-to-day. It would be nice now to have a record of that period – all I really have to remind me are emails.

One day, when mirrormirror is rich and famous, I’d love to venture into the boutique hotel/chi-chi restaurant scene, though one clearly needs both the hide of a rhinoceros and the riches of Croesus to succeed. It may be sometime before I am ready to sally forth.

Yummy long weekend coming up, though unfortunately the weather doesn’t look terribly promising. We’re going to take the Minx to her first Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday afternoon and then are decamping to the Cotswolds for a bit of boutique hotel research here (we live slap bang in the middle of the Carnival, which means we have to escape after a bit as gets difficult to even walk out of our front door).

Just editing to say that Mike Bennett from Goldbrick House contacted me after reading this blog entry to send me a photo of the finished bar. I love seeing how mood boards translate into the finished article.


Courtesy of Mike Bennett from Goldbrick House

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Chromata


CLICK TO ENLARGE

I was just looking back through my photos (I’m trying to get some Flickr albums up and running) and thought you might like to see some pictures of the gorgeous Chromata Hotel in Santorini, Greece where I was lucky enough to stay a few years back.

It is without doubt the most stunning place I’ve ever stayed.

The word ‘breathtaking’ is often used for views but in this case they really were – at the highest point of the caldera looking out to sea. The design of the hotel was equally spectacular, making the most of the cavelike rooms burrowed deep into the rock, and mixing iconic Greek charm – weathered woods, turquoise walls and white stones – with curly antiques, ‘Ghost’ chairs, Venetian mirrors and twinkly lights. Our suite featured a cavernous red bedroom, a cool turquoise sitting room and (somewhat gratuitously) its very own plunge pool, though to be honest we mostly lounged on our terrace or by the side of the small but exquisite infinity pool.

Actually I’m now feeling rather wistful after looking at these photos, since they don’t take children, so it’s going to be ages before I can go back. And it’s a grotty autumnal day here in London.

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A rose by any other name

When we were setting up the business we thought long and hard about a business name.

We wanted something which would be easy to remember and spell, which would not limit us in the type of things we could sell and which would conjure up the idea of living a ‘fairytale’ life. And so mirror mirror was born.

Looking back, we were astonishingly na├»ve about naming an online business and the importance of being visible to the search engines. I don’t pretend to understand all its little foibles and quirks, but in essence Google works by looking first for the search terms and then by ranking the ‘importance’ of the sites in which they appear. It judges this importance by how current the content is and the number of sites which link to that site and how ‘important’ those sites are in turn.

So for the first eighteen months of mirror mirror’s life, it was impossible to find us if you searched on the terms ‘mirror mirror’ – instead you would have got pages and pages of articles from the Daily Mirror, books on Amazon, Guardian columns and song lyrics. Every journalist working for every newspaper in the world, seemed to have written an article which contained the words ‘mirror, mirror….’

A friend of ours who specialises in all things Google did some consultancy for us and said that with such a generic name we would never get to the top of the search engines. So, in despair, around about Christmas last year, I thought seriously about changing the name of the business. I agonized over a new name, coming up with more and more ridiculous and random combinations, but nothing was perfect enough to warrant the huge step of rebranding the business and losing all the goodwill we’d built up around the name.

And then I started up the blog. And people started linking to the blog and linking to the shop. And then one day I was checking the search engine rankings and found that if you searched on ‘mirrormirror’ (all one word) the shop finally appeared on the second page of the search results, though if I searched on ‘mirror mirror’ the shop still didn’t appear at all. So I finally had my new name. The shop would now officially be called mirrormirror (the eagle eyed among you may have noticed that I started changing the name on the blog around that time).

Our PR company was informed, all new instances of the name appeared in the new format and the next big project on the To Do list was to change all the instances of the name on the website itself and on all our collateral. Until yesterday when I searched on ‘mirror mirror’ and the shop appeared on the first page of Google (though ‘mirrormirror’ still appears higher up the rankings).

So now I’m really muddled. Obviously we need to be consistent, but I just don’t know which name to choose. I think there is a chance of getting ‘mirrormirror’ to be the absolute number one on the search engines, but less of a chance with ‘mirror mirror’. But on the other hand ‘mirror mirror’ seems to be the spelling that people use most often and if I stick with it I won’t have to change the website and the collateral.

Confused yet? Which version of the name do you prefer?

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Pearl’s a singer

Ooh, I forgot to mention that mirrormirror‘s quest for world domination continued recently with a cool bit of coverage in July’s US Elle - our first bit of coverage abroad.

Our black lace tablecloths (hand-dyed by Pearl) were shown at the end of a huge feature on Pearl Lowe – yummy mummy of four, erstwhile singer with Powder and rock chick extraordinaire. Her long-term partner and the father of her three younger children is Danny Goffey of Supergrass, whilst the father of her, very beautiful, older daughter is Gavin Rossdale of Bush – now Mr Gwen Stefani. In the magazine article Pearl looks trim and beautiful, despite having a baby under a year old.

In between hanging out (I use this term loosely in the light of last year’s gossip about Jude and Sadie) with the stars, Pearl designs and makes our Scottish lace tablecloths, beautiful bespoke lace curtain panels for the rich and famous, and has now designed a new line of lace dresses, based on her own collection of vintage dresses.

Having met her once, at her beautiful Georgian townhouse in Camden (she has since moved to a wonderful-looking house in Hampshire), I can confirm that she is extremely pretty and petite, full of energy and has the most beautiful speaking voice. Her house too was absolutely stunning (I’ve been trying to find pictures online but without success) – mostly white, with fluffy white rugs, venetian mirrors, a huge portrait of Pearl above the fireplace, and accents in the form of her colourful lace window panels everywhere. What struck me most was that, although the house was comfortable and family-filled – with Danny Goffey playing table-tennis with a bunch of kids downstairs and a small boy running about dressed as an unidentifiable animal – it still managed to look bohemian, chic and elegant. One can only aspire.

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Candid Camera

We’re not having a good time with technology at the moment, which is somewhat problematic if you’re running a business online. Over the last few weeks we’ve been wrestling with email problems, a pernickety issue with the website, Orange ‘upgrading’ the broadband over at Siobhan’s so that it now no longer works, smashed laptops and temperamental printers.

But tonight I watched the Minx excitedly ‘chatting’ to her father, who is currently over in Seattle, using our new webcam and realised that sometimes technology really does have its uses.

Thanks for all your recent comments and lovely messages. I AM slowly feeling better and hope to be in a much chattier mood as of tomorrow.

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Extensive retouching required

Well, I’ve been feeling a bit better today. I managed to get out and about this morning despite feeling rather wobbly, and after being overcome by the munchies for the first time since Saturday decided that a Bacon Double Cheeseburger from Burger King was the only solution. And it made me feel like a million dollars. Never underestimate the restorative medicinal powers of junk food.

Unfortunately a glance in the mirror has revealed that I don’t look anything like a million dollars, even at today’s favourable dollar exchange rate. What I need is for these people to follow me around all day and weave their magic. (Go to Portfolio and then Before/After and then stop wondering why you don’t look like a supermodel).

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Blog of the Day

Well, the exciting thing DID happen, although in the end I was actually feeling too utterly wiped out to feel very excited by it at all.

Yesterday my little mirrormirror blog was chosen as Typepad’s Blog of the Day and was featured on the Typepad homepage. Which means that loads of people who have a Typepad blog saw it and it resulted in lots of lovely traffic to both the blog and the mirrormirror shop.

I have absolutely no idea how it came about. If one of my lovely readers thought fit to nominate me then thank you so much. I thought it might be some sort of peculiar spam when I first got the email and only thought it might be true when a Typepad t-shirt was delivered throught the mail. But I am feeling rather honoured as they do choose some really interesting blogs to feature.

A big welcome to anyone who’s popping by as a result of the Typepad feature – it’s lovely to have you and I hope you’ll stay around and join in the conversation. It’s normally much jollier round here when I’m not dying of dysentery.

But now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed with a terrible Jilly Cooper novel and a hot water bottle. Oh, and people who know me in real life are not permitted to laugh at the words ‘thoroughly charming’.

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