In a digital age where we’re flooded daily with words, stories, and great hunks of content to digest, it’s not often an article can make you stop and think rather than swipe away. Syreeta Challinger’s ‘The Moment That Made Me’ for October’s Glamour Magazine did just that.
Syreeta’s tale begins in Sydney, Australia on the second night of a holiday back in 2014. She was 5,000 miles away from their Hong Kong home and laying next to her partner who had suffered a terrifying and near fatal brain haemorrhage, which then triggered a stroke. She had awoken to Rob staggering and screaming, clutching his head in agony before having a seizure and vomiting. He was 37.
What followed was a painful and unimaginably difficult set of circumstances; after intensive surgery, Rob was brought out of his coma unable to speak and with right side paralysis. He had to relearn fundamental life skills such as eating solid food and swallowing and needed assistance getting dressed.
Syreeta and Rob had built exciting and high profile careers; she a product development manager in fashion, he a brand agency director. Urban nomads, they travelled globally and frequently and enjoyed an active and creative life. In the blink of a moment, their lives were turned upside down in the most brutal of ways.
Leaving Sydney after three months, they returned to Rob’s home town of Lincoln to continue with his significant recovery. Syreeta commuted into London with the aim of preserving a connection to their former life, but it became evident that Rob’s recovery was impacted by her absence so she resigned and became his full time carer. 2016 was difficult and isolating, but while sorting through some possessions, Syreeta stumbled upon an old sketchbook where an idea they had for a concept store named Moments of Sense & Style (MOSS) sat patiently waiting.
She began working on the MOSS plan and brainstorming product ideas – like patterned notebooks, candles and art and carefully considered how her and Rob’s harrowing story could be reflected in their craft.
Gradually, it came beautifully together. Born from a desire to create light out of the darkness, it became a stylish concept store with an innovative and conceptual approach to dealing with life changing events. Each scent of each candle is integral to the remarkable brand story. Syreeta’s main job is carer to Rob, who thankfully has made remarkable progress in the circumstances and helps with MOSS product design.
There is so much to take away from Syreeta and Rob’s horrific story. The importance of enjoying life when it is good, as we never truly know what’s around the corner. How acts of complete and utter selflessness, showing courage and strength during the most testing times and temporarily putting your life on hold for the person you love are the real Stories we should be sharing on social media.
We applaud both Syreeta and Rob and covert their considered design, high-quality products. This is accessible luxury with meaning and a reminder that creativity really can heal.
As Syreeta wisely reminds us ‘‘Play the cards you’ve been dealt, as best you can’.
At Leila and Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact.
Like Smart Works, a UK charity that dresses and coaches women for interview success.
Choosing what to wear for a job interview is a critical element of the overall preparation. While ultimately your skills, capability and experience should be the key factors to drive success, undoubtedly what you wear can also influence a panel’s decision. But what if you don’t have access to a killer wardrobe, are on a low-income or your confidence is depleted after being out of work for some time?
That’s where Smart Works comes in. They exist to help unemployed women into work, by developing their interview skills and providing them with professional clothes to boost their confidence. The charity welcomes any woman who needs their service, has a job interview secured and who has been referred by one of the hundreds of organisations they partner with including the local Job Centre Plus, Centrepoint and Solace.
At one of their six locations across the UK and with the help of 250 trained volunteers, women can enjoy a focused two-hour session with the Smart Works power team, comprised of two elements; (1) clothing advice and expertise from highly skilled and trained stylists and (2) interview advice from senior managers, HR professionals and executive coaches.
At the end of the session, Smart Works clients get a complete outfit of clothes and accessories to keep and interview training to help them believe in their ability to succeed. If they bag that dream job, they can come back for more clothing to see them through to their first pay cheque. The clothes are high-quality and donated by other working women, high profile fashion labels and leading retailers including Whistles, Evans and Hobbs.
Patrons include fashion designer Betty Jackson CBE, comedian, writer and producer Jennifer Saunders andleading fashion retail figure Jane Shepherdson MBE.Charity Ambassadors include Barclays Director Caroline Graham,brand and image consultant / The Telegraph columnist Isabel Spearman and Samantha Cameron, Founder and Creative Director of contemporary womenswear label Cefinn, all bringing their unique drive, passion and style to the table.
It’s not just the team that are impressive, the statistics are too. Smart Works dressed over 2,800 women in 2016 in stylish, high-quality clothes and over 1 in 2 women get the job after using its service, with half the charity’s clients finding employment within one month. They were winners in the social care, advice and support category at the Charity Awards 2017 who rewarded their efforts in cross-partner working, addressing diversity and inequality issues and helping women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Smart Works helps women to feel confident, look fabulous, succeed at their job interview and move on with their life. The charity is on a mission to grow across the country and increase its reach to women who really need them.
Women look in the mirror and see hope and potential; they see themselves again. It’s simple, practical and empowering and here at Leila and Geoffrey we wish them all the very best.
We thought we’d start a segment of our website where we give shouts outs people making cool things happen in London, and around the world.
A few years ago, Max Benoist – a French expat from beautiful Montpellier – found himself travelling around Europe reviewing different open stages in each of the cities he went to. With a background in web design and photography, what started off as a small database of these open mics he had gone to morphed into a huge directory of over 600 open mics around the world and a global community of artists who have played at them. Settling in London a couple years ago, Max and his GOOT business partner Valerio Lysander now run two very popular weekly open mics, and have recently partnered up with St John’s Church in Hoxton where they plan the monthly ‘Sanctuary’ series’.
GOOT also offers stunning (and budget-friendly!) video production. Max’s signature ‘One Shot Session’ live videos have now been made for over 40 artists, which are all displayed and promoted through the elegant GOOT website. You can see who has done a session, where they’ve played around the world, and read all about who they are and where they came from through their online profile.
His music videos are simple, beautiful, and really capture the essence of the performer. Want to see for yourself?! This one he did for Valerio Lysander’s ‘Cotton’ is our favourite.
In addition to all of the different hats he wears as music promoter, event planner, web designer, photographer, and film maker, Max is an extremely talented songwriter, with a unique folk-rap blend and lyrics in both French and English. And because he is just so darn talented, he makes all of his own videos – the most recent being his new single ‘Stylo‘ which features the visual stylings of Milena Milak.
Whew! We get exhausted just thinking about all of the things this guy can do!
Join the GOOT community and stay up to date with what they have coming up next by following them on the various platforms:
Here at Leila and Geoffrey, we’re helping quite a few artists embark on tours outside of their homelands. We are seeing that there is a growing demand for house concerts and alternative venues – Sofar Sounds almost not being able to accommodate the amount of people that want to attend the shows, the tickets are often very hard to grab hold of!
Who wants to tour to a country that you have no ties to, and play at a loud bar where few people come? The way of the house concert provides an intimate setting with an attentive audience that you can actually form a connection with. And there are some lovely platforms popping up that make it easy to do so.
Sofaconcerts is a Hamburg based company which connects artists directly with their hosts. With a huge database of hosts, with the majority being based in Germany, as well as France, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands – there are even some as far away as South Africa, Brazil, and Canada. You can search by radius of where you’ll be heading, so you can easily plan a route of spectacular venues along your way.
Low-Fi Concerts is a more recent site, it’s been around since 2015. Started by Anne Dvinge, who came up with the idea of wanting to create a global community for intimate concerts, she had built the beta platform within 10 weeks! Based in Copenhagen, the majority of the hosts are in that general area. Eager concert goers can look for gigs in their area, and purchase tickets directly from the site.
If you have any other favourite platforms you use, or have stories and photos about your favourite house concerts, please share them!
We’ve had the pleasure of being able to work with the beautiful London-based singer/songwriter IMAN. Her songwriting credits include the likes of Ed Sheerdan, Rudimental, and Kanye West, and now she’s releasing her own music under her own record label, Shop Front Records. Growing up in a household where her goals of working in music were actively discouraged, Iman made the courageous move to leave home at 16 to follow her dreams. This powerhouse was recently featured in Wonderland Magazine, and spoke of how she got to where she is now. Read the interview here
Listen to the most recent single, Wishing, on Spotify
Here at Leila & Geoffrey, we’re always looking for tips to share with our artist friends. We got really excited about this one!
The Help Musicians organisation launched a new program back in August – The Help Musicians Develop Fund. It is a fund to aid professional UK based-musicians access creative and professional development opportunities, both in the UK and internationally.
There are two streams:
The Transmission Fund – designed to help build careers by giving out grants between £500 – £1500, funding opportunities which allow musicians to focus on their development but supporting short courses, workshops, training, and coaching.
The Fusion Fund – offers £2,000 – £5,000 for musicians undertaking projects developing new work, ideas, and potential career directions through collaborative research.
We highly recommend researching more on the Help Musicians site!
There is so much help available, you just have to go look for it.
First of all, we’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who came out to LCPC’s big launch party a few weeks ago. It’s an exciting time, and we’re grateful to all who helped us celebrate this grand opening! The door is now open to this beautiful safe space. Whether it’s counselling you seek, or it’s you yourself who wishes to be a counsellor, LCPC offers a wide range of services. Low-cost appointments are available, as well as counselling courses – both certificate and diploma programs.
Also, there’s a pretty great deal if you pay a whopping £10 a year – become an LCPC member and receive a 10% discount on LCPC CPD events, talks and conferences. They’ve got some great events coming up, notably Michael Jacobs on November 25th who will be giving a workshop entitled ‘ Oedipus is Alive and Well’. Entrigued? Take a gander over here!
To cap off these exciting few weeks, Jason has been recently featured in a Daily Mail article to offer his insight on the growing number of women who ask their children not to call them ‘mum’.
Speaking to Maureen Brookbanks, he says ‘For some, there is a very real struggle in coming to terms with the life-long identity of being a mother…I suggest mums think carefully about the meaning and impact their demand not to be called Mum may have on their child. Relationships which use parental first names can still be very close, but why create a difference which the child will be impacted by?’
Read more about this phenomenon and what Jason has to say about it here
Leila & Geoffrey are excited to announce the launch of the Leicester Centre for Psychodynamic Therapy! What is this you may ask? A lot of people might be familiar with CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Psychodynamic Therapy differs in that it tries to get at why you feel or behave the way you do (i.e., uncover deeper and often unconscious motivations for feelings and behavior) whereas CBT does not. CBT simply attempts to alleviate suffering as quickly as possible by training your mind to replace dysfunctional thought patterns, perceptions, and behaviour.
The Centre is located on New Walk in Leicester, and will offer an informal way of engaging the community in understanding mental health. Founder Jason Hughes has an ethos of inclusivity, so the purpose of LCPC is to give everyone the opportunity to access counselling services but offering sessions for as little as a fiver!
Come celebrate the opening, which will happen from 6pm on Friday, July 21st.
The Leicester Centre for Psychodynamic Counselling
For those of you in the Bristol area tomorrow evening, September Song will be giving a rare performance in their hometown to celebrate the release of their new concept album, ‘The Arrogance of Time’. Taking place at the Cube Microplex, their set also features featuring ex-members of Kid Sinister and Wushcatte.
John Douglass lost many members of his family to cancer and dementia over the past few years. Songwriting was the way he channeled his emotions through this difficult time, and from this the songs for the album were born. The band gave an interview for 365 Bristol – to find out more about the album, give it a read here.
Supporting them will be Eyebrow – a Bristol-based trumpet/drum duo. Take a listen to them here.
To pick yourself up some last minute tickets, visit www.seetickets.com and enjoy the show!
Sula Mae had a very exciting first half of 2017, what with her new EP ‘Blind’ peaking at an impressive no.4 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter charts!
In her interview with Beat Media, Sula explained a little about the title track which you can watch below. ‘I fell for a teacher at the school I worked at. I managed to build up the courage to tell him and realised he didn’t feel the same, it was all just a fascination I’d built up in my head. So ‘Blind’ is about that experience, of falling really fast and hard for someone, then realising afterwards that you kind of went a bit crazy and it wasn’t real. But I think you have to put yourself out there into these uncomfortable, vulnerable spaces or you’d never learn a thing.’
We love how our artists are using their voices to speak about important issues in our society that need addressing. Like Mila Falls, who is about to launch her ‘Life Unlabelled’ workshops in Norwich, Sula ran the #takehername campaign, which encouraged the support of women in music for International Woman’s Day. She used her EP release show to collaborate with Laid Bare Live’s launch of a new monthly event – ‘Songbirds’ – a series at 93 Feet East created to celebrate talented women in the music industry. PRS for Music reported that their membership of over 95,000 songwriters and composers is only 13 per cent female. And reportedly, there have been cases of female writers pitching songs under a male pseudonym to give themselves a better chance. The #takehername campaign’s aim is to help society move on from pigeon holing female musicians by image and understand that good musicianship and songwriting is all that counts.
Sula’s writing was featured in The F Word, so you can read all about #takehername here