My life - Natalie Cleur

My life - Natalie Cleur

Natalie Cleur is the Client Director at Smart Digital TV Limited. She is also one of the coolest women on Instagram. She is creative, funny and very likeable. Natalie talks about free will, inspiration, and advice to her 14-year-old self.

Tell us about yourself

I am a 48-year-old married, child-free woman living in London. I am a video content producer working in the world of trade shows. I love art, colour, and doggies (although still don’t have my own). 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? 

Locate my earplugs that become dislodged in the night and can usually be found stuck to my face. Having slept on them, I then wait for the life to return to my arms so that I don’t have to roll out of the bed.

What is happening in your life at this minute? 

Currently, my life is somewhat dominated by work... Mustn't grumble as we're a small company so better to be busy than wondering when the next job will come in. I'm planning various filming jobs at events in London, UAE, and Europe in the healthcare, casino, aerospace, telecoms and energy industries. As I am sure is the case for many of us in January, I'm also planning a few long weekends away with the hubby and mates - work to live, right!? 

Favourite drink?  

Impossible to give one answer.

Day time: Peppermint tea.
Mealtime: Red wine.
Party time: Old Fashioned.
Wintertime: Baileys – Christmas Milk, you should try it on Cornflakes.
Summertime: White port punch – summer tipple by the pool at my folk's place in France.

    Favourite food?  

    Anything spicy or barbequed. I lost my sense of smell over 20 years ago and since then I definitely require more ‘kick’ to food. I love it but cooking is really my husbands' passion and he rocks at it and has more time to do it and is exceptionally good at grilling anything – I’ve promised him an outdoor kitchen for his 50th - wood-fired oven and a fancy pants Argentine grilly thing.

    We live in London, so have the world’s cuisines on our doorstep and we love discovering no-frills eateries – Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Szechuan are favourites.

    Favourite dessert? 

    I have a sweet tooth so anything chocolatey. Still, to this day, when I’m with my Dad in a restaurant I order something chocolatey, take a mouthful, smear it on my teeth and grin at him like a toothless hag. It gets him every time – he loves it. I always do the dancing napkin trick in restaurants. I will never stop doing this.

    I also happen to make the world’s greatest Tiramisu – a recipe passed to me from my Italian cousin and great aunt, but pimped with chocolate. Tiramisu means ‘pick me up’… my version does that, spins you around then gives you a hangover.

    What is your most treasured possession?  

    Hmmm, for all my love of the finer things in life my most treasured possession are my albums, boxes and hard drives full of photos. I genuinely am a little worried about my fading memory so I started my Instagram account a few years back to capture my life in pictures and I do look back at them to remind me what I've been up to. I lost my Mum 20 years ago so the older photos are there to remind me of times gone by and other loved ones no longer with us. I would be heartbroken if I lost them.

    What is your best quote?

    I don’t have any stunning quotes of my own, I’m not as wordy as I’d like to be. My sister and I both are afflicted (gifted?) with what we refer to as ‘Mumisms’. Having been brought up by an Italian woman who never 100% grasped the English language but just went for it anyway - an example being,

    Me: “Mum, what did you eat at the restaurant?”
    Mum: “I had some squid but I really didn’t like the tiny testicles.

    Other favourite quotes: "Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.", Samuel Johnson.

    I also like “Maybe I’m not too sensitive, maybe you’re just a dickhead.” - ANON

    What are you most proud of?  

    Managing to carve out and maintain a life in what I believe to be the world’s most vibrant, inclusive, exciting, cultural city.

    What keeps you up at night? 

    Work mainly and back pain, all topped off with a slathering of overthinking!

    What is your greatest fear? 

    • Losing my mind or memory and therefore becoming a burden to those around me.
    • Sharks – I blame Jaws. To this day I feel uncomfortable in a bubble bath as you never know what lurks beneath.
    • Spiders – just ahhhh!

    Describe yourself in three words.   

    • Colourful – literally and in choice of language.
    • Silly – rather that than stupid.
    • Special – in every sense of the word.

    Can women have it all?  

    I was privileged to be raised in Europe by parents who allowed me to grow into the woman I am today. I have female friends of all ages so lucky to be surrounded by strong women who are raising families, holding down careers, starting out on their adventures and generally being fabulous and rocking it at life. I have always been fiercely independent and self-sufficient so I’d say 'yes' we can have it all.

    Destiny or free will? 

    Good question, although I am not sure I’ve understood it! I do believe that all of us have something that we’re meant to do with our lives (destiny/fate) and that some lucky folk know very early what that is, some people can’t quite figure it out (me), some never know and some don’t get the opportunity to find out – all of these are influenced by either free will and/or circumstance. I am also a strong believer in the power of positive and negative thought. If you think something regularly enough good or bad, then it can become a reality.

    Who inspires you? 

    Off the top of my head - Greta Thunberg, what an amazing human being and role model to kids and adults alike. Then it would be artists & photographers who inspire me daily and lastly anyone who promotes body positivity. This wasn’t a thing when I was growing up and I truly feel one of the best bits of social media.

    What advice would you give your 14-year-old self? 

    • Don’t listen to the teacher who told you that your T-shirt with the words ‘Heavenly Body’ emblazoned across your chubby chest was inappropriate to wear on a school trip. You did have and will continue to have a Heavenly Body.
    • Moisturise from head to toe, bend at the knees when lifting and start paying into a pension NOW!

    What book have you read that positively shaped you?  

    I hold my hands up; I’m not making the time to read enough. I use to read on my commute but now I’m based at home it has fallen by the wayside. That said, I do have a number of books on the go that I can dip into depending on my mood. I love a good thriller but my current book is The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff. What a mouthful I hear you say but it’s a jolly fascinating examination of how our data is being unwittingly mined and traded by corporates and governments and how our behaviours are being shaped and modified as a result. I used to work in publishing and I remember working on financial titles covering futures and options (betting on the future price of pork bellies and other commodities). Now we are the commodity - our choices and lives being traded and betted on, all with the intention of influencing how we spend our time and money.

    If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?  

    Bit of a sweeping statement here... RELIGION. I respect that some people need faith or something to believe in, I just have a huge problem with folk thinking that their belief is somehow better than someone else’s - to the point of fighting and killing over it. If I had my way, we’d all be pagans, running around in the nude, worshipping and looking after Mother Nature.

    Where do you see yourself in ten years?  

    Painting a still life or a landscape with a doggy sitting to one side and John feeding me chocolate covered brazil nuts on the other.

    How do you do to relax?  

    Walking on my Wanstead Flats & Park; taking photos of literally anything; practicing pilates and pottering around the house with John. I also love art but that doesn’t always relax me.

    To follow Natalie, her Instagram page is https://www.instagram.com/nataliecleur/

    January 18, 2020 — Yvonne Telford
    My life - Ina Beeston

    My life - Ina Beeston

    Ina Beeston is incredibly wise, cool and funny. Ina, is the owner of the travel blog Are You Laughing At Me? In this Q&A, she talks about divorce, turning 49 and tattoos.  

    What would be your dream holiday destination?

    Africa has my heart as I grew up in a country there. But, my ancient soul is Viking, my ancestors were Swedish.  I am torn between the smell before the rain in Africa and the tart scent of pine forests in Scandinavia. So I am going to say neither of those as I know both would be dreamy and easy and opt for a month or so in India.  I have never been and would really like to immerse myself in this subcontinent.  I am not sure I will find it easy (driving through Kathmandu left me a bit shell-shocked) as I am not good in crowds with lots of noise, so the hustle and bustle of the cities will have to be balanced with the quiet of the mountains and deserts.  Wildlife exploration will be an essential component of this trip.

    Who is your favourite living icon?

    Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister. A human and humane head of state who has her finger on the pulse of real people while living a real life of motherhood. An outstanding role model not just for our next generation but for everyone.

    What is your favourite TV show that is currently on?

    Gogglebox, not even going to apologise!  I used to scoff at the idea of watching a TV programme of people watching TV programmes - I mean how boring and desperate is that?  Until I then got over my snobbery and fell fully in love with all of them. It’s genius and it’s the only thing, apart from Graham Norton, that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud - that’s LOL to my children.

    What book are you reading at the moment?

    Always the overachiever, several: Ultimate Knitting Bible as I recently tried to knit to a pattern and found it like the Enigma code and as a German, I should understand this and I did not. This upset me. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by S Turton as part of my two books a month target on Goodreads. It’s almost halfway through the month and not finished it yet. Best choose a slim book next! Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg as part of my quest to become a writer. 

    What book have you read that positively shaped you?

    The Animals of Farthing Wood is the first book I remember reading and being completely immersed and taken away to another world. It started a lifetime of wonder through books, laughter, and tears, oh so many tears.


    Ina in our denim maxi skirt.

    You just celebrated your 49th birthday, what excites you about life right now?

    Living more consciously.  Being single for seven years after my divorce has meant really getting to know myself, being ok with silence and solitude.  It’s not easy but it is a wonderful gift too. For me, that means making decisions consciously and not simply out of habit or boredom or stress or sorrow. I am a long way off having mastered this, but the fact that I am thinking about it has changed many things in my life for the better. I listened to a podcast this morning and a poem by David Whyte called Everything is Waiting For You was read. It included, “Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity…. Everything is waiting for you.” I appreciate that everything will include things that will surprise me in both directions, good and bad. To be ok with that is a wonderful place to be.  I want to live my life, not just exist.

    Pinterest or Instagram?

    What is Pinterest?

    What is your favourite food?

    Japanese, freshly made with the rice just lukewarm.

    Favourite drink?

    Cold German beer and Yorkshire Gold tea.

    Favourite dessert?

    A cold orange peeled in the shade of an acacia tree or homemade bread and butter pudding with custard.

    What is your most treasured possession?

    My phone. I know that is not very sentimental but it connects me to the people I love, it keeps my memories, it takes me off into the world and it helps me cheat at the crossword. It can get me out of trouble and if my house burnt down it will help me rebuild it.

    Name five people you would invite to your dream dinner party?

    Jacinda Ardern. My great grandfather who was a missionary in Namibia; I want to ask him if he really believed what he was doing was a good thing. Gerald DurrellDorothea Lange and Nigel Slater - who will hopefully offer to cook but we would all help chop stuff.

    What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

    Be brave. Don’t listen to the teacher telling you you weren't good enough, he was wrong. Also, counting elephants is actually a career so also ignore all the people that stood in the way of that too and find a way to make that happen.

    What is your greatest fear?

    Dying alone.

    What is your best quote?

    “When you cannot change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.”

    And: Go see.

    What are you most proud of?

    Without a doubt how my daughters have turned out. That had a lot to do with me and it’s ok to be proud of that. It was bloody hard work!

    What has age taught you?

    What I thought was important is not important but I needed to live to learn that. Other people’s anxiety does not have to become mine. This is my path. I will walk it. My crown is a bit battered, but it’s intact.


    Abstract skirt selfie.

    Describe yourself in three words

    Honour. Dignity. Decorum. I wrote these words on my wall after my ex-husband left. I was determined not to be bitter and twisted. They served me well.

    I am also: Funny. Loving. Creative.

    If your life was a song, what would the title be?

    The Four Seasons by Vivaldi.

    If you had a tattoo where would it be?

    I have a tattoo on my right inner arm. It says stubborn gladness. It is from a poem by Jack Gilbert called A Brief for the Defense.

    "We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil”

    The day after I had it done, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  It is very apt.

    To follow Ina, her Instagram page is the.history.keeper.

    January 11, 2020 — Yvonne Telford
    Thank You For An Amazing 2019

    Thank You For An Amazing 2019

    I am Yvonne Telford the owner of Kemi Telford. I must confess that 2019 has been a crazy year and I am super proud of what I have achieved. Of course, I could not have achieved the success of this year without you guys. There is a popular Yoruba proverb that goes: “A river that forgets its source will surely dry up”. I don’t ever want this river to dry up.

    I am slowing down for the next few days for a well-earned break. You can still order from the shop but we will not be shipping out any orders until January 6, 2020. I will still be sharing photos of our fabulous products on our social channels.

    Thank you for being part of my journey this year. Since I am a typical Yoruba woman who believes in the power of prayer and positive words; I pray that 2020 brings all things beautiful into our lives. 2020 will be a year of fabulous health, love, wealth, laughter and prosperity.

    With Love, Yvonne 

    December 24, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    The Story Behind The Fabric Used in Our "Don’t Be Unhappy" Skirt

    The Story Behind The Fabric Used in Our "Don’t Be Unhappy" Skirt

    This fabric is called Olympia. It is also known as "Don’t be unhappy because I walk with my hands tied.” The more popular name for this beautiful fabric is: “Aban Nkaba”(Handcuffs). Aban Nkaba is a popular Ghanaian Highlife song and it gave way to this cloth design. Some regard it as a political song and it is about a man going to prison. Part of the lyrics read “Don’t be unhappy because I am in prison and walk with my hands tied.” The rings in this design were linked with the handcuffs mentioned in the song.
    This skirt comes in two colours and two sizes.

    December 14, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    The Story Behind the print of our Santana Dress

    The Story Behind the print of our Santana Dress


    In this photo, I am wearing our new Santana Dress. Again, this is a classic print that the people at the Vlisco ( they printed this fabric) have jazzed up in a different colour. This specially crafted Wax Hollandais fabric is called Sanata. The print is also known as "Darling Don't Turn Your Back on Me." The pattern is said to represent an angry wife lying with her back to her husband. We don't know what the husband did wrong but he is begging her for forgiveness. He is also begging her to turn around. We are told that he kept repeating "Darling, don't turn your back on me." The woman in this story could just be me!

     

    December 13, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    The Story Behind The Fabric Used in Our Lore Target Skirt

    The Story Behind The Fabric Used in Our Lore Target Skirt

    This is our Lore Target Skirt and like most African print,  there is a story behind this beautiful classic print. When I was growing up, my mother had this classic print in her wardrobe. According to Vlisco (the makers of our fabric) ” the drawing on this skirt first appeared on the market in the 1960s and goes by many names, such as “Plaque-Plaque”, “Target”, and “Nsu Bura”, which means ‘water well’ in Ghana.” The Story behind the ‘water well’ is that when you throw a stone in water well, you can see a ripple effect. Basically, whatever you do in life, (whether good or bad) your actions will have an effect on everyone around you.

    December 08, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    Dreams

    Dreams

    When I was about 5 years old. I heard the term "stray cats" for the first time. I didn't know the meaning but I loved the way the words sounded. I remember thinking to myself that when I finally open a fashion house, I'd call my shop STRAY CAT. I have always wanted to sell clothes to women... Always. But the noise in the market place confused me so I studied law instead. Unlike most people who create fashion, I don't have a fashion background but I understand that women love beautiful and comfortable clothes. I create what I'd wear. I also understand that as human beings we love to be seen hence the colours and the swishiness in my clothes. my Nigerian background means I LOVE colours. Do you know that if you wear all black in Nigeria, people will ask you who died? Black is regarded as a colour to tell the world that you have just lost someone dear to you. Well, I must say that is changing now. Nowadays, people wear colours for funerals. They now celebrate the life of the person they have lost. They are now beginning to understand that it was an honour and privilege to have had that person ( regardless of how short or long the life must have been) in their lives.

    December 04, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    How I style My Skirt

    How I style My Skirt

    I get asked the best way to style our skirts. my go-to item is a simple men’s white shirt. I have a lot of them in my wardrobe. When I feel like adding a bit of character to my outfit, I will team any of our skirts with the balloon sleeves cotton shirt we sell in the shop or clash the prints. The Balloon Sleeves shirts have been designed specifically for your skirts.

    One of the reasons why busy women love our skirts is mainly because they are so easy to wear while still making a bold statement. Our skirts can be dressed up or down: trainers or heels dramatically change the look of your skirts. I will be honest with you, our prints are not for everyone and that is okay.

    So, if you are out today shopping, pop into a men’s shop and get yourself a white shirt. You can’t go wrong with a white shirt in your wardrobe.

    November 23, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    Rolls Royce

    Rolls Royce

     Most African prints (Often known as ‘Ankara’ or ‘wax print’) have a story to tell. All African prints are bright, expressive, and strong and (without fail) make an impact. Above all, they are absolutely beautiful. The print in this photo is called Rolls Royce. In Africa, It is one of the popular prints and it is also known by names such as “Mgbolodi” and “Fleurs de Mariage” (Wedding Flowers). This beautiful print is said to represent the beauty of happiness in a marriage. There is a superstitious belief that when owned or worn, the print will bring uncountable success and wealth to the owner and their family. How about that?

    November 18, 2019 — Yvonne Telford
    More About Our Hand-Loomed Items

    More About Our Hand-Loomed Items

    I have had a few inquiries about this dress that I shared on Instagram a week or so ago. The cotton of this dress (Like our other leopard print dress) is hand-loomed. This means the cotton is woven by hand. The process of weaving this cotton is artistic, honest and slow. Because this fabric is handwoven, please do not expect it to be as perfect as the machine woven fabric.
    I have decided to use this type of fabric because I like how they feel and look. Plus, the art of hand-weaving fabric is dying. Most of the people who hand weave are women and this is my little way of making sure that women (who work mostly from home) are financially independent; something I am passionate about. I must assure you that the women who have woven the cotton used by my brand are paid fairly.
    Your hand-loomed cotton has been prewashed. Your item will get better over the coming years. However, you still have to treat them with love as they are loosely woven, but they will stand the test of time.
    For this fabric, you have to hand wash in cold water.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Yvonne x
    August 23, 2019 — Yvonne Telford