They say to surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you, people who support you and are moving in the same direction. With everyone leading such busy and sociable/unsociable lives (I can’t decide which one social media actually enables!) nowadays it’s invaluable to find a community or group of people with the same interests and goals as you. Whether it be a group in a gym, a writing group, travel, reading, cooking etc. whatever it is you’re into, there’s probably a group, and even if they don’t meet physically you’re bound to find one online. For Irish Bloggers this is the Into the West Blogger Network. They have an online group and also host regular meet-ups and events. Last Sunday was the latest one in the gorgeous Ardilaun Hotel Galway hosted by Joanne Larby aka The Make Up Fairy.
With Ruth – The Beauty Kemple
Once again it was a chance to catch up with other Bloggers, new and old, make connections and bounce ideas. The whole idea of “networking” is something that used to terrify me and I would avoid it at all costs! But ever since pushing myself to attend my first ITWBN event in January I love it – something I thought I’d never say but now realise that all it takes to change is practice and learning to deal with the inevitable feeling of absolute awkwardness in social situations.
We began the day by checking out the various companies and stalls. Solaris Tea,which you probably all know by now is made locally in Galway and is a favourite of mine were providing samples for everyone throughout the afternoon. A new Irish start-up company called My Lady Bug which is a monthly period subscription box that delivering all the essentials as well chocolate and other treats to help you get through those few days. At first I thought it was a strange idea but the more I think about it the more I think it’s actually a great concept.
Also in attendance were Kinvara Skincare, another Irish company who are actually from Galway. You’ve probably seen some beauty Bloggers such as SoSueMe and FaceByGrace using Kinvara products and if they’re good enough from them they’re good enough for me! I have oily skin, prone to breakouts (no matter how good the lighting and filters on my Instagram photos may make it out to be) and for the last few months have been trying out various skincare regimes to help it. In fairness I think I’ve found one that suits me (and have a before and after that I’m debating about posting!). Anyways we got a sample of the cleansing oil, rosehip serum and day cream which I used last night and it actually feels like an at home facial. They’re made with all natural ingredients (mainly a combination of different oils) and even though you might think oily skin shouldn’t use oil based products in fact “like dissolves like” and since you’re not stripping your skin of its natural oils everyday it won’t need to produce more to replace it.
Also at the event were Athlone Town Centre which I have taken many a trip to and spent many a euro in. The biggest draw for me is that its only about an hour away on the motorway and is the closest place for us Galwegians to get our fix of Zara and H&M. I don’t think I need to say anymore…
After checking out all the stalls it was time for some food. We were treated to some gorgeous savory and sweet treats from the chefs in The Ardilaun. I think this was the first time I’ve seen the majority of a table fighting for the savouries over the sweets but the black pudding and caramelized onion, goats cheese and seafoood pastries were just divine! Once we each had three to four helpings (and got the kitchen to bring out more) we moved on to the scones, carrot cake and chocolate mousse slices. Solaris Botanicals provided the tea, I opted for the Chai Green Tea flavour as did others at the table who up until then weren’t huge fans of green tea but were going for top ups afterwards. As evidenced by the fact that everytime I took a sip of tea I left all my lipstick on the cup I now have a newfound appreciation for people who can wear lipstick and still manage everyday life functions (how does Kylie Jenner do it!?). (I also feel for the hotel who had to scrub every shade of lipstick imaginable off their lovely white China cups after the event!).
Post-brunch it was time for Joanne Larby, aka The Make Up Fairy, aka Irish Beauty, Fashion, Fitness and Lifestyle Blogger (and qualified teacher and make-up artist) to speak. Joanne has a huge social media following, has a book coming out in November, is in talks for her own line of lingerie/swimwear and to add to her list of achievements has been featured in Vogue as a Blogger to follow. I’ve only ever seen Joanne on social media and even though she comes across as a nice person she was actually so much funnier and charismatic in real life. The moment I walked into the room she walked up to me to introduce herself and spent all afternoon chatting with us and taking photos (she’s an expert selfie taker so we all got some tips!).
Joanne stands out for her matter of fact attitude and “curvy” figure (she’s also a ‘plus’ size model). Apart from answering questions on the obvious topics such as beauty and fashion she was also able to discuss tax types, sole traders versus companies and a bit of psychology (she’s a qualified teacher) – so don’t be fooled by her appearance! Like most successful Bloggers she is extremely business savvy and I really admire how open and honest she is about her plans and ambitions for the future and how she wants to progress her blog and career. She also discussed social media and negative feedback and how she deals with it (at this stage her lovely mum Brenda spoke up to defend her daughter which was lovely to see). Her advice is to “kill them with kindness” and don’t retaliate with negativity and end up getting sucked down to their level.
As usual, we left the event with some seriously impressive goodie bags. Among the goodies were beauty products from Wet n Wild, Flormar, The Body Shop, imPress Nails and Blank Canvas Cosmetics. Some of the Irish brands were Kinvara (the skincare sample pack which I’ve tested already and really like), Ogra peat face and body mask (which I also tried and loved – it’s made with Irish peat and other minerals so is all natural which is something I’m beginning to appreciate more considering I can’t read half the ingredient lists of most of the beauty I currently own) and Nia face serum made with spirulina, wheatgrass and green tea (which sounds amazing).
We also got some food samples (most of which I’ve already devoured) including some ProperCorn (they do really cool flavours like sweet coconut and vanilla or peanut and almond), Brodericks Brothers rocky road slice (while not being very healthy was delicious!), Solaris Tea (I got some white tea and darjeeling to try) and from My Lady Bug we got some hot chocolate.
Once again it was another fantastic event organised by Saibh and Sinead. I always love attending as I meet so many new people, make new connections and hear from experts in various fields. Even if you’re not a Blogger I think that attending events where you have to put yourself out there, network and learn from people who are leaders in your field or area is invaluable. Nowadays it’s so easy to do everything from behind a screen but the feeling of actually going out and connecting is so much more rewarding so find something you’re interested in, an event or group that meets regularly and get involved! You’ll be so glad you made the effort and even if you find that it’s not for you then you can always find a different one.
Make sure to keep an eye out on my twitter (@aisling_harris), snapchat (superfitfoodie) and Instagram (@the_superfit_foodie) where I’ll be going through all the products as I use them. If you’ve used any yourself then make sure to tweet me and tag the company and let me know what you think!