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Mint Velvet: The luxury-for-less label that’s taking the high street by storm

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Mint-Velvet

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Any business expert will tell you that the first rule when setting up a new enterprise is ‘know your customer’. No wonder, then, that fashion label Mint Velvet has been a sellout success since it launched four seasons ago in the winter of 2009 (complete with continuous waiting lists for its must-have pieces, including sleek, super-soft leather jackets that stores with Mint Velvet concessions, such as John Lewis and House of Fraser, can’t get enough of). Quite simply, its founders – Liz Houghton, Jane Rawlings and Lisa Agar-Rea – are themselves Mint Velvet’s target customers.

Mint Velvet

After years of working together in high-street fashion – the trio had been at Principles before its Icelandic investors went bust in 2009 and the business was sold to Debenhams – they looked at one another and realised that where redundancy could have been a devastating blow, it could equally provide them with a potential blessing in disguise. ‘For years we’d been talking about doing our own thing – although we’d worked in the fashion industry for years, none of us could find clothes we actually wanted to wear. So we said, “Why don’t we do it ourselves?”’ remembers Liz.

Together, they wanted to create a new way of merging work and family, freeing themselves from the political bureaucracy of a big company, and creating pieces that ‘offered easy, effortless style – not too formal, not too casual or young, just the right hint of glamour’, says Lisa. Before they all met at Principles, Liz and Lisa had worked in buying and management for brands such as Topshop, and Jane in trend forecasting and fashion design. With this combined experience, coupled with a desire to escape the long commute they were doing between London and their homes in Buckinghamshire and Tunbridge Wells, starting a new brand that met their own fashion needs made sense.

Mint Velvet

In the summer of 2009, the trio came up with an overall concept for their ideal brand. Then, with a few mood boards to capture the spirit of their fledgling fashion line, they approached House of Fraser to see if their idea had any potential. ‘If you can deliver it in three months, we’ll take it,’ was the response. ‘It nearly killed us because we had to turn the first collection around in a matter of weeks, while working on the next season simultaneously, but in a way, it was incredibly liberating. We had to go with our gut instinct and make really quick decisions; there was no time for wondering if the range was going to be a bestseller, so the choices we made were simple. If we couldn’t imagine one of us wearing a piece, it was out,’ says Liz.

There’s a rock’n’roll edge to the designs. ‘Not girlie but definitely feminine, and if not quite sexy – we never feel sexy is the right word – then perhaps relaxed glam,’ says Lisa, by way of explaining the Mint Velvet look. Each piece has to have a ‘feel-good factor’, adds Liz. ‘We try everything on – if we don’t look good in it, then how will a customer?’ The collection reflects the three women’s personalities – Jane, 44, is ‘Mrs Frock’, joke Lisa and Liz, as she only wears dresses and never jeans, and there’s always a slight boho vibe to her style. Lisa, 42, likes a bit of bling – ‘It’s usually a case of, “How many beads, sequins and necklaces can I wear together?”’ she laughs. Liz, 46, goes for clothes that are understated and simple.

‘No one wants to have to wait for a skinny day to wear something. Clothes should be about enhancing the best bits’

What’s more, these women totally understand the concept of female multitasking. ‘Women need a wardrobe that will take them from work to a parents’ evening to a drink with friends to watching the children play sport at the weekend. We wanted clothes that we would wear all the time, and the only thing that might change is that we might put on some lipstick or a different pair of earrings to dress it up or down,’ says Liz. So they created an ever-evolving, always complementary collection of wardrobe staples – flattering trousers, pretty dresses, slinky knits and casually elegant jackets – so that there is always the ease of ‘everything going together in layers, worn in a number of different ways to meet different times of the day or night, work or play’, says Jane.

It is the mix of fabrics – leather or silk with jersey, sequins and lace, fine knits that really hold their shape – that make the collection so appealing, and ultimately comfortable to wear. ‘No one wants to have to wait for a skinny day to wear something – it doesn’t matter what shape you are, we all have parts of the body we want to play down – so clothes should be about enhancing the best bits,’ Lisa says. ‘If you don’t feel gorgeous in what you are wearing, it affects your whole day.’

Mint Velvet

Jane came up with the name Mint Velvet. ‘We wanted it to have a sensual, touchy feel to it. There’s something fresh and comforting about the smell of mint, and velvet instantly conjures a sense of luxury,’ she explains. The velvet touch extends through the clothing labels to the ties on the bags, and the collection’s colour palette. ‘These are the shades you wear time and time again,’ says Liz. And despite the intricate embellishment on many of the pieces, the range is surprisingly affordable. Simple drapey jersey tops start from as little as £29, slouchy but chic cardigans from £49, and those sought-after leather jackets start at £225.

The savvy trio are proof that it is possible to combine work and family in the fast-paced fashion world. ‘We wanted a business where we could work as well as do the school run and see our friends,’ says Liz. Liz has three children aged nine, 14 and 16, Lisa has nine-year-old twin girls and Jane a 14-year-old daughter. Flexibility is key: ‘We’ve tried to minimise the politics – we don’t do big meetings, and if someone needs a few hours off during the day then it’s understood they’ll catch up in their own time. If I’m out looking for potential new store sites, I can take my mum with me or meet friends there for coffee. It’s just very civilised –and most importantly we have a laugh,’ says Liz.

‘It was our vision, our hard work. And we’ve learnt from every knock and every achievement’

It all sounds like a fashion fairy tale, but it’s been achieved with hard graft and a huge leap of faith, not only for the three women (they stumped up their own cash to visit suppliers in the Far East and place orders for initial stock), but for their husbands and families too. ‘We started out working from my kitchen table and the hours were long,’ says Liz. ‘My children did begin to ask if I could have a meal without a phone plastered to my ear,’ she laughs.

Yet, because they were doing it from home – ‘there wasn’t a door left without a sample hanging from it,’ laughs Liz – each family felt very involved. ‘The children would sort out samples and swatches, pack bags and give their opinion on designs,’ says Lisa. ‘The husbands have helped with everything from marketing and graphics to building shelves in the stores. It’s not often you have the chance to start something from scratch, to make it in a way you really want it to be, and our families have all been a part of that.’

Lisa admits that despite starting out on their own, in the middle of a recession, not once did they really consider that their venture might fail. ‘We did joke that if it all went wrong we’d be heading to car-boot sales with some very nice knitwear, but we never said out loud to one another, “What if it doesn’t work?”’ Their instinct was right – the first collection flew off the rails and they had to re-order. In no time at all, they went from ten concessions in House of Fraser to the whole chain of 40 stores, stand-alone stores in Marlow, Tunbridge Wells, Chichester and Windsor (they are now aiming for 20 nationwide), and by the New Year, they will have concessions in all John Lewis and Peter Jones stores around the country.

Two years on, they still work incredibly hard. ‘But we see more of our families now,’ says Liz. ‘Like all women who are working and keeping it all together at home, it’s mentally hard because we have so many things going on, and unlike in a conventional office job, when you might get the chance to switch off on a Friday night, we all keep going; but we love it, we enjoy it, and wouldn’t have it any other way,’ she enthuses. So it was worth the risk? ‘Because we made Mint Velvet happen together,’ says Liz, ‘it means so much more. It was our idea, our vision, our hard work. Every achievement or knock we’ve had has been personal and we’ve learnt from it. It’s been the best thing that could have ever happened to us.’

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Save Up to 50% Off on Allbirds’ Black Friday and Cyber Weekend Sale

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Allbirds Black Friday Sale

It’s no secret that Allbirds is our favorite sneaker brand. Not only does the brand make stylish activewear shoes, but they’re also eco-friendly and sustainable, which makes us feel even better about buying from the brand—especially when they’re on sale. Right now, Allbirds’ massive Black Friday sale is on, which means you can save up to 50% off sitewide.

This is Allbids’ biggest sale of the entire year, so whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone on your holiday shopping list or just need a new pair of sneakers or sweats, now’s the time to treat yourself. Grab some of the brand’s best-sellers like the Tree Dasher 1s, Wool Runners, and Natural Leggings. Allbirds’ Black Friday sale runs through December 2, but we suggest shopping sooner than later—it’s selling fast!

Allbirds’ Black Friday Sale

Men’s Wool Runners

Allbirds Shoes

Women’s Tree Dasher 1

Allbirds Shoes

Men’s Tree Toppers

Allbirds Shoes

Women’s Wool Runners

Allbirds Shoes

Women’s Wool Runner Fluff

Allbirds Shoes

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QUIZ Clothing Reviews

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QUIZ-Clothing

About QUIZ Clothing

1 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

Just like any other British fashion brand, QUIZ Clothing is also known for its aesthetics, timeless designs, and sophistication. The brand offers a premium range of clothing pieces for all age groups and both sexes at quite competitive prices. One can easily rely on the brand to get the best of both worlds.

Precisely, QUIZ pays a lot of emphasis on offering the latest trends and cakewalk-style-driven looks without causing a dent in buyers’ pockets. It caters to the fashion-forward women and men who are quite particular about clothes, fashion, and styles.

The brand leaves no stone unturned to offer a versatile range of fashionable and trendy clothes, accessories, and shoes for almost every occasion and outing. That’s why the brand has been growing with each passing day.

Currently, it has over 250 stores across 13 countries, including the UK, Armenia, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Ireland, Pakistan, etc.

Quiz Clothing Review

2 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

Shopping for trendy and fashionable clothes is one of the most satisfying and rejuvenating activities. Most of us love to shop and wear trendy and stylish clothes. In fact, it’s a constant process to upgrade our wardrobe. But, if it happens without breaking the bank then it’s nothing short of icing on the cake. Today, one can easily find out a plethora of online and offline fashion retailers offering a wide range of clothing pieces in various designs and styles.

When it comes to UK fashion brands then one must expect great craftsmanship, quality, creativity, and innovation. QUIZ Clothing is one such UK brand that offers an essential cocktail of British fashion and contemporary designs without causing a dent in one’s pocket.

Quiz Clothing Dresses

3 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

If you’re looking for the perfect dress for a special occasion or just a dress that you can style casually every day, Quiz has many options. All dresses are designed in-house so they are unique to Quiz. Dress categories include Bardot dresses, sequin dresses, day dresses, evening dresses, prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, bodycon dresses and maxi dresses. Quiz dresses are available in sizes 4-20 so there is something to suit all sizes. Each dress incorporates the latest trends, for instance, the AW/16 dresses focus on lace and Bardot styles in neutral colours for a glamorous, simple vibe.

Quiz Clothing Stores

4 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

You can use the online store finder to find your nearest Quiz store. There are stores all around the UK. Stores are located as standalone stores in the likes of Chester, Grimsby, Peterborough, Swansea, Falkirk and Stirling. There are also Quiz clothing concessions in Debenhams, House of Fraser and M&Co. With 250 locations around the country, there is sure to be either a store or a concession near to you.

Quiz Clothing Sale

5 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

You can get great discounts on Quiz clothing using the online sale and in-store sales. Sales run seasonally, usually during the summer and at Christmas time. You may be able to get a great dress for the party season or some cosy knitwear to see you into the winter months, or perhaps a new coat to put away ready for the next set of cold weather.

Quiz Clothing Returns

6 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

You can return a product to your nearest Quiz store if you have the receipt/web receipt, but only if the product is faulty. For standard returns, this must be processed via post. Log into your account on the Quiz website to generate a returns number, print the slip you are given and pop it in with the items to be sent to the free post address. Take the items to your nearest Post Office and remember to get a proof of postage. You can also return parcels conveniently by using Collect+, with over 5000 corner shops to choose from, which keep late hours. Your refund will be processed as soon as possible but you should aim to allow 7-10 working days for the refund to arrive back in your account.

Quiz Clothing Jobs

7 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

Thanks to a team of committed employees, Quiz has gone from strength to strength since its inception. The company seeks only the most dedicated and passionate employees to work in the fast fashion industry which is constantly changing. In return for enthusiasm and commitment, employees are offered the chance to enjoy a rewarding career with progression opportunities.

Vacancies available include management, assistant management, supervisors and sales assistants. Benefits include industry competitive rates of pay, staff discount scheme with up to 50% off items, bonuses and incentives, structured induction and training, stakeholder pension scheme and childcare vouchers. There are lots of opportunities for progression if you work hard.

Popular Questions About Quiz Clothing

8 QUIZ Clothing Reviews

Where is Quiz Clothing in Liverpool?

There is a Quiz concession in the Outfit store on Speke Retail Park, Liverpool. There is also a concession in the Debenhams store in the city centre. For full store addresses, see the Quiz website.

How much do Quiz clothing pay?

The rate of pay for a sales assistant working in a Quiz clothing store is £6.25 an hour according to online sources.

Are Quiz clothing sizes small?

According to online forums, items from Quiz clothing can come up small, so it is always advised to try before you buy or take advantage of the free returns policy.

Who delivers Quiz clothing?

Quiz uses a range of couriers to deliver their clothing, depending on which method of delivery you choose you may have a different courier.

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REI Hiking Boots Review

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I am so happy to say that rei co-op has come up with a new line of hiking boots! The reason why this makes me so excited is that i love rei co-op products. One of my first hiking backpacks was the rei co-op flash. I still have it to this day because it is of excellent quality and it is pretty durable. Most of rei’s products are pretty affordable, and that includes the rei co-op flash hiking boots. The hiking boots are great for beginner hikers or for people that would love some lightweight hiking boots. Another plus is that they are made from recycled material! I am all about companies that strive to make the planet a better place so check out below to get my full rei co-op flash hiking boots review. I talk about comfort, traction, water resistance, weight, support, value, and much more.

REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots Review

How I Used The REI Co-Op Flash Hiking Boots

I hiked with the rei co-op flash hiking boots on 4 different trails around washington state. I experienced these shoes on different terrains like crossing streams, steep rocky areas, and muddy trails. Overall my experience was pretty great with the rei flash hiking boots, and i loved how lightweight they felt! Here are the trails i hiked to test them out:

  • Lake stuart: 9 miles round trip, 1665 ft. Elevation gain
  • Emmons moraine: 3 miles round trip, 900 ft. Elevation gain
  • Suntop lookout: 2.1 miles round trip,1100 ft. Elevation gain
  • Colchuck lake: 8 miles round trip,2280 ft. Elevation gain

Weight

The one thing that stops me from using hiking boots all the time is weight. Most hiking boots can be a little heavy or bulky when compared to hiking shoes. Luckily, the rei co-op flash hiking boots is on the lighter side compared to many other hiking boots in the market. Many hiking boots are usually over 2 lbs, while the rei co-op flash hiking boots is around 1 lb 13 ounces.

Usually, when hiking long trails, the boot’s weight can start to weigh you down, but luckily, while hiking colchuck lake (9 miles round trip), the weight of the rei co-op flash hiking boots didn’t bother me.

Traction

Colchuck Lake trail is known to be one of the rockiest trails in Washington. I was thankful that the REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots worked well with the nonstop rocks and high elevation gain. This was especially true when going downhill, which is usually my least favorite part of the hike. Most of the time, I have trouble, and I slip or fall on trails, but the REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots prevented this while hiking Colchuck Lake.

Water Resistance

There are streams and rivers all over Washington, and I was able to test out how waterproof the shoes were. Even though I walked through countless streams, my socks stayed nice and dry. So I submerged them in a shallow river to test them out, and yup, my socks were still dry!

When hiking shoes are waterproof, there can be some problems with breathability. This usually leads to blisters because your feet start to sweat when hiking. I luckily didn’t get any blisters on my feet the whole time I was testing out the shoes, which means that the shoes are waterproof yet breathable. This is a huge plus!

Durability

After putting the boots through hell on those 4 hikes (I am not the most graceful hiker), the shoes still looked in pretty good condition. There were no major scratches, no major peeling, and the fabric looks fine.

Comfort

The rei co-op flash hiking boots will need to be broken into. Like most hiking boots, it is recommended to use them around town, at home, or on leisure walks before going on a difficult hike.

They are stiff at first, but they eventually mold to your feet. I do like that there is room in the toe box. I ordered half a size over my regular shoe size (i am usually a size 7 and got a size 7.5), and it fit just fine. I had no problems with my feet swelling or my toenails feeling uncomfortable.

Support

My ankles usually bend like crazy after hiking many miles, and it definitely happened to me while hiking Colchuck Lake. Luckily, the REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots was able to help prevent any major damage to my ankle when it bent(I have injured my ankle this past year while hiking while wearing other boots). I was pretty happy with the ankle support the REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots gave me.

The boots’ insoles felt pretty supportive, but I know that this could be different for others. I have high arch feet, and the insoles felt perfect for me.

Value

I have reviewed and bought many hiking boots throughout the years, and the REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots is the most inexpensive boots I have had on hand. I always love that REI Co-op makes its products available to everyone while still maintaining good quality. The cost for the boots ($130) is a great price, especially for budget buyers and new hikers.

REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots Appearance

The REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots comes in three colors;  Bark/Moss, Granite Black, and Smoke/Lilac. I picked the Smoke Lilac because I usually wear more pink colors on my hikes. I really loved the Lilac color and even got compliments of the color on the trails. I love when outdoor brands make hiking apparel more attractive and fun for women! I hope REI Co-op adds even more fun colors in the future!

Style

What I loved about the REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots is how little they resemble hiking boots. Some hiking boots can look pretty manly, rugged, and bulky. Luckily, I can pretty much wear the boots in many places, not just the trails. Hey, I am all about versatility!

The style of the shoes and the weight makes it pretty easy for me to head to the grocery store or to the mall. When it comes to hiking, looks are probably one of the least important factors (which is why I put it at the bottom), but it is nice if your shoes are versatile. Plus, I like looking cute on the trails because that is my jam and my brand!

Eco-Friendly Materials

Usually, when you think about hiking boots, you do not think about Eco Friendly. Well, my friend, the new REI Flash hiking boots are made with recycled materials. Here are some of the specs:

  • Membrane uses 75% recycled polyester
  • Upper sole is 99% recycled PET
  • Upper sole is also 30% recycled TPU
  • TerraGrip rubber is 20% recycled

As someone who loves the outdoors, I am always so excited to hear when outdoor brands use eco-friendly materials, which is a huge plus. Read more on the recycled materials they use here

Conclusion

Thanks for reading all about the new REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots! Let me know if you have any questions and make sure you check out some of my other hiking posts:

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