Who is… I Heart Bargains?

Discount. Good buy. Cheap as chips. Steal deal. However you put it, everyone loves a bargain.

There’s something about managing to score a really good deal that gets your heart pumping. As you calculate your savings (and consider buying one in every colour) you give a slight fist pump and head out the door feeling as though you’ve just won gold in the 400 metres.

Now, imagine getting that feeling on a daily basis. I spoke to chief bargain hunter Chelsea Thomas from the extremely popular site I Heart Bargains to ask all the important questions like does she still gets carried away when bagging a bargain? How did this all start for her? And what does she do with all those damn clothes?!


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Chelsea Thomas

Tell us a bit about your background. Apart from working in radio, is there a bit of fashion knowledge there to be able to style like a pro as you do?

Yes there’s a few things there. I have a PR marketing background, which I think is quite common with a lot of bloggers and influences out there these days. There’s some sort of marketing and PR background involved as they know how to market themselves. So yeah I completed a PR degree and then I worked in lots of different industries like tourism, I worked for Telstra, and then I moved across into radio and I did production and I ended up at Channel 7 and being the weather producer for Fifi Box for 12 months. That kind of started my whole love of content creation. I think I always come back to a really good story and I’ve always come back to engaging with an audience and getting them in and getting them hooked. I think it didn’t matter kind of what job I was going to be doing, and when I was going to be doing it, it was always content creation. So this type of story telling through pictures or words was always my thing. It just so happened that it became about bargain hunting.

It’s funny actually, I’ve always done this style of bargain hunting but it’s only been in the last 4 years that I’ve published it, does that make sense? This passion has always been there since I was very very little. My Grandmother used to take me op-shopping every Saturday whilst my parents worked and she just taught me to find gold. I’ve just always really really loved it! I’ve never been embarrassed to wear something that wasn’t a label and I’ve always been able to make it look so much better than what people expect, and I suppose that’s the whole surprise and delight element of I Heart Bargains – that’s what it’s all about!

I love the fact that this all stems from your Grandma taking you op-shopping each weekend. What a lovely beginning!

Yeah from very little too. Maybe I’d always had that in me but, in a way, she definitely trained me to find really cool bargains and to look and be patient. And I think that’s one of the things that makes this work. You know I’ve got girlfriends who just go “oh I can’t look at those bargain or sales racks, it just freaks me out.” Or “I can’t go near them, there’s just stuff everywhere” whereas for me that’s like my dream (laughs). If you put me up the back at a Sportsgirl sale I’m all good, give me half an hour, I’ll find some goodness!

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Dress from @littlelace, image via @iheartbargains

It’s like I’ve got this, guys! Leave it with me (laughs)

Yeah that’s it! But I love it! That doesn’t freak me out and it doesn’t overwhelm me. It actually excites me. But that’s not in everybody, it’s kind of an innate part of me that goes oh let me into that bargain rack and I’ll find something really good for not that much money. So yeah that’s always been part of me, and then obviously when I had my first child that’s when the concept really took off. It definitely was not a business, I was much the same as you. I just knew that I wanted to write and source bargains every day of the week. I was working at the time and kind of split myself between sourcing bargains til eleven o’clock every night. There just wasn’t a day where I wasn’t online looking at bargains, or really cool small businesses, or it was online boutiques that had just popped up and yeah the whole idea came out. I thought I just had to have some sort of creative hook I suppose to what the concept was. For me under $100 made it different to everybody else out there. Nowadays there’s a lot of bargain bloggers out there but at the time there wasn’t anyone specifically doing bargains strictly under $100. And that’s what I thought I could offer my audience and to women who really want to look cool but not pay big bucks.

And, really, it sets you apart from the rest. It’s a brilliant concept. Under $100 is pretty much affordable for everyone and is a great way to look at it. So when you’re trawling I’m guessing you get a little bit carried away some times? Like you’ll find something and be like “OMG this is amazing!!”

Yeah absolutely! I still get that whole high-fiving myself at ten o’clock at night when I’ve found something so cool or I’ve found a new brand that do amazing products. Like last night I found a brand that makes concrete stools for under $100 – they hand make them! It’s crazy. They’ve got 2,000 Instagram followers and yet I found them and I can give them a boost. And that’s the heart part of I Heart Bargains, it’s all about sharing businesses where women at home, just like myself, are staying up late, they’ve put the kids to bed, they’ve got families, but they’ve still got that passion and they want to be able to sell their wares or be creative in their own time. And I’m big on that, I’m really big on supporting that so that’s where that whole heart side of it comes from. But yeah I 100% get carried away with things.

At the start, I’ve gotta tell you though, honestly the building of the business wasn’t great for my marriage because I was physically putting myself online. I’m better now cos I’ve got people that source for me as well but yeah I’m talking hours and hours of sourcing on Instagram and posting, making sure that I was always fresh on Facebook, which was obviously a lot bigger back four to five years ago than it is now, so I was making sure I was on there. I was doing six to seven Instagram and Facebook posts a day to try and build throughout that initial phase… now I’ve calmed down a bit and I’ve also got other projects on now that I need to be focused on, but yeah it was a really interesting time. I naturally, every day of the week, get carried away (laughs) it’s just my personality! I get into one thing and then I’m like “OMG there’s another small business!” It kind of has that ripple effect where you’re ten deep in Instagram and you’ve found the coolest thing ever and they might be round the corner from you, or they’re in a little country town in Australia, and they’re doing really awesome stuff so it gets you all excited. I want to focus more on that next year. That’s going to be my big thing, to really unearth some incredible small businesses.

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Hand painted pots from @fourbynine, image via @iheartbargains

Sounds like a fantastic plan! You just briefly mentioned that it’s not just yourself anymore, you do have other people working with you behind the scenes?

Definitely. I oversee everything, though Instagram is 100% mine and I do that all myself… I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I could let that go… but I have a content director now that works part time/full time hours in terms of a couple of days a week. We chat all the time, we’re on email all the time and she makes sure that there’s a content schedule there. I have 10 bargain writers and I’ve got two major home editors. I’ve got an art editor. We’re branching out. A lot of these girls have their own influences online as well and they want some experience in profiling their work and sourcing bargains and sourcing some really cool stuff so yeah we’re a good team. We go out for dinner, I give them a lot of mentoring help as well, we’re really good friends actually. A lot of the time now, if I get a business brief of some kind, I try as much as possible to include them so they’re gaining work whilst being a part of IHB as well, cos they have their own followings, especially my home editors. So yeah I’ve got writers, I’ve got Ash my content director who keeps me on the ball. She runs my EDM’s and she uploads all the content. I think for bloggers out there that are doing their own content, it’s so difficult to get your head around working full time and then coming home and uploading all your own content. I did that for probably two and a half years by myself and it absolutely stretched me to the end of the earth BUT in saying that I had to do that to get my audience.

Of course you had to or you wouldn’t be as successful as you are today.

That’s a really important point actually. I mean, it was extremely tough and extremely demanding on me personally and physically to sit up every night and do it but I just thought there’s no one else doing this so if I continue to sit here and do it then I’m going to beat everyone else at this game because there’s no one doing this. I think that’s the whole point about persistence. Be consistent and persistent and you’ll be the best in whatever space you’re after. I still work very hard at the content and after I put the phone down to you I’m working out what we’re talking about for small business gift guides and things like that for Chrissy so yeah it’s an ongoing thing that you’ve gotta stay on top of.

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Image via @iheartbargains

Well it’s certainly coming up roses for you now, you’re hitting your strides! You said you’ve only been doing it for 4 years now and I’ve recently seen some behind the scenes action for something you’re doing with Big W. Was that part of your goal, to collaborate with a brand?

Kind of… Big W wasn’t a necessarily a goal so to speak but I think in the last 12 months video has become extremely prevalent with brands. People and brands are starting to understand that visual and video communication is going to become bigger than ever and I think I’ve started it early which is a good thing and I urge bloggers to do the same. Not everyone can get in front of a camera but if you can try and sort of promote your personality that way it’s a great way to engage audiences. I found that people really responded to that and the other thing is that I really enjoy it.

Shit, you know 4 years ago I started this thinking it was never going to be a money earner for me, it was never going to be a business per say and I’ve never really treated it like that until very recently, until these brand partnerships became available and they’re calling me and they’re saying “we want you to talk about our products cos you’re so real”. I think that was a big day for me because I’ve wanted to do video by myself, and I’ve done that for myself, and it was a big deal that Big W wanted me. I had two days to pull myself together, to get to Sydney and then talk about their products to camera for a good two days. So yeah for me that was a bit of a pinch myself moment. I’d been kind of this bargain battler just doing my own thing for so long and then this big brand calls and says “we want you as our ambassador for our YouTube clips” so I was like “oh my god that’s great… really?!” And, look I’ve done a lot of telly and video now, as well with big brands, so I’m getting in that space where I absolutely adore it and it’s kind of like my sweet spot when I’m there, I really love it. I want to do more of that, so to have them call me was a big day.

But yeah, be it Big W or any other big brand, I welcome working with lots of big brands. But Big W is really about to ramp things up in the video space which is exciting because not everyone is so they’re going to be behind if they don’t. Plus, it’s an amazing team, a very fast paced and amazing team. AND really cool product too so that was fantastic.

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Chelsea doing her thang with the Big W crew, image via @iheartbargains

So cool! Such an amazing brand to be associated with and to get that call up!

Yeah it is! And I’ve been thinking about this for a long time but I feel like there is a space for a Trinny and Susanna in Australia and I also think there’s a space for that Gok inspired television, you know? It’s a bit big of me to say but I feel like we need to be filling that space. We need to be showing women how to dress and it doesn’t have to be expensive. So my whole thing is that it’s budget, everyone should have access to really cool fashion, and that was my whole pretence when I first started. Just because I’d had a baby and didn’t get paid maternity leave, it doesn’t mean that I need to look like a slob. And I think a lot of women go “oh it’s too expensive and it’s too hard”… it’s not, you just have to have the ability to see what’s out there and I’m kind of bridging that gap if you like.

Well yeah, you’ve done all the hard work for them. You can either go hunt for it yourself or you can jump online and check IHB stuff out. I’ve been looking at your site and can see now that you’ve got so much more than just fashion, you’ve got homewares, makeup, styling tips… basically a one-stop-shop kind of thing so people can just come here and get it all at once. Was that the intention to begin with or it was just the fashion to start and then this was a natural progression?

Definitely was just meant to be fashion to start and for probably a good 18 months to 2 years that’s what it was, and that was great. But I think in the last 18 months (and actually A Current Affair interviewed me the other day about this) the whole uprising of incredible, designer looking homewares for under a hundred bucks is just amazing, it’s fantastic what you can get now and how you can make your house look for not a lot of money. And obviously with The Block I think that really helps too, all the media around that sort of thing helps with getting it out there. What Kmart have done with their homewares is insane, so I think what starts to happen is that people are no longer embarrassed by a bargain. They not only are not embarrassed but they want to share it and tell all their friends and then their friends go and buy it. So this real cult following around Kmart bargain bloggers started, so IHB taking on homewares was inevitable really. It wasn’t like someone rang me one day and said “why don’t you do homewares”, it just naturally happened. I started covering it and thinking gosh there’s so much.

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Amazing goodies from @kmartaus, image via @iheartbargains

I think Instagram really played a big role in that too. I was getting a lot of small businesses who would contact me and say hey I’ve got these incredible pots or prints or whatever it was and it just wasn’t fitting under fashion so I introduced a homewares category. I would say now that I’m probably about 60/40. 60% fashion and 40% homewares. And then on top of that we do Shop This Look, plus every now and then I’ll do a beauty post. And we’ve just launched I Heart Art which is a collaborative project with my sister who actually runs Populart, which is an online destination for people who like affordable art. She does art under $1,000 and has been doing that for a few years now, and I said to her one day why don’t you do under $100 just for me. Basically it’s really accessible art for renters or people with small apartments that don’t have the big budgets, that’s probably going to be quite a popular part of the homewares section. You could go on forever with bargains really!

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Art under $100! Image via @iheartbargains

You could! And actually art is one of those things these days that a lot of people are getting into, it’s becoming more and more popular so I can see that section will probably take off quite well.

Yeah and to be honest I find it quite difficult cos my forte is 100% fashion, that’s why I have the homewares editors as well. But I can see a great image or a great product and can say yep that will fit really well on IHB, but for me I like to focus on the fashion and still write pieces on fashion and solving people’s problems. I get a lot of people requesting things like “oh are you doing a bathers feature?” and it’s like yep yep I’ll get onto that! And it’s important that I do that myself and I don’t give it to someone else to do, still being the face of the brand and the writer who does all the fashion stuff. So after all these big shoots I will be getting back into it and making sure I’ve got my three to four pieces a week, really meaty pieces, where people go “oh my god there’s some great stuff in there” and they might find a couple of things that they like, so yeah that’s really important to me on a day to day basis to keep that going.

You mentioned earlier that some brands do contact you asking if you can feature their products. In the beginning you were finding products off your own bat and promoting them, are you getting a few paid/promotional requests too?

Yep so I 100% work with small businesses to promote their product, and nine times out of ten I’m doing that for free out of the goodness of my own heart because I want them to do well and succeed. The thing that costs brands is where they want me to style, photograph, get videographers in, get editors in, all that jazz. You know, there’s a whole world behind blogging now that if you want it to look slick there’s a team and that costs money. By all means, I get a lot of people contacting me saying can I send this to you for you to use. I almost need an outlet now where once a week I just do a video of stuff that I get sent! But yes if I do get sent something then I’ll post about it. But the other thing is, is that everything that I’m posting I believe in. The amount of emails that I get sent from businesses that aren’t quite setup yet, they might not have their photography right, their products might not be right, or I get something that will fall apart, then I don’t put those things up. I’m only putting up what I believe in, what I love and what I know is going to rate really well.

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Blush bargains from @pillowtalkaustralia, image via @iheartbargains

Makes sense as it’s your content and your reputation is on the line when suggesting a product.

Well yeah it’s my opinion really! It’s my thoughts on what I love. And the way to make money from a blogger perspective, I’ve probably been making money for the past two and a half years, is through brand partnerships. Brands need to sell product and what IHB offers is very different to other blogs and influences, where they post a beautiful picture and people say “wow that’s so gorgeous, I’d love to own that” and a $1,000 handbag, I think the thing with IHB is that people are actually purchasing the product. It really is an amazing advertising medium for brands to go down if their product a) is a bargain, because that’s obviously a really big thing for me, and b) it needs to be beautiful, it needs to be cool etc. I suppose I have a criteria in my mind, that Ash would also have, to judge the products that come in for whatever we’re putting online. So there is a process behind it all. But then if I’m styling…

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Chelsea styling a flatlay like a pro, image via @iheartbargains

Styling is one of the most un-glamourous roles I think I’ve ever played. Even fashion styling. It’s fucking hard work. It’s chasing labels, it’s chasing brands, it’s picking up stock, it’s dressing models… it’s not a walk in the park! I’m ironing at 11 at night cos I’ve got a shoot the next morning! I don’t know if you saw it but I did an Instagram stories once of a Saturday shoot that I did in the city and I did every single step of the way.  Doing my own hair and makeup, packing the car up, getting my husband to help me get all the stuff into the car, meeting my photographer in town… we’ve both got kids so we’re missing a Saturday with them… it’s fun, don’t get me wrong! But there’s a lot of hard yards behind having your own content business. And you’ve constantly gotta build that, you can’t just go ohh I’ll have a couple of months off. You know what I mean?

Absolutely! It’s tough but you have to stick it out or someone else will get ahead of you.

Like even in the last week I’ve been thinking, god I’ve got a shoot next week, so now I’ve got to get the product from somewhere, whether someone’s sending it to me or it’s a brand partnership or a sponsored post, you’ve got to constantly be playing that integration role as well as being fair to the small businesses. If they’re asking for photography and styling and all that then I try and do really fair rates so they’re just paying me for my time and not necessarily that sponsorship dollar. And obviously with bigger brands they want more. They want really slick photos not taken on your phone, they want EDM’s created all about them etc so there’s all of that that you have to take into account. And also my team. I’ve got a video production team and editors that I use (these guys come with IHB but they have their own businesses going on) and all of that costs money, it’s people on the ground. You’ve gotta worry about sound, cameramen and also locations. If I’m not shooting at home then that costs. So there’s all of those things that I don’t think a lot of people sitting at home realise, and even some brands, they don’t realise what’s involved. There’s a lot involved to get a good shot.

I think that’s important for people starting out to realise but with all that, putting all of that to the side, the only reason I’m able to do that is because my content is what it is today. That was only through sourcing for two and a half years non-stop. And literally, I remember one New Year’s Eve, everyone was out partying and I felt stupid I was like “why am I doing a post on New Year’s Eve!?” And I sat there and I said to myself I’m going to find… I don’t know like, ten sparkly shoes…I don’t even remember what it was, but I was at my holiday house and everyone was at a party across the road and my husband was saying “are you kidding me?” and I said I’ve just gotta do it. I just had to do it. It was sort of that pig-headedness I suppose, I was determined in that phase early on to not miss a beat.

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Dress from @rundelilahclothing, image via @iheartbargains

I think now I’m able to step back and go alright, you don’t have to do 6 posts a day, it’s ok, let’s make them more quality than quantity. I used to just put up one pair of shoes, because it was a very small blog I’d just find something and put it up. Whereas now audiences are demanding better content, they don’t want just one pair of shoes under $100, they want maybe 15 pairs under $60. So that’s a lot of work, that’s a good 2-3 hours of sourcing. That’s what sits behind all the glamour stuff. Styling is a very interesting role, and from the outside it’s perceived to be so exciting and glamourous. I know some top stylists that do fashion in Melbourne who are good mates of mine and they have slogged their guts out for many years doing lots of freebies, lots of volunteer work, and people don’t realise that going into it. You can’t just have an Instagram success overnight. There’s so much hard work involved. So many man hours. And lots of no sleep (laughs) I make it sound horrible but I just want people to know that is a serious side to it as well in terms of the grunt of it all.

And the thing is now you have such a strong following and you need it keep that up and the fact that you want to keep it up is even better. I love the fact that you’re so passionate about this and the fact that you want to give your followers good content, it’s fantastic and refreshing to see.

Because if you don’t everything falls over. I can work with big brands and go and do video shoots and all that stuff but if, at the end of the day, my long-standing fan base, who have been with me from the start, log onto my site and see that I haven’t updated it in two weeks, and it’s looking really scrappy, then your brand starts to fall over. So my whole thing is that content is absolutely prime and now there’s ways and means of promoting that content. Instagram’s fantastic if you’ve got a good following. I’m constantly going to seminars and conferences to find out how I can grow my Facebook audience cos that’s so hard now with pay for play. You’ve got to keep evolving. You know Snapchat? I don’t like it but I do it. There’s all these areas that you have to keep pushing yourself personally because if I’m stuck in Facebook and Instagram land and there’s all this stuff happening around me, then you’ve got to be up with it or you don’t grow. But it all comes back to your content. It’s all gotta link back into some sort of creative hook that no one else is doing. That’s what I tell people when they tell me they want to start a blog. That’s my advice. Go and find something that no one else is doing and do it well.

Image via @iheartbargains

Cushions and succulents from @pillowtalkaustralia, image via @iheartbargains

That is some bloody good advice! Ok so a big question here… What do you like better: your online shopping or do you love trawling in the shops?

Oooh it’s so hard! Look I should say online but I really really do love a good trawl! Like I know that Big W has just gone online but I would rather go in there. But for me being a mum and the convenience factor, I’ll give you an example, I’ve got a wedding on this Saturday and I’ve got a great little boutique down the road, and I don’t think that online is quite where it needs to be yet in terms of one day delivery, so if I’ve got something that I need quickly then I’ll always go in store. If I’m searching for cool casual wear or high heels, I say oh I’m just gonna get them online. So it all depends. I do a lot of online shopping, clearly cos that’s what I do every day of the week, but I do love a rummage and I do love going down to my local boutiques and seeing what’s there and feeling and touching and trying on. Totally. I don’t really get the chance for big shopping days anymore so the pieces that I need I get online and if it’s a last minute thing then I’m always in the shops. Always! I think it’s nice to go and try on. There is that whole side of it.

Definitely. There’s still so many people that prefer to go in and try bits on.

And also half the time with bargains you have to get in there. Like this amazing vintage looking striped dress that I got in the sales rack at Sportsgirl when I went down to Bayside Shopping Centre recently, there are so many amazing items in the sales racks there! You wouldn’t have found it online. All those sorts of sale items aren’t even online. So yeah I enjoy both but there’s a reason I do one or the other. It’s a mix I suppose…. I do love a good rummage.

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Sportsgirl sale racks are key! Dress from @sportsgirl, image via @iheartbargains

Who doesn’t!? I love it to! Would much rather be down the shops having a rummage than online.

There’s a lot of people that don’t! My sister hates it (laughs)!

Oh really!? How surprising!

Oh she hates it! Like last night she went shopping and she’s texting me “should I buy this or should I buy this…” and I was like oh my god I just need to be there! And she’s saying “oh I hate this! Get me out of here!” but a lot of people hate shopping so I hope that I’m making it easier for those people. They might check out IHB and go oh that’s a great striped top for $30 I’m just gonna get that cos I need that in my wardrobe cos my basics are looking really shabby. So I hope I’m taking stress away for them. I can’t help everyone but I try anyway.

Boho homewares from $8! Image via @iheartbargains

Boho homewares from $8, image via @iheartbargains

I think you are, definitely. You’ve got the right idea. It’s a massive help for people who don’t like shopping or find it hard to come up with new ideas for clothes. And you’ve got some very loyal followers, a lot of them actually [over 15,000 on Facebook and 64,000 on Instagram] who I can tell love what you’re doing.

I do, I get a lot of nice feedback from them. I reckon they’re a good bunch of chicks! If we all got in the one room we’d have a pretty good time. I would love to do that one day. Events is one thing, as you know, that is a whole other ball game and I’d need to be really prepared for that. So maybe that’s something to come later.

Now my second last question, which I’m sure a lot of people are also wondering, came about from your Dress a Day in May campaign where you showcased a different dress each day in May… what on earth do you do with all those dresses and your clothes? You don’t keep everything, do you?

Oh no! The short answer is no (laughs). I’ve done this since the start actually, I donate them. Dress for Success is a charity here in Melbourne down on the coast, and what they do is they help women who have fallen out of the workforce (for whatever reason) to get back into the workforce. For me that’s such a major cause that I should be helping because I’ve never been underprivileged at all, and I don’t like to say that these women are but they have, for whatever reason, done it really tough. And often a lot of them have kids and they’re single parents.

I don’t understand how single mums do it but I know they have to do it, and I know there are single dads out there as well but, for me, if I made a million dollars tomorrow the one body of people that I would help is single mums and I’d help them get back into work. Dress for Success is already doing that so I’ve partnered with them and a lot of the time I’m couriering boxes down to them after I’ve finished. There’s actually a blogger, Ina from Sneakers and Soul, she’s running a big blogger market where everyone sells the products that they haven’t used in shoots, cos you do get quite a lot of stuff and you can’t physically wear it all… a lot of bloggers do that. I like to give it to someone else and have someone feel good about it because I can’t physically wear it all, it’s ridiculous. I currently have 3 wardrobes and also I am right now looking at a rack now where it’s kind of a TBC rack like “do I really need that or…” and if I don’t wear it in a couple of months it goes to the charity so yeah that’s how I do it.

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One of the dresses from the Dress a Day in May campaign, image via www.iheartbargains.com

I definitely don’t hang on to everything and I LOVED a dress a day in May. I did start getting comments from people saying are you going to keep all these dresses but it wouldn’t be a good feeling to keep them all. I don’t have a need, no one has a need, for 30 dresses! So for me it was about passing them onto someone else.

Oh that’s amazing!

I actually met them at an event recently, the girls who style up these women who have lost their confidence and come into Dress for Success. And they had all these stories of the dresses that I’d given them and the people who received them and I thought that’s worth so much more than me keeping those dresses. I had tears in my eyes.

They were telling me about this one woman who hadn’t had a job interview in 15 years and she came in and she put one of my dresses on and you can see they go from hunched over, no confidence to holding their head up high when they leave… and I’m just like… that is amazing. To be honest I’ll probably end up doing that when I’m older. I would love to do that sort of thing, even now! I open my doors to people who need the help and everything. I’ve got a couple of local mums in my community that I help but also yeah it’s Dress for Success that are doing pretty amazing things in that whole space.

I just got goosebumps from that story, that’s so beautiful!

Yeah it is! And I think it’d be nice actually, if more bloggers could get together… I might even have to organise something myself, another 2017 thing! But I know I definitely do try with my stuff to hand it on. I don’t know, I’ve just been taught that you don’t need that much stuff, no one does. And to be honest it just causes more washing more storage you know? It’s not needed, so I think if someone else can get joy out of it that’s the way to go. So yeah! And I’ll definitely be doing a dress a day in May again next year, it’s kind of become our thing. Although just thinking about shooting 30 videos… I did all of that in about three days so it was… yeah it was a very very big exercise. But totally worth it! It’s so good! So much fun with what I got sent (laughs)

It was so good! It was always like ooh what’s going to be the dress today! Plus the fact that it was so consistent and some great ideas in there too, was bloody brilliant.

I think a lot of people sort of tuned in at that point too. There was a phase where people were going “oh I wonder what dress it is today” which was great, so yeah we’ll definitely do it again next year. And I think if I can give the dresses away again then it’s just a really nice campaign.

Just quickly… Christmas! Any sneak peeks of special bargains that we should be aware of?

Hmm well I’m actually just starting to pull together something like what we did last year, an ultimate small biz gift guide, which last year we were slightly late when we started it. So we’ll start that but in terms of particular items or specials… gosh you’re really testing me cos I’m really not in that headspace yet! Nothing that I can think of but I do know that soon we’ll have our gift guide up. What we do… it’s fairly intense but it’s great… is we’ll advertise shortly on Insta to say “tag in your favourite small businesses” so it takes probably 2-3 days but Ash and I physically go through every single comment, we check out the businesses, we grab their photos and all that. It’s like the IHB following nominates their favourite businesses for the year. And then we pick something really iconic from that particular business then that goes into the guide. So that’s kind of where I’m sitting at the moment.

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The IHB small biz guide is LIVE now! Check it out at www.iheartbargains.com

They’ll all be incredible businesses and will be all sorts of products. I got one the other day from this girl in Bendigo, who’s actually got this whole group of women – ugh I would SO love to just get out on the road and meet everyone! – called On the Go which is a group of small business which have got together in Bendigo and they meet all the time and they support each other. And she makes incredible, no artificial colouring, all natural ingredients, type of play dough for kids. So I’m like, cool!  We’ll do a kids small business gift guide. So I get people like that and I collect them throughout the year and do a guide at the end of the year, cos really the least I can do is give them a voice. And at the end of the year say “hey guys, get on and support small business and shop local”. I’m big on shop local. I do a lot of shop local for Christmas. So yeah that’s what’s coming up. Oh and I’ll obviously do Christmas Day dresses and all that sort of thing too which is always fun.

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Dress from @lacenheelsboutique, image via @iheartbargains

Fantastic! Looking forward to seeing it all being revealed over the next few weeks. Thanks for the chat, Chelsea!


For all the bargains and fab findings get online to their site at www.iheartbargains.com or do as I do and follow I Heart Bargains on Instagram at @iheartbargains and Facebook at @IHeartBargainsAustralia to get amazing daily hits from Chelsea and the gang. I cannot stress how many fabulous finds you will discover on there – so much goodness!

Also, the Small Biz Guide is now live, click here to check it out for some amazing Christmas gift ideas and SHOP LOCAL peeps! It’s so important to support small businesses and encourage the creativity in our communities. Get amongst it!

And if you would like more information about Dress for Success and the wonderful work they do then jump onto their main site www.dressforsuccess.org and find the local affiliate in your area. There’s one in almost every state in Australia and loads more worldwide so get on board and donate if you can to this fantastic cause.

Who is… IntrovertDoodles

If you read most pop culture and entertainment websites these days, you may have seen this little character pop up online somewhere recently…

The usual position of an introvert, image via @introvertdoodles

The usual position of an introvert, image via @introvertdoodles

This is Marzi, the most popular introvert on the interwebs.

Marzi, being an introvert, isn’t a fan of being the centre of attention. But she’s gaining popularity by creating honest, heartwarming and relatable comics that people love.

And if you’re an introverted personality like me then you’ll immediately love Marzi and her awkward moments that she shares with the world.

Who’s an introvert? Well, if you experience awkward conversations on a daily basis, or have been at a social event and thought you’d rather be at home with your cat, or basically just avoid human interaction as much as possible, then you’re not alone. Welcome to the introverted world! There’s plenty of us here, even some peeps that you would never think to be in the introverted category are here too and it’s nice to know that you’re not alone with all the bumbling awkwardness.

I love that I’m an introvert. I have no problems saying that I would much rather be at home in my pjs than at a glittering event with all the bells on. I do, however, sometimes enjoy socialising with people who I feel comfortable around, which makes me an extroverted introvert. This is quite common. But I really do love my alone time and how it gives me a recharge so I can then get back out there and function properly each day in the human world.

image via @introvertdoodles

Extroverts and introverts, image via @introvertdoodles

A lot of people don’t understand introverts and can’t work out how to deal with the personalities, which can be quite challenging for some extroverts to comprehend and can also leave some introverts feeling weird and self-conscious. We can be quite reserved at times and don’t express ourselves very well, which is why we generally voice our feelings through creativity. We can get frustrated with people who are overbearing or don’t think the same way as us but we would never say anything for fear of hurting their feelings. Hence why we need those precious quiet and alone times to get back on track. It’s a tricky way to be but we are a special, awkward breed and we should be celebrated… alone, in our own homes, with pizza (online ordered then delivered = minimal human interaction) and a good book.

So how about our dear friend Marzi then? Classic introvert Maureen “Marzi” Wilson from IntrovertDoodles, creates cute comics illustrating the daily struggles of an introverts’ world. Marzi’s comics are humble, funny and relatable to so many people. Her comics have appeared on sites such as BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Mamamia and she’s even signed a book deal, Introvert Doodles: An Illustrated Look at an Introvert Life in an Extrovert World, which is being released in December, meaning you now know what to get the introverted person in your life for Christmas.

Being an introvert, Marzi keeps her life private so I feel very privileged that she agreed to answer some questions for a profile. What we do know about Marzi is that she is based in the US, lives in the mountains and has a Yorkie puppy named Kiko. Ok, so what about the comic stuff? What else does she do? Well if you stop asking questions and read on you’ll find out…

Welcome, Marzi! Tell us a little bit about what you do for a living aside from IntrovertDoodles.

I have a DIY YouTube channel and website, MadeByMarzipan.com which I’ve had for 10 years now. I used to be a project designer for my local craft store… I would take materials home and make a project for store display. But whenever I went in to drop something off, there would be a stack of questions from customers wanting more details on the process. But, classic introvert that I am, I really didn’t want to call all those strangers! So I decided to start a blog with instructions for my projects. It just evolved from there, and now I work with art supply companies throughout the US and make video tutorials to teach people how to make art and craft projects. So if you like crafting, sewing, or hand lettering, go check it out!

The Introvert Creative Process, image via @introvertdoodles

The introvert creative process, image via @introvertdoodles

You have quite a large following on the IntrovertDoodles Instagram (66,000) and Facebook (70,000) pages. How long have you been drawing your Marzi doodles for? Is this something you’ve done as a creative outlet since you were young?

I’ve been doodling since I was a little girl. I plastered the walls of my bedroom with drawings! But Marzi and IntrovertDoodles started last year [2015] with the Instagram account first in August and then the website in September.

The first few doodles were posted on my MadeByMarzipan Instagram account. But when the posts started getting more interaction, I realized that not everyone who was interested in the comics would be interested in my DIY posts, and vice versa. So I decided to make a separate page for Marzi, and that’s when I decided on the name IntrovertDoodles.  And then I just happened to get lucky with publicity so it gained some traction from there. BuzzFeed used one of my comics in an article, and that caught the attention of other news apps like HuffPost and PopSugar.

image via @introvertdoodles

The introvert habitat, image via @introvertdoodles

How did the inspiration for Marzi and her stories come about and suddenly become an online hit?

One day I saw an article about the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and I was curious about it. So I found a free quiz on 16personalities.com that’s based on the MBTI. When I learned about my type, INFP, I felt like I’d found the missing piece of my puzzle. I realized that I’d been focusing on my “flaws”- being too sensitive, too quiet, too dreamy – without recognizing that they were part of a bigger picture.

Yes, I’m all of those things, but being sensitive also means that I’m empathetic and intuitive. Being quiet means I’m a good listener. Being dreamy means I’m creative and thoughtful. I finally saw myself as a whole, complete person. My mind was racing with all the implications of this, and doodling was my way of processing these ideas so I put them online. I was surprised when other people connected with them!

Your fans are so encouraging and interactive. Almost all of the comments are people realising that they’re not the only one that has these feelings and it’s ok to be different. They’re not alone or weird. How do you react to that? Do you feel a sense of pride and achievement knowing that people genuinely like your work and it’s relatable?

I’d say it’s been therapeutic for me. It’s an affirmation that I’m okay, just as I am. I can put out my most awkward moments, my fears, silliness, and worries, and my internet buddies accept and support me through all of it. When you’ve spent your life wondering, “what’s wrong with me?” it’s healing to have that sort of reassurance.

I do like to get emails from my followers, telling me that my little drawings have touched their lives in some way. I feel honoured and grateful that they would take the time to reach out to me.

Image via @introvertdoodles

Introverted princesses, image via @introvertdoodles

When you first started putting the doodles online, did your family and friends know it was you? Or did you want to keep that a secret for as long as possible?

The doodles started on my MadeByMarzipan account, so my followers there knew of the connection. However, few people in my real life know about MadeByMarzipan either! It isn’t a secret, but it isn’t something I bring up unless someone asks.

Do you create all your drawings with the old pencil and paper or are you now using all the fancy new technology and programs to create your masterpieces?

I started out hand drawing them, but got an iPad Pro in January, so I switched to digitally drawing with an Apple Pencil.

Are you finding this is a better way to work or would you prefer to stay old school?

Well, I have a filing cabinet full of original doodles, so I think storage would have been an issue if I’d kept going! I think the iPad is the best of both worlds, as I’m still drawing by hand, but I can store and transfer high-res images quickly. It certainly made things easier when it came time to edit my book!

Introverts explained, image via @introvertdoodles

Introverts explained, image via @introvertdoodles

Yes, your book is coming out later this year! How exciting! Was that an idea from the beginning or did that pop up along the way?

After several months, I had followers asking for a book collection. But sadly, I had no connections in publishing, and I didn’t know how to make it happen. Again, I just got lucky, when an editor from Adams Media came across my doodles and offered me a book deal. They’ve been amazing to work with, and I’ve had so much fun bringing this project to life. It has 175 pages of my favourite comics, plus new ones you won’t see anywhere else!


So many places you can go to get your Marzi goodness! Pre-order the book now from Amazon.com or follow Marzi on Instagram at @introvertdoodles , Facebook at IntrovertDoodles or get daily comics at her site IntrovertDoodles.com

And if you want to get crafty check out her video tutorials at MadeByMarzipan.com or follow her on Facebook at MadeByMarzipan


Side note… 

After my chat with Marzi, I (of course) wanted to find out where I sat on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, so for a bit of fun I went to 16personalities.com and took the free quiz. Turns out I’m a INFJ (advocate) type which is believed to be the rarest of them all on the personality spectrum, making up less than 1% of the population. Well there you go. How interesting.

Like a diamond in the rough #aladdin

Curious to find out yours? Head to 16personalities.com and do the quiz… and if there’s any other INFJ’s out there let me know. We’ll start a gang.

MBTI thoughts, image via @introvertdoodles

MBTI thoughts, image via @introvertdoodles

 

Blog Society

If you are a business owner or serious about your blogging, have you ever thought to pay more attention to your online marketing and social media situation? If you answered “not really…” then you need to take a good hard look at yourself… and immediately follow Blog Society to learn more about these tricky little subjects and how they can do wonders for your brand.

I recently completed Blog Society’s Digital Bravery e-course, which is essential for anyone wanting to seriously ramp up their online presence, whether it be to drive more traffic to your site or to increase sales. Whilst I’m not a business owner I am however interested in social media and the digital world and how it can impact your blog or business.

I found Blog Society via Facebook and Instagram and upon following their pages I was instantly drawn to their style and wanted learn more about the digital marketing world. When the recent round of their e-course became open for enrolment I didn’t hesitate to sign up. The course runs for 4 weeks with a new module being released each week. Plus, an additional 2 weeks of study break is included to let students catch up if they’re behind on any module. This is perfect as I work full time (no kids but I do have a cat, same thing right?) which meant I could do the course at my own pace whenever I wanted. Even with the cat sitting on my laptop.

Each module is full of SO MUCH juicy information it will make your head spin – in a good way! If you’re like me and you get excited over the nitty gritty bits then you will absolutely love the course material. It’s all really easy to follow plus there are workbooks accompanying each module to complete along the way. These encouraged me think outside the box, asking the right questions and making it applicable to my blog. There was also a few magical “a-ha” moments which made me see things in a new light and had me scribbling notes and making changes to my site along the way.

Upon becoming a student of Blog Society you are also granted access to a private Facebook group full of current and past students of the Digital Bravery e-course. Having access to this group alone is an awesome benefit as it allows you to chat with like-minded people who can give advice on topics and encouraging feedback on your website if you wish to put yourself out there.

Blog Society owner Jaclyn Carlson is a huge asset in the Facebook group too, offering advice and encouraging students to be brave and step out of their comfort zones by asking questions and getting involved in the community. This is a really important step as if you’re not actively participating online in any aspect then you won’t be seen or heard when needed most. Talking in the group makes it easier to take that first step of being active online. Jaclyn also offers the opportunity to contact her directly throughout the course with any specific questions or problems you may have with the modules. I find this approach quite comforting as you know you don’t have to just give up if you’re finding it difficult to understand.

 

I’m pretty stoked to have all these new bubbles of information in my head and I’m quite excited to put it all to good use. Even though the e-course is finished I still have all the materials to refer back to when I need it, which is a major plus as I’m sure I’ll need to refresh my brain on a couple of things again sometime soon! Based on my experience, I would highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to further their knowledge on the digital world. If you’re a small business owner or getting serious about your blogging, then you need to do this course. It’s a must if you are struggling to figure out the confusing world of social media or if you’re not a full bottle on branding, marketing or SEO – these are all very important and vastly different areas of your business that need to all be working together to get the best result for your brand.

If you want to feel confident, informed and have a renewed excitement for the online world then this course has to be top of your list.

Go on. Be brave. Be inspired.

The next round of Digital Bravery starts Monday 17th October and it’s one thing I cannot recommend enough for bloggers and small business owners. Click here to sign up to become a graduate of  their course.

Who is… Perth is OK!

One of the first and most well-known Instagram accounts about Perth is headed up by two young lads, who’s idea to create a user driven Instagram account showcasing the best bits of this fine city and it’s surrounds has become bigger than just the small side project they thought it would be. We chatted to extremely busy 26-year-old Luke Whelan about Perth is OK! and his ever growing list of projects.

Luke Whelan

Luke Whelan


Tell us a little bit about yourself and Perth is OK!  Is it just yourself behind this brand or are you working with a few people behind the scenes?

Ah yeah so it’s me and a guy called Blake Callaway, we both came up with the concept for Perth is OK! about 18 months ago… around November 2014. Both of us have come from event backgrounds. I am also one of the Directors of Metric Events that does events and several club nights throughout Perth plus Castaway Festival at Rottnest and in Queensland, plus we also do Wonderland Festival. We own two venues, Jack Rabbit Slims and Flyrite, in Northbridge, and we have Pilerats as well, and through all that Blake and I also work on club nights.

We both wanted to do something a little bit different to a more diverse audience. We had developed our social media knowledge and skills so we thought it would be cool to do something a little bit broader outside of our normal field of the 18-27 year-old market, just to see what we can do with it, so the idea was kinda born from that and it has kind of gone pretty well I guess!

It was when Instagram was in the beginning and was really just blowing up. Some people were starting to utilise their audiences and their sway to actually do some cool things rather than just be sitting there on a platform. I guess our goal was to try and create something that was really cool, different and unique for WA. We’ve all flown the WA flag and we know that Perth is more than OK but, externally, it tends to have that sleepy town kinda feel to everyone else so it’s an excuse to tie all those things together.

Image via PerthisOK! by @longest.way.round

Cottesloe Beach, image via PerthisOK! by @longest.way.round

Well you’ve certainly done really well with it. 124,000 followers and counting…

Yeah I think we’re bigger than the official Western Australian account! I think we’re nearing on half a million unique hashtags, so it’s like we’re getting a hashtag a minute of people submitting their photos, which is really awesome. It’s like a little army of people out there flying the Perth flag now as well, it’s a really cool vibe in the community.

With that, you mention the Western Australian account, are you guys in contact at all? Will you share some of their stuff or vice versa? Or is it strictly competitors?

Ah I wouldn’t say we’re competitors whatsoever… I guess we have the freedom that Government run accounts can’t have. They always have to have strict guidelines and I guess they’re never going to have the passion that some freelancers have, and the ability to be a bit cooler and current. Where the Western Australian account is very much just geographic photos and beach landscapes, we try to mix it up between big aerial photos as well as what’s on, new bars, new food joints, new artworks and all that kind of stuff. I guess we’re trying to be a bit more all-encompassing. So I wouldn’t say we’re competitors but not directly in contact with them either. They kind of do their thing but we have reached out to the Tourism board before to see if they’re interested in collaborating with anything but they get a lot of their stuff done from interstate company, like a big marketing firm, so nothing really happened from it but hey, we’ll see, maybe one day!

All the landscape photos and images on your account are absolutely amazing, these are all submitted to you guys and you just select the best one to promote?

All of our content is user driven so it’s all submission based. That’s the kind of strength of what we’re doing. We don’t really have motives ourselves, we’re not photographers or anything like that, we’re just good at social media. So yeah it’s really good cos it showcases the photographers or it showcases the bar in particular as well as it encourages other people to be going out and taking photos and I think that’s where it’s strength comes from… cos if it was just us putting up our photos we’re going to be biased (laughs). We have the freedom to just pick the best photos that we think will showcase Perth in the best way and give people a leg up, from photographers to small businesses to whoever really.

Look I must admit that I’ve actually hashtagged a couple of photos of my own with #perthisok but umm no love from you guys yet so if you could just have a look through…

Oh yeah sure no worries (laughs) we’ll sort you out.

Image via PerthisOK by @bestbrurgersofperth

Hood Burger, image via PerthisOK! by @bestburgersofperth

So you an Blake started Perth is OK! but no one knew it was you behind it all? And that’s how you wanted it?

I guess that was a big thing for us, Blake and I never told anyone it was us until more recently just because we didn’t want it to be… (pauses) I guess we wanted it to stand on its own legs. We had other products and other businesses and stuff that was known so we sort of wanted it to gain traction under its own weight and stand-alone rather than being attached to the other things we do.

Tell us a bit more about all those other things you do… got a fair few projects going on in the background?

Ah yeah its kind of confusing! So we’ve got Metric Events which is events based stuff, predominately for the 18-27 youth market, Triple J kind of stuff with club nights, youth festivals, outdoor stuff, which is kind of a wide range of things. Then we started Pilerats which is a blog, probably the biggest blog in WA. It’s getting around 300,000 unique hits a month and that’s music and lifestyle based. And then from that we started a creative agency which now has about 16 traders on it. Then we bought a venue, started a record label which is a subsidiary of Warner and then Blake also does a few different other Instagram accounts and he runs events as well so yeah… I guess you could say we’re busy (laughs).

Perth is OK! has been a side project and now it’s sort of gotten to a point where we’re looking at the next thing and working out where to go and how to use our audience and stay true to what we wanted to do.  We’re looking at different avenues of either starting a mail out to show what’s on, things to do and exciting things in Perth or potentially a blog down the track but yeah just taking it as it comes at the moment.

Yallingup, image via PerthisOk! by @ecomuseimages

Yallingup, image via PerthisOk! by @ecomuseimages

Wow, yeah you are extremely busy! So how did you get into all of this then? Did you go to Uni?

Actually yeah I was studying engineering at UWA and then I met a few guys and we started doing the events stuff. I wanted to throw my birthday party at a nightclub but they wouldn’t let me do it cos I wasn’t a promoter. So I Googled what a promoter was and called the guys and started doing that so (laughs) yeah we quickly had a regular weekly thing and it evolved into a festival and the team just grew. We had all these great creatives so we started Pilerats, which started off as an iPad magazine which was fucking hard work, and then we quickly evolved that into a blog and a website so our content was going out there to everyone and not have to be restricted to the Apple store. It all just grew organically in the last six years since I dropped out of my final year of Uni, which my parents weren’t overly stoked about (laughs) but I still managed to avoid getting a real job as I like to call it so yeah, life’s pretty good!

Well that is the dream, yes…

(Laughs) sure is!

So the venue, Jack Rabbit Slims, that’s in Northbridge?

Yeah it’s the old Black Betty’s/Parker. We started that in July last year. We repositioned it and rebranded it and made it a live music venue so that’s going really well. We’ve decked it out like a 50’s retro diner so as soon as you walk in you get alcoholic milkshakes in there along with like flavoured fries and there’s booths too. Then there’s a secret door that brings you into the venue as a whole. It’s a small bar at the front and then there’s a 500 capacity gig room there too. There’s a whole lot of quirky stuff going on, we’ve got a Harry Potter quiz night going in there tonight which is pretty funny and we host national touring bands and local bands… the whole lot. It’s a great multi-functional venue.  I work quite heavily on the festivals and the venue and then Perth is OK! on the side.

Sounds just like what Northbridge needs…

Well after The Bakery closed we saw that there was no venue really of that sort of size that was doing a good job, and cos we were promoters first we had worked with most venues doing our own shows so we sort of knew what we wanted to do very astutely from our experiences both positive and negative from working with other venues.

Rottnest Island, image via PerthisOK! by @airprints

Rottnest Island, image via PerthisOK! by @airprints

Well you definitely know what you’re doing so I’m sure you guys will be successful! Final question… if I managed to scroll through the 1200-odd posts on the Perth is OK! account, what would I find as the very first Instagram post? Do you remember what is was?

Not at all! (laughs) I think at the beginning when we starting off from scratch we were just using going through generic Perth and Western Australia hashtags to try and get it going. The whole user driven thing, it takes a while to hit that point where people want to submit their photos.

Ah yep ok cool well when I get through all 1200 posts I’ll shoot you an email and tell you what the first post was.

(laughs) ok cool, I’ll talk to you in a few months then!


Follow the guys on Instagram at @perthisok

All images are from the Perth is OK! Instagram page