Archive for February, 2014

February 28, 2014 12:00 am

Graduate Feature – The Bijou Bride

Bijou Bride

Name: Alexandra Merri

Business: The Bijou Bride

Location: London, U.K.

Connect with Alexandra!

Twitter: @BijouBride

Facebook: The Bijou Bride

Instagram: @bijoubride

Pinterest: Alexandra Merri

Alexandra Merri aka The Bijou Bride is a creative wedding planner and stylist based in the U.K.  Alexandra believes no two couples are the same and therefore no two weddings should be either.  Her services offer a bespoke approach to wedding planning that’s tailored to suit each couple’s lifestyle and budget.

The Bijou Bride

What first motivated you to get into wedding planning?

I’ve always been a creative planner, as one of my friend’s put it I “turn everything into an event” from birthday parties to Pancake day.  It was whilst working at a major film company organizing premieres, exciting team away days and so on as well as freelance fashion styling that I had that light bulb moment.  I realized that there was a career that would allow me to combine both my creative and organizational talents – wedding planning.  I had organised my own Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding (my middle name is Titania so needless to say it was a theme) within a 5 month time frame and been assisting various friends when I took the plunge and enrolled in the QC International Wedding & Event Planning course.  Luckily I passed with flying colors and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Bijou Bride

How did you choose QC Event School? What did you like most about your studies?

I researched the most valued, in depth event planning study programs and knew that I needed a flexible course which is what led me to QC.  Those messages from my mentor were so much nicer than just a typed email and I felt really supported by the QC team throughout my studies and long after.

The Bijou Bride

You graduated from QC Event School in 2011, how has your career evolved since then? 

It hasn’t been easy but then nothing that’s worth striving for is.  The real challenge is getting your name known and working out your niche within the industry.

Your website is absolutely beautiful. What inspired the design?

I wanted it to be clean and contemporary, I found that a lot of planning company’s sites were pink and swirly which just isn’t me.  Inspiration came from some of my favorite sites like Kate Spade and Topshop I think it’s important to stay true to who you are, your loves and taste.

beyou

What came first, the name or the tagline? How did you come to decide on this unique brand identity? 

I wanted to find a word that summed up my approach and ‘Bijou’ does just that.  By definition it is ‘desirable, fashionable, stylish, chic, sought-after, to die for’ just how a wedding should be.  The tagline just came to me; I want all my clients to feel that their wedding day is quintessentially them not a projection of others’ expectations.

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We know you must always be juggling a dozen tasks. How do you keep on top of everything? 

My Google calendar is invaluable, I log my to do list in 30 minute slots and have it synced with my mobile phone so I never miss a thing.

Wedding trends change every year; what 2014 wedding trend are you most excited to work with?

There is definitely a move towards toned down and understated styling or as I’ve dubbed it ‘bare naked elegance’ that is reliant on a great setting and good furniture.

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What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve planned to date?

That is a tough one as they are all memorable in their own way.  A snowy winter wedding with a James Bond theme and 4 am finish time is probably the quirkiest though.

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You’ve been featured in quite a few notable publications and sites. Tell us! What do you see in The Bijou Bride’s future?

This year is my busiest to date for wedding bookings but I’m hoping to take on further branding projects with bridal designers and venues.  I love being creative so a variety of projects is never a bad thing.

The Bijou Bride Features

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February 27, 2014 12:00 am

Wear It with Style! The Pastel Trend

Have you heard the news? Pastels are back in style this season! When I made this announcement around the office, I heard a collective groan from all the ladies. Pastels are tricky. You run the risk of looking like a little girl or, even worse, a giant bubblegum!

But they’re also oh so pretty, and can be a lot edgier than you think. Here’s how to get it right.

1. Go for sophistication

As I mentioned above, pastels can make you look really young if you’re not careful. To avoid that, try to stick to more mature styles and clean lines to look sophisticated rather than too sweet. For example, a pale pink pencil skirt for the office would probably work better than a full, bell-shaped skirt.

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule! You know your style best, and if you can rock a pale pink ballerina tulle dress, you go girl!

2. Add some edge

The perfect way to tame down the girliness of pastels is to pair them with harder, or more masculine pieces. Take a look at the outfit we put together below…

How to wear pastel this seasonShirt / Boots / Shorts / Sunglasses / Blazer / Necklace

Keep in mind that the trend works best when you just add a pop of pastel, instead of giving everyone a cavity just by looking at you! We went with classic, more androgynous pieces here like the chambray shirt and boyfriend-style blazer to tone down the pretty watercolor shorts (seriously, love the shorts!). The boots, glasses, and necklace add a bit of rock and roll to the look, and definitely take it into cool territory.

3. It’s all about the accessories

Another great way to rock the pastel trend is in your accessories. This is a great way to try out trends in general, as they’re not as expensive to buy as clothing, and you can incorporate them into your wardrobe for a lot longer. Pastel necklaces, bracelets, and even sunglasses add a nice touch. If you’re really bold, go for a pair of pale shoes, too!

4. Or, just watch this video!

Our very own Style Mentor Tylar put together this great video tutorial on how you can make the most of this trend. Take a look!


Being productive is something that affects everyone in an office. It is also a common goal for everyone in a company from the CEO right down to each worker. Therefore, working together to achieve a productive work environment should be a priority. Management should do what they can to provide the tools for employees to be efficient and also implement policies that work towards the goal of being productive. At the same time, all employees should work towards and self-monitor their own efficiency levels and provide feedback to management in regards to what works and what does not work for them. It is most important for everyone to recognize that productivity and efficiency are very individualized. What works for some people might not work for others. Customized productivity can be achieved using the following principles and techniques.

PRODUCTIVE OFFICE SPACE

Clutter Free Work Space

It stands to reason that a clean and organized office space will always make for more productive workers. That is the case in any environment, really whether it is a home office, a business office, a retail location, or even a kitchen. It is most likely (and hopefully) apparent that a work space needs to be clean in order for anyone to be productive. However, what you may not realize is that clutter is hurting your levels of productivity. Psychologists explain that clutter in your work space clogs your mind and is very distracting. Think of it as a clutter free office equals a clutter free mind. Studies have shown that people get more done and retain more information when the area they work in is free of clutter. What is clutter? Clutter can be stacks of papers, an unorganized desk, personal items, electronic equipment and electrical cords; even everyday office supplies can make an office cluttered.

Here are 10 tips to reduce office clutter:

  1. Keep as little as possible on top of desks
  2. Do not print anything unless you have to
  3. File papers away in closed file cabinets while making sure that they are organized for easy access
  4. Recycle papers that are no longer needed
  5. Utilize desk organization tools to ensure that desks are uniform, neat, and orderly
  6. Limit the number of personal items allowed to be on display
  7. Personal items should be hung on the wall or placed on a small shelf rather than on a desk
  8. Neatly tie up and label all electronics cords. Twist ties, zip ties, or even bread bag clips can be used to tie off all cords and wires
  9. Use wireless devices whenever possible
  10. Set aside a few minutes of time each day to keep your desk in order and throw out any trash

Colors and Productivity

You may have heard of this concept before because it is quite well known – color affects mood. Your mood has an impact on how fast and efficiently you work. Most psychologists agree that a shade of blue is best for office spaces. However, color and productivity are very individualized and depend on what type of work you are doing. An accountant dealing with numbers is very likely to react differently to the same color office than a designer or writer who thrives on creativity. There is a simple way around this that you may not have thought of before and that is to change the color of the top of each employee’s desk. Here a few examples of color and job types:

  • Blue: As explained earlier, blue is a well-known color for productivity. It represents stability and calm and helps people focus their attention. Blue also conveys trust and loyalty.
  • Green:  Green also helps employees remain calm and efficient. Green is a good color for anyone who works long hours because the color does not cause eye fatigue when looking at it for long periods of time. Green is also a color that represents health, healing, and earth.
  • Yellow:  Yellow is the color you would want for those employees whose job requires creativity. However, the shade and intensity of the yellow paint you use should be carefully chosen. Unlike green, yellow can cause eye fatigue, so a lighter shade or just small accents of yellow is recommended. Yellow also instills a sense of optimism, so it is a good accent color to use if you want to add a little burst of sunshine in the office.
  • Red: Red represents fire and passion. It is a color that is often used to get people inspired to take action. If the job involves any physical activity, then red will help “light a fire” in someone.

Bio: Eric Thomas is blogger and Brand Manager for Brandme.com.au. He enjoys writing about business and marketing tips.


February 26, 2014 8:45 am

Best bike riding destinations in the USA

Bike riding is among one of the best outdoor activities in the world, whether you’re biking as an individual or in a group of friends. It can be a thrilling experience, and picking the perfect destination makes for an unforgettable biking experience. It can ignite the passion of bike lovers.

Here is a carefully compiled list of the best biking destinations in the USA for any passionate rider wishing to experience the ultimate journey in bike riding.

Boulder, Colorado

Biking is great in Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is a haven for bikers. It has dedicated bike-ways, routes, and underpasses that will ensure you experience uninterrupted biking. I guarantee you’ll enjoy riding through this picturesque state, with its mountains, beautiful green summer landscape, and winter beauty.

Brevard, North Carolina

Biking in Brevard, North Carolina
Brevard is the best destination for the biker looking for a challenging trail, especially through the Pisgah National Forest. In the Brevard area, you can also take time to enjoy mouth-watering Southern food and a number of local breweries.

Portland, Oregon

This famous US destination has long been considered the king of cycling. The biker will enjoy both city riding and also the fantastic mountain trails. At Portland, you’ll love the coffee too.

Chicago, Illinois

On your next trip to Chicago, take a bike ride

The city of Chicago has a great biking environment and notable bicycling infrastructure. It boasts more than 200 miles of protected bike lanes and good bike parking areas. You can also visit the famous Lakefront Trail, running about 18.5 miles.

Washington, DC

Take a bike ride in Washington, DC

Biking is the best way to experience the famous monuments and memorials. You’ll enjoy great sight-seeing by visiting the C&O Canal, a 185-mile-long channel following the Potomac River. Bike rentals are readily available.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis bikers will not fall short of company. There’s a great biking culture here, and riders will enjoy the 120 miles of dedicated bikeways and bridges. Because the city is flat, it’s great for beginners.

Austin, Texas

Enjoy biking in this spectacular ranch land, home to the Austin Bike Zoo. The state of Texas is also home to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a 6-mile-long channel that runs through the capital. Outside, you can bike through the Texas Hill Country, famed for its beautiful ranches – you’ll enjoy the country life.

 

About the Author
Sophie Morgan is a passionate blogger and traveler who loves to share her experience with bike rides. Presently, she is working on behalf of UK driving test, which helps to get driving licenses in quick and easy steps to make your drive hassle free.


February 25, 2014 8:27 am

The Seven Best Event Planning Apps

Planning any kind of event can be a frenzied and stressful activity, even when you are naturally organized. Last-minute changes and hold-ups and endless project checklists all require attention and flexibility, and keeping on top of things can be challenging. Thankfully, the latest Smartphone and tablet apps really help to make things easier. Here are a few of the best.

Stay organized with these 7 apps

Eventbrite

This is one of the most popular platforms for ticket sales. It allows you to make the check-in process very quick, and removes the need for endless paper. You can integrate check-in with your mobile device and avoid having to carry guest lists around, too. Just scan bar-code tickets at the door for the correct list of attendees. It pleases guests too, as the time needed to process check-ins is vastly reduced.

Evernote

Evernote is a great little app. If you have the ideas and the team to organize them, the app will help you delegate and manage the event. It works effectively as a mobile filing system. You can organize everything here from venue research and evaluation to travel itineraries and menus, and you can share notes and updates rapidly with your event team. If you sync it across the team’s devices, everyone will be able to see the latest information.

Bizzabo

This app helps you to juggle complex elements of an event or conference. It allows attendees to see a mobile agenda and understand the capabilities of networking that will be available. It integrates with social media to share PR and buzz about the event itself. You can send out change announcements in real time and use the app to engage with your attendees before, during and after the event.

HeyTell

Ever fancied turning your Smartphone into an old-school walkie-talkie? This funky app allows you to do just that and stay in constant touch with your team during event set-up and management. It’s ideal when you need to speak to someone quickly and urgently and is far quicker than email or text.

Scanner Pro

Use this to digitize your papers and receipts, rather than trying to keep hold of everything in hard copy. There are various good scanner apps online which allow you to take a photo of the paper, convert it to a PDF and then send via email.

Dropbox

One of the best online storage systems available, Dropbox allows you to upload, organize and share all manner of documents digitally and from any logged-in device. Storage is available for free to start with, and you can earn or buy extra space. You can also edit files remotely and then share them.

Hootsuite

Stay on top of your social media engagement with this handy app, which allows you to keep up to date with the buzz online for your event, schedule news posts, and generally know what’s being said in real time.

 

Abi thoroughly enjoyed her time at university and now enjoys traveling around the country visiting places such as Richmond University, offering advice to students on how to manage their time, workload and other commitments.


February 21, 2014 10:00 am

Color Your Child’s Room Classic

Your child’s room can be a challenge to decorate and just as frustrating to organize. Especially boys’ rooms. Let’s face it, their tastes and favorites seem to change all the time. One second they want to be the next superhero, the next its James Bond. Then they are off to University in a flash. Choose a color palette that is kid enough without being too “baby.” Why not go for a light grey which feels “boy” without feeling “baby boy.”

Keep it basic!

Keep the basic shell of the room tasteful, neutral (meaning, no theme), and timeless. Inspire the fun personality in things you can easily update or change as your child’s tastes evolve – and it undoubtedly will.  Who can afford to redecorate an entire room every year (the cost could creep up if you have more than one child!)? Try to veer away from cheap flat pack furniture as this doesn’t last as long, especially with children! Go for more robust, sturdy furniture like solid oak beds and wardrobes.

Choose a paint color for the walls that you feel you will be able to live with for a significant period of time, unless you love painting walls. I have an aversion to painting – tedious and boring! So once a room is painted in our house that is it. No more. Choose furniture that you like, not just furniture that your child likes.  So when buying furniture make sure that you like it, so that after he gets sick of it or grows up and goes to college, then you can incorporate the furniture into other areas of the house.

child's room

Don’t go OTT…

Try to keep things in proportion; children’s rooms really don’t need a lot of over-decoration. They have colorful and interesting toys that they would probably love to display, no need to buy more things, it will only clutter! Keep things simple, classic and clean and it will usually makes for a more pleasing overall effect. Make the most of what they already have and use the best of it to decorate the room. Put up colorful hooks or pegs for hats, whilst toys can be easily displayed along with their own artwork.

Chalkboards are ideal for children! Not only can they use them to develop their writing and drawing skills but you can also give them chores to do and daily schedules so they feel they have played a part in the organization of the day – the uses of chalkboards are endless.

Be creative – involve everyone!

If you happen to be a budding artist (or know one) and would love to personalize your kids’ rooms, try decorating one wall, a desk, a wooden chair or canvas to show their personality. Even better why not involve your child too? With hand prints to paint balloons you really can get creative, and it’s something meaningful they can keep.

Put up bookshelves wherever you can find space, particularly in close proximity to the bed to encourage them to read – this will provide huge educational benefits and also allows you to spend time with your child every night before bed. Always make a plan before, color charts, fabrics and get all of their artwork together so it is ready to accessorize.

Bio: Karen has three children and four grandchildren and is now an expert in decorating children’s bedrooms on a budget, to give an effortless and timeless look. Her inspiration for the color palettes come from her favorite interior furniture company; Homeward Bound Interiors. When she hasn’t’t got her hands full with children, she runs two businesses and enjoys long walks with her dogs on the beach.


February 20, 2014 8:19 am

Grammar Lessons with Winghill

I have a confession to make – I love grammar. And because I want you to love grammar as much as I do, I’m going to regularly talk about the most common grammar errors…and most importantly, how to avoid them.

Grammar matters. A grammatical error in your manuscript will give an editor the excuse they were looking for to toss it aside. As writers, you should be constantly brushing up on your grammar and improving your skills. So give it a try! Get started with these quick grammar lessons.

Avoid these common grammatical errors

Fewer versus Less

Fewer than half the English speaking world knows the proper way to use these confusing counters. That might be an exaggeration (we hope!), but here’s how to get it right:

Use “fewer” for things you can physically count, like oranges.  I ate fewer oranges than you.

Use “less” for things that are abstract or uncountable, like time, or grains of sand. The less time we spend at the beach, the less sand we’ll get in our shoes!

Your versus You’re

Your great grammar skills mean you’re never going to get this one wrong, right? For me, this is one of those nails on the chalkboard kind of mistakes, but it’s oh so easy to make (especially now with texting culture!).

“Your” is a possessive pronoun; use it when referring to something you own or have. Your grammar is impeccable!

“You’re” is a contraction of “you are”. You’re not going to believe the grammar mistake I saw today!

They’re versus Their versus There

The triple threat. Nothing will make the grammar fanatic angrier than seeing these used improperly. Here’s a quick breakdown of the rules:

“They’re” is a contraction of “they are”. They’re always misusing the word “there”!

“Their” is a possessive pronoun; use it when referring to something they own or have. Their grammar could use some work.

“There” refers to a place, or the existence of something (used with the verb “to be”). There are a lot of seagulls over there.

What grammar mistake drives you crazy? Leave it in a comment!


February 19, 2014 12:13 am

Task Management Tools for Small Businesses

task management tools

Here at QC we completely understand what it’s like to be busy. Really busy. All the time. On one hand this might mean that your business is thriving and everything’s going just great, but it can also mean that you’re not managing your time as effectively as you could be.

After developing 20+ courses and managing 6 different schools, we like to consider ourselves experts in task organization and time management. So gather around everyone, today we’re going to share some of our favorite tools of the trade.

Caution: this first one isn’t for the faint of heart. StayFocused is a Google Chrome extension that allows the user to set a maximum time limit for certain websites. Select a site, set the timer, and get to work! Once the timer runs out, you’ll lose access to the site for the rest of the day. We find this is especially great when working on sites like Pinterest and Facebook. It’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked on social sites, and before you realize it a 5 minute status update can turn into a two hour creeping session. Admit it, this has happened to you on multiple occasions.

stayfocused

If StayFocused seems a bit too extreme for your taste, you might like this next one. FocusBooster is pretty much the same, just slightly less extreme. Well, a lot less extreme actually. Once the timer is finished counting down you simply get a polite notification letting you know. This is a great option for all you self-disciplined folk out there.

focusbooster

Now, moving on to our all-time favorite tool – Trello. We like it, we love it, we just can’t get enough of it. This easy-to-use task manager is incredibly helpful when creating detailed to-do lists and getting your business organized. It’s as easy as jotting down your tasks on virtual cards and placing them into lists.  You can categorize your cards and add checklists, due dates, attachments, comments, emoticons and so much more. The cherry on top of this delectable ice cream Sunday is that one account can have multiple users. This means that all employees (even if it’s just you and one assistant starting out) will be able to view and interact with the same cards. It makes delegating and communicating a synch, and it’s way prettier than a spreadsheet. Oh, and it’s also incredibly easy to learn. Go team go!

trello

Do you have dreams of starting a small business? QC can help you get started by providing you with all the training you’ll need to become a successful professional in fields like makeup artistry, fashion styling, event & wedding planning, interior decorating, and more. Check us out!

 


February 18, 2014 1:16 pm

NEW! Color Consultation Video Series

What’s your favorite color?

Decorators, let’s be honest – color theory is tough. There’s color schemes (adjacent, complementary, what the heck?!) and the color wheel, all while keeping up with the latest trends (we’re painting all the walls Radiant Orchid now, right?).  We know! Here at QC, we get your questions about color all the time, and we wanted to do something about it.

We’re offering a brand new video series – all about color – to our existing and new students. This 3-part series can be found in your Online Student Center. In the videos, interior decorator extraordinaire Darlene Hall-Barrett talks everything color, starting with the theory, and putting it into practice in a client’s home. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll learn…

How to Use the Color Wheel

Learn how to use the color wheel

The color wheel is the decorating tool. It looks simple, but that little piece of cardboard is jam-packed with information…and it’s your job to be able to use it. The wheel can help you choose your primary and secondary colors as you start to plan for the new decor. Darlene walks you through the process in this video.

Interior Decorating Color Schemes

Yes, there are a lot of color schemes to remember, but once you have the basics down, you’ll have an intuitive understanding of how to use color schemes in your designs. That’s what color is all about, after all! Depending on your color scheme, you can change the mood, atmosphere, even temperature of a room. You’ll get a great foundation with these videos.

Color Decorating Ideas

This video series will walk you through the color consultation

A young decorator’s first consultation is always intimidating. In this video series, Darlene walks us through an entire color consultation, starting with the garage door and ending with the family room.

She explains how to listen to a client’s concerns, likes, and dislikes, and use that as inspiration when coming up with ideas.

Want access to these great resources? Become a QC student now!


As any good stylist will tell you that there are certain wardrobe essentials that you should spend a little more money on, and others that you really shouldn’t. Tee shirts are a dime a dozen (and really shouldn’t cost you much more than that), but a good blazer can last a lifetime.

In this series, we’re talking investment pieces – you know, the ones that you can (and should!) spend the extra money on. The blazer is one of the most hard-working items in your closet. Whether you dress it up or dress it down, you’ll look polished, put-together, and oh-so stylish. Instant fashion! Invest in a good blazer, and spend the extra money to get it tailored to fit properly. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.

Not sure what to wear with your fabulous blazer? We styled the same blazer 3 different ways, for 3 very different looks. Take a look at our inspiration boards below!

Look 1 – Blazer + Maxi dress

Pair your blazer with a maxi dressBlazer / Bag / Maxi dress / Lipstick / Sandals

This look is perfect for a cool summer night. I love the highs and lows of the outfit – the super tailored blazer paired with the flowy, boho maxi dress. Top it off with a dramatic red lip for evening, and you’ll be ready for wherever the evening takes you.

Look 2 – Going out in style

Wear a blazer for a chic evening look

Blazer / Pumps / Blouse / Cigarette pants / Hat / Scarf

Funky and fun, this look really plays off your personal style with the use of interesting accessories. It’s the perfect combination of both dressy and fun, meaning it could take you practically anywhere. This outfit is built off simple pieces that you probably already have in your closet – a standard blouse, cigarette pants, and black pumps.

Look 3 – Sunday afternoon

Invest in a good blazerBlazer / Boyfriend jeans / Tee shirt / Shoes / Belt

This look is the definition of Sunday brunch cool. What was once a slouchy tee shirt and boyfriend jeans, with the addition of a smart blazer, is a polished outfit that you can wear with confidence. As always, add your own accessories to personalize the look.

Make sure to check out some more of our stylish creations over on our Polyvore page!