It’s pretty fair to say I’m a Lulu Guinness fan. My diary is Lulu Guinness and is nestled in a Lulu Guinness Moon Face bag next to my passport, which has a Lulu Guinness cover, my Lulu Guinness umbrella and my iPhone – which is safely ensconced in a Lulu Guinness Doll case. (Sadly, though, I picked up one for an iPhone 6, rather than an iPhone 7, and had to attack the camera hole to make it fit properly. The perils of going shopping when you live miles from the shop!)
Lulu Guinness has a chic playful style that I adore – grown-up fun that is suitable for women of any age. It’s helped by the fact Lulu herself is 59 and eschews trends in favour of following your own style.
“My mission in life through my brand is to cheer women up,” she once told Image magazine. “Give them a moment of humour when maybe they’re going through a difficult time and to feel pretty and feminine.”
What does Smart Works do?
If you haven’t heard of them, Smart Works is a brilliant charity that helps more than 1,800 women a year in its London sites. It’s so good, in fact, that Meghan Markle, aka the Duchess of Sussex, chose it as one of her first patronages.
You’ll know from my piece on ALICAS, which helps domestic abuse survivors, how important clothes can be to making women feel ready to take on the world. Well, Smart Works takes this to the next level. It helps victims of domestic abuse, as well as homeless and former prisoners, dress for interviews.
They also provide styling advice and interview tips so the women are confident and assured – or as confident and assured as you can be for an interview!
I also love that it’s not just London based. There are sites across the UK, including my beloved Newcastle and Edinburgh, as well as Birmingham, Reading and Manchester.
Lulu and Bobbi link-up
Lulu and Bobbi – yes, I’m call them by their first names! – have teamed up to create a too-cute-for-words limited-edition make-up bag. It features the classic Lulu Guinness Lip Confetti print and a classic red-lip zip puller so it’ll look sleek and stylish on your dressing table.
But that’s not all you get. Inside the bag is Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara and an Art Stick in Bare, a beautiful shade that suits all skin tones. It retails for £35, which all – bar the VAT – goes to Smart Works.
A successful businesswoman running a company with a strong female workforce, Lulu says she felt a real personal connection with the charity.
“I know [women] can overcome anything when we feel good in ourselves and positive,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see that Smart Works are helping women feel this way.
“The values of the charity are what I hold true to myself and my brand – to empower, give confidence and inspire positivity in women.”
Pretty Powerful is a pretty amazing campaign. It’s been running for seven years and has raised more than £250,000 for Smart Works. That means they’ve been able to open six more centres across the UK, helping loads more women. Incredibly, 60 per cent of the women Smart Works helps go on to get a job.
To paraphrase Larry David, that’s not just pretty good. It’s “Pretty pretty pretty good.”
Smart Works chief Kate Stephens says: “The Pretty Powerful campaign has been part of the Smart Works story since we launched in 2013 and a crucial factor in enabling us to help more women.
“Both have shared the belief in that when a woman looks and feels her best, she can achieve anything. Over the last five years, the campaign has allowed us to do just that, raising over £250,000 to allow women in need to reconnect to the best version of herself, succeed at her job interview and transform her life.”
How does Smart Work help?
Smart Works gives its clients a personalised styling session with two volunteer stylists. They then receive a complete outfit of high-quality clothes and accessories for their specific job interview, right down to tights. Even better, the clothes are free and hers to keep, so she’ll always have an amazing outfit to give her confidence.
After they’ve found the right clothes, the women each get a one-to-one coaching session with an experienced HR professional or senior manager on how to prepare for their interview. Together, they look at the woman’s strengths, help her answering questions more effectively and understand what she is expected to do in an interview.
If she gets the job, she then gets another five outfits so she doesn’t have to worry about what to wear until her first pay cheque comes through.
I have to admit, I had never given this aspect of getting a job a thought, but it is quite genius. I mean, how are you supposed to look good at work if you can’t afford suitable clothing? Well done, Smart Works. I can see why Meghan was impressed.
One of Smart Works’s clients, Tina, says her confidence was at an “all-time low” when she was referred to the charity.
“I had no smart clothes to wear for interviews,” she says.“The dressers at Smart Works made me look super sharp. They were so kind and friendly. They knew how to dress me and gave me lots of styling advice. They really were experts.”
Together with the interview training, it worked – Tina was offered a job as a catering assistant the very next month.
“Everyone at Smart Works made me feel worthy,” she adds. “They really built up my confidence.”
How you can help?
As well as treating yourself to the Bobbi Brown x Lulu Guinness make-up bag, there are many ways you can help Smart Works.
You could run a clothing or accessories drive in your company, where colleagues donate high-quality products suitable for interviews or you can donate clothes yourself. Or you could volunteer and help style clients or give interview tips, or make sure the clothes are clean and looked after in the storerooms, or help with admin.
Or – and the one I’m most excited about – you can go shopping at the Smart Works designer sale. As well as top-end names, they also feature vintage, samples and high street brands so there’s something for everyone.
It obviously works – last year, more than 600 shoppers helped raised an incredible £70,000.
I’m getting my elbows sharpened especially.
Bobbi Brown x Lulu Guinness Pretty Powerful collection, £35, available from Bobbi Brown or Lulu Guinness online or at Lulu Guinness St Christopher’s Place store, London, and Bobbi Brown stores and retailers across the UK
What do you think about the collaboration? Let me know in the comments below…
Main image: Michaela Tornoritis
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