Staked: Luciana Scarabello, Creative Director. Track & Bliss

22 November 2016

 I came across Track & Bliss a while back and have been counting down the days until this very cool American activewear brand comes over to the UK market. This day is nearly upon us with the brand being stocked via the online multibrand Matches  in December. I caught up with the creative director Luciana to find out more about the story behind the brand and what inspires them to create such stunning silhouettes.

Why did you decide to start Track and Bliss and what do you love about you job? 

Before I started Track & Bliss I used to own a dress line for 7 years. At that time I participated in a reality show in the USA called Fashion Star. The objective of the show was to find the next big name in fashion and the winner was guaranteed a contract with retailers: Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and H&M. This was a dream for me to have such a wonderful opportunity! I ended up putting so much pressure on myself though that I started experiencing a lot of anxiety which lead to constant panic attacks. At that point I decided to step back and focus on myself and getting better. I started practicing yoga, going to the gym, eating healthy, and breathing into each moment. In this process I fell in love with this new lifestyle change that brought me back stability, hope and peace within. 

Being a creative person I couldn't help to notice that a lot of activewear available was lacking some form of special element. Everyone looked the same and I felt that something was missing. I started getting ideas of a more fashion-forward approach  that would still offer functionality in the workout space but look chic, cool and on point to wear in any other space. I developed a small capsule collection consisting of only 7 pieces and launched a Kickstarter campaign to test the product and raise capital for this new endeavour. 

What inspires your designs and what's your ethos behind the brand?

I am constantly looking at what is happening in the world. I get inspired by the trends, colour stories and novelties in high fashion and try to translate that into activewear.  I look at for all sorts of fabrics and find ways to make them work for activewear. The key for me is to try to stay as far away from everything I see in the activewear space in order to create something that is different and unique. 

Describe a day in the life of Luciana ?

Since I wear so many different hats in my business my usual day changes constantly based on what is urgent at the moment. 
For instance my usual day right before presenting a new collection to the buyer is pretty intense. Wake up at 6 A.M and design, create patterns and samples till I get the style where it needs to be. I finish this process around 2 A.M. Wake up the next day and do it all over again. This is crunch time for me and I try to not get distracted from anything except getting the collection ready. 
I also travel a lot to the manufacturing sites to make sure that the production is on point. I might spend anywhere from 1 week to 1 month there to go over details, explain and show sewing technique or specification that the product needs. I learned that communication is key and one can never assume that people are going to understand our standards because they are evident to us. It is crucial to get your point of view across loud and clear to avoid quality problems in production.

On a regular basis I also have to attend to clients, sales, logistics and PR and pay close attention to all these different aspects of the business that require attention. 

Where do you sweat and what's your favourite form of fitness?

I try to get a workout in 3-4 times a week. I cant workout by myself and I really like group fitness classes! I'm a member at Equinox and my favourite classes there are Barre and Dance. I also do Pilates, Bootcamp and weight training. The key for me is to mix up my workouts to keep it interesting. I really enjoy my time working out and I think that is the most important thing, to find an activity you love that keeps you coming back to the gym.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a brand? 

I think the smartest advice I can give to someone wanting to start a brand is first and foremost to have a clear picture of what their brand will be and what its going to stand for. Start small and set achievable goals that take your business further. At this point you will learn a lot of what works, what doesn't work and learn from your mistakes. Anything is achievable but it takes a lot of hard work and determination and having a lot of guts to fight through the challenges. 
Since I was a little girls my father used to always say to me: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". I guess that phrase really sums it up.

Five items you can't live without? 

1- Track & Bliss Leggings
2- My cellphone
3- Music
4- Coffe
5- Sewing machines!

Stalked: Natalie Finnie. Ashtanga Yoga Girl, Yogi Blogger

16 November 2016

I would firstly like to clarify that when I call The Ashtanga Girl a yoga blogger I am using the term 'blogger' very loosely, although she records her journey on her blog I would call the gorgeous Natalie a yoga explorer more than anything. I stumbled across her one morning on the bus from my yoga class and I was struck down with how stunning and inspirational her photography was, so there was only one thing to do.. stalk her!!

How did you get into yoga and how has it changed your life?

When I was at university my housemate was really into yoga and she dragged me along to a class. I had no interest in yoga at the time, I was more of a HIIT and spinning kind of person, but after that one class I was hooked!

It was the intense physical workout of Ashtanga yoga that drew me in at first. I wanted the challenge of mastering such an impressive set of postures. Like so many yogis, I had no idea that what started as a physical practice would turn out to be the beginning of a spiritual journey that would completely shift my perspective of the world.

Yoga has led me to become the healthiest version of myself in every way, from overcoming anxiety and depression, to building physical strength and endurance. I used to struggle with bad eating habits too, but with consistent practice of the ethics of yoga (yamas and niyamas) and meditation, I now find that I only ever want to nourish and fuel my body rather than punish it.

Friday Night Flow In The Dark

12 November 2016

Some of my regular readers may remember a few weeks ago I interviewed the lovely Kelly Brooks who has taken traditional yoga and shaken it up a bit but without changing the practice itself. Last night I attended one of her events that showed exactly how she's bringing yoga to the city without so much of the spiritual side which is not for everyone, think chapel, dark room, ultra violet lights and face paint ! Flow In The Dark which was organised by The Wellscene is vinyasa flow by Kelly Brooks and was the best night ever!!

Stalked: Ashley Yeater, Founder of DEFINE

7 November 2016

After trying for about 3 weeks to snag a place at one of the incredible 'DEFINE' classes that a few of my colleagues were talking about at work, as reservations opened at 12pm, 7 days before the class, I finally struck gold.. boom, I was in! After congratulating myself with a matcha latte I then thought, hell why not stalk the amazing lady behind these sought-after classes ... and so I did!! Please may I introduce you to the gorgeous Ashley Yeater, an ex broadway dancer with an incredible story of how she got to where she is today.

I caught up with her after the DEFINE class (which was well worth the wait!) for a chat about her journey.

For anyone who hasn't heard of your fabulous class, DEFINE, what is it and why did you start it? 

I launched DEFINE in London in February 2016. It has been my passion project for quite some time. Last year I had my first big injury in a Broadway show. A jump split I did 8 shows a week blew out my ACL. The rehab for my knee was beyond intense but taught me so much. Through my years of teaching fitness in NYC I incorporated what I already knew with my physical therapy routines. The launch of the "Hurts so Good" DEFINE was created. As of now DEFINE has 10 different class concepts under its umbrella. The two main classes that have been launched in London are the Mixed Level barre class and the Mat "Booty Burn" Define class. We are currently scouting for our permanent DEFINE location so we can launch all classes and our fab DEFINE clients can get the consistent burn in all of our killer classes. 

What is DEFINE...

DEFINE is here to help you achieve a strong, lean, sculpted body through an evolving mix of fitness exercises. DEFINE uses cardio infused sequences throughout class to keep your metabolic rate up. While we stick to a formatted class no workout is alike because we change up the choreography every class to keep your muscles guessing. DEFINE is designed for all fitness levels. As long as you have a positive attitude, we promise to give you that burn and shake that leaves you wanting more. Our focus on alignment and strength results in better DEFINE posture, better DEFINE movement, and most importantly a better DEFINE YOU. 

What was the highlight when you were a Broadway dancer? 

Performing on Broadway was a magical 16 years. I've had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing talents in the world. Each show I have performed in was special to me and helped me grow as a person. My greatest highlight happened last year while I was performing in the Broadway show Gigi, starring Vanessa Hudgens. It was my last performance with the company, as I was leaving due to my knee injury. We were at curtain call and Vanessa gave a "curtain speech" because it was Mother's Day. She then went on to say "We have a surprise for one of our family members". Out walks Rikki (my partner) and he pulls me downstage. In front of 1600 audience members he got down on one knee and asked for my hand in marriage. Naturally I ripped my costume glove off my left hand to extend forward and said YES!!!! :) It was the most EPIC highlight of my Broadway career and my life. It took him 6 weeks to plan it and the entire cast, crew, and our families were involved. When the lights came up on the audience, not only were our parents there but our dear friends too. It was beyond special.  

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a career in dance or fitness? 

The past couple of years I travelled around the US and taught Broadway workshops to up and coming talent. It was so inspiring to see the love the kids feel for Broadway and performing. The million dollar question I always got at the talk backs was "Any advice for making it on Broadway". My response... Make sure you have a loving and supportive network of family and friends. Broadway is not all glitz and glamour. To make it you have to endure crazy auditions with countless callbacks to sometimes not get the job. There are more doors slammed in your face then there are open ones and you have to have thick skin and the right support to handle it. 

I approach creating and launching DEFINE in London like auditioning for a Broadway show. I'm not always going to get every collaboration or studio rental, but it doesn't stop me from pushing and promoting. When there is a passion and heart you fight for it. Well my fighting gloves are on and I am beyond passionate for building DEFINE into the best brand it can be.

 Ashley's incredible energy bounces round the room like a ping pong ball and what is even better is that EVERY single person in the room is always smiling!! 

Where do you sweat, shop and eat in London? 

I love taking class!!! I get my sweat on at all the gyms across London. I think its important to support all the fitness brands out there. 

Shopping, oh dear, don't get me started:) Fashion in the fitness world is now on an entire new level. My fitness wardrobe definitely outranks my everyday casual collection. I love brands like Lorna Jane, Sweaty Betty, ILU, Splits59, Lululemon.... the list can keep going because I shop everywhere!! I shop for fitness gear that will have me feeling strong and confident. I'm a believer in dressing the part. Feel sassy and fearless in your workout wear and you will feel the same when you smash your workout!

I have been eating my way across London since moving here. I love food!!! Some fun favourite spots are Duck and Waffle, Bunga Bunga (silly), Novikov, the pub around the corner from my house, Chicken Shop (also around the corner from me). I am still in search of the best burrito in London. Wahaca is so far the closest but nothing so far compares to fab Mexican food in the states. 

Describe a day in the life of Ashley? 

My day typically starts at 6am. We have two little dogs that push at the side of the bed and cry for food no later than 6am.... Lucky Us!!! My days are filled with DEFINE and I couldn't be happier about it. I am the epitome of a  New York City "HUSTLER". If I'm not teaching I am trying to figure out where I can and who I can connect with in the fitness industry here in London. I have such a passion for my business that it fuels me every day to get it out there. My motto "Do what you Love, and Love what you do" 

Five items you can't live without? 

Cheese.... I can't quit you!!!!

Olay moisturiser... I've used this my entire life! So far no Botox because of the Olay moisturiser miracle:) 

Cell Phone... My husband would love to throw my cell phone out the window. GUILTY!!!!! I'm always on my cellphone and YES, I have been injured from being on it. Earlier this year I walked into a steel door that was open on the back of a truck and gave myself a nice black eye... OOPS!! 

My Nike trainers... My husband prefers me in a high heel;) 

Black winter hat.... I got this hat when I was 14 and I've never stopped wearing it each winter season.
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