I COULD HAVE BEEN A LIFEGUARD

I could write another tale of the mischief and disorder where Kathyrn and I led a group of 15-20 students from Columbia, South Africa, Canada and other places across the world on a misleading Dundee street tour and pub crawl whilst under the cover of two knowledgable Tour Guides. Naughtily telling tales of ‘Auld Dundee’ and completely convincing them our friend Adam Weaver played heartthrob Menzies Scrotland in Dundee’s very own soap opera ‘Benvie Road Street’. Our façade sounding anything but plausible, we managed to sneakily secure free entry into pubs and clubs for the group, treating them to our inside knowledge of ‘Mine Sweeping’ and flamboyantly finishing the tour by dancing drunkenly to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ whilst boisterously wrestling a brute of a bouncer for our place on the stage…

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But life isn’t just one big party, I have a day job which I work hard at too. I have a career in hairdressing, a career I’ve been working at for 5 years.

I looked around at the competition. This was going to be tough.

I was in Manchester for the Generation Now 2013/14 audition. An opportunity to compete for a place on Wella’s art team described as an effective launch-pad for young professionals who want to to become key players in the competitive hair industry, which also provides an excellent platform for inspirational, up and coming talent. In its third year Gen Now was fast becoming the Team that everyone wanted to be on and now I’d been given the fortuity to make it happen.

I’d always felt a bit of a fraud as a Hair Stylist. Starting late at 24, I only had 4 years experience. A mix of training and little natural ability. What I certainly wasn’t lacking was enthusiasm or determination. Once I set out to do something, I do it right. I blame my dad for that, actually I thank my dad for that. Growing up I was pushed, pulled and chiselled to stay at the top of the game. Actively encouraged to work hard and train hard to the best of my ability. An outlook that has sculpted and crafted my sisters and I into the successful young women we are today. My dad once told me he could get a job as a life guard even though he couldn’t swim, and at a young age I knew instantly that he was enlightening me in the knowledge that with plenty hard work and a bucket load of determination I can do and have anything I want.

My look was inspired by the attitude and movement of late 70s punks, a subculture I’m naturally drawn to through an educated grasp of their passion, outlook and their not-so-silent revolt. A way of life I could subconsciously mirror, shadowing discreetly and applying to my way of life where necessary.

I made my way in front of the judging panel, game face on. I shared with them my inspirations, thoughts and ideas of progression. I gave them numerous reasons why I’d be the perfect candidate for the creative team.

Reflecting back on my year with Gen Now, I had the most amazing opportunities including: A Sassoon creative colour and cutting workshop with Gareth Vance; A fashion photo shoot with Robert Eaton; Session styling master class with Kai Wan; and stage training with Colin McAndrew, all in my intense action-packed boot camp week.

Other events I’ve worked on throughout the year include: A presentation on the fellowship stage at Salon International; Assisting D&J Ambrose and The Hob artistic team backstage at Trend Vision UK Final; Cutting and styling for London Fashion Week with star stylist Gary Gill; An ‘In the Spotlight’ evening at the Wella World Studio, Manchester; Assisting Tom Wright and Jayson Gray whilst launching Instamatic colour at Wella’s internal yearly conference; and finally a presentation evening working alongside Bruno Marc and the 2014/15 Gen Now Team at the Wella World studio London.

An eventful year which has seen me grow dramatically as a stylist, giving me the ability and confidence to grow in skill and demeanour. Allowing me to have faith in my work and to build a positive relationship with clients, colleagues and industry experts. So much so I have been asked to return to London this October to once more assist Gary Gill and Tom Wright at this years Wella Trend Vision, UK and Ireland final, held at The Round House in Camden.

Opportunities in this creative industry are what I look to uphold and since I’ve already built a steady relationship with hairdressing hierarchy, I plan to set my goal even higher. After all it’s hard to beat a person that never gives up.

Long live the VEF and short, back and sides for the Queen.

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THE DAY OF THE VORTEX

I’ve always had too much energy, I was running at 8 months old and I haven’t stopped since.

When one has such energies it can be difficult to channel them in the right way and by the right way I mean staying true to oneself and one’s beliefs. I tried it all, the studying, the part time job,  the family business, my own business, the career, the relationship, the family, the mortgage, the break up, the ‘if this is what everyone else is doing then i’ll do it too’.

Nothing worked.

I was still this relentless ball of hyped up energy that was never pleased, never settled and always wanting or needing more.  After a clean break and a fresh start, back in my home town of Dundee.  I willingly trudged through self help book after self help book. Investing my thoughts into daily teachings or rubbing a thank you stone to grudgingly make myself grateful for what I had become.  I even visited a councillor to shed light on my current situation. Don’t get me wrong I was never unhappy, I have a beautiful daughter, a pretty god damn fantastic family and the best of friends. I am extremely grateful for each one of them.

I wasn’t complete, I was still searching for the sanctuary, where my energies can be utilised and I can find inner peace.

I would often refer back to ‘The Secret Language of Birthdays’ by Gary Goldschneider. Combining astrology, numerology, and pure psychic intuition, The Secret Language of Birthdays is a unique guide that reveals one’s strengths, weaknesses and major issues while providing practical advice and spiritual guidance.

I believed everything in this book and I still do. This book changed everything for me when I first picked it up around four years ago.  This same book plays a part in a night that changed my thoughts, feelings and energy forever.

Boudoir was the meeting point.  Vodka, soda and fresh lime was the drink of choice and Face of Freedom charity event was the topic of conversation.  Two hours previous while Titi was midway through her shift in Boudoir bar and coffeehouse, where she pulled pints in between entertaining punters with songs and chants of modern feminism, stand up comedy and her infamous ‘penis poem’, Kathryn and I were amongst an utterly amazing group of people who had personally been affected by cancer and were giving their free time to rehearse for ‘The Face of Freedom’ catwalk show, a charity fashion show organised by family, friends and staff of hairstylist Irving Miskell-Reid.  Kathryn was taking behind-the-scenes photos whilst I was generating interest through social media.

Titi finished her shift as we finished our drinks and we all noisily marched across the Westport to purchase copious amounts of vodka amongst other paraphernalia for the night ahead. A taxi ride later, we arrived at my flat. It’s difficult to differentiate the start, middle and ending of The Velvet Elvis Foundation meetings so the next few sentences could have happened in any order.

Home made hair salons, shadow fringes, screeching musical theatre in the closey, shooting vodka from espresso cups, jumping on the bed whilst dressing up for photoshoot after photoshoot.

Chrissie Hynde playing in the background. Titi was dressed in a black vintage Dior babydoll, Kathryn in an original floor length Hayley Scanlan gown, whilst I wore Oscar de la Renta and my trusty Dr Marten boots.  Reiki, crystal healing and deep discussions carried us late into the night.  The initial contact was made and a real connection was stimulated, once we in turn read each other’s characteristics through the medium of the birthday book it felt as though there was a shift in alignment and it all started to make sense. A unity was ignited and the spiritual energies of three women were connected from this point forward.  The Velvet Elvis Foundation was born and we were completely convinced that this union could push us all in the direction we had hoped for through creativity and exciting ideas.

We expanded on our small group inviting other members including Hayley Scanlan, Raudhan Scanlan and Ruby Coyne. Eagerly throwing inspiring ideas at each other and creating a stampede of exciting ventures we can all be involved in. A collective combination of Fashion Designers, Artists, Photographer and Hair Stylist, The VEF can offer it all.

‘We have the intellect and the enlightenment of thousands of years under our belt, we have the talent and the innovation, we have the culture and increasingly easy access to cultures out with our own and, of course, we have the people. What’s missing is the Zeitgeist. Do we want TOWIE and Little Mix to define our decade? Do we want to fall into a cultural ‘grey’? The more we bond ourselves to the media and to technology, the more we become no longer individuals, but a nation, and in fact a world that is stuck in a rut.

‘The VEF endeavours to challenge the mind and encourage inner self. It’s time to be rad AND intelligent, it’s time to question our society and transform pop culture. It’s time to revolt.’ – Titi Finlay on The VEF.

A collaboration of individuals with ideals so acutely similar to my own. Understanding, support and most of all acceptance are the initial foundation of The VEF girls. Each bringing a great amount of talent and a huge amount of eagerness. A positive approach to generate a creative spirit and movement. An opportunity to focus my energy into something I enjoy and believe in. I envisage exiting times ahead for The Velvet Elvis Foundation.

Watch this space.

‘I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.’ – Freda Kahlo

Long Live The VEF and Jackson Craigie’s a Queen!

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‘I was born a bitch, I was born a painter’ (Frida Kahlo)

We often look into the eyes of our children and picture their future, grabbing onto an idealistic view of how they should neatly fit into the missing jigsaw piece that society has pre punctured for them.

Ruadhan Scanlan didn’t fit that pre cut mould and by god, aren’t I glad!

Growing up in a household of six women you have no choice but to make yourself heard, to scream at the top of your voice, to let yourself be known. Living in the Scanlan household I often think we screeched a little louder.

For me, Ruadhan can shout the loudest but she does it in the quietest possible way, whispering her points of view and intelligently getting her opinions across. Subtly and stylishly under the pseudo Sunday Grrrl. Ruadhan is anything but counterfeit. This girl is the real deal.

With a wealth of talent and optimistic views, Ruadhan has taken to a project that she hopes can influence her generation into creating a better future for themselves. As an inspiring artist, she has collaborated with two other under 20s in creating a Scottish Pro Independence Zine in the run up to next weeks Indy Ref. The zine will be available at reputable outlets throughout the country and the girls hope to encourage people through the medium of art, poetry and music.

Targeting teens/twenty something’s the composition promises if anything to be fantastically artistic and thought provoking. They are encouraging their peers involvement and are calling all creatives to submit pieces for the zine. I will contribute a poem that I hope will make the final edit and secure a place in a wee piece of Scottish history.

So what gives this antagonist her zeitgeist?

Ruadhan reminds me of a young Patti Smith, defining an era, defining her generation. A youth of today making a stand and fighting a cause. Pulling in the Scottish rampant spirit and using it to create a positive message for the future of our country. A different approach to air views and political opinions, instead of sharing tabloid tales and Braveheart rants which are more often displayed through social media sites. Using art to create impact and making people stop to think. This girl has it all worked out.

‘No man can surpass his own time, for the spirit of his time is also his own spirit.’ (Georg Hegel)

Ruadhan arrives at the Poley Penthouse, after filming a promo for the Yes Fanzine with Son of The Sea photographer, Dylan Drummond. She is casually dressed in a embellished, blue velvet tshirt, with baggy 501’s and navy superga’s. Her hair sits just below the shoulder in her classic, undone style. Her spirits are high and whilst I make Moroccan mint tea, we discuss the progress of the zine. Ruadhan says:

“We’re after anything that can be printed really. So whether you’re an artist, poet, musician, photographer – anything – get involved!”

“The zine is going to come out just before the referendum so theres going to be a lot of information to sieve through”

“We’re hoping to create something that’s refreshing, fun and accessible to everyone”

The Yes Fanzine is set to generate a lot of excitement, it’s a fantastic, light hearted way of getting the Pro Independence message across. Giving the youth a voice and letting them be heard. If you wish to contribute, contact Ruadhan direct at yesfanzine@gmail.com, all applicants will be considered and the girls are looking to keep the content fun and informative.

‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ (Martin Luther King)

Long live the VEF and vote Ruadhan for Queen!

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DUSKY HUSTLERS

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Ganton off Carnaby was the meeting point.

Wine still in the bottle and wrapped in paper was the drink of choice and the plans of the night ahead was the topic of conversation.  The Velvet Elvis Foundation shared their first London vacay together, even though it was certainly short it sure as hell was super sweet.

Panic on the streets of soho, mischief and mayhem at Trafalgar Square, equipped with Jaddery’s SLR and social media documentation well in abundance, the girls were sure not to disappoint friends and followers alike.

Whilst I headed back to 8 Northumberland, the venue for tonight’s event the annual, prestigious Scottish Fashion Awards and our home for the evening, a luxury suite gifted by Daddy Warbucks aka Papa Scanlan.

The remaining VEF girls frolicked fancy free, bombarding VEF enthusiast and encourager, Mr. Mike Press with short films containing predominately drunken interviews under the guise Gill Gillson of BBC Tayside.  Heading back to the VEF Headquarters (Tune Westminster) with Citroen Absolute and numerous cans of  San Pellegrino.  The girls did the only thing that was completely necessary in their current situation, they had a Pants Party and jumped on the bed whilst continuously calling me with random tales of their mild debauchery.

Once dressed in my metallic, mint green, sweetheart cut, midi Hayley Scanlan biker dress we headed down to the red carpet where we were papped alongside Vivienne Westwood, Talia Storm, Amy McDonald, Chris John Millington and David Gandy to name a few. Greeted with champagne and canapés I spent some time chatting to the lovely Christina, The Daydreamer, Alan of Ten30 and Mairi MacDonald as more special guests including, Proudlock (Made in Chelsea) and Pixie Lott arrived. Tru Diamond goody bags adorned the table and Russian Standard Vodka was free flowing, it looked to progress into a right Scottish knees up!

As ever my timing was impeccable, as I sneaked off to freshen up the awards kicked off and of course, The Young Scottish Designer of the Year award was first to be handed out. The title graced my big sister and fellow veffer Hayley Scanlan and she was mid speech on my return.  After Hayley’s emotional and heart felt acceptance where she thanked her friend and co worker Kerrie as well as all our family including my twin nephews Freddie and Oscar. To say I felt pride is an understatement, I was beaming from ear to ear. The ceremony itself was quick and went without a glitch, Laura Whitmore presented with ease and good humour. Other winners included, Jean Campbell as model of the year and Dame Vivienne Westwood who was inducted to the Scottish Hall of Fame for her contribution to fashion with the use of Scottish textiles. In her speech she credited the late Malcolm McLaren and gave opinions on Fracking and The Independent referendum, telling Scotland to go for it and vote YES!

Entertainment came with Pixie Lott taking the stage wearing an amazing pink suede Dusky Hustle biker dress by Young Scottish Designer of the Year 2012/14 Hayley Scanlan.

After the performance I met the rest of the foundation in the hotel bar where we supped our favourite tipple Espresso Martini and did an impromptu photo shoot with a pair of handsome Argentinian photographers (obviously).

Whilst we left the the fashionistas to party at the plush hotel, VEF had another invitation over in Knightsbridge that was too bloody good to turn down! Riotously stomping our way to the tube station, vodka in hand and a trailing a Keith Haring suitcase to boot it.  Tumbling down the station stairs, twerking in the carriage, collapsing in the walkways and a rendition of an Annie mash up were just a few of the frivolities our fellow passengers had to endure. Once we arrived at our destination we of course picked up a rickshaw to take us to the venue door.

Welcomed into Pizza Pomodoro’s by our good friend ex Drifter member Patrick Allan, who was introduced to us by Cirque du Soleil legend, actor, comedian and stunt man Mr Darren Tait aka Dandy Pike.  Pomodoro’s was intimate and dimly lit with an electric atmosphere, diners were entertained by renditions of soul classics by Patrick and friends.  The band were in full swing with a brass section included and the audience were encouraged to dance and sing along between courses.  With a small pizza to share and enough gin to clear a drought, it’s safe to say The Velvet Elvis Foundation were once more the life and soul of the party.  We were lucky enough to meet owner Ciro, who’s style was reminiscent of a Native American vs soft rock star, his venue is a favourite amongst A list celebrities and I fully understand why.

After the set we all tumbled outside, arranging ways to get us back to VEF Headquarters. We met an aloof, quiet gent who kindly helped with my bags and accommodated in taking us home.  We later found out said gent was Hollywood actor John Foo who’s portfolio includes Tekken, Street Fighter and the Batman movies.

A quick pitstop to purchase wine, sweets and a postcard of the queen, refueled we were back in our room and ready for bed. No VEF meeting would be complete without a screening of our favourite musical Annie so it was a quick photo shoot with The Queen then the three of us tucked up to watch Miss Hannigan, quietly chuckling to ourselves at how the night had unfolded.

Long live the VEF and God Sake the Queen!