After our mini #itwbnBloggerEvent at 56 Central in Galway two weeks ago, I was ready for the main event! With our last [big] event being waaaay back in May [we had a mini cocktail event at the Harbour Hotel just before summer!] both Sinéad and I were more than ready for our next event. All summer we had been plotting and planning the Afternoon Tea at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel with special guest speaker Erika Fox / Retro Flame.
For me, the day was a testament to how amazing Irish Bloggers are and how much of a dent in the blogging world they really are making.
I remember chatting with Erika about three years ago while she was studying in NUI Galway. We met for coffee and I decided I was going to shoot some looks with her for her Lookbook.nu account (remember Lookbook?!). Erika had said she would like to start a blog but had all the same concerns and insecurities as we all do before we start blogging; ‘Will people like the blog?’, ‘Will I just look silly for doing it’ and ‘Will I be able to commit?’ etc. Personally, I tend not to listen to those little doubting voices, Im a pusher for sure! I just knew that Erika would be amazing at blogging at that she had a very unique style and outlook to share with the world. So, we went ahead and set up Retro Flame and thats where it started.
What happened next, I knew would. The blog took off, people just could not get enough of this vintage styled, red haired beauty! Brands started to contact Erika and really wanted to work with her. Retro Flame was really getting noticed, Erika was working it! Since then, Erika has worked with some of the best known brands and companies in the world such as Asos, Reiss, Warehouse, H&M, French Connection, Bare Minerals, River Island, Rebecca Minkoff and has been featured in a wide range of national and international publications including Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Stellar, Image and The Sunday Times STYLE Magazine. We just knew we wanted to welcome her back to the west in style!
So, we decided for this event we do gets another spin on the popular #itwbnBloggerEvent, Afternoon Tea With Retro Flame was born! We picked the lavish, 5-star Glenlo Abbey Hotel to host this event having held our second ever #itwbnBloggerEvent there last year!! With its special old world, countryside-chic charm we knew that it would suit both Erika and our bloggers to perfection!
The Abbey itself is a graceful gothic 18th Century Abbey located just 10 minutes from Galway city centre, it offers 5-star luxury accommodation, free parking, a golf course, and views of Lough Corrib and the dramatic West of Ireland landscape. The ideal location for exploring Connemara and the West of Ireland – set mid-way off the famous Wild Atlantic Way.
On the day, we took our places at beautiful tables in the opulent Ffrench Room, it was spectacular! The place settings, the flowers, the china tea sets and the beautiful decor were absolutely stunning. Each person is seated at a particular table – this events theme was fashion houses, so you were sitting at Coco Chanel or Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen or Ralph Lauren. Once bloggers found their tables, their ITWBN signature goodie bag was awaiting them along with their personalised name badge. The goodie bags were filled to the brim with goodie from companies who just LOVE bloggers! There was Butlers Chocolate, Rimmel makeup, Wet’n’Wild Cosmetics, Physicians Formula makeup, Propercorn, Beverly Hills Formula toothpaste and brushes, Sally Hansen nail polish, Solaris Tea, Holos Skincare, vouchers from Quay Dental Galway and much more!
We were thrilled to have the wonderful Catriona from Solaris Tea with us for this event too! Solaris Tea, a family run business of Joerg and Karin Mueller, specialise in the blending and preparation of International Award winning Whole-Leaf Organic Teas. Having Catriona there was such a treat! To have someone so passionate about her job and about tea was so inspiring! She personally saw that everyone got exactly the right flavour and blend of Solaris Tea to suit them and made sure that everyone had a hot cup in front of them throughout the day!
The Glenlo Abbey then started to serve the most beautiful Afternoon Tea Treats I think Ive eve seen! To start, there was delicious finger sandwiches of various yummy fillings and homemade scones with jam and fresh cream which were perfectly presented on silver trays with napkins. They were followed by a plethora of the most beautiful, photogenic desserts ever! Lemon & Poppyseed Cake, Carrot Cake with Orange & Cream Cheese Frosting, which was so perfectly moist and crumbly as well as Guinness Cake with Baileys Buttercream and Rosewater & Raspberry Macaroons!! There was Salted Caramel & Popcorn Macaroons which were a huge hit with everyone for sure and for fun, good ol’ Gingerbread Men and yummy, sweet Snow-cone cupcakes. Heaven!
So, with bellies full and content and everyone on a little bit of a sugar high, Erika took centre stage. She spoke to us all about her journey from studying commerce & fashion in Galway to moving to New York and working with huge fashion houses & brands. She spoke about her stint working side by side with Oliva Palermo and now her new job working with well know US brand Vince Camuto.
I think the most frequent thing I heard our of peoples mouths and general consensus after Erika’s presentation was ‘Down To Earth‘. Every last person said it to me, she is just so lovely and approachable and most of all, chatty! Everyone had questions and we had a good 40 mins chat with her after her talk. Then of course, the next two hours were spent taking photos, chatting to bloggers, lots of bloggers meeting for the first time and lots of connections being made!
We had some wonderful exhibitors with us on the day too! Wendy, Aylisha & Emily from iNailz were with us from Dublin. These girls are the ultimate blogger friendly brand and we always love having them down to our events! They had even made me a set of printed iNailz with our ITWBN logo on them!! I died!! They also had their brand new range of girlie portable power packs for charing phones! in their cute ‘Lipstick’ and ‘Makeup Compact’ shapes, they were snapped up on the day!
Next we had Dawn from St.Moriz tan over from Manchester and her wonderful assistant Berverly too! St. Moriz is celebrating 5 years in Ireland this year and really proves to be a high hit with the bloggers here. Dawn was on hand to chat to the bloggers and make some solid connections with everyone as well.
From Design House Barna, we had the wonderful Edel Healy, who is also a blogger in ITWBN, she blogs at A Dash Of Lime. She was joined by her collouge Fionuala and they had some wonderful pieces from the boutique in Barna, Galway. Edel was introducing us to some of the great and very affordable brands they stock out in Design House Barna and we just loved having them there with us on the day.
As the day wound down, I actually couldn’t believe that at this event (over a lot of the other events) I actually sat down and managed to have tea and cake this time as did our wonderful team!!
On hand on the day was the amazing Galway based Photographer Julia and Videographer Kenny of Wonderfulife Productions. Both Julia and Kenny are responsible for most of our beautiful photos on our site and the stunning promo video which was filmed at our 1st Birthday back in May! I cant describe what its like to be able to boast these two creative geniuses as my best friends, they are incredible and they continue to impress and wow me everyday. Sinead and I are so grateful for the work they do with ITWBN and the amazing work they do at #itwbnBloggerEvent! Julia is also such an awesome Fashion and Lifestyle blogger at Love Joules who you have to check out (I might be bias, but she is my bestie!!)
I am also extremely grateful to the rest of the team which make it all manageable! Our wonderful ITWBN cheerleader, Ruth of the Beauty Kemple blog and our main man Kieren of Fear Nua blog too! We would be lost without these two babes helping us out. The Gleno staff, Vicky, Cathryn & Denise as well as the seriously professional servers were an absolute delight to work with again. They made everything so very easy for us and there was no panicking to be seen with Cathryn at the helm! She had everything running smoothly all day. Amazing!!
Of course, the final thank you goes out to the bloggers! What an amazing new bunch of people we have blogging in Ireland! I just LOVED meeting and chatting with every single one of you! From artists, fashion bloggers, beauty bloggers, lifestyle & parenting and foodie bloggers we are delighted to see such a range of genres in Irish Blogging! Im so thrilled that you all came along to the Retro Flame event and that I got to meet and chat with all of you! You are the reason Into The West Blogger Network is here – without you all it just wouldnt be.
So, to end, as always we retired to the bar area for a glass of wine and some blogger chats with the ITWBN family. Its always lovely to sit and chat with everyone afterwards and raise a little toast to day well spent! This is always a great way for us to get chatting to the girls too. Thanks for staying girls, ye know who ye are! x