Friday, 17 March 2017

Entrepreneur: Ape to Gentleman's Chris Beastall

There are certain people who when you are in contact with them, they exude graciousness and get-up-and-go, Chris Beastall is one. He's on a mission to get other men educated in all things grooming and lifestyle. I got to chat with him...
  1. What is the name and nature of your business?
Ape to Gentleman - an online men's grooming, fashion and lifestyle magazine helping the modern man continue his evolution through a focus on style, quality and value.

  1. How did you come up it?
It came from the desire to talk about men’s grooming in more detail - which was an emerging market. It’s since grown to encompass all things men’s lifestyle.

  1. What’s the structure of your business?
We have a small team at HQ, and a team of expert freelancers around the UK - who have strong knowledge in each of their sectors.
  1. What’s the USP of your business?
Men’s lifestyle features and brands through our own unique eye.

  1. What made you choose this type of business?
From a feeling there was a gap in the market to do something unique in the men’s online space - adhering to our target man and his values.

  1. How did you fund your business?
Self-funded entirely, with some investment from family.

  1. What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
As Editor - I’m in charge of overseeing the advertising, editorial schedule and managing our team.

  1. Where are you based and why there?
Based in Derbyshire, in the UK. It’s where I was born, and enjoy the Peak District and its fresh air. We all travel a lot so its handy for Manchester and Birmingham airport, and also just a short hour or so train ride to central London.

  1. What was the underlying mission for the business when you created it?
To help men - to educate them and make better decisions in their buying process. To make sure we feature what is best, and not just who has the biggest advertising budget.

  1. What do you think has been key to your success?
An honest approach, and providing useful information.

  1. Do you have staff or do you run the business alone?
We have myself and two full-time staff plus a small team of expert freelancers.

  1. And if you do, what do you look for in an employee/contributor?
Somebody who has love for what we are achieving at Ape - the brand and its values. And of course an in-depth knowledge of their field with an ability to convey it with beautiful words.

  1. How do you promote your business and its products/services - ie traditionally, via social media?
Social media, organic SEO traffic and our email newsletter.

  1. What are your future goals for the company?
To boost traffic with much more quality content and further cement our reputation as the go to for brands wishing to reach their target market - our beloved audience.
  1. If you had one piece of advice for a fellow entrepreneur, what would it be?
Find something you love doing, apply a business model to it and work like there’s no tomorrow.

You can check out Chris's site here

Monday, 6 February 2017


I hope your first month of 2017 went well and you are working to reach your goals for the year ahead...


Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Autumn always feels like a time for evaluation. Evaluating how you feel about yourself and how the year has progressed. Are you happy with how the months have evolved, your character; your interaction with friends; family; acquaintances; colleagues; lovers; enemies :)

Autumn is a beauty x

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Music Review: Corinne Bailey Rae - The Heart Speaks in Whispers

I've been a fan of Grammy-winning Corinne Bailey Rae since her debut Like a Star - not so much Put Your Records On which was her biggest hit - so was really excited to hear she was releasing a new album. The Heart Speaks in Whispers is her third album, following her eponymous first album and the heartbreaking The Sea which was written in the midst of grief. 

I couldn't helped but be moved by the upbeat tone of the new album - there's a hint of Prince's Little Red Corvette or Raspberry Beret in Horse Print Dress. The kaleidoscope of emotions and tempo is Taken by Dreams moves me. There's an undertone of soul throughout the album with a host of different genres - funk rock, pop, jazz, lo-fi. There's a theme of the outer space and cosmos in and out of the album too.

In terms of collaborations it's exciting to see that the sister ladies from King (Amber Strother and Paris Strother) feature in the vocals.

No song immediately grabs me like Choux Pastry Heart, Enchantment or I Would Like to Call It Beauty but it's great to hear her sweet soulful vocals in a new body of work that sits cohesively as an album.

Tracks - 1, 4, 10

On another note, I read Corinne's thoughts on happiness on Garance Dore's site and it is so beautiful:

'On happiness…
I feel like it’s so easy for us to hold happiness away from ourselves, so you say “when I get that great job I’ll be happy” or “when I get a partner I’ll be happy.” You make all these provisos in your mind about what happiness looks like for you. But I love the idea of ritualizing and celebrating the moment, not waiting for everything to be perfect, just do it! Don’t think, “oh when I get a new kitchen I’ll have my friends around for dinner,” just be there! In the mess, in the chaos, in the pain, that is life. If you’re waiting for your life to be perfect, you’ll never arrive at that point.'

Friday, 20 May 2016

Latest commission

My workmate @ezim_amaka asked me to do a portrait for her in her lovely native outfit. All done - and she's happy with!

Monday, 15 February 2016

"Social" social media - ramblings

Today I got a blasting on Twitter - and rightly so. I corrected someone's tweet with a workable link with the best of intentions but I realise it came across as patronising and inappropriate - especially as the tweeter was in the midst of a debate with someone who was trolling them. I apologised, deleted the tweet and was on my way, learning a valuable lesson that social media is not to be dealt with flippantly, people's thoughts and feelings are on the line.

Social media brings out the best of us and worst of us at times. It reveals what we want it to reveal - and what we we don't - whether we like it or not.

It brings a feeling of false familiarity which to a non-social media user can seem almost perverse and surprising - and so it should, a person who has decided to share some facets of their life doesn't make the reader of it their friend. And that is where the said reader needs to understand that.

Indeed over time, allyships and friendships may be formed - but where do we learn that? How do we know that? Who out of both parties has the right to declare it a friendship? Sometimes it may feel like a club, a clique, a high-school-like society - but who sets the membership criteria?

YouTubers, singers, actors, famous-for-famous-sake celebrities may call their "fans" their "friends" but there needs to be a clear distinction - a lot of the time these people would not invite you or I for a drink or bite to eat if they saw us in the street. Some people have made social media their business/livelihood and the illusion of friendship their key commodity, time will tell how that pans out.

In the UK (and US I think) today two celebrities Stephen Fry and Kanye West have been lambasted and defended in equal measures for their rants, exits and thoughts on social media. One has decided to drop themselves out. To some, social media can be a pain. It has, some people argue (including Stephen Fry) become more of a battleground than a sanctuary for expressing thoughts and feelings on personal issues or observations on societal traits. For others it has become a way of emboldening and empowering in the midst of discovery and kinship.

I still think social media can bring out the best in us, I've come across beautiful artwork, blogs with words that dance on the page leaving you feeling giddy with excitement that this is the era in which you're alive - and places where people have had the courage to share with you their pains and problems, somehow leaving you with a sense of togetherness that your problem can be shared too.

Social media is evolving - and the definition of social continues to be blurred. Whether it's done with reckless abandon or careful self-examination, in the end, we all seek that sense of understanding - and love.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Joy: A Review

Pic of Jennifer Lawrence as drawn by Ebunola Adenipekun 

Happy New Year folks! And in the spirit of the season of giving, the cinema gods decided to impart a Jennifer Lawrence-led film on New Year's Day (or Christmas Day in the US) to the world and they named it Joy *Joy to the world, geddit?*. It's a rags-to-riches film inspired by the real-life events of the eponymous Joy Mangano who created, amongst other products, the miracle mop which sold record numbers on the shopping channel QVC and led her to becoming one very rich woman. That is the crux of the story.

I love an ensemble film and/or drama with a strong lead and support. It's reminiscent of 90s dramas such as My So Called Life or The Gilmore Girls with manic performances. Joy is a bastion of sanity holding the family together in a family of eccentrics - the mother who stays in her room watching soaps (played hilariously by Virginia Madsen); the hard-working but slightly unhinged father deftly acted by Robert De Niro, loving grandmother Mimi portrayed by Diane Ladd, the handsome Édgar Ramírez playing Joy's ex Anthony who lives in her basement, her semi-villainous half-sister Peggy played by Elisabeth Röhm; her father's new love interest, and Joy's eventual investor of the aforementioned mop, Trudy played by Isabella Rossellini and best friend Jackie acted by Dascha Polanco. It also brings about the oft-employed pairing of Bradley Cooper (as the man who takes a punt on her as QVC executive) and Lawrence, but don't be fooled or disappointed, he plays just a little more than a bit part (and distributors should be questioned by trade descriptions for that triple billing of Lawrence, De Niro and Cooper on billboards but it's obviously to bring the punters in).

There aren't many twists and turns in this movie, you just wonder how the director will eke out the inevitable conclusion of Joy becoming really wealthy despite some painful circumstances and some awful people. You get the impression the Director David O Russell wasn't so bothered about the destination, moreso the journey and that's a little unsatisfying, but meh, it's not a documentary so just if you go to watch the movie have that in mind.

I wanted to watch the film because it was about hope, determination and a dream (not so much, joy) and wanted to see how it would all pan out. It is an inspiring movie.

Many critics have commented on how she looks too young and beautiful to play this role. Lol, that wasn't a problem at all. What I give Jennifer props for is that in every film I have seen her in she seems to commit (not that I've seen a whole lot) putting her absolute all into the role, so I say enjoy (no pun intended) the film for what it is.

(3 and 3/4 stars out of 5)

Have you seen Joy? What do make of it?