#inthespotlight @Malcolm Gauci

Fashion is not my cup of tea. Those who know me best, know this only too well. Still, that doesn’t mean that I don’t follow at all. I do have a couple of friends who are stylists; one of whom has been trying to take me on a shopping spree for months now (you know who you are).

I got in touch with someone whose social media accounts are consistently active and who does not shy away from the camera.

My second guest interview this year is with the greatly talented @Malcolm Gauci.

  • Award-winning fashion stylist
  • Style Influencer

 

While scrolling through his Instagram feed I couldn’t help but wonder how he manages to do what he does. I have known Malcolm for a while now; so we met over a coffee to talk about his world (pre-COVID-19).

Care to tell me more about what you do and how it all started?

I started out as a freelance photo model. There, I learned more about styling and met up with people from the fashion industry. I’ve always been passionate about styling; I guess you can say it comes naturally to me. Still, it’s not something that happened overnight. It takes a lot of hard work. Plus, a lot of people believed in me – and that gives you quite the boost.

At first, I wanted to have a space where I could interact with people and show my work. It’s how I started out on Instagram. Over time, I wanted to show more than just my styling work; I wanted to show them who I am, what I personally wear and connect with my followers even more.

Favourite social media platform?

Instagram. It connects you to a whole world of other people. You can easily find your niche there and can interact very easily.

I personally think that being online all the time can be a bit exhausting. Do you ever feel the need for a digital detox?

Having a full-time job that is completely different from styling and the social media world – that alone is detox enough.  Truth be told, I am sucked into the digital world. Apart from sharing relevant content with my followers, I also love documenting random things.

What does the future of influencer marketing look like in your eyes?

I think that over time, brands will reach out to the less- famous. This is already a thing; they’re called micro-influencers. And, I think having the everyday person as an “ambassador” will be the way forward.

Quick advice you would give someone just starting out? 

Stay true to yourself. If you’re not comfortable doing something that you do not believe in, then don’t do it.

Ok, super quick questions that have nothing to do with anything above. Just for the fun of it. 

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Favourite film?

I would have a favourite if I actually made it through the whole film

Would you rather read minds or the future?

The future

One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?

Be part of Gucci’s creative team

Who or what inspires you?

There isn’t just one thing. I get inspired by random things I come across along the way

Go follow!

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My not-so-typical workdays

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I see this question on my friends’ expressive faces whenever the topic of work arises. What does a day in my life look like? Well. It depends on which day because every single day is different.

Saturday, I spent most of the day planning work, creating content for social media (client work) and following online courses to stay updated and to further broaden my knowledge. Yesterday was slightly toned down. I started out with a hearty breakfast in Sliema, which was cut short thanks to Nina’s incessant barking (currently undergoing training). The morning transitioned into quite a ‘lazy’ afternoon of conversations, coffees, baking, creating lists (always) and writing.

A lot of people don’t really get what it is that I do. I saw the confused look on my aunt’s face a couple weeks ago; she was still trying to wrap her head around the idea of not having a salaried job. Just this month, it also happened with my friends. I have explained to them time and again what my work involves. One of them simply stared blankly at me and said, “You’re our Chandler.” If you haven’t watched FRIENDS, that comment is lost on you, as it was on me. Apparently, it means something along the lines of, “What you do remains a mystery.”

Let’s unravel this ‘mystery’ once and for all:

1. Content and creative writing

This is my absolute favourite. I love creating content from scratch; be it scripts for radio ads, TVCs, newsletters, newspaper articles, blog posts, website content or copy for social media. Storytelling has seen me through my toughest years and keeps the imaginative little child within, alive.

2. Social Media Management

Through my love for words, media, and communications, I found my passion for social media marketing. To date, I have helped businesses and individuals create and maintain their online presence on multiple social media platforms.

There is a misconception that I would like to address.  Some people think that taking care of, say, a business Facebook page is something that anyone can do. All you have to do is publish or share a post, right? Well, not quite. There’s so much more to take into consideration than just that. And this is exactly why the work of professional social media managers goes unappreciated.

Let’s put you in the picture for a second. These are some of the things I work on:

  • Planning & creating eye-catching graphics
  • Creating the right copy in the correct tone of voice for the right audience
  • Planning and creating targeted adverts and campaigns
  • Close & constant monitoring of accounts, comments & incoming messages
  • Creating monthly & quarterly reports

The list goes on. I’m writing a separate blog post on must-have skills for social media management to help anyone interested in learning get started.

3. Consultation

Through my coaching experience on digital marketing in collaboration with the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), I realised that helping small businesses and self-employed individuals who are willing to learn and expand their knowledge, is something I love doing. I have helped individuals understand the works of email marketing, mobile marketing and social media, in particular. Seeing them succeed gives me the boost I need to keep going.

It’s exciting to work on multiple projects and meet different people every week. It keeps me on my toes. One thing I’m sure of about my work is that it never gets boring. Hectic, yes. Crazy, maybe. But never boring.

Amanda x

#nointernet #canyousurvive?

byamandalia

I did. Survive 10 days without internet, that is. But even so. It doesn’t mean that it was easy. And, come to think of it, it shouldn’t have been difficult either, right?

 

giphy

Remember Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs?☝️☝️ It starts from the bottom level with what we need the most in order to survive; physical needs such as food, air, water and shelter.

However, some wonder whether we should add internet to this list as well. Should we though?

During our stay in Cuba, we went for 10 whole days without any internet access whatsoever. It was amazing to be truly offline and present.

You know how even during lunch or dinner with friends, family or colleagues, everyone is on their smartphones?  We’re either taking a picture of the food, browsing through Facebook, sharing a story on Instagram or checking the latest football score. To mention but a few.

But without smartphones getting in our way, we enjoyed long conversations and debates, and to pass the time in the evenings, even ended up playing charades. The actual thing and not the mobile app game.

My internet-free experience has been a much needed wake up call. It helped me put things into perspective and made me realise how internet-dependant we have become.  True, my work actually does depend on it. Without internet, I wouldn’t even be able to share this with you.

But, just think about it for a minute. How long could you survive without internet? If at all?

Amanda x

 

#toneofvoice #brandvoice

Delivering training sessions has been an amazing experience. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad terrified the first time round. But, it is true that when you know your subject well enough, there’s really nothing to be afraid of.

I have to say, I learned a lot from the trainees as well. It was an eye-opener. On a daily basis, I’m immersed in writing and managing social media. So most of the things, I take for granted. Like, for example, a brand having its own tone of voice.

When I first introduced the concept in most of these sessions, I saw a lot of blank faces staring back at me. What is tone of voice (TOV) and why does it matter?

toneofvoice-byamandalia

What is TOV? It’s what you say. And most importantly, how you say it. So it’s not just about the words you choose but even their order, the rhythm and pace.

It’s the character, personality and values of your brand expressed in words; both written and spoken. It’s about how your message will come across; reflecting your brand. And this is what sets you apart from everyone else.

Why does TOV matter? Mainly because it gives your brand character and identity. Having a consistent tone and voice makes your brand familiar, more trustworthy and more credible.

Here’s an example of a TOV guideline.

TOV

 

How your brand looks design-wise is important.  However, how it sounds is just as important. Plus, consistency, across all platforms, is key. It shows that your message is coming from a single source.

How to get started? I will dedicate another post on this 🙂

Amanda x

#cuba #rawbeauty

Cuba byamandalia.png

Before writing about anything else this year, I wanted to first show you Cuba. It’s 12 hours away from home (something like that, by plane) but believe me when I tell you, worth every second.

One word that I would use to describe it? Raw. Does that make any sense? Untouched – that’s another word for it. It’s a different kind of beauty.  Quite different than, say, New Zealand or the Scottish Highlands. And also, there is this laid-back atmosphere I have yet to come across some place else.

Food 🍴: Best if you’re not too picky because there’s a big chance of  having rice and beans for dinner every single day. Pork is their main dish. But you will always, always, have a hearty portion of rice and black beans with your meal.

Stay  🏠: One way of getting an authentic feel of the place is by staying with the locals. One of my best experiences so far is spending New year’s eve eating and drinking with the whole family. Staying in a Casa Particular instead of  a hotel or resort is something I would definitely recommend.

Drinks 🍸: There is a  limited amount of soft drinks available. As for bottled water, Ciego Montero is the only brand that we came across everywhere we went (restaurants, casas and local stores). Like with everything else, choice is quite limited. For instance, ordering e.g. a local beer at a restaurant and being informed that it’s the last can, was quite a normal occurrence.

But, that shouldn’t be disheartening! Why? Because their cocktails do not disappoint. I am not one to fuss but I can honestly say that so far nothing beats their Piña Coladas. They serve it sans Rum and bring a bottle of Havana Club over so you can add as much as you want.

We lived off Mojitos, Cuba libres and Piña Coladas practically for 10 days. There was one time in Viñales (during happy hour – some places do have it) where we got a cocktail for only 1.50 CUC (equivalent to EUR1.25). Usually the price varies from 3 to 5 CUC; depending from where you’re having it.

Internet 🌐: Well, forget it. For starters, you’re on holiday 😄 and Instagram can wait. But really, Internet is not easily accessible. Forget WiFi access at bars, restaurants or even where you’re staying at. There isn’t any. On the plus side, it was quite refreshing to have actual conversations around the table without anyone staring at his or her phone.

There are a couple of places from where you can buy WiFi cards but you can only have access in certain areas for a limited amount of time. You’ll know when you get there. Flocks of people will be sitting around in a given square, on their phones whilst others trying to sell off WiFi cards.

Now, let the pictures speak for themselves.

Amanda x

Habana

Habana, Cuba

Got to love those cars

Got to love those cars. Viñales, Cuba

The Mural

The Mural

On our way to Vinales

On our way to Viñales, Cuba

Ladas and classic cars

Is this another Lada?

Hand rolled Cigar from farms @ Vinales

Freshly hand-rolled cigars from the farm @ Viñales, Cuba

Looks like the Maltese tile, doesn't it

Looks quite like the Maltese tile, doesn’t it?

Varadero

It was supposed to be sunny. Varadero, Cuba.

Tobacco Farm, Vinales

Tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba

@House of Rum

House of Rum, Habana, Cuba

Hotel sign in Habana

Hotels in Habana, Cuba

The Flag

Well, that’s the flag.

One of the many stray dogs in Habana

One of the many strays roaming the streets of Habana

Driving around Vinales

The sleeping man, laying down. Can you spot it?

Casa @ Vinales

Casa steps. Viñales, Cuba

La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio. Famous for their Mojitos

Fruity Breakfast

Fruity breakfast. It’s that and fried eggs.

Horseback riding

That was the only way we could get to the Tobacco farms! Viñales, Cuba

Cuban coffee

Cuban coffee

Cuban billboard

One of the many billboards. Viñales, Cuba

Couple of blocks away from our Casa, Habana

A couple of blocks away from our Casa. Habana, Cuba

Coffee cups

Coffee cups. Lots of them.

Classic car, Cuba

Your classic car, Cuba

@ Vinales

Mornings @ Viñales, Cuba

Churros, churros, churros!

Churros, churros, CHURROS!

You cannot not have a Cuba Libre

You cannot not have a Cuba Libre

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Never-ending beach @ Varadero, Cuba

 

#goingfreelance #1yearlater

@byamandalia

It has been a year. The 16th of December marks the day I left my 9 to 5 job (it was more like 10am to 6pm) to start afresh. How time flies! And honestly, looking back, I wonder why I didn’t take the leap before that.

It was a year of firsts. The first time I had my own clients, the first time I gave out training sessions on digital marketing, the first time I truly challenged myself to reach new heights. Forget about the New Year‘s resolution. If you want a change in your life, do it. Don’t wait around for another year to start; that’s a waste of time. And time is something you will not get back because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

So, here’s a little insight. Working as a freelancer is not all glitter and might I add, is not for everyone. It’s not a shortcut like some people seem to think. It’s more of a long and bumpy ride. After all, you’re starting from scratch. And, on your own. The first month being the toughest because your income will suffer. But, and that is a big BUT, I have to say that if you put your mind to it, it will get better.

It’s challenging because every day is just not the same. I see this as a plus. However, some people are scared by this; about not having a Monday to Friday routine. But that’s just it. There is no Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 routine. Because this way, you can meet up for a coffee on a Monday morning after working on a Sunday afternoon.  It’s more about learning to find your pace. And, more importantly, managing your time wisely.

Until next year!

Amanda x

 

 

#mindfulness #meditation

10. Mindfulness

We are rushing through life. Rushing through lunch, rushing to get the kids to school, rushing to get to work on time, rushing to the grocery store, rushing to get dressed. Rush, rush, rush.

And we sometimes forget about how it feels to truly live and be in the moment. Being in the here and now, aware and conscious of the present, your thoughts, your feelings, the people around you.

Take a minute. If I say ‘Meditation’, what is the next word that comes to mind?

The first time I thought about it, I actually laughed it off and dismissed the idea altogether. But then, I read an article on Flow. Journalist Irene Ras stepped away from her busy life to go on a silent retreat. 3 days of absolute silence in a Dominican Monastery.

Imagine that. No talking, no music, no Internet connection, nothing. Just you, your thoughts, and perhaps a pen and paper to jot them down.

How would you manage 72 Hours of Silence? Would you be afraid to be alone with your thoughts?

This had me thinking. So, I looked up Meditation. As it turns out, it is quite simple and straightforward. Helpful, even. If you’re a busy body, you can still make it happen: just  5 minutes a day.

Long term Pros: Improve your mindfulness, Improve your concentration, get to know yourself better, reduce stress and anxiety and improve your sleep.

Given that I had no idea where to start or what to do, I found an app. 5 minutes of calm for 7 days.

calm

Truth be told, the first time I tried it, I ended up in a deep, deep sleep. On the second day, I was prepared to take it a little more seriously.

Ultimately, it helped me control my breathing and hold my concentration. So with practice, you will probably be better able to handle a stressful day. Or when you’re trying to focus on a particular task, you will find it easier to shut out the noise and jumbled thoughts that try to get through and concentrate on the one thing you need to focus on the most.

Find a quiet place, sit comfortably and concentrate on your breathing. Acknowledge all the distractions and thoughts, and let them go. It may sound silly but it helps boost your concentration in the long run!

Amanda x

 

#SocialMedia #Communication

9. Social Media

Social Media takes up a lot of our time. Sometimes we are not even aware of scrolling mindlessly through Facebook until someone else points it out.

So, let me ask you this. How often do you take out your smartphone and check it while having a conversation with someone? And when you are on your phone, working those thumbs overtime, what exactly are you doing?

I’m not judging. I spend plenty of time on social media.  I need to be constantly available and online, create and design content, research, schedule posts and keep myself updated. That’s my job.

If you ask anyone who knows me well, they would tell you that I love going out for coffees. And I would drop just about anything to just get up and leave. What does this have to do with social media? Getting there.

A while ago I realised that once I have that beautiful frothy cappuccino in front of me and perhaps a nice fudgy brownie to complement  it, the first thing I do is take a picture. I then play with the filters, write a nice description, tag my friend or husband and finally, post it on Instagram. Seems quite a standard thing to do nowadays. But, I asked myself, why not just delve right in the chocolate goodness? I have a mouth watering brownie just sitting there, waiting for me and my first instinct is to take a picture?

 

We’re living in a fast paced world where online is all the time. And it has made our lives so much easier in so many ways. But at the same time, I think we’re lacking contact. The kind that matters the most. It’s like being social without being social.

Isn’t it just sad seeing a group of friends or a couple sitting around a table and everyone is immersed in their own little world? Why meet up at all? You can be anywhere. But in that moment, you are there, physically with them. So communicate: face to face. Have a real conversation without any interruptions.

I remember when I had a Nokia 3310; black and white picture. Entertainment: Snake. Facebook was nonexistent, Instagram; not even a concept yet. We had MIRC, MSN and MySpace and had to wait until 6pm in the evening for dial-up Internet access. That was life without today’s social media. Do you remember it?

Amanda x