Category: The Interview

The accidental web-designer

Hello Helen – Welcome to The Interview!

What sparked your interest in web design?

“When people ask me how did I get into web design, I tell them the story of a friend who had a disastrous experience with a web-designer who hadn’t spent any time understanding her business, charged too much money and walked off with her domain name – I saw an opportunity! We both agreed: “How hard can it be to build a website?” Eight years later, after re-training, I now create websites that look good, add value and deliver results.”

Helen Bantock talks to Everyword Copywriting
Helen Bantock talks to Everyword Copywriting

How do you get your inspiration?

“Listening to my clients is the key to my success. When it comes to inspiration my clients are often clear about what they like – and what they don’t like! This is the starting point; I usually develop the final design in consultation with my clients. As everyone has such different visions and desires for their website, my job is to identify exactly what a client needs and deliver a website that reflects his or her character, their product or service  – in essence their unique brand proposition.”

What sort of web designs to you enjoy doing most?

“It is very satisfying to work for clients who are starting out in their sector and watching their business grow with them over time.  I have a continuing relationships with many of my clients and that is what I enjoy the most.”

What challenges do you face when designing websites for clients in the creative industries?

“I think clients who are in creative industries have great imaginations, sometimes that means I need to temper their desire to have it all on their website and remind them of their original budget!  You can of course have it all but we are all constrained by budgets.”

As a solo-preneur, what techniques do employ to grow your business?

“Growing my business has been key over the last three years to its success. I have used marketing and a small amount of advertising which brings fresh leads.  Most of my new business at the moment is now coming through a business network, Athena, that I visit each month. Not only do I get referrals from other members but I also learn from them too.”

What one key piece of advice would you give a young web designer starting out?

“As I have been teaching web design for beginners at adult college I often talk to people who hope to run a business in web design, I advise them to read the trade blogs and news to see what is up and coming. I also tell them to keep training as this industry is on the move and your skills need to be up-to-date. If I had more time to mentor them I would also advise them to really listen to clients.

What or who inspires you?

“I get inspiration from many different places.  I love art, colour and visual expression so I enjoy a slow meander through a gallery. I also like to walk and take in the sights and sound of London around me; whether it is the simplicity of nature or the jumble of a bustling market. I love to listen to the younger generation who have such fresh ideas, you can learn a lot from them and get inspiration from their no-boundaries approach to technology.”

Check out Helen Bantock Web Design

E: She tweets @HelenBantockWeb

Suzy Rigg

I give you words like I give you gold

Disclaimer: Helen designed my website which I’m very happy with; and supported me in the production of this post.

An Afternoon with Jacqueline Wilson

Well, by an afternoon with Jacqueline Wilson it wasn’t just me and her, but nearly five hundred girl fans and their mums (mainly) crammed into Kingston’s Rose Theatre. Viv Groskop was understated as literary event host, the two seats opposite, that me and my son had our eye on, were soon occupied so we shuffled down on our silver and brown fluffy floor cushions brought from home and got comfortable. Off we went.

Jacqueline Wilson is watchable. With her shock of short grey hair and huge silver baubles, black cowboy boots and her dark darting eyes, she’s mesmerizing. She’s answers questions in fast-paced humour, her mind flitting around round like a butterfly.

EverywordCopywriting loves Jacqueline Wilson
Everyword Copywriting loves Jacqueline Wilson

I loved her answers to some great questions thrown at her by an adoring fan base of girls aged mainly between seven and thirteen. Borrowing her passion for first person writing, here is my personal impression of this creative lady’s talk:

On meeting Nick Sharratt:

“Writers don’t usually get a choice about who their illustrator is – I was lucky the publisher set up a meeting between me and Nick. Sometimes if you earn lots of money for the publishing company, you have a bit more say! It’s funny but we were both rather shy. He was wearing a very smart grey suit and looked very buttoned up. I was looking for someone who was quirky someone who could do all of these little pictures I had imagined to go in Tracy Beaker. Someone who could really bring her character to life on the page, almost like doodles in a diary –  I don’t ask for much! Anyway I had just reached down to pick up a tissue out of my handbag or something when I looked under the table and noticed that he had bright yellow socks on. That was it – I knew he was the right man to illustrate my book.”

On finding names for her characters:

Opal Plumstead? Well I’d just spent a huge amount of money on a rather large opal ring and was feeling a bit guilty about it, so I thought I call the book Opal, I can say I named the book because of the ring! Tracey Beaker. I was in the bath – that’s my day dream time  – and I was thinking about a surname for Tracy. I knew I wanted to call her Tracy and wanted a last name that was a bit silly that would stick in the mind. Toilet, soap, flannel all sounded a bit silly. When I went to rinse my hair, I use an old snoopy beaker for this, I thought that’s it – Beaker!

On being a writer:

I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I was very little – I used to read a lot as a small child and even before I could read, I used to make up stories to picture books. It took me a long time to make it as a writer, I had some very good teachers at school, but none of them would have imagined I would succeed at being a writer. I used to go to those grim adult parties, where you have to introduce yourself to complete strangers. I would always say my name clearly because usually no-one can never remember anyone’s name.  People ask you what you do for a living, I would say I write children’s books, they would say; what name to you write under? Clearly the implication being, they had never heard of me!

I’m very disciplined, I make myself write 1,000 words a day in the morning, even before I start any of the other writer-ly duties, such as checking proofs or doing publicity. As long as I’ve done my word count each day I feel better.

On writing Tracy Beaker:

This is the point where more people heard of Jacqueline Wilson’s the writer; Tracy was a lot of fun to write, she is sassy and spirited and likes to do things her own way.  Tracy Beaker was a lucky book for me, I met Nick Sharratt, the illustrations were just as I wanted them and Tracy and her adventures were commissioned by the BBC.

Illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

On why my main character’s are girls:

Well, I feel I know more about girls, I have a daughter and no sons so  it’s feels natural for me to write about girls. I really enjoy it and I’ve even sat through Frozen and I will be going to see Cinderella at the cinema! I also tend to write in the first person, to make my books feel immediate. I was a little girl a long time ago, so I can pretend to be my characters and this seems to work.

You are a lovely brother
“You are a lovely brother!” Jake was chuffed but he knew that already

I really enjoyed the talk, as a writer, albeit for a different genre, I learned a lot.

I will certainly consider buying a ticket for Write on Kew to listen to Jacqueline Wilson and other author’s talk about their work. Might see you there!

Suzy Rigg

I give you words like I give you gold

Need a little Lego magic? Tune into Lyrics 4 Lyrics!

Need a little Lego magic? Tune into Lyrics 4 Lyrics!

Welcome to the Interview Paul Allimadi, Creative Director/Designer at Lyrics 4 Lyrics!
Your Twitter handle is @bwoywonder, that sounds a bit like a cartoon or comic book hero! Are you into graphic novels?

*Laughs* Not really no, I took it from Batman side kick Robin The Boywonder. He does everything, a lot like myself.

Your profile pic on Twitter features a futuristic piece of LEGO headgear; (pictured below) what is it and how did you go about making it?

Bwoy Wonder - The names says it all!
Bwoy Wonder poses with his eye-grabbing mask – The names says it all!

The lego mask in my profile pic is inspired by Transformers. It started off as just Lego visors, but I just kept building on top of it until it covered the whole head!

Have you ever broken a really crazy LEGO design that you’d spent hours on?

Yes! It was a baseball cap for a corporate client and the lego brim gave way which led to the bottom section breaking off. I was frustrated to say the least!

Conversation Between Friends loves Mask Girl
Conversation Between Friends loves Mask Girl

Who are your design heroes?

Philip Stark and Nigo.
Contrasting designers but I like almost all of their work.

Have you seen the LEGO exhibition? What do you think of it?

I was invited to the preview opening and loved every single room of lego art!
Everyone should go see the Art Of The Brick exhibition and I guarantee it’ll make you want to stop by the Lego shop and start creating!

You sell LEGO inspired clothing on your website Lyrics4Lyrics, how did you make the leap from creating things with LEGO to putting LEGO designs on clothing?

I always ran a clothing line and so it was inevitable that my lego creation was going to be integrated into our clothing.
It’s all very practical garment pieces. Apart from the Lego shoulder pad jacket we made for Will.I.Am of course!

Wil.I. Am sporting Lyrics 4 Lyrics Lego design
Wil.I.Am sporting Lyrics 4 Lyrics Lego design

LEGO is going to be around forever, what is your favourite Lego design or LEGO genre?

Lego recently got voted the world’s most popular toy so the legacy it has will carry on well into the future. My favourite Lego design is anything they do with Star Wars. It’s so intricate!

Who is your favourite LEGO SuperHero?

Batman! Has to be Batman.

I spotted your Twitter photo in the Metro, promoting ‘Creative Pioneers’ can you tell me a bit more about this project?

It’s an apprenticeship scheme that aims to recruit young under graduates into the creative industry. Be it digital media, marketing or other. I won their Creative Heads competition which was to design a range of creative ‘heads’ using any medium for their advertising campaign.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I want to integrate Lego into the education sector. It’s a brilliant learning tool for wannabe engineers mathematicians and even autistic children.

Do you see yourself building a clothing empire or is there something else that you would like to turn your attention to?

I want to do everything and anything creatively possible. Why do you think they call me Bwoywonder? 🙂

If you want to find out more about Lyrics 4 Lyrics clothing, check out for more show-stopping Lego designs!
You  can follow @bwoywonder on Twitter or ‘like’ his Facebook page: ‘Follow The LEGO Brick Road’

If you’re a budding talent or small business owner and wish to be featured on this blog, please email or follow @radiantlady on Twitter for your chance to be featured in ‘The Interview’

© Suzy Rigg

Writing every word

Thinking of quitting your day job?

This interview appeared in Stylist Magazine, Online Edition, November 2014

Recently I responded to a journalist request and this was the result…

Downgrading your job –  Career women who traded high salary careers jobs to set up their own business or become self-employed

Conversation Between Friends - Photo: Courtesy of Stylist Magazine
Conversation Between Friends – Photo: Courtesy of Stylist Magazine

What was the job title of your original job?

Media Relations Manager

What’s the job title and annual salary of the job you downgraded for?

Freelance Copywriter & Owner, Everyword Copywriting, salary (depends how hard I work!)

Why did you decide to make the change?

The change in my work status was a result of personal reasons. As a busy and engaged mum of two, I find working freelance enables me to manage my work and family time for effectively, I don’t mind working at odd hours either!

What made you take the plunge when you did – what motivated you, specifically?

My mum passed away in November 2012, a month after I started my last job, I was in shock for months afterwards. Managing a fast-paced working environment, grief and two dependents as a single parent was starting to take its toll. When I saw my doctor, she was adamant that something needed to change to prevent my health from deteriorating.

What fears did you have about making the downgrade?

In my situation, it wasn’t something I was consciously thinking about, so in a way I didn’t have time to worry about anything. I saw my changing circumstances as a huge opportunity.

What lifestyle changes did you have to make as a result of your salary change?

Well, I’ve always been an avid charity shop shopper, and now I can legitimately give up the corporate suits and dress in a way that better suits my creativity and personality. Cutting down on food is no problem as I’m sure it’ll help me stay the same size to fit into the designer clothes I bought in the ‘flush years!’ I’ve switched to packed lunches for my son, and we’ve had some financial help with school trips etc. Thankfully he’s not into expensive gaming toys so he hasn’t really noticed any changes. Generally we are all just really, really careful with money and the priority is that the mortgage gets paid. I stay within my overdraft limit and gave up my credit card ages ago!

Did your friends and family support your decision, or oppose it, and why? Did anyone try to advise you against it?

Because the situation wasn’t really planned, no-one really had a say in it. All of the people close to me were hugely supportive and agreed that now was a good a time as any to set myself up.

What did your boss say when you gave your notice in (and the reason for that)?

I didn’t actually hand my notice in as I was signed off sick and didn’t return.

Do you enjoy your new role – what are the benefits?

I totally love writing and I have a very enquiring mind, always have, so for me it’s a dream role. You have to be realistic about what money you can make however, and how to promote yourself effectively. The clear benefit is the opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and push my creative boundaries. The key benefit is being able to meet my son’s teacher in the middle of the day, supervise his homework and finish of my work in the evening, free of the guilt of not having spent enough time on parenting. I love being out of the office environment, sometimes I work in a café or in a library in London there’s inspiration in creative settings. I am also making great progress with a book that I started in 2011 and didn’t finish.

Any regrets – do you miss your old job, or the salary that came with it?

I have no regrets at all, I’m so much happier: It’s now two years since mum passed and although you never get over the death of your mother, I’m starting to feel happy again and confident in my abilities. Now I’ve started out, I have lots of other business ideas I want to pursue. I believe if you set your sights on a goal and work hard, miracles can happen.

I’ve realised that life isn’t always a smooth path of steady employment work until retirement: for lots of people the ‘portfolio’ career is now a reality. My mum was a teacher, an intellectual, an author and she belonged to an armful of volunteer organisations. Not having the cushion of a steady salary can be a huge motivator to achievement.

Having at least three months’ salary set aside makes sense: Or save before you make the leap. If you don’t plan properly and go back into steady employment without having given your idea a proper go, you’ll feel disheartened.

There are often key times in your life when a natural ‘break’ presents itself: even if you haven’t planned it, sometimes you need to jump in and say a little prayer… you never know where you might end up!

If you’re currently working for free, how do you support yourself?

I’m working part-time for a charity in a paid marketing role, it’s really enjoyable. Clearly I’m not earning as much as I was previously, but it feels good to be working part-time whilst I build up my freelance business.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of making a similar move?

Well, it’s not original advice but having at least three months’ salary or mortgage holiday set aside makes sense. Or save, before you make the leap as if you don’t plan properly and go back into steady employment without having given your idea a proper go, you’ll feel disheartened. Discuss a sabbatical with your employer, leaving your job open at the end of it, so you have a safety net. There are often key times in your life when a natural ‘break’ presents itself – even if you haven’t planned it sometimes you need to jump in and say a little prayer… you never know where you might end up!

My business called ‘Everyword Copywriting’ which is about focusing on my strengths and my first passion: words. I’m able to support clients with my mix of marketing expertise in blogging, social media and they can tap into my inexhaustible well of ideas and enthusiasm!

Here’s the original article:

I will be sharing my logo with you and very soon, I will be pleased to share my new website 🙂

Here’s to fulfilling goals and pursuing dreams!


Suzy Rigg



The Interview: Hypnotherapy for Women

Hypnotherapy for Women is an intriguing name for a company, I’ve never tried hypnotherapy, so I decided to meet with Alexandra Rickard, founder of the company to find out more about this therapy and see if I was brave enough to try it myself! As soon as I met Alexandra on a rainy afternoon at her London-based treatment room, she put me immediately at ease.

Sitting in a comfortable cream leather reclining chair, with the rain drumming outside and a cosy warmth in the treatment room, I felt instantly relaxed. But before my treatment started, I needed to find out more about this often misunderstood complementary therapy:

Can you describe what hypnotherapy is? 

“Hypnotherapy is a powerful form of therapy which involves putting a person into a deep state of relaxation (the trance state) in order to affect positive changes in their life. When we are in this state we can gain access to our subconscious mind which is where all our behaviours, belief systems and habits are stored. Whether it’s helping you to sleep better, to feel less stressed or to overcome a phobia, all of these changes and more can occur during hypnosis at the subconscious level, resulting in quick, lasting and positive changes in your life. Using a computer analogy, imagine that your mind is a hard drive, during hypnosis we simply help update it with new and beneficial software, replacing the old and redundant programs that aren’t working so well that might be keeping you trapped in negative or harmful thought patterns.”

Hypnotherapy For Women Founder Alexandra
Hypnotherapy For Women Founder Alexandra Rickard


Are some people easier to ‘go under’ than others?

“The higher your intelligence and the stronger your self-control, the more easily you are hypnotised. That’s because entering a hypnotic trance is all about concentrating. However finding it hard to enter a hypnotic state doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. People naturally vary in how susceptible they are to hypnosis. Studies have shown that around 30% of people are relatively resistant to being hypnotised. Although, with effort, the state can usually be achieved eventually.”

What sort of conditions do you treat?

“I’ve been successful in helping with a multitude of issues, such as insomnia, anxiety/stress, overcoming phobias and bad habits, low confidence, procrastination and many more. I also have a passionate interest in helping women deal with the stresses of motherhood. Since becoming a mother myself, I recognised how effective hypnotherapy was in helping me to deal with the challenges I faced. As a result I created a range of targeted hypnotherapy sessions designed to address mother-related issues e.g. lack of sleep, stress, colicky baby and depression.”

How many sessions do clients usually need?

“On average 6 sessions, but anywhere between 3-12 as it all depends on the client’s goals. Some clients come to me with one issue, but then find other things they want addressed too.”

What sparked your interest in hypnotherapy?

“Whilst working in a demanding and stressful marketing role I learnt the valuable skills of hypnotherapy to help me deal with insomnia and other stress related issues. On discovering firsthand the benefits of hypnotherapy I changed career and now happily practise full time as a clinical hypnotherapist.”

What is the most unusual complaint you have resolved?

“Finger sucking.”

Sleeping mum and baby
Conversation with friends loves hypnotherapy

I was ready. All of my questions had been answered, I’d used the bathroom (well, I didn’t want to intrude on my trance with a loo break did I?!), I’d signed the consent form and a small monitor was now attached to my index finger to monitor moisture levels in my finger tips. If I was deeply relaxed, the normal sweat level from my finger would drop to a below the normal level. This would indicate that I was fully in a trance state.

“Wake up!, wake up!” I could hear Alex’s voice but didn’t want to leave that beautifully relaxed state. When I came to, feeling deeply rested and relaxed, Alex told me I was under for half an hour and had apparently entered a deep state of trance. I remember wanting to scratch my head at one point but somehow being able to ignore the feeling. In fact, for someone who can be quite a fidget, I can’t believe I stayed motionless for more than thirty minutes! It felt like my eyes had been closed for about five minutes.

Before I was hypnotized, we had discussed some of the issues I wanted to open my subconscious mind to. After the build up, the session was over all too soon. Alex gave me a CD copy of the session to provide a top up treatment when needed. I felt reassured by having the CD to listen, it was also a physical record of what was said to me in that highly suggestible state. A good thing to have.

Hypnotherapy is a hugely fascinating area to explore and as with all therapies that involve the brain and people who are feeling vulnerable, a degree of caution is required. Alex was keen to stress that she doesn’t make any medical diagnoses or advice clients to change any existing medication without first consulting their doctor. She takes a full and thorough health and well-being assessment before starting the treatment to ensure she’s 100% clear about what your needs are. Like any therapy, there is always a degree of cooperation and trust required to get the best out of it.

Based on my experience, I would certainly recommend it to hypnotherapy ‘novices’. I can also see why Alex has chosen to specialise her area of practice for women. Women experience a variety of chemical and hormonal changes throughout their lives which can leave them feeling off-balance and emotionally unstable.  Not to mention our sometimes misplaced thinking that we need to try to be all things to all people. The obvious example is pregnancy and childbirth and the potential for depression and anxiety that this life-changing event can have on the whole family.

I give it a thumbs up and I will definitely have hypnotherapy again  – and if you are stuck for an interesting or unique gift, I would say try it.

Suzy Rigg

Writing every word

Mobile: 07815 318455

Office: 020 3612 8321

If you are a small business owner and would like to be featured in ‘The Interview’ please email with the subject ‘The Interview’ leave a contact number and watch your business grow!

Setting up in own business – success stories

Sponsored post

This film has a twist; watch it and see if you see it coming. I won’t spoil it for you but if you are that sticky stage of deciding whether you set up your own business, you’ll recognise it when it happens..

Watching Charlie at work is to see a dream in action. I’ve travelled into London on SWT and seen the big sign past Vauxhall for Pimlico Plumbers, I thought it was a catchy name and I had only heard good things about them, so it was great for me to find out more about the man behind the business.

Another entrepreneur who’s caught my eye recently is Sharmadean Reid, Founder of  WAHNAILS (

She was featured recently in a London newspaper and told a story not dissimilar to Charlie’s. Hailing from the West Midlands as part of a large Jamaican family, she  was surrounded by love and positivity all of which gave her to confidence to believe in herself. She was unfazed at the idea of setting up her o

Radiantlady loves WAH NAILS
Radiantlady loves WAH NAILS

wn business and even describes it in four easy steps which makes it sound easier than baking a cupcake!

What struck me most reading about Sharamdean was her passion in achieving the impossible, and then simply getting on with it.

“People bog themselves down in the process of growing, it rather than just doing it,”

If you think about that sentence there is a lot of wisdom in that. As an entrepreneur or business owner to need to be fleet of foot, as flexible as a ballet dancer to response to the changing pace of the business drum. Social media facilitates this type of speed beautifully as is probably why there are so many solopreneurs who use social media to great effect. It’s generally light and unencumbered.

Q: What did I learn from the stories of both of these talented, hardworking business people?

A: Flex your muscles, take that call, act on your intuition, believe in you!

Suzy Rigg

Writing every word


Fancy Chocolate!

Tola: Founder of Chocolat at Toi


So pleased to welcome Tola to ‘Conversation Between Friends’ to talk about one of our favourite subjects – CHOCOLATE!!

Hey Tola, mmm yes please don’t mind if I do! What made you decide to set up your business?

I spotted a gap in the market for bespoke wedding favours. Plus, as a new mum I was looking for a part-time business that would keep my head thinking of something other than nappy changes and apple puree!

Where does your passion for chocolate come from?

Simply reading about its history and how it’s made to be honest. I’m more of a biscuit fan or else I’d eat all of my stock!
Like red wine, chocolate attracts passionate devotees, why is this?

Cocoa which is the main ingredient used to make good chocolate contains a chemical call Serotonin. Serotonin simply makes us feel better.
Is a bar of chocolate with high cocoa content really better for you than a bar of Dairy Milk?

It actually is because the higher the Cocoa content the higher the Serotonin as well as antioxidants. Scientists have also found that cocoa is very rich in antioxidants.

Beautifully presented favours!

‘Chocolate is a complete food’ Discuss!

There are four basic food groups – white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and truffles.

Try me, buy me!

You can find Tola and her lovely, yummy chocolate favours over on Facebook,  (It’s the biggest ‘Like’ button I’ve ever seen!) or browse the delectable delights at

© Suzy Rigg

The Interview: ‘YungN’: Rihanna sexy or slack?


YungN: Taking a closer look at rap music


Conversation Between Friends welcomes our first Stateside interviewee and Twitter buddy, rapper YungN. We caught up over fries and a coupla skinny shakes.

You’re currently a student, what are you studying and where?

Yes, I’m majoring in Recording Arts at Full Sail University, Florida, USA.

Tell us about the videos you make.

I started making YouTube videos less than a year ago. The main reason I created my channel ‘ThisisYungnTV’ was to shed more light on  truth about things manifesting in our world in a way that would be relative to the youth, and easy to understand. The first video I made in July 2010, started with a song I recorded the month before called “Make Ya Eyes Light Up”. I rapped over a Drake track called “Light Up” and exposed a lot of different thing’s that were going on at that particular time. 

I created my YouTube channel and posted that video the same night, the video went viral, and now it’s had over a half a million views. I  have over a million views in total for all of my videos. It’s such an humbling opportunity to be able to minister to millions of people and I give God all the glory for that.

A lot of videos made by the most successful international artists for example Lady GaGa Beyonce, Flo’Rida, Snoop Doog, Rihanna, seem to include a lot of highly sexualised messages. What are your thoughts on this?

With mainstream music being one of the biggest global influences, as far as trends and what is “Cool” today, that definitely doesn’t sit well with me. Young teenage and even preteen girls look up to artists like Beyonce, Lady GaGa, Rihanna, and now Nicki Minaj. So when artists project these highly sexualised images and say they want to be role models for children…it just makes me wonder.

Do you think these videos should be censored by the TV channels or is it parents’ role to monitor what children under the age of 16 watch in the home?

I feel it’s the parents’ role.

You’re a Christian. Do you find it challenging being a young Christian when so many popular cultural influences seem to celebrate greed, promiscuity and the portrayal of women as sexual predators? 

Yes, I grew up in an unreligious household, so I was unsaved most of my life, and lived an unsaved lifestyle. And after being accustomed to it for so long, it was a lot harder to make the transformation people may think. It took me years to get to where I am today spiritually; and I’m still growing.

What impact do you think that popular music, in particular some R & B and hip hop has on young, impressionable especially male minds?

I can tell you for a fact, a lot,  just looking back on my teenage years! The “Hip-Hop Culture” is probably the biggest influence on the youth in the world.  Hip-Hop’s culture is paved by its music, obviously, or the culture wouldn’t be called “Hip-Hop”. Hip-Hop’s gone global, but the direction it’s leading the youth of this generation is not good, at all. Mainstream music in general actually.

Who are your current icons/role models?

I’m gonna have to go with the cliché answer and say Jesus Christ, (laughs) but that’s my honest answer. There’s no better person to look at in the way you would want live your life than him….period. So yea, Jesus Christ.

What are your goals or dreams for the future?

To reach millions with my videos and my music. Because I believe if that happens – everything else will be taken care of.

You can check out some of  YungN’s videos here: 

Want to feature in The Interview and get your message to thousands of people? Contact

© Suzy Rigg

To read another article in the series click here

The Interview: Black women’s hair: ‘Dying’ to be straight


As more female entrepreneurs find niche markets to fill, Conversation Between Friends looks at a market that is long-established and worth millions: black female hair products. Sonia Evelyn, Director of Evelyn Products popped in to tell us her story over a bottle of mineral water.What was the trigger that made you decide to set up Evelyn Products?

I set up the company for three reasons: I suffered severe shedding six weeks after having my hair relaxed by a major brand product by a top stylist. In a few days I had lost most of my hair,  through researching my condition I was shocked to find that approximately 70% of black women who relax their hair will suffer a side effect at some point.

At the same time my younger sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had lost her hair through chemotherapy . She stopped using several cosmetics and began telling me about some of the studies into chemicals and cancers. I had very little hair and was determined never to use certain chemicals in my hair again, so looked for natural products. I soon realised that “natural” could mean many things, and that most natural products were mixed with a number of harsh chemical additives. This really fired me up as my daughter had eczema and I had always believed I had bought the best creams for her. So decided I would have to make my own.

You have a ‘96% natural’ sign on your bottle of Honey Haze, what does that mean exactly?

It means what it says. Some of our products are 100% natural, but never less than 96%. We list a percentage because currently products only have to contain 1% of natural ingredients to be classed as ‘natural’. However for any cosmetic containing water like the hair mist, certain ingredients are required to maintain the product and prevent bacterial growth, such as the preservatives or stabilisers. We ensure that all such ingredients are naturally derived which means they are made from plants, and in all instances we source the mildest commercially available and only those considered safe by the Cosmetic Database- environmental working group.

Why is natural afro hair so delicate?
Afro hair is primarily designed for protection. To this end our follicles are spherical producing coiled hair with a number of additional features such as:
1. As the hair coils, the width of the hair varies creating areas of weakness intermittently along the length of the shaft.
2. We produce less sebum (oil) which then has to travel along these tight curls to the ends of the hair. In most case it doesn’t reach the ends, which leads to drier hair that is more susceptible to breakage.
3.The diameter of the hair shaft is elliptical giving rise to the hair splitting lengthwise more easily.
4. Afro hair lacks a particular “glue” that holds the cuticles closed making the hair more porous , therefore does not retain water very easily and dries.
5. When grooming the hair, the ends spring back on each other inter-twining creating tangles which leads to further breaks in the hair.

Natural ingredients are better for scalp and health.

Can your products be used on chemically straightened hair?
Some can such as our shampoo, oils and conditioner but the heavier products such as the butter would weigh the hair down.
How is it important for women to be aware of what goes into their hair products?
Nowadays there are numerous studies showing that what we use on our bodies can penetrate the skin and get into the bloodstream. We see nicotine patches, hormonal patches and vitamin C patches all designed on this method. Some of those same chemicals found in cosmetics (not just hair products) can also be found in diseased breast tissues and in breast milk. Some have been shown to cause tumours in animals. We may never know the extent of how or which chemicals penetrate the skin, but prevention is always better than cure. What is clear that as more synthetic ingredients are introduced into our environments, we are also seeing a rise in cancers. A great place to begin looking at your cosmetics is the Cosmetic Database a pro-active American website.

Why do you think black women persist in using harsh products and chemicals in their hair?
There are many different reasons, some of which are quite complex. On the whole I believe firstly because we are conditioned into holding an inherent dislike for our tight hair and secondly because we are unaware of the potential damage. Most products are sold to us in a highly sophisticated glossy packaging adorned with stunning looking women. The subtext is saying if you want to get ahead, this is how you must look. What the box fails to tell us that these women are painted up and photo-shopped to the last millimetre.
Many black women have an inherent desire for length and strength in their hair and products are marketing to provide short term gratification. The longer term results sadly are a trend towards balding women. The irony is, if you just keep your hair moisturised, clean and stop trying to do so much with it, then you begin to see its real length and strength!
Who are your black female icons?
Undoubtedly Madame C.J Walker for her entrepreneurship, but it’s time for change. It’s time to show curls with beauty.

Madame CJ Walker: Pioneering entrepreneur!

Where can people get hold of your products? provides a list of UK and international stockists.

If you would like to find out more about the remarkable story of Madame CJ Walker have a look here

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The Gorgeous Miss Sonia Evelyn
The Gorgeous Miss Sonia Evelyn

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