Lifestyle

Creative Brew Interview

Here is an interview I did with Creative Brew, a new website based in Glasgow showcasing the work of local creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“For fashion blogger Ruth MacGilp, following your creative passions is crucial. Ever since she was a young girl, Ruth has channeled her love of fashion into everything she does.
From choosing to study fashion textiles at university and setting up her own fashion blog, to playing a crucial role in the Edinburgh-based Scottish Design Exchange, Ruth has utilised every opportunity to carve out a career in the industry she adores.
Here, Ruth discusses her professional career so far, her zeal for fashion blogging and how the innovative Edinburgh-based Scottish Design Exchange has offered her a myriad of exciting opportunities.

Introduce yourself

I grew up in Birmingham and have lived in Edinburgh since 2013. I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger over at http://www.urbanity-blog.com and I work for The Scottish Design Exchange.
Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger

What are you studying at the moment?

Currently I’m studying a BA in Fashion Communication with Heriot Watt University, at the School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels.

Have you always had a love of fashion? 

Since I was very young I’ve loved dressing up. For me, fashion is fantasy, it’s all about experimenting with visual identity.
My Grandma was a dressmaker and taught me to sew, and in my teens I became addicted to reading glossy magazines and blogs. Biographies of legendary fashion designers and subscriptions to Vogue were always on my Christmas list!

You’re a fashion blogger yourself, so do you have any tips for those writers just starting out?

Urbanity has been running for a year and a half now, and its been pretty much non-stop. I would advise any new bloggers that if you want to be successful, you truly have to put the hours in.
Other than a few bits of advice, like do a coding course, go to networking events and post regularly on social media, the rest is up to you.
A personal blog is a totally unique entity; choose a niche, stick to your guns and focus on producing quality content.

What do you enjoy about blogging?

I use my blog as a portfolio of sorts. It’s a visual documentation of many different parts of my life and my career. It’s a platform for me to promote what I’m truly passionate about, like supporting local fashion brands and encouraging mental health recovery.

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What bloggers have you got your eye on at the moment?

In Edinburgh there is a plethora of amazing bloggers and it’s a really supportive creative community.
At the moment I’m following Wardrobe ConversationsLittle ThingsThe Edinbugand Love From Lou Lou.

Tell us about the Scottish Design Exchange?

The Scottish Design Exchange is a not-for-profit design collective that supports artists and makers living in Scotland. It was founded by Lynzi Leroy last summer and has gone from strength to strength. Our flagship store in Leith is home to over 100 local creatives.

Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger

How did you get involved with the Scottish Design Exchange and what makes it so important to the contemporary design scene?

At the start of the year Lynzi hired me to set up the new fashion department at SDX, which opened in February. Now I manage around 30 fashion and accessories designers and take care of the company’s social media.
The Scottish Design Exchange is unique because unlike most boutiques and galleries, we charge zero commission to allow independent fashion designers- who often have a hard time gaining support after graduating from art schools- to keep 100% of their profits.
The Scottish Design Exchange offers designers specialist help with branding and marketing, with potential moves into micro manufacturing in the future.
The vision for SDX is to foster a thriving fashion industry right here in Scotland without the need to rely on imports and exports. It aims to establish a strong circular economy that encourages creativity first and foremost.

What opportunities has the Scottish Design Exchange opened up for you and what can it offer other creatives?

From great networking opportunities and endless blogging inspiration, to being awarded real responsibilities for fair pay (so rare at a young age!), the skills, experience and friendships gained from my work are immeasurable.
For local creatives, we provide a welcoming community and aim to show the public that shopping local is much better for the economy and the environment than high street fast fashion and mass produced design products

Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger
 

What have been your highlights of working at the Scottish Design Exchange so far?

One of my favourite parts of the job is organising events. The launch party for SDX Loft, our fashion department, was a really proud moment for me. Since then we’ve hosted blogger events, social media workshops, art exhibitions, regular meet-the-makers days and styling events.

What advice would you give to those looking to break into the fashion industry?

Put your self doubt aside and aim high. See rejection as an opportunity for feedback. Don’t let your age, appearance, experience or education set you back or put you back; you’re worthy of success.
Postscript: We’d like to congratulate Ruth on becoming a finalist for the Blogger of the Year category of The Herald Scotland’s Scottish Fashion Awards. We’ll be rooting for you! Don’t forget to check out Ruth’s work on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger
By Jonny McIntosh of Creative Brew. Head to their website to get involved!

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Thigh Gaps

Strange title for a blog post, I know, but lately I’ve been reflecting on the illustrious thigh gap. A small gap between the thighs, pre-determined by the width of your hips and exaggerated by extreme weight loss, somehow comes to gather a meaning reflective of self-worth. In the anorexic community, having a thigh gap is a trophy of achievement, somehow launching you into a higher tier of being, respected by the mentally ill, and pushed into a new category of the ultimate anorexic. How strange, you might say. But after years of double checking my legs in every mirror, standing with my toes together, pushing my knees apart so much they couldn’t sit straight, I began to equate losing my thigh gap to losing my identity, my status and my beauty. When my thighs touched, I was nothing. 



Looking back, clearly its a ridiculous motion, and yet it still feels weird as I walk down the street, heightened sensitivity to my own body parts, a strangely unpleasant sensation. However, there is that sense of a new kind of achievement; of beating my demons, of embracing curves and flesh and health. Of no longer feeling every bone and atrophied muscle, and quoting the circumference of my thighs to how worthy i was of happiness. And that is a bloody miracle.


I will end this ramble with a stunning sketch by Mirrin Hegharty, which to me shows the extremes of body dysmorphia that came part and parcel with my eating disorder. Within seconds I could see both bodies in the mirror, both with infinite meanings to a twisted anorexic brain. I also think this drawing shows the complexity of our society, in that we have warped views of a healthy body, that actually doesn’t take health into account at all, only aesthetics, and this leads to millions of people pushing their bodies to the extreme.

 “Listen to me. Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest – thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wild flowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you have been devastated. “


– Beau Christopher Taplin

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BBC The Social: Illuminate

I am so excited to finally be able to share a project I’ve been working on for the BBC; Illuminate, a series of 12 mini documentaries about Scottish designers and artists. Together with the most hard-working twenty-something I know, cinematographer Perry Jonsson. I’m so proud of what we achieved, and really enjoyed being involved in project based on supporting local creatives, a subject of true passion for me, and working with a talented friend was the icing on the cake. 



Here is the very first episode of BBC The Social: Illuminate, featuring Mark Vice. A talented pop-artist, Glasgow-based Mark Vice translates fashion into paintings complete with embellishments and glitter and everything a fashionista could want. 

From Karl Lagerfeld to the Ab-Fab girls, Mark covers popular culture in a wonderfully unique way, using delicate paint splatters and drip art to build an iconic image. His work is available at The Scottish Design Exchange, and you can check out his Instagram here (he also rocks Pinterest). 

I hope you have enjoyed this wee video and look forward to the others, which will be coming out weekly on the BBC Social Facebook Page

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx


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Blogger Anxiety

 I’ve been thinking about doing this blog post, Blogger Anxiety, for a good few months now. In fact, its almost been giving me blogger anxiety. Oh the irony! Basically, I’m not diagnosing myself with a newfangled mental health issue, I’m just simplifying the huge bank of worries that as a blogger I experience daily, and I’m sure many other bloggers do too. I believe that being a creative individual automatically gives you a million things to be anxious about, so this overview can probably be applied to anyone from musicians to models. However, its not all doom and gloom, as I will be offering a few tips for newbies to help break through the barriers of self doubt.




Firstly, I wanted to address the issue of blogger events. As a regular attendee, I’ve noticed a few things that seem to happen to me at nearly every fashion show, drinks reception, group meal, networking meet, product workshop or press release:
1. I immediately scout the room for someone I know. Of course, over time, I’ve got to know more familiar faces, but even now when faced with a room full of bloggers, I feel my stomach hit the floor. Who will I talk to? Will I look like a total loner?
2. I instantly analyse what I’m wearing. Am I too formal? Am I underdressed? Oh god, everyone else looks far more fashionable than I do! Will brands take me seriously as a fashion blogger if I don’t dress up to the nines?
3. I feel young, naive and inexperienced. At any given event I’m usually at least 5 years younger than the rest, and perhaps a smaller-scale blogger or in the earlier stages of my fashion career. Does everyone think I don’t know what I’m talking about? Can they relate to where I’m at?

Next I wanted to discuss anxiety around numbers. Anything from how many followers, post views and Instagram likes to how many emails I get from brands, how many posts I can write while managing my studies, social life and career, or how I can monetise my blog, all give me the fear. I can’t be the only one who suffers from the constant comparison to other bloggers who have tens of thousands of social media followers and blog subscribers, make heaps of cash through sponsored posts, freebies and guest blogging, own all the latest designer clothing and make-up, and seem to have all the time in the world to dedicate themselves to their blogs without life getting in the way.


Overall, I wanted to share the advice I give myself when all these feelings of doubt relating to blogging get too overwhelming, a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. To me this embodies the love I have for fashion journalism and engaging in creative communities being cruelly taken away just I perceive someone else to be more successful. When you’re just starting out, blogging can feel like talking to a brick wall, but you must remember that the blogging world is extremely competitive and above all, saturated; there will always be someone doing it ‘better’ (read: differently) than you, so you may as well embrace your unique blogging style.



Images by Skye Lyon Photography

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx


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Reasons to Stay Alive


Its Monday, which I’d say half the world hates with a passion, so probably a fitting choice for World Mental Health Day. It is estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 450 million people have mental illnesses or disorders, and thats just the ones that are reported and treated, so it is extremely important to discuss as an international issue, rather than just a Westernised phenomena. Last year, I wrote about my eating disorder, you can read that here, but this year I thought I’d focus on another pertinent area, one interlinked with every mental illness, suicide and suicidal thoughts. This is inspired my my recent revised reading of Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive, after my mum met the writer and got me a signed copy, as well as some other fantastic books about mental health recovery, and includes some of my own experience.



Reasons to Stay Alive is a story of how the writer found joy again after a harrowing experience with depression and suicide. For me, the book did exactly what it says on the tin; reminded me of all the things to be grateful for in this life and encouraged me to make the most of my time on this planet. It also provides a really accessible insight on an indescribable and bizarre phenomenon of mental illness; compressing it into a tangible explanation that is easy to relate to, no matter where on the spectrum your depression may lie. Here is my favourite quote from the book:

You will one day experience joy that matches the pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”


Of course there are countless other books on the subject of mental health, some of which have undoubtedly helped me on my journey and thousands of others too. Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown and An Apple a Day by Emma Woolf were both incredible insights into anorexia, while Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hansen and The Bulimia Help Method by Ali Kerr helped massively during various stages in my eating disorder. However, Reasons to Stay Alive really covered all bases and I believe it is a truly engaging book for anyone suffering from mental illness, so I thought I’d run a little giveaway so you lovely readers can own a copy of the inspiring tale. Enter below:
Finally I will leave you with a quote I came across while scrolling through Instagram recently, apologies as I couldn’t find the source, but it really hit home for me as someone who has come through the other side of the tunnel of depression, and I thought it might be of inspiration to those recovering. “Suicide doesn’t end the pain. It simply passes the pain onto someone else”.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx




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