Kelly Eastwood is my Woman of Substance for May. Kelly, 34, was raised in East Africa, and after attending an all-girl’s British boarding school, followed by LAMDA, she gained an MA from Edinburgh University. With a classically eclectic style and renowned red-stained lips, Kelly now writes The London Chatter, a fashion and lifestyle blog from the city where she now calls home. She is creative and engaging on social media and has over 60,000 followers on Instagram. Her style motto is, 'Life is short… buy the shoes!'
We met for lunch in the early spring sunshine at Petersham Nurseries, London.
Kim Winser: Kelly, what an interesting life you have had so far! Do tell me about your childhood in Africa and how that has influenced your adult life.
Growing up in Kenya was beyond magical, and having a sense of the wider picture is important when working in fashion and living in London. You can easily get sucked up into the fabulous and the frivolity, but having an awareness of how that you can benefit important causes is key. Using the platform I have created to draw particular attention to the illegal wildlife trade and the urgent plight of elephant and rhino, is my focus.
I know you go back to Africa as often as you can – what is it that you miss about Africa when here, and what do you miss about London when there?
I've led such a privileged adult life in that I have always enjoyed a dual existence in both places, each fulfilling me in equal measure. I adore the vibrancy and buzz of London, the conversation, the culture, and my friends who are all so brilliantly creative and eclectic. And then there is Kenya, the most exceptionally peaceful and wild country, where I go to breathe! I spend time with my family and visiting my oldest friends and it's ultimately where I feel my most centred, yet my most alive. So I suppose, I miss the storm when I'm in Kenya, and the calm when I'm in London... But you need a mix to enjoy the rainbow!
With so much travel in your life, you must be the queen of packing. What travel tips would you offer?
I travel with a lot of basics I can dress up and down with flats/heels and accessories accordingly, and I find jumpsuits are the easiest throw on for any occasion so I always take a couple with me everywhere. When flying I always have a SISLEY PARIS face mask to keep hydrated, cashmere socks and a huge Winser London cashmere wrap.
Your fashion style is eclectic – you can wear boyish brogues and baggy boyfriend jeans one day and a glam long dress with killer heels the next. What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe – and why?
Yes, I'm unquestionably a 14 year old boy at times and I could live in boyfriend jeans, cashmere jumpers and leopard print trainers, but my treasured feathery, sparkly Matthew Williamson gowns and my Jimmy Choo habit are the ultimate show stoppers in my wardrobe.
What was the inspiration for your blog The London Chatter and how did you start it? Have you been surprised by its success?
As a jobbing actress, I wanted a creative outlet I could throw my energies into consistently. Having always had part-time work in fashion, from working in a boutique to personal shopping and styling, I was frequently asked where to buy certain things. Starting The London Chatter was really just a hobby, sharing my new finds and favourites online, and as this was before blogging had really taken off in London, and pre-Instagram, I never really imagined it would raise much interest. So yes, it came as a great surprise when I couldn't make castings or auditions because I was so busy with the blog!
As an established successful blogger how do you manage to ensure you stay true to who you and The London Chatter brand are?
I think given my age, I am lucky to know exactly who I am and what I like, so I'm not easily drawn in by opportunities I might later regret. Having that strong sense of self and 'brand' is pretty vital.
Blogging has grown exponentially since the concept first launched. What advice would you offer someone considering starting a new blog?
Blogging is now very over saturated, however, like any industry, there is always room for a unique voice. Commitment to your content, a vast amount of energy, and a passion for what you're writing about is essential.
It’s great to hear you have recently become a columnist for HELLO! Fashion Monthly. What have you decided to focus on?
I have my own monthly page where I share my fashion and lifestyle discoveries which is a really fun and new avenue for me. It's great to be part of a team, and exciting to see the blog develop in different ways - ironically in this case, into print!
You have long been a fan and supporter of Winser London. Which are your favourite pieces from our spring/summer collection?
I was excited to see the Cotton Roll Neck Jumper available in Vintage Rose, as I've worn my light blue one (tucked into dungarees or a high waisted sequinned skirt) to death! The new Intarsia Jumper also caught my eye, both affordable and statement chic!