Beauty, Fashion, Travel, Fitness, Wellness and Lifestyle Blog | Emtalks

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017 Reflections - The Highs And The Lows

2017 started off with tears and an awful feeling of helplessness. We said goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 in A&E with him. We were confused, angry, upset and we wanted answers. Why did my healthy brother go from being an active young man to barely being able to move or use his mind? I guess that’s the thing with social media, you see the highs, but you don’t always see the lows. It’s something I struggle with because there are a lot of moments in my life, or things I have been through that I like to keep private, they're simply too personal, too raw and I don't feel like I can discuss them, not yet anyway. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t or on the web should I say, judged if you do and judged if you don't. If you read my blog post about dealing with online trolls, you'll know that 2017 was the year of being constantly judged, told you don’t do anything for the world, told you're a bad person and all the jazz, all by people we don't even know. I'm over that now and I think everyone else is, we soon realised that it's those people with the deep-rooted problems and not us. 2017 has been an epic year, full of ups, downs, the good and the bad and I wanted to write a blog post all about 2017, looking at the highs and lows and lessons learnt so sit back and enjoy the ride. Some of it gets a little personal but I hope you will enjoy. *If you read anything, please read my final summary at the end. 

Headed to New York in January - January was incredibly special because I headed back to my favourite, New York City with Simons Malls. It was a dream come true and I fell back in love with New York (and did a little too much shopping). I'm absolutely desperate to head back this month, I long for New York pretty much every week now. You can read my ultimate travel guide to visiting NYC. Note to self: Must go to NYC a few times a year or... move there eventually. One day. 

I wrote a fair few personal posts in 2017 and big love if you read any of them, including the importance of self love, a serious heart to heart, be kinder, how to get the most out of university, not feeling good enough, 10 things you might need to hear today, overthinking and overworkingthe love and support I got on these personal posts means so much to me. As much as I adore beauty (it really is my passion and I feel like the worlds biggest beauty geek/lover), I love being me and writing from the heart which is why I try to mix my blog up with personal posts. 

Friendships: I really did lose friends in 2017, friends I never thought I'd lose, friends who just didn't support me/turned their backs on me when I needed them the most, but, I gained friends too and actually, cutting those people out of my life is a blessing in itself. 

In February I was absolutely honoured to be invited to host W Hotel's lounge for London Fashion Week, it meant I also got to meet so many of you guys!

Gigi hadid

I also got to meet Gigi Hadid during Fashion Week with Tommy Hilfiger, a brand and a lady I have loved for a long time. Must stop buying Tommy Hilfiger, this jumper is top of my wishlist currently.

March was exciting because I headed 'back home', to Barcelona. Barcelona has always been my favourite city in Europe and it just felt incredible to be back. I wrote a huge what to do in Barcelona guide too if you missed it, I'd been meaning to write it forever. I also got to visit the new rooms at the W Hotel Barcelona, somewhere I've always wanted to tick off my travel bucket list and what an exceptional stay it was. 2018, I'll definitely be back to Barcelona and if you need me you'll find me drinking all the sangria and eating all the patatas bravas.

pastel orange hair

March was also exciting because I got the chance to work with one of my favourite haircare brands, L’oreal Professional on dying my hair pink. If you've read Emtalks for a long time you'll know I've had some really difficult struggles with my hair, all down to my own fault (over bleaching and really bad extensions) but I completely lost my confidence because of it. To be in a position where my hair is now strong enough to style it regularly and dye it pink well, it feels incredible. L'oreal has long been one of my favourite brands and I've raved about L'oreal Pro far too many times so this was very pinch me! Haircare has been one of my favourite topics for a long long time, there really isn't just one favourite hair care brand I could choose, I mean, does anyone stick to just one hair care brand? Whether it's L'oreal, John Frieda, Bumble, Redken, Kerastaste - it's safe to say I have a few holy grail hair care brands flying around my shower. You can read about how my hair destroyed my confidence if you missed that post.

I wrote a blog post a while back (actually in 2016, oops sorry but it's still really relevant) about bloggers and sponsored content and really appreciate all your epic feedback when it comes to this topic but also, all your support with any of my work whether it's sponsored or organic. I know I say it a lot but it's because it's true, paid or not, it is still my honest opinion and it is still me. Money does not sway me and I turn down a lot more work than I accept, in some cases, I have turned down life-changing amounts of money because I don't believe in a brand/their product and simply cannot condone it and wouldn't ever want to promote it to my audience. Sometimes though deadlines fall after each other meaning some sponsored content has to be posted a few in a row but in my opinion, it doesn't matter because it's still me, my content and my genuine thoughts. However, I acknowledge that on some platforms you follow me on, where notifications may be more intrusive (eg, push notifications) for example, I am trying to strike a balance where I can also be pushing as much organic content as possible too. I am always so proud of every single brand I get the chance to work with (genuinely honoured) and I feel the only reason we often feel we can't shout it from the rooftops is because sadly some people still get angry/begrudge bloggers earning money. I got a really nasty private message on Instagram about this a while back and it really has stuck with me. I did try to explain that creating the content costs me, my equipment, various photographers I pay etc to give people free content to enjoy but the message was really nasty. I feel honoured this year to have had the chance to collaborate with brands I have organically and genuinely bought and loved myself for a number of years, over and over. I mean, you don't even want to know how much money I spend on Yushoi and Popchips on a weekly basis or how many bottles of Flowerbomb I've been through OR just how many Simple Micellar wipes this girl has bought. I am a true fan. Sometimes when emails like that land in my inbox I want to cry because I am so grateful and excited but also honoured, honoured that people want to work with me. I also feel so proud when a newer or less established brand contacts me because firstly, I'm a sucker for trying new stuff but also, they trust me enough to want to work with me and to me that means so much.   I’m incredibly proud of the brands I get to work with, whether it’s a new brand looking for someone to try it out and give some honest feedback or a brand I have adored forever so I guess I just want to say another big thank you if you have supported me this year. I just have no words for how much your loyal support means to me and this year will be focusing on the positive comments rather than negative ones.

nina ricci

In April, I got to shoot a campaign with my best friend for Nina Ricci. If you haven't smelt these Nina Ricci fragrances then go do it because oh my goodness, they smell divine. The reason I mentioned this is because it was amazing to be able to work alongside my beautiful bestie (and show off her amazing head of hair!)

After this, I was invited to host my first ever event with Topshop which was just outrageous and I was so excited. I feel like it's been every girls dream to do stuff with Topshop. I've grown up with Topshop. I've spent thousands in there and still continue to do so. Topshop is the best high street fashion brand and I am truly in love with them. Throughout the year, I got invited to host a few more events including the opening of the Smashbox store in Covent Garden (I'll never forget buying my first ever Smashbox primer and falling in love with the brand when it came over from America), two events with The Body Shop which just blew me away to be asked as my Mum has brought me up on The Body Shop and also an event with Space NK, Eve Lom and then Glamglow. I was one of the first people to buy Glamglow when it came over to the UK so have been flying the Glamglow flag for a very long time. As much as these are all incredible brands, brands that I adore, it means even more that I get to sit and chat to you guys. I hosted a few intimate dinners in 2017 too, one with Zizzi's, one with ASK Italian and one with Bumble and goodness, to sit with you guys and have a giggly, girlie, intimate meals? It made me so happy. I feel like I left with friends for life. I hope I can do more of this in 2018.

As controversial as it was/still is, I talked about Instagram fraud and bot buying because I truly believe it's ruining our livelihood. In 2017 I think *and hope* I used my voice a little bit more. In my personal posts I spoke up about charities that really matter to me, I tried to use my voice on topics I am incredibly passionate about. Read my blog post about giving back over the festive period and a heart to heart for more. I was somehow also awarded with an award for my charity work throughout 2017 which meant so much to me and again, is something I'd like to continue in 2018. I definitely learnt the importance of looking out for others in 2017 and realised just how great it makes me feel when I help others.

A brand I have adored for many years is Sure, I got to host a workout class with Sure in 2017 which was so exciting to share my passion for fitness.  Read about my lunchtime workout if you missed it. I'm really wanting to learn more about nutrition and health in 2018 because then I feel more informed to tell you guys stuff, but also, more informed in my own workouts too. In 2018 I would love to work with a PT to host either some form of retreat where we chat loads, cuddle, eat good food and workout, or, even just a spin and spa class at my local gym with funds going to charity. Watch this space.

In May, I took myself back to Miami. Miami is a place I adore and it was epic to catch up with a friend of mine, a friend I have adored for a very long time.

Pretty soon after, I finally got the chance to fly with Norwegian (genuinely one of my favourite flight companies now *currently trying to book flight to NYC with them this month as they are SO cheap*) and we flew to Florida but Florida, Orlando, rather than Miami. I'd go back in a heartbeat. I learnt so much about Florida and fell in love with Clearwater and Orlando. Read my huge guide to visiting Florida. 

When home, I took my family away for a staycation and this was definitely one of the best highlights of 2017. As well as my brother not being well, my Grandad wasn't either but also, my Mum needed some TLC. It didn't seem right to make them travel far so we headed an hour down the road and had the nicest retreat and change of scenery in the most beautiful cottage. I definitely plan on spoiling them with something similar in 2018. I love surprising and spoiling those close with me. Rather than materialistic gifts though, I've found experiences and just time spent together is the best. Life is short. Make memories and cherish your loved ones. Read about our staycation. 


I was invited to shoot a campaign for Aspinal in June which was incredibly exciting as I have been buying their bags for a very long time, in fact, long before they were popular. I remember my Mum discovering them and I bought her a red love heart key ring, she's had it ever since.

beauty flatlay

I got to sit down and do a lot of writing about beauty products. The thing I love the most. Just me, in my bedroom, trialling things and writing down my thoughts. I fell head over heels with many products in 2017 and definitely will struggle to choose my favourites... but for now, you can read about my best products for glowing skin because I love the photos I took on this blog post.  As much as flying places is fun, it's exhausting and sometimes I love nothing more than sitting at home and swatching things like the good old days. Hair on head. Toothpaste on spots. Can the real Em Sheldon please stand up? No dog filters allowed.

I was lucky enough to be invited to fly to France with new-to-the-UK brand Sanoflore. Just like my love for haircare, my love for skincare is huge too. I felt so incredibly lucky to go into the labs and see how beauty products are made, right from picking the actual products in the fields to seeing them get put into bottles. It really opened my eyes, particularly when it comes to natural products. You can watch my video about this here.

Carly got married. I went to my first 2017 wedding and what a dream it was. One of the kindest, sweetest ladies I have ever met (Carly Rowena) and I am so honoured to have been invited to celebrate what was one of the best days of my life with like minded people and a beautiful couple. Yep, I cried. A lot.

In June, I was invited to the L’oreal colour trophy awards we had such an incredible night and me being a massive hair geek felt a little emotional.

I then jumped on my second flight with Norwegian over to San Fransisco, it was time for the trip of a lifetime to celebrate my boyfriend finishing his masters. We spent over 4 weeks in America and did the whole of the West Coast, something I think we will end up doing every year now because we honestly had the best time, ever. You can read all my tips for a West Coast road trip if you missed that too. Out there, I shot a campaign for asos which was very pinch me, as you'll know if you follow me on YouTube, I do love an asos haul. I mean, who doesn't?

I was introduced to a very special skincare brand called YES TO and have been buying it ever since. I do love natural beauty and YES TO is epic. 

I went to my first ever fitness festival with Les Mills! It was crazy exciting and I cannot wait to go back in 2018. I did a whole day of spinning, HIIT and even talked on a panel about my favourite workout classes. It was amazing to see so many different people of different ages, all getting stuck in and living for those endorphins. 

I started my partnership with Yushoi which was a dream come true after falling in love with them in Morrisons. I really do spend thousands a year on their healthy snacks haha. 

July was special, as much as I adored my time in the US, I missed my family. I was pretty worried about my brother when I was in the USA and to be honest, wanted him to come join us but he just wasn't well enough. In July however, a big turning point, my brother came for a very special weekend in London with Matt and I to celebrate Matt's birthday. I got to take him to my favourite London hot spots (including my favourite bar in London)

I then finally decided to move to London.  So it was time for months and months of house hunting...

I flew back to Barcelona later that month with James Read, an absolutely wonderful human and met the nicest group of ladies too (oh, and ate all the tapas). I'm a sucker for spending time with like minded people. 

Shop the dress online here

In August, I worked on a second partnership with ASOS and shot something exciting in Italy. 

I was invited to fly to Italy to partner with o2. I have always dreamt of going to Italy properly, aka, longer than 24 hours and wow, what a treat the Amalfi coast is. It really is a beautiful place. You can watch my video about the Amalfi coast here and read my blog post with Amalfi coast tips and visiting guide. The best bit? I made these amazing memories with my partner in crime. 

Matt and I took part in the Dior Love Chain campaign which was incredibly exciting. Two of my favourite things, this guy and pizza.

I've always looked up to Social Chain and they chose me as one of 10 influencers 'redefining style in 2017' which was such an incredible accolade. 

wilderness festival

My favourite festival is Wilderness festival and in August I headed back there with Muck Boot. the festival is the most fun, whimsical and magical festival, full of the best food you will ever try. 

influencer beauty nighty

Now for something really exciting, I hosted a pamper night lock in with 20+ of you at Origins in York. If you've followed me for a while you'll know I have been buying Origins products for a very long time (I'm a sucker for skincare) but getting to have an intimate, pampering night in with so many of you in such a lovely, intimate space made my absolute year. I'd love to do more like that this year. 


I launched my own limited edition beauty subscription box with Roccabox and worked closely with the founder to ensure a number of my favourite brands were inside the box. The response was so lovely!

dean eastmond

Something I wont ever regret is this blog post I wrote about Dean Eastmond.  As sad as it is, I often look back at the tweets and texts Dean sent me about this blog post. He said he was so lucky to have me as a friend and I'll never forget that. In September, shortly after I published this post, Dean passed away. My heart was broken and still is. Dean is my biggest inspiration and something I will carry with me for the rest of my life is to 'Be More Dean'. That means, helping others, pushing for important changes and using my voice. I told Dean how stupid it felt writing about trivial things like fashion whilst he was struggling and he told me to never quit. I'll always remember what he told me. I love you Dean and owe most of my inspiration and motivation to you. You did not deserve to leave us so soon, I am so angry with the world for making this happen but I know you wouldn't want me to be angry. 

soho farm house

One place I have always wanted to stay is Soho Farm House. In September that finally happened and I hope in 2018 I can stay there a few more times. It really is paradise. Cointreau, thank you for the best trip (I can also now make a mean Cointreau fizz cocktail - cocktail party anyone?!)

In September I met boss lady Nicole Scherzinger, Dean loved her and she recorded a message for him.

I was also one of the first people to try Fenty Beauty and also one of the first people to get my review live. What an incredible range and such a big deal for beauty lovers globally. 

I was invited on a last minute, whirlwind 24 hour trip to Verona and this girl cannot turn down carbs. I learnt all about ASK Italian and it brought back those times when I had an interview to work there! I also made fresh pasta for the first time in my life. We learn something new every day... You can watch the video about my time there here. 

September was a total whirlwind, after Verona it was straight to Stockholm (my first time in Sweden) for one of the most fun, foodie fuelled and friend fuelled weekends with Hoppa. I got to catch up with an old friend who's like family and it was amazing to introduce him and Matt. Matt got the seal of approval. Read my budget friendly guide to visiting Stockholm

We headed back to London for a very special night with Jean Paul Gaultier and one I definitely wont forget. Scandal is sexy, beautiful and just blew me away. I loved meeting the team behind Jean Paul Gaultier and learned so much about the fragrance world and a brand I have looked up to for a long time.

dji spark drone photo

At the end of September it was time to head straight to Greece, finally for a family trip and a much needed trip it was. We stayed at Grecotel and my family loved it however two days in my Grandad fell over and broke his hip, he had to be airlifted to a number of hospitals leaving my family heartbroken. On the way back to England, he had a stroke. After losing his eye sight and months in hospital, he is finally home now. It was my families one chance to have a proper break but sadly these things happen and I will make it up to them this year as they deserve the world. The miracle? My Grandad's eye sight has come back and he can drive again. One thing losing people in the last few years has taught me is to be grateful to every breath. My Grandad beat the odds against him and somehow got better. 

In October we flew straight over to Grenada. Somewhere I'd never even thought of flying to and wow, the people are so wonderful. I had the best week ever and just completely switched off and relaxed. 

Little miss spendaholic, finally bought a Burberry trench! A big moment for my wardrobe that's for sure.

When I got home, I shot an exciting campaign with Holland And Barrett about the importance of clean beauty. I worked with such a talented team. 

Next it was time for a very special sleepover with Boots. I also got to spend the night with the nicest bunch of ladies.

shangri la the shard hotel

November was all about bonfire night, one of my favourite nights of the year! I was invited to The Shard (somewhere I have always wanted to stay) and we watched the fireworks across London with John Frieda. Mum and I have been using John Frieda for years, in fact, John Frieda Frizz Ease was one of the first products I ever stole from my Mum! 

Range Rover velar

I'm a sucker for a staycation and headed to one of my favourite places, The Lake District with Range Rover! It was an incredible opportunity to try the new Range Rover Velar which is honestly incredible, one of the nicest cars I have driven. It was also wonderful to find out more about Jaguar Landrover as my family have Jaguars and Range Rovers, the inner car lover inside me was particularly excited. You can watch more here. 

rudding park
Speaking of staycations, I treated my brother to a very special spa break for his birthday. My Mum, my brother and I headed down the road to Rudding Park and for the first time in a long time, I watched both of them smile and throughly relax. I'm happy to say we've now all been back for a second visit and it certainly wont be our last. I treated my brother to another trip there for his Christmas present too, it really is our happy place. I've visited a lot of spas over the last few years and this is one of the best. I definitely realised this year that the art of giving is much better than recieving.

Conrad maldives
We thought we were finished with travelling and then headed over to Conrad in The Maldives. I finally got to eat in an underwater restaurant and wow, what a treat it was. You can watch my video at Conrad Maldives here. 

kandolhu maldives
Then we jumped on a boat and headed over to see our friends at Kandolhu eek! We fell in love with Kandolhu back in 2016 and it really is our happy place so to go back and be able to relax was just incredible. All the staff remembered us too, making it even more special. Watch my video from my time at Kandolhu here. If you ever want to see my travels you can follow #EmTalksTravels on Instagram. I really do feel incredibly grateful to be able to travel to so many beautiful places and learn about new cultures, experiences but also, meet new people along the way. 

Conrad Maldives restauarant

topshop grey boots

I hosted my second talk for Topshop in December (I'm really enjoying hosting talks and events, I feel happy when just stood up, talking about topics whether it's fashion or beauty) and was then told the exciting news that I'd been chosen as a Topshop Girl. To be a 'sort of' ambassador for Topshop - I guess - is beyond my wildest dreams. Topshop and asos have always been my number 1s and wowza, I just don't even have enough words to express my gratitude. 

the ritz dinner

I got to catch up with a few of my favourite blogger girls in December as we headed to The Ritz for dinner with Dior beauty. It was one of the most magical dinners I've ever been to. 

In December I wrote about 23 things I learnt to say hello to my birthday, see it as the lessons I've learnt in the last year, the things I've be letting go of and the things I've been focusing on more.

Just before I hit 24, I got an offer accepted on a house in London. A house I bought all by myself with no help from anyone else. This is something I'm going to discuss on a video or more personal blog post but I've always been told I couldn't do things and at one point in our lives, everything was taken from us so I cried my eyes out when I found my offer had been accepted. I didn't do this for me, it's for security for my family. 

So, there we have it, a 'quick' summary of 2017. I could go on forever, about the ups and the downs but I wanted to *try* and condense this as much as I could. 2017 was full of some incredible ups but also, some horrific downs. We thought we were going to lose my Grandad, there were many points too when I felt the same about my brother (my life without my brother is honestly nothing) and then the light in everyones life, Dean passed away. But, all of these horrendous things have taught me lessons and hopefully, will make me a better person. I know that I want to continue helping others. I know Dean will always inspire me and I will forever fight for chronic illness so people do not suffer like my family have with my brother. The effects are devastating and we need to use our voices.

One of the main reasons it's taken me so long to publish this is because I wanted to write it on the 31st December but my brother had another awful turn with his illness just as the clocks hit midnight into 2018. It felt wrong to write about happy moments if I'm honest. I guess it helps to put life into perspective and makes me realise that I don't want anyone to suffer like this going forward. I don't want another year of pain for anyone I love. It's crazy but you can go to the most beautiful places in the world and have the most pinch me moments work wise but if the people you love the most aren't okay, then it counts for nothing really. I am proud of where little old me has come (it's okay to pat yourself on the back sometimes) and I am eternally grateful for these epic and wonderful experiences - truly, but in 2018, I'd like my brother to get back to full health so he can come along for the ride too. He supports me so much and I'd love him to be able to enjoy some experiences with me too. I'm going to work my little butt off to ensure he gets better, to make Dean proud and, also, just take some more me time for my well being, whether that means fitting more yoga in or just sleeping a little bit more (oh and not forgetting regular baths because bathtime = zen Em). 

2017 taught me that life can be short and really cruel. We've gotta embrace it and be kinder to ourselves. We really can be overly critical and harsh. I have been listening to your feedback and comments and I want to put out some more raw content too and give some more insights into this and some of the things I have been through too in the hopes that it will help. I recently tested an Instagram live where we chatted more intimately and I want to do more like that. I want to understand you guys and listen. I appreciate your support so much and love you so much, roll on 2018. Thank you guys, for everything. Let's do this. As always, let me know if there's anything you enjoyed or would like to see more of. 

You might also like:

Make 2018 Your Best Yet
Be Kinder
Not feeling good enough
10 things you might need to hear today
Overthinking and overworking

Lots of love, Em x

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