If Carlsberg did instameets they would probably look like the HiHo Silver ‘HiHoAndCo’ instameet that took place on Monday 11th February at the dreamiest of locations at Blackdown Shepherd Huts down in a very sunny Somerset.
Feeling very 70s boho chic in the dreamiest of locations
For those who wonder, what on earth is an instameet? Well, it’s basically a gathering of enthusiastic folk who are active on Instagram, blog or vlog, they get together, mix with one & other, plus some fab brands & make some great content.
However, a HiHo Silver instameet is on a whole different level which I will share & let you in on some of the secrets that made it a truly magical day. As there is something quite special when the country & equestrian tribe get together.
I was lucky enough to bag a ticket to the first ever HiHo Silver instameet Style, Skills and Silver back in Autumn 2018 which was held at the beautiful Fish Hotel nestled in the Cotswolds. I knew as soon as there was a whisper of a second event – that I’d already booked the day off work, started thinking about my outfit (more Claudia Schiffer than Kat Slater according to Jess from Gee Gee & Me on her blog) & was looking forward to meeting up with my online now real-life friends I made last time.
The theme for this year’s instameet ‘Be all you can be’ was the brainchild of the very talented Queen Bee of HiHo Silver Emma Warren – to inspire attendees to be the best you can be.
Apt words from William Blake to set the day ‘I will not reason and compare’
I’d seen photos of shepherd huts before, but nothing quite prepared me for Blackdown Shepherd Huts, which is only 45 minutes up the road from where I live in Dorset. There’s a real 70s whimsical romantic feeling about them & some of the photos I took wouldn’t look too far out of place at Coachella Festival or maybe Glastonbury.
The Tea Room was our main base & we had use of 3 of their gorgeous decorated huts for the workshops, as well as a dinky hut for lunch to be served from.
Plus, we were very lucky to be taken on a behind the scenes tour by Blackdown’s Alan to see the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into each hut. I am now working out in my head where I could fit a Double Braced Shepherd Hut. I wonder if the horses would mind one in their field?
What did the day involve?
After initial meet & greets in the Tea Room which was decked out with some of my favourite brands (HiHo Silver, Joules, Mackenzie & George & Fairfax & Favor – the only brand I’m yet to have made a purchase from!), coffee – made by none other than HiHo Silver’s King of the Road Andrew Ransford & yummy cake, we were split into working groups for our sessions.
Want it all!
Session 1 was run by inspiring Instagrammer & entrepreneur Lucy Heath who’s main business is selling backdrops to Instagrammers, foodies & big brands through her business Capture by Lucy. If you look at your Instagram squares carefully, I can guarantee there will be a flatlay using one of her prints.
Lucy had some great points which really resonated with the group & me. One was around ‘post with purpose’ & think about the audience you want to attract into your ever-changing lifestyle magazine – don’t just ‘shout to the man on the moon’. And that’s when it hit home about why I love Instagram – it’s a place to curate your own magazine, share images & words, & all on a free platform. Mine is an eclectic mix of Grazia, Horse & Hound or Surf Girl (well in my head!) – now I just need to decide how to harness those creative thoughts.
Lucy showing us how it’s done
After our pep talk from Lucy, we were let out into the wild (well, outside!) to create our magical flatlays armed with accessories that reflected our personality. If you check out the #HiHoAndCo hashtag, you’ll see lots of the creations shared & a variety of personalities coming through.
Mine is definitely the ‘imperfect perfect’ mix of blues reflecting my love for coastal, words & of course a dash of HiHo Silver in the form of their gorgeous friendship bracelet – in turquoise – obviously!
My imperfect perfect flatlay
Lunch was back in the Tea Room & involved a few wise words by King of the Road Mr HiHo Silver Andrew Randsford thanking everyone for attending. & then it was time for the yummiest food made by Emma’s husband Andrew (different Andrew). I had pheasant goujons in a wrap washed down with drinks from west country brand Hullabaloo – I managed to try both the raspberry & elderflower flavour which where both yummy & I rekcon would go down pretty well with gin!
Lunch table goals
Session 2 for the afternoon I was in the beautiful Double Braced Shepherd Hut with photographer Sophie Callahan & a mix of familiar & new faces. Our session was talking about Personal Branding – something I often struggle with as by day I work in a branding/digital world for a big retail brand, but then to think about your own personal brand can feel pretty daunting & confusing.
Sophie has a lovely way of making you feel at ease & no question was a silly question, allowing us to open up & have those deeper conversations about pitching to brands & negotiating. Armed with top tips, the second half of the session was to create great content involving brands we could tag in our posts.
I definitely have my eye on a pair of Fairfax & Favor boots!
Tea, cake & close – involved some mega cakes made by some of the attendees including some scrummy Macaroons made by Elizabeth Jones & branded HiHoAndCo cupcakes – which were delicious. The closing session involved an open discussion around those pesky ASA guidelines around what you should tag as ‘gifted’ or ‘ad’, so you don’t land yourself in hot water like some big influencers recently did. The general consensus was that it’s still grey-ish.
The Goodie Bag of Dreams
Never in my 15+ years of working in retail, have I seen a goodie bag quite like this one. All the brands involved in the event donated a very meaningful gift, & when I say meaningful, I mean personalised down to a tee & I love them all…. Here goes my big thank you & I’ve linked to the brand’s website for the products.
Goodie bag of dreams…
Mackenzie & George – luggage tags – I think someone had a chuckle when they personalised my BW one on Black & White cowhide.
HiHo Silver – gorgeous ‘B’ charm bead necklace
Fairfax & Favor – baby blue (so me!) tassel for my keys or handbag
Joules – mustard dotty scarf – a colour I wouldn’t normally dare to wear
Blackdown Shepherd Hut – bespoke chopping board made for the attendees, which will be perfect for flat lay props & lemon for my gin!
Albion Saddlery – leather soap/balm – some people will save this for their boots/bags, I will be using it on my saddle for extra dressage points
Rhea Freeman – motivational card – I wouldn’t expect anything less from Rhea
Sophie Callahan Photography – gorgeous print (not featured in photo)
Dressage Anywhere – discount for taking part in a comp (not featured in photo)
The Dream Team – #HiHoAndCo would not have taken place without the Dream Team. A mix of creatives, wordsmiths, visionaries’, introverts, extroverts, countryside, equestrian personalities, & love of good quality brands all mixed together make up this team who pulled off something quite magical. Go check out their Instagram pages to find out more about these amazing ladies:
Emma Warren – Queen Bee at HiHo Silver
Rhea Freeman – PR, Marketing, Social Guru, brain behind Small & Supercharged Facebook Group & now Podcast
Sophie Callahan – Photographer, Blogger, Vlogger & soon to be yummy mummy
Melanie Clarihew– Founder of Mackenzie & George & all things exquisite. Plus, her lovely hubby Chris made our branded leather lanyards, which I’m already proudly wearing to work
Rachel Bragg – Sweet Images Photography & west country equestrian neighbour
Ruthie Chappell – Organiser extraordinaire & founder of Dressage Anywhere
Plus, special guests that attended on the day included:
Annie Belton Green – Albion – part of equestrian heritage.
Alice Plunkett or Mrs Fox Pitt – one of the most knowledgeable ladies out there in racing & eventing
Alan – Blackdown Shepherd Huts – one of the nicest people you could meet who let us loose at their wonderful location for the day.
Final thoughts When I was re-telling my day to a friend a few days after the #HiHoAndCo instameet & explaining that my boho shepherd hut photo was taken at the end of the day (leading photo), when I’d usually look knackered, but was still beaming & felt mega in my beautiful new dress from Luella from Yard, Poundbury.
Her response was spot on, I was doing something that was feeding my soul, which pretty much sums up why all week I was feeling like a ‘buzzy Becky’ brimming with ideas, & still managing the day job, horses & everything in between. You stop with the excuses & just do it because you know it makes you happy, & mixing with like-minded folk, energetic brands & creatives definitely make me happy.
I can’t wait to see what the team comes up with next, & no matter what, I already know it’s going to be an awesome day & I need to reserve that day’s holiday to feed my soul.
To find out more about the #HiHoAndCo day – just search the hashtag on Instagram, plus if you fancy watching some of the amazing vlogs or reading some of the attendee’s blogs go check them out:
- Rachel Bragg – Sweet Images
- Melanie – Mackenzie & George
- Jessica – Gee Gee & Me
- Sophie Callahan
- Anna Rainbow