Hello gorgeous! Today is the 30th December, and WOW it has felt like a long year! Twelve months ago I was celebrating my 10th business birthday, the release of my burlesque coffee table book STRIP/TEASE and gearing up for an absolutely stellar year of photography and travel… only to find that I spent the majority of it in my cosy little studio at home! If I’m truly honest, 2020 has been the hardest year to date for both my business and my mental health, and I have ridden the corona-coaster of emotions far too many times for my own liking. I still feel like I’m in firefighting mode, doing my best to keep my small business alive… and there’s no doubt that many of you feel the same way. However, this year has also shown me the power of community and I have been overwhelmed with the love, strength & support given by those around me. You’ve always had my back, but this year you’ve gone above and beyond to lift me when I’ve needed it most. And to you all, I will be forever grateful.
So, here we are, approaching the end of a year that will probably get taught in schools history one day, trying to plan for our futures amidst a LOT of uncertainty, both COVID-19 and Brexit related. Perhaps this is a little indulgent, but today I wanted to make a list of my highlights of 2020, to show that even from the confines of lockdown, amazing things can happen – and WILL happen – in 2021…
In 2020 I hit the ground running in January with the long-awaited launch of my online print store! Starting with just four print options of yours truly, by request, I’ve now got over 10 options to choose from, including exclusive signed prints from select pinups and UK burlesque performers. I’m hoping to expand this for 2021 – who would you like to see prints of next year?
One of my most joyous highlights of 2020 was seeing Cirque Du Soleil’s Luzia at the Royal Albert Hall – and even more poignant considering their struggles throughout lockdown. I’ve always been a huge fan of their shows and I’m so glad to hear they’re coming out of 2020 with new funding. I cannot wait to book another show and support them as the company adapts and responds in 2021.
February also saw the return of Cabaret Roulette, under the guidance of new house mother Crayola, and it was a pleasure to be there with my camera to photograph the show! As fleeting as the 2020 cabaret season was, I’m keeping everything crossed that we’ll be back at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in 2021 for plenty more shows.
This month saw the launch of my Patreon channel, and so the first half the month (pre-lockdown) was spent excitedly shooting exclusive boudoir content featuring incredible collaborations with Blossom&Buttercups and Felicity Furore! I was so grateful for these two weeks, as not only did I enter lockdown on an absolute shoot high, but it also meant I had enough new content to keep me posting regularly throughout the first 14 weeks of lockdown. Silver linings, eh?
It was also the month that my incredible publishers, Working Class Publishing, supported me – along with their entire roll call of authors – by offering 100% of all proceeds raised by STRIP/TEASE sales that month as royalties. Having lost an entire year’s worth of bookings in a matter of days, their kindness, as well as everyone who bought a book that month, played a huge part in protecting my small business this year, and I will never be able to find the words to express my gratitude for that level of support.
Is there anything better than receiving surprise champagne in the post? Only if it comes with a note attached from your publishers congratulating you on STRIP/TEASE becoming an award-winning book! Picking up a bronze medal in the 2020 Ippy Awards, it has helped to massive raise the profile of the book. Plus it means all books now get shipped with a gorgeous metallic sticker of joy!
PIVOT! After several weeks of uncertainty, I reached out to the wonderful Blossom&Buttercups and asked her if she would take a chance on a virtual boudoir shoot with me. It turns out the results were a huge hit, and a brand new offering of Virtual Boudoir Shoots was released into the world. I honestly couldn’t have predicted how popular these would be – and from their humble Facetime origins, I’m chuffed to pieces with what we’ve created this year. Virtual Boudoir Shoots are officially here to stay, and I can’t wait to level them up further in 2021.
It’s not completely unheard of that I cry after a boudoir shoot – some of you just have the most touching life stories and – but the tears of relief I felt after my first in-person shoot after lockdown is something I will never forget! Vicky Von Doom, your shoot is not only one of my highlights of 2020, but also of my career!
June also saw me feature as a guest on burlesque icon Jo Weldon’s Book Club! Having admired Jo ‘Boobs’ Weldon for years as both a burlesque performer as well as for her work on the intersections of sex work, fashion, dress, and culture, it was such a landmark moment for me and my career as a burlesque photographer to be welcomed into her online space.
In July I appeared naked on The BBC! Aurally, that is, although the recording was done completely in the buff. Having put it out to the universe at the end of 2019 that I wanted to raise my profile through podcasts in 2020, the universe treated me to four podcast interviews throughout 2021, with the first being The Naked Podcast. Heading into Kings Cross, armed with a box of gluten free and vegan cupcakes, it was a delight to spend the afternoon fully exposed, both physically and emotionally, with Kat and Jenny. You can listen to the episode here (as well as on any other good podcasting platform)
July also saw the launch of the Gilded Lilies: A Sparklewren Retrospective exhibition over at The Underpinnings Museum, which founder, Karolina Laskowska, and I had been working on behind the scenes since 2017. Its completely free to access and well worth a peek, if only for the pictures!
Plus, if that wasn’t enough, I also managed to get in an editorial photoshoot for my favourite Art Deco bar, Fontaine’s. I’ve missed hanging out there so much. Shall we all agree to meet there for a cocktail when life returns to ‘somewhat normal’?
With the announcement that close contact beauty services could resume, we were finally able to press the green button on an exciting new editorial campaign for London and Hertfordshire based intimate waxing salon Brilliant Brazilian! Featuring Fuller Figure Fuller Bust’s Georgina, model Jess Yupele and burlesque performer Demi Noire, I’m still sitting on the majority of these images, but I hear the launch date will be VERY soon…
August also saw me embrace some of my legacy skills, with a gorgeous digital illustration job for Rock N Roll Bride Magazine. I fell out of love with illustration for a really long time – my degree took away my love for the art form – but it was really fun to revisit and hopefully it will spark some more creativity in 2021.
Can you believe we managed to squeeze in one Boudoir Makeover Day this summer?! It definitely took some planning, but we were able to switch the day around, change location and make it work for our incredible attendees!
Celebrating my first October in the UK for several years, we were treated to an unseasonably warm and sunny autumn this year – making it the perfect weather for an outdoor shoot for Glamour Bunny Clothing. These will be released with the launch of next Spring’s campaign, so keep an eye out for those in the coming months.
Second pivot of the year! Behind the scenes I do a lot of work with brands, but never seem to shout about it, so I set up my new project, Branding By Tigz, which focuses on my work supporting fearless entrepreneurs and badass brands! I’ve set myself a goal of launching the website in January and its so close to being ready! In the meantime, you can find @BrandingByTigz on Instagram here, along with some of my recent brand work.
October additionally brought me joy in the form of Bea’s Maternity Shoot! I’ve been saying for a little while that I’d love to shoot more maternity content – and October granted my wish with three pregnant clients in a week! Bea’s interview will be live on the blog in January, but for now here’s a sneak peek.
Despite being excluded from both the Furlough and SEISS government schemes, some good news finally arrived in November in the form of a £5000 Respond Adapt & Strengthen Grant from Herts Growth Hub as part of the European Regional Development Fund. This grant was specifically provided to fund training, development and minor equipment for local businesses in light of Covid-19 and has helped fund a new MacBook Pro to replace my 5-year old model thats been on it’s last legs for several months, plus some film lighting equipment and a microphone. These will help me level up my Virtual offerings for 2021 and should see the creation of much more digital content including video… and maybe even a podcast?!
Ending the year on a total high note, it was great to round off the year with an interview about my career as a boudoir and burlesque photographer on the What’s The Tease Podcast with South African burlesque producer Pillow Talk. Pillow is an incredible interviewer and had definitely done a lot of research beforehand, which led to some pretty deep and insightful answers. I definitely recommend a listen!
What were your highlights of 2020?
So, whats next for 2021? Everything’s pretty fluid at the moment, as I guess it might be for most humans at the moment. I have a little bucket list of dreams to work towards, but I’m beign kind on myself as the world settles again. I guess we find out what happens with Brexit and Covid-19 in January… and then kick some ass!
Happy New Year, Darlings.