Interview | Trends with Benefits: "We thought it would be a fun project to document all of our creations"
LSi interview Leeds Uni’s very own creators of the award-winning DIY blog, Trends With Benefits.
Tell us a bit about what the aims of the blog are.
We aim to share our creative inspiration and designs with others. We want to show our readers that high street fashions can be made at home quite easily. With us being students for three years we know money can be tight when the loan runs out, so we want to share our tutorials with as many people as possible.
So what gave you the idea for the project? How did you come up with the name?
We decided to start the blog when the three of us were despairing at the fact that we couldn’t afford to buy lots of lovely things in Topshop. When scrolling through online shops we found ourselves saying, “We could make that for half the price!” and we thought it would be a fun project to document all of our creations. Coming up with a name was probably one of the hardest tasks. We actually ended up having our lounge full of people brainstorming ideas with us, as having the perfect name is so fundamental to the success of a site. We actually read the phrase ‘Trends With Benefits’ in an article in Company magazine and thought how appropriate it was. It’s fun, relevant and very memorable!
You’ve won a couple of awards from Cosmo and Company, what’s it like to be recognised on such a national scale? What did you expect from the blog when it first started?
We were nominated for our first Cosmopolitan Blog Award when TWB was only four months old so we were so shocked but incredible happy, that such a big name, such as Cosmopolitan, had seen potential in our little blog, let alone given us an award. Winning Company magazine’s ‘Best Craft Blog’ award back in May 2013 was probably our proudest and most emotional moment as not only did it mark an incredible achievement for the three of us but it also came at the end of Em and Kendall’s University degrees. It was the cherry on top of an incredible 15 months. When we first started TWB we never expected it to grow as large as it has done. But we definitely wouldn’t want it any other way.
How do you fit the blog alongside your studies? Suprisingly, none of you take artsy courses, where does your creativity come from?
We started TWB when we were in our second year at Leeds and it was a lot of work getting it up and running. Luckily, there were three of us and we all lived together so that eased the workload. When one of us had an essay due, the other two would step up. It worked out so well!
We always made sure to make time for our weekly Sunday ‘crafternoons’ though. We studied degrees spanning from Medical Engineering, through Psychology, to Philosophy, so not necessarily the most creative of subjects. But we are all very crafty and love to vent our creative energy on projects for the blog. It was a great release for us to do something outside of uni work that we all enjoyed.
Which magazines and blogs do you read for inspiration?
We love Company magazine! They always have so much cool crafty inspiration in their pages.
What’s been your favourite DIY make?
Our favourite DIYs are always the ones we create together. It is so fun to bounce ideas of each other. It might sound odd to say but a lot of the tutorials we have the most fun making are the ones that have gone horribly wrong. There was an incident with a lace skirt that ended disastrously, (and subsequently not going online) but that was such fun to make.
What about students with a smaller budget, where can they find materials to get crafty with?
Kirkgate Market is the best place to buy your materials. We buy pretty much all of our supplies from there. There are so many great, cheap fabric stalls and haberdasheries to go and have a browse through.
The website looks very sleek and professional. What’s your advice to any budding bloggers out there? How can students get their blog noticed and respected?
Take your time! It took us so long to get our blog looking the way we wanted it to. Also, write about what you love. That is what people want to read. Don’t try and follow what everyone else is doing, be different and then you will get noticed. Getting in touch with other bloggers is also a good way to get noticed, get involved and make friends. The blogging community is very friendly and there will always be someone that will be happy to help you out.
What’s next for Trends with Benefits?
We are hopefully going to be expanding into the world of YouTube. We are planning on creating crafty videos to accompany the tutorials on the blog and also provide ‘How To’ videos to teach others the skills we have learnt along the way. Watch this space.