Paris by Accident…

Paris by Accident – Maika Crampton

I happened to be in Paris on a Papercouture job and didn’t make any plans about what to see in this beautiful city during our very limited time off. In a way it is a bit scary not really knowing where to go because there is always the possibility of a big disappointment for not “getting it right” but then on the other hand I have experienced on numerous occasions that every city is like any city, really, and sometimes when one is rushing around trying to fit in as many ‘worthy’ sights as possible, one is in danger of overlooking the many little magical moments that make a place special! So when we got on the B train from the airport we spontaneously got off at Champs de Mars just to have a peek … and got hit with this…


If it had been the only thing I saw in Paris on this trip, it would’ve been enough. I reckon. But there was one other thing that had been losely on my mind to go and visit which was the cemetery Père Lachaise with its fabulously decadent tomb stones and to stumble across a famous grave which we did … the great French novelist and playwriter Honoré de Balzac, a rather handsome grave, as resting places go.


After our little excursion into mortality we didn’t really know what to do so we just meandered along the Rue de Roquette back towards Voltaire Metro station which was rather uneventful other than we popped into an electrical shop to buy a phone charger which was rubbish and didn’t work we found out later back in the hotel … the guys in the shop must’ve had a right laugh.

From the Place Léon Blum we followed the Rue de Roquette further on and stumble into a brilliant little area full or fascinating little eateries and vintage shops … the perfect combination if you ask me. Next to the rather abundant presence of Patisseries and Boulangieries in Paris (only surmounted by Pharmacies … go figure) there were all sorts of little cosy places that looked sometimes a little run down but were utterly intriguing and unpretentious so much so one could have spent quite a few hours just ‘bistro hopping’ and ‘vintage shopping’.


There were numerous little hotels, too, that I am sure are worth checking out and from the Place de la Bastille you can walk everywhere: Notre Dame, The Louvre, Les Champs Elysees, Le Palais, Les Tuileries Gardens. Or just stroll along the Seine, Paris is very relaxed like that.

My daughter asked me what one does when visiting another country. The answer is: See. Eat. Shop. Done.


I wish.

FvB x

Love your Bank at Last

Last night Sugar Group had the pleasure of meeting a CCO. Metro Bank’s Chief Canine Officer! Others on the high street have Louis Hamilton and Jess Ennis, but this little 4-legged bundle of Yorkshire-ness, who attends events and seminars along with owners, Vernon and Shirley Hill, is the star. He pays attention and woofs at the good bits!

We were invited to the first of Metro Bank’s Women in Business events to hear how it’s done – or how Shirley with dog Sir Duffield “Duffy” in tow, gets it done. Shirley arrives with the pooch in the pouch and tells us she is a daughter, a wife, a mother and an entrepreneur. She is not a sister nor an aunt. This sassy, savvy and funny American is instantly likeable as she tells her story. She is honest – we like that – has changed things and re-invented the wheel – we like that more – and has a gravelly laugh which is infectious – which we love. Shirley started in business at the tender age of 9 making knitted pot holders for her neighbours. Many of us in the room didn’t know what a pot holder was whilst the others looked miffed they hadn’t come up with the idea before Shirley and could now be sitting at the helm of Pot Holders R Us. Cleverly, she managed to find out the colour schemes of kitchens (how she did that, she never said) before hitting the loom and making pot holders that would co-ordinate with neighbours’ colour schemes. “Oooh that matches my kitchen” her eager customers would cry as Shirley smiled innocently and collected the dosh!

Shirley is married to Vernon, assisting him with the architecture, design and interiors of the Metro Bank sites. She is also the CEO of InterArch Design. They make a fiery duo, who will, one bank at a time, revolutionise how we save and spend our money. Vernon finds the sites and then sends them onto Shirley who works her magic. For this she doesn’t use the loom. The bank’s style is more contemporary than crafty. They love corner plots and high ceilings and it just goes to prove that behind every great man ………….

Their success is not rocket science. The business model is simple; do what it says on the tin and do it with a smile. New recruits applying for work won’t get the job if they don’t smile within the first 5 seconds of an interview, and let’s be honest, our Shirley deserves a medal for sourcing perma-smiley Brits in banking. It may sound all a bit Disney to the average punter, but we’d rather hand over our hard earned cash to smiley, happy people. Children, dogs, cats and every other animal are always welcome and there’s coffee on tap. Open an account and tell all your friends and you are no longer a customer, but a FAN. Soon we may be throwing our knickers at this bank, as well as our money.

Staff take lunch before 11am and after 2pm, avoiding huge queues waiting for one cashier – promote the person who came up with that idea Shirley. There’s face painting, pumpkin carving, clowns on stilts, cookies, money counting machines, drive-thru cash machines (which we promise, you WILL use) George Clooney giving shoulder massages, a Sophia Webster shoe zone, a Burleighs Gin bar, Victoria Beckham offering free handbags and style advice and David Gandy and Bradley Cooper as Mortgage advisors, plus glass, lots of glass. “Transparency is key” cites Shirley. “We know how important it is to see what’s going on”. To see what’s going on inside a bank is something we’d all like to know. Let’s continue to dream.

The CCO; “Duffy” supports Battersea and if a Metro customer gives a dog a home, the bank pays the re-homing fee. “Duffy” and his canine chums are welcome in any Metro bank with dog bowls full to the brim with fresh water, cute “doggy” bandanas and tasty treats.

The 24/7 customer service centre of Metro Bank actually cares about its FANS. Phones are answered within three rings, pleasant voices ask you if you are really having a nice day and what are you up to for the weekend. This shocks us somewhat and our replies are quite pathetic like “ooooh nothing much, unless you put 5 grand in my account and I’ll go have a ball in Barcelona ha ha ha ha”. The team insist they can answer any question about their bank and services, but we wonder how many FANS have asked them what they’re wearing.

In store, bank cards and check books are printed on the spot and personal accounts are opened in 20 minutes. Stores welcome you at dawn and send you on your way with a smile and a branded pen late into the night. If you drop your bank card down the loo on a Saturday night after too many Martinis, you can collect a replacement before heading out for Sunday brunch. We likey.

Coffee, sweets, smiles, no appointments necessary and accounts opened sharpish – it’s our kinda bank and there’s nothing Sugar loves more than a woman who starts a revolution with man’s best friend! />


A slightly drier January!

When all around you are detoxing, non-cake quaffing and strictly no boozing the only thing you feel like doing is heading for the nearest bar for a double G&T. January – it’s here. The month to chuck out the old, get in the new, make fresh starts, clean up and clear out and generally give the life you have a bit of an overhaul. We could all be healthier, brighter eyed and sharper. Diet is something that needs to be addressed as we all know. A bottle of fizz and half a tin of Celebrations does not a breakfast make. So, where to start?First off, make sure all the Christmas and New Year goodies are gone. Throw them away or better still have one last eating marathon. Baileys for breakfast, pork and cranberry pie for snack and brandy butter on toast with a cuppa whilst watching Its a Wonderful Life and The Holiday just one more time. Next, do not wear anything tight for the next two weeks, just to make you feel better.

January is really natures time to snuggle, hibernate, fatten up to keep warm and eat sausages and mash by the fire down the pub, not go all Sweaty Betty and joggy. The smug non drinkers of NYE were all spritely with their “I feel great grins’ as I nursed the hangover from hell. But, enough’s enough. Everyone else can manage it, so you might as well give it a go. For some, like me, it’s very difficult, take a wedding anniversary during the first week for example and three birthdays later on in the month, celebrating with just water, ice and a slice at your next knees up seems all a bit dull. There’s then the lunch to look forward to mid month with a very dear friend from college and cocktails at the Arts Club with ex work colleagues, the promised movie night with a friend you arranged on NYE plus the pop of a cork to celebrate a new account. When you really think about it, it’s interesting to see how much we celebrate with a drink. By the 17th January, many who have given up at the start of 2015 will celebrate with a glass of Prosecco! Let’s face it, 17 days of pukka tea and nowt else deserves a medal! So whether your January is completely dry or a bit drier than December – cheers!


An evening of styling, All that Glitters

All was happy down at Merchant House the other night.

Sugars enjoyed wines from Sarabande, a wonderful wine from Faugeres and the creation of an Aussie guy and an Irish lass! After years in the wine industry in Australia and NZ, they upped sticks and moved to France, kids in tow, to take on the big boys. Their wine is very special indeed and they have never looked back.

Gin from Burleighs and cool cocktails from the boys behind the bar. We are loving Merchant House and it is fast becoming our fave place to rave about in the City. Hidden from the masses, it’s a great place to meet friends after work or meet a date and if they’re running late, you will be very happy sitting alone for a while. The staff will make sure you’re taken care of. Burleighs Gin is the best out there infused with the world’s finest botanicals to give smooth, crisp and complex flavours. We LOVE our Burleighs G&T!

We set the challenge for our Sugar Style Squad – get our girl party ready by taking her from desk to disco! The dress was from The Fold London and was smart and stylish, perfect for work. Our creative genius Makia went for 1940’s Hollywood. She added a cream fur stole, diamanté belt and a cream fedora with feather trim. Shoes were hot vintage suede courts in black. Broaches were charity shop and family heirlooms. The look was Marlene Dietrich at cocktail hour. As glamorously perfect as Maika!

The next challenge was for Angelo. Normally a stylist on men’s magazines and blogs, we thought it would be fun for him to dress a woman for a change! As Kate Moss is an idol of his, he went for Rock Chick. He teamed the dress with a white shirt underneath, check haberdashery ribbon as a neck tie, and a cool tartan and faux leather jacket to finish. Heels were high. Angelo likes to mix masculine pieces with feminine ones, creating a fresh new look. He’s also ace at picking up bits and pieces from around the globe – who else can look that good in a jacket for 25p picked up in a Polish market?!

Hair and make up was taken care of by our beauty friends. Darren from By Terry; the brand synonymous with Hollywood, smoked eyes and plumped up lips. For the first look, lips were deep berry and for the second, more nude. Eyes were dark and ready to party whilst skin remained as Dewy as ever. The products not only look beautiful on the skin, but come in the most stylish of packaging. Silver cases with magnetic tops, eyeshadows and blushers beautifully pressed with a “quilted” design on top, and By Terry even signs the lipsticks! No wonder it’s a favourite of Eva Longoria and Kate Winslet.
Both make up looks were great and complemented the looks brilliantly, and all make up is available at Space NK, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

Pin up & Pearls were in charge of hair and the rules for hair and hats, is keep it simple. Hair was swept to the side in a loose ponytail and pinned in place creating a perfect platform to show off that fedora. Out with the spray for the second look, when hair was left loose and “bed head”. The spray used adds texture as well as hold and comes in a variety of colours. Great for the festive season, and it can all wash out for New Years Day!

There was talk, wine, giggles, business card exchanges and make overs plus hat trying on with Retford & Co who have launched some great colours and styles for the season.

Our Style Squad shall be appearing on our new website in 2015 with tips, tools of the trade and more, so keep em peeled.

Job done!



Join us and get party ready!



UPDATE…Due to some lovely peeps, we have FREEBIE tickets to give away!

Remember to book your spot as free spaces are gone once they’re gone!

Tra la la la la! It’s that time of year again to get in the party spirit and get glittery!

We are heading to Merchant House on December 1st for our Christmas Event; All that Glitters. Join us for delicious drinks, courtesy of Burleighs Gin and Sarabande wines. Meet some great people and find out all about Sugar Group and what we are up to.

In true Sugar fashion, there’s something for everyone from styling tips from our Sugar stylists to make up tips from By Terry; available at Space NK and Harrods. Fashion Seeker shall be filling us in on how they got started and what it takes to make it in the world of fashion.

Party hair won’t let you down as Pin up & curls shows you how to go from office to bar in one quick quiff n spray! If you want something to help with those bad hair days, then Retford and Co will be on hand with their latest headgear.

The raffle for the evening shall support Floral Angels; our wonderful friends at Covent Garden Flower market who recycle flowers and give them away to those in need.

Drinks, talks, tips and more. Join us at Merchant House, the city’s new fave place according to Bar Chick, and we are rather fond of it too!