AD info : this product was a press sample. [Spoiler – I love it!]
Do you ever wonder how people end up getting all this free stuff that they are telling you about on Instagram? or invites to fancy events? or paid promotions? I know that I did. In fact, I think to some extent, that’s the reason that I’ve made the effort to grow my instagram account. I’m nosey! No-one was going to tell me how much they got paid for a “paid promotion” or what you have to do to get a free holiday or a night at a Beyonce concert so I thought I might as well find out for myself.
The good news for anyone who’s as nosey as me but perhaps has better things to do than embark on a mission to grow a social media presence, is that I’ve never been the secretive type. I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned along the way and so whilst I tell you about my delicious new bedding from Tielle Love Luxury, I thought I’d also tell you how I came about having 5* hotel quality sheets on my bed.
Back in June I received an email from a PR Company inviting me to the newly opened Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea to preview Tielle Love Luxury’s Christmas and Autumn/Winter collection. It was a drop in, over the course of the morning, with the promise of breakfast and a monogrammed pillow cases, towel or robe to take home.
For the purpose of this blog post I checked with the PR Company to see how they found me (I had no idea) and they explained that they were actively looking for interiors influencers online. They found them by reviewing hashtags on Instagram, comments on interiors posts and using the explore page/suggestions of who they might like to follow. Once they found a few who might be suitable, they reviewed their feeds to understand if they might like Tielle bedding, checked if they had featured anything white and if they were based in London. It would seem that I ticked the boxes.
In around February of this year (when I had just over 13,000 followers on Instagram) I started to receive invites of this nature. There are periods when there will be 2 or 3 events in a week and then a few weeks that go by without anything. The events range from large press events, such as this, which are aimed at both traditional press and bloggers/instagramers, to more bespoke events where just a handful of people are invited and there is a workshop or activity, more formal catering and often a generous product gift for all those who attend. In my experience to date, there has never been a requirement to feature the event or the brand on social media but it is certainly good etiquette to do so. It’s a bit like being invited to someone’s dinner party. If you don’t say thank you at the end, you are likely to come across as rather rude and I doubt that you would get invited again.
If you want to be invited to these events I think the key is to be known to the brand or PR company. Once you are invited to one events, you will then be on the list and are likely to be invited to more. You also meet people at events who open doors to other opportunities. Over the years I have built up a small group of insta-friends and if one of them wants to come to something but didn’t get an invite, I will ask if they can come along and visa-versa. The interiors community on Instagram is super friendly and in my experience not at all competitive. As far as I am concerned, there is space for everyone, the more the merrier. I have even been known to email a PR directly and ask if I can come. No harm in asking, in my view.
Whether or not I go to these events depends on whether it’s a brand that I like the look of (or already love) and if I’m available. As this is a side-hustle for me, there are often events that I can’t attend because I have commitments with the day job or family commitments. Ultimately they come first but there haven’t been many things I have had to miss out on that I was super gutted about, so far …
In this case, I was offered the perfect combo. It was on a morning that I happened to be free, they were going to feed me (always a big plus in my book), it was in a five star hotel (what can I say? I am a Leo. We were born to indulge) and the product was exactly something that I would buy.
I know it might be boring but I just love classic white bed linen, it’s all we have on our bed. I have wild fantasies of embracing patten like my fav The Idle Hands but it never materialises and I find myself back in The White Company shelling out the big bucks for more white bedding. This was the perfect opportunity for me to discover something new whilst staying very much within my white comfort zone.
Plus I love my bed. I’ve been a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep long before it was fashionable. I used my first pay packet as a solicitor to buy myself a decent mattress from Habitat (that was over a decade ago so sadly it is no longer with us). New pillows were starred items on our John Lewis wedding list (a star tells guests what you really really want). The truth is, I spend far more time in and on my bed than is acceptable for a working mum of two (guess where I’m typing this right now) and if it was up to me, it would be even longer!
When I arrived at the event I got chatting to Anni, the PR for the brand as well as Robert and Joe, the founders. I was fascinated chatting to them about the myths spread in the industry (see their blog) the amazing hotels they have all stayed in, how they dress their own beds and guest beds at home, how often you should replace your pillows (every 3 years, in case you are wondering), the £10,000 duvet that they were asked to produce and how Joe’s daughter has the most comfortable bed in her entire halls of residence!
Joe and Robert set up a company called, Tradelinens over 30 years ago to provide bed linnen for countless 5 star hotels around the world, including one of my all time favourites Limewood (if you have any excuse for a night or two away in a fancy hotel I would highly recommend it!!).
That’s their main business and it’s still going strong but after receiving frequent requests from people wanting to buy their products for themselves at home, they launched Tielle Love Luxury, which is a consumer facing business.
Tielle Love Luxury is online only and sells all of the items provided to hotels. Linen, duvets, pillows, toppers, towels, robes and throws. All of the linen has to stand up to the test of 90 degree washes and industrial tumble drying multiple times a week and quite frankly, if it’s good enough for a five star hotel, it’s good enough for me. I was completely sold and mentioned to Anni that I would definitely be buying some.
I wasn’t expecting free product but Anni said that if I did want to buy something I should get in touch as she would be able to offer me a PR discount. Never one to look a discount in the mouth and because we needed a new bedding set, I emailed her the next week to ask about this. Anni said that they would be happy to gift the product if I would mention it on Instagram and do a blog post.
I had already been up close and personal with the bedding at the event, so I knew that I loved it, I was going to buy it anyway and I had genuinely found the whole conversation fascinating so it was a no brainer for me.
It’s been a couple of months since we received the bedding but I wanted to wait until it had been through a few washes before I posted about it. We have a 400 thread count flat sheet, duvet cover and pillow cases from the Soft and Strong range. I’m delighted with it. It washes well and has remained bright white and lovely and soft. There are no buttons, which is great as I find they always come off in the dryer, it has a tie system at the bottom of the duvet instead which is ideal.
Being able to post in my own time is the joy of an informal gifting arrangement such as this. Each arrangement is unique but in this case there were no terms and conditions, deadlines or reporting requirements, it was all done in good faith and with the luxury of knowing that I could take these photos and write this post at a time to suit me, without feeling pressure or guilt.
From my perspective, when I am not getting paid, this is quite important. If there had been a long contract with specific requirements to do a set number of posts within a specific time frame, reporting back on my stats and using specific content or hashtags (as is sometimes the case), I would have politely declined and happily paid for the bedding. A lesson that I have learned along this Instagram journey is that, although it is always nice to save some money, sometimes it can be more hassle than it is worth. It always takes longer than you think to do the work, even if that work is just an insta post or a couple of stories and you don’t know what else might be going on in your life when that deadline approaches.
Take this blog post for example, I estimate that in total, including the tidying, styling, photographs, editing, video and writing and editing the post it has taken a good 6 – 7 hours and that is probably an underestimation. I really enjoy doing all of these things but I have to say, it is especially nice when I can do it in my own time 😊
So there you have it. I hope that was interesting/helpful. If you have any questions about Instagram collaborations, paid promotions, gifting and the like comment below and I will make sure to cover them in future blog posts.
And excellent news, I got in touch with Tielle Loves Luxury to ask if I could have a discount code to pass onto you and guess what, they said yes. Don’t ask, don’t get! You can get 20% off all products until 1 October 2019 using code sleep20 at www.tielleloveluxury.co.uk.