Connect with us


How one designer is blending fine jewellery with social causes



Designer Samantha Siu on the top at a staircase during the London Fashion Week 2024
Samantha Siu: second generational jewellery designer launched her first collection in 2019

Boxes wrapped in a turquoise paper and generous golden ribbons are decorating a couple of long tables when Samantha Siu enters the room at the Ned, a former bank turned private members club and luxury six star hotel in East London after a £200million makeover. The venue has been featured in James Bond film Goldfinger and is the hub where singers and screen stars turn up to celebrate awards with champagne and vegan burgers. It wouldn’t be surprising if Siu, a New York-born jewellery designer, had personally wrapped each box herself, given their meticulous attention to detail, precise folding, and impeccable symmetry with the table’s cutlery. Packaging is something Samantha herself would be familiar with, as years before launching her own brand, the designer worked in her family business wrapping items to be shipped to clients.

“I started from the very bottom of packaging, with bracelets and earrings, putting them into boxes to send it to vendors. I would get paid with pieces of jewellery for that job,” she recalls. “Every day, I would try to pack things as fast as I could to get a bracelet or something. My aunt kept me motivated, and when I was around 16-years old I transitioned into sales, which was a very different part of the business.”

Since launching her first collection, ‘A Love Affair,’ in 2019, Samantha has seen her work featured in Esquire Magazine, Bazaar, British Vogue, and Elle. Her fine jewellery is now available in upscale department stores such as the iconic Selfridges in the United Kingdom, as well as in Wolf and Badger in New York.

It is London Fashion Week season, and tonight she is hosting a dinner for the media and influencers. Just before we sit down, I tell her that I will be working on a feature that starts from back to front.

– Is that a good thing? – she asks glancing the room around.

– It is – I assure her.

Normally fashion features start by showcasing the work of a designer and ends briefly touching on the social work done behind the label. As much as I admire the bold pieces of her jewellery collection using a Chinese wax carving technique dated back to 4,000 B.C., I want to explore more her philanthropic side.

“I don’t think the media talks enough about that side of the business, which is so close to my heart,” says Siu who, in 2016, co-founded the Phoenix International Foundation, an international relief organization providing assistance with education and medical care in countries such as the Philippines, China, Cambodia, Peru, and Thailand.

Social responsibility: business is funding initiatives with community projects in Thailand, Cambodia and Peru

“Wonderful jewellery you are likely to see everywhere. But wonderful messaging is not necessarily at the forefront of many jewellery brands out there. That is why I created a non-profit organization,” explains Samantha, a former Fordham University alumna who majored in psychology.

“When I was around 18, I went to China on a missionary trip with my church, where I taught English to underprivileged children. It was a defining moment that made me realize how privileged I am and how important it is to give back to society. So since the beginning, I wanted to create a company that would use the purchasing power of those who can afford it to make a positive impact on others,” explains Samatha. Her brand donates 10% of net profits from all purchases to various causes.

“The main business funds our sister project, a non-profit organization that allows us to invest in projects focusing on education enhancement, wildlife and nature conservation,” she continues. The scope covered by her Phoenix International Foundation ranges from supporting an elephant named Dhala in the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand to funding science projects for students in the Philippines. The foundation also operates a micro loan program that supports families in villages in Cambodia, among other initiatives carried out in collaboration with local partners throughout the year.

Pieces of her sustainable jewellery brand are as diverse as her social projects, including versatile items that can be worn in different ways. The secondary generation jeweller is not afraid of creating big pieces – and spending time to accomplish that.

“It can take up to six months to create a single necklace due to the artisanal process involving multiple hands,” the designer explains, “But when I create something, the idea is that I am creating an everlasting piece of jewellery.”

Craftsmanship: Creating a necklace can take up to six months

Throughout the evening, Samantha Siu goes around tables to talk to people and posing for photos with guests. She watches people opening the boxes wrapped in turquoise paper and golden ribbons.

“I like to see people’s reactions when they open things,” Siu says, pleased with the smooth flow of the evening. “And I am genuinely interested in how people feel when they see my work and understand the creative process behind each piece, and how it impacts others.”

I wonder how much of that psychology degree the entrepreneur Samantha brings into her philanthropic work and vice versa, as her business and her passions are now so intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate them.

It’s close to midnight when I leave the luxurious venue. As I depart, I notice partygoers arriving to join the live band on the stage downstairs, where the music will continue until the early hours of the morning. Some appear to be celebrating a special occasion, carrying gift boxes with them. However, none of their boxes look as neatly wrapped as the one Samantha Siu left on my table.

Marcio Delgado is a Journalist, Producer and Influencer Marketing Manager working with brands and publications in Europe, America and Asia.


Six-in-10 Motorists Travelling to Europe Don’t Know Emergency Numbers



A man driving abroad in a motorway
Just 38% of those surveyed were aware they should call 112 in the event of an emergency in the European Union | Photo: Dan Gold

With British drivers set to take millions of car trips across the Channel this summer, a new RAC research has found six-in-10 (62%) don’t know the right number to call to get help in an emergency.

Just 38% of those surveyed by RAC Europe knew they should call 112 in the event of an emergency in the European Union. Among the others, a third (32%) worryingly have absolutely no idea which number to call if they found themselves in need of urgent help on the continent, while one-in-10 (12%) say they would dial 999 – the UK’s three-digit emergency services’ number. A similar proportion (11%) think the correct number to dial for help is 111 – the NHS non-emergency line.

Four per cent mistakenly believe the number to call is 101, which is the non-emergency line for UK police forces, and three per cent think they should dial 911, the emergency number in the United States and Canada.

What emergency number to call while travelling in Europe

Phone numberWhat it’s forWhere it works
112Emergency assistanceAll of the European Union plus many other European countries, including Switzerland, Turkey and the UK
999Emergency assistanceUnited Kingdom
911Emergency assistanceAll of North America
101Police non-emergency assistanceUnited Kingdom
111NHS non-emergency assistanceEngland, Scotland and Wales

“The 112 number is the pan-European equivalent of 999 and can be used pretty much anywhere throughout Europe for emergencies, including the UK. Every second counts in the event of a dangerous collision, so getting through to the emergency services first time round could quite literally be the difference between life and death,” warns Rod Dennis, RAC Europe spokesperson.

Continue Reading


Gen Z Side Hustlers See 22% Income Boost, Study Finds



A Gen Z male white webdesigner works from home at his computer.
37% of Gen Z are 'Tri-Hustlers,' juggling multiple side-hustles to maximize income. | Photo: Per Lööv

A new research has found that 45% of Gen Zs, people born between 1996 and 2010, now have a side hustle. The study, which was conducted by Visa, also reveals that over a third (37%) of these having more than one way to make extra income.

E-commerce (34%), social media influencers (25%) and passion-based projects (19%) are the top three types of side hustle businesses being run by Gen Zs, according to Visa.

Almost seven in ten (69%) of Gen Z side hustlers set up their business with the primary objective of earning extra income, with average earnings from a side hustle being £218.60 per month. However, the research also found that over a quarter (27%) began their venture to explore a passion and a similar number (26%) did so to develop their skills further.

Of those surveyed, a majority (61%) report that they increased their side hustle income by at least 10% of the last 12 months, with the average increase at 22% year-on-year growth. The survey also reveals that those who are more passionate about their side hustles report significantly higher income levels, whilst side hustles that have been running for more than two years, generate higher earnings.

Grace Kennington, aged 22, turned a pandemic past-time into a successful side hustle, enhancing her skills in design, marketing, and social media to sell artwork online. She comments, “I wear a million different side-hustle hats; I’ve become an expert at everything from packaging, stock management and design. It’s really made me a lot more adaptable! My biggest piece of advice to aspiring side-hustlers is to just get stuck in, even if you’ve had no training. Also reach out to people doing similar work to build your network.”

Gen Z’s friends play a key role in their side hustles; a third (33%) claim their friends inspired them to start it, with a further 39% saying their friends help to make their side hustle a success, while just over a fifth (21%) are inspired by celebrities or influencers.

Sustainability and legacy-building underpin Gen Z’s long-term outlook; over a third (35%) aspire to eventually quit their primary job to focus entirely on their side hustle, and a further two fifths (39%) hope that their side-hustle will continue on for generations in their family.

“Gen Z are already playing a transformative role in our economy, spurring on innovation and new ways of working. Through our research, we’ve uncovered some really positive signs that they will continue to change the way businesses and organisations operate in years to come,” says Mandy Lamb, Managing Director, UK&I at Visa.

Continue Reading


10 Thrift Stores in London to Shop on a Budget



10 Thrift Stores in London to Shop on a Budget
Octavia was founded by Victorian philanthropist and social reformer Octavia Hill, who began her work with the poor of London in the 1860s

Thrifting in London offers a fantastic way to shop stylishly on a budget while supporting sustainable fashion. Here are 10 must-visit thrift stores in London, each providing a unique shopping experience.


TRAID offers a wide range of second-hand clothing, with proceeds supporting global development projects. The store is well-organized, making it easy to find stylish, affordable items. TRAID’s commitment to sustainability and ethical fashion makes it a popular choice among conscious shoppers.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
To find your nearest Traid:

Beyond Retro

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Beyond Retro is a haven for vintage lovers, offering a vast collection of retro clothing and accessories. The store is known for its eclectic mix and affordable prices, making it a favorite among fashion enthusiasts and bargain hunters alike.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm; Sunday, 12pm to 6pm.
For more information:

There are even Fara thrift shops dedicated to kids

FARA Charity Shop

Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate
with 40 shops and 30 years in charity retailing, FARA Charity Shops support children in Romania, offering a wide selection of clothing, books, and homewares. It’s a great place to find unique, budget-friendly items while supporting a good cause. If you go a bit outside London, there are even  Fara shops dedicated to kids.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:

Oxfam Boutique

Nearest Tube: High Street Kensington
Oxfam Boutique offers a curated selection of high-quality second-hand clothing and accessories. Proceeds support global poverty reduction efforts, making it a great place to shop with a purpose.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:


Nearest Tube: Stratford
Crisis supports homeless people in the UK, offering a range of second-hand clothing, books, and homewares. It’s a great place to find affordable, stylish items while supporting a good cause.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:

Cancer Research UK

Nearest Tube: Gloucester Road
Cancer Research UK shops offer a wide selection of second-hand clothing and accessories, with proceeds funding cancer research. The stores are well-stocked and reasonably priced, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious shoppers.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:

Sue Ryder

Nearest Tube: King’s Cross St. Pancras
Sue Ryder charity shops offer a range of second-hand clothing, books, and homewares. Proceeds support palliative, neurological, and bereavement support services, making your shopping trip meaningful.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:


Nearest Tube: Shepherd’s Bush
Barnardo’s charity shops offer a variety of second-hand clothing and accessories, with proceeds supporting vulnerable children and young people. The stores are well-stocked and affordably priced, making them a great option for thrifters.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:

Octavia Foundation

Nearest Tube: South Kensington
Octavia Foundation charity shops offer high-quality second-hand clothing and homewares, supporting local community projects. The stores are known for their stylish selections and affordable prices. Octavia was founded by Octavia Hill, the Victorian philanthropist and social reformer, whose ideas formed the basis of the profession of housing management. Octavia began her work with the poor of London in the 1860s; she was a pioneer of social housing, a founder of the National Trust and the first clean air campaigner for London.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information:

Shopping at these thrift stores in London not only helps you save money but also supports various charitable causes and promotes sustainable fashion.

Continue Reading