SageBrown have recently collaborated with @RebeccaLipkinAuthor. She is not only a novelist but a serious Instagram influencer with over 13K followers. When we asked her how she got into the social media revolution, here's what she had to say.
"I was encouraged by a friend to join Instagram and unlike a lot of people who stick to one topic such as food or even doorways, I wanted to use my page as a form of diary. I am passionate about far more than one thing - I love travel, fashion, food, flowers, great books, handbags (!), and I hope that this wide spectrum not only keeps my followers intrigued as to what is coming next but enables them to feel more of a personal connection with me and discover who I really am. Instagram and all social media channels can often feel shallow and less than personal, but it doesn’t have to be that way."
Rebecca has had a passion for Victorian art and literature from a young age. She first discovered John Ruskin through E.M. Forster’s novel, A Room with a View, and later joined the Ruskin Society at the age of seventeen to learn more about Ruskin’s work. Rebecca pursued a career in journalism, specialising in arts writing and theatre reviews, and has worked for a number of national publications.
Here's just one of the many great reviews:
“This novel enchanted me. Deeply researched and charmingly written, it resurrects not only John Ruskin, one of the most influential characters of the Victorian age, but his fascinating pupil Rose La Touche, who is portrayed so sensitively that you feel as though you know her. Highly recommended.”
What inspired you to write this story?
I feel a calling to bring once-famous-but-often-forgotten figures in history back to life through my writing. To offer readers rewarding and immersive experiences introducing them to remarkable characters who truly lived life to the full. Having been fascinated with the influential Victorian John Ruskin since my teens, I am honoured to have written the first novel dedicated to this great writer, art critic, philanthropist and social commentator, who in turn influenced great men such as Leo Tolstoy, William Morris and Gandhi. Recalling classic 19th century literature, it was my intention to paint a three-dimensional literary portrait of the man behind the genius, delving into Ruskin, his complex personal relationships and the people who had the most profound impact upon his life. Whilst my novel is essentially a tribute to Ruskin, it is also a frank appraisal of his faults and virtues. Often described as both an eccentric and a genius, he was above all human, with failings and weaknesses he was humble enough to recognise. I hope that my novel, Unto This Last, speaks to both Ruskin admirers and those who aren’t even aware of him, examining who he was, not simply what he did - exploring the heart of this fascinating man and especially one aspect of his life that has seldom been discussed, his passion for his young Irish student, Rose La Touche. The title, Unto This Last, taken from a famous Ruskin essay, seemed the perfect way to capture his undying love for her.
Tell us a bit more about your other work.
Although I wanted to be a novelist since developing a passion for classic literature at a young age, my professional writing career started in journalism in my twenties when I began writing theatre, travel and food reviews and features for various national publications. Journalism has not only given me creative freedom to pursue my passion for the arts and to travel extensively, but it means that I never become pigeon-holed as simply a novelist.
Do you have any hobbies?
Fashion is a huge part of my life and one of the ways I feel I best express my creativity. I love finding the perfect outfit to model and share with my Instagram followers. I have always been inspired by the styles worn by classic Hollywood actresses like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and I love mixing timeless pieces with more modern styles. When I’m not outfit planning or shopping I’ll probably be watching an old movie with my husband, listening to jazz with my music-loving Cavalier King Spaniel, Clemmie, visiting an historic house or garden, baking a cake, stitching a tapestry, going to the theatre or eating out. Some days I try to do all the above but can often bite off more than I can chew!
What or who are your biggest influences?
Obviously John Ruskin, but I find so many people inspiring, from Winston Churchill to Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe, seemingly polar opposites but with more in common than you might think. All three battled mental health issues (so did Ruskin) and were very much misunderstood. Monroe was a brilliant actress and a soulful person who happened to have the most charisma I’ve ever seen on the silver screen, but Churchill and Chaplin's charisma also turned them into legends. I am always inspired by people with strong values, who work hard to make their mark and, as Churchill would say, never give up. I struggle to find people in today's world all that inspiring, but I would love to meet Miriam Margolyes whose travel programmes I adore. She’s the most unapologetically honest (and therefore hilarious) and insightful person, and seems to have a gift for building a rapport with people almost instantaneously - largely because you can see that she is genuinely interested in the people she talks to and, above all, willing to listen. This is also true of Phil Rosenthal from the food/travel programme ‘Somebody Feed Phil’ which I’m addicted to (almost as much as The Crown tv series) - I’ve never seen anyone so enthusiastic about uniting people and cultures through food.
What’s a typical day in the life of Rebecca Lipkin?
I've been away so much recently that I'm either packing or unpacking, but if I'm at home in Bath I like to get my writing done - reviews or the play I'm working on - in the morning before heading out for a coffee at my local café where they're sweet enough to prepare my regular order without me having to ask. I feel really blessed to live in such a community-centred city and nearly always bump into someone I know and have a chat, something that never happened when I lived in London, even if you saw your next door neighbour on the street. Most days there's a delivery of clothes to try on and if it's a fine day my husband will take me to one of the many stunning locations in the city and photograph my latest outfit. He has an incredible eye!
What is the key to your success?
I suppose it's impossible to quantify success. Perhaps truly successful people are always unaware of it and keep striving on, although I do realise how lucky I am to spend all my time doing what I’m interested in - writing about fascinating people for a career, wearing wonderful clothes and visiting beautiful places.
How did you discover the SageBrown brand?
I came across SageBrown’s Mayfair boutique when I was out shopping for a classic top handle bag - my favourite style and not easy to find at a fair price point. Often you're just paying for the designer label, while SageBrown offers style and quality for people who know what they want and don't want a blingy gauche label. I was so impressed by, not only how well-crafted and timeless SageBrown's pieces are, but just how many styles and colourways there are to choose from.
What’s your favourite SageBrown bag and why?
I love the idea of building up a collection of SageBrown handbags in different styles and colours. My favourites are the top handle, classic styles, reminiscent of those worn by Grace Kelly. I adore my Sabrina in Cobalt, which is large enough to be a practical daytime bag and smart enough for taking out to dinner too, while the Betty is the perfect petite size for occasion-wear whilst having room enough for all the essentials. The stunning suede interiors show just how beautifully crafted they are. Above all, SageBrown has added a much needed pop of colour to my wardrobe and has made my outfits far more adventurous. I love that SageBrown’s styles look great whether I’m wearing a vintage-inspired dress or a pair of jeans.
What summer events are you most looking forward to and why?
I've just enjoyed Royal Ascot, the ultimate dressing up summer event, and I am looking forward to the magical outdoors IF Opera near Bath, seeing My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum, Gifford's Circus when it arrives at Marlborough Common and Goodwood Revival for some vintage fashion fun in September.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
I like combining my love of Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly whose timeless elegance will never grow old, with current royal fashion styles like those worn by HRH Duchess of Cambridge who champions British designers and even high street labels to prove that you don't have to have a huge budget to look elegant. I also take inspiration from shows like Mad Men and The Crown, the recent Cottagecore trend for really romantic, floaty and feminine dresses that are best showcased in a beautiful garden, contrasted with Gwyneth Paltrow's more modern city looks for good measure. I am always drawn to colour and especially pastels as I'm so pale and I can't resist a shirt dress or a Liberty print!
How do you put together your outfits for each occasion?
I usually start with the main item, a new dress or blouse and work from there, finishing with the perfect handbag, shoes and jewellery. Sometimes, such as when I get a new SageBrown handbag, it inspires me to find a dress/shoes that will match! That said, I'm always surprised by how much I find in my existing wardrobe that looks great with a new colour. My Sabrina in Cobalt and Betty in Lilac are pieces that I'm always trying to find an excuse to show off.
What SageBrown bag is next on your wish list?
I've got my eye on the Mini Burnett Bag in Turquoise and dream of taking it to the Vision & Virtuosity by Tiffany & Co.exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London where you can pose on their life-size Tiffany blue ring box - this bag, with its intriguing envelope design, would look so fabulous in this setting and I'm already planning my outfit inspired by Tiffany's trademark colour, with lots of lovely jewellery of course! For autumn the Mini Morgan in Burgundy Croc would be my ideal style and would look so Grace Kelly with a camel coat, silk blouse and a sexy-secretary-style pencil skirt.