Copywriting for Casio

This month I took on a huge project to rewrite Casio’s Edifice website. Translated from Japanese, their web copy needed a lot of work and a shot of personality.

I developed their tone of voice guidelines and worked with the producer to follow the content strategy and write it all from scratch. Everything from the ‘about’ pages to product descriptions had to tie back to the connection with Formula 1. This meant I learnt a lot about the mechanics of watches (Tachometers anyone?) and race cars. Not my forte, but now I have so much brain fodder for pub quizzes!

We ended up with 39 pages and the client came back with three comments total. Needless to say I was pretty chuffed. The new website is launching in the spring.

 

[Image: copyright Efifice/Casio]

 

Don’t deny the need for normcore

Mainstream is cool: you heard it here first. Gone are the days of revelling in choice; people are bamboozled. Consumers are beginning to mistrust fad following brands and running back to old faithfuls. There’s comfort in our favourites and in this tumultuous time, people want to settle down and cosy up with what they can rely on.

The best example of this is craft beer. Independent micro-breweries were all the rage a few years ago and consumers would avoid your Carlsbergs, Foster’s and Becks and like the plague. It’s the same as “I knew them before they were big” claims with indie bands; as soon as they’re famous, fans move on. At one point, big beer brands even tried distressed labels to seem more “authentic.” But as craft beer has boomed, it’s no longer hip to namedrop the obscure. Fast forward a few years and consumers have circled right back by coveting friendly brands they’ve known their whole lives – we call this “poptimism.” We’re now experiencing a serious backlash to craft beer in the media, but isn’t the whole definition of being cool being different? So shouldn’t contrary consumers be doing the opposite of what the media is preaching? The whole thing makes your head spin.

The same is happening with coffee. Those iced almond-macadamia milk lattes are just too much to fathom when you just need a good old-fashioned caffeine kick. When you’re trudging into the office on a Monday morning, the warm lights of chain coffee shops represent a home from home. They draw you in during sensitive moments like a moth to a flame. It’s times like these when consumers opt for cheap buckets of filter coffee over a brag-worthy flat white (even the Instagram likes aren’t worth it). Campaign explains that the media has nicknamed this movement “normcore.”

Just look at “clean eating,” which has shaken up the food industry over the past few years. Causing endless opinion pieces on spiralizers, now consumers are retreating back to cake and abandoning complicated courgette recipes. The rainbow plates of exotic fruit and vegetables may look better on Instagram than a greasy burger, but who can be bothered with that? Cutting out entire food groups is not only time-consuming but the effort is pretty damn stressful. VICE’s Munchies is leading ‘food porn’ media by quashing health food fads one dripping cheese toastie photo at a time. As soon as people, along with hoards of trained nutritionists, started to question the credibility of fancy food aficionados, the trend was dissected and is, thankfully, slowing dissolving. The biggest issue? The complicated recipes isolate a huge chunk of the population who can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods for bone broth, sumac, chia seeds and the like. On top of that, most of those behind the clean eating surge are white, attractive, thin women (more on that in our blog on diversity). But we digress, all this aside there is proof that consumers are going back to basics – just look at soaring supermarkets.

Time and time again, consumers get sucked in with fancy logos and ridiculous names, allured by something new, only to be disappointed in the product. In other words; the novelty and fleeting excitement does not justify the risk of losing out on what they really want deep down. What’s the lesson for brands? Think it through before jumping on the bandwagon as you could end up wasting piles of cash and crawling right back to where you started. You also risk losing loyal customers who always loved your original product in the first place. Don’t follow the trends for the sake of it, choice wisely and be 100% sure your market will understand and respond well to your new tricks. But trust us; there is really, really, wrong with sticking to what you know.

New client: Nicky Murray

I’ve been working with an inspiring new client Nicky Murray: yin yoga teacher and mindfulness coach. I’m helping develop Nicky’s brand and rewrote her website to tell her story in a clear, unpretentious way. She offers something quite unique in the wellness world, combining yoga, food and meditation, and it was important to get the whole message across through her website, highlighting her rich and varied skills.

Moving forward, I’ll be helping Nicky with PR and social media consulting for her yoga workshops and events. Watch this space…

Making dollar out of downtime

As schedules become more packed, real leisure time has become sparse and more precious than ever. Ironically, the rise of mobile means consumers may be more efficient in spending money, but the distractions are overwhelming, making downtime more frantic than it should be. How can brands help? By providing a product or service that enriches leisure time rather than diluting it.

How consumers spend their free time and their cash has changed since millennials came into the picture. As the Observer puts it: “It’s not cool to show off your logo or handbag. Now, the way you brag is flaunting your healthy lifestyle, so it’s a selfie at SoulCycle, a 10 dollar green juice or geotagging a hike.” We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: it’s all about experiences.

Because of this, the fitness industry is booming; nowadays working out is considered a treat rather than a chore. The new influx of boutique gyms in big cities are catering to the needs of millennials who prefer a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system rather than committing to a membership. Consumers’ relationship with fitness is changing; they want bespoke classes, the best instructors in the business and the snazziest equipment out there. Each workout session has to be good enough for an Instagram post. According to Courier: “Eating healthy food, taking part in group fitness activity and choosing where to live based on whether young people can walk or cycle to work is now mainstream and seen as a marked shift from previous generations.” Health is a huge priority for millennials and if their precious leisure time is spent working out, it better be worth it.

What do consumers look to when they have a free minute? In the queue, before bed, during the ads – straight to their smartphones. As Campaign put it: “One of today’s great paradoxes is that mobile technology makes life more efficient and productive, yet it generates enough distraction so it seems there is less free time.” Brands need to capitalise on this by making sure their website is slick and mobile ready. Even the tourism industry has turned ‘mobile first’ as more consumers are not only shopping from their smartphone, but they’re booking holidays too. (Yes, this probably means late at night in bed). Every step of the customer journey in booking travel must guarantee connectivity to allow a good dollop of social bragging. According to Campaign: “Facebook reports the second most shared activity as being a ’travelled to’ event.”

As for hospitality, leisure time doesn’t necessarily mean eating out; now supermarket brands have made it acceptable to eat in. M&S does this well with their hugely popular £10 dine-in deal. The way people consume entertainment has changed too; the rise of Netflix means on-demand TV is the chosen format, rather than passively flicking through channels and therefore wasting valuable time.

What’s the best way to make dollar from downtime? Most importantly, make sure your content fits the consumers’ needs and desires. According to Campaign: “Millennials use cell phones for moments of relief, so brands should consider making their messaging short and snackable.” Whilst they’re scoring their social scrolling hit, if you can shave minutes off, they’ll love you for it. It’s also about timing; see how food brands capitalise on pre-lunch hunger pangs with mouthwatering recipes, whilst fitness brands bombard consumers with inspiring workout videos first thing.

In a world where we’re scrambling for more seconds, leisure time is an opportunity for brands to swoop in to act as help, not a hindrance. People are forever looking for ways to live, shop and work more efficiently, and now is a great time for brands to monopolise on the addiction to mobile whilst maintaining integrity through relevant content and a worthwhile product.

Reigning Premium Supreme

Believe it or not, people are willing to pay for premium. But there’s no magic tricks or hypnotism involved to prise cash out of hands – it’s just down to basic marketing techniques. Snazzy logos, brand values and piggybacking are examples of how businesses crawl up the premium ladder, but there are simpler ways.

It may sound obvious, but a high price equals a premium product. The price tag is a quick way for customers to judge the quality without too much research. Before Starbucks swooped into the world of coffee, a cuppa joe would cost a quarter of their going price. How do Starbucks get away with it? Although their coffee is far from revolutionary, the higher price tag makes it appear a cut above the rest. Consumers love the brand, it’s globally recognisable and people are happy to pay more for the Starbucks experience. Each coffee shop’s interior is slick and the fancy Italian terms ‘grande’ and ‘venti’ attract the more culturally aware coffee lover. In the same way, Grey Goose vodka charge 60% more than the household brand Smirnoff for essentially a colourless, tasteless alcohol. Other than the arty logo, what differentiates Grey Goose from the others? Through an almost placebo effect, consumers seem to prefer the taste of a product if they’ve spent more; they feel obliged to enjoy something if they’ve winced whilst paying for it.

Let’s be honest; people do judge books by their covers, and it’s the same with brands. A good logo is key, but through relentless repetition a brand should also be recognised for its colour palette, shape or even its concept. Some examples? Chanel, Veuve Clicquot, Mercedes… We know you’re picturing them right now.

Another strategy is to build the perception of a brand’s superiority to justify the high prices. Through product development and new technology, brands can beat competitors by demonstrating how they can provide something a little better. For cleaning products, this may mean developing a ‘three-in-one’ solution or a product scientifically proven to last longer than cheaper alternatives. Premium also means tapping into your audience and knowing what the word means to them. Nowadays, consumers are willing to pay more for organic produce or a brand that shouts about their eco-friendly credentials, or a business that supports a charity or the local economy. For some customers, aligning values is a unique type of luxury.

Too much choice can be overwhelming, so these days simplicity can also mean luxury. New research revealed 62% of consumers will pay more for a simple experience. Supermarket brand Aldi offers a simple shopping experience without presenting complicated promotions. This means customers don’t have to dilly dally by choosing between seven different types of butter. The idea is that customers can finish their weekly shop in under 30 minutes. Time is a luxury and Aldi understands this – they have empathy for the customer and they want to make life easier.

Brand partnerships are also a fantastic way to reinforce a premium label. When Singapore Airlines commissioned BMW to redesign their cabins they immediately became associated with the staple luxury brand. This way, Singapore Airlines capitalised on their partner’s already solid reputation.

Unlike mass brands, premium brands are more interested in honing in on a specific group through focused marketing. This reinforces the idea that the customer belongs to an elite group and the brand becomes a status symbol. A good example of this Ferrari who rarely take out huge advertising campaigns, but they sponsor the Grand Prix instead, targeting a select few.

All in all, through marketing initiatives, a premium brand should constantly remind the consumer of their original promise when they signed up in the first place, whether that’s ease, quality, prestige or a memorable experience.

Storytelling with VR

VR is the shiny new toy of the marketing world. All kinds of brands have experimented from food to fashion to travel, so it’s by no means limited to tech geeks. In a world where we’ve seen it all, this is a jazzy new way for brands to dazzle consumers and show they’re ahead of the game. Boiled down, VR is essentially another storytelling tool, but due to high costs, there’s even more pressure for the narrative to be effective.

A recent study found that people are more likely to buy from brands that use virtual reality. Primarily, this is because people like brands who have the balls to give it a go. A Greenlight VR survey revealed 71% of people thought VR makes brands seem “forward-thinking and modern.”

So when does this work best? For high-end products or experiences that seem almost unattainable: enter aspirational VR. Travelling is personal, often emotional, and damn expensive, so it’s no surprise that planes, trains and automobiles have been some of the first to play with VR. The average consumer may never afford to drive a Mercedes along Pacific Coast Highway or fly business class on a United Airlines flight, so these brands gave them the opportunity to do so. Marriott has also been dabbling in VR where users were enveloped by full-body experiences, including a sprinkling of water from the Hawaiian coast. VR provides consumers with a titillating taste of luxury without the price tag. If it’s done right, VR can awaken something in the most stingy of customers and they’ll be itching to try it for real.

Brands also use VR to present another dimension to their company. For fashion lovers, Topshop’s ‘Catwalk Experience’ gave consumers the chance to watch from the front row with the industry’s elite. This takes the fashion label beyond a new Saturday night outfit into an unforgettable experience; once the dress has worn out, the memory will remain. With TOMS, for every product purchased they help a person in need, but it’s hard to get this message across through a pair of shoes. So, through VR, users could travel to a remote village in Peru and witness one of TOMS ‘giving trips’. This really pulled on the heartstrings and was a reminder that a TOMs purchase is also an act of altruism.

VR is also a great way to show that a brand has a sense of humour (regardless of whether they even need the PR). Ikea’s virtual kitchen meant that users could poke around someone else’s home (a voyeur’s dream) and also have a go at slinging meatballs. Whereas Oreo created an animated ‘Wonder Vault’ that took users through a Willy Wonka style land full of gushing milk rivers and chocolate canyons. Why? It doesn’t even matter – both went viral.

It’s also important to remember that VR can be wonderfully creative as an art form beyond the ridiculous and plain absurd. Last year, Somerset House worked with Icelandic singer Bjork to curate an exhibition around her new album. Users were treated to a 360-degree Bjork immersion as she danced around each viewer. In one room, users were plunged into the dark pink depths of Bjork’s mouth, where her pulsating vocal chords and tongue undulated above.

The overarching goal of VR is to provide an empathic experience so consumers can really ‘feel’ a brand in a tangible way. For any brands looking into VR, remember quality is of the utmost importance; the stunt won’t work if the VR doesn’t feel authentic. Brands can’t cut corners with VR – they need to spend the cash. Something else to consider is distribution as these experiences require consumers turning up to an event, or at the very least, downloading an app. Getting the word out is more important than ever, and the experience has to be enticing enough to convince an RSVP or the click of a ‘download’. Brands have to shout loud and make access to the experience as easy as possible. I mean, without an eager audience ready to delve into the world of VR, what’s the point?

The Power of Personalisation

We’re all slightly self-obsessed. I bet you think this post is about you, don’t you? Brands have clocked onto this and are forever striving to make the customer feel special. By offering a curated service or product, the brand acknowledges each individual’s weird and wonderful quirks. Done correctly, you’ll maintain loyal customers, but also intrigue new ones.

Why does it work so well? Firstly, time is precious. If a product is made exactly the way a customer knows they need it, there’s a lower chance of returning or exchanging the order. If an online supermarket already has a customer’s favourite grocery products ready to go, this avoids spending hours in a heaving store.

Also, everyone loves a brag on social. In the past when brands have successfully pulled off personalised products, a social media buzz has ensued. Capitalism has moved beyond simply owning a product and proving ourselves via material worth, now we cultivate our own online brands through our purchase decisions. Of course the best example of this is Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. In the US, it resulted in increased sales volume for the first time in roughly four years. You can also customise your own Share a Coke bottle online; this means the more obscure names get a slice of the action, so Felicias and Bartholomews rejoice.

Consumers also like to stick to what they know. If a customer already trusts a certain shoe brand’s quality, they may stick with the familiar but change it up with a new version of their favourite trainer. This worked well with NIKEiD where customers were invited to ‘Create your signature shoe.’ By granting the customer more agency in how the product looks, they’ve already invested a deeper personal interest.

Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ provides a personal playlist of 30 songs, curated and released each Monday based on a listener’s habits. Within the first 10 months of launching, Discover Weekly saw 5 billion song plays. This brilliant service plants lesser known songs in our laps; perfect for lazy listeners who thrive off ‘I knew them before they were famous’ bragging rights. In the beauty world, the sheer volume of products available overwhelming so the bespoke trend is hitting makeup bags too. If we’re going to plaster cosmetics over bodies, we want to know they suit our skin down to a tee. The most stellar example is Amazon’s on point (verging on creepy) personalised service. Every customer’s homepage is littered with finely targeted recommendations ‘For a Night In.’ They’ve nailed the curated customer experience, helping them discover something new by tempting users with dreamy basket fillers.

How do brands follow suit? It’s important to make an impact but avoid diluting the message. For bigger companies, their strong logos are recognisable so they can afford to play with customisation. Smaller brands be wary. With marketing tactics, permission is important, otherwise it can seem aggressive and insincere. Retail brands should categorise their users; a customised email or ‘recommended for you’ list may seem unnerving if you’ve only clicked on the site once. For a regular user, this could come across as extremely impressive – the same way your favourite waiter knows your name and wine preference before you even order. Above all, make sure the recommendations are helpful and relevant, rather than off-putting. Brands need to find the sweet spot between offering a bespoke service whilst conserving both their reputations and relationships.

Generation Y and When

Patience is a virtue, apparently, but as brands pander to consumers demanding instant gratification, we’re growing increasingly intolerant. As such, Generation Y are obsessed with when.

This impatience has infected all areas of our lives. From our careers (two years in one company? Please!) to dating (swiping from one cringey profile to the next) to ordering a taxi, screening films, finding takeaway and the list goes on. This new appetite also affects how we consume content; we’re after ‘quick fun’, such as a cheeky Angry Birds session, instead of indulging in a print magazine (remember those?), a novel or a longread newspaper article.

When it comes to retail, Generation Y love a good Google; they’ll do some thorough browsing to find the best deal. They’ll know the chosen products inside out, all their pros and cons, before narrowing down a list of potentials. Once upon a time we might all ask a friend for a recommendation, but word of mouth in the digital world means we now rely on reviews to know we’ve made the right decision before even thinking about committing with a ‘Buy Now’.

Our digital needs have been condensed into a tiny tablet in our pocket so everything is quite literally there at a click of a button. This makes purchases – even booking holidays – effortless. We’ve developed a sense of entitlement along with higher expectations – a dangerous mix. Retailers have to keep up with the pace; nowadays consumers expect same-day delivery and free returns without question. If the customers aren’t happy, online reviews and social media have granted them power to destroy brands with a fleeting tweet. Our urges are almost lustful, and god forbid someone slows us down.

So how do brands adapt to that? We have some simple algebra that we live by: U + X = Y. Generation Y are incredibly website savvy, so they’ll probably judge a brand on its User Experience before the actual products. Swishing text and a sleek colour scheme makes a sucker of us all. There’s a lot of noise out there, so a brand websites have to stand out the second consumers hop on that landing page. And it has to be seamless. Generation Y never developed the trait of patience and they’ll click off if they’re made to wait a few seconds for a page to load (how very dare they?), while muttering about bad brand experiences as they tweet furiously until placated by a response.

It’s also about values; Generation Y are more likely to dedicate time and money if there’s a personal connection. In some cases, this means aligning a brand to an experience, such as a free fitness class or smoothie giveaway, therefore associating a product with a sensory memory or event. In the same way, tone on social media plays a huge part in consumer behaviour and – if done correctly – this ‘window shop’ into the brand and its ethos could cement their loyalty. Generation Y consider heavy advertising intrusive, but the trick is to use clever content that humanises a brand and makes it relatable. Enter sneaky ‘digital influencers’ who would often disguise sponsored content as if revealing a secret to friend: ‘I’ve found this amazing new product…’ These crafty tip-offs work. Carefully chosen brand partnerships are also key, such as charity sponsorships or equal rights activism, as these align the brand with important issues; the same issues that are probably bothering the browser.

The good news for retailers? Generation Y are spenders rather than savers. They don’t look at the long term, which means they’ll impulse buy frivolously, rather than putting money aside for the future. If there’s no immediate gain, where’s the fun in that? So as patience grows thinner, so do wallets, and that’s a world of opportunity for retail brands to cash in on.

 

Interview transcript for Digitally Human

So turns out when we talk it’s very different to, like, I mean, how we write, you know? We interrupt eachother, we repeat and we correct ourselves, pause and sometimes we choke. It’s jarring (even if we have a script in front of us) and it’s certainly not as measured as when we put pen to paper or fingers to keys.

As one of my copywriting projects, I was asked by Digitally Human to transcribe and liven up an informal interview between two CEOs. Besides testing my touch-typing (turns out I’m pretty good – thank you speedy PR days) and learning new American start-up jargon, it actually really made me think twice about how we communicate verbally. I know I use the word ‘like’ far too much, so next time I will think before I speak and try to be more eloquent.

You can read the interview here.

Heidi Klein partnership: Roadtrip Pocketbook

I recently wrote the copy and oversaw the artistic direction for a 32-page roadtrip pocketbook for our Heidi Klein California Collection brand partnership campaign. The pre-resort line is made of four collections: Santa Barbara, Huntington Beach, Greater Palm Springs and San Diego. I wanted to take the reader through a classic California roadtrip narrative to bring the collection to life. The pocketbook will be in-store and sent with each product dispatch for a whole year, launching Sept 2016.

It was wonderful having this creative output and the freedom to step away from ‘marketing speak.’ Let me take you on a journey…

 

I adjust the rear view mirror, wind the window down, the radio sings California dreaming and I click into D for drive. Like many before us, this little MG – our means of voyage – will become our travel companion on our classic California road trip. We leave LA behind for our first stop: Santa Barbara, ‘The American Riviera’, just two hours away.

As we coast north towards the city, the terracotta rooftops roll into a correlated form in front of us, like pieces of jigsaw finding their perfect place in the horizon. Traffic moves in slow motion, locals shuffle down State Street towards the local artisan craft fair and their flip flops rhymically flick the pavement. Fingers flutter through handmade beads and silver charms, glass vases and embroidered purses with rainbow threads.

Once checked in, we grab our towels and head towards the harbour. The boats gather, varying in shape and size with names like ‘Wind Dancer’ and ‘Whisper’. Out on the water with a hand saluting in front of our brows we can see the spouting signals of whales brimming the surface. Dozens of different species settle in these feeding grounds, from blue whales to humpbacks. Back at shore we make our way to the farmer’s market; stalls laid out before us offering a full palette of taste and kaleidoscope of colours. Rows of avocados are categorised by ripeness (“only in California” stallholders beam), we’re offered sips of fresh juice, spoons of chunky homemade houmous and the smell of this morning’s catch – oysters, lobster, squid – follows us as an omnipresent reminder of the nearby ocean.

Dusk arrives quickly, marking our last evening. Armed with our map, we search for liquid treasure among the twenty-nine wineries peppering the Funk Zone. Corks are popped, we listen to poetry over the counter: “rich oak” , “ earthy leather”, “harmonious aromas.” The red velvet slides down our throats, the tang of ice cold white fizzes on our tongues.

The next morning we leave for ‘Surf City USA’: Huntington Beach. The Pacific acts as our loyal compass to our right for our 130-mile drive down the coast.

We know we are getting closer as the number of wetsuited silhouettes multiply and emerge like creatures resurfacing from their nest. The waves build as the surfers twist, flip and turn, using the ocean’s power to drive them forward before each wave reaches the end of its journey as swash upon the sand.

The beach is beckoning and we can’t resist strolling through the sand at sunset, leaving footprints behind us as the horizon ahead transforms into crimson. Sea air and a long drive mean we fall into a deep slumber, waking the next morning to clear skies and clear heads. We hear there’s yoga on the beach today, so we begin in warrior poses facing the rising sun. Later, we squeeze into wetsuits that suck onto our skin; our armour for the day protecting us against Mother Nature’s force. Bobbing along in the water, our fingertips stroke the sea’s surface, making ripples in the deep blue. Waves upon waves roar behind us – above us – and we try our best to glide with the current. Muscles aching and eyes stinging, we drag our boards and tired bodies through the sinking sand and collapse in a heap; exhausted, satisfied, stomachs growling. 

We’re served huge plates of fresh fish and fries to fill us up before we explore the long coast by bike. The pedals spin and our legs windmill, our hair turns wild and sticky from the salty wind. Making our way back we settle down with cocktails whilst gazing out across the pier’s twinkling lights and we spot sets of couples roasting marshmallows over fire-pits on the beach.

It’s time to head inland for a two hour drive to ‘California’s Oasis’ as we prepare to swap our surroundings from the tumultuous ocean to mysterious desert. The white highway stripes flicker past and the inches of air above the road squirm and squiggle under the heat.

We drive through the city of Palm Springs where locals wear their cars like accessories; doors slam, bursting shopping bags and heels appear. This is Hollywood’s Playground; we walk the pavements once graced by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley. The palm trees lean over our heads as if eavesdropping on hushed whispers around the pool and we ponder the secrets they hold from the 1920s celebrity elite. Glass panels, shiny steel and geometric lines form otherworldly architecture peppering the mountains as extraterrestrial shapes that starkly contrast the smooth valley curves.

Slow days are spent lured around mineral spas, quenching the thirst of our sizzling skin with quick gasping pool dips and mud baths, but we become restless. The Joshua Tree National Park is a scenic drive away and we leave early up through Yucca Valley, where thrift shops teem with vintage treasures and antique markets display twinkly trinkets. We’re greeted by rows of fuzzy Joshua Trees appearing to wave on arrival; their rough, imperfect forms cast shadows on the arid ground. Company is sparse and only a few fellow hikers pass us by – later we realise there will be no blinking screens here to wash out the stars’ illumination. We stick around to watch the Milky Way emerge, perching on our trusty MG bonnet, the universe a glittering dome above us.

We leave Greater Palm Springs refreshed, our skin glowing from its new darker hue. Ready for our final stop, two hours away the city of San Diego awaits us.

Engaged by the metropolitan buzz, the city’s sounds and smells seem to wake us up with a jolt from our desert daze. Every corner presents a new culture, reflected by the street names: ‘Naples Place’, ‘Camino de la Reina’, ‘Madison Avenue.’ A varied style we can’t pinpoint, outfits switch from each block with ripped jeans and bikinis to rainbow yoga two pieces or floor-length dresses. As if landing into Italy we drive past countless pizza shops, then deep into the heart of Mexico where taco stalls neighbour classic California brunch spots. The huge bowls overflowing with fresh guacamole are worth halting the car and we order crispy tacos, tortillas packed with refried beans dripping with sour cream. We order fluffy flights of craft beer, samples presented to us in calibrated colour schemes.

We check in and bounce straight back out of the hotel to follow the curves of La Jolla’s coastline by foot, stopping to watch seal pups bleat and retreat into their subaquatic world, inspiring us to get out there ourselves. Hopping into kayaks, we’re led by an instructor who guides us around the ocean; his familiar backyard. A quick change from flip-flops to heels and we join the clusters of nightowls piling out into the Gaslamp Quarter, drawn towards salsa beats pumping from inside the bars. Lights and music work in unison as the world speeds up – faster and louder – and we move with the current of the crowd up to a rooftop bar, welcomed by rushing vertigo and views of towering skyscrapers.
Our heads hit the pillows, ears and eyes vibrating from our final night California. We head to LAX in the morning – back to where we began our journey – radiating in our Golden State.  

 

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