Getting To Know You: Claire Menary of ISWAS

Carelle - ISWAS

So I had this awesome idea to conduct occasional interviews within my blog and let you guys know who I follow, etc... So of course I had to start with one of my all times faves, ISWAS! I've been following Claire's blog for a while now and genuinely it's one of favourites out there and so I contacted her to do an interview for Carelle and in the process we've become friends too so bonuses all around! Let me tell you why I adore Claire and her blog. Firstly I love food and Claire gives great restaurant recommendations so life equals sorted!! Haha, no it's actually much more than that; Claire has such a passion for life and a great attitude towards trying new things. It's kinda infectious actually and comes across in her blog really well. Plus I love her writing style, it feels like you and her have been besties for ages and she's loading you with tips and deals for living in London. I'll let her tell you more:  

E: So let's just start with some personal introductions. Tell me a bit about yourself. 

C: Ok, well I’m Claire. I have a little blog called It Starts With A Sunrise (or ISWAS if like me, you can’t be bothered to say it all!). I’m 24, originally from Yorkshire, living in Fulham and working in Entertainment PR.

 E: Great! Now tell me about about your blog, ISWAS.

C: So the blog - a lifestyle diary I’d say is the best way to describe it. It’s everything I really like doing. I literally talk about everything from restaurants that I’ve been to, to sometimes fashion- if I can face being photographed!- to days out, travelling and everything in between! Basically it covers whatever I feel like talking about at the time!

E: How did you come up with the name? It’s really good.

C: So when I first started my blog I kinda didn’t know what to call it and I just wanted to get started. The name that I came up with that I hated the least was The Lady that Loves. Turns out I hated that- haha, so I then started thinking “ok, I just need to think of something else now” and then whilst I was at home at Christmas, I came up with It Starts With A Sunrise. Why I chose that name is simple really- my blog covers what I spend my days doing… and every day starts with a sunrise! I also liked the acronym- and usually just go by that. Anyone that asks me what it means, I just tell them to look at the blog!

E: When did you start?

C: January two years ago. Yeah it’s been two years and two months. I can’t remember how I started it really. I think I was seeing someone at the time and he knew more about restaurants and things to do in London than me and I don’t like guys knowing more than me haha. So I was like “right I’m gonna start a blog!” and just become this really in the know person. Doing pretty well so far! 

E: And who do you envision as your target reader? 

C: I guess anyone that wants to do something with their day. Not just sit on their sofa but experience London; have adventures. Anyone that wants inspiration and to get up and do something, whether it's go for brunch at this really cool new place or if it’s a really nice day out and they’re thinking “what can I do?”- they go on the blog and see a cool day out at Columbia Road or a foodie market. Someone like that. 

E: That’s exactly what I do when I’m stuck on ideas, I just pop over to your blog like “what would Claire suggest” haha. Ok next. So I remember we’ve had this discussion before and I thought it was really interesting that you don’t describe yourself as a blogger. Why not?

C: Hmm, that’s a tricky one. I think it’s because I just don’t consider myself one. I work in PR- that’s my day-to-day job; that’s what’s on my CV. Blogging is just my hobby, I don’t take it too seriously or have a strategy behind it- I blog when I want to, when I have something to say. I think because I don’t take it seriously in that sense, I guess I find it silly using the title blogger in relation to myself. A lot of the time, people say ‘Oh, I’m a blogger’ like they’re placing too much self-importance on the term- I dunno, it’s just not a word I’d choose to use! 

E: So what do you think the future of blogging is?

C: Oh I don’t know!

E: I know I've said in the past that it worries me that Instagram had become a big platform for people, whereby they don't need blogs anymore. And for me I think, I work really hard on my blog and there are people who take a really good selfie but are networking with brands just as much as I am. It confuses me.  

C: Yeah I get what you mean. From a PR perspective, if someone has a good blog which is beautifully done and they have a strong audience, I think it’s a really powerful tool so in that sense, I think blogs are becoming really influential and will keep on growing. It’s definitely a new way to reach people. Traditionally it’s always been that you go straight to the newspapers or the big glossies but that doesn’t necessarily connect as strongly with the audience as a blog does. People follow their favourite blogs religiously and trust what the author says like they would a friend and so take their recommendations and hang on to every word like gospel. 

E: I agree. Right, time for the TRUMP 3s section!

C: Oh God this is the hardest bit! It’s like choosing between children. 

E: No it’s really fun! Ok top 3 restaurant recommendations?

C: Seriously, choosing children! OK, Yalla Yalla on Winsley Street. It does really amazing Beirut street food. I always over order there because it’s all so good! Berners Tavern in the London Edition for the sheer beauty and excitement you feel when dining there. Comensal in Clapham South purely for their ginormous bowl of guacamole- I think I could eat a whole one to myself!

E: Next, top 3 fave spots in London?

C: The top of St. Paul’s Cathedral- you can go to the very very top where there’s a viewing platform and get to see panoramic views around London. I’m such a sucker for a view, I love them! Second one is Primrose Hill, at the top shockingly haha! Third is Columbia Road Flower Market. Flowers, lots of flowers- need I say more?

E: Ok, 3 words to describe living in London?

C: Crazy, exciting, amazing.

E: Top 3 fashions items that you are really into? 

C: Hats obviously. I love a good statement hat, I’m a solid fedora fan. It definitely does change an outfit instantly and makes it look like I’ve made an effort. I also wear a lot of scarfs as shawls and pashminas instead of layers and cardigans- I get too hot really easily, I have a weird body temperature! Lastly, a big statement bag! Crazy bag lady for life. 

E: 3 random facts about yourself?

C: I really hate eggs! People think I’m weird everytime I tell them. Friends I’ve told numerous always forget this and then get surprised when I tell them- then they proceed to tell me I’m weird. Oh my god this is hard! What are yours?

E: Erm I crochet!

C: Hahaha! Ok, I have a really weird thing that if I’m walking somewhere and I’ve gone the wrong way, I can’t just turn around and go back. I have to re-think another route. I don’t know if that’s a random fact or a strange OCD thing that I have. 

E: Haha. Ok but is that because people are watching and you don’t want to look silly just turning around randomly?

C: No I think it’s an OCD thing. I think because I’ve spent all this time walking one way that I can’t waste my time turning back- so I just find a new route. Like a human satnav!  I guess final random fact… I can’t be near children with balloons- it creeps me out! The noise they make when they hold them gives me shudders and I’m just waiting for them to pop it!

E: Lastly what’s next for you? 

C: Gosh, I don’t know. Life is pretty sorted right now- I haven’t really thought where to go next! I’m gonna keep on blogging, start planning my trip to New York in Spring and just keep enjoying London life! Maybe it’d be nice to go on a date or two that aren’t complete disasters! Here’s hoping! 

E: You heard it here first. Look her up fellas ;)


A massive thanks to Claire for being such a good sport and doing this interview for me. We had such a fun afternoon spent in Shoreditch last weekend and she introduced me to the brilliance of Yalla Yalla while I recorded her on my iPhone haha...I mean that's the beginnings of a great friendship right there!!! Be sure to follow her for more fun adventures in London. Perfect timing if you're stuck for ideas on what to do this weekend ;) xo

Carelle - ISWAS