MOST of us will, at some point, find life overwhelming. Whether it’s a lifetime ‘biggie’, such as bereavement, moving house, getting married or starting a new job, or just the everyday routine, there are times when we lose our way.
Social media doesn’t help. “We’re on call 24/7 – Instagram, Twitter, email. And we’re bombarded with images of ‘perfection’,” says actress and presenter Natalie Anderson. “I love seeing pictures of people on holiday, having a great time. But sometimes it’s about projecting perfection, a kind of ‘Love Island’ ideal. And, like Love Island, it isn’t real.
“Like all busy mums, I have enough on trying to get through the day. When you’re constantly exposed to overwhelming images of beautiful 20-somethings, on TV and social media, it becomes all too easy to have a negative perception of yourself.
“Sometimes we just need a friend to say, ‘You know what? You’re doing just fine. You’re going to be okay’.”
Welcome to The Capsule. Created as a website by Natalie, to share her thoughts and recommendations on fashion, beauty and lifestyle, it has evolved into a podcast and regular events encompassing wellbeing, positive mental health and self care. The next Capsule event, in February, focusses on fashion, styling and body confidence; featuring independent fashion and beauty brands, styling demonstrations and discussion from a panel of speakers and celebrity guests.
“I put this event together to celebrate body diversity and to empower women,” says Bradford-born Natalie, 38. “I want women to feel inspired by other women, to find confidence in themselves by socialising and hearing women’s stories. I’m focused on bringing people together; these are isolating times, we have lots of online ‘friends’ yet feel more lonely and isolated than ever as a society. This event gives women chance to meet up, laugh together, maybe cry, and make friends. I want it to be fun and positive.”
Natalie, who started acting as a child at Bradford Playhouse, got her break playing Nurse Stella Davenport in ITV drama The Royal, filmed at St Luke’s Hospital where she was born. She landed the role after graduating from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, founded by Sir Paul McCartney. “He came to watch us in class a few times. He presented me with my degree and said: ‘Well done Nat!’” she smiles.
Natalie went on to play Alicia Metcalfe in Emmerdale for five years and was in TV dramas such as Wire in the Blood and Dalziel and Pascoe. On stage she’s been in West End show Wicked and Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends.
A former Bradford Bulls cheerleader, Natalie is also a singer and was in the original Pop Idol in 2001, with Gareth Gates. In recent years she’s had presenting slots on TV’s This Morning and written for Hello! online.
She founded The Capsule “after picking up the phone to friends to talk about fashion and beauty finds”. It retains the ethos of Natalie’s “little box of recommendations for a healthy, happy lifestyle”.
“After seeing my friends having little time to spend on things that make them feel and look better, I created The Capsule to do it for them,” says Natalie. “With our collections in fashion, beauty, travel and food, alongside expert advice on wellbeing and lifestyle, it’s somewhere to take a moment and gain inspiration.”
It had, she says, been on the backburner for a long time. “I did a fashion blog for Hello! and was inspired to set up my own website. Over the last 12 months or so though it’s changed direction, to focus on wellbeing too,” she says. “We’ve had events with a professional nutritionist, hypnotherapist, life coach, a woman who set up a wellbeing app after her daughter was bullied, Lyndsey Thomas, who started out writing about days out with the kids and developed then a business, Girl About Blog Squad. These aren’t super-star brands with massive followings – they’re incredible women who set up their own businesses and developed a network of women taking their lives and careers into their own hands. I’ve met so many women who’ve changed their lives, they’re so inspiring.”
One such woman is singer/actress Natasha Hamilton from girl group Atomic Kitten. She and Natalie met when they starred in Fat Friends on a UK tour in 2016. Natasha, a regular speaker at Capsule events, has re-trained as a beauty therapist and opened a skin clinic.
It was working on Fat Friends that Natalie addressed her anxiety. She appears to have it all – a successful career, happily married to husband James with seven-year-old son, Freddie – but, she reveals, she has suffered anxiety all her life. “It seemed to escalate,” she says. “When I was doing Fat Friends I was recommended products and techniques that really calmed my nerves. It got me thinking about incorporating that into The Capsule which was focussed on fashion and beauty at the time. I wanted it to feel like ringing a friend, having them say: ‘It’s okay, you’re not alone’.
Where did the name come from? “When I was 18 I worked at Hobbs, the manager taught me how to put together a capsule collection of clothes you can wear time and again. I liked the concept of a bit of fashion, food, beauty, wellbeing in a capsule,” says Natalie. “It’s sharing ideas, products, wellbeing techniques, and just talking. We chat about how hormones and diet can affect mood, stress in the workplace, the power of meditation – even tips for a good holiday read. We’ve had speakers on menopause, holistic supplements and apps. My mum said, ‘I’m so glad you’re talking about menopause’. She’s 55 and so vivacious – she inspires me.
“It’s taking time out for yourself, something we don’t do enough. You know when you’re on a ‘plane and the safety advice is to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, in an emergency? Sounds selfish but you’re no good to anyone if you’re not well. We all feel overwhelmed at times. I took time out to be at home with Freddie, to do the school run and be a mum. And I love it, but we all need to re-charge our batteries.
“Setting up this website, I asked friends I’ve had since I was a child for their advice. We’re so focussed on our ‘phones, we’re losing human connection. Women used to have coffee mornings and mothers’ meetings to support each other. I never got that when I was younger – now I see how valuable that connection is.”
l The Capsule Fashion & Body Event is at Aspire Leeds on Saturday, February 8, 6pm-10pm.