Exterior decorating


You know you have an addiction when you no longer count the number of times you have done something but rather the number of hours spent doing it. By something, I mean getting tattooed and by addiction I mean, I am hooked.

I am not a professional. I am not an artist. I cannot tattoo. To be fair, I cannot really even draw but I have a true appreciation for the artwork that these talented guys and gals deliver onto my body each and every time and despite not being able to speak from the artist’s point of view, at over 50+ hours of tattoo time I think I do have a little bit of experience on the subject.  I am proud when I walk around because I feel pretty, oh so pretty and I particularly felt like this at the Brighton Tattoo Convention that I attended on Sunday, the 1st of May when I was stopped multiple times for a look at the pieces I show off proudly.  I grinned and gushed and posed while photographs were taken of my arms and legs and happily provided the names of the artist’s involved because they deserve every little bit of credit for these pretty pictures I get to wear daily, for the rest of my life!

Having spent a considerable amount of time being tattooed in the UK since I arrived, I got to thinking about the rituals that I have before being tattooed and how I prepare for a long session. I put the question out to my followers and readers on social media and I found that bar one (You know who you are Christopher), everyone seems to have similar rituals leading up to their tattoo appointment. I know that everyone is different and not everything works for everyone but I thought I would share some of my own rituals that I seem to have been doing subconsciously up until recently.

Ready for a tattoo? Communicate.

I don’t seem to specifically sit and map out my next tattoo, though I know many people who do. I always tell myself that I will finish my arm next or do my chest or plan out my leg sleeve but all of these plans seem to fade away when I see a pretty picture on Instagram or a share on my Facebook feed and get a random idea and roll with it. I was never really the biggest dotwork fan and never would have imagined getting a half dotwork sleeve but now I have it and I love it and cannot wait for more! (Nudge nudge Inga).

So the first step is to see something I like, make contact with the artist and then meet up for a chat or communicate via email / Facebook etc. Whichever medium works best for the artist and me at the time. (I find that I follow many tattoo artists on Instagram specifically and continuously troll pages when I’ve got nothing better to do). This is the time to bounce ideas of each other, listen to your artists suggestions and let them know what you’re looking for as well. It is important to give us much information to the tattooer as possible, they are not mind readers no matter how talented they are! Of course, they are there to offer support and assistance but it helps having an idea about placement, size and the end result you are looking for.

Take into consideration that these artists are people too, they have lives and families. If you are not sure what the best time would be to contact your artist is, ask them. Try to stick to normal ‘working hours’ if you can instead of emailing at 2am with your random idea. I know I have made that mistake before but have learnt my lesson, realistically I wouldn’t want my clients calling me at 2am to book flights so why would you expect the tattoo artist to do the same?

Good tattoos are not cheap or FREE!

The ever important discussion of MONEY should also come up at this time. I would like to know what I am paying for my tattoo and be able to budget realistically, don’t leave this for an awkward conversation the day of. I always know what I am going to pay, have my cash ready and make sure I try to initiate the payment at the end of a session (Unless I am too busy chatting, that can happen).

Without sounding rude or condescending, I don’t believe this to be a haggling session. If an artist sets their price and quotes it to me, that is what I will pay. I think it can be extremely insulting to try to bargain an artist down to a price you are willing to pay, especially on a first session.  You may find that artists run specials or have pieces that they would like to tattoo for a lower rate than normal, it always works out cheaper to sit for longer and so this is a great way to get an amazing piece for a good price from a fantastic artist. It is also important to remember that many tattoo artists recognise their loyal clients and offer preferential rates to people that get tattooed on a regular basis. If you’re going to be rude about the pricing on day 1, don’t expect a discount on the next session… I would love to hear the comments of artists on this opinion but remember, I am tattoo canvas and am just speaking from what I have seen in my time of sitting in many a tattoo chair.

Secure your spot!

The way I see it, you are committing to hours of this artists time that they will not resell to anyone else so you’re less likely to cancel once you have financially committed to your appointment.

Next and probably the most important step at this stage, I book in my time and pay my deposit. A lot of people don’t seem to realize that a deposit is required for a session/piece. The way I see it, you are committing to hours of this artists time that they will not resell to anyone else so you’re less likely to cancel once you have financially committed to your appointment. I don’t know an artist today who doesn’t require a deposit to secure the appointment so if you are reading this, forewarned is forearmed. It is also quite important to ask how your artist prefers payment for both the deposit and the balance. Many artists still don’t operate on card machines, if you need to have cash with you beforehand it is good to find this out instead of arriving for your appointment and running around looking for a cash machine before you can even get the stencil on your body. That said, I have been to artists who do accept cards as well as payment via PayPal. One artist or studio will differ from another so despite possibly having had a tattoo before, this experience could be very different from that of your first tattoo. Rather arm yourself with all the information you need and then leave the last of your focus for the mental preparation required in order to be pounded with ink and needle.


So you have an appointment, you have paid your deposit and the artist is working on drawing out the piece that you are ready to have tattooed… but suddenly you need to ask a thousand questions. ASK THEM! Your tattoo artist is there to help you, they know best, this is their livelihood, their specialty. If anyone can answer any tattoo questions or uncertainties you may have, it will be the person who is about to permanently decorate your temple. Tattoos are a beautiful thing but can be very intimidating, especially for those who haven’t had many or any. Make sure that on the day you arrive at the studio for your appointment on time, you are comfortable, you have had all of your questions answered, you are happy with everything that has been agreed and you are mentally ready (Not sure you ever actually get fully mentally prepared) to sit in that chair and take the needles.

Next time I will focus a little more on my actual pre-tattoo rituals and what to expect on the day.

Happy TATTOO Booking xx


Visa delays…

It has been a couple of months since my last blog about my husband’s settlement visa application for the UK – The last post I did was in February called Taking over Me in which I was asking for you to all bare with me only a little while longer for J-P’s visa to be issued and for life to return to some sort of normality. Those who know me or have me as a friend on Facebook (or even follow me on Twitter) know that things did not turn out the way we had planned – Instead J-P’s visa was declined and we were forced to start the process all over again.

Our first settlement visa application was on the basis that I had not yet been here 6 months – This meant that the financial requirement is considered for the 12 months prior to application only. Having earned in South African rands with the awful exchange rate and also changing jobs (and having a drastic pay cut) meant that we were already very close to the line in terms of actually achieving this requirement of GBP18 600 per year (In the last 12 months). We had been advised that maintenance payments could be included in this calculation and so we used this to push us over the edge and apply with the hopes the visa would be approved. Sadly, it was not and due to South Africa’s maintenance orders not being recognised in the eyes of UK visas and immigration, J-P’s visa was denied on the basis that we did not make the financial requirement.

I remember that day that I got the call, I had already gone onto planned leave and J-P and the kids were due to arrive any day, I had gone to watch a movie to kill time while I waited for J-P to go and collect his visa and then book his air ticket – When he called me I was sitting on the bridge over looking the River Kennett, the sun was out and it seemed like it was going to be a beautiful day – I was not prepared for my husband to tell me that his visa had been denied. That we had just spent GBP885 for nothing. It was all I could do to immediately book a ticket back to my family and I flew the next day, uncertain of our future and unsure of being able to continue with this pursuit of a settlement visa so that we could continue our lives in the UK.

When it happened, I looked at this like it was the worst thing in the world but when I think about it now, it was merely a hiccup. Had I known before I left that the visa would be declined, I never would have left South Africa. I said from the start that there was no way I would be here for 6 months (The second way of application) without my family before a visa could be applied for and I was not prepared to stick it out without them for that long… Well, here we are, I have been here 6 months and we are about to apply again.

On the 20th of April 2015 I will have been working for Portman Travel for 6 months and have successfully been earning enough to make the financial requirement – At the end of April (beginning of May depending on how long it takes for the documents to arrive) the second visa application will go in on the new basis that I have lived and worked in the UK for 6 months earning a salary that would in the financial year (6 months before and after application) meet the financial requirement for sponsorship of my husband’s settlement visa. When I went back to SA in February I had every intention of giving up, of canning the whole idea. I was prepared to give up the new life I had built here just to be back to my family knowing how difficult it had been without them in the 4 months preceding the visa rejection. I was convinced otherwise by my husband and our visa consultant and so, came back to the UK with a heavy heart but a renewed determination to do everything we needed to to make this visa happen, despite the challenges, despite the cost. H was re enrolled in school and went back to Grade 4 slightly later than everyone else as by now she had missed the first few weeks of classes and thankfully J-P works for an amazing company who allowed him to stay on a little longer until the visa could be re applied for. I got a new tattoo and came back alone, hoping it would be the motivation I needed to get through the next 3-4 months it would take to resolve this.


A second visa application means more money – Sadly since the first application, the cost has increased – Our timing has been fairly awful to say the least. Where it was just under GBP900, it is now closer to GBP1000. A new NHS surcharge has also been implemented (As of the 6th of April 2015) where all long term visa applicants are also required to prepay a charge to make use of the NHS for their intended period of stay – J-P’s additional NHS surcharge is another GBP600 on top of his application. Unfortunately documents that were valid for the first application are no longer valid so off my husband went for a second TB test (Another R1000) and a new police clearance certificate, tax clearance certificate and certifications of documents. All new payslips, employment letters, bank statements etc had to be obtained and I will have to send off another envelope filled with original documents from this side before he can even submit the online application again. What was supposed to be over already has turned into an extremely long, harrowing, expensive experience – BUT I KNOW that once they are here, it will be well worth all the sacrifice.

As soon as my documents arrive in South Africa, J-P will then process his online application once more, go in for his interview and re submit all his documentation. In February 2015, nearly all visa applications were being processed in 15 working days but sadly that number has gone up to 30 days for March 2015 – Many being rushed in before the NHS charge implementation date I am sure. I am hoping that the number is reduced again for April / May thanks to these new charges that may put people off from applying – The sooner J-P’s visa comes out, the better.

This time, we have no reason to believe it will be rejected – I meet the financial requirement, we meet all other requirements, we have everything we need for me to be an adequate sponsor of my husband’s visa, all we need is the UK visa’s stamp of approval and we can get along with the rest of our lives and we are nearly there – Hopefully no more than 6-8 weeks away now. It does mean that the children will not go to school until September but that actually works out quite nicely, D will go into reception year (Grade R) as this is the school year that she turns 5. Based on Hayley’s age, she will then be pushed into fifth year and will not be held back yet – That we will look at based on how well she is coping. Hubby has already been in touch with recruiters and has had some positive interest on his CV pending his visa issuance, this is great news as we will be able to get back into the financial swing of things fairly soon. I will also take some more leave but this time, I am waiting to actually have a flight date before I go off for ten working days to spend some much needed time with my beautiful family who I am missing considerably!

Thinking about this visa all the time has led me to discover a few interesting things that may be of use if you are planning on moving over to the UK – I feel that there is a lot of information dotted all over the place and it can get very confusing when you have a complex application / situation as I do.


I am not an SA citizen so I did not give a second thought to this until now but it is important to note that if you manage to successfully obtain citizenship of another country without first having applied to retain your SA citizenship, you will lose your SA citizenship and you will then only be granted permanent residence to SA – It is an administrative and logistical nightmare. As J-P is coming over on a settlement visa (When and not if it is granted), it will be valid for 33 months after which he will apply for an extension for a further 33 months. After that time, he would have been in the UK for 5 years and will be required to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by doing the Life in the UK test, doing a new English test and proving the financial requirement again in order to gain permanent residence in the UK – It is at this time, once ILR is granted that if he wants to apply for citizenship (Which he does) he will need to apply to retain his SA citizenship before obtaining his British citizenship.


Luckily my girls have British passports as well as having their SA passports, this is because I was born in the UK. Under the age of 18, they cannot lose their citizenship in SA as minors but it is important to note that they need to apply to retain their citizenship after they have turned 18 – I still have to get clarity on how to do this because to me the ruling says they would not have lost their SA citizenship as minors but you cannot apply to retain your citizenship if you already have dual citizenship. I will look into this much closer to the time because by then, I am sure the ruling would have changed another ten times.


In the worst case scenario, J-P is not granted extension visa’s or ILR and this could mean that there is a possibility we would need to return to SA. If this is the case, I only hold a permanent residence certificate. Thankfully, those do not expire as long as you apply to the specific rules given on the certificate (if any) or you return to SA at least once very 3 years. Guess what family, you will be seeing me for holidays and visits – Not only because I want to see you but because I also need to make sure that if I need to return to SA permanently, I can:).

It has not been an easy road but I think back to me making the decision to come over and I know it was the right thing to do – I never intended to be away from the girls and J-P so long and as I said earlier, had I known I would never have left but then we would never have had the opportunity to know if this could work or not. It has been extremely expensive but thankfully money can be replaced, credit cards can be repaid – As soon as J-P is here and working again, we will be able to make that up fairly quickly. Money will be the last of our worries as long as my family is back together with a bright, hopeful future.

Now all we ask is that you hold thumbs for us, that this time, our second try, the visa is approved and issued fairly quickly (Hopefully 3-4 weeks instead of 6-7 but if it is approved I will take what I can get) and that I have my family here with me sometime between early and mid June. Unfortunately, the delayed visa issuance means that we will not be able to return to SA this year for a holiday because financially and practically we would just not be able to, but that will mean that next year’s visit will be all the more special – Especially because I will get to meet my nephew who is making his entry into the world in July this year:)

I remain hopeful that the next post I share that has anything to do with the visa is to tell you it has been issued.

Thanks for all your well wishes and positivity in the meantime! I have been here 184 days today… and counting.

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Rockabilly. Miss Happ. A match made in heaven.

I wrote a blog a little while back on my journey to living a Rockabilly lifestyle. What I neglected to mention was my influences and how I got there… (Refer back to The Road to Rockabilly)

My first taste of Rockabilly was my attendance to a themed ten year anniversary that encouraged us to dress up – Never one to turn down a dress up, I donned my skinny turned up reds with a pair of heels and a cut off plaid shirt. I pulled it off, I loved it! Shortly thereafter I had become interested in the lifestyle and started asking questions, googling and finding Facebook pages to follow… This merged with me choosing to do a 50’s dress up for my Dad’s 50th which I mentioned in my Road to Rockabilly blog, after which I decided it was no longer just about ‘dressing up’.
Who better to have turned to than The Tattooed Lady. In the short time I have known her, I have admired her style and her opinion and when the time came to find someone through which to purchase some Rockabilly / Pin-up accessories she was the only person to ask. She immediately referred me to Miss Happ, our local Rockabilly clothing and accessories provider, the rest is history… I have ordered and received some beautiful goodies from Miss Happ in the past year and find Mandy and her team truly amazing people to do business with. Not only have I bought accessories from them but I have learnt so much about the Rockabilly culture on my journey… I don’t think Mandy has a day when she is not on point, dressed to the nine’s in her own threads and make up perfectly in tune. Though a fairly new face to the culture, Mandy offered me an opportunity I could not resist! The chance for me and my readers to get to know Mandy and her business, Miss Happ a little bit better…
I penned a few questions to Mandy to find out a little bit more about her, the culture, her brand and of course her baby – Miss Happ.
Who is Mandy Milne?

Somebody with a passion for what she gets to do everyday, a voice of doom at times, a cat lover, a shoe collector, a cardigan wearer, an Apple Mac fan. A passionate, impatient pink haired, green eyed, tattooed betty. A Rockabilly girl, a nail polish addict, a perfectionist who procrastinates, a teacup in a storm. A sushi addict, a vodka drinker. A dreamer, a romantic, a creative. Born in the wrong era. I Should have listened to my history teacher and studied history and not Geography.  A fairly descent cook, but an awful baker (I have NO patience for all that measuring!)


What exactly is Miss Happ?

Miss Happ is a Rockabilly and Pin-up clothing & accessory brand designed and manufactured locally in Cape Town, South Africa. The Miss Happ girl loves to cuff her jeans with heels, belt her fitted tops, and especially loves wearing her flirty sundresses or embroidered pencil skirts for a night out. Many a Miss Happ girl is tattooed – thus embracing that rebellious Rockabilly/Betty page element.

The Miss Happ range of clothing is specifically designed to celebrate pin up girl curves and caters to a woman’s independent spirit with timeless, vintage inspired styles with a modern Rockabilly twist at competitive prices.

The Miss Happ range has now branched out into a Rockabilly & Vintage inspired accessory range which compliments the Miss Happ clothing range. The range offered includes hair accessories, necklaces, broaches, hair clips, hair flowers, scarves, gloves, bags, belts, hats and cat’s eye sunglasses. Miss Happ now also has a small range of retro inspired cushions in selection of unique, fun prints to suit the home of any modern Rockabilly girl.

 – I own these cushions, they are amazing!

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Before Miss Happ was born, what did you spend your time on?

I worked full time in the commercial fashion industry on both the manufacturing side, and on the retail side, but always as a designer. Over the years I have designed for many of the big chain stores from Woolworths to Edgards, Jet, Ackermans, Mr Price, with my final job being as a Senior Designer for the Foschini Group designing ladieswear for Sportscene, Due South & Total Sports for their in-house brands. It was during this time that I attended the Magic Show in Vegas and first encountered some of the more alternative lifestyle brands including many of the Pinup clothing brands.

What made you start the Miss Happ brand (And associated brands)?

At the end of 2007 I had left the commercial fashion industry and in 2008 I started lecturing part-time at a local fashion design college in Stellenbosch. While there I also decided to get my first tattoo and from there my interest was peaked. I have always been passionate about the forties, fifties & sixties but by researching old school tattoos my interest in the Rockabilly & Pinup culture grew. Finally I could put a name to the look and culture that I had always loved! This was back in 2008 – it was early days for the scene here in SA and only a few girls were beginning to experiment in the look.

Around this time I decided to enter the YDE Young Designer Competition. I came in the top 8 out of all the entries in SA, and although I didn’t go any further, by putting my ideas onto paper, into storyboards and garments Miss Happ was born and grew. I wanted clothing that I would wear – I was so tired of designing clothing that I personally wouldn’t have in my wardrobe. I was dying to design a range that inspired me to be comfortable in my own skin.

In January 2009 Miss Happ was launched at the Cape Town annual International Tattoo convention. A year later I started our men’s brand Boot Hill and even did a few printed T-shirts for kids under the same label. The guys were feeling left out and kept telling me they wanted something too!

Since we started our brands, we have gone on to exhibit at every Cape Town Tattoo convention since it’s inception in 2009 as well as, Cool Inc Tattoo Expo (Joburg) SA Hotrods Street festival, SA fashion week 2009 (Joburg), Horror Fest, Ink and Iron Cape Town, Toffie, Inner City Muscle show, Detroit Vintage Car show Cape Town. Dusty Rebels & the bombshells Festival, and the Harley Davidson rockabilly Day to name but a few.

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What do you believe makes Miss Happ so successful?

I would say that our No 1 is that Miss Happ is locally designed and produced brand. We have stood the test of time. When I started the brand it was during the recession – so many people said I was mad and would never last! I have hung in there and grown the brand and it’s product offering since then. I am passionate about not only my brands but the lifestyle and try and give it my all in every aspect of the business & my personal life. I work hard at being true to the culture, while trying to also stay grounded. We have had our ups and downs of course – as any small business would have, but 6 years later we are still here!

What is the ‘must have’ in every Rockabilly girls wardrobe?

Red lipstick, red nail polish, hairspray, and a bandana. With regards to clothing I would say, fishnet stockings, a net underskirt, one pretty Miss Happ swing dress, a pencil skirt in black, a check shirt, a Miss Happ embroidered Cardigan, and if you want that Greaser Gal look you can finish off any look with a black biker jacket!

Who is your biggest fan / supporter and why?

My husband and business partner, Murray. Having a good support system that encourages you every step of the way is so important – especially during the tough times. I can definitely say that he is one of the most passionate and positive people I know. I would not have had the courage to take that next step in so many of the business decisions I have had to make if it wasn’t for Murray pushing me HARD from behind!


Who is your favourite pin up girl and why?

Oooh that’s tough! There are so many ladies that I love and follow, but I would have to say that with regards to the modern pinup Bernie Dexter & Michaline Pitt were two of my very first influences, and still are. I was lucky enough to have met Miss Cherry Doll Face, Kandy K, Dorris Mayday and the adorably petite Lisa Love recently at VLV and they were all so sweet and humble. Real gals! You always look at these lovely ladies is being so far away, and like celebrities, but when you meet them they are all just regular ladies like you and me!


You recently spent some time in Las Vegas, tell us about the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly weekend?

We actually went for our honeymoon – the timing was perfect. VLV has always been on my wish list and finally I got to go. I have always loved the States and the Rockabilly culture is so alive there, so it was an absolute must for me to do at least once in my life!

The VLV Rockabilly week end runs for four days and is always held over the Easter week end in Las Vegas – This year was it’s 17th year. We had the high roller tickets which were so worth paying the extra for. You then have access to all sorts of extra events and also a pre-shop with the vendors on the Thursday night (most of them are also at the car show on Sat too but you are with all the crowds, so pre-shopping is so much more pleasant) as well as events in the Ballrooms. The great thing is that your ticket includes everything, so literally you are only paying for your drinks/food and any products you may buy.

We got to go to the Fashion Show – a must for anybody who loves vintage inspired clothing – this is something for the guys and girls, as well as the Burlesque showcase which really was an absolute treat! It was so awesome to see such amazing talent entertaining a very appreciative & interactive audience – The crowds went mad! The burlesque show was a 90 minute show that featured world-renowned burlesque stars, many of them are past winners of the Miss Exotic world, and are of the highest international standard. We loved it all!

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On the Saturday we attended the Car show, held in an outside car park with the equivalent of at least 2 full rugby fields filled with vintage cars (the organizers quote 800 cars!) all pre 1963. But the cherry on the top for me was shopping with the vendors within the car show area. Not just one or two but ROWS of vendors selling everything from Hair Pomade to custom designed parasols, clothing, accessories, artwork, patches, stickers and just about anything else related to the custom culture scene! Throughout the day (and week end) there are tons of awesome bands that play. We got to see quite a few this year with the highlight for us being Imelda May (below).


The car show was so big we had take a break half way through the day to have lunch back in our hotel room. The other thing nobody realizes is that VLV is held during summer – and with the Vegas desert heat temperatures really soar, so having your own parasol that you (and your poor guy) can share is a big MUST!

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What are your hopes for the Rockabilly culture in South Africa?

I only hope to see it grow! Since starting my brand I have definitely noticed that people’s understanding of the culture has shifted. My hope is that people learn about it in the right ways and express themselves in a way and style that is true to the culture without loosing it’s essence. I also feel it’s important to stand together and support each other, be it at events or by simply buying products that are proudly, and uniquely South African.

In your own words, what do you believe the Rockabilly culture to be?

Rockabilly has it true roots in the rock n’ roll culture of the 50’s, but today girls and guys around the world have taken it to a new level. The look is edgy with strong tattoo influences and is very visible within the custom culture community. Many a Rockabilly girl is tattooed or has bright coloured hair which only highlights their need to be an individual – it’s a way to stand out from the crowd and is very reminiscent of the rebellious attitudes of icons from the era such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and the notorious Bettie Page among others.

In South Africa we are seeing the scene slowly gaining popularity and awareness, and for many it’s a natural progression from other small, niche subcultures such as Goth or punk.

For me the rockabilly culture is not only about being influenced by times gone by, but really about taking those influences and eras and mixing it up into a more modern, updated look all while keeping those classic roots. It’s about drawing inspirations from many different sources be it classic cars, music, old school tattoos, to the stars of the silver screen, retro hairstyles or the fashion!

Is there an event you are looking forward to attending and why?

I am hoping to attend Speed Week this year in my personal capacity. We are currently building two ’58 Chev Apache trucks and just bought a ’68 Pontiac Firebird, so if things work out we might be able to take one of them with us which will be very exciting!

With regards to my business, we have our Miss Happ Spring/Summer Range launch happening beginning Sept as well as quite a few events that we are vending at with both Miss Happ & Boot Hill such a Cool Inc (Joburg) the VTwin Camdeboo Rally end Sept (Graaf Reinet, Western Cape), and the Dusty Rebels & The bombshells Rockabilly festival in Nov (Cape Town)….and then it’s big plans for 2014…watch this space!

What do we see happening next for Miss Happ?

I am currently designing and planning our Spring/Summer 2014/15 range. There are so many pretty colours and prints that I am working with it’s so exciting! Think ice-cream pastels, crazy comic book prints, tropical pinup girls, and so much rockabilly goodness! Our ladies will also be pleased to know that our classic wiggle dresses are also making a come back in our range as well as some old favourites such as our swing dresses and high waist pencil skirts.

We are currently scouting for locations for our launch which for the first time will include a fashion show. We are very excited! Anybody with awesome ideas of locations give us a shout!


So if you did not know before – NOW you know! Miss Happ are based in Cape Town and deliver their goodies worldwide. You can order online from the Etsy Store or mail the sales team to place an order – Head on over to the Facebook page to get more information and keep up to date with the new looks coming in for Spring as Mandy mentioned as well as the gorgeous, one of a kind handbags in stock (That’s right, ONE of a kind – I own one and I absolutely love mine). You can also get over to The Tattooed Lady’s Facebook page to enter an awesome competition to win a Miss Happ hamper! Remember that if you are in Jozi/Pretoria area you can get a select range of Miss Happ clothing & accessories from Retrospective Fashion recreated.

Shevy out:)




The Road To Rockabilly

I didn’t always plan on being tattooed. I grew up as a ‘black sheep’ with very different and unique ideals about life. I have always been headstrong and opinionated and because of this, was bound to stray from the path of the white picket fence… Once I turned 18, I started getting tattoos and never looked back. Here I am today, female, fun and full of ink… And I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

Let me be clear, being female and having tattoos does not mean that I am a Rockabilly chick – Why? Because that takes work. Work, time, effort and creativity. Am I worthy? Perhaps, but I have some work to do before I get there and live this lifestyle that I have fallen so deeply in love with. I curtsy to all the women (and men) living this era, the effort that it takes with hair and make up and the beauty that you exude when out on the town… I have the most respect for the dolls out daily in their dresses with hair in perfect curl and red lipstick on point, in fact, I’m envious.

If unsure about what Rockabilly is, here are a few pages with some information to better educate you on the style and era :

Wikipedia – Rockabilly
How to be a Rockabilly Dollie
Pin up vs Rockabilly

Here begins the road to Rockabilly.

After following a few Pin Up and Rockabilly enthusiasts via social media in the past year, I developed an interest in the clothing, make up, hair and overall attitude of the era. I kept an eye out on trends, accessories and hair color for an overall picture of what Rockabilly was about, though never acting on transitioning to a Rockabilly girl myself. Me? Shevy? The rocker chick that doesn’t even wear dresses, ever? How absurd. Or so I believed.

Last year, we were invited to attend a Rockabilly themed anniversary party which I thought was a great opportunity to try out the Rockabilly style. I donned red skinnies, pumps, a vest and checkered shirt with some red in my hair and make up to match. I spent weeks figuring out my outfit, calling on all contacts for help and making the best go of it I possibly could. The end result, a Rockabilly / Psychobilly hybrid which I absolutely loved! I felt… Comfortable.

My interest was peaked. I really enjoyed ‘dressing up’ and realized that I wanted this to be more than a dress up. I could do this, as a way life, couldn’t I? Sadly not, life got in the way and before I knew it, a new year was upon us. Then, my dad announced the dates and theme for his 50th birthday party (Theme – Glam) and I knew that the 50’s were waiting to be channeled by no one but me.

The first step, finding a dress. For followers of my blog, you’ll know that my dress search became almost, well, hopeless. Basically, the dress I ordered months ago was stolen at customs (Full Story – Time for a rockabilly rant) and the second dress that my husband drove to Sasolburg and back to collect didn’t end up fitting. A desperate cry for help via social media (Thank you The Tattooed Lady) led me to find this little gem of a shop in Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria called Retrospective. Mondi was amazing, the day before the party I’d already been in contact and on the day of, we arrived to fitting rooms ready with dresses in my size and the hope that I’d be walking away with a dress. Third time lucky. I decided on a Hell Bunny dress (Aztec) with a white petticoat and the first smile about my outfit in days. While not the original nautical style dress I’d planned on, the colors still matched and I think everything worked really well (Red, Blue and White).

Prior to the dress debacle, I’d planned accessories and shoes for the outfit. I ordered nautical inspired accessories from Miss Happ, a beautiful cameo necklace, anchor earrings, a hair clip and shoe clips – the perfect addition to the ensemble. I bought a pair of cheap and cheerful pumps from PnP in white and paired them with my beautiful shoe clips, the shoes were a gorgeous finishing touch. I wasn’t done, a little white cardigan from Mr Price finished it off and my clothing was finally sorted. Thankfully, my Aztec dress matched all the awesome accessories, shoes and cardigan purchased long before I even had it. Was I throwing myself into this? I think so!


After all this effort on my clothes, shoes and accessories, there was no way I could let my hair, make up and nails slip. The nails were easy, a blue press on to match the outfit but hair and make up? I was in for quite the challenge.

Nails – Check. Make up? I spent a while researching, chatting to friends following video tutorials and googling. Everything led me to red lips, winged liner, pail foundation and understated blush. I ended up with a tutorial for ideas and a steady hand for the liner, best cat’s eyes I’ve ever done!


Last but not least, hair! Oh my word, Rockabilly dolls do it with style. I wish I had longer hair and a more lenient job to pull off the colored bangs and Dita waves but alas, my pixie style meant for a little bit of a personal twist. After hours of googling (again) I came across a video tutorial which led my husband being ordered to the shop to buy a curling iron (which I didn’t previously own) and hours of frustration and irritation. After two hours, the end result really did look good and was well worth the effort, how would I do this daily?

After all of this, my outfit was complete. I was happy. I ordered my photographer husband to take some photos of me (proud moment) with my vintage scooter – yes, it’s mine – and off to the party we went.

What a journey to get here… The frustrations, complications, challenges and expenses involved were many, but the satisfaction with the end result far outweighed all of this. Many girls dream of growing up to be princesses, I wasn’t one of them. In fact, I grew up not knowing what I wanted to be. Now that I’ve grown up, I realize that one girls princess is another girls Rockabilly doll or pin up and perhaps I’ve stumbled on the girly girl I’m supposed to be instead of the ‘mature’ woman I’m expected to be. I spent my life refusing to fit in, moving against the masses. Now I find myself longing to fit in with a group of like minded people who don’t fit into the masses and are happy with that. I bought my first Rockabilly dress and I can guarantee you, it won’t be the last. I look forward to buying more trinkets and accessories, learning different ways to style my hair and play around with this gorgeous style. Suddenly, I find myself caring about how I look (not that I didn’t before, but more so now) and paying more attention to the style I portray. The most rewarding aspect? The positive attention I’ve received after posting a few of the photos, the compliments I received at the party and the amount of people that have told me the look suits me and I do pull it off, well. I know that I must be on the right track…

So, you may ask, do I actually know anything about the 50’s? I do, in fact, Marilyn Monroe is a favorite of mine but in all honesty, I don’t know enough and so I will continue to learn through my journey. I’m a traveller and the road is paved with Elvis and lipstick and beauties of decades past. I know where I want to be, I know who I am, I know where I’m going and I like it.


P.S. The final product… Dress, Make up, Hair, Nails, Shoes, Scooter and all.


Gym etiquette… The tattooed version.

With my lifestyle change journey, I’ve incorporated regular gym workouts to ensure that I’m getting the best results and so far so good, but being a tattooed woman means that in my gym wear of choice majority of my tattoos are on display. While this does not bother me, it is clearly something that other gym goers notice… Often.

Our gym is laid out such that the weight training area is at the far back corner of the gym, the generalization is that if you walk into gym and you have tribal biceps tattoos, you’ll walk directly to the weights followed by a protein shake. While I don’t have those tribal bicep tattoos, contrary to popular belief I am actually allowed in the weight area. The only judgment I’m getting here is based on how weak I am and how low my weights are generally set to. It’s unbelievable how it’s still more acceptable for men to be covered in tattoos over women and how it’s assumed that women shouldn’t be weigh lifting unless they’re body building.

I’m not a body builder and therefore don’t spend all of my time doing weights (smirk) which means I have to take my inked body to the cardio area, the front of the gym. I generally choose to speed walk (I’m not at running yet) on the treadmill or cycle on a stationary bike. I’m definitely not the only tattooed person in the cardio area, I’m not saying that at all, but based on the time I gym I’m definitely surrounded by an older crowd that perhaps still reserve tattoos for sailors and prisoners. There are a few other tattooed gym goers that I see here and there but for the most part, I’m a minority and am probably the most inked in the room.
Look, I like the attention that my tattoos attract. I have some beautiful pieces and why shouldn’t other people be allowed to look at them and admire them? Outside of the gym, I do get stopped regularly and get numerous comments (good and bad) about my body art and I’ve grown accustomed to it. What I’m struggling with is how to deal with getting the same attention when I’m at gym, at my worst and most out of breath!

I’ve done 40 minutes on the stationary bike, I’m sweating buckets and the music pumping through the headphones is drowning out the sound of everything around me. I’m a bit of a weirdo in that I close my eyes and sing along, I’m in the zone. Out of nowhere I get a tap on my shoulder, I get a bit of a fright because I’m not expecting it and when I look up its a middle aged tanned woman trying to get my attention (who knows for how long). I jerk my headphones out, snap out of my zone and greet her to which she replies ‘Your tattoo is really nice but what are you going to do when you’re old?’. Really? You interrupted my session for that? To make it worse, she wasn’t just pointing, she was touching my sweaty dripping arm (ew) which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Of course, my reply was something like ‘Still be awesome’ after which my headphones went back in and on with my session I go, weirded out by the lack of personal space respect at the gym of all places.
Speed walking on the treadmill, I kind of look around the room and out of the corner of my eye notice a guy behind me, staring. When he realizes I’ve seen him, it’s apparently a cue to come closer and tell me that my tattoo is so good it looks like it’s a stick on (what?) but I can’t respond to the ‘compliment’, because my heavy breathing catches my words before they come out and I end up staring stupidly back utterly confused by the comment and the need to interrupt my session.
Walking around the gym in a vest does mean that I get quite a few stares and that’s ok, go ahead and look or admire or even judge, whatever makes you feel better but approaching me mid workout is just a little rude isn’t it?

The funniest tattoo gym experiences generally take place in the Mind and Body room, when I’m going to Pilates. Again, the time I go to class ensures a more mature room with obviously very different views. I happened to be doing one of the stretches incorrectly and so the instructor came to my aid and decided to call the class to watch her make an example out of me as I wasn’t the only one struggling. She asked me to turn around to face the class and while she bent my elbow out wards in ways the body was definitely not designed to be bend, the only looks I was getting were of disdain. One woman even pointed and whispered to the person next to her, with only one guess about what she was whispering – Yes, I have boobs on my arm, no need to whisper.

These incidents may seem trivial but this has happened in less than two weeks, I can assure you that this is going to be a part of my gym routine going forward and something I just need to get used to. Thank goodness I choose to shower at home instead of at the gym, can you imagine this inked body of awesome running around naked in the change room? Yeah no, me either.

There are unwritten and unspoken rules of the gym and etiquette that gym goers are required to abide by. Wiping your sweat from the equipment should be just as second nature as at least waiting for someone to complete their workout before approaching them with your tattoo comments and questions because, if I want to ask you where you bought your awesome sneakers I’ll make sure I wait to catch you on the way out.

Rant and rave over
I’m off to gym


My artwork… Exposed.

I have the pleasure of being tattooed by Mr Paul Collocott (Tattoos by Paul) from Handstyle Tattoos in Emmarentia (Handstyle Tattoos) tomorrow and I am so excited! No matter how, I always try to fit in some skin canvas time whenever financially possible and tomorrow is my first piece for the year. While I know that the best pieces come out of giving my artist free reign, I have chosen a specific piece for tomorrow that is kind of a mushy piece to go on my family / wedding themed arm.

Piece number 16… Jack and Sally.


I will be sure to update you once I’m wearing my new piece and got my tattoo fix:) I thought I’d dedicate a blog to the work I already have and the reason behind getting them. Warning. Some of these tattoos were chosen in haste, not by the greatest of artists and not the greatest of work. I have learned my lesson and stick to an artist that I know is phenomenal…

Tattoo number 1 – Scorpion

This was my first tattoo which was done when I was 18 by Fadi at what was Kevin’s Tattoos at the Randburg Waterfront. I chose the Scorpion because I am a Scorpio and thought it was a great idea at the time. 2 kids later I completely regret the placement of this tattoo (My lower left hip, very close to the pubic line).


Tattoo number 2 – Chinese writing

Oh boy do I regret tattoo number 2. I had the Chinese symbols for Love and Lee tattooed in the middle of my back, Lee being my oldest daughters father. They were done by Alan at Alberton City mall and this tattoo taught me that one shouldn’t get tattoos on a whim in a shopping centre. To be redone, eventually.

Tattoo number 3 – Arabic writing

I had the Arabic writing for ‘Angel’ tattooed on my neck. I am not sure what led me to have Angel but at the time, Arabic writing was uncommon and I wanted something most people didn’t have. This was also done by Alan at Alberton City and Paul has since had to touch it up.


Tattoo number 4 – Tribal rose

This is not a tribal rose. This is my worst tattoo ever. 2 of my friends and I decided to get matching tattoos which also were done in Alberton City by Alan’s son, can’t remember his name. When I knew nothing about tattoos, it was great. Now both my friend Lindsey and I will be having these tattoos redone, it’s not fair to my skin to walk around with it.


Tattoo number 5 – Wolf paws

I went into Kevin’s Tattoos at the Waterfront looking for three small paws on my wrist to symbolize my favorite animal. I walked out with three large paws up my arm. They were done by Matthew and had to later be redone by Paul.


Tattoo number 6 – Hayley Grace

My first tattoo with Paul, referred by a friend. My now husband, then boyfriend, designed this tattoo as a birthday present the same year we met and represents my daughters name (Before there was Dakota). It was tattooed on my right foot and was probably one of the most painful tattoos I got. The bubbles represent her nickname ‘Bubblemonster’ because of her obsession with bubbles when she was younger.


Tattoo number 7 – Jp

Before Jp and I were married we went through a little patch of drama, I knew that I had to do this to show him my promise and shortly afterwards he did the same and we got engaged. We did not opt for wedding rings because we had them inked instead:) This was also done by Paul.


Tattoo number 8 – Dakota Storm

Shortly after Dakota was born, Jp designed this tattoo for me for my left foot to match my right. The dream catcher represents Dakota’s name and it’s origins and I love the way that Paul (Yes, again) greyed the dream catcher in the background. Both the designer and artist did a great job.


Tattoo number 9 – Birthdays

These tattoos represent the girls birthdates, done by Paul as well.


Tattoo number 10 – Fallen

Paul did this typewriter font of Fallen for me above ‘Angel’ when I realized that I am not an angel, I think it complimented the writing nicely.


Tattoo number 11 – Ribbon and Key

I asked Paul to do this for me after my wedding, we had a hand fasting ceremony so the ribbon was to represent the ceremony and the key represents the necklace I wore on our wedding day which had a key on it.


Tattoo number 12 – Chess pieces

I had these chess pieces done by Len who was an apprentice at the time, the chess pieces symbolize the theme of our wedding which was chess.


Tattoo number 13 – Day of the dead girl

This beauty and my favorite piece took approximately 15-16 hours in total. I sat for 4 sessions with Paul to get this work of art which is a replica of a design I found on a purse that Jp bought for me at Sexpo. While the actual picture has more deathly features, we decided not to put those details into her face as the tattoo was perfect without it. The lyrics were added above and they’re lyrics from my favorite band, Evanescence ‘Here in the darkness I know myself’.


Tattoo number 14 – Vegas

I was fortunate enough to go to Las Vegas in June and what was Vegas without a tattoo? I got and designed this little USD300 gem at Starlight Tattoos in the Mirage hotel.


Tattoo number 15 – Snake and Skull

This tattoo was done in an almost 6 hour sitting by Paul. He designed, colored and tattooed this piece and it turned out better than I imagined, he had free reign and gave me a piece of art. My most painful tattoo to date but probably because I sat for my longest sitting on this piece.


Tattoo number 16 – Jack and Sally

The finished product :


Tattoo number 17 – Infinity

I’m particularly interested in the dotwork technique, this was done by Barry at the Black lodge.


Tattoo number 18 – Pin Up

Another Paul C original and the start of my Vegas sleeve!


Tattoo number 19 – Some words of encouragement…


Tattoo number 20 and 21 – Pentacle and Vegvísir

Next to my existing wolf paws (my spirit guide) and quote on strength, the pentacle and runic compass (Vegvísir) have been added:) Still a few more solid pieces to be tattooed to fill space and then a patterned, colourful background will finish off this very spiritual arm xx



Discrimination… Shorts or ink?


Rarely does a news story grab my attention and prompt a blog post about it but this one I couldn’t leave alone. A parliamentary attendant from the public, asked to remove himself from parliament for his casual clothing and you guessed it… Visible tattoos. (a beautiful geisha and day of the dead girl might I add).

This display of discrimination for whatever reason, choice of clothing to choice of ink, has prompted this ink owner to visit the equality court and lay his case. He has been discriminated against and not because of the color of his skin or sexuality that we expect.

I’m not ENCA or CNN or any other news acronym you can think of and I’m not here to give my version of this gentleman’s story.
What I do want to comment on is the discrimination against tattooed people, every single day.

I know hundreds of people with tattoos, from one tattoo to ‘you have an addiction’ (That would be me). My husband is tattooed as well, in his corporate client visiting environment, all tattoos must be covered at all times. In my own corporate environment, my own tattoos must always be covered. In church, tattoos should not be visible. Even at weddings and funerals. Many situations call for the ink to be hidden, it’s just the way of a stagnant society in an ever changing world.

Now I have no problem covering up at work, I understand my dress code and adhere to that willingly. Do I continue to tattoo? Yes. Do I cover? Yes.
What I have a problem with is a family and friend visit to the zoo with our children where you’d swear that we were the zoo animals, the elephants got no love that day. Thought to be the worst parents in the world for inking our skin.
Trips to shopping centers where stares are countless.
Let’s not forget my wedding pictures where myself and bridesmaids were well tattooed, they’ve been guffawed at many a time.

I ask the question, when will tattoos truly be acceptable? When will people finally get that our choice of decoration is exactly that, a choice? Will it take the generation of our children to encourage the world that our tattoos do not make us misfits as your high heels don’t make you a hooker?

I don’t mind being stared at… Each new piece giving someone something to talk about… I only hope that the stares one day become admiration instead of anxiety.

Miss Understood