Addie Rawr

The first thing I want people to think is, ‘I can see myself’ in my artwork.
— Addie

Our latest collaboration Addie, got to make her debut this past weekend at the 2018 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Which for those of you who don't know is a huge deal since the festival brings in an average of 450,000 people from all over each year.

We had the chance to talk to Addie before her big weekend in The Big Easy where she gushed about this amazing opportunity and what drives her as an artist.

 

CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING APART OF THE ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL. HOW DO YOU FEEL?

First off I'm really, really excited to be going. I've been wanting to apply for the past three years but kept feeling not really confident enough to apply but this year I went ahead and did it. I ended up turning in my application on the very day applications were due and got accepted. They only accept 100 artist vendors to be part of the festival. I found out the new in March and everyday since then I've just been preparing for it, getting artwork done, getting my booth set up, planning my trip down to New Orleans.

 

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE YOUR ARTWORK?

I love it. I think it's going to be great because I'll be able to put my artwork in front of so many people. There are so many people that go to Essence Festival that travel from all over, so I feel very honored not even just to sell, but to be able to just show my artwork at such a big event it's super exciting.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS AN ARTIST?

I'm actually inspired by the everyday person. I'm kind of like a people watcher. When I go out to events I really look at people, at what they are wearing, their hair, and things like that. Then I take that stuff back and I create art from that.

 

WHEN PEOPLE BUY OR TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR ARTWORK WHAT DO YOU HOPE THEY GET FROM IT?

The first thing I want people to think is, "I can see myself" in the artwork. Whether it's from a hairstyle or an outfit, or anything I want them to feel good about themselves when they look at my artwork. That's why there are no faces on some of my pieces so people don't get distracted by facial features. I love when I'm at an event and someone sees my work and they're like, "oh my god, that looks just like me." I'm like "yes" that's exactly what I want, I want people to feel that way when they look at my art.

 

YOU CALL YOURSELF AN "ARTREPRENUR," WHAT IS THAT?

An "artreprenur" is what artist refer to themselves as if they are more than just artists. When you think of someone who is an artist you think, "oh you just paint, or draw, or sculpt" and that's all you do as an artist. But I'm kinda like a step further than that. As a artreprenur I paint, I do fashion illustrations,  and I do a lot of branding material for small businesses. So that includes a lot of t-shirt designs and logos. Then I also have a product line that has notebooks, passport covers, books, tote bags, and a lot of other products for your everyday woman. I also have my studio that I'm going to be opening soon which is Art and Ambition Studio that focuses on bringing a studio space for artists to be able to print their work, to showcase their work, and then I'll also be hosting workshops there.

 

WHAT HAS YOUR ARTISTIC JOURNEY TAUGHT SO FAR?

It's definitely taught me that staying consistent and staying true to myself in what I love to create and not changing up my style that I can get to where I want to be in a successful way. I was actually a project artist for ReFinery29 in 2017 and I worked with them on a project with Adidas. That was one of the biggest gigs and I got selected for that, I didn't apply. They found me and reached out to me. When they did that I was kind of like, "oh my goodness, this is definitely something I can do." If I just keep my mind focused on it and I keep putting my work out there, connecting with other people and being open to different projects I can really make this my career.

 

MAKING ART YOUR CAREER IS A LITTLE RISKY. WHAT ADVISE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS LOOKING TO DO THE SAME?

The biggest thing would be to not give up. We are taught not to take the creative route because it's risky and not financially secure. But even if it's a hobby and you're doing it on top of your full time job just keep at it. I know a lot of people get discouraged when they are doing something creative and they start feeling like it's not paying off or they stop wanting to do it because it's not working or they think they're not getting anything from it. But you have to keep at it and not give up. Stay consistent and keep trying because eventually it's going to start being noticed.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

What drives me to SLAY everyday is to help inspire other people. I wake up wanting to help someone every single day. So whether that be as an artist, as a friend, or as a mentor, I just really want to help someone every single day follow their passion, be happy, and confident with themselves.

 

If you are in love with Addie's pieces as much as we are check out her Esty shop where you can purchase some one of a kind artwork for yourself. Be sure to also follow her via Instagram for the latest on her other creative endeavors.

 

Shark Week Sheets

I’m dealing with two different taboos, periods and sex.
— Chelsea

Just because you don't talk about it doesn't mean it's not happening. Period sex ladies, yes I'm talking sex while on your period. A lot of women are doing it and if you're not I'm sure you've thought about it. Not only does period sex help ease the symptoms of PMS and cramps but some women even find that they are more sensitive during period sex and reach orgasms faster.

If that's not enough of a sell to try it I don't know what is.

Now, I know most of us have heard of the blessed "period towel." You know that towel you lay down before you get down. But I'm sure you're also aware of the fact that the "period towel" isn't all that sexy and tends to move around as much as you do.

Well let me introduce Shark Week Sheets. Here to solve all of the above problems and more. Chelsea the founder and creator, had the same issue all of us do when having period sex and decided to do something about it. With her crowdfunding campaign under way she is hoping with your support we can all be able to use Shark Week Sheets.

 

TELL ME ABOUT SHARK WEEK SHEETS.

It's all 100% cotton, it's 21 x 31 inches, and it's very, very, very, soft. The entire back is tacky so you lay it down on your fitted sheet and it doesn't move like a "period towel" and you can just peel it off. You play on it, bleed on it, and just peel it off and throw it away. I have two patterns right now but I want to have three total. It was very important for me to make sure nothing looked clinical or geriatric, and that there was no crinkle sound when you moved on it so it would never be mistaken for a wee wee pad for your dog. You can put it on your sheet, lay on it like regular and not even know it's there plus it absorbs any blood that gets on it so it doesn't get on you.

 

YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO SUBJECTS THAT ARE PRETTY STIGMATIZED. WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED?

It's all about being sex and period positive. With everything that men and women are exposed to from a young age there is really nothing that shows positive relationships, what everyone all of their life is searching for. A lot of people look to porn like that is how you're suppose to have sex or how you're suppose to be intimate with somebody. Basically, I had to come to terms with myself that I have to be the one that is going to be outspoken about it because that is my company. I just want people to feel comfortable. I mean that's why it's called Shark Week Sheets, it's funny but I also want it to be something beautiful and chic not something that looks dirty or cheese because it really isn't.

 

DO YOU FIND THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE PERIOD SEX? OR ARE WILLING TO ADMIT IT?

You know I started asking people about their period sex stories, or if they've even had it or want to have it? Of course I ask in the appropriate setting because I want people to be honest and for them to be comfortable. I've actually gotten a lot of positive feedback and that lead me to create The Period Post on my website. A place where people can share their experiences, anecdotes, or give advice.

 

YOU ARE LAUNCHING A CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN TO HELP YOU WITH SHARK WEEK SHEETS?

I'm launching a crowdfunding campaign through I Fund Women, which is kind of like a Kickstarter or an Indie Go Go but is dedicated to funding women's businesses. Right now I'm asking for $50,000 dollars in 30 days to help get Shark Week Sheets off the ground. My campaign will be starting soon so I would love it if people would stop by the Shark Week Sheets site to get the details of how they can help!

 

WHAT ARE SOME SURPRISES THAT YOU'VE COME ACROSS IN CREATING THIS PRODUCT?

Interestingly enough men have actually been more receptive and open to talking about it which I was really surprised by. They aren't as shy or embarrassed about it, some have never actually even had it. When I show people the actual design of the sheet and they see the box, it makes sense. It's just people are so taken aback because they aren't expecting "period" and "sex" to be the two words that come out of my mouth. It's been really helpful for people to see the sheets because then they're like "oh, this is really cool, this is a great idea" and they know it's not a joke. Overall I've gotten really positive feedback.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

You know I have to say it's been very difficult. I've already had one business and I sold it which was great. But it's hard to slay everyday because I'm at a different age, and I'm starting over again, and it's like how do I get that inspiration back you know? It's been a roller coaster in such a way so for me to stay motivated I just have to remind myself that this is the life that I chose. I don't know what else I would go do because I want to be my own boss. 

Make sure to follow Shark Week Sheets on Instagram as well as check out her site for the latest on when her crowdfunding campaign starts!

 

 

Mandana Blvd

Mandana Blvd is where vintage meets possibly the most chill people ever.

After moving to Oakland from Brooklyn owners of Mandana Blvd (named after the street they live on), Cristina and Nu, found themselves in a situation where they needed to figure out a way to combine both of their styles when it came to decorating their new place. In the words of Nu,

"We wanted to take this opportunity to buy furniture pieces that would last, aka graduate from IKEA, but at the same time we realized that we didn't get an acceptance letter from anywhere else."

Not having a bunch of money these two became resourceful finding their own unique vintage style in pieces that lasted the test of time. After furnishing their place they soon realized that there was still a world of great things out there to be found, bought, and shared. Insert the idea and the beginning of Mandana Blvd, a business that works with clients to scout and buy great pieces of the past as well as sell fantastic vintage items at an affordable price.

 

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR GREAT ITEMS?

Cristina: Most of the items come from estate sales in which I love. The only thing is that it's really competitive. I mean people show up at four in the morning. It's really crazy. So you have to have a little bit of a competitive nature to want to get up that early and be like, "I saw this really great chair and I will be the first one to go and get it." That's what I do every week, I source and curate and then I come back home clean it up and photograph it.

 

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION WITH MANDANA BLVD?

Nu: I think part of what we are trying to do is to take things that might have been at your aunt's house or your grandmother's house and put it into a new context and bring it into a more modern state. So the way our site is set up and our style of photography is meant to be more contemporary and accessible as appose to vintage, on vintage, on vintage.

 

YOU DO "POP UPS." WHAT EXACTLY ARE THOSE?

Cristina: Majority of the Pop Ups we do are local here in Oakland and in the Bay Area. It's basically an all day thing where we bring out all the best products that we have. We set it up with plants so that it have a warm and inviting feel. We pull out all our rugs and bring our really cool chairs and set it up so that people can shop while having this little experience.

Nu: For us the experience aspect of it is really important. It's not just us bring our product that you can get online or through Instagram. It's really like come meet us and say hi. We want to meet the people that follow us and we want to interact with people. Plus we always have secret Rose' in the back and if you come say hi we will offer you a cup- on the low. But we bring everything like our music, our plants, we want to bring our vibe, our experience and while we're doing that you're shopping for stuff. So it's never a hard sell for us, like "here you should buy this" it's more laid back and people just get to cruse and hangout.

 

YOU'RE POP UPS SOUND FUN, DO YOU GET TO MEET A LOT OF INTERESTING PEOPLE DURING THEM?

Cristina: We get all kinds of people showing up at our Pop Ups. We get a lot of people of color coming up to us saying, "Wow thanks for providing the space." Because the vintage game is predominately old and...white. So we get a lot of people that like that we are in the game and appreciate our style as well as our price points. Because we are basically finding things that we would put in our own home and that we can also afford. So we get a lot of people that come and say, "You've got such great prices. I go to vintage stores and I can never afford anything because everything is so over priced."

 

SO WHAT KIND OF ITEMS CAN I FIND AT MANDANA BLVD?

Nu: When we have our Pop Ups or even online we like to have a breath of things. So we have smaller ticket items like baskets for plants which anyone can and likes to buy. All the way up to a wicker love seat that someone bought, that you would obviously have to own a big enough home to put it in.

 

YOU'VE SEEN SO MANY GREAT VINTAGE PIECES, WHAT MAKES AN ITEM JUMP OUT AT YOU?

Cristina: I love the vintage esthetic and the quality of vintage items. I feel like now a days you can go to Target or IKEA and you're not going to get the same product that you would find say at an estate sale from 1975. So whether is heavy glass cups or the beautiful grain on a wooden side table, I love it. I think its about the character, the quality, and whether I like it or not (laughing). To be honest there are a lot of vintage sellers online that do their Esty shops and things like that. And I've noticed a lot of them just kind of buy what they think will sell and I don't want to be like that. I want to buy items because I think it would look good in someone's home. So when you shop online or through Instagram I want Mandana Blvd to have a cohesive element to everything. I want you to be able to say, "I'm looking for this type of thing let me go to Mandana Blvd to find it."

 

WHERE CAN WE SHOP FOR ALL OF THESE LOVELY VINTAGE ITEMS?

Cristina: So most of the new stuff we get we post to Instagram first. So I would say the best thing is to follow us on Instagram so that you're the first to see what's new.

Nu: That's actually the pro tip right there because most things don't make it to the site anymore. What ends up happening is that Cristina sets up this nice little vignette for an item, takes a picture, puts it on Instagram, and we just tell people to DM us.

Cristina: Some things do make it to the site and we have a bi-monthly haul of items we haven't sold yet on there.

Nu: So not everything makes it to the site but not everything gets posted on Instagram either.

To get the latest on all the vintage goodies that Mandana Blvd has make sure to follow them on Instagram as well as check out their site.

 

 

 

Christina Hammond: Do It For The Gram

When there is a gift inside of you, there is nothing or no person who can stop that gift from flourishing.
— Christina Hammond

Becoming a #1 Best Selling Author on Amazon within 24 hours of releasing her first e-book, "Do It For The Gram" Christina has gained the attention of women from all over. Including BET's Brittiany Cierra, TV One Senior Producer Krystal Franklin, and Founder of BlkCreatives Melissa Kimble.

Showing everyone how to capture the attention of others via Instagram captions all while promoting your inner queen. We had a chance to speak with Christina about her book and find out what other projects she has in the works.

 

WHAT INSPIRED "DO IT FOR THE GRAM?"

Anytime I've been with friends and we're taking photos for our Instagram pages, the very next question is "What should my caption be?" After it happened at least 50 times, I saw there was a need for a caption guide.  Either women don't have the time to look for captions, or they aren't sure what direction they should look in.  This is how "Do It For The Gram" was birthed!

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT THE AUDIENCE TO GET FROM THIS BOOK?

Although the idea was solely centered around using quotes for captions, it eventually evolved into more. I realized that the quotes that I share with women could also be used as affirmations to implement in their daily lives.  My goal is to encourage women through those affirmations combined with marketing strategy advice in order to accomplish their personal brand goals, career goals, even travel goals.

 

SO WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CAPTION TO USE AND WHY?

Honestly, my favorite caption in this particular book would have to be " Women who wear black live colorful lives" said by Neiman Marcus.  Wearing all black is a huge apart of my brand and I've been wearing it almost everyday for about 2 years now. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Yvette Noel Schure and she too wears black majority of the time.  That day she told me wearing all black is powerful, and it's become my thing ever since. I usually pair it with a statement piece (like a colorful sweater or funky shoes), but yes strangely enough that is my favorite quote in #DIFTG.  I even have a quote of my own in there, but this is my favorite. 

 

WHAT DID WRITING THIS BOOK TEACH YOU ABOUT YOURSELF?

This was definitely a learning process. I learned that when someone tells me no, it fuels my fire to accomplish it even more. I know that sounds extremely cliche, but there are projects I've been "passionate" about, but put little to no effort / action behind them. This is actually the second book I've written, but the first to be published.  The idea to compose a book of affirmations actually started as a children's book. I chose to work with an artist who worked diligently in the beginning, but soon after became lax and then non existent in the process of completing the book. I was so discouraged and slightly gave up on my dream to become an author.  I thought that's all I had in me, but I was wrong.  When there is a gift inside of you, there is nothing or no person who can stop that gift from flourishing.  Once I got back into the groove of writing, the new concept emerged and here we are with DIFTG.

 

UGH, WE LOVE THOSE KIND OF STORIES! BUT YOU'RE NOT ONLY AN AUTHOR, YOU'RE A CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER?

Yes! I'm Co-Founder of HERstory which is a blogging publication I started alongside my college friend Danielle Stevenson.  We had this idea to feature women we know who do amazing things, and introduce them to our networks.  It's what we like to call a digital Queendom.  We know so many phenomenal woman, and it's important that we share each others accomplishments, announcements, etc. in order to keep our businesses flowing and the community growing. We utilize our social media platforms to share events, services and products of the women in our network, whereas on our site, we dig deeper into the lives of those women, giving our followers exclusive access to their individual journeys throughout their career or personal life.

And yes I'm the executive producer of, "The Black Excellence Series" a 3 part series that I am working on alongside Sharde Green of Saint Glam Nail Bar. I am all about promoting our best selves, whether that be on a project solely based on women, or Black people in general.  While I am a lover of reality television, I believe it somewhat distorted the perception of us as a people.  I want to change that.  I want this project to be a reflection of what I know of our people, and that is Black excellence.  The first episode slated to come out this Fall!

 

HOW EXCITING! WELL WE KNOW THAT YOU ARE DEEPLY INSPIRED BY ART. HOW HAS IT SHAPED YOU INTO WHO YOU ARE TODAY?

Art is everything to me. I actually want to own a museum in Italy one day.  While I am not an actual artist, I admire and am secretly jealous of those with the skill set. Art gives people a voice to express themselves, it evokes emotions, it is life.   Although I can't draw or paint, I do use my platform, Galerie Nina to showcase the talent of artists and pair that with my love to give back.  Each year I host an art pop up show in my hometown (DC) where partial proceeds from those events go to the charity I decide to partner with that year. I've worked with one artist in particular Noelle Chinn the last two years, and continue to scout up and coming artist to participate.

 I love to look at art, I love to learn about art, I love to learn about artists, I just love it and will continue to incorporate art and charity into my brand.

 

YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO SO MUCH. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU KNOW NOW YOU WISH YOUR YOUNGER SELF KNEW?

Slow down, because instant gratification does not guarantee longevity. I am always in a rush, and I think that comes from having that short attention span they always mention millennial's have.  However, within the last year I've made a conscious decision to take my time.  It's important that I sustain longevity with all my endeavors, and taking my time to understand the purpose of what I am doing will guarantee that.

 

HOW DO YOU SLAY?

Another one of my favorite quotes in DIFTG is "Keep your heels, head, and standards high" said by Coco Chanel.  That is how I slay the day away.  I put on my all black, and any pair of pumps I have, ready to take on the day and whatever challenges that may bring.

Do It For The Gram is available on Nook or your Amazon Kindle. Stay inspired by keeping up with Christina on her Instagram.

Andi Smiles

Because the truth is people want to hear about money from someone like me.
— Andi Smiles

Ladies it's that time of year again...the dreaded tax season. A time of year dedicated to headaches, confusion, and many WTF moments. Oh the joy!

Since we know what you ladies are going through we thought we'd help y'all out by talking to an expert and sharing her words of wisdom with you.

Meet Andi Smiles, a Money Badass and Certified Professional Coach. Destroying the boring stereotype of a traditional "money man" this money WOMAN has taken her eight years of bookkeeping knowledge, combined it with her need to teach, and created a genius business geared towards helping you and your small business solve some money problems.

Check out what she has to say.

 

WHAT ARE SOME TAX PREP WORDS OF WISDOM?

It really depends on where you are in your business but here are a few.

  1. Check In With Your Tax Preparer Before You Start Prepping. A lot of people prep without actually knowing what they need and they either do a bunch of extra work or they miss something really important.
  2. Giving Yourself Time To Prep. Generally give yourself two weeks if not longer, maybe a month to really do your tax prep. This way you're not rushed, you're not making mistakes, and you're not letting deductions fall through the cracks because you're too burnt out to deal with it. Like mileage, that is a huge one for people.
  3. Make A Home For Everything. This is a practical way to say, "hey put all your tax documents in one place so you won't have to sped a lot of time looking for stuff later," emotionally you'll also have sense of organization.
  4. Don't Get Stuck On Questions. Another mistake I see people making is getting into their tax process and coming across a question then sort of going off into the world of the internet to figure it out and then never come back. So I teach people to write their questions down and keep going.
  5. Use My Training "Panic Free Tax Prep." This is really the step by step guide, step one, these are the documents you gather. Step two you do this.

 

WHAT TYPES OF PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER THAT WILL HELP US GRAB HOLD OF OUR MONEY PROBLEMS?

Digitally I have three products I offer. My signature one is called "Badass Business Finance" which is eight weeks and is really about walking through the whole process of building a healthy financial system that is holistic and addresses all the ways business finances work together. I have another smaller training that's called, "Quick and Dirty Quickbooks." Which is a 20 part video tutorial series that is really for small business owners who want to use Quickbooks online but don't need all the bells and whistles. So the tutorial walks them through everything like how to get set up and features most business owners would need to know. Then I have a series of mini trainings. These are quick trainings that are on one specific topic, that are 60 minutes and at really low price points. Two of the most popular ones are "Panic Free Tax Prep" and the other is called "How Do You Pay Yourself?"

 

YOU SPEAK ABOUT HOW THERE ARE A LOT OF EMOTIONS AROUND THE TOPIC OF MONEY. WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

We receive a lot of messaging throughout our life that we are people that do not get to know about money, have access to money itself or have knowledge about money. Money and Entrepreneurship tends to be a very masculine industry. The other side is that knowledge about money is very coded. There are a lot of terms and formulas and it's basically more complicated than it needs to be. So we really internalize these messages that we aren't good at money, "bad at money" is what I hear a lot. I also get, "I'm really bad at money how will I run my business." When in reality you're not bad at money, you've just been told for so long that money isn't something you get to know about and you've internalized that.

 

FINANCE IS A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY. WHAT ARE SOME STRUGGLES AND ENLIGHTENING MOMENTS YOU'VE EXPERIENCED ALONG THE WAY?

Some of my biggest struggles have been my own internal stuff around money. This is something I talk a lot about with my audience. I loving refer to myself as a "financial hot mess." And what I talk about a lot are the beliefs I've had about money that really held me back in my own financial journey. And that was really hard, I felt crappy for a long time because I felt like an imposter. That was a big struggle for me. But I also say for someone in this industry who is queer, is tattooed, has bright pink hair, and who doesn't fit the paradigm of what we expect from a money person has actually been to my benefit. Because the truth is people want to hear about money from someone like me.

 

WHY IS MONEY SUCH A TABOO & OVERWHELMING SUBJECT?

I think it's because we don't learn about money ever. We are lucky if we have parents that teach us about money. Usually we learn about money at a young age from watching the people around us. So the first thing is we are overwhelmed because we never learned this stuff and suddenly we are thrown into running a business. There has never been a formal or informal setting to learn about money and when you start a small business you get in this mindset that you will never be able to figure it out. We have knowledge gaps that we need resources to fill and that's just the truth.

 

HOW DO YOU SLAY?

I think my greatest strength and how I SLAY is by being authentic to who I am, it really resonates with people.

 

Looking for some one on one help, maybe some more money information, or just want to see all the dope things Andi offers? Make sure to check out her out at AndiSmiles.com.

Laughing Glass Cocktails

Drinking isn’t “good” for you but if you’re gonna do it, this is as good as it gets.
— Laughing Glass Cocktail Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer Carey Clahan

Margaritas that are good for you? Say what?!

Well not exactly in the nutritional sense but as Carey Clahan said, "it's as good as it gets." Laughing Glass Cocktail is a natural ready made drink created from only the best organic ingredients and perfected by two best friends Sydney Rainin-Smith and Carey Clahan.

I know what you're thinking, "Ready made drinks, really?" Well before you start reliving college flash backs of cheap alcohol, crazy nights, and rough hangovers. Let me tell you that this product is different.

Interested?

Well we had the chance to chat with Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Laughing Glass Cocktails, Carey Clahan as she told us what makes their ready made Margs stand out from the rest.

 

HOW DID LAUGHING GLASS COCKTAILS COME TO BE?

I went to Mexico with a group of my girlfriends oh gosh, a good ten years ago and we were doing what we do best, which was laughing and drinking Margaritas. At this time it was the height of the Real Housewives era and we had all tried the national brand of ready made cocktails and didn't really like it. So we kind of waited around to see if someone would create a ready to serve Margarita that actually tasted like a Margarita. When it didn't happen Sydney and I were at a point in our career where we were ready for something new so we decided to do it ourselves.

 

WHAT MAKES YOUR COCKTAILS DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?

Traditionally in this category, the ready to serve category, it has been basically the crap category and marketed towards young people. I mean I've barfed plenty of ready made cocktails in my twenties and it's because they are full of all kinds of garbage. We are from Northern California so when we went to do our ready to serve cocktails we did it the Northern California way. With the tequila, we couldn't find one in bulk that we liked, that wasn't too expensive and was quality. We went through a million taste trials, which was really fun but we ended up having to strike out on our own and do it our own way. We wanted to stay as close to organic as possible but with the import of our tequila form Mexico we can't actually put the "organic" stamp on our bottles. But everything else that goes in is listed. We are also one of the only companies that list our ingredients. It's 100% all natural citrus or pomegranate, organic Agave nectar to sweeten and after that it's filtered water and we have to put in some citric acid but that's just government regulations. We wanted to make it easy for people to have a great tasting Margarita.

 

WHERE CAN YOU FIND LAUGHING GLASS COCKTAILS?

We are in all the Whole Foods that have a liqueur license, some just have wine and beer. Most Safeway stores and then all the regional chains like BevMo, Ralphs, Albertsons, Pavilion, Bristol Farms, Vons and more. We are mostly in all the chain grocers in California. We're in talks with Target but we aren't in there yet and we are also in and out of CostCo. They usually bring us on as a seasonal buy.

 

YOU AND SYDNEY ARE VERY CLOSE. HOW IS IT WORKING WITH A FRIEND?

Well Sydney and I have been friends for 25 years and i have always had really great luck working with friends. So it was easy and it is easy for us because Sydney and I are more like sisters at this point. We fight like sisters but it literally takes us like two seconds to get over it and get on with it. And the crazy thing is that we work 24/7 together and then we go on family vacations together too. We just got back from a ski trip that we took with our families for a week.

 

ALCOHOL IS A TOUGH WORLD TO ENTER INTO. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE STRUGGLES YOU'VE FACED?

Struggle wise, I mean starting your own thing is brutal. I think the old saying of, "if I knew how much work it was going to take I never would've jumped in" is super true. You don't have a clue. I think naivete is almost the best way to go into starting your own thing with because you have no clue about how difficult it's going to be. Lucky for us is that we work really hard. I think why a lot of start ups don't make the two year mark is because it's brutal out there. It's hard to get brand awareness especially if you're a consumer product. If you don't have a gazillion dollars backing you it's just really hard. But we formed a strategy and we are still working it and we're almost to the end of our Series A round and then we will go for more in our next round. 

 

YOU HAVE LOTS OF RECIPES FOR DRINKS ON YOUR YOUTUBE PAGE. WHAT ARE TWO DRINKS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU AND SYDNEY?

I love all of those recipes. There's a Spicy Thai Margarita with lemon grass, ginger, Thai red chilies, and fresh lime. And it's kick ass, it's so yummy.  And for Sydney it's half of the pomegranate Margarita and half Prosecco or Dry Champagne. It makes it really sparkly and pink which is great for parties, a brunch or showers. It's really good, that's probably her favorite. So sparkly and fruity that's Sydney. Spicy and complicated, that's me.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

For our company we slay with collaboration. We just worked so well together Sydney and I, it's a friendship and it's a sisterhood. I don't think I could work with or for someone I just didn't love the crap out of. I mean for our product we've done things our way. We couldn't have gotten into more of a male dominated industry unless we went with like pro-football. Alcohol is a boys club, it's changing but it's taking people like us. It's slow but we're doing it and we're kicking ass at it.

Lazy Girl Glam

You can honestly do whatever you want if you just show up everyday and put in the time.
— Thu Do

Inspiring? Yes. Powerful? Of course. Boss? For damn sure!

We had the chance to speak with lifestyle blogger, Thu Do, from Lazy Girl Glam. Killing it lately in the blog-a-sphere this whole thing started out of a need to be glamorous but not having very much time to do it.

Can we say been there, done that, and still doing it?!

This powerhouse of a woman is not only full of tips when it comes to beauty, fashion, and travel she is insightful and will totally be that friend to push you to live your life fully.

 

WHAT IS LAZY GIRL GLAM?

Lazy Girl Glam is just a really fun space I've created for myself and for my fellow readers. It's basically a place to go for inspiration. So if you want to learn some really cool travel tips or music festival tips it's there. It's basically for the girl on the go, who wants to be put together but doesn't have a lot of time to fuss over it.

 

YOU ALWAYS LOOK GREAT! WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?

I love girls who are kind of like tomboys like Emily Oberg. I like her fashion because it's very chill but still put together. Then I love Annie Songs, she can make anything look so luxurious. I just watched her video on how to style a flip dress eight different ways, it was great. I love a little sporty and a little chic.

 

YOU GET TO TRAVEL A LOT. WHAT HAS SEEING THE WORLD TAUGHT YOU ABOUT YOURSELF?

I feel like every time I get to travel it puts everything I want into perspective. When I'm in LA and I'm grinding to chase my goals I kind of forget what's important to me. And when I travel I find I get back to my relationships with my friends, my family, and with people you care the most about. To me, someone's time is the most valuable and when you're so focused on chasing a goal you forget about that. So traveling has a way to help remind me why I'm doing what I'm doing and what's important.

 

WE HEARD YOU'RE A HIP HOP AND R&B LOVER. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO NOW?

I'm listening to Kendrick Lamar right now, I love his album. I just love listening to something start to finish. Jhene Aiko is really good. I've been listening to some Trey Songz and a lot of Drake. Like always a lot of Drake.

 

WHAT IS A QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

I really love this one by Oprah, "Lucky is opportunity meeting preparation."

That speaks to me because if I'm working on a goal and I'm always preparing it only takes one shot for it to work. And a lot of people, I feel, don't prepare themselves and they say they want something. You've got to keep pushing yourself, continue to train, and be the best and once that door open for you then you can run through it. That's when the magic happens.

 

WHO IS YOUR IDOL AND WHY?

It would be Oprah. I feel like she just has a great message and how the universe is always speaking to you on your purpose but that it's up to you to be the one to listen. Like you're always getting clues on what you should be doing or what path you should be on. That we all have it within us but it's up to us to be fearless and go for it.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

To be patient and chill the fuck out. (laughing)

I feel like when I was younger I was so intense. I would say by 23, I want this and by 25, I want this, and I didn't really enjoy the ride. I would think, "oh it's been two years in Los Angles and I haven't gotten to this job I wanted." And now being 27, I'm just enjoying all the bumps in the road. Every time someone says, "no" to me or a door is being closed I sit down and think, "okay, so this didn't work out why?" Then I just switch gears and move forward. 

 

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY IN ONE SENTENCE.

I will always roll the dice on myself.

I will always, when the opportunity comes, roll the damn dice on myself and go for it.

 

 To learn more about Thu Do and all her Lazy Girl Glam tricks check out her blog and follow her on Instagram!

The Beauty Vanity

I hope that The Beauty Vanity will become the beauty destination for everyday Asian American women.
— Alyson

As an everyday Asian American women, I'm so excited that So She Slays had the chance to collaborate with Founder and Editor In Chief, Alyson from The Beauty Vanity. One on the hottest beauty blogs out there for Asian American women, and honestly women in general. She is full of information from skin care, hair care, makeup, and seriously so much more but it would take me forever to list them all here.

Alyson was so sweet to speak with us about the motivation behind The Beauty Vanity as well as some of her favorite products.

 

TELL US ABOUT THE BEAUTY VANITY.

The Beauty Vanity is a community celebrating the unique beauty of the everyday Asian American woman.  It is a place where Asian American women can share and read about makeup, skincare, hair, health, and everything else beauty related.

 

SO WHAT'S YOUR DEFINITION OF BEAUTY AND HAS IT CHANGED?

Beauty to me encompasses a lot of things - it can be found through pretty makeup, good skin, a fit body, and also having a good heart, so I try to include all these topics on my blog. When I was younger, I used to wear a lot of makeup and you could not catch me not wearing makeup, even to the grocery store.  But as I've gotten older, taking care of my skin is more of a priority for me.  If my skin is acting up, I have the confidence now to not wear makeup (even out in public) for a few days if that means clear skin in the long run.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRODUCT AT THE MOMENT?

That's a tough question because I love all types of makeup!  But anything from Charlotte Tilbury's line is a winner in my book, especially her foundations!

 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT MAKEUP THAT BRINGS OUT YOUR CREATIVITY?

I love that makeup has the ability to instantly spark self-confidence and I love being able to share the power of makeup through simple tips and tricks on my blog with so many women.  If you're having a bad day or if you have something big at work coming up, swipe on some red lipstick or wear your favorite eye shadow and suddenly, you feel like you're on top of the world!  It's also something to have fun with because at the end of the day, you can wipe it all off and start all over again.

 

WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU CARRY IN YOUR BAG AT ALL TIMES?

I can't live without a lip balm, MAC Studio Fix Powder for touching up, and some sort of lipstick or lip gloss.

 

IS THERE A MAKEUP TREND YOU WISHED YOU HADN'T PARTICIPATED IN?

In the 90s, I was really into white eyeliner and also nude lips lined with a dark lip liner - does anybody remember that?  I have middle school pictures of my makeup and it's so embarrassing, ha!

 

WHAT IS YOUR ONE GOAL IN LIFE?

Besides someday being a good mom and wife, I hope that The Beauty Vanity will become the beauty destination for everyday Asian American women.

 

DESCRIBE HOW YOU SLAY IN ONE SENTENCE.

Find your passion and never stop learning.

After realizing that beauty was what I wanted to do, I wanted to absorb everything and anything beauty related.  I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the beauty industry, but I was eager to learn.  I found out later that content marketing was what I loved to do and now, I try to read as many case studies, articles, books, and listen to podcasts related to that.  It may sound boring to the next person, but it excites me!  Whether it’s fitness or finance, immerse yourself in what excites you and it will keep you hustling, I promise.

 

To see what else Alyson has going on over at The Beauty Vanity, stop by her blog and as always follow her on Instagram!

MCM: Daniel Toney

Our first ever Man Crush Monday goes to our amazingly talented friend, Daniel Toney. Working with top designers like Michael Costello, who has designed pieces for the one and only Queen B and many other well know celebs, Daniel is killing it when it come to his fashion illustrations.

His passion for painting, illustration, fashion and design along with a little help from Instagram has presented opportunities one can only dream of! We were lucky enough to sit down with Daniel as he gushed over what he's done and what's coming next.

 

TELL US HOW IT WAS WORKING WITH THE MICHAEL COSTELLO?

Working with Michael Costello has been an absolute dream come true. He's one of those designers that I pulled for on Project Runway and then watched him go on to become a powerhouse designer in his own right. I've been a fan of his for a long time (his gowns are to die for) and when I made my first Instagram account he was one of the the first people in the industry that I followed. Oddly enough that's how I started doing work for him. He had a special project and was searching for the right fashion illustrator for the job and then he found me on Instagram, asked me to come to his studio a day or two later and the next thing I knew I was working on this big project. It was so surreal since I've only been out of my MFA (fashion design) program for a couple of years and it's almost unheard of to get to work with such a big name inthe industry so soon after graduating. I wish I could share details of the project but unfortunately I had to sign a NDA since it involves a pretty big celebrity, not to toot my own horn. I will definitely share the details on my social media as soon as I'm able too. So the day before I was set to bring the illustrations to Michael’s studio downtown I received a text from him saying he wanted my illustrations for the walls of his first store for the private opening on August 19th.  I was floored but obviously incredibly excited so I took my portfolio with me and he and I picked out the pieces that we thought would look best in the space.  My boyfriend and I attended the opening and it was like something out of a dream, seeing my illustrations on the walls next to his gowns.  I can hardly describe how validating it was for me as an artist.  I’ve done more work for him since and hope to continue working with him in the future.  He really is a sweet heart, so down to earth and yet so incredibly talented.  Being in his studio is the ultimate experience for anyone who is in or just loves the fashion industry. Overall it has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life and I hope I can continue making moves in the fashion industry from here.

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FASHION JOURNEY.

I've drawn ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil and I've always felt that I see things a bit different from most everyone around me. I went to college and I really started to come into my own and become more comfortable with myself. I pursed a degree in graphic design and then a second emphasis in illustration and painting. As much as I loved graphic design I always yearned for more. I finished that degree and I produced a line of surfboards that won me a bunch of awards and actually went int production. I was 21, with my own surfboard line; it was insane and gave me much more confidence to keep pushing. For that reason I stayed to pursue illustration and painting, I just wanted as much creative training I could get. When I decided to apply for fashion school to get my MFA, I applied to three and got accepted into all three but decided to go to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I had just started coming out to my friends and family so that played a part in my decision. The fashion program was incredible; I met so many talented and influential professors and people that made my love for fashion grow exponentially. When I finished my MFA I had just started dating my boyfriend and he got a new job in LA, which was perfect for me because I didn't see my future in fashion in San Francisco. Like most fashion design students had delusions of grandeur when we first moved, I quickly realized the reality of the industry starting out would be designing t-shirts for Forever 21 five days a week. While there's nothing wrong with that, it just wasn't for me. With encouragement from my boyfriend I started experimenting with my fashion illustration style and I also started an Instagram account for the first time. That was all about a year and a half ago and almost every opportunity that I've had in the industry is thanks to that decision and the platform it provided.

   

WHAT ABOUT FASHION AND ILLUSTRATION SPARKS YOUR CREATIVITY?

I think it's the fact that fashion illustration is the combination of my two greatest passions, fashion design, and illustration. I still love design and I would love to work on that side of the industry more in the future. for now fashion illustration is what's speaking to me and I'm listening haha. There's just something about fashion illustration that it rides the line between commercial art and fine art.

 

WHO ARE THE TOP 3 DESIGNERS YOU WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH?

Oh, that’s a really tough one.  There are so many designers that I adore but I think I would prefer to work with a smaller fashion house like Michael’s where I actually get to have a one on one with the designer himself/herself.  With that said, even though it’s not a small fashion house in the least, I’m obsessed with Vera Wang lately.  I think most people outside of the industry think of her as only a wedding gown designer but her ready to wear collections have been so darkly romantic and swoon worthy that if given the chance to work with her I might die right there on the spot.  Ok that’s an exaggeration but if you aren’t familiar with her last few ready to wear collections you must look them up.  I mean I wouldn’t say no to illustrating her wedding gowns either, just so we are clear haha.  Another designer that I love is Haider Ackermann!!  I don’t know if many people outside the industry would recognize his name but I’ve been so obsessed with his work for years.  His design esthetic is just so cool.  I hate to say that because “cool” is just a horribly overused word, but it’s true.  The way he designs and styles his looks, it’s just so effortless and cool.  Like Tilda Swinton is probably his most well known client and she’s edgy, cool, confident, and nonconforming. I just love that!  I think the third designer would have to be Alexandre Vauthier; I’ve already illustrated a few of his pieces when I was interviewing to teach fashion illustration at Otis College of Art and Design.  I’m always so drawn to his collections, they are unique and yet there’s still a wonderful continuity from season to season.  Honorable mention to Proenza Schouler because I’ve illustrated pieces from one of their recent collections that they shared on Instagram so I’m eternally grateful for that. 

 

YOU TEACH AT OTIS. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START TEACHING.

So this is another opportunity I owe to good ole Instagram.  It all started with the current fashion illustration instructor at Otis, Paul Keng, he’s a total rock star in the fashion illustration world with like 144K followers on Instagram.  Anyways shortly after I started my Instagram sharing pictures of my new work, I received a message from Paul asking if I had ever considered teaching and the rest is history.  It’s one of the top fashion design programs in the country so the interview process was incredibly rigorous.  I interviewed for over a year and found out that I got the job this summer. The faculty is incredible and the students are so talented.  I had wonderful professors that really helped me to grow in confidence and ability as an artists and I really hope that I can do that for my future students.  It should also be noted that my mom taught for thirty plus years so maybe it’s in the blood.  I’m very excited to be in a creative environment and be able to pass my knowledge on to the next generation of designers while still having the time to produce my own work.

 

WHAT'S THE FUTURE HOLD FOR DANIEL?

Hopefully the future holds a lot more creativity and better yet production of new and interesting work on my part.  I would definitely love to be designing again and I think working at Otis will give me the time to do that.  My boyfriend and I are moving in September so that I can have my own studio space for the first time ever!  Currently my drafting table is in our living room haha.  I hope that I can continue to make connections and work with power players in the industry.  Most of all I just hope to continue to produce valid work.  I never want to settle into a comfort zone and just produce work that all looks the same.  I think a lot of fashion illustrators work in one signature way and I think that’s wonderful for them, but I love to work in a lot of different ways and I just can’t see putting myself in a box like that.  I’ve got quite a few new projects in the works and I can’t wait to share them with my friends and followers.  The support I get means the absolute world to me!  I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and I just want to always be grateful and humble.

 

You can actually get your hands on some original work by Daniel via his Etsy account where you can request original pieces or buy some of his other works! To see more of Daniel's work, stay updated on what big name celebs, and designers he gets to work with make sure you follow him on Instagram

SF Women's Group

 

All it took was a life changing election, a homemade sign, "Not My President," and the guts to walk downtown with it around her neck for a friendship to form and the SF Women's Group to come to life. 

This group of "nasty women" was Co-Founded by one of our good friends Sara and a stranger turned sister in arms Vera. As feminists we've had our faith rocked a number of times lately. As well as felt the need to call out to our fellow sisters for love and support. The SF Women's Group has helped to heed the call of the community of women that live in San Francisco and we're so excited to be able to feature them. 

 

WHAT DOES BEING A FEMINIST MEAN TO YOU?

Quick answer: It means you believe women can do anything in this world.

Long answer: It means, you believe, “women’s rights are human rights,” to quote Hillary Clinton. Feminism means the same thing to me as it always has. What’s changed for me in the last year, is my vision of the world, and understanding that feminism is necessary.


YOU'RE APART OF THE SF WOMEN'S GROUP, WHAT IS THAT?

San Francisco Women’s Group is exactly as it sounds. It’s a group for people that identify themselves as female, in the Bay Area. Our mission is to unify women and serve San Francisco’s female community through leadership, education and celebration of the feminine spirit.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO AT THE SF WOMEN'S GROUP?

I co-founded San Francisco Women’s Group with my co-founder Vera, in hopes of creating a place for women to come together, learn and tackle what it means to be a feminist in today’s world.   For me personally, San Francisco Women’s group is my attempt to create a resource for girl’s in the Bay Area to meet other women in their community and have an outlet to make an impact. Whatever your passion or desire for society may be, I want women to feel like SF Women’s Group gives them the power, and female network to go out and create change. If that means educating yourself, finding people to volunteer with, fundraising for a cause, whatever. As I tell group members every meeting–this isn’t mine or Vera’s group–this is your group. It can be as big or small as we make.

 

WHEN DID YOU START CALLING YOURSELF A FEMINIST? 

You know. I’ve always been aware of how insanely lucky we are to be women in the United States. My dad immigrated from Iran, so I have the perspective of female family members who didn’t have the same cultural rights, as I had growing up in California. What transformed my life was the moment I heard Donald Trump giving his acceptance speech for President of the United States. In that moment, the fluffy robe that was my perceived notion of gender equality was ripped off my body, leaving me naked on a windy San Francisco in street.

I was shocked because America elected not to give a damn about women. Trump’s win told me that no matter how hard you work as an individual and how qualified you are, you’re still a woman. That win made me get up, and get out.

I made a sign that said “Not My President” the morning after I watched his acceptance speech. I wore it around my neck, put on my sunglasses and walked down Market Street to work. I cried most of the way. But here I was, making myself super uncomfortable with this weird ass sign because I just didn’t know why but that is what was going to make me feel ok about going about my day. People saluted me from across the street, others crossed paths with a fist bump, and an old woman hugged me and said, “amen sister.”

I then proceeded to post an Instagram picture of myself from that morning, with my awkward, self-made protest sign. That moment, action and photo is what started San Francisco Women’s Group. A stranger, named Vera DMed me, saying, “Hey. My name’s Vera. This is weird, and we don’t know each other, but I think we’d have a lot to talk about.”


WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WOMEN GET AND STAY CONNECTED BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?

Women all need to step outside of themselves. Social media has had this incredibly isolating effect on people, as evidenced by all this fake news garbage. It also lets people hide behind photos of whatever they want to portray themselves as. I’m not saying this is wrong, but it shuts us off from what’s actually happening and keeps us from having conversations with one another. So get out, and meet other women in your neighborhood. Challenge yourself to make a new friend or do something once a week that makes you socially uncomfortable.

I formed SF Women’s Group with a stranger, Vera, who I met on social media. Our group and all it’s accomplished in under a year, is only around because both of us were willing to make ourselves a little uncomfortable and meet up for coffee at a nursery.

This poem by my favorite Poet, Rumi, and has really served as my reason why it’s important for women (and men) to maintain and welcome connections with one another:

The Guest House

"This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival...

...Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond."

-Rumi

 

WHAT ARE SOME TOPICS YOU FEEL WOMEN NEED TO BE PARTICIPATING IN MORE TODAY?

The biggest topic: Women need to concern themselves with the current fight about healthcare. This directly impacts everyone’s health–but especially women. The current administration deems pregnancy as a “pre-existing” condition. Access to birth control will no longer be covered by federal funding and the right to choose an abortion is under siege. The ultimate goal is to take away our right to choose, period. These things directly impact women of all ages in this country and are beyond the republican v democrat debate. Women everywhere need to educate themselves, and understand why women’s healthcare is so heavily politicized. It’s a way, throughout history, to control us.

Women also need to learn more about feminism and why it’s necessary. This is something I’ve been exploring personally. One book that’s had an incredible effect on me is by San Francisco author Rebecca Solnit, called Men Explain Things to Me.

 

HOW CAN WOMEN GET INVOLVED IN THE SF WOMEN'S GROUP?

Follow us on Instagram @SFWomensGroup and start coming to events. Or you can email me, SanFranciscoWG@gmail.com. We’ll answer any big, small, weird questions you can throw at us.

Whimsy Soul

My bucket list is as long as a Harry Potter novel, I swear, so I can’t say just once place is my favorite to visit.
— Kara

 

Not many of us are brave enough to step completely out of our comfort zone in search for something more. However, those of us who have know you would do it again in a heartbeat, myself included.

Kara, from the travel, fashion, lifestyle, and now wedding (cheers to her engagement) blog, Whimsy Soul, is just that gal. With her straight to the point, funny personality this lovely lady is not afraid to show you who she is. And whether you like it or not doesn't matter in the least to her. You can see why we love her.

In an interview with us, we got to find out more about this colorful, strong woman.

 

 

DESCRIBE WHIMSY SOUL IN ONE SENTENCE.

At the end of the day, I'm just a midwest gal who ran away to San Francisco, who has a wanderlust heart, and a fierce belief that every woman is beautiful, no matter her size. 

 

YOU MOVED FROM WISCONSIN TO SAN FRANCISCO. WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS YOU'VE LEARNED IN MAKING THE BIG MOVE?

First? Save at least twice as much as you think you need! Also, adulthood can be really lonely unless you push yourself out of your comfort zone to get out there and meet your new best friend. 

 

WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO TRAVEL AND WHY?

My bucket list is as long as a Harry Potter novel, I swear, so I can't say just one place that is my favorite to visit. That being said, I lived in Rome for 5 months and fell in love in Italy -it's a magical country. I also visited Yosemite for the first time last year, and it took my breath away. 

 

HOW DO MOST OF US SATISFY OUR WANDERLUST ON A BUDGET?

Careful budgeting! I know I know - everyone and your Mom has told you the same thing. I wrote a post about traveling the world on the cheap a while back here, but it basically boils down to prioritizing what matters to you and budgeting the money side out. If travel is important to you, you have to put travel above everything else. It has to be a lifestyle. People don't magically save up enough money to backpack across Europe by accident.

 

YOU ARE VERY BODY POSITIVE. WHAT ARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM TO THOSE STRUGGLING TO HAVE THAT SAME MINDSET?

For this I pose this question: Think back to last summer. How many times did you go to the pool, look at another woman in a swimsuit and think "She looks fat in that suit. I can't believe she scarred my eyeballs like that today!" Unless you're a terrible human, the answer is probably never. Just remember next time you feel insecure about your body- nobody else is paying attention to you, so you might as well wear whatever you want. 

 

YOU POST A LOT ABOUT FASHION. WHAT IS THE ONE OUTFIT THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOU?

A floral midi dress! I love how comfy and pretty they are.

 

IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WHAT ARE 5 THINGS, YOU WOULD HAVE WITH YOU?

Olive oil - I use it for cooking but also almost every day for a moisturizing my dry skin! A library so I could read my days away. And then an endless supply of rice, a machete and a lot of tarps because that's basic survival 101.

 

Read more about Kara and her Whimsy Soul on her blog and make sure to check out her Instagram!

Pegactive

I want to help people see that healthy looks different on all sizes. You’re not going to look like the person you see in the magazine and that’s okay you don’t have too. You’re beautiful just the way you are.
— Pegah

We've all been there looking at the fitness ladies gracing the covers of magazines. Feeling the pressure of what your summer body is "suppose" to look like for the upcoming season. It's easy to get lost in what the media perceives as healthy and forget that healthy looks different on everyone.

In our interview with Pegactive, this very topic came up. Learning from experience Pegah, founder of Pegactive, went from the media negatively impacting her view of healthy, to an eating disorder, to now helping others confronting similar challenges while guiding living a healthy lifestyle.

WHAT IS PEGACTIVE?

My heart is really women's fitness. So I do personal training, I do a lot of remote coaching where my client and I have an initial meeting where we talk about their goals. I'll then put together a fitness program for them, send it by email, and update it as we go. So whether it's a home workout or gym workout, it's customized to them. I do pre and postnatal guidance and have something called a "clean eats guide," which is my E-Book. I come out with a new one every season where I put together fun recipes, list my favorite snacks, as well as my favorite to go items. My goal is to help people see that meal prep can be quick, easy, fun, and tasty. These seasonal "clean eats guides" go along with my annual workshops that I do. Pegactive also does group fitness where say someone wanted to do a Pop Pilates class in the park with a big group of people I can do that as well.

 

YOU ARE VERY OPEN ABOUT YOUR BATTLE WITH AN EATING DISORDER.

Yeah, I dealt with Orthorexia for about six years. 

Orthorexia is the term for a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive behavior in pursuit of a healthy diet. Orthorexia sufferers often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders.

It genuinely started out with me wanting to be healthier. I've always been petite, and for someone who has always been on the smaller side when you start drinking, having the late night munchies, and stop working out all together it catches up to you. I began to notice that I wasn't looking very healthy and you could tell I was just surviving off of junk food with my friends. So I started opening up all these health magazines and whatever I saw celebrities doing or eating I would try it out. I started a gym routine of nothing but cardio and then began to get on the healthier track when I started counting calories. I think that is exactly where my problem started; I became so obsessed with calorie counting that I completely cut out anything that I thought was bad because I expected that was the only way I could lose weight. I'm naturally a competitive person, so at the time I was competing with myself, and when I would see the scale going lower and lower I would tell myself, "Oh my gosh, how much more could I lose?" During this time I didn't pick up a weight at all and was doing straight cardio seven days a week for two hours and not getting enough nutrients. It came to the point where my lowest weight was 88lbs; I'm 5'4". It wasn't until my brother-in-law sat me down and talked to me where I was like, "Oh my gosh, what am I doing?" After that, I cut out cardio from my workout, stopped counting calories, and let go of things slowly because it honestly takes time to come out of that mindset. Now I'm no longer my eating disorder, but as humans, we're not perfect. So do I have days where I'm like, "I feel gross" oh yeah but I have the right approach and the right mindset to let that thought process go. Because there is no way in hell, I'm letting my strong body now go back to that girl, even if it is just my thoughts.

 

YOU'VE SEEMED TO LEARN A LOT ON YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY IS THEIR ONE LESSON THAT YOU'VE TAKEN FROM IT ALL?

I think it's patience...all of it, all of it is patience. And it goes for both sides of the spectrum. For me, even though I rid myself of my Orthorexia thoughts, getting back to a healthy weight the correct way wasn't easy. It wasn't easy at all. Even though I completely cut out cardio and was eating a high-calorie diet, my body because it was already so petite it took a long time for me to gain muscle. So fitness wise it took a long time for me to get back to a healthy weight, but once I did it was so fulfilling. So it's the same for the other way around, for someone who wants to get to a healthy weight. Patience, it's not going to happen overnight, but it will happen if you work for it, if you stay motivated, and push past your comfort zone.

 

WHAT IS YOUR GO TO WORKOUT?

I love leg day.  I teach seven to ten classes at Cycle Bar in San Jose and Pop Pilates I don't do any cardio outside of that. So about four to five days a week I dedicate time to lifting weights, and I'll do it by body part. So one day I'll do shoulders, one day I'll do back, one day I'll do chest and arms, and the next day legs. My favorite by far is a perfect leg and bootie workout.
 

WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR CLIENTS TO HELP KEEP THEM MOTIVATED?

As a professional, you have to level with them and see where they are coming from and their mindset. And from what I've found is that it's really good to remind them why they started doing this in the first place. Like, what motivated you to get here, why did you get this far? Then also go back and go over their accomplishments. The one thing I say often is that we need to celebrate the little things because we are so fixated on what the end is going to be that we wait and it's not good. I think that every little baby step is so important.
 

WHAT DO YOU GRAB WHEN YOU'RE CRAVING SWEETS?

Without a doubt dark chocolate. I'm obsessed, I have such a sweet tooth, and I will choose sweets over anything. Dark chocolate I love, and I just tried Lily's, and it's like a sea salt dark chocolate that is so good. I love Halo Top ice cream; I could literally eat that all day and like multiple times.
 

THE MEDIA PLAYED & PLAYS A BIG PART IN THE WAY YOU AND OTHERS VIEW WHAT HEALTHY IS. WHAT IS YOUR STANCE ON HEADLINES THAT TELL PEOPLE "HOW TO GET THEIR SUMMER BODY?"

I say that theses are options or fun ways that you could go about trying things for yourself. But a lot of times when you open up fitness and health magazines they talk about how this certain workout is going to lead to this. I kind of feel like they put this false advertisement out there that if you do this exact thing you're going to get this correct result which isn't true. What I recommend people do meet with a professional. So whether you go to a gym or a location where there are trained professionals to help you get started. I think it's important to have guidance especially when you're just starting. Don't get me wrong it's entertaining to read that magazine, and I still do, but it's effortless to get influenced by what's in them too. Those types of articles should be viewed as entertainment and not seen seriously. Because if someone like me who picks up something and expects to look certain can end up taking it way too far.

See all that Pegah and Pegactive has to offer by visiting here site and following on her Instagram!

BODY SAMantix

I believe listening to your body is the most important lesson of all.
— Samantha Rodgers

Ladies, it is that time again. The sun is coming out, and the weather is getting warm. If you're in my situation, this happened way too fast, and I am not prepared to start showing a little more skin. So in the effort to get our bodies moving, I thought it would be a great idea to have a little help and inspiration.

Sam, from BODY SAMantix, is a kick ass personal trainer, yoga and self-defense instructor, as well as a bomb nutritionist. She can pretty much do it all and has the body to prove it. In our quest for a more healthy and balanced lifestyle we sought out her expertise and she more than delivered in her tips for workouts, nutrition, and how to be conscious of your body's needs.

 

 

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO HELP OTHERS GET IN OR STAY IN SHAPE?

I was always getting asked how I stayed in such good shape and if I would work out with them. This was when I was about 19 and had just finished training for my black belt. I was at 24 Hour Fitness, and some of the trainers there noticed I had a knack for it and encouraged me to become a trainer. I researched some certifications and switched my degree to Kinesiology with a focus on Athletic Training. The rest is history! 

 

SUMMER IS AROUND THE CORNER. WHAT ARE SOME NUTRITION TIPS TO HELP US PREPARE FOR SWIMSUIT SEASON?

With summer just around the corner, our bodies are actually gearing up to eat the "summer foods." No, not BBQ food (that's packed with sodium and sugar). If you pay attention closely to your body, you may start to find more of a craving for fruits and salads. That's because we used to eat with the seasons way back in the day and our bodies still want to. Plus, these natural sugars are WAY better for you than processed. The nutrient dense greens you find in salads help keep you lean and replenish your essential vitamins and minerals after you've been sweating all day in the sun. For those wanting to gain a bit more muscle, pair greens with your protein intake and they start to feed those muscles to grow strong. Most important of all drink 64oz of water or more a day to stay hydrated and push out any unwanted toxins.

 

WHAT ARE 3 SNACKS YOU ALWAYS HAVE IN YOUR BAG?

My top 3 snacks that are ALWAYS in my bag are my homemade "Matcha Balls", RX Bars, and Go Macro Bars. I am forever hungry and need my protein fix. The bars are super natural and cleanest on the market today!

 

 

WHAT ARE COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO FITNESS AND THE BODY YOU WANT?

The common misconceptions of fitness are: cutting carbs, skipping meals/fasting, lifting weights make you bulky.

  • Cutting Carbs: A big myth that only holds partial truth. Complex carbs are REALLY good for you, like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice. Empty carbs like cookies, crackers, etc. are bad for you. These complex carbs keep you fuller for longer and aren't filled with processed sugars and contain more nutrients and fibers than "empty" carbs, hence the names.
  • Skipping Meals/Fasting: There are new "studies" and "research" out now that claim intermittent fasting or skipping breakfast, or dinner will help you in your weight loss journey. FALSE! Under no circumstances should you ever do this. Your body is hungry, especially after you boost your metabolism after working out. You MUST feed your body or the next time you do eat you may have the tendency to binge, but your body will believe that the next time you skip out on a meal that you are starving it and will actually store any nutrients as fat for safe keeping the next time you don't feed it on time. Imagine your body like a hungry 5 year old; you know when they start to have meltdowns at certain times of the day because they are hungry and once you feed them, they become the perfect little angel you knew they were... well your body is the same way. It will throw a temper tantrum if you do not feed it on time and rebel against you.
  • Lifting Weights Makes You Bulky I HATE hearing this from women. PLEASE stop asking this question! Unless you are a genetic freak, you will not gain muscle as a man does. It is impossible for a woman to carry that much testosterone in her body to bulk up and look manly.  Lifting weights will actually help you lose weight! Keep in mind muscle weighs more than fat so that scale will trick you. Pay attention to the size of your clothes and how they are fitting. It is proven that muscle burns fat. So the more muscle you put on, the more fat you will lose. So please don't be afraid to get those murves! (Curves made from Muscle = Murves)

 

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CLIENTS?

My most memorable client to date is Anastasia. I love her story or should I say OUR story. We just celebrated our 3rd FIT-versary in February/March. This marks the time where she made the decision to finally get serious about her weight loss. She had only been seeing me a month and her goal was to lose 50lbs. By the end of her first month (February) she dove head first into 2 days a week of training plus yoga once a week. Combined with a new clean, sustainable, healthy meal plan she was able to shed the 50lbs in 6 months! And by the beginning of the next year, she was down 15 more pounds (unplanned)! Anastasia and I joke now because she originally came in January to sign up and start officially in February, she set a date and signed papers. Normally I'm used to people going about this far than I never see them again. So, to my surprise, she confirmed the day before her planned session. From there it took off. I believe in early April she messaged me saying she had dropped a few pounds and was nervous about it. But every 2 weeks when she weighed herself it kept just falling off. About 7-10lbs every month! The most memorable moment of our training was her very first session, she was doing a step up on a very low bench, and her leg gave out, and she fell over. We were both stunned and knelt down to ask if she was ok. She was, got back up, and continued with her workout. To this day we laugh about it and are thankful that it happened the first session when we weren't quite comfortable with each other or else I would've been on the floor with her laughing at each other.

 

WHAT TYPE OF WORKOUTS SHOULD WE INCLUDE IN OUR OWN ROUTINES?

I advise anyone creating an at home workout plan for yourself to ALWAYS include core work, basic core work, like planks, dead bugs, and bird dogs. The core, much like the name, is the center and base of any movement. Having a strong, stable core, will take you far in life and your fitness journey. It will help prevent any possible injury as well. Be sure to also include single sided movements like single leg deadlifts and side planks. These are important to activate stabilizing muscles and again the core/obliques. Last but not least, back movements like rows and reverse fly's. We spend all day hunched over at our computers that our back muscles get extremely weak and stretched out. So by focusing on our back more, we can reserve this and improve better posture.

 

WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED ALONG YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY?

I have learned so much along my fitness journey and continue to learn every day! I believe listening to your body is the most important lesson of all. Knowing that your body needs a day of rest (different than being lazy), being ok with just relaxing. If you over do it, your body tends to rebel and you can injure yourself. I've also learned, if you want A cookie, you can have A cookie, you can allow yourself small indulgent treats (not binging). I used to beat myself for taking a day off or for caving into a small sweets craving. I've learned it's okay to be human! I tend to limit these treats when I'm eating out or special occasions, which is rarely because hey why not! You have one life to live, so live it healthily and wisely. Don't limit yourself because when we get to strict in our workout and healthy eating regimes we miss out on the fun times in life. Live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Get more of Sam's fitness and nutrition wisdom by visiting BODY SAMantix. For constant motivation and inspiration follow her on Instagram.

Citrus & Gold

I went to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain and I had a blast but I was the most unhealthiest I’ve ever been in my life. Eating wise I wasn’t doing well, exercise I was doing stuff but not really sure what I was doing, but the biggest thing was mental health. I lost confidence in myself, I just didn’t know who I was anymore.
— Akansha Agrawal

 

Creator of health and wellness blog, Citrus & Gold, Akansha Agrawal journey into a healthy lifestyle was one of self-realization and education. The time she spent learning about how to take time for self-care in this busy world effectively has inspired her to share her experience with others who wish to embark on the same journey. 

We had the chance to check up on this lovely lady for some helpful hints and tips on how to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
 

 

 

WHY CITRUS & GOLD?

I started blogging back in college just for fun, and I was writing about anything and everything. Then I started realizing I was writing about the theme of fitness more and more. Because I felt like there was a void when we were talking about fitness, not only with physical fitness but mental health as well. So my goal with Citrus & Gold is to talk about getting fit not only for your body but your mind. The name came from two things. Citrus, when you think of it, for me, I think of something healthy, fresh, and awakening. I wanted something about me, so the Gold part came from living in California, the Golden State, where I've lived my entire life and from my culture because, in India, gold is a very symbolic metal and color.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN HEALTH AND FITNESS?

I was active growing up as I swam in high school for a couple of years. But then during college, it was not a priority at all. In my junior year of college, I went to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain and I had a blast, but I was the unhealthiest I've ever been in my life. Eating wise I wasn't doing well, exercise I was doing stuff but not sure what I was doing, but the biggest thing was mental health. I lost confidence in myself; I just didn't know who I was anymore. So after my junior year summer, something changed, like 180, in my head. I started learning more about nutrition, started to exercise more. I ran my first 10k that summer, and a year after that I did my first half marathon. I started to develop a routine and see how fitness just helped my mind.

WHAT CHANGED?

You know after being gone for six months I came back looked at myself in the mirror and just didn't recognize myself anymore. I had gained some weight, I didn't feel good about my body, and I also got this terrible stomach flu when I was in Spain where I was in the hospital for a few days. So my entire digestive system was thrown off and all of a sudden I couldn't tolerate food that I could before. So it was an internal, biological change as well as a mental change. It was like "wow" why I have been focusing so much on going out and partying instead of focusing on me?

SO SHE SLAY READERS LIVE BUSY LIVES. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR A BALANCED HEALTHY LIFE?

Oh, my goodness, I've already been super swamped today, so there are a couple of things I like to do. If you're at work and you can bring some herbal teas to sip on, that makes me feel calm right away. If you have some essential oils, I happened to have some lavender oil in my purse this morning; I just dab a little bit on my wrist, and that aroma kind of makes me feel a bit more relaxed. I also recently tried meditating, and I know that is something people are very intimidated by this. But even if you can take like two minutes to close your eyes, sometimes even the elevator if no one else is there I just close my eyes for those 30 seconds and just breath, it makes a huge difference. And for the balance part of this question, I would say schedule everything. It's tedious and kind of annoying but schedule time for self-care, schedule time for what you want to accomplish.

 

WHAT ARE 3 SNACKS YOU FIND YOURSELF EATING ALL THE TIME?

I try to keep them as wholesome and less processed as possible. First nuts are always a great option. Lara Bars are great on the go snack, RX Bars are great too. Sometimes if I can get to some carrots and hummus or some dip and chip to treat myself, and anything with avocado.

WHAT IS YOUR REGULAR FITNESS ROUTINE LIKE?

I think it changes all the time which I think keeps me interested. A constant that is always there is running, so that's why I like to sign up for races. I just finished my seventh half marathon which is amazing. So when I'm training for races, I'm more consistent with running at least three times a week. Then I like to do a bit of strength training so that it can be body weight like Pilates, or like real strength training with weights, like dead lifts, squats. I love that stuff! And I like to throw in some Yoga if I can. I think the typical week would be three days of cardio, most likely running, strength training for 30 minutes twice a week, and then I throw in like a fun day of class or maybe like a yoga class.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING KEEPING PEOPLE FROM LIVING AN ACTIVE LIFE?

I think the thing that holds people back is fear. Especially in a group fitness setting, I've experienced that, where you don't know what you're doing because you are never done say, Pilates, and you're scared of being judged by people. I think that is one major thing which beats even laziness when it comes to being motivated to go to the gym. It is because you don't know how to handle yourself there. So that is one thing I'm trying to be very open about and say this is supposed to be for fun, it's not meant to look perfect when you're doing these things. Try it out. I feel like there is just so much information out there and so much going on that making that first step can be overwhelming.

WHAT IS IN CITRUS & GOLD'S FUTURE?

That is such a big question that I'm still figuring out. But I want it to be a source of inspiration and an honest approach to health and wellness. And I really want to target the South Asian community because I do feel like health and wellness as far as lifestyle is something that is somewhat known to the community. So I want to be a spokesperson for that community and a source of inspiration to show them what that lifestyle looks like and provide education on how they can go about it.

 

To get some more healthy hints, nutrition advice, and workout tips be sure to check out Akansha's blog Citrus & Gold and follow her on social media, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

April Lockhart

I love the confidence it gives me. It sounds silly to say, but I feel like I can conquer life when I’m in my favorite outfit and my makeup is fierce.
— April Lockhart

Some of you may recognize this lovely lady from a certain talent show called Rising Star where she wowed the world with her soulful and unique voice. Although since her days on the show she has left music to dive into a world engulfed with just as much creativity, fashion and beauty.

If she's not traveling the world, jet setting from New York to Paris, which - sigh -  lets be honest we all wish we could do, she is working non stop. We had chance to speak with April about her life, fashion, and beauty must haves.

 

 

WHEN DID FASHION AND BEAUTY START CAPTURING YOUR ATTENTION?

In my mid-teens, I was pursuing music and I think that's when my awareness of fashion and beauty kind of sparked. When I was 18, during Rising Star, we had amazing makeup artists and I was just loved every minute of it. I remember being the only one that would ask them to explain every step as they were doing my makeup (probably annoying, but I was so interested). I also wanted the MOST extra makeup (laughing). I would ask if they could do ombre purple lips or sparkly eyes, I loved experimenting with it.

I eventually decided music wasn't really for me, but felt really drawn to the fashion industry - so I applied to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York. And it all snowballed from there. New York will do that to you.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT IT?

I love the confidence it gives me. It sounds silly to say, but I feel like I can conquer life when I'm in my favorite outfit and my makeup is fierce. I love the changing pace of it, paying attention to how the industry has vastly changed from even five years ago with the growth of social media. It's crazy to me to see beauty brands blow up over night because someone like Desi Perkins or Jaclyn Hill reviewed one of their products. It's a totally different game, and I'm all about it.

A huge misconception, in my experience, with the fashion industry is that people are so cutthroat. I actually find that if you aren't totally selfish, and you're willing to help others succeed, that people are very willing to do the same with you. I think the best part about being a millennial in NYC in the fashion/ beauty industry is that all the other girls your age are also trying to find "their thing" and that's how collaboration happens. I love meeting people that you click with and you both are just like "how can we help each other succeed?" - THAT'S KEY. And I honestly do feel that the industry can be like that sometimes. Of course, there are places where people are cutthroat, but I say just be nice to everyone, and they're usually nice back.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-HAVES WHEN IT COMES TO SKIN CARE?

Oooo - this is like asking Anthony Bourdain to pick his favorite food. Staple items I couldn't live without are a cleansing balm, a retinol, sunscreen and sheet masks.

For specific products though - I'll let you in on my DREAM TEAM night regimen.

  1. First, cleanse with Goop Luminous Melting Cleanser to get all the makeup off
  2. Second cleanse with Dermalogica's Special Cleansing Gel to get squeaky clean (new favorite - it's like that one product that couldn't irritate a fly, and is better than Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser - there, I said it)
  3. Jurlique's new Activating Water Essence for toning (WOW this smells like the best spa massage ever)
  4. Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil- as a retinol
  5. Sunday Riley Good Genes - for looking like a baby-faced angel in the morning
  6. La Prairie Luxe Sleep Mask - for the best moisture of your life
  7. Goop Eye Cream - just because it's the best

And on a dry day - pretty much any Korean Sheet Mask ever. I tried the Tony Moly Snail mask the other day and it was AMAZING.

Was that overwhelming? Probably. Too late now (laughing).

 

YOU SEEM TO LOVE COFFEE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KIND? IS THERE A LUXURIOUS KIND YOU DRINK WHILE IN PARIS?

YES. I'm a Lorelai-Gilmore breed that can just legitimately drink coffee from the time I get up until late afternoon and never get tired of it. I actually look forward to getting up, because I know I can have coffee. I can drink it pretty much any way, but my favorite is definitely flavored. There's a regional coffee shop from Ohio, where my boyfriend lives, called Winans and it's like the BEST place I've ever been. He's always sending me their coffee. They make a blend called "Highlander Grogg" that's butterscotch, caramel, and vanilla and it's like WOW. you just need some cream & it's like heaven.

I've got to be totally honest, Parisian coffee is not my jam. I'm like a grande/ venti kind of girl, and the coffees here are super small. They really prefer to just have an espresso, which just isn't enough for me. So needless to say, I shamelessly brought coffee with me.

 

WHAT IS YOUR GO TO OUTFIT AND WHY?

My go-to girl power outfit is culottes, a high-neck top, a leather jacket, and pumps or a trendy sandal. This is my staple interview outfit, and it never fails me. It's the perfect balance of professional and fashionable, and still gives me a chance to show my style - my favorite culottes are this burnt orange color.

So many people I know go too basic for an interview. In the fashion and beauty industry, there's no need for you to wear all-black anymore. Now, this isn't to say go wear a floral dress and sandals, but a nice balance of black with a pop of color. I also have so much love for culottes - they're not too form-fitting, they're trendy, and they scream power to me. I have this secret rule where I don't wear dresses to interviews because I think pants make a woman appear more powerful. 

 

WHAT ARE 3 THINGS YOU WOULD TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

1. Seriously, stop plucking your eyebrows - you're going to regret it. 

2. Tanning isn't cool, sunscreen is cooler. 

3. Always lift up the girls around you. Help them succeed, because you'll end up succeeding in the end too, and you'll feel a lot better than doing it alone.

 

WHAT'S THE BEST PART ABOUT LIVING IN BOTH NYC & PARIS?

Both cities are amazing, but totally different, which I didn't expect. New York is home for me, nothing can replace it. It's very fast-paced, everyone is going a million miles an hour, which is totally opposite of Paris. Everyone in Paris likes to relax, take things slow, and it takes like 40 minutes for the waiter to bring your check (not a joke). However, Paris has really grown on me. Obviously it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and probably the worst part of Paris would be equivalent to the nicest part of New York.

Fashion and beauty in Paris really are all they're cracked up to be. Most of the people on the street look like they just got the best facial of their life, 12 hours of sleep, and are dressed like they're going to fashion week. It's real. But I have to say, that living in Paris is a totally different experience than visiting. It's definitely not a glamorous city like movies, and the people can be very unfriendly. I jokingly say that I think I'm the only girl in the world that hasn't fallen in love with it. I guess that's the New Yorker in me. Needless to say, I'm excited to get back to my favorite West Village coffee shops, Central Park, and the fast-paced chaos of the concrete jungle.

 

To get more fashion, beauty, skin care and honestly just a whole bunch of wisdom when it comes to these subjects make sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

THE TRIBE

I Tribe because I believe that we are enough.”

— Samata

Joining the ever growing, and increasingly powerful movement of celebrating women, THE TRIBE ranks up there with some of the best. Celebrating the woman you are and coming to the realization that you are enough.

We had the opportunity to speak with Samata, fashion, media entrepreneur, and founder of THE TRIBE. To say that is all this talented woman has done would be a real understatement. On top of being an advocate for following your passions and enjoying your personal journey, she is a published author and is known for her work as Global Director for Suzy Amis Cameron’s Red Carpet Green Dress campaign, featuring sustainable fashion on the red carpet during the Oscars every year.

WHAT IS THE TRIBE?

So THE TRIBE is a collective space and a movement. I think that is the best way to describe it. It’s a collective and space for women to get together and rally each other but also unite themselves. I just feel a lot of the time when I go online or even when I go to events for women or by women; there is always this underlying intention.

The underlying intention is that you’re supposed to go to these gatherings to meet people who can help you to ‘become more’ in the future. So you’re going to meet people that can help you reach that next stage in your life, or to grow your business, or to become this other person. And with THE TRIBE, I’m trying to create a space for women to realize they are already all of those things.
 

WHAT ARE TRIBE EVENTS?

The events are just a piece of what THE TRIBE mission is to their community. The events are important because it’s a chance to bring together other women. Today I don’t think there are a lot of spaces that celebrate everyday women. Even if I think about awards for women, a lot of the time it’s a woman in the public eye, and when I think about it, there are so many women in my life worthy of celebration because of what they are doing already. The events are just one way that THE TRIBE realizes what the movement is and engages in the conversations that are happening around the world. We have women around the world who are getting the concept and who are getting fed up with this feeling of like whatever they achieve there is always this next thing they should be aiming for in life. And they’ve never been given the space to celebrate the successes or the wins. For instance, I’ve said this before but it’s like you get engaged and the pressure is on to get married, when you are finally married, it’s about when are you having your first kid, then when are you going to have your second, or buy a new house, it never ends. It’s relentless, and that is just in your personal life!
 

THE TRIBE ENCOURAGES A DIFFERENT MINDSET, WHAT IS IT?

There is this idea that once we get from A to B, we’ll finally be this other person that we’ve always wanted to be. Or once we’ve done ‘this’ or once we’ve done ‘that’ or once we’ve accomplished ‘this’ then we can feel ‘this way’ about ourselves. It’s like then we can ‘allow’ ourselves to feel this way about ourselves. And with THE TRIBE what I’m trying to do is encourage a mindset that encourages us to see that we are already there. I think the mindset is less about anticipation and more about appreciation. So verses anticipation, this moment in your life where you finally get to celebrate all the things you’ve achieved. The realization you need to have is that you’re already at that moment now. And you’re almost depriving yourself of that moment by not seeing it. A lot of times when we get a compliment our first reaction is “Oh thanks but..” or “It’s just okay...” and in our mindsets it’s like we are saying we aren’t deserving of that. I think THE TRIBE is saying, “Yes, I can accept this in the now, and I don’t have to defer my enjoyment to another point in time.”
 

YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT ARE THERE ANY PIECES OF ADVICE YOU WOULD TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

I would say that anything that is meant to last takes time. When I was just getting started out, I would get so frustrated that things would take so long and it would make me question myself if I was supposed to be doing this? The negative self talk is just lies, smoke, and mirrors because it takes as long as it's supposed to. It takes a long time to develop things that matter and last. So don’t doubt yourself or your place just because it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not meant to be quick and easy because if it were, it would crumble apart. The other thing I would have told myself is that the validation you build up from achievement is so much stronger than the self-esteem that is connected to things that can come and go like the wind changes. As you grow and achieve things you have a different swagger about yourself, you have a different type of self-esteem it’s not rooted in anything someone can take from you.

WHAT IS A MISCONCEPTION OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH SUCCESS?

That it can happen quickly, in actuality, it takes a long time. I guess it doesn’t help that we have this idea of instant celebrity. Sometimes I feel like it’s very fatiguing, you know the idea that you can become this overnight success or this late hit, or you can go viral. But what’s the point if the foundation isn’t there? If everything isn’t lined up if you haven’t done your groundwork? Then you go viral, and you’re not prepared to cope with that. So I think we shouldn’t be aiming to go viral. We should be aiming to be a legacy. And those are entirely different things. Viral is like a hit seen all around the world where a legacy is something that will affect people long after you are gone.
 

WHY DO YOU TRIBE?

Last year when I got back from the Oscars, and I had had such a great year, and I was so happy and proud of myself. The first question one of my friends asked me was ‘So, what’s next?’ And I just had a moment of realisation, that the idea that we have to keep going all the time had no power over me. And I love my friend but it’s this construct of you must always do more to be more. I mean I couldn’t be more satisfied with myself and more full, and then within a Nanosecond, something - not someone - has tried to steal my joy. I believe that we are enough, so that is #WhyITribe.



Check out more about this wonderful woman by visiting THE TRIBE, their Insta page, and her website.

Kibsta

I definitely think advocating for yourself is the most important thing you can do. I’m still learning that lesson now.
— Kibbee Miller

She had me when she dropped the first F-word, fashion, then when she said the second F- word, food, and I was done. Fashion and food how could you not be sold? Not only are they some of the best F-words around but it's exactly what you can find when you check out Kibbee's blog, Kibsta.

And before you say anything yes Kibbee is her real name and to quote what she say's on her blog, "... that’s my real, full, not short for anything name - but my friends/fam call me Kibs/Kibsta!"

This talented marketer by day has turned the two things she loves into a space that she hopes can inspire others.

 

WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT MAKES A GREAT OUTFIT?

I would say confidence. Recently, I started posting pictures and started wearing outfits that I never tried in the past. For instance, I would wear a lot of things that I didn't necessarily really know if I felt comfortable sharing on social media and my blog. I feel like in the past year, or so I felt more comfortable and confident in my style strengths. So I think the more confident you are in your style and the more comfortable you feel in your clothes, whether that is in your own room, or if you are going to an event, or school it definitely translates into your style.
 

YOU MENTIONED IN THE PAST YEAR YOU STARTED TO HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR STYLE. WHAT CHANGED?


I get a lot of inspiration from my peers and just going to local events in the city and seeing what a lot of people are wearing. I went to this one event and just wore something completely out of my element. Not as reserved, not as practical, and I got a lot of compliments, and I just thought, why not share that more? So I've been trying to incorporate more non-conventional, non-traditional looks into my wardrobe and kind of post more of that stuff. And then my focus for this next year is the share what I wear to work on a regular basis so people can see both sides. A lot of my outfits I wear can play in both worlds.

 

ON ANY GIVEN DAY WHAT IS YOUR "GO TO" OUTFIT?


I would say jeans, any type depending on the season. If it's winter or fall I would probably wear more of a dark wash, but right now I have on pretty light jeans, they're ankle length, so they are cropped. I usually gravitate to plain tops like white, black, or gray and then I'll throw on a blazer or a jacket. If I don't know what to wear my go-to outfit is all black, (laughing) or jeans, t-shirt, and a leather jacket. Usually, I wear sneakers because I am running from work to something after work, so I'll keep a change of shoes in my bag.

 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COLOR BLACK?

I feel like all black...it's just one shade I know will look the same no matter the light. And when I'm shopping I always pick the black whatever it versus the color...it's appalling I know. (laughing) For some reason, I always just feel like more confident in black because sometimes, I'm not going to lie I get a little sweaty if I'm like nervous or something. Like if I'm talking in front of an audience or I'm presenting at work I feel like black hides a lot of that stuff. And the one thing with all black is that you can layer different textures too. Just because you are wearing all black doesn't mean it has to be cotton everything.

 

YOU HAD A POST ON YOUR BLOG ENTITLED "PUSSY POWER PLANT." IT MADE ME WONDER WITH THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CLIMATE THE WAY IT IS, HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK WOMEN'S BLOGS ARE?

I think they are super talented. That whole post for me was a wake-up call. I mean I started my blog from the standpoint of talking about things that bothered me, or things that are going well in my life, things that are happening that I think everyone should be aware of in life. Right now with such a heavy political time in all of our lives a lot of what's happening impacts women and I think that people need to be informed. I believe that it's critical for people to take a stand no matter what side you are on at least people will know where you are coming from and your thoughts.
 

WHAT PIECES OF ADVICE DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Stop wearing so much eyeliner. (laughing) So, I have to admit I use to wear a lot of eyeliner. I don't even own eyeliner anymore. Real life advice I think it would be to speak up more. I'm a pretty reserved person, and I do believe there are times where I could've spoken up louder and more frequently for other people to know I was in the room. I believe that it's important to share your opinions no matter if you're wrong or right. I think any opportunity you have to speak you should. And then, of course, there are times where people talk a lot that probably shouldn't. (laughing) But I definitely think advocating for yourself is the most important thing you can do. I'm still learning that lesson now. I blog on the side but my goal is to do that full time, but the only way to do that is to advocate for yourself all the time. To take more jobs, to go to meet ups, to talk to and collaborate with other people.

 

WHAT IS KIBSTA'S FUTURE?


I've been doing a lot of soul-searching, and I'm trying to move towards doing more video pieces. I love blogging, and I love writing, but I feel like just me personally I watch a lot of YouTube videos. I feel like it's way easier to connect with someone when you hear them speak when you see them talk, and when you see them doing the actual activity versus just still life images. That connects and resonates with me. It's much easier for me to watch a five to ten minute YouTube clip of someone that I follow then check their Instagram, then go to their website, and read the post, it's just more digestible. So I think that is the next step for me. 

If you're intrigued by the many things Kibs talked about take a look at her blog, Kibsta and her Instagram. We know we mainly focused on fashion in this interview but don't let the passion for fashion fool you. Food definitely plays a key part in Kibbee's blog so be sure to browse through her helpful tips and recipes for yummy food.

Leila Seppa

"My reality is that photography reflects the world in any number of ways from any number of different viewpoints but photography is never truth."

As someone who has always believed in the passion and power of the arts I enjoy speaking to fellow artists who can connect with that feeling. A powerhouse when it comes to photography Leila Seppa has taken her artistic love and turned it into a full on business. Taking photos for clients in lifestyle, fitness, and architecture all while showing her love for the fine arts through photos about identity and immigration.

It's said pictures are worth a thousand words, and true they can tell you lot, but why don't we let Leila give you her viewpoint when it comes to her life and where the love of photography has taken her.

 

WHAT LEAD YOU TO PURSUE PHOTOGRAPHY?

It's in my blood, since I was a child taking photos. I took photography in high school and then went to work and then decided to go back to school and photography was still something that spoke to me so I went to CCA in Oakland. I really decided that was the calling, that was the passion, that's where I needed to be. I actually did what a lot of people do to put themselves through school, I started working in restaurants. And ended up comboing a lot of what I was doing managing restaurants. I moved into Operations and Marketing and ended up opening my own art gallery in San Francisco. Did the whole shebang but in a completely different direction than in photography. Then decided after 10 years of that I really needed to get back to my soul passion and dropped everything else and said, I'm going back to photography and jumped in.

 

THIS ISN'T CONSIDERED A "NORMAL" CAREER PATH. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE THINKING OF TAKING A SIMILAR PATH?

You know that's hard because it's so personal but I would say follow all sides of passion. I don't say, jump off a cliff and go for all passion all the time. Sometimes I think people are meant to do passions on the side and I think that sometimes the careers we choose prior to becoming full time artists are what set us up for success as artists. Because it gives you a well rounded life that you can then implement into a photography business. And other times I say, people who know immediately and from the beginning... go for it, full force, full passion.

 

YOU DO SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY. WHAT STYLE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

My main focus these days is lifestyle with fitness. And there are two parts of it, there is the commercial side that I do, the parts that I'm really really into are the lifestyle/fitness, and architecture. Which are in some ways really polar opposites, and in other ways really compliment each other because they are completely different forms that can then speak to each other. And then on the Fine Art side, the projects that I'm most interested in are things about identity and immigration - and that's been forever. 

 

AS A BUSINESS WOMAN, ARTIST, AND ENTREPRENEUR WHAT IS THE HARDEST AND THE BEST PART?

This is a discussion I've been having recently a lot with a lot of different women. I think the hardest part can be for some women, is the ability to get past feeling badly for going for it. You know, we have this thing in our mind, this mindset, that we need to feel bad if we're being strong, or we need to feel bad if we're going full force to grab after something and to be passionate and crazy about it. And I say be unapologetic, go for it. Grab everything you can and sustain those dreams and those passions and get past the hurdle of feeling badly for aggressively going for what you want. And the best part is being your own boss, it's being a bad-ass boss woman. (laughing) Seriously it is. And it's getting to effect change in a way that you can't when you work for somebody else. For me, it's thinking holistically about how I can then offer aid, mentorship, and sustenance for other women who are really trying to make it.

 

IS THERE A SPECIFIC TIME IN YOUR LIFE THAT MADE YOU WANT TO PURSUE PHOTOGRAPHY?

There isn't one specific memory...but I've always loved that it's continuous...and this goes back to the Fine Arts side. It goes back to being aware of what is going on around you in the world. It's being socially aware, it's being supportive of other females and artists, and it's staying connected because I feel like art is so connected to life. And one of the struggles I've always had, (especially in California since the late 80s), is the struggle to keep the arts supported. And, how do you actually function as an artist being really socially responsible and aware. And then commit yourself to outside acts that can further the arts and help humanity in a general sense. 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF PHOTOGRAPHY?

Photography in general is such a changing medium, I think that's what I love the most about it. It's boundless. Especially today with the technology that we're given. There is one side of me that grew up learning film, and I love the feeling of old film in an old camera, hearing the wind and click, developing in a dark room. I mean the smell of black and white chemicals brings back specific memories for me... and I love that aspect of it. But today's generations, with the technology that we have at our fingertips today it's boundless, and that's the thing I love about photography. It's not a static medium, it's completely changing, and who has access to what. I think that's brilliant.

 

HOW DOES PHOTOGRAPHY REFLECT WHAT YOU SEE IN THE WORLD?

My reality is that photography reflects the world in any number of ways, from any number of different viewpoints but photography is never truth. My take on photography is that people from the very beginning have an assumption when they look at a photograph that the photograph speaks to truth. And that may be true from a viewpoint, but it also may not be. It's one of those things, you can manipulate a photograph and you have been able to from the very beginning via cropping, via editing that don't necessarily speak to an entire truth. Which is a beautiful thing, and is also a flaw because of the general perception. But that being said, I think photography reflects minute aspects to giant universal truths if portrayed in the right way.

Check out more of Leila's work on her website and her social media channels! Instagram and Facebook.

Overt

Hustle is the key word.

I've always said you don't know the true meaning of the word "hustle" until you're out there doing it. The long nights and early mornings spent fighting for a dream you believe in. Working non stop, running from meetings, to the gym, dinner, and even drinks. All to end up back home, pass out and wake up the next morning with a smile ready to do it again. If you know what I'm talking about chances are you have the heart and the hustle of a city girl.

For my ladies at Overt, Sarah and Lauren, that very hustler mentality is what sparked the idea for their lifestyle and accessories company. Making life stylish and easy while catering to the women with a billion things to do and definitely not enough time.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Sarah, one of the two wonderful women that make up Overt.

HOW DID OVERT COME TO EXIST?

Lauren had identified this problem she was having about carrying all her things around with her everyday through the city. She would leave the house at 7am and then she would get home at 1am. And she would go to work, and she would go to the gym, and then she would change her outfit, then go to drinks after work, which would then turn into a party, then dinner, and all these things. Then this one time she found herself checking her gym bag into the coat room. And she was like "ugh" I just wish there was a bag where I could just snap off this little pouch and carry that with me and check everything else into coat check. So she got to thinking about that and she came to me and we started talking about this bag that was multi functional.

 

YOU TALK ABOUT THE "OVERT GIRL" ON YOUR SITE. WHO IS THE OVERT GIRL?

She is you, she is me, she is us. She's your friend, she is everyone in the city. For us she doesn't look a certain way or act a certain way but what we all have in common is the city living lifestyle. Running around, hustling, managing multiple projects, and your friends are important. Which is basically like every girl in the city.

 

OVERT HAS SEVERAL DIFFERENT ACCESSORIES. WHAT ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Definitely the Noho. The Noho is our baby and we spent months designing it and thinking about it. And even more months and a good part of a year actually developing it and bring it to life. But my second favorite is definitely the Cos Case. It's very functional, it's something I love having in my life. It makes my life easier, everything stays upright in your Cos Case, which I've never had before. 

 

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU'VE TAKEN AWAY FROM STARTING OVERT?

To be confident and strong. And when I say that as a person at the beginning I found it very difficult to talk about myself and talk about the business and present to natural random strangers, and to potential new costumers. So being confident, strong, and open. But also being confident and strong in your idea and not to get distracted by all the noise. 

 

WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO JUGGLING LIFE AS A GIRL BOSS?

Be super organized, Google Drive, and act like you're a big business from the very beginning in terms of your processes. We've done that from the start and now everything has a process, procedure and a structure. And if you don't have that from the beginning it's very difficult to go backwards. And managing myself, having a process, procedure and a structure helps me build confidence that I can manage my day.

 

WHAT IS IN OVERT'S FUTURE?

Lots of stuff! Right now we're focusing on a new product, which is exciting. So that's what we are talking about now. What it will exactly look like and how it will function. We are reaching out to our community and getting some feedback on what they want. And scaling, our goal for this year is to scale the business and take it to the next level.

If you're a city girl looking for some new city essentials to make your life easier and stylish be sure to check out Overt for all their amazing accessories. I don't know about you but I'm loving what I see! To keep up with these busy city girls follow them on Instagram.

The Female Condition

That's when I really realized that if i wanted to take a position in the world where my life's mission was to empower women that I was really going to have to face an up hill battle. When I realized that, I began to build the strength to be able to do this.

Taking the title of Feminist and wearing it like a crown, Jazmine Duke, the founder of the blog The Female Condition, is fighting to bring normalcy to a topic some would see as taboo. To quote the infamous Madonna, "lets talk about sex." Well more specifically women and they're sexual health.

Jazmine's unapologetic and insanely honest look into female sexuality make her articles entertaining but also knowledgeable. And lets be honest you would much rather read article about what will make your vagina happy then a clinical one that will have your mind spinning in circles.

If you're not intrigued yet just wait because it's coming. We had the chance to speak with Jazmine about TheFemaleCondition.com, aka FemCon, and this is what she had to say.

 

WHAT BROUGHT ABOUT THE FEMALE CONDITION?

So after my 30th birthday I really got serious about this and thought you know what I'm gonna start a media company and I'm gonna go in 100% not just on female empowerment but female sexual empowerment. And that's really how I got to The Female Condition. I very firmly believe that women need to be sexually empowered and not just in health care, not just in period product options, but also a community of women and people where we can say the word vagina in public without having everyone lose their f*cking minds. And beyond that orgasms are great, why aren't women having more of them?

 

WHEN DID YOU FIRST START TO TAKE ON THE TITLE OF FEMINIST?

First of all I've had a very deep feeling about women being empowered for a very long time. And I was actually raised, shockingly, by a single black father. I had a very empowerment based up bringing. He really raised me like I was a man and had the entitlement and opportunities of a man. Which I think benefited me and allowed me to acknowledge how many positions in the world where women are actually secondary or has to fight hard to get the same things a man would.

 

WHAT ARE SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BEING A FEMINIST?

First thing we don't hate men. I actually love men and I'm a heterosexual female. I'm very close with my father. I actually talked with him this morning. I date men and in the context of dating men I'm not dominant I'm very much a submissive partner. But people assume because I am dominant, I am dominant sexually and I'm not- I am submissive on a sexual level. People automatically think that because I'm a feminist I hate men, or I want to do bad things to them but that's not me at all. 

The other thing I get a lot of lately, especially as a Black woman is that I have this anti establishment vendetta. That what I'm trying to do is tear down the government, and that I'm an anarchist. Which is not true.      

 

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF SOME ADVISE WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would probably tell myself to worry less about other people. (laughing) I think I spent a lot of my life looking for acceptance and approval and it hasn't done me any good. To be really honest I've lost friends. I've gotten pretty critically judged by my family for this I mean I've really taken a hit to step out and say the things I believe in. But every step I lose a friend, I gain friends and when I have people shunning me I will also have people that reach out and say thank you for saying this.

 

YOU ARE A STRONG AND SEXUALLY EMPOWERED WOMAN. WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE IN WHEN IT COMES TO THESE TOPICS?

To be specific, I would love to normalize the word "vagina." (laughing) It's a travesty that we can't say the word vagina in places without people losing their minds. I physically have a vagina so why we can't talk about it like we would a penis or an arm or any other body part just seems ridiculous. And also too, vaginas aren't just used for sexual pleasure. (laughing) Vagina's are a human body part that have their own functions. And further, bigger, broader I would love to see a world that is more supportive of women. But also a place where women are their own sexual beings that have nothing to do with a partner. And where women can be beautiful, sexy, and run businesses.

To learn more about The Female Condition stop by their blog and Instagram page. If you want to see what other juice topics Jazmine and I talked about take at our video below, "Sh*t No One Tells You About Being A Girl Boss."

 

SH*T NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT BEING A GIRL BOSS!

Francesca Ricci

"A lot of women feel beholden to what the world says they should be but really it’s a lie. We are meant to be classy, strong, unique, beautiful women and there’s not one image or size that embodies these qualities."

It's very true when people say life works in mysterious ways and you never quite know what can happen. In getting to know more about Francesca Ricci, Founder of the blog Bloom Daily and store Lott and Hudson. I learned that one dream can lead you to your passion, even if that passion has nothing to do with what you thought you dream was.

 

MUSIC LEAD YOU TO LA BUT YOU ENDED UP IN FASHION. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

I interned for a fashion designer before getting my first job in music.  Once I was working in music, after about 4 years, I didn’t like where my path was headed and started thinking of what to do if I left.  It’s crazy to go after one dream only to find out it’s not the best path.  But this is the beauty of life!  Fashion was always something I was drawn to.  Growing up in Tucson, I subscribed to W and fashion was exciting and beautiful to me.  My mom loves the art of dressing well and taught me from a very young age how to dress for your body type.  She has a love and excitement for beautiful, classic design that makes her feel beautiful and confident so it rubbed off on me.  Becoming a stylist was the part I was attracted to.

 

YOU WORKED WITH A DESIGNER HOW HAD A SHOW ON MTV! WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2007 I was looking anywhere I could to get my foot into the music door.  A friend of mine was in a public relations class and heard a fashion designer with a reality show was looking for interns.  She told me about it, knowing I loved fashion, so we both decided to do it.  The show, House of Jazmin, didn’t take off as well as we hoped but it was such a great experience nonetheless! It was cool seeing this budding designer try and make her dream a reality.  The filming part of it was interesting because there was definitely staged drama.  The fashion shows were my favorite part though: making sure clothes were delivered, gift bags made, guest list correct.  Learning the minute details.

 

WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE FASHION EXPERIENCES?

Honestly, my most memorable experiences have been when my mom taught me something or when I’ve worn an outfit and felt absolutely beautiful.  There are a couple moments where my outfit was so in tune with who I was I radiated joy.  Other people felt it too and commented on it.  Dressing to magnify who you really are is a power and completely changes your energy in a positive way.

 

HOW DID YOUR STORE LOTT AND HUDSON COME TO BE AND WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR IT?

Over the years, my boss (in music) would give me bags and bags of brand new Jordans and other expensive footwear to give away.  He only wore them once if at all!  After a while, it dawned on me to start reselling what he (and other people) would give me.  Opening Lott and Hudson was the natural next step when I was ready for something new.  It became the perfect way to experiment with my love for styling and maximize the resources I’d been given. 

I opened Lott and Hudson in March 2016 as a women’s clothing resale company. We find classy, modern pre-loved clothes in Los Angeles and Europe then sell them on our website or Instagram (we also consign items). The name was inspired after my honeymoon in London.  I felt inspired and drawn to the sophistication and energy of the city. So when it came time to create the shop I wanted the name and products to embody the emotion I felt. A lot of women feel beholden to what the world says they should be but really it’s a lie. We are meant to be classy, strong, unique, beautiful women and there’s not one image or size that embodies these qualities. Class and strength start from our thoughts. Our state of being. I strongly believe clothing helps us to display the beauty and strength we have within.  The goal is to make women feel beautiful just the way they are.  To emphasize fit rather than a number and provide support mentally/emotionally as well through our blog Bloom Daily.  Style is a symphony of what you have happening inside as well as out.  

In the future, I’d like Lott and Hudson to offer its own clothing line with fabric and fit being the most important focus.  Living in Europe has opened my eyes to the importance of certain fabrics! In the summers you will severely struggle in the heat unless you’re wearing cotton or linen.  I’d also like to eventually expand into paper goods like planners, cards, and more.

 

YOU ALSO HAVE A BLOG, BLOOM DAILY. WHAT CAN READERS FIND THERE?

In our blog, Bloom Daily, you’ll find inspiring quotes, interviews, articles and other growth oriented content.  It's a place for people who are interested in continual progression without the pressure.  There’s no universal timeline or path you must follow so we try and post content with this idea in mind. We each have our own unique journey which can’t be forced or rushed.  It’s our small daily actions which create us into the person we wish to become. Having an awareness and connection with ourselves and our lives is when we bloom into our greatest potential.  We want people to feel loved no matter what stage of life they’re in.  We just started a monthly email list where we’ll send inspiring articles, interviews, quotes and other resources to your inbox.  Most of our readers are constantly wanting to improve and we hope to be a source of support in their journey.

 

WHAT ARE 5 FASHION DOs AND DON'Ts THAT PEOPLE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TOO?

DOs:

  1. Tailoring your clothes to fit well - worth every penny.  Baggy doesn’t look as good as form fitting no matter what size you are!
  2. Quality over quantity - Buying one expensive wardrobe staple rather than 3 cheap non essentials is the way to go.  Also, I believe in only having items in your closet which spark joy.  Be selective and conscious of what you buy.
  3. Repair your shoes - so many friends of mine would throw out their heels not knowing you can repair them once they wear down.  Having shoes which look clean and polished makes a world of difference!  It can make or break an outfit.
  4. Wear items which make you feel beautiful - a woman who feels confident and gorgeous will make a trash bag look good.
  5.  Invest in high end jeans - I’m telling you this was a game changer for me.  Buying 2-3 pairs of jeans which may cost from $60-$100 each was such a great investment.  Good jean don’t have to be replaced as often and feel great.

DONTs:

  1. Wear baggy ill fitting clothing
  2. Worry about a tag size - there’s no uniform measurement system so brands vary.  It’s about fit not a number!
  3. Focus on trends - they come and go but style lasts forever.
  4. Over do it - many people overdo patterns or wear a crazy amount of trends all in one outfit.  Simple is always better!  Coco Chanel said before you leave the house look in the mirror and remove one accessory.  It’s a great philosophy.  Look in the mirror and see if you could do with less of anything.
  5. Compare yourself - you are beautiful just as you are and comparing only makes you aware of what you don’t have or who you’re not.  Focus on how beautifully you’re expressing yourself and celebrate yourself as you would someone else you admire!

If you wanting to dive into the fashion world a bit more be sure to check out Lott and Hudson. For more on Francesca and her blog browse through Bloom Daily make sure to follow them on Instagram.

 

Thao's Aesthetic

"If I don't have photography I don't know who I am anymore, it just defines me as a person."

It's rare to meet a young soul with such passion not to mention the bravery it takes to go after it. Someone with a clear picture of their purpose in life and what will make them happy.

In my interview with Alison Thao from Thao's Aesthetic we dive into what makes this young and talented photographer tick. And let me tell you at only 18 years old and in her first year of college both her work, philosophies, and Instagram will have you taking second looks. Shall we say wise beyond her years? Yes, I think so.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY THAT MAKES YOU AS PASSIONATE AS YOU ARE?

I want my whole life to be about photography, it's not just a hobby or a side job, it's more than that. If I don't have photography I don't know who I am anymore it just defines me as a person. I don't know how my life was before I had a camera, before I wasn't shooting. I wouldn't be able to tell you who I was back then. But if you were to ask me about my life after photography I'm able to tell you. It defines me as a person.

 

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATIONS FOR YOUR WORK?

I get some inspiration through Instagram but more from what I'm feeling. You know the emotions I'm feeling. Like if I wanted to do a studio shoot and I'm feeling a certain way I just own that feeling and find the right model to be able to express the emotion. I find the right places to express what I want to show in my photos. You know with me I don't just have one style (of photography) I have multiple styles.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR STATE OF MIND WHEN YOU'RE BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Behind that camera there are a lot of things going on in my mind. I have to think about lighting. If I'm shoot a portrait I have to think about how I want to portray the model. When I'm shooting landscapes I'm a lot happier. My feelings and emotions are a lot happier because shooting landscapes are my favorite type of photography. And when I'm doing my studio work and light those are a bit more darker. So I would say when I'm shooting those my mind is kind of blank.

 

IS THERE A LESSON PHOTOGRAPHY HAS TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LIFE?

Um, it's taught me to express myself more. You know I'm a person that doesn't know how to explain my feelings in words. Back then (before photography) when I was mad I would go and paint and that was my outlet. And with photography I was able to create photos that expressed who I am. And it taught me not to limit myself because you can't put a limit and censorship on art. And that if I think I can do something then I'll do it.

 

IF YOU HAD IT YOUR WAY HOW WOULD THAO'S AESTHETIC LOOK IN THE FUTURE?

I want Thao's Aesthetic to be a place, like I want to open up a studio and have a place where people can come in and learn from each other. Where it's not just a photography business it's like a place where people can come together and share this art. I want to go back into my hometown and open up a studio, have the high school kids come in and use the equipment, and be able to learn more about this art.

 

WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS TRYING TO CHASE AFTER THEIR PASSIONS?

Before all of this I wanted to be a business major and my parents were very proud of me for making that choice. And when I changed it and told them I wanted to major in art and design and have a concentration in photography they were worried because they didn't think I would have a stable future, because it's very competitive in the art field. But I decided I'm going to go full on into photography and dive deep into it. What my advise would be is to do what makes you happy. I know that sounds cliche, everyone says it but it really is true. And ask yourself what do you see yourself doing in five years? You know I can't see myself being in an office all day. So yeah, if you feel it and you're passionate about what you want to do go for it! There shouldn't be anybody stopping you. You don't need permission to do what makes you happy, it's all about you.

 

To see more of Alison Thao's work make sure to check out her website Thao's Aesthetic and her Instagram page.

KaitKat

"We drew up a business plan that day and three days later I (Kait) quit my job and two days after that we got our first client. We kinda feel like we've been shot out of a cannon."

Meet the dynamic duo Kait and Kat better known as KaitKat Creative Content. Bridging the gap between social media and creative content to help cultivate a bad ass social presence for fashion brands. These lovely ladies are dominating their new lives as women entrepreneurs and we got the chance to speak to them as they're riding the high of doing what they love while helping others. Sigh...

To set the stage in a sense, imagine being able to work along side your best friend. You know the person that finishes your sentences, gets what you're saying without even really having to say it, and is pretty much the yin to your yang. That is exactly how Kait and Kat are combined with lots of smiles and good humor.

HOW DID KAITKAT GET STARTED?

KAT: So I was a performer and traveled the world and actually became a photographer while I as living in Japan. And I've been doing it ever since and about 5 or 6 years ago I started specializing in beauty, lifestyle, and music portraiture. Then I ended up meeting Kait in New York. 

KAIT: So my background, I was a ready to wear buyer for Barney's New York for awhile, worked at a few other places and moved out to Los Angeles to become a luxury buyer. And as much as I loved buying I was missing the creative aspect so I started my blog and really started learning about social media and photography. So when brands sent me their look books I would love them and then I would go onto Instagram and look at their following and see that they didn't really have a cohesive message and didn't know what they were really doing. And at the time I was kinda feeling like I wanted to leave buying and I was talking with Kat and she was like...

KAT: I was like you're so good at social media I feel like you could help people do that and elevate them. And then I was like, casually, (laughing) "oh and if they need content you can book me and I'll shoot the content."

KAIT: And I was like okay that could be cool. So one day later I was talking to my brother who is an entrepreneur and he was like "Wait Kait that's a business idea right there. You and Kat social media and creative content." And I was like "Ohhh my gosh." So we created the business plan that day and three days later I quit my job and two days after that we had our first client.

 

YOU LADIES HAVE YOUR INSTAGRAM GAME ON LOCK. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS YOU CAN OFFER FOR BRANDS?

KAIT: Yeah! We always say that Instagram is like your electronic business card. So when someone goes to your page they're only gonna do like two swipes and that's it. So in those two swipes they need to see and understand exactly who you are as a brand and if they don't they are probably on to the next brand. We also say consistency is super important! Instagram has an algorithm that basically means if you aren't posting consistently your followers will have less and less of a chance of seeing your account pop up on their feed. And there are a few ways you can conquer the algorithm and we give way more detail in our meetings with clients but for sure consistency is key aka they need a lot of content.

KAT: So for someone who just wants to dip their toe in the water we do a strategy where we customize and give them recommendations to go after but there are 7 different points we use like how to utilize Insta stories and how that will change the algorithm and how to have a cohesive esthetic. So yeah we have all kinds of tips and we can go on forever. We also offer a class on how to take imagery for Instagram with different shots and angles. That's actually a really good tip too is to not put two similar images next to each other because someone will only engage with one of them.

 

WHAT MAKES KAITKAT WORK SO WELL TOGETHER OTHER THAN BEING FRIENDS?

KAT: I think we always have fun! Full of dancing and laughing and keeping things light and positive.

KAIT: We've had challenges so we've been big on saying, "Okay...we're just gonna keep smiling and it's gonna be okay." And we have a really great team and we recognize when we can't do it all. Which I think is a really huge thing as an entrepreneur. We've definitely come up to road blocks where it's like "okay this is way too much for us two people we need to outsource something."

WHAT'S THE MOST REWARDING AND DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR JOB?

KAIT: Um rewarding I would say at least for me specifically is that this is something that we both love and it's our passions combined into one. And we're working so hard but it's our business we are working so hard at. And we can also form our lives very differently and it's actually really rewarding growing our network of people we know. 

KAT: And my favorite thing in the world and I think it's for Kait too is to be able to employ people. And to let them be able to do the kind of work they want to be doing. So it's great for us to be able to hire influencers and models and build out our team with people that want to work in their field and want to do these kinds of thing. And that we get to create the opportunity. But the difficult part is bar none scheduling! (laughing)

KAIT: Why is it so hard?! (laughing)

KAT: It's hard to juggle but at the same time it's great to be able to make your own schedule.

 

FASHION WEEK IS HERE WHAT ARE YOU TWO LOOKING FORWARD TO?

KAIT: So I'm excited to go because I've always gone as a buyer and this time I'm going with different lenses. It will be different too because we'll be going together. And we're just really excited to be able to meet some new brands and connect with people in New York because we both had lived there and have such a heart for it.

KAT: And I think outside of connecting and meeting brands we'll meet other influencers and just really be apart of the community because we actually don't like it (work) feeling transactual. We want it to be more friendly.

 

To learn more about these lovely ladies and all they can offer be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram.

Prada-G

"You never realize how an outfit can just change someone's mood."

I had the pleasure of speaking to the original Prada-G, aka Germanee Gerald, about fashion and what it means to be a stylist in the tech capital of the world. With her "tell it like it is" personality and spunky sense of humor Prada-G is opening the doors to personal style, both in person and virtually as well as taking on fashion education. Her Sipin' N Style parties, which involves clothes, your girls, learning about what looks good on you, and a couple bottles of wine, she is all about making fashion a little less daunting.

You've styled several different people. What are the things you look at when you first meet a client?

There are several different things I look at when I first get a client because no one client is the same. You have to take into account personality and budget, no one client is the same with budget. I have a client that would spend $150 on jeans but never spend $150 on a swimsuit, or I have clients that every time I see them they spend $1,000. As for personality I'll get Pinterest boards of what my clients say they like. So when I bring them those items they had on their board they end up hating them. So you have to be able to feed through the noise and ask more questions like, what is your lifestyle like, what are you wearing during the week? Then you can tell what they really like out of their Pinterest board and what they will actually wear.

 

What do you think is the hardest part about fashion for people to grasp?

What I've found with a lot of my clients is that it's not so much of the selection process because they choose cute clothes. It's just they always get stuck on having to put two and two together. Or trying to figure out how this one great piece that I wore with this one cute skirt feeds into the rest of my closet. What I would recommend doing is really getting to know yourself and what you feel comfortable wearing. My one big thing for this too would be to invest in key pieces. So like a great pair of jeans or a really good jacket. Knowing yourself and being real with yourself is also very key in personal style. I have to be real with myself all the time. I bought this really cute blazer and I'm like oh my god it's so cute it has fur on the trim. Then it sat in my closet for a month so I had to ask myself okay it's cute but are you going to wear it? I ended up returning it. To help with putting pieces together I would look to blogs, fashion magazines, like InStyle or People Style, or even to certain celebrities that you like to see how they put certain pieces together. 

 

As a stylist what is the most rewarding part of what you do?

I love being able to put a smile on people's faces and make them feel confident about what they are wearing. You never realize how much an outfit can change your mood. Like I could put on an outfit and be having a really bad day but if someone came up to me and was like oh my god you look so nice you instantly get happy. I would really have to say I love the confidence piece like that's the biggest win for me. And the second thing would be being able to do what I love.

 

You're based in San Francisco and we aren't known that well for fashion. How is fashion here different from fashion everywhere else? Or is it different at all?

Oh my god yes it's so different it's so casual I hate it sometimes. (laughing) It's very laid back and hippy-esk but I love that it has it's own little flare and culture. It's very denim based...I'm like obsessed with it but I hate it all at the same time. Because I'm from the south and so growing up it was like dresses and heels all day long. I think my first day I worked at Gap corporate my mom was like you should wear a black dress and your heels and I was like I don't really know. I don't think that's appropriate. And I got to work all dressed up in my black looking really nice and then I saw what everyone else was wearing and I was like oh it's not that kinda party huh...yeah I knew it. But I think it's cool because people don't put a lot of pressure on what they wear but they work hard. I wished they cared a little bit more though.

 

So I know when people think of stylists they think oh wow you get to go shopping all day and that's it. What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a stylist?

The biggest misconception is that people think it's easy! But it's not easy there is a lot of thought that goes into styling someone. It's like being someone's psychologist of style, there's a lot that goes into it and it's multifaceted. It's not just picking cute clothes because I can pick all the cute clothes I want but if my client doesn't like them or it doesn't fit their personality then I've failed as a stylist. That's where I think people get tripped up, they think it's easy when really there are different levels to it.  

 

Fashion week is only a few weeks away is there anything you are looking forward to?

Um you know, of course yes the fashion shows are where it's at and where you get to see the next big thing from each designer. How creative they are, the different concepts, to see the fruits of their labor and I love that part. But the most interesting part for me is the people who are there. And like how dope their outfits are and how creative they are.  So many people in the fashion industry are so different that you can find inspiration from just people on the street. It only helps evolve fashion in it's own. I often get questions about who makes the trend and I always say well people make the trend and it trickles down. It sparks some designers interest and they decide to build their show off of it. Like Kanye West he probably saw some homeless guy and was like oh my god!

 

To find out more about the infamous Prada-G and the different styling she offers check her out at thepradag.com. Keep up with her styling tips, what you should have in your closet, and who she is working with next by following her on Instagram and Facebook