SHE Is Speaker Series: A Conversation with Karen Civil

SHE Is Speaker Series: A Conversation with Karen Civil

On November 16, 2018, SoSheSlays headed to  LA Create Space for the SHE Is Speaker Series: A Conversation with Karen Civil. The SHE Is Speaker Series focused on women in business and how they navigate in a male dominated industry, offering an opportunity for women to expand their careers in an atmosphere of collaboration, support and growth.

The evening started with a networking happy hour. As guests arrived, they were greeted with small bites and good conversation. The panel started soon after and was hosted by broadcast journalist Roqui Theus and featured, Owner of La Create Space, Marisa Johnson, Director of Operations at Octagon Basketball, Tiffany Williams, Snapchat Mobile Release Manager Olamide Olatunji, and Former White House Digital Strategy Intern, Crystal Miller. Each woman shared how their previous experiences guide them in their careers and what lessons they’ve learned.

Host, Roqui Theus, kicked off the conversation by sharing that as a broadcast journalist she faced many stereotypes, but found that by being authentic to herself, she was able to flourish in her male-dominated industry. Roqui shared that people knew what to expect from her and appreciated it. Because she continued to be herself, she could always deliver.

La Create Space owner, Marisa Johnson addressed how women in the workplace can often feel invisible in a male-dominated industry. “I found many of my male counterparts were caught up in their own egos and often could not close the deal we were negotiating. I would find the other woman in the room and we would find a way to make both sides feel heard.

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Beverly Hills Lingerie

Our thoughts are simple: lingerie is powerful, sexy, bold, and empowers the female community in more ways than one.
— Beverly Hills Lingerie

Never thought some satin and lace could hold so much power.

Inspired by the idea that lingerie isn’t just something to be worn in the bedroom but out of it as well, sisters and owners of Beverly Hills Lingerie, Joline and Celine are taking that sexy, confidence lingerie brings and turning it into fun, fashion, streetwear.

So She Slays had a chance to speak with these boss ladies about their business and just what it means to take what we like to wear privately and make it public.

WHY START BEVERLY HILLS LINGERIE?

The message behind Beverly Hills Lingerie is sexy and simple: lingerie is not limited to bedroom or the enjoyment of another. It can be worn with feist, grace, and sheer confidence just for oneself. Females are powerful, graceful, and showrunners. Beverly Hills Lingerie was created because we are two sisters living in the millennial age, and we noticed the gap in the streetwear lingerie industry in reasonably priced, trendy, sexy lingerie. We needed to build a brand for all women alike. Ladies, we run the world.

HOW IS IT WORKING WITH YOUR SISTER?

We are fortunate enough to have different skill sets that truly complement each other. As similar in character as we are, our talents in business vary and we are able to divide roles and turn our business visions into a reality hand in hand. It’s been an absolute privilege to be able to work together and we wouldn’t have done it any other way. Working with a family member can be tricky, but if done properly it can be the most rewarding the fulfilling thing in the world.

I LOVE YOUR TAG LINE, “BEAUTY MAY BE DANGEROUS, BUT LINGERIE IS LETHAL.” WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS BEHIND THAT?

Our thoughts are simple: lingerie is powerful, sexy, bold, and empowers the female community in more ways than one. In society beauty is praised, especially in today’s day and age where the idea of perfection is more sought out than ever before. However, what is even more killer than beauty, is lingerie. Lingerie is lethal because when a woman is in the right fit of lingerie, anything is possible. She has the confidence to rule the society with sass, feist, and grace. And that my friends, is the package of a woman to kill.

WHY DO YOU THINK LINGERIE AS A STREETWEAR FASHION TREND STOOD THE TEST OF TIME?

Sexy never goes out of style. Lingerie is the one fashion staple in every woman’s closet that is sexy, classic, timeless, and soon versatile and stylish thanks to Beverly Hills Lingerie! Keeping up with the innovation and evident style trends, streetwear lingerie is a cross between sexy, classy, and stylish.

HOW DO YOU STYLE YOUR FAVORITE LINGERIE PIECES FOR STREETWEAR?

We style our Feist bralette over our Enigma bralette, and pair it with sexy high waisted jeans and a leather jacket. That is our all time favorite look to slay in. We also love our Temper bodysuit with track pants and heels, or jeans and booties. Our customers like to mix and match and are truly innovative in their styling - we’ve loved learning how they experiment with and style our items! Our main tip is, be experimental, the sexiest. The most effortless looks are created when you least expect it.

YOU HAVE A GREAT COLLECTION OF PIECES. WHICH ARE YOUR FAVORITE?

I wish we could say all! Our collection is so carefully crafted and curated that we are in love with all of our products, but especially our Feist bralette which is our best seller by a landslide. We love Feist because it is our most versatile item. It really embodies our slogan, “lingerie for a night in… or a night out” because it truly is the perfect streetwear or bedroom wear bralette.

SOME WOMEN FIND LINGERIE INTRIGUING BUT ARE INTIMIDATED BY IT. WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND WOMEN DO TO MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A GOOD EXPERIENCE?

Lingerie was created to give confidence. Unfortunately, in today’s world, confidence is greatly lacking yet highly desired. We want to give the old feeling back - lingerie is supposed to make you feel sexy whether it’s for yourself or another, and wearing it out can aid in bringing back the vintage confidence. Trendy, stylish, and affordable lingerie is hard to find, making all other lingerie brands intimidating. Quality lingerie is important in your experience because you want to feel as high quality as what you’re in.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT LINGERIE THAT MAKES WOMEN FEEL POWERFUL?

A whole wardrobe devoted to sexiness screams power. Not only because it was made to allure men, but because lingerie is simply glamorous. It is universally known as attractive. Throwing on something that you know is generally appealing makes you feel that confidence on the inside as well. Ultimately, it is designed to give power, sensuality, and femininity. The goal is, after all, to impress yourself ladies.

WHAT MAKES BEVERLY HILLS LINGERIE DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?

Beverly Hills Lingerie markets itself as a “streetwear” lingerie brand. We pride ourselves on our trendy yet classy, and timeless pieces carefully curated to wear in or out, at reasonable prices. We also strive to be authentic and genuine on all platforms as we want all our customers, followers, and fans to see the two sisters behind the brand, humanizing the brand.

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

Oh baby do we SLAY! Females are strong, sexy, captivating, and extraordinary human beings. We slay everyday by empowering all ladies around us, every space, every time. We truly are all superwoman - we do it all. Our everyday includes meetings, interviews, design meetings, inventory meetings, etc. It really depends what we have going on and when. For example, our pop-up last week was so overwhelming and we had to put all our focus into that for a couple days. Whether it be at pilates, in meetings, or at a photoshoot, we founders try to slay in everything we do!

Check out more of the beautiful lingerie pieces Beverly Hill Lingerie has to offer and ideas on how to style them by following them on Insta!

BOOBIES & NOOBIES

It amazes me that in 2018, we’ve had shows like Girls and Sex and the City and Orange is the New Black, all of which feature sex and female sexuality so prominently, yet we still feel the need to shield a book cover, just because it features a woman’s heaving bosoms.
— Kelly Reynolds - Boobies & Noobies Podcast
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Here to challenge the views of what seems to be the majority comes a new, hilarious, and overtly honest podcast dedicated to the ever so “naughty” literary genera of romance novels. Boobies & Noobies challenges the not so seasoned, aka I’ve never read a romance novel in my life, to open their minds to this unexplained taboo section of books and just give it a go, if it is for one time.

Creator and host of Boobies & Noobies, Kelly Reynolds, sat down with us to talk about her show, it’s hilarity, and why she feels there is no reason to be ashamed of the genre.

SO TELL US ABUT BOOBIES & NOOBIES, HOW DID IT COME TO BE?

Boobies & Noobies is, more than anything, a passion project! I launched the podcast this summer in Los Angeles, though I've taken the show on the road to Chicago and San Francisco, too, and I'm happy to say that we've recorded 17 episodes since June. I wish I could say there was a specific moment, something memorable that sparked the idea for a podcast, but truthfully, it just came to be. I've been a romance reader for years and, for years, I've endured great judgment, sarcasm, and side eye from my friends, all because of my taste in literature. I became a fan of podcasts more recently while living in Chicago and enduring the daily commute via public transportation. I figured why not put together two of my favorite things...with a slight twist. On every episode of Boobies & Noobies, I ask a novice romance reader (or two) to read and review a romance novel with me. Think of it as payback for all those years of judgment. 

HOW DO YOU PICK WHAT BOOKS TO READ FOR THE PODCAST?

The book selection process definitely varies! I always asks my guests if there's something in particular they're interested in reading. This may shock a lot of people, but romance has so many sub-genres: paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc. Then there are sub-sub-genres: pirates, shifter/werewolves, motorcycle club, etc. Plus the graphic nature of romance varies as well; I'm not looking to make anyone (too) uncomfortable. That being said, if they're up for anything, then all bets are off! There's a HUGE novelist/reader/book blogging community on Twitter and Instagram, so I grab a lot of great ideas from there. Also, while I try to select books that I haven't read beforehand, I do fall back on authors I've read and enjoyed in the past. That way, I know that what we're going to read will most likely be good (though, not always). 


HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTO ROMANCE NOVELS?

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I can remember the very first romance novel I read and when I read it. The book was I'm in No Mood for Love by Rachel Gibson and I read it during winter break, freshman year of college. I was actually never much of a reader growing up, so I can't really say what prompted me to pick up a romance, but I'm glad I did. My mom has been an avid romance reader for years - she and my grandma are always swapping books - and this was one of hers. It was the perfect blend of romance, comedy, and "naughty bits" that every nineteen-year-old secretly wants to read, but is ashamed to ask for. After that, I was hooked! Here we are, nearly ten years later, and I eat romance novels like candy...and then I share that candy with my mom and grandma. 

WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF CREATING BOOBIES & NOOBIES?

That's got to be the actual podcast recording! Everyone has been so enthusiastic about the process, especially considering the environment in which we work. I mean, this is a low-to-no budget operation, we record at my dining room table in Los Angeles, most of the guests are friends and co-workers...you get the picture. This podcast could not exist without the wonderful folks that show up every Saturday to sit down and talk erotica with me, free of charge. And more often than not, we have a BLAST! You can hear it in the episodes - the laughing, the hi-jinx, etc. It's not work (though a lot of work goes into the planning and editing). The recording process itself is all about having fun, which is why I love it so much.  


WHY DO YOU THINK THEY GET SUCH A BAD WRAP?

That's a great question, but it's also one that punches my buttons. It amazes me that in 2018, we've had shows like Girls and Sex and the City and Orange is the New Black, all of which feature sex and female sexuality so prominently, yet we still feel the need to shield a book cover, just because it features a woman's heaving bosoms. The book covers may have changed since the days of Fabio, but for some reason, our attitude towards them has not. If you listen to the podcast, you'll hear several of my guests describe romance as "written porn", but it's so much more than that. Romance novels have strong characters, engaging plot lines, and story arcs, like any other novel. Sure, some of them are better than others, but the same can be said about any genre. That's definitely one of my goals with this podcast: to demystify the genre and reclaim the genre in a positive light. 

ARE ROMANCE NOVELS YOUR FAVORITE GENRE?

Abso-freaking-lutely. I think it also goes back to the fact that I'm also a screenwriter and my genre of choice is and always has been, romantic comedy (I'm talking way before Netflix jumped on the romcom bandwagon, though I'm loving that romcoms are on the rise again). Some of my favorites include Irresistible You by Kate Meader (which we read for the podcast), Too Much Temptation by Lori Foster, Vincent by Sarah Brianne, and Drumline by Stacy Kestwick. I tend to gravitate more towards contemporary romance, as I find it much easier to relate to than say a historical novel, though I'm a sucker for anything by Lisa Kleypas. Moreover, romances that feature strong, self-sufficient women and slightly aggressive, yet witty gentleman suitors are my faves. I like a good woman that puts her man in his place! 


HOW CAN PEOPLE BE MORE OPEN MINDED WHEN IT COMES TO ROMANCE NOVELS?

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I am a firm believer in the "try everything thrice" mentality. For example, every time a new season of American Horror Story comes out, I always watch at least three episodes before giving up. Sometimes I even make it to six. Are you going to know that you love and/or hate the romance novel genre after reading one book? Absolutely not. One book does not define an entire genre. I'd recommend that new romance readers explore the genre and find something that they can connect with. Do you fantasize about pirates? Fabulous - grab a Kat Martin swashbuckling romance. Find motorcycle men hunky? Perfect - check out the Regulators series by Chelsea Camaron & Jessie Lane (it's very Sons of Anarchy). There's a little something for everyone - all it takes is a quick Amazon search.

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

I SLAY by staying busy 24/7. Whether I'm writing, reading, teaching, or what have you, I look at every opportunity as just that: an opportunity. It helps that I love the work I do, because then it doesn't feel like work. Do I make barrels of cash doing it? Absolutely not. Do I have an awesome time and meet a lot of amazing people? Heck yes. And at this point in my life, I value that so much more than any amount of money. 


You can find Boobies & Noobies across most of the popular podcast platforms such as, iTunes, Podbean, Stitcher, and Spotify. Make sure to stay updated with new episodes and adventures through Twitter and Instagram.

The Lightbulb Moment That Taught Me To Navigate Career And Motherhood

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The Lightbulb Moment

After I had my first child, I moved away from being a Director for one global public relations firm and responded to a very flattering pursuit to join a smaller firm I had enjoyed consulting for.  

For me, joining them was very intentional.  I openly traded my experience and skillset for a three-day week, doing a lesser role to protect time for what mattered most - mothering.  

In a meeting soon after, I heard the words that changed my life.  

“We’ve bought you - mind, body and soul”.  

We all want a lightbulb moment, and I’ll never forget mine!  

Time stopped, and my own heartbeat was all I could hear as my boss carried on talking.

Hearing those words triggered absolute clarity for me about what makes life meaningful – and how different that was to chasing hits of happiness in a career that felt out of date … even if it made lots of money.

The Search 

I had been so career-driven before children, I felt I was sacrificing mattering for mothering as I made my next moves.  

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I knew it was important to seize the moment and change my life

but didn’t know how

Life became a ripple effect of change after change, as I struggled to work it out.  I still remember my surprised husband’s face as I babbled on about a barn conversion in the countryside (his longstanding dream was to leave our carefully restored Edwardian London home - it hadn’t been mine!).  



That wasn’t enough.  Next, we moved to the US – with our youngest, a babe-in-arms.  Not easy at first.

It felt like being dropped in a sunny American TV series – with the white picket fences and lots of smiles – but without the script.

I quickly grew a network.  I wrote a book with one friend, helped another with marketing plans and worked with a charity.  Nothing felt like the change I craved.

Years later, on moving back to London, I tried all over again to make what was utterly incompatible have synergy! I boomeranged back to an old boss.  

I couldn’t have been more shocked walking onto the floor if I had travelled there in a time machine.  My stomach physically lurched as I contorted myself back into those old deadline-fuelled ways.

The Breakthrough: 

Ultimately, I got ill.  

As I stood in front of an x-ray machine having my lungs checked, I made the decision to shake off ‘career 1’ and finally did it.

I’ll admit, I felt defeated – and spent my days feeling like I was running on empty - except when I was busy with the children (by now at school all day!).  It was dangerously one-dimensional, but I finally engaged with the hard stuff.

Sitting at our kitchen island having an ordinary chat one evening, my husband said something extraordinary - ‘just do something different’.  It felt like a green light flashed on and urged me to ‘go, go, go’!

Within days, I completed an application for a psychology degree I fancied at a nearby university.  

Easy to apply, shocking to be accepted and hard to do!  But I felt alive for the first time in years.

My efforts were well rewarded with first-class honours, an energy ‘reset’ and the fresh career ladder I wanted so badly.

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The Career Comeback:

I had found coaching and subsequently completed a (rigorous!) training programme with the world’s largest coach training institute – CTi. 

Now, my psychology knowledge underpins my coaching.  I love that my commercial edges and marketing savvy often get brought into the mix in service of my clients’ business aspirations and know the integration is a powerful one.  

I passionately believe we only get to feel as alive and aligned as I do today, if we shape work we love around the life we want to lead, and I feel compelled to help others achieve the same for themselves, whatever their career crossroads may be.

Storytelling 

Some psychologists believe we are authors of our own lives - writing stories that unfold like chapters in a book as we react to the things that happen in our life.

If you have ever got to a career cliff-hanger like mine, here’s a very clever process to help you write your next career chapter.  

The 4-Step Story Framework

My story could be called – From Career to Motherhood and Back Again. You can use the same 4 steps to think through the chapters of your career so far and brainstorm your next chapter.

Step 1:  The Lightbulb Moment

Describe what this scene looked like for you. Imagine you are briefing your illustrator and be specific about the moment in your story where you finally decide to make a change.  

Step 2:  The Search

Talk about all the things you have tried but didn’t work out well.  Remember, authors who help you see your characters vulnerability are the best.  Be vulnerable when you write about your failures. With awareness, these feelings can become a compass guiding you as you make plans and strive to feel aligned and alive.

Step 3:  The Breakthrough

What would make a difference now?  This chapter needs to tell the story of what life could be like when you finally get what you want.

Step 4:  The Career Come-Back

At this point you will have illustrated the story from where you are now to where you want to go.  Now write about why.  What is most important to you here.  

This will remind you why you must move though any reservations and make this important career change happen.  Even when your next steps feel disruptive.

In some ways my story represents the ‘hard way’ of doing things.  Part of why I now coach, is because I want to save others from what I call my Lost Years.  

My question for you is this:

how much longer do you want to wait to be doing work you love?

Because each day you stay stuck at your career crossroads, you’re missing out on living the life you actually want.  

So, if you’ve been putting off investing in support, or if what you’ve tried on your own hasn’t made change happen, I want you to apply for a clarity conversation with me.

Click here to apply for your clarity conversation.  

If it looks like we may be a fit, I’ll send you right to my calendar.  
And either way, I’ll send you a short PDF guide of the 4-Step Story Framework with prompts and tips to make writing your next career chapter easier.  

Talk soon.  Best Helen 

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A Little Taeste

I want to provide honest and genuine information for people who are looking to achieve their fitness goals. Because when I was starting out in fitness it was very difficult to find and sort through all the fake information on the internet, especially on Instagram.
— Tae-León

Sharing authentic fitness, nutrition, and workout advise has caused Tae-León and her blog A Little Taste, to essentially blow up over night. Armed with a passion for fitness A Little Taste relaunched in 2018 and now has a following of 31k on Instagram!

Diagnosed with a rare blood cancer at the age of 9, Tae, knows what it’s like to feel as if her body and health were not her own to control. Having known this feeling she is grateful she can now live her life and nourish her body through fitness the way she wants.

We had a chance to catch up with Tae and get some tips on how she manages and keeps up her healthy lifestyle.

SO WHAT STARTED YOUR PASSION FOR FITNESS?

So I’ve always been an athlete my entire life. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I really got into fitness and wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. It started when I purchased a program that I of course saw on Instagram, and I really wanted to challenge myself and see if what everyone was saying about lifting weights was true. And I’m very big on trying things myself because it’s the only way I can prove if something works or not. So I was like, “Okay, I’ll spend the money and try it out.” So I did it for 16 weeks, stuck to the plan day in and day out, and I was like, “Wow this lifestyle is incredible.” Like I looked and felt better, I felt stronger, and I was like how have I not been doing this before? So then after that it kept going and then I started designing my own workout program because that other program was too easy for me. I started doing research and setting goals and that how I got to where I am today.

WHAT ARE THE TOP MYTHS YOU FIND PEOPLE BUY INTO THE MOST?

The main one is that lifting weights will make females super, super bulky. I think that is what kept me away from weights for such a long time. There is just this common thought that if you touch a weight, 10lb to 15lb, you’re gonna suddenly gain the hulk muscles. That is a big myth I tired to dispel on my page. Because once I tried lifting weights and I tried it I saw that it actually took me towards what I want to look like not what this hulk image everyone seems to have.

WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU’VE FOUND WHEN YOU WERE WEEDING THROUGH ALL THIS FITNESS INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET?

You know I knew absolutely nothing about nutrition, which is SO, SO IMPORTANT! When I was first starting out I purchased a workout program and it basically said lift weights three times a week and try to eat a protein bar afterwards. So I had no idea how muscle gain interacts with nutrition and the way your body looks is directly tied to the amount of calories you’re eating. Then the break down of those calories into proteins, carbs, and fats. It wasn’t “surprising” for me to learn because I am a biology major, but it was kind of like WOW this could’ve saved me so much time in the beginning had I just known.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUICK NUTRITION TIPS?

Yes! My quicks tips are actually pretty simple. If you’re looking to lose weight you need to be in a caloric deficit, which means you are eating fewer calories than you are burning through exercise. Then the opposite, being if you’re looking to gain weight or gain muscle, you need to be in a surplus of what you are burning through exercise so that extra caloric intake can be allocated towards muscle growth.

WHAT FITNESS QUESTIONS DO YOU GET MESSAGED ABOUT THE MOST?

I get a lot of questions about what to eat daily, how are you suppose to know what’s healthy or not and how many calories to be taking in? And that is one of the reasons why I post every single meal I eat on my page in my nutrition highlights so that I can show people what works for me. Obviously everyone is different but hopefully my meals can get your thinking about some things you can eat. That’s a really common one that is hard to answer.

WHAT ARE SOME HEALTHY SNACKS THAT YOU GO TO?

Fruit is definitely on there, I absolutely love fruit. Protein bars, kale chips, hard boiled eggs, air popped popcorn, any sort of fruit with a nut butter like apples and peanut butter, but I’m actually picky which makes things difficult. Like I’m anti hummus, which I feel would be very convenient to like, but I don’t do hummus, and oddly enough I don’t do yogurts either. A lot of vegetables I unfortunately don’t like so it doesn’t leave much for me to eat but I do manage.

WHAT’S IN THE FUTURE FOR A LITTLE TASESTE?

You know I haven’t thought that much about it. I just want to be able to reach and help as many people as possible on their fitness journey. I find that I get a lot of messages asking the same things about workout programs so I found the easiest way to help as many people as possible is to consolidate all of that information in a resource that can be widely distributed to everyone. So I think workout programs will be a thing that I do a lot of since I can’t always answer every message but with this then everyone can have a little taste and I be able to reach and help a lot of people.

DESCRIBE HOW YOU SLAY.

I slay by being fearless, by attacking my goals every single day, by staying positive and optimistic, and by not letting anything hold me back.

To see Tae’s latest workout and nutrition tips make sure to follow her on Instagram and check out all her posts on A Little Taste.

Sainted

I’ve attached myself to one vision: fit as much dope shit as I can into this single lifetime, and remember to practice love & compassion (on others AND myself) in the process.
— Kristin

Back with fresh faces, and bright eyes, Jill and Kristin, are returning to the blogging world with their newly relaunched site Sainted. This sister duo may have taken some time to re energize and refocus but they are here and ready to give their readers and online thrifty customers some unfiltered advise and timeless pieces.

They will be the first ones to tell you that running a blog and a business isn't always easy but when done together the product is everything they could hope for.

So what can you expected with their comeback? Well, we've got the details.

 

LET'S TALK THE NEWLY RELAUNCHED SAINTED. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT? ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES? 

JILL: When we first launched Sainted, we had high hopes of creating a brand that would eventually lead up to opening a store front. It turns out it isn't that easy when you have a full time job, you're teaching yoga on the side and have a puppy.. who knew?! While I love curating our shop to fit our brand aesthetic, I have more fun blogging and having a platform where I can freely write about anything I want. Our brand will continue to translate the same but instead of having the shop be the main focal point, I'm going to turn my attention to the blogging aspect. My sister will still represent her voice on the blog but I will take the lead on it. Of course, if either of us are out thrifting and find something that's v Sainted, you best believe it'll be up on the shop!

KRISTIN: No difference other than we will definitely be more consistent with output :~) My sister is taking the lead on blogging and social media. The idea of discovering and sharing is and has always has been Sainted's biggest priority. We're always on the hunt and want a space to be able to share our discoveries, whether it be fashion related, beauty related, art, travel, etc.

 

YOU BOTH TOOK A LITTLE OVER A YEAR OFF IN WHICH YOU'VE DONE SO MUCH. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR HIATUS. 

KRISTIN: Last summer, I left a dead-end job and went back to school for design. It was something that had been weighing on me for a while, and eventually I decided that there was no "right time" for anything and just took the plunge. It proved to be worth it, but it was a lot.. In addition to going back to school and pivoting careers, I was also in the middle of working on another full-length record with my band NAVVI. The process of creating is such a necessary part of my existence, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't take an emotional toll on me. I was carrying a lot in my head and in my heart ... and needed to carve out space and time to heal. It's was an insane year, but necessary. 

JILL: My sister did the absolute most, not me! Haha. Nahhh to be quite honest, my sister and I had a lot going on to begin with before we first launched Sainted. We were both in a creative slump and were finding different outlets to exercise our creativity. Hence, her quitting her job and going back to school and me becoming a yoga instructor on a whim. Haha. When we were in the thick of all of our activities, Sainted was left in the back burner and we decided that the timing of it wasn't right given our circumstances. The hiatus was good for the both of us on so many different levels. It made me realize that I loved writing about random shit and sharing it with people. So we decided to change the direction of Sainted a little bit and here we are.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT CREATING SAINTED?

KRISTIN: I love working with my sister. We've always been close, but having Sainted has definitely brought us closer. It's been very interesting discovering new places where we overlap, and also places where we differ. I will say that Sainted brings out the inner child in the both of us and it's been great to see our combined imaginations and efforts pay off.

JILLAw, I agree. I think it's pretty rad working side by side with my sister. Although we are complete opposites, we found common ground when it came to building the brand aesthetic for Sainted. I think it really incorporates both of our individual styles, which is surprising considering we are literally on opposite spectrum when it comes to our personalities and how we dress. Also, it's nice working with someone I have no shame around haha. I can text her at any time of the day and be like 'YO GO PROOFREAD MY DRAFT POST' and when I know she read my text because she has her read receipts on, I have no qualms playing the annoying little sister role and asking her to answer my question ASAP. Isn't that what we're here for? Haha.

 

FASHION PLAYS A BIG PART WITH BOTH OF YOU. WHAT IS THE OUTFIT YOU WEAR THAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN DO ANYTHING?

JILL: Is it weird I feel the most powerful wearing pink? Because they're the newest addition in my closet, I would say anytime I can put on my pink I Am Gia Cobain pants, I feel powerful AF. I like how it looks all cute and pure because it's cotton candy pink but the chain detail adds a little edge to it. It's like Snowball from Secret Life of Pets! I hope people understand that reference. Haha.

KRISTIN: Every time I wear my pair of Dries boots, I feel like I can power stomp my way through anything & everything.

 

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN ONLINE STORE?

KRISTIN: Our store is secondary to our blog, but I will say that the hardest part is... not keeping everything we find for ourselves ! It's always so tempting :~)

JILL: Agreed. It's not easy having to let go of amazing pieces you find but I guess that's when you know it's good is if you want to keep it, right? 

 

TO YOU, WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT A PIECE OF CLOTHING OR AN ACCESSORY?

KRISTIN: If it feels familiar, like I've seen it in a dream or vision something, then it probably belongs on Sainted. I have this idea of what my ideal world would look like in my head; how the people I love behave, what they would be wearing, where they would be living, etc. It's an entire world that's my own... and everything I do in this lifetime (including Sainted) is just a way to get closer to it. If I can see it in this world that I've created, then it belongs on Sainted.

JILL: Damn, don't know how I can beat my sister's poignant response. So I'll keep it simple.. if I like it, then it goes up on the site.

 

NAME ONE THING EVERY WOMAN SHOULD HAVE IN THEIR CLOSET.

JILL: Nice, quality hangers said the Virgo. It brings me peace knowing the clothes I'm spending money on are being stored properly that help prolong their existence. Yes, even the Forever 21 styles deserve to be hung on a nice hanger!

KRISTIN: I think everyone should own a large, badass bag that fits everything in it. My choice would be the KOZHA NUMBERS SAFE bag. I can fit my entire life in this bag. I feel like a modern day Mary Poppins whenever I wear it.

 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE SAINTED BRINGS TO THE BLOGGING WORLD?

KRISTIN: I mentioned it earlier, but sharing has always been Sainted's biggest priority. Jill and I are always discovering, and our hope is to create a space to be able to share our finds. We want our readers to be able to trust us and our vibe, and to share in our discoveries.

JILL: Yeah, my sister hit the nail on the head. To add on to that, it's nice to disrupt how blogging is normally portrayed. I hope our audience finds Sainted to be a space of realness. I love when people tell me they can really here my voice when they're reading my posts. At the end of the day, we're just two girls talking about what we like or don't like. We want to keep the dialogue open for those who read our blog.  

 

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

JILL: I feel like I try to fit Gore Vidal's quote, 'Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn' in every aspect of my life. At the end of the day, you gotta do you boo boo without the expense of worrying about what people might think. If you want to wear sunglasses indoors because it goes with your outfit, DO IT. 

KRISTIN: I've attached myself to one vision: fit as much dope shit as I can into this single lifetime, and remember to practice love & compassion (on others AND myself) in the process.

 

Follow Sainted on Instagram to see their latest beauty and style advise, make sure to check out the Sainted Shop as well!

Teela B

I believe that your vision for your life is essentially your empire.
— Teela B

A model, actress, motivational speaker, radio personality and now crowned Beauty Queen, Teela B is well on her way to creating an empire she's always wanted. Blessed with many talents this powerhouse of a woman is taking her dreams and turning them into a legacy that will be left for future generations. 

As a child in Baltimore, Teela B was a true fashionista, leading her to having a career in retail and then to styling thousands of people. Always feeling like she was meant for greater, Teela B picked up the book Instincs by T. B. Jakes and discovered her calling, a career in modeling, acting, and to ultimately become an entrepreneur. Since then Teela B has been modeling in magazines, acting in films, plays, commercials, and web series all while working towards creating her vision.

We had the chance to speak to Teela B about what makes and what it takes to create an empire.

 

LETS TALK ABOUT THIS EMPIRE YOU'RE BUILDING!

First I would like to thank you for the opportunity to talk about myself, my brand and share my  thoughts on your awesome platform.

My, I Am Teela B, brand encompasses all of my talents with a foundation of inspiration. Growing up in the rough streets of Baltimore City within an impoverished, troubled family, I've had more than my fair share of woes and adversity. I display the story of my life from coming from the gutter to knocking down mountains and achieving goals and dreams I thought were once impossible. This exemplifies to young girls and women of all ages and walks of life that no matter what challenges life brings, you can always be a Survivor, not a Victim.

 

BUT BUILDING SOMETHING OF THIS MAGNITUDE HAS TO BE OVERWHELMING.

The hardest part of building an empire is to whole heatedly know that you can achieve and deserve to have whatever you envision your empire to be. The thought of building an  empire may be overwhelming to many. I believe that your vision for your life is essentially your empire. Whatever that looks like to you. It doesn't have to be star studded, expensive trips, lush mansions with caviar every night.

Once you have your vision for your life, and you have Faith that it will happen, I believe that everything else will fall into place. And when you look up, you will be building your empire.

 

SO WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO BUILDING OUR OWN EMPIRE?

  1. Take time to get to know yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses. If you could do something every day for the rest of your life, and enjoy doing it and possibly get paid to do it, what would that thing be? This is the start to your vision. 
  2. Have faith that your vision will come to fruition
  3. Set realistic goals and aspirations that will help you make your vision a reality
  4. Work on your craft every day. That could be reading materials on your craft, working on one of your goals, researching for your next move. It doesn't have to be a grand venture. Sometimes the smallest tasks move along the biggest projects. 
  5. Surround yourself with like minded individuals who have the same interests as you. 

 

WE ARE IN THE MIST OF A FEMALE REVOLUTION. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT AND WHAT SHOULD BE DOING TO KEEP IT ALIVE?

I am so excited that we are in a female revolution! I bought a shirt from a retailer that says, "Future is for Girls". When I saw it, I just had to have it. Because of the history in our country of women being second class citizens, I believe that the coming together of women is very important. As an up and coming female  entertainer, I have to make sure that I am an example to other women that we are just as important to the world as our male counterparts.

A piece of advice I would give to women to inspire them to keep the movement alive it to think about those who have come before us. We must pay homage to those women who have gone through the fire and the flood to make it possible for us, in this generation to be able to express ourselves openly and honestly. We must also take a moment to understand that the choices we make will affect other women to come. We must be proud of where we are as women in this generation and exalt the female leaders who will soon look upon us as the generation that paved the way for them. I believe that this is the ultimate circle of sisterhood. 

 

WHAT'S IN THE FUTURE FOR TEELA B?

Actually one of my goals that was once a future goal is now a check on my goal sheet. I will be crowned as the 2018-2019 Newsome Awards World Beauty Queen. It was a dream that I've had since a child and I am so honored and blessed to be given such a title. Some other future goals is to make my I Am Teela B Inc brand a household name, start a boys and girls mentoring program in Baltimore, be booked on a National syndicated television show, and be booked for a Blockbuster film.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.

I Slay Daily by waking every God-given morning by saying a prayer for myself, my loved ones and those I will encounter in the day. That I am aware of those who may need a positive lift with a smile or a word. By walking with confidence knowing that I am Great but still a work in progress. And at the end of the day telling myself, "job well done Teela B. God willing, tomorrow we will have another opportunity to help change the world."

 

Follow Teela B on her Instagram to stay in touch with this inspirational woman.

So She Slays + Bomb AF Collab

For as long as I can remember taking a bath has been my escape from the world.

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I loved baths as a child. Well, not enough to want to come in from playing outside. When my mom finally called me in and got me into a warm bath filled with all my favorite toys, I was a happy camper. I remember fondly struggling to stay still while my mom washed my hair. I would play in the tub until all of my fingers and toes were pruney. Negotiating 5 more minutes of bath time long after my water had started to chill

As an adult, I find myself in the bathtub more days than I am not. Long stressful day? Take a bath. Great day full of joy? Take a bath. A roommate of mine used to tease me that she always knew how my day went if I was eating dinner in the bathtub - that meant it had been a particularly tough day. On tough days, combining my love for food and love of a bth is an absolute must to beat the stress of the day.
 

How Bomb AF was Born

People say necessity is the mother of all invention, which is definitely applicable to my story. A few years back, I started creating my own bath products after several failed attempts to use what was readily available to the market. I even had some custom made for my sensitive skin and vagina, but it didn’t matter what I tried. I always left the tub with the beginnings of an infection. I had had enough. I began making my own bath products where I could guarantee pure, organic ingredients that were gentle enough for my sensitive body. Once I perfected my recipes, I got to thinking that other people might also like these products. And that is how Bomb AF was born.

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Products focused on and marketed to women are aplenty. But if we look across the female-centric landscape, we find a plethora of options that are largely about someone’s bottom line and not about the actual end consumer or user experience, nor are product offerings in line with what women have asked for or demanded. Women, with significant purchasing power as individuals and within the family unit, are marketed to for the sales potential. But what are these ‘for her’ products amounting to when it comes to designing products for humans with vaginas? In today’s world, the word ‘woman’ is certainly not synonymous with ‘humans with vaginas’. Yet, when we examine traditional marketing tactics, that is most certainly what ‘for her’ and ’woman friendly’ is intended to mean when slapped on a product label – “this product is designed for humans with vaginas”. But in most cases, the end product is nothing more than fancy marketing speak.

 

A Better Bath Bomb Experience

Bomb AF bath bombs are made with USDA Certified Organic oils and flower petals, natural baking soda, pure epsom and Himalayan Pink Salt.  Bomb AF is vegan, non-GMO, contains no dyes, no perfumes, no animals are tested on in the creation of this product, and each product comes with a full listing of ingredients. Each product also comes with a full ingredients listing and suggested use for the woman looking for a curated bath experience.  

When it came time to name my bath company, I knew exactly what type of branding I wanted the name to embody. One of my favorite things to say is,

“My hobbies include writing, reading, and telling other women they are Bomb AF”

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Bath bombs specifically made to be vagina friendly; Bomb AF was an easy decision to make. The marketing practically writes itself. When I market what I market, I mean it. I made this product with a laser focus on creating a bath product that would be great for us.

Are you Ready for a Better Bath Experience?

For the month of August 2018, enjoy 15% off your order from www.jazmineduke.com using the code SOSHESLAYS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.