How I Conquered New York Fashion Week in 2 Days

“I’m living my best life…”

Indulging Life

My latest living spree was my very first New York Fashion Week experience. I was only in NYC for a weekend getaway so naturally, I crammed a ton of things into 2 days! But, that’s what a living spree is all about—indulging life no matter what. For over 6 years, participating in NYFW was a bucket list dream of mine.  However, I always came up with an excuse not to attend—I’m not qualified to be there; I have to work; I am not prepared, etc. This year, I refused to get in my own way again and I finally took that leap of faith! This blog will cover some specifics of the fashion, but I would like to focus more on the experience I had in hopes of inspiring you to take a leap and do something you’ve always wanted to do as well. You never know the outcome unless you try!

Top: SHIFT StyleHouse | Skirt: Marshall’s (old $7) | Booties: Steve Madden “Wagner” | Handbag: Kisa Kisa

Fueling My Creativity

NYC is pure magic and is always a source of inspiration and entertainment for me. Although I’m from the South, I’ve always loved the hustle and bustle of the city. Maybe it’s the tall skyscrapers and city scape that make me feel fearless or maybe it’s the creativity that I see simply by people watching. Whatever it is, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I wanted to enjoy the city and some of the entertainment and sights on the first day in order to maximize my time and also my experience. I dedicated day 1 of my living spree to exploring the city.

Rose Mansion was the first stop on the agenda for Saturday. Rose Mansion is a traveling museum dedicated to the history and making of rosé. It’s also every blogger’s dream because it’s filled with tons of boomerang and photo ops—a “content” castle if you will! While walking through the rooms of the museum, we sampled 10 different rosé from all over the world while learning the history of this classic beverage. Although Rose Mansion had nothing to do with fashion week, it was an awesome way to get my “creative juices flowing” (pun intended lol)!

(Enjoying Rose Mansion with Friends Shyla and Danielle!)

(Final sample of the day: Sway Rose’ from Texas)

Next stop was Dumbo Brooklyn to experience the infamous Washington Street—everyone’s favorite street for a photo op. This location is popular because of its corridor-like view of the Manhattan Bridge. As you walk closer to the bridge to the end of the street, there is a spectacular view of the East River. I’m always searching for a breathtaking view when I travel and this spot definitely lived up to the hype!

Top: Thrifted | Pants: ModChic Couture | Metallic Pumps: Zara | Tassle Earrings: Ch0ked

Essence Street Style

After exploring the city on Saturday and catching up with friends, I finally got to the nitty gritty of my NY fashion weekend experience on Sunday. First stop—Essence Street Style. “Street Style” began as a section of Essence magazine and has since evolved into a block party and staple of NYFW.  Hundreds gather in fabulous “street style” fashion to celebrate black culture, community and style. When you look around, everyone was dressed to the nines and photoshoot ready. I was beaming from ear to ear and taking notes at the same time ☺

Top: Thrifted shirt tied into bandeau | Pants: House of Chic L.A. | Wedges: LolaShoetique

There were numerous black-owned vendors at the block party, so I did what I do best—shop!  My first purchase of the day was a stunning gold choker. I had been looking for a statement a piece just like it, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally find it! I also had a chance to see the new Lebron James limited edition women’s sneaker, which is the result of a collaboration spearheaded by incredible black women designers and a partnership between Nike and Harlem’s Fashion Row (“HFR”), a movement founded to increase diversity in fashion. It was great to see the shoes in person and also to learn about their ground-breaking significance, especially given that the shoes sold out in little over 5 minutes after they launched earlier that week.

(Ran into Houston Beauty Guru and Founder of Lamik Cosmetics, Kim Roxie)

(Lebron James Women’s Sneaker)

My First Fashion Show

After spending less than 30 minutes at Essence Street Style Festival, I hopped in a Lyft and rode from Brooklyn back to Manhattan to attend my first fashion show. I was beyond excited! Not only was this the first real fashion show I had ever attended, but it was definitely my first time attending as press and receiving a media pass! Back in May, I attended an event in Houston titled “A Girl’s Guide to NYFW” in collaboration with handbag designer Elizabeth (“Beth”) Purpich. At the end of the event, Beth announced that she would be showcasing her designs at NYFW and passed out invitations to all attendees at the event! I was so excited and at that moment, I made the decision that I would attend my very first fashion show since the opportunity presented itself. I kept in contact with Beth via email and she offered me a VIP/Press pass and an opportunity to interview her prior to the show. I was honored and elated!

(Pictured with designers Elizabeth Purpich and Veronica Purpich)

During the Cesar x Beth Fashion Show, Beth showcased her handbags in collaboration with the clothing designs of Cesar Galindo. I was so honored to attend and support designers who are both from Houston. The show boasted a colorful mix of zebra prints, sequins, and florals all with an “Afro punk” vibe. I LOVED almost everything the designers sent down the runway and would definitely wear some of the outfits personally. I think most of us millennials are looking toward Africa for fashion inspiration and creativity, so the designs felt timely and on point.

The Interview with designer, Elizabeth Purpich

The highlight of the night was my interview with Beth and her sister-in-law Veronica. This was so special to me not only because it was my first interview experience, but also because I learned that Beth is on a living spree herself! During the interview, Beth noted that she is a self-taught designer, whose vision for creating handbags came to her in a dream. She brought that vision to life in the form of the now popular “Longhorn” handbag. This was the catalyst to her starting a one-of-a-kind designer handbag line. Prior to releasing her first line, she had no prior experience in fashion or design.  She simply followed her dream and the rest is history. Five years later, the Elizabeth Purpich collection is not only a successful handbag collection in Texas, but all over the country. Beth’s living spree is pursuing her dream through embracing her creativity and embarking on a journey that has unlocked her true potential! Watch a clip from the interview below:

(Beth was excited to receive her “My Living Spree” tee!)

(Pictured above with designer Cesar Galindo)

The Magic of Time Square

After the fashion show, I literally stumbled into Times Square! My face lit up like a kid in a candy store. Walking up and down the blocks on Broadway, seeing all of the lights and billboard signs was literally a dream come true. I had forgotten the magic of Times Square. It was in that moment that I stopped for a photo op (as always lol) and made the promise to myself that I would be back. I promised myself to never diminish my potential and to always believe in myself. I vowed to operate as if I belong in any and every situation and to always seize every opportunity that comes my way.

Two Day Takeaway

I definitely wish I could have stayed longer than 2 days because there was so much more to see and do. Experiencing NYFW in two days was nearly impossible, but it worked for me in my own way. I was grateful for the experience I had, the inspiration I gained from being in the city, and the connections I made at the shows. I learned that it’s all about setting intentions and putting yourself out there. Never allow fear to keep you from doing something because you never know what good things can come out of it.  Next year, I plan to do NYFW again, but bigger and better than ever!

 

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Affordable At Home Teeth Whitening

     “A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.”

Smile goals

I’ve always believed that my smile was one of my best assets! It’s something I always took pride in. People would always tell me, “you have such a pretty smile.” Recently, I fell in love with coffee and red wine and noticed my teeth were beginning to stain. I wanted improve my smile by making my teeth white and bright again. Teeth whitening seemed to be the best option to help me accomplish my #smilegoals.

Affordability

I wanted to try teeth whitening in the past, but cost was an issue. It can be really expensive at the dentist! All of that changed, however, when I heard of Smile Brilliant. I did my research and was immediately intrigued that it was the #1 professional at home teeth whitening company. Best of all, it was also very affordable and a convenient way to help me achieve my goals!

User-friendly

To be honest, I was a little intimidated about trying this at home by myself. I wasn’t sure about the safety of the gel and I was nervous about teeth sensitivity, which had been a problem for me in the past. However, it all worked out thanks to the detailed instructions and visuals included in the package. There were step-by-step instructions for every part of the process including making your whitening trays and also the teeth whitening process after you receive the trays. The customer service associates were also very helpful in assisting me with any questions I had prior to using the product.

The process

Smile Brilliant emailed me asking if I would like to try their product and after doing some research on the company, I agreed. They asked medical questions about my dental history, I signed and returned the consent form, and days later I received my whitening kit in the mail. Easy, right? I made my teeth molds right at home and sent them back in an envelope. Once they received my molds and made my whitening trays, they sent them back to me a couple of days later. The entire process only took a couple of days.

How to yield the best results

I would usually do the whitening at night after I’d eaten dinner for maximum results. Overall, I completed the whitening procedure every other night over the span of 10 days. I didn’t do it every night because I was afraid that it would be too harsh on my gums and teeth. Because I do suffer from sensitivity at times, they recommended that I coat my gums with Vaseline prior to applying the whitening gel. Thankfully, I ended up having little to no sensitivity at all.  This was a critical step that made for a much easier experience for me personally and I was able to leave the whitening trays in for more than the recommended hour. Also, I did not drink coffee or red wine during this time period because I wanted to make sure that my whitening would be noticeable and that the future staining wouldn’t affect my overall results.

The results are in!

Overall, I saw results! Although I wasn’t as strict about completing it daily and even missed a couple of days in between, I think my teeth were at least 1 shade lighter after I completed the process. I would do this more often over the next month to see if I can achieve even better results than before. I would definitely recommend this product as an easy, affordable way to whiten your teeth .

I appreciate Smile Brilliant’s convenience and the user-friendly kit. If you want to whiten your teeth, enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit! Give it a try 🙂

Comment below if you’ve ever tried at-home teeth whitening or interested in trying it in the future. I want to hear your experience!

Smile Brilliant Giveaway

Enter to win a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit by clicking here: Smile Brilliant Giveaway 

It’s really easy! All you have to do is enter your name and email address 🙂

ALSO….

If you don’t win, you can purchase your kit with the following 15% off coupon code: mylivingspree15

***The giveaway ends October 26, 2018 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced October 27, 2018! Open to U.S., UK, Australia and Canadian residents only.***

Good luck everyone and thanks for reading!

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Poolside Slay: Always Extra, Never Too Much

We’re coming towards the end of my favorite season of the year—Summa, Summa, Summatime! But, there’s still time to catch some sun by the pool or even take a vacation! I love a good #slaycation though, so I naturally tend to dress to impress no matter where I go! Sometimes I walk out of the house and my friends ask, “Where are you going, girl?! Why do you have all of that on? Why are you so dressed up?” I meannn, its better to be overdressed than underdressed, right? LOL. I live by the saying, “always extra, never too much!” It’s okay to make fashion fun…even in the sun! I’m here to give you a little style inspiration if you are planning to slay during your next vacay.

After staying at this beautiful, chic boutique resort for a couple of days, I was naturally inspired to create a super cute poolside look! I chose this high-cut one piece bathing suit from Kiss Runway because its colorful floral print screamed “vacation wear”. I love high-cut bathing suits because they give a simple, yet sexy flare and are on trend for summer ’18 swimwear.

Instead of wearing shorts to cover-up my bathing suit (which I normally do lol), I chose to wear this super cute sarong from ASOS! This slinky fringed sarong is so versatile and can be worn with any swimsuit! Literally! It’s the most stylish cover-up for a poolside slay.

Last but not least, I even wore my favorite pair of fringe earrings to compliment this entire look. They’re currently my favorite pair of statement earrings and the color makes almost everything pop! They are not as heavy as they look and I’m definitely getting a lot of wear out of them because of the versatile color and style of the earrings.

Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to slay all day, everyday! By the pool or by the beach, have fun with fashion. Remember, be yourself! Always extra, never too much.

Swimsuit: Kiss Runway

Sarong: ASOS

Earrings: Ch0ked

Photographer: @Farranweezy

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Moodie Foodie: Healthy Food For Any Mood!

Lately, I’ve been in search of ways to eat healthier, while simultaneously making it fun and cost-friendly! For people like me, healthy eating can be a chore and meal prepping can be mundane. Do you feel like you don’t know where to begin when it comes to making healthy choices or rather you’ve been eating healthy but need new ideas and recipes? If the answer is yes to both, then this blog post is for you! I’ve teamed up with a fellow Vanderbilt alumna and food blogger, Garrah Carter-Mason, to bring you tips and ideas to eat healthier foods! Garrah has a wonderful food blog filled with inspiration for delicious meals to cook and restaurants to visit! Below, Garrah shares a little about her healthy eating journey, her secret to saving money when grocery shopping, and her favorite go-to meals for everyday life!

Making a lifestyle change

Healthy eating has become “something like a phenomenon” and I’m loving it! I started my healthy eating journey in undergrad when I decided to cut red meat out of my diet. I ate fish and chicken for years and eventually cut those out as well. Now, I am a vegetarian and my body loves me for it! I advocate for healthy eating because I want to see people live longer, stronger, and healthier lives. My body changed in a major way since I changed my lifestyle.  

Dispelling the myth

I know you’re probably thinking—Why would I even try to eat healthy when it’s so time-consuming and expensive? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a myth! I eat healthy every day (with a cheat meal or gluten-free donut every now and then lol). I don’t spend a ton of money and my meals don’t take a lot of time to prepare!

What’s my secret? Well, let’s start with grocery shopping! I go to the grocery stores (Kroger and/or Trader Joes) once a week and spend about $30 dollars (crazy, right?). My shopping cart is usually filled with alkaline water, nut milk, beans, veggies, fruits, protein supplements, more veggies and more fruit! These items aren’t really that expensive especially when you purchase a variety of fresh produce.

A day in the life

I’ll go through a day in the life (with a breakfast, snack, and dinner recipe) to show how easy eating healthy really is!

Breakfast

Breakfast: 5-minute avocado toast | Ingredients: 2 slices of sourdough toast, 1 avocado, crushed red pepper, sea salt, black pepper, fresh squeezed lime juice, and cilantro. Toast the bread, mash slices of avocado on it, and add toppings. See, easy peasy!

Midday snack

Now, let’s do a midday snack—a smoothie bowl! In a blender, combine frozen fruit, protein powder, coconut water, and 1 avocado. Blend together until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Top with coconut flakes, chia seeds, granola (plenty of it), and fresh fruit of your choice. Again, that took all of what, 5 minutes?

Dinner

Now, I know most of you reading this are probably in school or working a full-time job and don’t have time for long, drawn-out recipes. So, here’s a quick and easy one. It’s called a Buddha bowl, and you can make it any way you want. All it encompasses is a protein, a starch, and veggies of your choice! I roast chickpeas in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Add them to your bowl. Also add fresh corn, kale, brown rice, and scallions. Top with salsa. That’s it! I promise it’s as easy and good as it sounds.

Your body will thank you

Now you see that healthy eating doesn’t have to consume your life; it can actually be fun once you get the hang of it and start seeing results! I am a testament! Since I’ve changed my eating habits I have been able to maintain a healthy weight, my skin is better, my digestive system is better, I have more energy, and I am all around a happier person! All you have to do is just start by experimenting with the recipes above and add foods that you like! Mix things up a bit and always find ways to look for new inspiration when you start to get tired eating the same things. No matter what you do, continue eating healthy and make it a habit and it will eventually become part of your lifestyle!

For more recipes: check out my blog @birdfoodie on Instagram and BirdFoodie on Facebook! If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please email me at birdfoodietn@gmail.com. Stay tuned for the plant-based recipe book that I will be releasing soon!

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EmpowerHER: The PowHER of Your Unapologetic Self

“Phenomenal Woman, That’s Me” –Maya Angelou 

Image above captured by Urban Love Tree Photography

From Cubicles to Cocktails

Recently, I attended an amazing event entitled “The PowHER of Your Unapologetic Self,” hosted by one of my fellow Houston bloggers—Christa Clarke! This event was part of her signature series Cubicles to Cocktails, a quarterly soiree for success-minded women of color to unite after work and exchange thought-provoking conversation over cocktails. Sounds fun, right?! IT WAS!

Christa’s blog www.freeingshe.com and Instagram page @freeingshe are both dedicated to empowering career-driven women of color to truly flourish in ALL aspects of life! She is the go-to person for inspiration on ways to invest in your career, create your ideal lifestyle, and for tools/resources to live life unapologetically free. She produces amazing content, so do yourself a favor and go check out her webpage and social media when you get a chance!

Sip and Shop

It was such a pleasure seeing so many success-minded women of color networking, fellowshipping, and investing in one another. The event hosted local vendors and attendees were able to sip and shop with minority-owned businesses prior to the start of the workshop. Here are some of the local vendors in attendance that evening:

 Kisa Kisa Fashion | www.kisakisafashion.com/
Sterling Silver Vision | Instagram @sterling_silver_vision
I Am So Kate Boutique | www.iamsokate.net/
OurFroPicks Natural Hair and Body Care Products | OurFroPicks.com/
Spectrum Bartending | www.SpectrumMobileBartending.com

After the first hour of the soiree, the setting transitioned into a workshop. Tracy Carmen-Jones, President and Founder of The WaterLight Group, led us in a thought-provoking discussion on the importance of being your authentic self in the workplace.

Unzip the layers

She used her hobby of skiing to drive home the message that in order to be your authentic self in the workplace, you have to be vulnerable and relatable! For example, when we go skiing we have to layer up. We put on a tank, a shirt, a thermal, a jacket, and a coat. But, if you want your life to change at work, you are going to have to unzip the layers! You want your fellow colleagues to get to know you as a person, so when opportunities arise they will consider you.

What are you a resource for?

People want to know who you are—what makes you relatable? Can they consider you a resource? Performance capital alone is not enough. You want to establish performance capital AND relationship capital. For me, I want my colleagues to know that excellence is the standard and that I am the go-to person to get the job done as far as performance! As for relationship, I want my colleagues to know that I am fun, outgoing and creative! I am currently “on a living spree” and I am not shy about sharing my travel experiences, my creative pursuits and fashion inspiration. I am not ashamed of who I am and I want to own that same confidence in the workplace as well as outside of the workplace.

Create Your Own Personal Narrative

As Ms. Jones stressed, you are the creator of your personal narrative—what do you want to say? You get to decide what people know about you and how they interact with you. Decide what you want them to know and LIVE IT! Start talking about the things you care about and things you like to do. Start creating your own personal narrative in the workplace!

Bring YOUrself to Work!

I encourage you to consider topics you can bring up next time you have a conversation in the workplace. I challenge you to figure out what exactly you want your colleagues to know about you professionally and personally and begin developing that narrative in your conversations and interactions the next couple of days. What can you do as early as tomorrow to have more open dialogue about yourself in the workplace? Could you possibly attend a happy hour after work with coworkers that you don’t normally engage with? Take a coffee break or attend lunch with someone mid-day? Remember, you create your own narrative. Bring yourself to work, not your representative!

Don’t forget to check out Christa’s website www.freeingshe.com and subscribe to her blog for updates on the next Cubicles to Cocktails event. Trust me, you do not want to miss it! Invest in yourself, invest in your business, and invest in your life!

 

 

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