Thursday, October 1, 2015

PRODUCT REVIEW: Skincare, Health, and Wellness Goodies from 'It Works!'

In the past month, I've been eating a lot cleaner (more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as less processed foods) and working out more (an increase in cardio and at-home kinesthetics). That said, I was happy to sample some products from It Works!, which is said to be one of the "fastest-growing consumer lifestyle, health and skincare direct sales companies." Often, I say "no thanks" to pitches from reps of direct sales companies. This is because I feel like just a number, or a commission opportunity to a him/her who actually may not really care if the products promoted are great. I don't like getting hounded and pressured into investing in the "next big thing."

But I responded with an immediate "Yes!" to Stevie Telken, an independent consultant for It Works! We had already built a fun, social friendship via Instagram, so when she approached me and asked if I'd like to sample some of her health and wellness products, I was actually pretty grateful. Not only did I enjoy her approach, but it was perfect timing regarding my lifestyle changes! Stevie left the options of what I wanted to sample up to me (very cool!). So I visited her website, and was immediately was drawn to the "Ultimate Body Applicator." Being the kind and generous business woman that she has proven to be, she ended up sending me two of them as well as some other products to try.

Due to my busy schedule and somewhat scattered brain at times, I took a few weeks to try everything out and really see if It Works!....actually does. Because I am aware that nearly every type of beauty and skincare product typically takes more than one application before showing visible results, I entered this experience with a realistic mind-frame. Here are my detailed (and honest!) reviews of the two main products Stevie sent me:

Ultimate Body Applicator ($59/box of 4):

I sampled two applicators, spaced out about a week apart of one another. These before and after photos are from the second round of sampling, simply because I forgot to take proper "after" photos (duh).

The process: Per instructions, I made sure the tested skin was clean first. Then I took out the applicator from the package and was hit with an amazing "botanical-based formula" scent. OMG -- smelled delicious. Following my deep inhales, I made sure that the side with the most lotion was the side directly applied to my skin. I will say that because the applicator, which is like a thin, soft sheet of material, had moistness on both was a little difficult for me to determine which side had more! But I eventually figured it out. Then I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and delicately applied it on my tummy and sides. The wrap doesn't sit perfectly tight on the skin, so I definitely had to smooth it out first the best I could. Instructions said that you can use either saran wrap to hold the product in place or throw on a tight top. Considering I'm the same person who didn't take "after" photos the first time, guess which one I chose? Yes, the tight top. This is because I didn't read the instructions completely in full beforehand and buy saran wrap like I probably should have. I believe that if I had secured the product with saran wrap, my results may have been a little bit more dramatic.

(First-time use before I applied my tight top over the applicator!)
So, I left it on for the full 45 minutes both times I tried it (which is recommended for first-time use), and let me tell you...the tingly sensation combined with the yummy scent was so interesting, which I really felt after about 20 minutes. It definitely made me feel like something is working! Because I wanted to make sure the wrap stayed in place, I decided not to sit down while it was on. So, I basically placed my laptop on the counter and continued writing and emailing with it on. (I'm all about staying productive!) The time flew, and then when I took off the wrap, I rubbed the leftover lotion on my skin, per instructions. Although my above before-and-after photo does not show a major difference, I immediately noticed and felt a tightness. In order to maintain results, instructions said to eat clean the rest of the day and make sure you avoid salty foods, alcohol, etc., because technically, the body is in detox mode after usage. The first time, it was a slight challenge 'cause I wasn't completely conformed to better eating and habits. But the week after, it was much easier. The next morning, following both applications, I noticed that the sides of my stomach were tighter and more cinched in. It could have been results from my ab exercises or the applicator, or both. Either way, it made this girl happy!

Would I recommend the Ultimate Body Applicator? Yes, if you combine clean eating, exercise, and multiple uses over the month. Also, the applicator can eventually be worn up to eight hours. I'm sure that will make a ton of difference!

Facial Applicator ($59/box of 4):

I really enjoyed this product, simply due to the fact that it allowed me to relax and rejuvenate! However, the Facial Applicator enhanced more of my spirit and wellness versus my skin.

The Process: Just like the Body Applicator, I needed to cleanse my skin first and make sure that the side with the most lotion was applied directly to my skin. Figured that out and applied directly, smoothing it out so it really held to skin. Then it was time to lay down on the my couch, with head back for at least 45 minutes. That was my biggest challenge...the sitting-down-doing-nothing concept! The botanical-formulated scent, which was nearly identical to the Ultimate Body Applicator, calmed me quickly and I did my best in closing my eyes and enjoy some still time and light music. I haven't been to a spa in ages, so this was a nice at-home, spa-like experience for me. After the 45 minutes, I took off the Facial Applicator, discarded it, and rubbed in the lotion. You'll notice that my "before" (left) and my "after" (right) is not too noticeable. But it felt really good on my skin, and you can actually see that in my after pic, my skin is a little darker. Possibly, it helped stimulate my blood circulation, because I don't appear as pale as the before pic. What can't be pictured, really, is how smooth my skin felt afterward. That pimple is still there (blah), but overall, the experience was refreshing!

Would I recommend the Facial Applicator? Yes, if you can find the time to relax and use at least once a week.


The other It Works! products I sampled include: the Lip and Eye (nice, subtle moisturizer for both areas), Greens Chew (a yummy treat with fiber and antioxidants), and Greens On the Go, Berry (liquid supplement that was lightly flavored and helped curb my appetite a few hours!).

In Conclusion: Products such as these are designed to enhance the health and wellness results of an already-healthy person. Remember that. Each of these products, in their own way, definitely motivated me to continue working out, eating well, and taking care of my skin. There is no magic potion for perfection and It Works! is no exception. But these products are pretty cool if you can be consistent with usage!

If you have questions regarding these products and would like to directly communicate with Stevie Telken, be sure to visit her website and follow her on Instagram

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Women's Event Recap: Providing Style Inspiration at Pomona Valley Hospital!

My goal with Good Girl Gone Shopping has always been to inspire women! From providing shopping tips and customer service insight to interviews with industry influencers and product giveaways, I love being a fashion resource. That said, yesterday's event was quite an amazing experience, especially because it was in Pomona... my hometown!

Hosted by Pomona Valley Hospital (and held in its Pitzer Auditorium), the "Coffee & Tea for You & Me" event brought in more than 60 women (shout-out to the efforts of Jodi Previch and Katrina Brown!). As the first speaker, I was honored to help kick off the energy of the day with my presentation: "How to Uncover Your Personal Style."

Some of the areas I covered were: fashion vs. style, retail sales associates and customer service, online shopping vs. in-store shopping, tips for accessorizing, and handbag versatility (in which I used the "Orange Marmalade" handbag from bags4fabs as a demonstration).

One of my favorite parts of the presentation was when I invited one woman to come up to the podium, so I could demonstrate how to wear a scarf several different ways...and three volunteered to come up! It turned out just fine, because I had exactly three scarves to play with. But the reason why I loved this moment oh-so-much is due to the confidence and excitement that poured over these women almost immediately! They became alive and had fun with the crowd, walking back and forth with hands on their it was their runway! Everyone enjoyed this moment.

Delicious finger foods, refreshments, beautifully adorned tables with floral centerpieces, vendor booths, an amazing Michael Kors handbag giveaway, and the wittiness from the second presenter, author Erika Fernbach, all contributed to the day's wonderful vibe! I was also interviewed by reporter Gabriella Venturo of WOW Action Services prior to my presentation. Footage from our interview as well as the presentation will be coming soon to my upcoming, new YouTube channel. Stay tuned!

Interested in booking me for a speaking engagement! I'd love to chat! Feel free to contact me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

5 Tips: How to Prepare for Selling or Trading Your Clothes In Store!

(Did "Cher" actually wear all of her clothes?)

The tricky part about fashion that makes it so interesting, yet sometimes a bit frustrating, is this: The trends of today can quickly become a thing of yesterday, but will eventually come back around the following seasons. This means that many shopaholics and fashionistas are left in a pickle, with several items taking up their closets that stop getting good wear and just sit there while more are being piled in. And unless you have a closet the size of a bedroom (most of us don't!), then you have to consider what should stay and what should go. 

With New York Fashion Week just ending, the European shows beginning, and Los Angeles Fashion Week approaching quickly (October), the desire to update one's wardrobe becomes very desirable. I mean, how can you not gain inspiration from all of the amazing street fashion and runway pics on social media? And if you're in the fashion industry and actually made it to some of the shows, it's very likely your brain is jam-packed with new ideas and inspiration on how to better communicate your personality with fresh fashion.

What is especially important to consider when evaluating your wardrobe? The cost factor. Buying, buying, buying, and then not wearing can quickly add up! You may also be in a situation where you need extra cash or wish you could somehow do an exchange on your wardrobe. The awesome thing is that this is not wishful thinking! There are really cool hotspots that allow you to do so. Based in LA, I've often hit up vintage stores like Buffalo Exchange, Wasteland, and Crossroads to sell some of my items and/or exchange them. While you will never get close to what you paid for (I've sold a Juicy Couture sweatsuit jacket years ago during the height of the brand's popularity for only $20), you may definitely walk out with a few more bucks in your wallet and less stress (knowing you just freed up some room in your closet). 

At each store, if a buyer accepts an item you have the option of cashing out or exchanging out. Typically, receiving store credit for an exchange is offered at a higher rate than receiving cash payment. (Even thought it's an option, yes, these retailers likely prefer that you choose to exchange your old items for their new items without having to actually give you money. Good business.) So depending on your circumstance, you may choose to pocket the cash or uncover new pieces from that store and try some new styles (that you will currently wear instead of letting them collect dust like the pieces you brought back.) 

(Evaluate your wardrobe FIRST!)

No matter what your goal is -- selling or exchanging your items -- the preparation process is still the same and does take a little bit of work on your side first. Here are my 5 tips on how to properly sell or trade your clothes in store:

(1) Thoroughly go through your closet. Be sure to try on every single item you plan to get rid of. The last thing you want is to live with regret! Been there, done that. Then either hang your items in a garment bag or fold nicely in some sort of duffel bag or even grocery bag. Technically, it doesn't really matter what you put your clothes in, just make sure that it shows you actually care about the pieces. 

(2) Be selective with what you bringAn important factor to consider is that designer wear and higher-end brands are the most appealing to the buyers at stores such as Buffalo Exchange, Wasteland, and Crossroads, especially if they are unique in color, cut, pattern, and trend. So be sure that you're hip to what's savvy in the streets as well as on the runway. 

(3) Call a few stores first and ask the type of items they're accepting right now. This will save you tons of time! While most major retailers are already selling fashion for the next season, you'll notice that with stores, like these, they have different standards. With so many clothes going in and out of their stores, they need to have stock of what's going to sell now. Now, even though it's mid-September, some of these So Cal vintage stores may not be buying fall and winter clothes from customers just yet. This is why it's important to call and ask these two questions: What are the hottest items you're currently buying? What are you guys currently seeking? This will help determine what you actually bring in. It won't make sense to bring in several pairs of boots if they're still only buying sandals. Calling first is a time-saver and will prevent you from having to walk back to your car carrying the same items you brought in.

(4) Make sure that the items you bring are in near mint condition. Think about it: What store wants to buy inventory that is scuffed, torn, or stained? So make sure that you clean and/or sew what needs to be taken care of first. If it's very minor, then it shouldn't be too difficult to correct. If it's a bigger job at hand, then it's probably a loss. That item may need to go into the "donate" pile. 

(5) If you live in the city and you have to pay for a meter, make sure you allot at least one hour. These hotspots attract a lot of people, so you may find yourself waiting in line for awhile as others have their items reviewed by the buyers. Your best bet is not only to make sure the meter is full, but try to get there as soon as the store opens. I've also been one to arrive early, so I'm the first one in line! 

I love that there truly is the option of selling and/or trading in fashion pieces! However, should you find that none of your pieces qualify according to an establishment's policies and standards, don't get discouraged! You can also give away items to a friend or loved one, sell them on ebay (if they're in great condition), and even use social media to promote your items. If you have any other tips, please do share in your comment! We can all learn from one another. xo

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Photo Credit: 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Save 20% on an Adorable (and Affordable!) Handbag from 'Bags 4 Fabs'

(Stylish, cost-friendly handbags at your fingertips!)

I’m a believer in affordable, sensible fashion. This is especially true when it comes to handbags! One of the most essential pieces to add to your daily outfits -- the handbag you choose plays a major role in what you’re trying to communicate about your personality. Whether you consciously consider these factors or not; the color, size, style, texture, and functionality all play a role in the type of handbag that’s right for you. And after chatting with the founder and owner of Bags 4 Fabs, Rechelle Dolor, my belief about budget-friendly fashion was reaffirmed. Our thoughts are aligned and yes...her site has totally got your back!

With prices ranging from only about $25 - $55, the selection of handbags on Bags 4 Fabs is versatile and designed to enhance your individual style. It's definitely a has-something-for-every-type-of-personality boutique! (I'm digging the clutches as well as the oversized structured purses, which come in amazingly bright hues.) So, I’m happy to share the announcement of its special Labor Day sale! Go ahead – treat yourself to something cute. I’m sure you deserve it! [Code: LABORDAY2015]

For more incredible images and info about Bags 4 Fabs, be sure to connect via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bags 4 Fabs

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Easy Day-to-Night Outfit Transformation!

The So Cal sun is punishing us this summer! (I mean, we're talking 100+ degree weather.) So when I'm not wearing a loose sundress, I basically live in tanks and leggings or stretchy jeans, with black and white being a typical combo of choice. It's a simple, chic blank canvas that allows for awesome versatility. Not only is this outfit also comfortable for a gal with curves, but it's simple, basic look that can be transformed from day to night with just a few changes of accessories, handbags, and shoes.

While there are tons of fashionistas who wouldn't dare wear the same top and bottom throughout the entire day (especially during the hot season, which I understand), there are others who are often so busy and on the go that they don't have time to make a pit stop to a store and pick up a new outfit or even head home for a change in clothes (me). Quick answer: Bring a change of shoes, earrings, and handbag with you to take your daytime vibe to a nighttime feel. These days, I more commonly wear flats in the evening versus heels, but having the option to adjust my outfit (depending where I'm going) is smart!

Oh, and if you're going to bring these items with you and leave in your car, be sure to put them in the trunk or under your seat so the sun doesn't beat down on them and make them tooooo hot!

(Set created on

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

INTERVIEW: Jeannie Mai Talks Style...And Why Steampunk Rocks!

("I love the touch of gloss in my Steampunk style!")
Hella stylish. Hella passionate. Hella knowledgeable. 

Yes….I absolutely love the relatable, fashion-oriented personality of Jeannie Mai! The bubbly style maven who grew up in the Bay Area, now living in our television sets and on our social media newsfeeds, is testament to the importance of pursuing your passion. 

From enjoying her dark tresses with a funk of blue as she hosted Style Network’s double Emmy-nominated series, “How Do I Look?” (now hitting Asia!) to keeping up with her insightful perspectives and hilarious “Mama Mai” impersonations on Fox’s “The Real,” I appreciate Jeannie doing her thang while naturally bringing diversity to fashion’s forefront. Now, host of the highly-anticipated “Steampunk’d” on GSN (premiering tonight at 10/9c!), Jeannie is helping to bring a whole community and subculture to light – one that is based on pure innovation. Hosting this show in glammed-up, Steampunk style (with the help of her glam squad: Sienree Du/hair, Jamie Leonard/makeup, and Daniel Musto/stylist), it’s clear that all of Jeanie’s experiences led her right to this very point – her roots.

After speaking with Jeannie, it’s also very clear to me that she is an a-typical celebrity with a love for sisterhood. Also a television correspondent to many major networks, including NBC, FOX, E! News, and MTV, Jeannie is proud to have the talent and ability to empower women. In fact, she empowered me just by saying she’s a fan of my blog right before we started to chat! (I know…eek!)

So when it comes to you being host of “Steampunk’d”….I understand that you especially relate to this show due to your own experience with style as a teenager?

Yeah, so true. I come from the Bay Area, and I believe that a lot of the Steampunk movement comes from within the cities of Palo Alto, San Francisco – definitely San Francisco – Campbell, Oakland... And for me, I couldn’t afford a lot of the beautiful things I would see in magazines, but it didn’t matter, because what I really loved were the things that I could make. My idea of putting together an outfit was taking a corset and cutting it, ‘cause I have a really short torso – I’m not one of those beautiful Victoria’s Secret models who we see donning the corsets – so I would go to old playhouses and vintage shops and buy corsets and then just kinda cut them half and distress the edge or finish the edges. And I would just put my outfits together and just stack upon stack upon stack…and there’s nothing that celebrates a woman’s body more than the Steampunk movement.  I mean, the curves and the Victorian shape. And like, more is more, you know? It’s so much fun, and that’s what I really got into when I was dressing up with the Steampunk life…and you feel a sense of strength when you can wear something that no one else can buy because, quite frankly, you made it. There’s nothing that can top that! And I love that the show is bringing that back, and inviting women to upcycle – make or reinvent – all the things that they see in magazines, but even better because they’re shaping it to their own body. 

("It truly is the definition of imagination when it comes to 'Steampunk'd...")

So what was it like working with all the contestants? I’m sure they are so innovative and creative…

They were amazing! I would have to say that everything I described with what I did is a joke to what these Steampunk makers are doing. They are a very illustrated combination of wood makers, carpenters, watch designers, bakers, fashion designers, of course, and just everything you can think of. What’s interesting is that even though we scoured the U.S. for the best Steampunk makers, not one person stands a chance against the other unless they can really put on more hats.  And what I mean by that is that just because you’re the best carpenter there is out there, there are challenges that go through the season where you might have to design something. You might have to literally get into sewing fabrics together or creating a piece that can illustrate, you know, the entire room to a house.  These challenges are really competitive, so these makers have to throw all their tools on deck and really make something happen.  It truly is the definition of imagination when it comes to Steampunk’d, the show.

So, I’m going to assume that this show inspired you even more regarding fashion, itself…?

Absolutely. So my house has a little bit of Steampunk elements to it, because when I was living in San Jose, my aunts and I used to love going through our old furniture, and things like that, and just adding a bit of varnish and giving it the great, distressed edges and color that the Steampunk culture kinda brings. Now, after watching the show, oh my gosh…I learned so much more that you can do. From pipes to woodwork and to borders in the house, every single thing! Like I walk in my house now, and I’m like 'ugh.' I wanna upgrade in a whole new way. And I actually have started the projects throughout my house now.

And you know, a lot of people will struggle with defining what ultimately Steampunk is. But at the end of the day, it’s really just being inventive. You know, re-living the Victorian, science fiction era and re-embracing the technology from back then to now, and just weaving the story into everything you create. The Steampunk community can get really geeked out over everything that they handcraft, because their heart and soul is into it. And that’s why I love the show so much, because you see that.

("It's about getting these Steampunk makers to feel like their voice is heard.")

As you use the word “community,” I didn’t realize that Steampunk makers are really a subculture…

Correct. Yeah, that’s absolutely right. It’s a subculture and it exists everywhere in the world, not just big metropolitan cities…sometimes even just the smallest areas. One of our very own judges, Thomas Willeford, is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. When you go there, you see the WalMarts and the Targets and the families…My husband’s from there, so I’m there three times a year, and I never know such great Steampunk talent lives there! So I’m actually going to go visit Thomas when I go to Harrisburg next. But Steampunk is everywhere!

It’s so exciting to hear this, because the show’s concept is such a part of your personality. They definitely casted the right person to host it! You’re not just filling a role, this is your passion…

Oh absolutely. It’s my passion, and most importantly, it’s not about me. It’s about getting these Steampunk makers to feel like their voice is heard. For me, as a host, it’s important that the judges get a really good understanding of each maker and their story. Why are they here? What do they have to say? What’s their contribution to the community? And, why is it important that they’re recognized as a Steampunk icon? Each person has a different goal, they have a different background, and when it comes to a competition, you know, sometimes voices can get clouded over by somebody louder or more dramatic. But it’s not about that at all in this competition. We have some really smart judges – the judges see right through that.

Well, I’m excited for the show especially because the concept is still new to me. Looking forward to learning even more about it!

My definition of Steampunk has evolved to kind of be a glam punk. Like, I love the touch of gloss in my Steampunk style. I like everything to look glossy and shiny and mystical…and that works for me. All the ladies on the show wear a lot of their own self-made pieces, and that’s the coolest part about it, so you’re getting ideas alone from the contestants even if they haven’t won. We’re representing so many different people that have touches of Steampunk...

("...At the end of the day, it's really just being inventive.")
How did you get involved in the fashion industry and really start making a name for yourself?

I would like to think that it started in San Jose, where I lived and dressed everyday women. I had the blessing of working with great artists, like Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera, and I was touring with them and doing their makeup. At the same time, I was helping them get dressed and style them as well. But when I would come home to San Jose, it would be everyday people that would come knocking on my door for tips and advice that really helped me to understand that everyday women are equally as important as that big A-list celebrity out there. And may sometimes need more help because they don’t have that team, that access to a showroom or designer labels….and these women reflect the world. As much as I love the celebrities I work with, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors, you know. Not everybody is perfect, but everybody is flawed. We all have our own different flaws that make it a beautiful package. For me, it was teaching these women at home, in the town of San Jose, that made me think, 'Gosh Jeannie, you have to teach and help women embrace their bodies.' A woman who wakes up every morning and despises her legs or can’t stand showing off her hips, or wishes that she was five sizes smaller is not a woman who is recognizing her worth. That kind of stuff leaves me awake at night. So, for me, as soon as I moved out to LA, I pitched myself to different networks to have them understand the opportunity they had to do a makeover show. I’m really thankful for the Style Network.

Hearing you talk about your passion is so refreshing, as your authentic appearance on TV mimics who you really are. That said, my last question for you is: What tip would you give 14 or 15-year old kids who don’t like what they see in the stores, limited in their budget, but really want to communicate their personality in fashion?

I would say the first thing you do is visit a craft store, like your local Michaels or Jo-Anne Fabric and Craft. That, to me, is my favorite store over a Barney’s. I love a good craft store, you know, learning how to get pictures on the grommets, learning how to put button holes in, learning how to place darts…they have books to teach you how to line basic garments, and where to place the darting on an average women’s body. A craft store is going to help people, because their books are easy and thank god we have the Internet now. There’s also just tools you need to create anything you want from anything you see out there. Just get lost in there! That’s the best advice I can give.

The premiere of "Steampunk'd" comes on tonight at 10/9 c on GSN! To learn more about Jeannie Mai, be sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter (if you’re not already), and definitely check out her “25 Things Google Won’t Tell You About Me.” Hilarious! 

(*Fun Fact: The embellished gold dress Jeannie is wearing above was designed by LA fashion designer, Daisy Gonzalez, who was recently featured on Good Girl Gone Shopping!)

Photo Credits: Courtesy of GSN

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"It's My Life...Don't You Forget..."

Twelve years ago, No Doubt released their cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life" (originally released in 1984), and I love how ND's version gave new life to this awesome song -- thanks to Gwen's signature vocal sounds.

This empowering song usually gives me some extra pep in my step and reminds me that my life life. ("Don't you forget...") Just like many of you, I consistently remind myself that there is significance in all that I do, and that there is value in both the highs and lows of weekly (and daily!) challenges. So I'm sharing this video with you for your enjoyment as well as some motivation before Monday hits! We could all use some.

Happy Sunday! Rock on...xoxo

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Jennifer Lopez Collection for Endless Jewelry = Endless Style

(I LOVE mixing and matching wrist candy!)

Accessories can provide a lovely accent to one’s wardrobe, giving a basic outfit that special touch! And what I love about accessories is is that we all wear them differently, showcasing our personal styles in a unique fashion (literally).

That said, I’m absolutely in love with my new charm bracelet from TheJennifer Lopez Collection for Endless Jewelry. This single red, reptile stainless steel piece of wrist candy is a cool combo of sophistication and boho-chic.

My bracelet arrived to me with the black love drop silver charm already attached, which was a lovely bonus to this gift. But what's especially awesome about shopping Endless Jewelry is that it offers shoppers the chance to build their own charm bracelets! I appreciate this shopping concept, because everyone is different and it allows a fashionista to mix and match bracelets and charms as she chooses. In particular, The Jennifer Lopez Endless Jewelry Collection offers you a nice selection of choices – something all fashion lovers deserve when it comes to accessorizing. Made of genuine reptile leather, these exclusive bracelets range from $69 - $100, and the charms range from $40 - $190. Not cheap but not ridiculously pricey either. Always priding myself as a budget-conscious shopper, I'm totally gonna keep this line in mind when it comes to searching for the perfect holiday or birthday gifts for a (stylish!) loved one. 

To connect with Endless Jewelry (based in Portlance, Maine) and its plethora of goodies, be sure to follow 'em on Twitter and Facebook!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mimi Faust: Mother, Entrepreneur, and Reality TV Star Proves the Beauty of Keeping it REAL

("I just want to make sure that I raise an awesome, little person that is going to grow up and be an awesome adult." - Mimi Faust)

Let's be honest: Mimi Faust holds it down on VH1's Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. She's a BOSS and we know it! In our exclusive interview, the mother, entrepreneur, and Reality TV star opens up to me in a very candid fashion. As you'll see, Faust explores tons of topics, including her personal style, new business venture ("The Maya Collection"), motherhood, her passion for interior design, what a young entrepreneur needs to understand, why she was really casted to Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, and the importance of showing respect to her fans. Proving the beauty in keeping it real, Faust continues to persevere and make a name for herself while doing it all for her daughter.  

Let’s start with your style! Over the seasons, my boyfriend and I can’t help but comment on how much your style has evolved…it’s so chic! How would you describe your personal style?

Really, I dress for comfort. Of course, I want to be stylish, but I want to be comfortable in my clothes. And I have to give a shout-out to my stylist, Melvin Styles. He’s just amazing. We’ve been working together since the middle of season one [of Love & Hip Hop]. He’s just really awesome!

So I take it he’s helped you explore styles and trends that go with your personality even more?

Yes, we definitely collaborate! Please believe there are many times where he has brought me items and was like, “Girl, I think you should wear this!” And I’m like “Are you crazy?” [laughs]

Well, it’s working! All of the colors you’re wearing are beautiful on you. Are there certain brands or designers that you typically turn to?

No, I like to shop around. It’s not really about a certain designer. More so, it’s about what looks good on me. Actually, let me not tell a lie…I did find a designer, Karen Millen.  She’s out of the UK, and any time I try on anything from her, it fits me to a T. So, her line really works for me. But in general, it will have to catch my eye. I’ll know from sight – I’ll see it on a hanger and I’ll just love it. I mean, I could be in Target and I’ll see something that’s dope, and I’ll be like, “That’s dope!” and I’ll get it. And someone will be like, “Oh my god! Where did you get that?” And I’ll be like, “Target, yup, sure did!” [laughs].

I agree! Fashion displays definitely have to give you the right vibe…

And as long as you have the right shoes, you can wear a paper bag! [laughs]

So your newest venture, which I’m sure is making a lot of women happy, is “The Maya Collection.” I understand that your interest and journey with this business took you to India. Can you talk a little bit about how this came about?

Well, that’s how we got the name: The Maya Collection. It’s an actual Indian name. I wanted to go along with the hair I’ve been wearing, which is Virgin Indian Hair. And we picked a name to go along with that. I’ve been wearing the hair for a couple of years now, and I just love it! I’ve tried different types of hair, but this one was no shedding, it doesn’t frizz, you know, it’s not tangly, it’s just really, really good hair. And I just said, "You know what, why not partner up with this company and go into business with them?"  And now it’s been a huge success! I’m really excited about it.

When did The Maya Collection become available to the public? And, is it strictly available online?

It was launched this year and right now, it’s online only. But we are working on getting stores where you can actually just go and pick it up.

Growing up, what were some of the biggest lessons you learned regarding how to take care of your hair?

You know, the crazy thing about that, is that everybody’s hair is different. What might work for me might not necessarily work for the next person. Everybody’s grade and texture’s different, so my hair might be off or wrong for somebody else. I mean, my daughter’s hair is awesome! And I was really trying to find something that I could put in her hair to de-tangle it and make it easy to comb. So I mixed some stuff together…and when I tell you I have come up with this miracle product [laughs]…I have to figure out how to get this out because I give it to all of my friends. I buy squirt bottles, and I make it for their kids or even them. And in like a couple of days, they’re like "Oh my god, I need some more! What IS this?"

Well, there you go! Another venture to add to your repertoire of businesses…like a sister product of The Maya Collection!

YES! And this actually is for natural hair. My daughter’s hair is natural; she has no chemicals…I don’t straighten it or anything. But I spray it in her hair, and you can literally run your fingers through it. It’s incredible! So, I gotta figure out how to get that packaged up and out to the world.

So I hear you’re also pursuing interior design…that it’s another passion of yours?

Yes…This actually started when I started my cleaning business [Keep It Clean, Inc.] I was going through people’s homes when I was actually doing the cleaning myself, and they would ask me like, “Can you hook up my bedroom?” or “Can you hook up my bathroom?” So I was like, “Yeah sure!” And I would do that for my clients, and I just thought it was so dope. So that’s what made me realize how much I enjoyed decorating in the first place. Then when I moved into my home, I decorated it. And when everyone comes over, it’s like, “Oh my god! Give me the name of the person who decorated your place!” I’m like, “I did.” [laughs] I mean, I could be at HomeGoods for, like, literally four hours and wouldn’t think twice about it…and I’m really gonna come out with a home décor line as well. You know, throw pillows, rugs, blankets, and you know, decorative mirrors and candles, and thinks like that. So working on that too! [laughs]

Well, it sounds like you have a really artistic eye and an eye for detail!

Yes…and I think I get that from my dad. My dad was an artist. He had a whole art park in his backyard, where he lived in Upstate New York. He had created life-sized pieces. I mean six, seven, eight-foot tall, life-sized pieces of art that he carved out of wood and metal…and he’d make sculptures and stuff. So I’m pretty sure I got it from my dad! [laughs]

So interesting! I love how every artistic person has their own creative outlets to express him or herself. OK, now you being an entrepreneur, a Reality TV star, and a mother…just how do you stay inspired day in and day out to just keep going no matter the challenges you may be faced with?

My daughter, hands-down. She has been such an inspiration to me, and for me. I think, too, because I never wanted Eva to experience the things I did growing up…I really try to push and go the extra mile so she doesn’t have to. I had a rough childhood, real rough. And I just didn’t want her to go through that. So I’m gonna do everything in my power to not have her in that situation. And I think it’s also cool that I’ll be able to teach her right from wrong. You already know that I have made plenty of mistakes, but I can tell her, “Mommy has made this mistake. This is what you don’t do.” You know what I’m saying? I didn’t have that growing up. You know, I’m not blaming or pointing fingers, I’m just saying it is what it is. But I just want to make sure I raise an awesome, little person that is going to grow up and be an awesome adult. You know? So that’s what I’m doing.

So when it comes to being an entrepreneur, what kind of tips would you give to a woman who has a really great idea for a business but she’s not sure how to get started?

First thing is to write everything down. Write everything down on paper – your ideas from start to finish. Like where you want to see yourself in the next five to 10 years. Write it all down, so you have something to look back on. Like a checklist…and then you just start checking it off. You know, it’s gonna change. It’s gonna vary a little bit, but you write everything down. Let’s say it’s a cleaning business. You need to get it incorporated, licensed, insured, bonded…There’s steps you have to take to do whatever business you’re trying to do, and just make sure you cover your butt. You also need to read all of the paperwork if there is paperwork involved. You have a good attorney to go over things, such as contracts, with you. A good attorney is key. Please make sure you have a good attorney. And just take the proper steps and don’t do any type of shady or sideway business. Do it on the up and up, put the work in, and then your business will turn around and work for you.

As a Reality TV star, what misconceptions do you think the public has in regards to letting your personal life go public? Or, do you even think there are misconceptions?

Absolutely.  It’s one big misconception, because what is shown is only what the show wants you to see. Let’s break this down for a second: When we tape, it’s two hours. From a two-hour taping – and sometimes maybe more – you’re getting five or six minutes of those two hours that have been chopped and edited. So you are gonna sit here [the public] and determine or judge someone from a two-hour taping that has been broken down into five or 6 minutes?! You can’t do that. You can’t know someone from that. And the show is only gonna allow you to see what they want you to see. You’re seeing a fraction of these people’s lives. A small fraction, so don’t be so quick to believe whole-heartedly. Like people watch Love & Hip Hop and are like, “Oh, I saw it on Love & Hip Hop. That’s what it is!” Not necessarily so… [laughs] You’re seeing five or six-minute edited clips! Like come one…you can’t judge what you see on Reality TV seeing only a small portion of that person’s whole life.

And now, since you’re not new to Reality TV, you know what to expect. But what about a newbie to this? I imagine this must be a struggle sometimes…

Absolutely. A lot of cast members are mad when they watch the show. Like saying, “They didn’t catch what I was really trying to say” or “I didn’t say it like that” or “I didn’t mean it like that”…There are a lot of ways it can come out misconstrued and not come out the way you said it. [laughs]

You know, I’m a Reality TV junkie! And there are just some people you connect to more than others. I truly enjoy watching you on the show and respect you as an entrepreneur. I mean, you’re a BOSS, and I appreciate that. Anything you’d like to add?

Well, what I want to say is that I think the difference for me when I started this journey on Reality TV is that I didn’t set out to be a television star. I’m telling you my life literally changed overnight…

I had a girlfriend send me a text saying, “You and Stevie should go down for the casting of the show.” And that was it. At the time it was only Love & Hip Hop New York, so I hit her back and said “I need more information.”  And then she sent me a text – now mind you it was Monday when she sent me this text – that said “Wednesday, four o’clock, Mansion Hotel.” That’s it, that’s all she said… [laughs]. I’m like “Okaaaay.” So I called Stevie and said, “Hey, do you want to go  out for the show?” Him and I were beefing at the time, and he’s like, “I’m not doing that with you.” I’m like “Whatever.” So Wednesday rolls around and I’m like, “I’m just gonna go down there anyway.” And when I get there, guess who beat me down there? Mr. Man. [laughs]

So we had an argument right there, in the lobby of the hotel. Mona’s assistant sees us upstairs for our interview, and we were chosen just on likeability. Our lives were changed instantly. So what you’re getting is really who I am. This isn’t like a character I’m playing or being all extra…this is just who I am!

That’s so interesting! You weren’t even in the casting room and your real-life personalities got you in immediately.

Oh, and let me tell you about that! When we get upstairs, they said tell us about yourselves. Stevie turns into, like, ghandi! He starts “Oh…the universe…” and the planets align and the sun and the moon and the stars. And I’m like “What?!? You just got finished cursing me out two minutes ago, calling me all kind of names and now you want to talk about planets and stars.” I was livid. I mean, my teeth were clenched, I was shaking my foot and I’m like, “Are you seriously gonna sit here and play this role?” I couldn’t take it anymore. We were supposed to be telling them about ourselves. I was like, “You wanna know the problem? You wanna know what the real problem is? He doesn’t know how to come home at night.” And when I said that, their ears perked up and they were like, “Oh, tell us more!” Had I not said anything and kept my mouth closed, we would not be on Love and Hip Hop. Me, Stevie, nor Joseline, OK? [laughs]

So do you think that this was all meant to roll out the way it did?

I think it was. It wasn’t forced or anything – it just happened. We went to one audition and our lives changed…and we weren’t even gonna go to that! Yes, this was supposed to be and I think, not just for me to be on television, but the other opportunities that came from it. I’m not happy with all the stuff that’s happened on Love & Hip Hop, at all. But the stuff that’s come from me having that platform – don’t get me wrong, thank you very much Love & Hip Hop, thank you to the end of the world, thank you – but I think it’s the doors and opportunities that have opened for me from being on the show is where this journey was supposed to be taking me.

Do you think that you guys add a sense of authenticity to Love & Hip Hop Atlanta that otherwise may not have been there if you two weren’t on the show?

You know what’s funny, everybody says, “Oh my god, Mona’s such a genius. She got these people that…” Wait, no, no, no….Mona happened to pick cast members that really have a lot of bullshit going on in their lives. [laughs] For real, like we’re really going through this in real life. And then when we got the show, it just carried right on to television. And I think what makes it so interesting and popular is that somebody at some point can relate to me, can relate to Stevie, and can relate to Joseline. This is because these are real situations. And that’s what makes everybody tune in, ‘cause I’m pretty sure that people are like, “I can’t believe they’re really showing this.”

I mean, yeah, at some point I thought, this has to be real. It’s just so dramatic and the situation affected multiple lives! It’s all pretty fascinating to me, both the highs and the lows…

Yeah…I didn’t expect this. You know, a lot of people are like, “You know what you were getting yourself into.” Noooo way in the world could I imagine that it would be this ever…in my wildest imagination. But I’m enjoying the journey and I’m just rollin’ with it, you know?

Do you remember the first time when you realized you were famous?

I still don’t…My friend’s like, “You’re the most famous non-celebrity person I’ve ever met.” [laughs] Like I could still go to Wal-Mart, I mean…I can’t just sit around and get a bodyguard just to go to Wal-Mart. [laughs] I’m not gonna say it’s stupid, but that’s just me. I want to raise my child to be a normal child and do normal things, and I mean, yes there are safety issues…But just to be on my high horse like I’m all that and I can’t leave the house without security guards…come on man!

Well, you have a sense of realness about you, so if you want a sense of normalcy, I can see you just going to the store as you wish!

And when I go to the store, yes, I get harassed. Do I take every picture? Yes. I had six interviews today, and I was in Wal-Mart the whole time damn near, and I took about seven pictures while I was doing interviews. I didn’t even tell them no, even then. I said I’m on a phone interview, they nodded their head, and I still stood there with them, hugged them, and took the picture. And I think that is important. If it wasn’t for the people watching, the supporters, I wouldn’t be here! So why would I treat them some type of way. That’s backwards!

Well that shows a lot about your character, you taking the time to do that.

Yeah…If I had the nerve to go up to someone and asked for a picture and they told me no, I can only imagine how that would make me feel. That’s a real person and they have feelings.
To learn more about Mimi Faust, be sure to visit her website, as well as follow her on Instagram and Twitter! And to witness more of her realness, be sure to tune in tonight at 8/7 central on VH1!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anderson Group PR 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Are you OVER your Style? Top 3 Tips on How to Reveal the Real YOU!

(Wanna break free from the past? Communicate your true personality in style!)

I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and just think, “Blah. Is that all you got girl?!” It actually took several of these moments in my life before I finally started to truly connect with my personality and breathe new life into my overall image. While I have always appreciated my unique look, such as having a splatter of freckles on my face, gapped teeth, and a huge selection of hair scarves to add color to my outfit (and hide my horrible weaves), I wanted to up my image and reinvent any misconception about what a “writer” looks like. You know, I mean, I’m more than a geeky wordsmith…

I’m a writer with (from what I hear) interesting perspectives, a love for all types of music, a biracial individual with a love for bohemian vibes, and a woman with a natural sense of femininity and appeal. It was time to actually communicate these attributes with the proper mind-frame and look! (Yes, this fashion blogger can admit that she wasn’t feeling quite on point.)

While I didn’t consciously follow a step-by-step guide toward changing my look (that’s kinda lame, right?), I just slowly started to lose my fear of the unknown and realize that I have the power to transform my look into something I’m proud of.

So if you’re way OVER your current style, why not start today? It’s a new day and a new month! Because a fresh beginning can be oh-so-exciting, here are 3 tips that may help you when it comes to revamping your look:  

Look Within: What are you about? What do you stand for? Do you have a purpose in life? Looking within before (or as) you work on your appearance is significant. Maybe now is the time to come to terms with your real passion, the line of work you’re in vs. the line of work you want, budget, beliefs, and goals. I’ve yet to make the big bucks that allow me to jet set, but when I do have a couple dollas that aren’t already assigned to bills, I’ll step foot in a vintage store or an affordable retail outlet like Target, and enjoy treating myself to something special. I’m not quite in the position to go on a shopping spree at Chanel, but there is no reason I should feel shame and not feel pride in what I can afford.

Meditation, working out, and reading inspirational books (or via audio) can also help connect you to your inner self. There’s something pretty awesome that happens when you realize that you actually can lose weight and/or that you can get the job you’ve always wanted. It’s called confidence. And once you’ve increased your confidence, your energy becomes stronger and you will find yourself excitedly considering new ways to add vibrancy to your look -- the ways that communicate your authentic personality.

(Push past your fear! Gradual changes to your appearance can feel really good!)

Create a New Hair Story: When was the last time you tried a new ‘do? There are so many different types of trends to try out these days. From experimenting with a bold color to ditching your long curls and going pixie, the style you choose is a direct reflection of your personality and lifestyle. Just over a year ago, I decided to embrace my natural hair and ethnicity, saying goodbye to weaves, extensions, and relaxers. While I never grew up with the intention of locking my hair, doing so has been a life-altering decision – one that has not only added a special twist to my style; this personal decision has increased my level of spirituality. Dreadlocks are definitely not for the meek, as it takes patience, commitment, and the guts to ditch “the norm.” But this is my unique hair story…Are you at the point in your life where you're ready to write your own story?

Try New Fashion Trends: Before you can embrace the new, you need to understand the old…and possibly even say goodbye to some of it. So start by evaluating your wardrobe! Take a few hours and try on old pieces, creating a “keep” as well as a “donate” (or “sell”) pile. And in doing so, consider what fits, what is actually flattering, how often you wear an item, and whether or not you think you’ll ever wear it again. Once your closet is organized and you are ready to try out new trends, I’d suggest building on with what you already love. If you are obsessed with your pointy-toed stilettos, then maybe it’s the perfect time to invest in a pair of red ones! Wish you had a pair of rocker holey jeans, but not willing to cut up or tear some of your favorite denim pants, head on over to a local vintage or thrift store for an already, worn-in pair of “boyfriend jeans.” Enhancing your style and exploring creative ways to adopt a new trend may happen slowly over time or it may be something you jump on right away. It’s all a matter of timing and how much you know yourself. ‘Cause you won’t be able to choose the right, new pieces to communicate your personality if you’re still dwelling on the old.

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Photo Credit: Instagram pics!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Daisy Gonzalez: The LA Designer Who is Proud to Create Pieces for Women that OWN IT!

("I was always around fabrics..." - Daisy Gonzalez)
With a couture collection continuing to blossom and a passion for dressing women who unapologetically “own it,” Daisy Gonzalez is that humble, Los Angeles fashion designer you’d love to chat with over coffee. I speak from experience, because recently I did just that! And I must say that Gonzalez’s calming and peaceful demeanor combined with her love for creating sophisticated and sexy fashion for the confident, self-aware woman is refreshing.

Since launching her women’s line in 2008, Gonzalez has participated in Los Angeles Fashion Week (which is when I first saw her designs grace the runway!), won an online competition in which she was selected by Patricia Field and flown out to New York for a meet-and-greet, received interest from editors, stylists, and industry tastemakers, and has styled custom-made dresses for multiple celebrities, including K. Michelle and Gloria Lovan.

While this has been quite a journey thus far for Gonzalez, who grew up watching her mom sew, the road doesn’t stop here. The brain behind the “Giselle,” the “Sophia,” and the “Alessandra” – just a few of Gonzalez’s affordable dresses – proves that the right fit can embrace a woman’s curves in the right way!

(Elements of Daisy's creative process.)
Your dress collection is full of sophisticated and sexy styles for women. Tell me what has inspired your line!

Women inspired me. I feel that we, as women, have so many layers as far as who we are. I always remember that and try to tap into that every time I sit down and sketch. I think of women who stand out to me and they are confident, strong, hardworking, stylish, sexy (all in different ways because there is not only one way to be sexy)...they’re just owning it!  That’s the type of women that I design for.

I know that one of your high points as a fashion designer was when you met the world-renowned stylist Patricia Fields, after she hand-picked you from an online competition. What was THAT like?

[Laughs] I remember feeling so nervous that inside I just felt like I froze. Even when she was right in front of me I couldn’t get myself to tell her how amazing I thought she was, even though I’m pretty sure she knows anyway.  She was so sweet, and took the time to really talk to me and take me around her shop. Every time I think about it I have to laugh a little because I can’t even believe something like that was great.

(K Michelle, on the left, wearing the "Giselle" dress)
You have had the joy of designing multiple celebrities, including Gloria Govan and K. Michelle. Which celebs have you yet to design for but would love to?

Somebody asked me this question not too long ago and I couldn't give a list of names because so many people come to mind. A lot of influential women of course. It's amazing to see somebody in the public eye wearing something that you've put so much work into but it's just as amazing to see somebody who is not in the public eye wearing one of your pieces. They're both great feelings.

Jeannie Mai is wearing one of your dresses in her promo pic for the upcoming show on GSN, "Steampunk'd." Tell me about that dress as well as how it feels to see such a fabulous fashion figure wearing it!!

I was extremely excited to see Jeannie Mae wearing my dress to promote her new show! First, I'm a big fan hers and of the ladies from 'The Real,' but also because it's promoting a show about style and fashion (Steampunk'd). I know she loves fashion and that again makes it all more amazing. 

As for the dress, I fell in love with the fabric first and it just all came together. I loved how regal it looked and a bit untraditional today. I'm happy that it was appreciated and used so beautifully. 

("I loved how regal it looked..." - Daisy Gonzalez on the dress)
From the debut of your fashion collection in 2008 to now, what are some of the most important lessons you’ve gained?

I would say the most important out of the many is to remember that you are not only a designer, but you are a business owner.

Everyone has a favorite place to work and gain inspiration. For me, as a writer, it’s a coffee shop. What about you when it comes to designing?

Any place with an ocean view, or near the beach, will definitely make things flow easier. Most of the time though I’ll be in my home office sketching with music playing in the background.

Do you have a favorite dress in your collection?

Right now my favorite the ALESSANDRA dress. It’s made with beautiful French lace and it has a corset back. It’s just like you said in your first question: sexy and sophisticated.

(2009 - Fitting a model before her first fashion show)
I understand that you would like to start incorporating plus-size fashion in your collection. What inspired you to want to dress women of all shapes and sizes?

You know, until a friend of mine really educated me about the frustrations plus-size women have regarding their fashion choices, I never thought of designing plus-size pieces. It’s something that I would love to get into because beautiful, fabulous women don't just come in a size two.

Is there a certain color or print that looks good on ALL women?

Honestly there are a lot of classic colors that complement most people, but I feel before any of that we have to find a good silhouette to complement each body type. Then, color and prints can be decided.  

What about fashion design made you fall in love with it?

At a young age I was always around fabrics, machines, seamstresses, everything. It was fascinating.  I would say that after those years everything in my life lovingly shifted towards fashion.
What are the 3 essential items you believe all women should have in their wardrobe? 

A great dress, coat (or jacket), and a basic white (or black) top that will go with everything.


Get social with the Daisy Gonzalez Collection on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! If you would like to make direct contact with Gonzalez regarding custom-made pieces, please email her at