Friend Favorites Part IV

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Truffle hot sauce, Masterclasses, Shiseido for men… this blog post really has it all! This week my friends are giving you the low-down on all of the things they are loving right now, which includes some intriguing recommendations to say the least. If you have been following along, you will definitely consider purchasing some Supergoop! products by now or investing in Hulu or Netflix subscription to watch all of the latest movies and shows my friends are loving. Today, we have three friends, who I met during my study abroad program, giving up their latest finds. They could not be more different, yet more the same in so many ways. Take it away guys and gal!

James (left), Ola (center), Jeremie (right)

Snack

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James: Apples, oranges, blueberries or nuts because they’re healthy!

Ola: Truff Hot Sauce – technically not a snack but it’s a condiment that I’ve been putting on everything from eggs to veggies and I would highly recommend if you want to spice up your life.

Jeremie: Greek yogurt topped with seeds, oats, and fruit is the best snack I’ve found to satisfy and sugar cravings.

Beauty Product

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James: Shiseido face wash– really makes my face feel clean. My aunt sent it to me in a care package when in college and I’ve been using it since.

Ola: Supergoop Glowscreen – I recently got this sunscreen because I’ve heard so many great things about the brand and founder. It’s moisturizing and makes the skin so radiant.

Jeremie: I have a love-hate with Crest 3D whitening strips. They feel like a chore to use, but it’s a big confidence boost.

Favorite Clothing Item

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James: PIMCO t-shirt, it’s from a friend and it’s soft and versatile. My friends and I give each other t-shirts from where we work and one of my best friends works at PIMCO. The shirt is blue and very soft, it’s also large so I can lounge in it. 

Ola: Soludos sneakers – I got a pair of these embroidered sneakers last summer and they are so cute and unique and super comfortable too!

Jeremie: I’ve been wearing smart trousers from H&M lately. They’re comfortable in spring weather and easy to dress up or down, depending on your shoes and top.

Show or Movie

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James: Movie is Limitless with Bradley Cooper. I like movies that involve smart people, I also like the idea of being able to unlock the rest of your brain.

Ola: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – I feel like I might be the only person who watches this but it’s a show where the main character hears her friends’ and family members’ innermost feelings and thoughts through song. As a former musical theater nerd, I really enjoy the performances and random singing and dancing.

Jeremie: I’ve been loving MasterClasses, especially Sara Blakely’s and Chris Voss’s. Anytime you hear someone speak about one specific craft that he/she mastered, it’s a great mix of entertainment and education.

Hobby or Activity

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James: Anything with friends: poker, drinking, the beach, you name it!

Ola: Reading! I’m currently enjoying Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, a British journalist. It’s a memoir about growing up that explores navigating friendships, jobs, loss and romance. I also recently read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo which I would recommend if you’re looking for something more serious.

Jeremie: My girlfriend and I have been finding things to do in our area on TikTok. It’s an easy way to plan a date night while doing things we normally wouldn’t.

Friend Favorites Part III

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Yes, it’s our first all-male edition of friend favorites, where I asked my guy friends what items they are using, snacks they are eating, what they are wearing, and so much more. Whether it be my girl friends or my guy friends, I feel like there is always something to learn. Who knew that I needed some kale chips and a Dyson hair dryer stat!? One of the many reasons I love asking my friends for recommendations is because they all have such diverse perspectives and viewpoints. I walk away learning so much and feeling motivated to give something new a try! Here are the latest friend recommendations- get your wallets ready!

Ivan (left), Justin (center), Hayoung (right)

Snack

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Ivan: Crispy kale chips 12/10, perfect balance between healthy, and crispy that you get from wanting to munch on something.

Justin: Frozen Mango. Perfect summer snack, cold and soft, yet firm consistency.

Hayoung: I don’t snack much, but chocolate covered pretzels, I have a HUGE sweet tooth.

Bathroom Product

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Ivan: Differin Acne Treatment Gel, it’s my hidden secret that I use to spot treat wrinkles, and small pimples!

Justin: Unseen Sunscreen by Supergoop. A daily essential and you never feel like you’re wearing sunscreen. 

Hayoung: My Dyson hair dryer, it dries my hair in like 15 seconds… it’s incredible.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Ivan: I am super eager to start traveling again, and nothing says beach side vacation like a pair of Havaianas.

Justin: Lululemon shorts, “The short.” Its just a must for working from home. 

Hayoung: My brown leather loafers from To Boot New York, it’s my go-to when I’m going out to dinner.

Show or Movie

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Ivan:Broad City” is the right balance between chaotic and borderline weird that I crave in a TV show.

Justin: Forget a movie or show – online classes on “EdX”

Hayoung: “How I Met Your Mother”, I think it’s the perfect show (except for the ending).

 

Hobby or Activity

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Ivan: Never underestimate the power of a good walk! I usually listen to Gary Vee’s coffee chats on YouTube, and it’s cool to listen to him while being outside and enjoying the weather.

Justin: Cycling! It’s important to get sun and fresh air, you can cover great distances and it’s great for socializing.

Hayoung: Getting a great meal with my friends, vibes are so good before, during, and after.

Luna Zhang on Knits, Crochets, and a Month of Creation

A business brain with a passion for fashion.

It all started with some crochet needles, a sewing machine, and a dream.

Two months ago Luna Zhang was determined to fully realize her passion for sustainable fashion when she applied for a grant from Babson College, where she currently attends. Despite not having any previous experience, Luna was up for the challenge and, with the grant, was able to purchase a sewing machine and take on the one and a half month-long feat of learning how to make clothing garments. 

It has always been a dream of Luna’s to learn how to make clothing and when the opportunity presented itself for her to explore this dream, she knew that she had to jump on it. Along the way, Luna learned as much about herself as the tailoring process- realizing the importance of incorporating her political stances within the pieces as well as how far true grit and determination can get you. 

One aspect of fashion that is especially important to Luna is sustainability. Having been a devoted thrifter over the years, Luna wanted to incorporate sustainability into making her clothes for this project by repurposing the yarn from thrifted blankets as well as parts of clothes from thrift stores. Luna also wanted to emphasize gender neutrality in the pieces that she made, a direction that she views fashion should be going into. During Luna’s final exhibition she even had both women and men wear her pieces, emphasizing the desire for her clothing to be inclusive for everyone. 

The inspiration behind her knits have undeniably been color, which married well with the timing of her spring exhibition. Luna was also moved by different textures and the opportunity to incorporate these in the same piece, especially enjoying combining thick and thin yarns to create a 3-D effect. Additionally, Luna credits some muses throughout her process, such as ʟɪɴᴅsᴀʏ ᴠʀᴄᴋᴏᴠɴɪᴋ – a super talented design student in NYC- being her biggest inspiration along with YouTuber Emma Chamberlain

            

Throughout her journey, Luna notes the many challenges that she had to overcome in order to finish her project within such a tight timeline of one and a half months. Reflecting back, Luna mentions that she wishes she had three to four months, however, is grateful for the restrictive amount of time, given that it really focused her on completing the task at hand. In the beginning, Luna said that she spent countless hours making a number of mistakes and fighting with her sewing machine, which she definitely underestimated the difficulty of using. Luna mentions that she and her sewing machine fostered an intimate bond, especially when she hit a jam. Looking back, however, Luna finds that the imperfections in her clothes are a reflection of the beauty of the mistakes that she has made along the way. Luna used the process of trial and error along with countless hours of YouTube video tutorials in getting to her final result.

At one point during the process, Luna admits that she wasn’t even sure if her project would fail or succeed. Luna had zero idea of the interworkings of design and fashion and had to completely shift her business brain to a design brain overnight. 

“Business students get put into a box sometimes in what they can do. I had imposter syndrome and self-doubt along the way that I had to battle. I worked with great design students at my Converse internship and never thought that I could do what they were doing,” Luna mentions in our interview. This ties into her biggest learning point:

You are your biggest supporter and enemy, so be kind to yourself and don’t hold yourself back from things you want to try because at the end of the day we make mistakes and you should do it if it’s your passion. 

Throughout this project, Luna proved to herself that she is capable of achieving her dreams and is more than just a business student- she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to. 

           

Although Luna admits that seeing it all come together at the end was the most rewarding part of her journey, she isn’t stopping with the unveiling of her exhibition. Luna is currently taking future commissions of her work (DM her!) and will be donating the proceeds to the Asian American community, a cause that is especially close to her heart.

I am the happy owner of a Luna original crochet halter top, a piece with a story and meaning so much bigger than I could have ever imagined. 

 

Friend Favorites Part II

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

It’s only the second part of the series and I feel as though there is so much for me to try that my friends have recommended! I love taking recommendations for so many reasons, the main one being that it bonds you closer to your friends. When you try something that someone else is passionate about, you are able to connect with them on that experience. A funny show they mention? The best way to spark some laughs in referencing the punchline during a conversation. A yummy dessert recommendation? An insight into your friend’s palette. A soft sweater they always talk about? The perfect birthday gift when the time comes. And when the time comes for these three friends of mine, I know just what to get them!

Farah (left), Thomas (center), Pam (right)

Snack

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Farah: Chocolate chewy bar. They are light, delicious and reminds me of the great memories I had durning my middle school and high school days in Tunis when we would go to the commecery to buy them.

Thomas: Pink Lady Apple. I have a bad addiction to sugar and find it sometimes satisfies my craving for something sweet and sugary.

Pam: Baked hot Cheetos. They are sooo good and addicting. I also think they taste better than the regular hot Cheetos.

Beauty Product

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Farah: Province Apothecary eye brow serum. My favorite serum to promote hair growth for eyebrows. The only thing that has ever worked for me!

Thomas: Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream. I love to use this product after I’ve washed, scrubbed, and toned my face with the Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner. My face is always glowing afterwards and makes me feel like I’m at my best.

Pam: La Roche-posay Lipikar Lotion AP+. I was using a toner that irritated my skin. It caused a really bad reaction and ended up drying out my skin MAJORLY. This has single handedly saved my skin. Also using it all over my body for soft and hydrated skin.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Farah: AG black skinny jeans legging. By far, one of the most comfortable pair of jeans that I have ever purchased. A little pricey, but the quality is worth it & I still have my first pair of AG jeans since I bought it 5 years ago!

Thomas: My current favorite clothing item has to be my HENRE swim shorts. Launching this summer, along with swim briefs I based the HENRE collection on the inspirational mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs.

Pam: My beige Khaite aceline cardigan. Soooo comfortable and cozy. Would wear it everyday if I could.

Show or Movie

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Farah: Definitely Grey’s Anatomy. And not because I’m a doctor! I first started watching this show in early 2000’s since my days in Tunis & it’s just been an ongoing thing for me, one of those shows that feels like home & Meredith is like part of the family.

Thomas: Schitts Creek is my absolute go to. The show is so beautifully written and produced. I feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person from watching the show. There is a line in the show where the character Alexis Rose says to her brother “nobody’s thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you” and the saying really hit a nerve and changed the way I viewed life in general.

Pam: Grace and Frankie. They are such a hilarious duo. Love their different personalities and how they balance each other. This is really a show that is hard to stop once you start.

Hobby or Activity

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Farah: Driving around in my car with my friends, the windows down with my favorite playlist on!

Thomas: I love a long bike ride with my headphones in listening to Dua Lipa and my snapping photos of my surroundings on my camera.

Pam: Long walks. Not a big fan of cardio but I can go on hours long walks. Something about and evening stroll to close out your day or a mid-day walk to clear your mind. Also, I feel like this is all I can do these days…

Company to Watch: Amina Muaddi

I’ll take one in every color!

There is so much to take away from the fashion success story of Amina Muaddi– 33 year old entrepreneur and fashion label under the same name- making it a perfect addition to my Company to Watch series. The accessory designer grew up between Jordan, Romania and Italy, and cites her mother as fostering her love of fashion at a young age. In a recent Vogue article, Muaddi mentions her mother in setting the ground work for her interest in the fashion world, “I would try on [my mother’s] shoes even when I could barely walk in them. She always took care of herself and took such care in the way she dressed, so she was my introduction to this world and led to my passions.”

After studying at the European Institute of Design in Milan, Muaddi worked as a stylist for L’Uomo Vogue and GQ US, yet quickly found her passion was in design and the craftsmanship of accessories. This motivated her to dedicate a lot of time learning about the intense shoe manufacturing process in Riviera del Brenta, Italy’s famous shoe-making district. In observing the lack of technical knowledge her peers had in regards to shoe design, during a course she attended in college, Muaddi regarded this hands-on learning in the factory as extremely important. This experience quickly paid off when she created her own brand and produced her eclectic, complex heels, which are composed of 40 to 50 pieces each and deemed an incredibly comfortable shoe despite their height! 

It was early on in her career that Muaddi partnered with a friend to start her first shoe brand called Oscar Tiye. Despite having promising beginnings, the brand wasn’t a success and soon closed up shop. However, Muaddi was persistent and launched her second label in 2018 under her own name. Since the launch, Muaddi has had the opportunity to collaborate with French couturier Alexandre Vauthier on the launch of his shoe line as well as design the footwear for Rihanna’s LVMH-owned FENTY line, which launched in July 2020 and from which Muaddi won the Collaborator of the Year award at the FN Achievement Awards

Muaddi is unique to the industry in myriad of ways. Firstly, in her brand’s style. Her shoes, which were deemed as “pandemic proof” in the fashion editorial world, are about as sophisticated and eccentric as it gets- somehow expertly balancing the two. Muaddi’s shoe designs are instantly recognizable and a cult favorite with celebrities and influencers a like- Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, and Irina Shayk to name drop. The shoes have edgy, yet tasteful signature styles, such as a square bottom heel, rhinestone embellishments, and a square toe. There is no question who the creator is when you spot the shoes, you just know it has to be Muaddi. Bottom line, they are eye-catching and splashy, making them perfect for capture on Instagram… if you have a cool $1,300. 

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Her business model also isn’t defined by standard fashion norms. When Muaddi first started her Amina Muaddi brand, she knew that she wanted to launch a see now, buy now product through wholesale, which has kept interest very high. She didn’t want to appear in fashion week months ahead of the pieces’s sale date, despite being advised against it, noting in Vogue Arabia “my customer never gets bored of my product before it even hit the stores”. Muaddi also only designs two collections a year, which can only be found in high end, third-party retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Mytheresa, and Ssense. Beautiful shoes with a secretive and anticipated release = fashion gold. 

Yet, it’s her vulnerability in sharing how failure, patience, and persistence are part of the process that make her truly one of a kind. Although we like to think that she was, Muaddi was no overnight success. “[I]t took me 8 years to get to where I am today. And I failed before with my first brand, so I’m not scared of that,” Muaddi notes in a sit down with Business of Fashion. Muaddi has stuck to her gut instincts all along and its gotten her so far. Persistence has paid off. 

I know I am on my tippy toes waiting to see what else this fashion maven has up her sleeve next, no not because I have a pair of Amin Mauddi’s myself… not just yet. 

Friend Favorites Part I

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Is this another friend finds series I see!? Yes, you would be correct! This time, instead of asking my friends about their favorite beauty products, we are here to talk about all kinds of favorites- snacks, tv shows, clothing, you name it! I always feel like I can count on my friends for their recommendations when it comes to almost anything. And, if there ever was a time to get recommendations it would be now! With some extra time on our hands due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to explore and try new things. The first round of friend recommendations are coming from Divya, Upasana, and Celeste, who are here to bring you some excellent suggestions on food, beauty, clothing, media, and the hobbies that they are enjoying. Take it away my ladies!

Divya (left), Upasana (center), Celeste (right)

Snack

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Divya: Terra vegetable chips, satisfies a craving without making me feel too bad about myself!

Upasana: Caramel Popcorn! It’s one of those snacks that satisfy a craving but it’s also SO sweet that I end up eating less of it than I’d eat if I ate something salty!

Celeste: Smartfood popcorn! This snack takes me back to elementary school packed lunches and reminds me of my childhood.

Beauty Product

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Divya: The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I know it’s supposed to be a sleeping mask, but the hydration and feel has made it an all purpose, all day lip balm/lip moisturizer that I love.

Upasana: Cloud paint by Glossier. Working from home I don’t wear much makeup anymore, but something that makes me feel instantly bright and pretty in the morning is just dabbing on some cream blush on my cheeks and a little as a lip tint too! I use the haze and storm colors!

Celeste: Beekman 1802 fig leaf hand cream. It smells so good and I love the company’s mission!

Favorite Clothing Item

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Divya: Definitely my oversized white shirt. It’s so hot in Nigeria that sometimes I just want to comfortable and I can dress the shirt up/down which makes it perfect for every occasion without having to try too hard.

Upasana: I’m absolutely obsessed with these comfy lounge like pants that are also great to wear out for a brunch with friends or a day at a cafe just relaxing and reading!

Celeste: Midi silk skirts. These skirts make me feel so elegant and the length is comfortable for any occasion.

Show or Movie

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Divya: I recently binge watched The Spy which was so incredibly good. Definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Eastern Politics or honestly a must watch just for Sacha Baron Cohen.

Upasana: I’d have to say this is the hardest question ever! I finished watch HBO’s Succession and I was absolutely hooked throughout! It’s masterful and nuanced cinematography with characters that aren’t deeply likeable, but are VERY real and that’s a testament to how phenomenal the actors are! Another show that’s my all time favorite that I always go back to, and currently have been watching is Gilmore Girls! It’s just a feel good, heartwarming show but has some very valuable life lessons and important messages!

Celeste: Daria. This show is so funny and relatable to being a teenager.

Hobby or Activity

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Divya: Tennis! I recently started learning the sport and it’s so fun. For me it’s a great way to be outside doing something active while learning a new skill.

Upasana: I’m really getting into candle making and I’d been watching my mom excel at making really creative, deliciously scented candles, so I thought I’d give it a try and it’s a really calming, centering activity with a great finished product that I can use day to day!

Celeste: Sewing and quilting. I love getting inspiration and coming up with ideas. It is an amazing feeling using my hands to make those ideas come to life.

My Favorite Purchases from 2021… So Far

Did someone say free shipping?

2021 has definitely been the year of the online shop for me. I have really hit my stride when it comes to having multiple tabs of retailers open, checking my honey coupons, and searching for discount codes galore. What is more fun than a good online shop sometimes? During a time when not too much is exciting, inspiring, or stable enough to look forward to, I have found that sometimes it’s the little things that can spark some joy. A skincare product that encourages self care, a bathing suit that get’s you excited about the summer once again, or a pair of comfy yoga pants that encourage you to join your mom in her daily yoga flow. I have had so much fun finding these pieces to add to my closet and hope you enjoy my little review. Maybe some of these items will even make it into your shopping cart too!

Sunny Yellow Tank Top by Club Monaco

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When I saw this color on the shelf, I knew whatever kind of top it was I would have to get it. Ever since I was little I have had an affinity for the color yellow – the paler the better! When I was about two years old I had a matching yellow and white striped belly shirt and shorts set that I lived in. Despite having a chubby baby belly and bowed legs from starting to walk too early, I wore my little set with pride. Although this tank top has a bit more fabric than my childhood favorite, it is just as soft and just as sunny. Definitely worth the purchase! 

High Waisted Flutter Legging by Alo Yoga

Airbrush High-Waist Flutter Legging - Black

I don’t remember where I first saw these leggings, but I remember that when I did I thought that I needed to have them. I mean look at those slits! Whenever I look for pants I always try to look for basics with a twist and these are just that! Because they were such a hot item when they came out, they were sold out on the Alo Yoga site. However I was able to find a new pair on Poshmark, thanks to my Poshmark Queen Tara, who found them on the day they were listed- and for less than their original retail price! Although I would have preferred the waistband to have been a bit wider, these pants fit super comfortably and have great stretch. These yoga pants are also happily yoga class approved!

Bordighera Black Strappy Sandal by Jacquemus

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When you see Jacquemus and on sale in the same sentence, there is nothing you can do but submit to the inevitable. You will be purchasing and not regretting the decision. These eclectic sandals were calling my name when I first saw them online on a thrifting retailer’s site. They just happened to be my size and were a mere fraction of their original price. I was lucky in that they had just been listed and knew that I had to act fast before someone else swiped them up. Despite having no where to go for a while now, I knew I had to find a place in my wallet and closet to make room for this new gorgeous addition. And I’m happy that I did. 

Cucumber Green Tea Deodorant by Frank Body

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What can I say? I had to recommend this one, considering I see myself as somewhat of a deodorant aficionado of sorts. There is something about deodorant that drives me crazy- in both good and bad ways. I really have an aversion to body odor and find that deodorant is a must- but not just any deodorant! One that is odor and sweat resistant, yet not so scented that it simply replaces the need for cologne or perfume. It shouldn’t be visible on clothing and cause a mess. These are the deodorant rules I live by and this deodorant that I just discovered is truly the holy grail, ticking every box with flying colors. 

Tie Up Snakeskin Flats by Steve Madden 

Steve Madden Ryee Sandal (1)

I often find inspiration from those I see in every day life; the woman walking into a coffee shop wearing a pair of stunning leather pants, a tourist on vacation wearing a big straw hat, and, in this case, a woman wearing the strappiest pair of sandals I had ever seen attending an outdoor carnival. Once I saw that pair of strappy sandals, I knew that I had to find a pair for myself. Recently, I went to work, scouring the internet for something with some ties that was fun and unique. I found my item and, with little hesitation, made my purchase. In 5-7 business days I was pleasantly surprise and truly delighted by my sandal arrival. 

Terry Cloth Bikini by Triangl

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Maybe it was summer just around the corner or maybe it was just some good marketing – probably a little bit of both – that I felt like I just needed this bathing suit. I know what you’re thinking terry cloth and white on a bathing suit, meant to be worn at the beach!? Umm… yes. It’s all for the sake of fashion! When I received this long awaited suit in the mail and tried it on, it was such an exciting moment. The fit is so great and it’s such a classic cut, yet with a unique flare. I can’t wait to wear it this summer, if only the weather would warm up already!

Flare Bottom Medium Wash Jeans by Citizens of Humanity

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If you find a jean that just fits right, you have to buy them. I think it’s an unspoken rule somewhere, maybe in jean land. I have been looking for a nice medium wash jean for a while now and, when I saw this pair, I knew that we might be a perfect match- and we were! This pair of pants fits in all the right places and are a perfect length for me, which isn’t always easy to find. They hit right below the belly button, making them a perfect height without landing in high waisted territory, and have just the right amount of distressing. You can also really feel the quality of the denim in these pants. I always think that jeans are a great investment, these pants being one with recurring dividends. 

Water Sleeping Mask by Laneige 

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I’ve been looking for some more expensive skincare face masks to replace to CVS sheet masks and the giant tub of Amazonian clay mask powder I have in my skincare stash. After a deep online search and too many friends pestered later, I finally landed on this hydrating sleeping mask from Laneige. Once I tried it I really fell in love, you truly feel your skin instantly hydrating- it’s like someone just splashed you with a bucket of water! I also love the fact that you get to sleep with it on overnight and rinse it off in the morning. This mask is, for sure, worth the investment to add to your skincare routine! 

What have been your favorite purchases of 2021?

Company to Watch: Saks Potts

Fur, glitz, and glam.

And we’re back for another episode of Company to Watch! Last year, I reviewed the inspiring accessory retailer Ubuntu Life and this year I am bringing back the blog series more regularly, taking a deep dive into companies that are shaking up the retail industry, Saks Potts being one of them.

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 9.44.07 PMThis Danish clothing company was started by Copenhagen natives Catherine Saks and Barbara Potts in 2014, who felt motivated to create beautiful and fun statement coats for Copenhagen’s cold winters. Despite having no fashion training, Saks and Potts have built an incredibly successful brand off of the notion that a coat is a statement piece that deserves statement treatment, adding pops color to Copenhagen’s muted palette with their splashy and candy colored coats- most notably in orange, blue, and green. “A coat is the first thing you see when you meet someone. It’s such an important statement of your personality,” Saks mentions in an interview with Harvey Nichols. But fun coats are where Saks Potts begin, not where they end.

Although, Saks Pots had humble beginnings, handing out their coats to women they admired outside Hôtel Costes during Paris Fashion Week, the fashion house continued to stay relevant by incorporating everything from glittery twin sets to swimsuits among their signature colorful fur trimmed coats. The collections are inspired by empowered and fierce women, like Princess Diana and Dolly Parton, who balance fun and feminine nature with serious boldness and power- a message that has clearly resonated with women. The company has won three Elle Style Awards, being Unavoidable of the Year in 2015, Brand of the Year award in 2018, and Show of the Year in 2019. It’s no wonder that Catherine and Barbara named the company after themselves, they are on to something quite special here. 

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Much of the company’s success, however, is a testament to the entrepreneurial nature of the two founders, who have displayed their business chops by having learned the ins and outs of the Copenhagen fur trade and attaining an 80-100% sell through rate in all of their collections, as cited by Business of Fashion. Saks Potts has also done a recent collaboration with vintage car dealer L’Art de l’Automobile, which has allowed the company to gain a greater exposure to different markets. A slew of celebrities who love and wear the brand, such as Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Selena Gomez, and Rihanna, have also helped to skyrocket the retailer to stardom. 

I can’t help but think that the innate splashiness of some of the pieces Saks Potts creates has something to do with their virality. The pieces are catchy, focused, and instantly recognizable as being from Saks Potts, a testament to true brand unity. The founders have recognized that their clothes have this “see it, want it, have to have it” effect on consumers, which may be changing their business model in the future. Over the course of the pandemic, the company spoke about deciding between dropping clothes every three to four times a year or doing more consistent drops that they feel confident in during the year instead. “When we see something on a catwalk or at a presentation or on some girl on Instagram, we just really want to buy it in the moment. So I think right now is an especially good time to adopt the see-now-buy-now model,” Saks mentions in an interview with Vogue back in August.

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As Danish fashion continues to infiltrate the American fashion scene, I anticipate seeing furry cuffs and candy colored coats walking the streets of New York and LA in the future. Who knows, maybe I’ll invest in some Saks Potts candy too down the road. Who am I kidding, I’m obsessed! #bossbabe CEOs for the win.

Marsalis Pearce on being an Associate Merchant at J.Crew

Men’s shoes, J.Crew work culture, and so much more.

Marsalis Pearce, better known as Marz, is a Harlem native who is all about retail. Having graduated from Babson College with a concentration in retail supply chain management, Marz has always had his sights set on working in the industry. Marz’s passion for the fashion industry originated during high school, at a time when he was interested in design and had sights on starting his own clothing line. Over the years, Marz worked in sales at The Foundation Showroom in New York City and had the opportunity to work with men’s apparel and footwear brands. Marz also interned at Ross before his last semester of college, where he took a deep dive into merchandising, the opposite side of the coin from sales. Now, Marz has found his place at J.Crew, working as an Associate Merchant, managing the men’s footwear business both online and in-store.

Leading up to working at J.Crew, Marz had a list of companies that he was interested in working for, J.Crew being on the list because of its cool aesthetic of classic American style. When he checked out the career opportunities at there, Marz stumbled on the Assistant Merchant role and applied. Soon after he heard back, Marz had an interview, and got an offer the next day! Marz credits the timing of everything, his prior experience in retail, and his ability to communicate authentically in telling his story in helping him land this dream job. 

Marz credits culture as being one of the biggest things that has kept him working for the company for three years now. From his very first encounter interviewing for the company, Marz knew that J.Crew was a place that he wanted to work, the employees all being incredibly friendly and inviting. Within the first few months of working at J.Crew, Marz was encouraged by the fact that no matter what your position, your perspective matters and your opinion is valued. Marz is always encouraged to share his point of view, not only on his business but other businesses within the company as well. 

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 8.18.44 PM“There is nothing that you are going to do here that is going to burn down the building,” says Marz, a piece of advice that he was given from a co-worker, which has helped him adopt a healthier mindset towards work. 

During J.Crew’s recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which the company recovered from, Marz also felt that the transparency that J.Crew offered during this time was extremely refreshing and reassuring. Marz specifically credit’s J.Crew’s leadership in helping their employees stay motivated during a really tough time. 

As an Associate Merchant at J.Crew, Marz is responsible for managing the full product lifecycle within men’s footwear, which includes shoes, boots, sneakers, flip-flops, and slippers. Marz partners with design, production, planning, allocation, stores, marketing, and brand creative to ensure he’s delivering the right assortment, at the right price, at the right place, at the right time, and to the right customer, all while meeting the financial goals of the company. His job involves a significant amount of cross-functional interaction, his role really sitting at the heart of the company. His division ultimately is in charge of brainstorming the needs of the company and customer to deliver the most value. Within the footwear department, there is also a high penetration of third party brands, as J.Crew works in close partnership with New Balance, Adidas, Sperry, and Reebok to name a few.

Marz has had a passion for footwear for over six years now, considering Adidas Sambas and a classic white Nike court sneaker to be some of his go-tos. Marz considers his style to be a mix between Americana with a hint of streetwear. Although he has had a huge passion for streetwear since he was little, Marz mentions that J.Crew has unlocked another level of style for him. Some days Marz likes to throw on loafers and jeans, while others he dawns chinos and sneakers. “I always choose the shoe first and dress from the bottom up.”

A day at work for Marz is super fast-paced, especially at the peak of the pandemic in Spring, Summer of 2020, as Marz was having to react to the pandemic’s effect on the economy. When stores were quickly closing, Marz was forced to rethink incoming orders and pulling goods forward. It was an intense but insightful process, Marz notes, as it enabled him to understand how to read and react to supply and demand. In the mornings, Marz has a touchbase with his manager to review expectations for the week, month, and quarter. Marz then could be reviewing previous or future budgets and having meetings with production and design team to review upcoming products. The end the day could look like another team meeting with the marketing division about a sneaker launch and the needs associated in order to promote the style. Despite working from home, Marz is able to work pretty efficiently, but also goes into the office in person to review products with his teams.

“Day to day really varies. It’s a perfect balance of rhythm and chaos,” says Marz. 

Marz’s favorite aspect of the job is the road mapping stage, when he plans for the future of J.Crew Men’s footwear retail will look like. Currently, Marz is working on Spring 2022, considering the company’s needs, looking back at previous seasons, and accessing what opportunities or misses that he has had- buy less, more, or not at all. The job’s analytical and creative requirements is also an aspect of the job that Marz appreciates.That being said, Marz typically works on 5 seasons at a time:

  • Liquidating holiday 2020
  • Preparing to launch spring 2021
  • Putting finishes on summer 2021
  • About to place fall 2021 orders
  • Having conversations about holiday 2021

Looking towards the future of fashion, Marz predicts that the industry will change in a number of ways. “As technology changes and as we get older and our needs change, our buying decisions change as well,” notes Marz. Marz regards the recent increase in consumer spending and pent up demand for certain products ironic in some regards, since we are all working from home and limit leaving the house. With the pandemic having an impact on special events, such as weddings, as well as office culture changing, Marz sees a shift towards more casual styling, especially in the suiting world. The pandemic has also resulted in a segment of consumers reevaluating what they are buying and the value and quality of those items. Overall, there seems to be a lot of  introspection happening that hasn’t happened for a while, as people have more time to stop and reflect. 

What excites Marz about his own future? The opportunity for him to learn more about himself- his interests, strengths, and areas of growth. Marz’s resolution for 2021 is to get to know himself more and to leave behind any baggage, which has led him to a positive direction in life and work. Marz is filled with a lot of hope this year and- you know- so are we. 

 

My Retail Predictions for 2021 (Part II)

My retail rundown.

Part two, here we go! Last Friday we talked about experiential moving online, video tutorials, brick and mortar closures, supporting small business, and the end of scheduled collection releases. This week, I am bringing you five more retail predictions to look out for in 2021! A few parting words- make sure to support local businesses, research the companies that you buy your products from, and be bold with your purchases! That feather dress and glittery bowtie is all you!

Online Retail Consulting 

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Because we aren’t able to have in-person shopping consultations, these experiences are moving online to help shoppers get that personal touch from the comfort of their own homes. The well-known Korean skincare company innisfree is one retailer that offers free one-on-one skincare consultations with one of their Korean skincare experts. I foresee many businesses providing similar services in the future, whether it be personal shopping consultations or virtual product walk-throughs. These virtual experiences are being explored now for definite utilization in the future. 

Global Online Discovery and Purchasing

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 3.13.02 PMAs a result of more people shopping online than in store, consumers will have a greater likelihood of discovering international brands with an e-commerce presence than ever before. Popular brands such as Australian e-commerce swimsuit retailer TRIANGL and France’s first online-only retailer Sézane, allow you to import the fashions and trends you love from across the globe. Opportunities to purchase clothing from niche retailers abroad has also allowed for less regionalization and more globalization when it comes to fashion, yet another example of how our world is becoming increasingly interconnected. 

 

Blurred Lines Between Social Media and Buying 

Instagram has done it with their shopping feature, Pinterest has done the same with the way in which you can purchase items tagged in photos, so what’s next? Shopping and media often go hand-in-hand, which is why it is my opinion that other platforms such as TikTok and Youtube- who knows maybe even Twitter- will soon be integrating certain buying features in their technology. When Gen Z-ers see something that they really like, they instantly need to know where to find it and how to buy it. Keeping this in mind, in addition to the fact that social media platforms thrive on ad revenue, it’s hard to see how this won’t be the future. 

Increased Reliance on Consumer Reviews

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Lately, I’ve seen an increase reliance on consumer reviews, reviews done by unbiased third parties such as Consumer Reports, or even unpaid promotions by social media influencers for customers to get a better idea of what they are purchasing. Buying a product, testing it out, and then having to return it can be a big hassle for some, who often buy online just to reduce said hassle. These hyper specific reviews and comments can be an extreme benefit to companies too, who have a loyal and engaged following that is willing to evangelize to others of their excitement for products. Glossier is one company that has thrived because of its consumer reviews and has a detailed approach as to how they capture review data that is worth taking a look at if you, yourself are looking to sell products online.  

Sustainable, Ethical, and Value Driven Brands

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Although this trend has been coming down the pipeline for some time now, ethical and value driven brands will never go out of style in the U.S., as sustainability and the environment have become an increasing concern within the fashion industry. Brands such as Everlane, Parade, and Biossance have all sought a niche place within their market on the basis of being more sustainable than their competitors. Sustainability reports are even becoming more popular for brands to disclose, a write up on their sustainability efforts and performance. Companies that are reporting on this are only putting more pressure on others to conform to higher ethical and environmental standards. Let’s keep it up retail!