CEO Sit Down: Ivana Mesarić on American Opulence

Thrifting like you have never seen it before.

Palm Beach raised, Boston educated, and currently living in the Orange County area, Ivana Mesarić is a force to be reckoned with, ready to make waves in the fashion industry with her new vintage luxury retail company American Opulence

Ivana has always known that she was destined to be a full-time entrepreneur and, even when she was in Middle School, exhibited some incredible entrepreneurial spirit. Ivana remembers heading to Goodwill with her mom when she was 13 years old during the 2008 financial recession, as her family had encountered hardship. For Ivana, this was a drastic change, however she learned to enjoy the experience, going with a friend to find fun and interesting items. Everything changed one day when Ivana went to Goodwill and found a Tory Burch tunic for $3, which she was able to resell on Ebay for $100. Ivana’s ability to make money this way was mind blowing to her at such a young age. Selling the tunic sparked the idea of buying other things to resell. Ivana quickly began familiarizing herself with designer labels and subscribing to popular fashion magazines in order to educate herself on what popular designer brands she should look for and which would yield the best resale value. As times changed, Ivana transitioned from selling on Ebay to Poshmark and got more serious about her hobby once she moved out to Orange County, California after graduating from Babson College. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-06 at 2.02.15 PM

Although Ivana is currently an analyst at an energy consulting company, she always makes time for thrifting. Having been involved in creative outlets her whole life, whether it be in music, dance, or musical theater, Ivana has always tapped into her creative side. Thrifting was just another way Ivana expressed herself, this time through fashion. “You never know what you are going to find on a thrifting outing,” Ivana says, “which makes it so fun and therapeutic in a way”. One of the most compelling parts of the business for Ivana is making older items look new again, she mentions. She also enjoys having control over the branding, fashion, and overall styling of the pieces. 

While living in the Orange County area, Ivana has curated a large selection of cool items, which got her to consider formalizing her resale business into an exclusive luxury store over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ivana always thought that her transition into entrepreneurship needed to include a world changing idea, yet she realized that it really didn’t have to be- it could be stylish and simple.

American Opulence’s aesthetic is luxurious and fashion forward, most of the pieces being one of a kind, Ivana tells me. One of the company’s main motivations is to convey that you don’t have to purchase from fast fashion retailers in order to be on trend. Surprisingly, Ivana finds a lot of fast fashion items while she thrifts, most likely items sent to influencers in press packages, she informs me. Some of Ivana’s favorite pieces in her curated collection, however, are oversized trench coats that exhibit quality and classic style. Lifetime pieces.  

One of the challenges that Ivana has encountered during the process of starting her business has been figuring out who her niche target market is, seeing that there is a lot of competition in the thrifted fashion space. That being said, as far as the future of thrifted fashion goes, Ivana sees the second hand fashion industry as a huge market that isn’t going anywhere soon. Gucci’s recent collaboration with The RealReal is just one example of how high end designers are trying to leverage the thrift market to the company’s benefit. Looking towards the future, Ivana also senses that getting traffic to the website will become a challenge, which she prepares to mitigate by leveraging Instagram and Instagram ads to target the Gen Z and Millennial market. 

“Even though the market is saturated, it’s not over saturated,”

Ivana says. 

In terms of the future, Ivana is excited about her new company, but also the impact it will have on the world, given that 5% of all of her sales are going to one of her favorite charities called MoviesMakingaDifference. MoviesMakingaDifference is a non-profit that directly aids the survivors of human trafficking and is especially important to Ivana, as she has volunteered extensively for the organization. 

I am convinced that, if Ivana is involved, the future of fashion looks more than bright. 

10 Gift Ideas for the Holidays Under $100

It’s that time of year again. But no stress, we’ve got you covered.

Oh the joys of the holidays, where all is merry and bright! This holiday season is extra important, given that we could all use some comfort and joy in 2020 (gospel choir singing “yes”). When it comes to buying gifts this season, let me help you de-stress even further by providing my budget friendly holiday gift ideas for you and your loved ones. Gift giving is one of my favorite things during any holiday- Birthdays, Christmas, Housewarming- you name it! To me, a gift symbolizes, in a tangible form, the care and attention that you pay to your relationship. It shows that you see them, you appreciate them, and you have taken the time to really think of them. So, let’s show some love this holiday season for those we care about. You never know how much those around you might need it.


Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.11.06 PM

Stationary is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I love sending letters through the mail and always find that some unique and fun stationary can make your note even more memorable. This stationary I chose is from Papier and is even customizable to include the gift receiver’s first and last name. Who doesn’t love a customized gift for just over $20?! Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to receive a thank you note on this stationary too!

Ugg Slippers

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.10.55 PM

These slippers were the first thing on my Christmas list (just dropping a subtle hint here). They are so comfy, so cozy, and, let’s be honest, when we are working from home we need something to brighten the day. At just $100 I think these slippers are a worthy investment in your wardrobe for the stormy winter to come. 

Virtual Cooking Class

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.13.02 PM

Ok, hear me out. This virtual cooking class is one that you HAVE to take with the lovely Marcella Ansaldo. I took cooking classes with Marcella in Florence many times, one more enjoyable than the next. When I found out that she was doing classes online, I knew I had to seize the opportunity to see her again. Marcella incorporates expert Italian food history into all of her courses and makes the virtual cooking experience one that almost mimics that of an in-person class. 10/10 for me!

Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub 

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.12.02 PM

This body scrub really does it for me. It smells amazing and leaves your skin silky smooth because the coffee grinds, which act as an exfoliant. The company Frank Body has a large assortment of fun products that you should also check out, in addition to their original scrub, which the company became famous for. Coffee + Skincare = Happiness

Glossier You Perfume

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.11.18 PM

When I first smelled Glossier’s You perfume I was skeptical. I was used to enjoying floral and sugary sweet scents. However, after using a sample of You and smelling the scent after it mixed in with my skin I was hooked. This perfume is one of my all time favorites, with such lovely mild, peppery notes. It was also The Fragrance Foundation’s Fragrance of the Year winner in 2018. Although it is a bit pricier ($60 for the bottle) it’s Ursula approved to be worth it.  

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea book

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.11.52 PM

If you love business, entrepreneurship, and media as much as I do, then this is the book for you. Written by the Co-Founder and First CEO of Netflix Marc Randolph himself, this book documents Netflix’s journey from CD sharing start-up to public company. If you know everything about business or nothing at all, there is something for you to take-away and learn from. Bottom line: you never know an idea won’t work until you try it.  

Abercrombie Puffer 

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.12.16 PM

If you ever spotted me last winter, you would have probably seen me either wearing this coat or its furry cream sister. I am completely obsessed with this puffer from Abercromie, which keeps me so much warmer than a lot of my more expensive coats. It fits right at the waist and can be buttoned all the way up to the chin. When I am wearing a coat I prefer to be swaddled in soft fabric, where you can barely see my eyeballs I am so snuggle. This coat does just that. 

Bose Speaker 

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.11.31 PM

This Bose speaker does everything a good speaker should. One charge lasts an incredibly long time, the sound quality is clear and crisp, it’s Bluetooth, and the volume spans a pretty nice range. Even better? It’s just under $70! I have had my speaker for over four years and it has lasted me through college and beyond. A perfect gift I’d say for a college or high school student who needs to tune out the world. 

Sugarfina Candy Box

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.11.44 PM

I know what you are thinking. She wants me to purchase candy for adults? Ummm…. yeah I do! I have received one of Sugarfina’s candy boxes as a Christmas gift before and, let me tell you, this is a gift that does not disappoint! But, then again I am a sugar-holic. My favorites from Sugarfina include the champagne bears and peach bellini hearts (the matcha bears also look 🔥). Everyone needs a bit of sweetness in their life, wouldn’t you agree? 

A Subscription to my Newsletter

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 4.12.25 PM

[Enter shameless plug] If you haven’t already, go sign up for my weekly newsletter! My newsletter comes out every Sunday and contains a link to every article you might have missed throughout the week as well as some exclusive new content! Best part? It’s free! 

Success! You're on the list.

Grace Yoon on Working in Fashion PR and Production

You know like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs- those guys.

Grace Yoon is a California soul with a New York state of mind. At only 29 years old, Grace has worked on fashion shows for the world’s top designers and brands including Michael Kors, Rodarte, Derek Lam, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and Gucci. 

Grace is a Korean-American, currently living in Northern California, who is an ESTJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging) personality type according to Myers Briggs. Although many expect Grace to be serious, she is actually the most goofy person I know! “A lot of the fashion world is serious, but fashion isn’t supposed to be serious, it’s supposed to be creative and fun” Grace mentions, a mindset which has gotten her far within the industry. 

Grace knew since high school that she wanted to be involved in putting on events after watching a TV programme with Brent Bolthouse, producer of Coachella’s infamous after party, Neon Carnival. Grace had no idea that you could have a career as an event planner, a natural profession for her, as she was obsessed with planning birthdays and school dances growing up. Right after high school, she came across BizBash, which is the event industry’s main resource and publication. Grace ended up driving six hours to LA to volunteer at BizBash’s annual conference, listening to their keynote speakers like Mindy Weiss and becoming inspired while she was there. 

This mindset is what set Grace up for so much success later on in her career, as she is always keen on absorbing everything around her – going to new hotels, exhibits, galleries, performance arts and theater shows, and pop-up events. Whatever Grace was interested in, she explored and experienced, which she was able to use to leverage within her work. 

When Grace was 20, she interned in New York City in fashion public relations at Seventh House PR and fell in love with New York, soon moving there permanently. At Seventh House she worked with brands such as Charlotte Ronson, Imitation of Christ, and many more up and coming brands. At the beginning of her career, Grace was so excited just to be in the environment – an excitement that is required to do the hard work that Grace put into the long hours and many times tedious work.

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 2.19.46 PM“I specifically remember Bill Cunningham showed up and overheard one of the publicists say ‘Bill showing up just validated our event.'” says Grace. DEGEN Presentation, September 2011

Grace’s next internship was with PR Consulting, working on accounts like Raf Simons and Brian Atwood. Grace had full intentions to return to California, however she received a job offer from fashion PR agency, Krupp Group as an assistant to the founder and President, Cindy Krupp. This was Grace’s first full-time job and it was an exciting time at the agency as they represented brands such as Sandro, Maje, and Rachel Comey and a number of new designers who were participating in the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund. Grace helped Cindy and the agency with anything and everything, allowing Grace to learn invaluable lessons that she couldn’t have learned anywhere else, as she was copied into every email that Cindy was on. This work was also a deep dive into introducing Grace to the fashion world, allowing Grace to figure out that she loved fashion, but did not want to stay in PR.

While Grace was still working at Krupp Group, she freelanced during a free weekend she had during fashion week as a production assistant.  This was her first introduction into fashion show production and backstage management, which was more her speed than front-of-house PR.  Grace ended up getting a full time offer with KCD a month later.  At KCD, Grace’s role was partially assisting Julie Mannion and Jarrad Clark the President and SVP. Although the initial transition was bumpier than expected, Grace soaked in everything that she could.

KCD is unique in that it is the only agency in the industry that has PR and production. At KCD, Grace found her niche in pacing, choreography, backstage and model management for the fashion shows KCD produced. In her role, Grace would work with the technical director and lay out where the models would be if they were sent at certain intervals.  She would also work with the DJ’s to layer on the show music and other cues into what she calls the “pacing chart” or script for the entire show.  In this job, Grace had the ability to travel all across the globe to Los Angeles, London, Milan, Paris, Nice and Seoul, over the course of three years. 

Gigi x Tommy Hilfiger Rehearsal, Milan, February 2018, Marc Jacobs Rehearsal, September 2017, & Maison Margiela Rehearsal, Paris, February 2017

At KCD, Grace experienced one of her most memorable shows, which was Virgil Abloh’s first show with Louis Vuttion Mens. Abloh is the first Black man to hold the helm of a luxury brand represented by the LVMH conglomerate, making his first show a momentous event. The show was held at the Jardin du Palais Royal and the runway was one straight path that was over a thousand feet, taking the models over three minutes to walk it’s entire length. Many of the models were friends of Abloh, including famed rapper Kid Cudi. Cudi did not attend the rehearsal for the show, and is also not a working model, so during the actual show Cudi was walking too slow and not spacing himself correctly with the other models. Grace and her boss were calling this show and noticed the gap forming between Cudi and the models in front of him, making her boss shout at him to speed up, however he remained steadfast in his “Kid Cudi walk and grin” the entire time. All jokes aside, Grace felt extremely thankful to have been part of what that moment meant in fashion. Grace distinctly remembers the energy at the show, everyone so excited and in a celebratory mood – the same celebratory feeling that lured Grace into events to begin with. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 2.18.23 PMLouis Vuitton Men’s Show, Paris, June 2018

As time progressed, however, Grace still had an itch to produce more than anything and when she found no mobility in her current job, she moved to freelancing with first Maybelline and then with Bureau Betak, where she coordinated her first runway show with client Michael Kors. Soon after, Grace went to produce her first event, being the Tiffany & Love fragrance launch. Grace then signed on full-time to work at Betak working on press previews for Gucci, producing Rodarte’s show last February, as well as many other events. Having since left Betak, Grace is taking a break to reconnect with family and friends back in her hometown in the Silicon Valley.

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 2.17.59 PM



Grace mentioned that she heard in a documentary Ralph Lauren say “sometimes you need to fulfill your dream to realize your true dream,” for now Grace is mulling over these words, discovering if the future has in store a new dream for her or just a bigger one.  

Tiffany & Love Fragrance Launch, October 2019 (right)


What advice would Grace give to someone interested in producing events and working in fashion?

Intern, intern, intern she says because you cannot learn fashion production in school, you really have to get first hand experience to learn. If you cannot get an internship in the field, which are often few and far in-between, volunteer or work as a production assistant on show day, just do anything you can to be in the room, Grace advises. Plain and simple, “work hard while you are young and able” Grace says, “because hard work has a trickle down effect in terms of opportunities and learning”. You never know where all of that hard work will land you. Maybe also next to Gigi and Bella, who knows!


Jacquemus, the Obsession is Real

Why I think Jacquemus should be the model for luxury retail marketing and engagement.

I was first introduced to the fashion brand Jacquemus last summer, when I was an intern at Bureau Betak, the fashion production company that is responsible for Jacquemus’s most splashy runway moments. I remember my fellow intern Cristina showing me photos of Jacquemus’s fuchsia runway and pronouncing the French designer’s name with a perfect French flair. Since seeing Simon Porte Jacquemus’s beautiful designs float through the infamous lavender field last summer, I have been captivated by the company and Simon himself- and who can forget Toutou the newest furry member of the Jacquemus team. But what was it about the brand that kept me coming back for more? It was time to do a little bit of research on Simon and all things Jacquemus to find out.

Simon Porte Jacquemus started his very first clothing line at the age of 19 years old, back in 2009, following the death of his mother, for which he named the company after- Jacquemus being her maiden name. During this time, Simon worked at the Comme des Garçons store in Paris, France to finance his business and inspire his designs. Simon’s success did not come overnight, but it did surely come. In 2014, Simon was a finalist in the running for the LVMH Prize and the next year a winner of the prize, for which he received publicity, a €150,000 check, and a yearlong mentorship. Two years later, Simon would be invited to the Maison Méditerranéenne des Métiers de la Mode to stage a catwalk in Marseille, which featured his 2018 Spring/Summer collection named “La Bomba” and was picked up by major retailers Selfridges, Moda Operandi, and Net-a-Porter. The rest is history. 

So why am I and the rest of the fashion world gushing over Jacquemus? I have a few guesses.  

First and foremost, Jacquemus’s marketing is both brilliant and sincere. 

Simon’s first ever fashion show- a staged fake “protest” outside Dior on Avenue Montaigne during Paris Fashion Week- is a testament to the marketing genius that has guided the brand’s success. Unlike with many brands and their fashion designers, Jacquemus’s Instagram account is run by Simon himself, where he often features the clothes he designs as well as photographs of his childhood modeling gigs, Instagram stories of his adorable new puppy pronouncing around his Parisian design studio, and Simon’s quirky design inspirations. Whatever Jacquemus posts is intentional, but also organic in nature. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 1.19.55 PM

All photos taken from Jacquemus’s Instagram

Jacquemus’s marketing does not bombard you with advertisements and company logos, but rather lets you in on what the brand as a whole sees, experiences, and loves. Jacquemus’s TikTok, for example, features fun and imaginative videos, such as an operational purse vending machine and Simon raking black sand in one of his iconic straw hats during a photoshoot. The feeling is anything but commercial and promotional. Through Jacquemus’s marketing presence, you get the feeling that you are on a digital media adventure, Jacquemus leading the way with whatever he finds beautiful and inspiring. 

Ready to Wear is essentially ready to wear. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 1.34.26 PM

The Jacquemus brand is all about structure, design, and simplicity in many cases. Jacquemus clothes are not crowded with logos and signature brand patterns, but are lead by tailoring, color, and texture. As a result, it is easy for the consumer to picture the clothes on themself because of their sheer “wearability”. Whereas Gucci’s ostentatious styling and larger than life embellishments can be off putting to many, Jacquemus does an expert job of keeping up with the latest trends, while still retaining a strong brand image in terms of style. Moreover, unlike many of luxury brands today, Jacquemus unapologetically features models of various shapes and sizes as well as ethnicities both on their runways and in their marketing. However, Jacquemus doesn’t scream for attention in terms of their inclusivity, its an organic integration into their brand. Jacquemus is also inclusive in terms of LGBTQ representation, as Simon frequently features himself and his boyfriend Marco Maestri on social media. There is no denying that the brand expertly balances vulnerability, creativity, confidence, and style. 

Jacquemus is about more than fashion, it’s about experience. 

In addition to selling clothes and leather goods, Simon has two volumes of photo books that he has released, the second and most recently debuted titled “Images”. The photo books feature some of Simon’s favorite images that he has taken throughout the years with his iPhone. The diversity in this product offering allow for the consumer to experience the brand even further and in a different way, truly bringing the company to life.

Simon thinks like an artist from beginning to end, making for incredibly cohesive experiences for the consumer and spectator. His 10th year anniversary show in Provence that was placed within a lavender field with a straight fuchsia runway, for example, was seen across social media and digital platforms for weeks, a truly remarkable spectacle that no one dreamt of, until now. Simon followed up this show with an equally compelling curved runway show through a wheat field located just outside of Paris. It is clear that Jacquemus is here to bring a stimulating experience in everything that they do. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 1.50.32 PM

Experiences are also reflected in their larger (or smaller) than life accessories. Simon’s Le Chiquito bag is so memorable, so fanciful, so refreshing that it was able to capture the attention of Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and the like. Simon’s oversized Le Bomba straw hat has a similar effect, where the wearer is able to feel dramatic and fun. The Jacquemus consumer is invited to be playful, fancy free, beautiful and included in their narrative. 

Jacquemus is a brand that is constantly filled with engaging surprises. A book, a mini purse, a field of lavender, a  behind the scenes look, an imaginative photo- there is something for everyone to take a way and feel inspired by. One of the most inspiring being Simon’s life story. Coming from a small farming town in France, to building a world renowned fashion brand, Simon embodies the possibility of what it means to leverage your talents through marketing and craftsmanship to become an unstoppable force. 

 One of a kind products, one of a kind experiences, and a one of a kind brand. Jacquemus. 

Facts provided by Business of Fashion and The Cut


Malvika Sheth on Manifesting your Potential through Fashion

Fashion- a means for confidence, self-expression, history, culture, and so much more.

Fashion is instrumental in communicating who we are to the world. Throughout history, fashion has been used to convey unity, rebellion, solidarity, and so much more. A few days ago, Kamala Harris wore a “Suffragette white” pantsuit in her first address to the nation as Vice President-Elect, which many believe was a nod to women’s fight for equal voting rights in America. This is just one example of how our fashion choices can make a big impact on how we feel and what we stand for. A rainbow heart on our shirts to represent our support for LGBTQ rights, a pink ribbon donned to support breast cancer awareness, or a pair of tie-dye sweatpants to convey our fight for comfort during quarantine Zoom-meetings. Everything we wear exhibits something about ourselves. I had the chance to sit down with fashion influencer Malvika Sheth not too long ago to hear about her take on fashion’s personal impact as well as tips on how we can all be more confident through the pieces that we wear.

Malvika, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi readers! I’m Malvika Sheth, and I’m a digital content creator who believes in the power of fashion and beauty to empower driven dreamers to unleash their potential. Stylebymalvika, my platform, started as a hobby in college, but I started to spend more time on my blog than I did focusing in class. Slowly I started to monetize, and I had to take a leap. I decided to graduate college a year early, and take on Stylebymalvika full time. This has to be the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to travel to fashion weeks across the world, work with my favorite hotels, and some of my favorite brands as well!

Have you always been interested in fashion and beauty? Do you have any early memories of experimenting with styles or looks?

I have! As a little girl, I was always infatuated with the makeup and jewelry my mom would wear, especially when she was getting ready for Indian events and festivals. Speaking of my heritage, my earliest memory would have to be wearing makeup for stage Indian Classical Dance performances. A quick, important fact: I’m a Bharata Natyam Dancer and have been since the age of 6!

How has your relationship with fashion and beauty changed over the years? Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 12.19.21 PM

Growing up, I was a bit on the heavier side, had oily skin, and unruly hair. I used to look around me, and feel super insecure. I let what peers and family members say to me really impact my relationship with myself and my body. This body dysmorphia that I went through made me look to fashion and beauty as a cover of sorts–I figured if I could get people to focus on my clothes rather than my weight, hair, or skin, that would be better. Looking back, this wasn’t ideal at all. All the while I was looking to clothes to change how others perceived me, I also went through a period of unhealthy dieting and exercising which led me to faint twice and the first time, fall and get stitches on my chin. Today, I’m a changed person. I know the true potential of fashion and beauty is in the way it allows you to channel your highest self, and not in trying to fabricate something for others to see and accept. 

What do fashion and beauty mean to you personally? 

Fashion and beauty is a means of tapping into your highest self and bringing out a greater deal of confidence within you. It’s a direct tool that works towards manifesting your goals and dreams. If you dream of being a boss lady entrepreneur, wearing pajamas all day doesn’t necessarily align that well, and it doesn’t send a signal to the universe that will work in the direction of your dreams. Funny enough, all my career changing moments have been tied to some of my favorite outfits, and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.

Do you have a go-to look that you wear to help you feel confident?

Blazer, crop top and/or sports bra, and high waisted jeans with some gold accessories. 

Who are some of your fashion and beauty inspirations?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 12.19.02 PM

Both Audrey Hepburn and Iris Apfel. I like to consider my personal style as a cross between the two. Classy like Audrey and colorful like Iris.

What is some advice that you would give to someone who wants to embrace fashion and beauty more, but is hesitant to or feels that doing so would be out of their comfort zone?

The key to being able to express yourself freely through fashion and beauty is having a great relationship with yourself. When you’re comfortable with who you are, you’ll understand that fashion and beauty is merely a tool to bring out what’s inside of you–and the many facets you have. 

What do you recommend someone wear for a virtual interview that they might be nervous about? 

There’s no one-size fits all. Personally, my go-to look for confidence that I mentioned above works really well for me, whereas for someone else, it might mean playing more with beauty and a bold red lip–not really worrying about what they’re wearing. It’s honestly about what makes you feel the most comfortable and confident. If you’re not sure, experiment and play around!

Lastly, what excites you about the future of fashion and beauty?Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 12.19.13 PM

What has always excited me about the industry is the intersection between fashion and awareness of super important topics. Fashion informs culture and vice versa, so it’s great to see that as our world champions for more diversity, sustainability, and several other important causes, fashion and beauty trends change. Too, it’s super cool to see how fashion and beauty brands’ actions can inform the masses, and inspire change within society. It’s really a cycle, and both a spectator and active participant in the industry, it keeps me inspired and on my toes. 


See which piece is right for you, selected by ASHITA!

Take the Quiz that ASHITA and I collaborated on to help you find the perfect ASHITA piece for you!

ASHITA is a part of every step in your jewelry’s journey to ensure you get the best value and quality the world has to offer, while keeping sustainability and ethics a priority. With a company that has every detail in mind, you can have comfort in knowing that any one of your choices will be the right one. 

There are so many options to choose from, why not take the ASHITA quiz to find out which piece ASHITA has chosen for you?

Use COLORFUL10 for $10 off!

The Journey of the ASHITA Diamond

Making every ASHITA jewelry purchase, the right one.

Use COLORFUL10 for $10 off!

Ever wonder how jewelry is made from start to finish? As consumers, most of the time we don’t know where the items we purchase come from or how they are made. However, now more than ever, we have an increasing interest in investigating the supply chain of our purchases, for ethical practices, quality, and sustainability. ASHITA is unique for many reasons, one reason being that the company is in complete control of every stage of the jewelry making process and ensures adherence to the highest standards throughout. A luxury jewelry company that handcrafts colorful, fine jewelry in New York City, ASHITA is eager to share its mission for providing ethically made, fair priced jewelry that sacrifices nothing in providing beauty in all of their pieces. 

ASHITA was kind enough to walk me through their jewelry process, from diamond mining to expert local craftsmanship, so that I can share what makes this company unique with my readers, so let’s jump right into it!

Step 1 The Mining

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 9.10.39 AM

ASHITA diamonds are hand selected by expert gemologists, who choose some of the best diamonds according to clarity, color, and carat. In terms of clarity, ASHITA uses VS diamonds, which are diamonds that are only just very slightly included. Their diamonds are also FG in color, meaning they are almost completely colorless, which increases their value. In regards to cut, the diamonds are ideal and the carat varies from piece to piece, depending on jewelry style. As partners with authorized sightholders, ASHITA is able to track the diamonds from mine to consumer, ensuring ethical practices. ASHITA also uses the Kimberley process, which is a recognized certification system that imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering legitimate trade.

The ethically sourced 14-karat gold that ASHITA uses is mined in North America and is classified as Grade 1 Metal in quality and brightness. The karat number reveals how pure the gold is, meaning that 14-karats is 14/24 or 58.33% pure gold. The remaining components in ASHITA jewelry are alloys, which are infused to harden the naturally soft gold and make it last a lifetime. ASHITA even allows the option, upon request, to manufacture nickel-free jewelry, which is made from 18-karat white gold and palladium-alloy.

ASHITA is as much about quality as it is about purpose, which makes the environment also a priority in their process. ASHITA helps to reduce our carbon footprint by recycling any material waste lost during manufacturing.

Step 2 The Jewelry Making 

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 9.10.52 AM

ASHITA’s jewelry is designed and manufactured in Manhattan, New York, the city that also serves as inspiration for all of the company’s jewelry collections.   

First, ASHITA’s design team creates sketches of the jewelry, which are then prototyped and 3D printed before expert craftsmen get to work. ASHITA’s jewelers, who have over 200 years of experience, then handcraft all of the company’s incredibly beautiful pieces, which are minimalistic in design and brought to the next level with splashes of colored enamel. 

What makes ASHITA even more unique is that the company is able to cut out the wholesale and retail fees that are associated with jewelry buying so that the consumer can get the highest quality at the lowest price. There is no supplier, import tariffs, distributor, or storefront sales, which means that all of their jewelry is priced at a fair, direct to consumer price point. 

Step 3 Delivering on the Promise 

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 9.11.02 AM

After the materials are mined, the jewelry is designed, and all of the pieces are made, the decisions are left up to you, and ASHITA makes that decision a tough one, given all of the options available for you to choose from. 

You can purchase items for their latest Dream Collection, which features delicate pieces with sparkling diamonds nestled in between blush and baby pink, aqua, and coral enamel embellishments. Or, want something specially made for you? ASHITA offers custom styling sessions, where you can speak with a company representative to design a one of a kind piece. You can also shop one of ASHITA’s anklets, which is part of their ‘One to Love, One to Give’ campaign that, with every anklet purchased, all of the proceeds go towards sponsoring a prosthetic limb through Prosthetics for Change for someone less fortunate.

ASHITA is a part of every step in your jewelry’s journey to ensure you get the best value and quality the world has to offer, while keeping sustainability and ethics a priority. With a company that has every detail in mind, you can have comfort in knowing that any one of your choices will be the right one. 

There are so many options to choose from, why not take the ASHITA quiz to find out which piece ASHITA has chosen for you?

Use COLORFUL10 for $10 off!

Credit goes to the Gemology Institute of America for providing certain facts and figures.

CEO Sit Down: Jack Flynn on Pure World

Pure World: Promoting adventure through sustainably sourced products.

Jack Flynn is someone who sees opportunity in everything. That’s why when Jack saw a hemp backpack for the first time, he knew that he had to share them with the world- through Pure World. Pure World is a company that sells sustainable backpacks that embody adventure, eco-friendliness, and social responsibility. A start-up founded in college, Pure World is now a fully operating company, sending backpacks to adventurers around the globe. Read all about Jack and his Pure World adventure below!

Jack! Tell us about you!

Hi Ursula, thanks for having me! So I grew up in Attleboro, Massachusetts and went to public school there my entire life. I played lots of sports, took music lessons and studied hard enough to be accepted into Babson College – a school ranked #1 in the nation for entrepreneurship. I chose business school because I believe that it’s the quickest and easiest way to make a meaningful impact on the world.

What was the inspiration behind starting your company Pure World?

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 11.47.55 AM

I always knew that I wanted to start a company with the minimum requirement that it’d be inherently sustainable. During your freshman year at Babson College, every student is required to start a business. My 14 person team had students from ALL over the world and one of our teammates was from Nepal. She had brought a hemp backpack to school that she had purchased from a street vendor in Kathmandu and our team absolutely fell in love with it. She asked her father to meet with the backpack vendor and to organize a bulk order and the rest is history!

Well that’s at least the story about how we were introduced to our backpacks… but my mantra for Pure World is that it is more than just a backpack company. I had the opportunity to travel and explore the outdoors a lot as a kid and that part of me really came to life when I saw that first Himalayan hemp backpack. Those backpacks belong in the great outdoors. I imagined all of the incredible adventures that our customers would take them on. In my opinion, sustainability is ingrained in our DNA, whereas adventure and free-spiritedness is our true personality.

What makes Pure World products unique and different from other products on the market?

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 11.47.17 AM

Pure World Backpacks embody sustainable fashion! The organic hemp that we use is local and abundant in Nepal. It requires a fraction of the amount of water that cotton requires and none of the pesticides. Not to mention hemp fibers are extremely versatile and durable too! Apart from the environmentally friendly aspect of our bags, they’re also socially sustainable. Our manufacturer really emphasizes social responsibility! They pay their employees well over the minimum wage and offer many care programs such as educational scholarships, personal finance classes, and health care clinics. I really believe that we sell the BEST hemp backpacks on the market.

 What has been the most interesting part of starting this company?

Our goal is to create a community of people who are passionate about sustainability and adventure. It has been an incredible experience to see the type of people who are attracted to our bags. They are people who care about the environment and want to cherish it and explore it in a respectful way. They are friendly and awesome! We are excited to build a platform that can support them. Something that helps them share ideas and meet new like-minded people.

What has been the biggest challenge in starting Pure World? Are there any stories that stick out to you?

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 11.47.43 AM

To me, the challenges are always the most interesting part! My first challenge was finding a replacement for our original manufacturer. Back in 2017, our bags were cool but their quality was just not quite where we wanted them to be. So after wiring money to half a dozen Nepalese manufacturers and receiving a ton of samples, we chose the manufacturer with the highest quality products and who offered the most employee support programs.

Secondly, facilitating community development has been a challenge. We spent a lot of time building a platform that allows travelers to document experiences as well as access a crowd-sourced database of other unique recommendations for off-the-beaten-path experiences. Unfortunately, servers and software development is expensive. Once our platform is robust enough to support users we are considering offering an access code with each of our Pure World Backpacks.

What does the future of Pure World look like? Do you have any goals or milestones you would like to achieve?

We are always moving forward! Right now we are looking to develop a carbon offset program. This would essentially mean that for every backpack purchased, Pure World would invest in carbon capture technology that would offset all of the carbon emissions associated with shipping and manufacturing the bag. Ideally, we could even take it a step further. Imagine the tagline “For every backpack purchased, we eliminate twice the amount of carbon created”.

Last question, favorite Pure World item?

We sold this one backpack called Purple Moose a while back. I took that bag with me on the most daring adventure of my life: a 10,000 KM solo backpacking trip from Paris to Bangkok. But it was never the specific style that made it special. It was special to me because of memories that I made with it.

Luna Zhang on How to be a Good Thrifter

Thrifting? It’s easy as 1,2, only $3.00- I’ll buy it!

“Let’s go thrifting” is a daunting proposition to many. What do you buy? How do you get the cat pee smell out of the clothes? There are just a million questions. Luna Zhang, however, is one of those people that knows all the answers when it comes to buying second hand goods. With an unmatched style and a passion for fashion, Luna is a go-to when it comes to seeking advice before diving into the bargain bin. Show us the way Luna!

Tell us about you Luna!

Hi everyone! My name is Luna Zhang and I am currently a senior at Babson College. I am studying Operations/IT but looking to pursue a career in fashion. I was able to work in the fashion industry this summer through an internship with Converse/Nike, and loved every second of it. I am obsessed with all things clothes and shoes and love to express my creativity through my outfits. Some of my other hobbies besides fashion include painting, working out, and listening to music.

Why thrifting? 

 My thrifting journey started through going to Estate Sales with my parents. They are really into antiques shopping and eventually, I started going to actual thrift stores and thrifting on my own.  I would say around 80% of my clothes are thrifted.  While a lot of people find thrifting to be overwhelming, I like the treasure hunt aspect of it because you’ll never know what you’ll find! Personally, I find shopping at malls to be uninspiring because the selections are all the same and pretty bland.  However, when thrifting, you can find the most random pieces that you have to think about how to style.  It’s more work but totally worth it in the long run! The only thing I don’t thrift are shoes because I like the feeling of getting a new pair of shoes in the mail. Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of unboxing a new pair of sneakers!

Is sustainable fashion important to you?  

Sustainable fashion is definitely important to me-I have been slowly trying to make the commitment to stop buying fast fashion due to the waste impact it has to our world.  I think the biggest thing that companies need to understand is that sustainability is not a “trend”, and I hope that retail companies will start to implement more permanent sustainable practices in their business models.  As someone who is looking to pursue a career in this industry after graduation, I hope to be an advocate for sustainability and use my voice for good.

Style inspiration?

I am really vibing with vibrance at the moment-think Jaden Smith’s newest album cover. I love the way he experiments with loud colors-his style is bold and kinda funky.  I’ve definitely I love outfits that inspire me to go out of my comfort zone when it comes to styling my own clothes. My favorite moments are when I see someone’s fit and think “oh wow, I would not have thought to style that piece that way” because that different perspective inspires me to try new things too.

My current style inspiration is definitely Emma Chamberlain. She is so so underrated and I feel like people don’t take her fashion seriously because she’s “just a youtube girl”. I love how her style doesn’t necessarily fit into one category because she’s always trying out different looks. She also defies the concept of gender segmented fashion through wearing traditionally “masculine” styles. I honestly feel like she was the girl to start the sweater vest trend-people gave her so much crap when she started wearing them because they are traditionally for men, but now every girl on the street pretty much wears them now. Go figure! I remember I used to always be afraid to wear my favorite outfits out because I’d think to myself, “you could never pull that off” or “why are you trying so hard”, or “that’s not girly enough”, but I think having a role model like her pushed me to stop overthinking and have the confidence to wear what I want out. 

Favorite recently thrifted items?

 I remember I was on my way to thrift with some of my friends and I passed by this girl who had these BEAUTIFUL green pants! I thought to myself, “I need those pants”, and when I need something I usually won’t stop until I find it.  Luckily, I was actually able to find a very similar pair of pants that very day! Crazy how things work out sometimes :).

Pieces that you are on the hunt for?

Screen Shot 2020-09-29 at 9.14.30 PM

I always keep a running list of pieces I am looking to thrift/add to my closet. Some items that are on my list at the moment include: oversized thick cotton shirts with cool graphics, sweater vests, and tie dye nike socks. Keeping a list helps me stay organized and in the right headspace while thrifting-sometimes thrift shopping can get overwhelming because you have to sift through so many clothing racks, but I find that keeping a list makes things a bit easier. It also keeps me accountable because I have a bad habit of buying random things I don’t need!

Screen_Shot_2020-09-29_at_9.15.24_PM-removebg-previewHow do you get that icky thrift-shop smell out of the clothes?

Honestly, I wash them twice before wearing sometimes! You have to get a strong detergent for sure, but I generally don’t have many issues with this. I will say that leather, cashmere, and thick denim retain scent for longer so those types of pieces will need to be washed more frequently to get the smell more (not sure if you can even wash leather). My general rule of thumb is that if a piece needs more TLC than what it’s worth, I wouldn’t buy it. For example, if I saw a sweater I really wanted, but it had some holes and bad stains, I’d probably pass on it because it’d take more work to fix it than what it’s worth.

Favorite places to thrift? 

While I would absolutely loveee to share my favorite spots with everyone, a good thrifter knows to never disclose her favorite locations. If I told you all where I shopped, all the good pieces would get snatched! However, I’ll recommend savers to anyone who is looking to start thrifting, and for anyone looking for an iconic Boston shop, I’d start with The Garment District.

Who are some style icons and people you look up to?Screen_Shot_2020-09-29_at_9.15.16_PM-removebg-preview

Some of my favorite icons include: Aimee Song, Sofia Coelho, Maxine Wylde, whowhatwear, Princess Diana, and Alexis Sablone. All of these women are unapologetically themselves and it clearly shows through their fashion. Aimee Song is probably my #1 icon because of the fact that she is a huge Asian American female role model for me. She started one of the most popular fashion lines (Song of Style) that is sold on sites like Revolve. She’s basically a bad bitch who’s running her own fashion empire, and to be able to have such a solid female role model who is also Asian has been monumental for me. Seeing her success gives me hope that one day I’ll make it big in the industry too!

Neal Jeup on Becoming a Model

Life can lead us on unexpected twists and turns, Neal’s twist was modeling.

I’m sure it would surprise many to know that model Neal Jeup was an entrepreneur well before all of the jet setting and photographing began. Neal is one of eight siblings, who grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb right outside Detroit. In Neal’s house entrepreneurship was always at the center and, when he was only 19 years old, Neal started his own iOS device repair service business, which serviced between 2,000 to 3,000 devices by the time he graduated from high school. Neal credits this repair business in leading him to pursue entrepreneurship full time one day. Neal went on to study finance at Clemson University in South Carolina, yet his career path would become anything but straight. The summer after his Freshman year in college, Neal taught English at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Following this experience, he would travel to Shanghai and work with some of the founding members of Über, as the company navigated their entrance into the Chinese market and developed the initial framework for ÜberEnglish. After such engaging and unique summer experiences, Neal found it difficult to re-enter a traditional classroom setting and decided to take a leave from school to return to work with Uber in Shanghai. Fate had other plans for Neal when, at a modeling gig for his girlfriend at the time, he was asked to step in for a missing model. Soon, Neal was signed with a local agency called AMAX, which was required to participate in the shoot, and so his modeling career began! 

Although he never imagined he would become a full time model, Neal thought he would at least participate in the modeling agency’s annual showcase, where they flew in scouts from across the globe to view their models. At the end of the showcase, Neal was surprised to find many offers from agencies in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami that he thought modeling might play a part in his future. Putting his return to Shanghai on hold, Neal took a leap of faith and moved to Seoul, South Korea, to build up his modeling portfolio. He views this time as being instrumental in his development as a model, learning to become comfortable on set and in front of a camera. After living in Seoul, Neal lived in Tokyo, Japan, Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, California until settling in New York City, which is when he began to land high profile jobs with Vince, Cole Haan, Tommy Hilfiger, Rag & Bone, and Christian Dior. Neal says that his favorite shoot was for Dior’s newest fragrance at the time “Joy,” where he got to work with Jennifer Lawrence as well as DP, Emmanuel Lubezki and director, Francis Lawrence. 

When asked about some advice he wishes he knew before getting into modeling? Neal responds that he wished he would have focused more on personal growth in the beginning of his career, than comparing himself to other people in the industry. “There is so much about the industry that you personally can’t change, the agents handling almost everything. And you look the way you look,” Neal mentions. “After entering the modeling industry, I quickly realized that no matter how far you take a career, there will always be someone with a leg up. Designers might like you one day, and run cold the next. It was incredibly disheartening out of the gate.” It was only when Neal acknowledged this fact and decided to focus on personal development that he became truly happy. “We’re inadvertently taught to idolize the fictitious, continuously euphoric, lives we see through social media – like a revolving door of jealousy,” he notes.

All things considered, unlike other models, Neal was able to find comfort in the fact that he would one day return to school and finish his degree, making it easier for him to put less pressure on himself to perform and find work. Neal was hyper focused on the fact that poor decisions regarding reckless behavior would yield underwhelming results in the future. As a model, Neal found himself in a world where the only factor of relevance was appearance and, therefore, saw other models take advantage of being careless with their health through partying and other means- a live fast die young mindset.  “When you think that you are going to be a model forever, you don’t hedge that long term bet with the need for stability and health in the future,” Neal mentions. Neal finds himself fortunate to have been able to connect with like-minded people in the industry who prioritized their wellbeing overall and have become long time friends.

Neal knew that it might be time for a change when he reached the middle of his twenties and decided that, if he was going to go back to school, he was going to go back now. Neal applied to Babson College, the number one school for entrepreneurship, got in, and the rest is history! 

When reflecting back on his modeling career, Neal realized that he went from controlling everything he did in entrepreneurship- meticulously planning and organizing his life- to having to succumb to a lack of control. Modeling taught Neal that you have no control and that if the agency didn’t send an email with a job that day, you had the day off and hoped for work the next. In modeling, you can control so few things, which is something that Neal wishes was different within the industry. Neal notes that he wishes that models were able to have a greater say in terms of advocacy, where the agency has all of the control in representing you as a model. All things considered, Neal has watched the power of social media disrupt the traditional structure of the business, where models can craft their own persona on social platforms – most notably, Instagram.

Although Neal is currently finishing up school, he notes that he wants to incorporate the global exposure he had in modeling to the work that he does full time as an entrepreneur. For Neal, that may look like many different things- only time will tell- for now, Neal strives to “become an advocate for introspection, personal growth and overwhelming gratitude above all else.”