Tanya Garg on Finding Artistic Inspiration

Finding inspiration in the past, present, and future.

The works of Tanya Garg can be described as many things- fanciful, delicate, whimsy, colorful, energetic, inspiring- the list goes on. Tanya creates genuine art pieces that are full of beautiful perspective, not only in the form of paintings, but also in the form of clay mushrooms and beadwork. Tanya finds inspiration wherever she has been, goes, or is going, whether it be the past, present, or future. Her works are intimate and incredibly detailed- pieces that I knew needed an audience like the blog! Scroll, read, and immerse yourself in the works of Tanya and how she finds artistic inspiration.

Tanya! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Tanya Garg, I am 26 years old, and an Aries. I went to school for painting and currently I live in India. I have a LOT of hobbies- including (but not limited to) cooking, traveling, dancing, playing with my nephews, online shopping, hoarding things, organizing, making crafts, cycling, gossiping with my friends, watching niche documentaries…the list goes on.

What has your journey as an artist been like and how has your art changed overtime?

Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 3.43.34 PMWhen I was in school, the only things I made were photorealistic portraits with pencil. The only reason I went to art school was because I thought that was the only thing that I was good at, and I loved the idea of being an “artist.” I really can’t explain why I picked painting, because prior to college, I had never really painted. The first semester I was really awful at it—I knew what I wanted the painting to look like but I could never figure out how to do it. The only parts I liked about the class was going to museums, or galleries. Up until then, my perception of art was still very academic, and I only looked at the great masters of European art for inspiration. I started going to gallery openings on the first Thursday of every month because of the free wine, but it really opened up my eyes to different artists, art styles, mediums, and most of all to the fact that you could have multidisciplinary approaches to express yourself as an artist. 

 I sometimes cringe when describing myself as an artist, partly because I have a horrible case of imposter syndrome, and partly because I feel the formal education I received was quite academic and Euro-centric, and made me blind to the innumerable art forms that existed outside of the “art world,” or in some cases were not considered art at all. 

 The biggest struggle for me when creating work before was transcending my personal preconceived notions of what a painting should look like—what is the right way to paint a vase or getting the perspective right. It took some time to realize that the right way for me to express myself is not painting it the right way, but instead painting it the way that is most ideal to me. What objects can I put in, what colours can I paint, and what materials can I use to make this painting one that I enjoy the most. 

 What mediums do you primarily work with?

Again, I started painting with oil, because in my head that was the “proper” way to paint. I really appreciate oil painting. My favourite brand is Gamblin Colors, because I feel like they are innovative, and not stuck in the past, and they focus on developing contemporary solutions to oil painting, however, I recently switched to acrylics. I love the Golden Acrylic mediums, but now I try to just use whatever I can find.

Apart from painting, I hoard many things. I love making crafts, even though that is a bad word in the “Art World,” but I think that is just because historically women made crafts and the Art men were too insecure to give them the respect they deserve. Only now, people are waking up to all the genius women that were creating masterpieces. Obviously, I am not creating magnificent masterpieces (yet), but I like using materials from my childhood—play dough, papier mâché, beads. I have shelves filled with crap like that. I love collecting tchotchkes, and it is also one of my favourite words. I collect handmade toys, embroidery books, buttons, basically anything that looks pretty.

I also make iPad drawings because I’m bad at keeping a sketchbook. I use Adobe Sketch because I find Procreate too complicated. I only use one kind of brush but it’s so nice because I can work with different layers to have endless possibilities of the finished product.

What does your artistic process look like? What do you use as inspiration for your work and how do you find inspiration?

I don’t have one singular process. Sometimes I paint from photos, sometimes I make it up, sometimes I scroll through houses on Airbnb, sometimes I take inspiration from a book. I like having the tv on in the background when I paint, especially food shows. I am very inspired by my house and garden. I am a big consumer and a major maximalist, I love household objects, I love old things, I love antiques and really quirky objects, so I like to place them in my paintings.

Memory is a big one, since I am a very nostalgic person. Not only for the past, but also in a way trying to preserve memories for the future, and in some ways, I feel as our possessions are the only witness to time changing.

screen-shot-2020-12-10-at-11.50.57-amIn contrast, I do have a profound love for nature, and woodsy things- flowers, mushrooms, butterflies etc. I love painting on a cloudy day, in diffused light. My studio overlooks the kitchen garden, and it makes me feel like I’m painting somewhere in the countryside.

I don’t really draw out the composition with a pencil before painting. I always tint my canvas an outrageous colour and use another outrageous colour to paint out the general picture of where things will go. Throughout my painting life, people have been telling me to paint bigger, which I always resisted, but now I have started painting on the wall, and it has been really fun, and liberating to just put silly colours on the wall. My nephew got in trouble for colouring the wall once, so he keeps yelling at me, “Bua, you better not be drawing on the wall.”

What are some of your favorite pieces of art?

Some of the works that stand out are “This is not a Fountain,” by Subodh Gupta, “Non-Stop Conversation,” by Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy, where she covers a last remaining traditional building in a light pink quilt. Let’s see… I love everything Nathalie Lete does because I feel like she is the true definition of an artist- she is constantly making. I find conceptual artist Sophie Calle really funny- one of her works “Take Care of Yourself” was created when she received a break up email from her boyfriend at the time, and got it analyzed by 107 women in different occupations. Another time she went undercover and worked at a hotel for three weeks, and photographed all the guest’s belongings. I like her work because it focuses on the intimate lives and people and the possessions they own. I also really like her because she’s a little bit like a detective and I really wanted to be one when I was a kid.

If you could have dinner with anyone past or present who would it be and what would you eat?

Salma Hayek because she is so kind, generous, confident, cultured, hot, funny, and rich and we would eat whatever Salma wants because she has good taste and likes eating healthy. She also doesn’t like to diet or exercise so I think she’s the best.

 What do you find the most challenging when working on a piece of art?

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I take forever to finish a painting because it’s the least enjoyable part.

What do you enjoy the most about the creative process and creating your art?

Having an idea for a piece…starting it. The second I finish, I take a photo and post it on Instagram, because I love the validation. But also, because I want to be prolific in whatever I make and so I love posting regularly because it motivates me to make work in abundance. I feel that the more I make, the more I discover and that inspires more confidence and happiness in creating works.

 What is your ultimate dream in terms of collaborators, exhibitions, museums for your pieces to be in?

I worked at a gallery briefly and I really enjoyed being there, but I didn’t love the art world. So many of my friends, and also my mom, majored in fashion so I am always in awe of what they make. I really want to learn how to sew and embroider and those are mediums that I want to explore in my work. I don’t know about collaborations, because I don’t work that well with other people, but I like working with my mom.

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As for showing at galleries, I don’t love the idea of my paintings hanging on a white wall in a row. I imagine them in an environment, and that’s why installation art is so fascinating to me. I despise pretentiousness in art, and sometimes galleries can feel very cold and inaccessible. I make things that are familiar and comforting, so by displaying them on a cold white wall seems very lazy on my part.

I don’t like to take my art seriously, because then it wouldn’t be fun. I would like to work on a bigger scale and make works and objects that vibe with all kinds of people, even those outside the art world.

I feel like I have a lot of learning to do, but I think the ultimate dream would be to always be making and exploring. I don’t like limits and I like to imagine and make generously.

3 Friends Picking their Top Gifts Under $100 (Part II)

Because… everyone needs a bit of gift inspo.

There are many joys during the holidays, one of the biggest joys for me is gift giving. I think one of the reasons that I am so passionate about giving gifts is hunting for that personal item, one that couldn’t be mistaken as being a gift for someone else. Anyone can pick out a pair of socks or a black turtleneck for someone and pass if off as making an effort, but those are items that everyone can benefit from. My happiness rests in finding those niche items, whether it be a candle with a signature scent, a set of chocolate truffles in their favorite flavor, or a cozy knitted blanket. It’s the small things in life that bring joy. That I am sure of.

Pamela Mukiza

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The Gift 

Dieux Forever Eye Mask, $25

These eye masks are reusable and affordable. They hold gels, serums and creams close to the skin for maximum absorption. You can also store them in the freezer for a cooling affect!

Kenny Sullivan

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The Gift 

Smartphone UV Sanitizer, $79.95

So I got this for every member of my family this year — I’m talking every one of them. I read an article that phones carry such horrible germs that to top 2020 off, I need to make sure my third hand (my phone) is not going to kill me. I put my phone in this bad boy every night and comes out nice and clean — even smells like all the cells have been slaughtered in my sleep. The best part – it keeps me off my phone when im in bed! So I’m
Sleeping better. Who knew?!

Jahnvi Garg

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The Gift 

Alleyoop Beauty Starter Kit $68 or Must-Haves Set $66

It’s like giving someone fool-proof makeup and convenience wrapped in a Christmas present! The sets are customizable, and the products are so multipurpose- the makeup brush actually has 4 different tips just in one brush. The product design is also really well done, and looks super cute! For a world filled with last minute zoom calls, it’s the perfect gift to give 💫✨

Stay tuned for next week for more friends and more gifts!

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3 Friends Picking their Top Gifts Under $100 (Part I)

Because… everyone needs a bit of gift inspo.

What can I say, I love my friends! So, I brought them back on board for a mini series on the gifts that they love all for under $100! Giving gifts to my friends is always the best. Seeing that huge smile on their face when they finally unwrap that picture frame with the two of us in it or the cookbook with their favorite recipes just gives me the warm and fuzzies inside. There are not many moments in a friendship that you get to express how much that person means to you. Gift giving is one of those moments, however, where you can take the time to say “I was listening” or “I know you” in a unique way. With that being said, some people need some inspiration to find the perfect gift, which is where I have outsourced some help. Here are a few ideas…

Yara El Madalla 

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The Gift

I think the smell is amazing, and it’s definitely a scent for both males and females. I believe it’s a classy and nice gift and it’s perfect for anyone, when you’re out of gifting ideas!

Ivana Mesaric

The Gift 

Whipped Pistachio Body Butter – a.k.a The Boyfriend Body Butter, $28

This body butter is absolutely divine. It smells like an incredible nutty, and sweet pistachio biscotti, and lasts for hours. It’s rich and creamy formula, lathers into your skin, and is my go to body butter to rub on after a nice steamy shower. Pistache skincare is based in California, and its formula is non-GMO, paraben and sulphate free, has no artificial color or fragrance, and its packaging is printed with 100% wind energy.

Kevin Teeter

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The Gift

Nuwave Air Fryer, $80

When it comes to giving gifts, you can never go wrong with a Consumer Reports top rated item, like this kitchen air fryer. Air frying is all the new craze this season, so if you have to buy a gift for a foodie, this might be the ticket. Also, contrary to popular belief, you can do more than just make french fries in it, it’s so versatile you can air fry practically anything!

Stay tuned for next week for more friends and more gifts!

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

A Day in Lagos, Nigeria with Divya Ramchandani

Ever wonder what it is like to live in Lagos, Nigeria? Good thing I know someone who does- my good friend Divya!

One of my favorite aspects of college was getting to know people from all over the world. I have spent hours picking my friend’s brains about anything and everything, from what local dishes are their favorite to what subjects they learned in primary school. Those I meet provide a window into new places and lifestyles that I might not know much about. These individuals have helped me understand that the world is so vast and that there is so much to learn, experience, and uncover. Despite this awareness being overwhelming to many, it excites me, as future possibilities seem so great. I hope to visit all of my friends in their native countries at some point, in the meantime I have recruited some of them to offer their insights on the places they love the most. First is my dear friend Divya, who is originally from New Dehli, India, but has grown up in Lagos, Nigeria. Divya has incredible insights on economics, international business, and vegan baking, but today I have enlisted her to share about her life in Lagos.

When Ursula asked me what it feels like to live in Lagos, it was hard to explain the emotion. I have lived here all my life and yet sometimes feels like I’m new here. There’s constant changes happening around the city, but the core and feel of being home in Lagos remains the same. The hustle and frustrations of the city comes in direct comparison with the amazing food and never ending adventures. No matter where I go, I always end up missing Lagos and all of its beaches, and it’ll always be home.

Favorite place for breakfast

Flowershop Cafe

Photo taken from the Flowershop Cafe’s Instagram 

A relatively newer addition to Lagos’ every busy food scene. They have a good mix of international breakfast options along with some local delicacies, that is sure to satisfy everyone’s cravings. The fresh roses and plants spread across the store is an added plus that’s impossible to miss!

Favorite place for lunch

La Veranda

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Photo taken from La Veranda’s Instagram

Hands down some of the best Italian food I’ve ever tasted in my life. Their gnocchi is a regular in my dreams and worth every carb. La Veranda has been around for about 10 years now and continues to have a loyal customer base with some of the best Italian food in Lagos.

Favorite place for dinner

Salma’s Lebanese Cuisine

Photos taken from Salma’s Instagram

Located by the water, Salma’s has some of the best mediterranean food in the city with a beautiful ambiance. Their falafels and kebabs were definitely something I craved the most when I was away from home. End your meal with an authentic coffee and rose ice cream that will keep you satisfied for days!

Favorite place for coffee


Photos taken from Jazzhole’s Instagram

It’s a small cafe/book store/music record store that’s been around for years and you can pretty much find any book that you name here. The first time I was here, I spent over an hour walking around, taking the store in. For me, Jazzhole is the definition of calm amidst the chaos and the coffee and delicious cakes is just the cherry on top!

Favorite spot tourist hot spot

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Lagos is known for its beaches, and you really could not go wrong with any of the beaches here. My favorite is a beach about 30 minutes away by boat that keeps you away from the hustle of the city with the fresh breeze and strong water currents that leave you wanting for more. Cool yourself down with some fresh coconut water and Atlantic ocean waves to complete the day. 

Favorite day-time outing

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The constant heat and humidity makes it impossible to be out under the sun for extended periods, but there are several cafes and bars that combine the best of both worlds and are always packed on the weekends during the day. One such place is Moist Beach Club that provides a wide variety of food, drinks, seating options and quick access to the beach. Easily one of the favorites of the millennial crowd in Lagos and for good reason, Moist is always bustling on the weekdays and their Sunday sundowners provide the best excuse for a break before starting the work week.

Favorite local shops

Lekki Arts and Craft Market


The home to a wide array of local paintings, sculptures, furniture and everything you can imagine in between showcasing the diversity of expression and cultures from all over Nigeria. It’s a must visit for anyone looking to indulge in local artifacts at a fraction of the price as compared to the mainstream city boutiques!

Favorite night time outing

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Take from the W Bar Instagram 

Lagos is home to several fun bars and lounges that make the most of the coastal city’s open and fresh breeze and are always packed starting Thursday evenings. W bar is a new favorite amongst the younger generation so be ready to wait for some time before you can get some space to sit or your drinks.

Everyone can’t leave Lagos with buying…

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Everyone can’t leave Lagos without buying some local artifacts, which could be as simple as some precious beaded necklaces or a local small sculpture. For food enthusiasts, suya powder is a must which is a peanut and chilli powder that could be used over pretty much any meat or vegetables and adds a yum spicy tang, it’s definitely something I’ve always taken with me when I was away!

Sharing My Top 9 Beauty Items (Part X of the Series)

👋 The last beauty items of the series.

Friends, the time has come at last to reveal to you my nine beauty favorites! Every product that is listed is linked to a friend, the inspiration behind this series to begin with! Without my tried and true friends, I would have never found my tried and true favorite beauty products. For that- and so much more- I am forever grateful. Public Service Announcement: reach out to a friend, call a long time buddy, Facetime with a cousin, send a letter to your grandma, give an air-hug to your loved one. When the make up remover comes out and it’s just us revealed to the world, it’s our true friends that see us for who we are and love us, not in spite of our imperfections, but because of them. (So, air hug!)

#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Gloss Bomb in Fu$$y by Fenty Beauty

How often you use it

Whenever I put on make up for a night out. 

What you like about the product

Where do I even begin! This lipgloss is light, moisturizing, and shimmery- really a trifecta. This product also smells and- dare I say- tastes amazing. It comes in a range of shades, my favorite being Fu$$y, and lasts all night long. 10/10 on this one. 

How you found it

My friend Ola’s recommendation!

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Stretch Concealer in G8 by Glossier

How often you use it

Every time I put on make up. 

What you like about the product

The consistency of this product is what makes it for me. The product is creamy, which is ideal for application with your fingers. The difference between my under eyes with this product versus without is night and day, the coverage being pretty remarkable. I also like to use the concealer on my trouble areas, covering up any spots to make my skin matte before I go in and apply powder. 

How you found it

After going into the Glossier store in Soho with my friend Sabrina for the first time; I bought everything in the store.

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Clear Brow Gel by Anastasia Beverly Hills

How often you use it

Every time I put on make up. 

What you like about the product

I really like the fact that the applicator brush is as big as a mascara brush and that there is a fair amount of gel in the tube, which means it lasts forever. The gel also doesn’t make my eyebrows super stiff, making for a more natural, yet stylized look. 

How you found it

Recommended by the Sephora queen Alana 

#4 Favorite Beauty Product

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Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara by Tarte

How often you use it

Every time I wear make up. 

What you like about the product

I love the fact that this mascara is not super clumpy, but also still adds volume. The mascara also comes off easily, doesn’t flake, and doesn’t hurt your lashes. Those babies need special care!

How you found it

Jahnvi’s recommendation

#5 Favorite Beauty Product

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Limited Edition Love, Trust, and Fairy Dust Palette by Tarte

How often you use it

On a night out

What you like about the product

I love the mix of shimmery and matte eyeshadows that this palette offers as well as the product’s range of colors. I especially like Flitter, the metallic light pink, which pairs really nicely with Twinkle, the metallic gold if you are going for a complete shimmery look. 

How you found it

A Jahnvi special again

#6 Favorite Beauty Product

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Vitamin E Moisturizer by Malin + Goetz 

How often you use it

Every day 

What you like about the product

I love that this product has a very light, fresh scent that doesn’t linger all day on your face. I also like the fact that the product isn’t very oily and absorbs super well right into the skin, almost leaving a dewy feeling. 

How you found it

My brother, the moisturizer king!

#7 Favorite Beauty Product

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Rose Water Facial Toner by Trader Joes

How often you use it

In the morning, every day right when I wake up. 

What you like about the product

The subtle rose scent is really beautiful and lingers for a little while after it is sprayed. The toner is also light and refreshing, helping to tighten your pores thanks to the witch hazel. The best part? It’s only $3.99. 

How you found it

A stocking stuffer from my best friend… my mommy.

#8 Favorite Beauty Product

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3D Hydra Clear Gloss by Kiko Milano

How often you use it

Whenever I am dressing up for a more formal outing. 

What you like about the product

This gloss really packs a punch in the glossy department, delivering on the shine it promises. What I love about the clear is that it can amplify any lipstick by being applied overtop, but it is also great on its own to highlight your natural lip color. 

How you found it

Jahnvi my beauty plug

#9 Favorite Beauty Product

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Lidstar Liquid Eyeshadow in Cub and Lily by Glossier

How often you use it

Whenever I am looking for a really concentrated eyeshadow look. 

What you like about the product

I really like the application of this product, for someone who isn’t very proficient with make up, this one is fool proof. I also really love the colors that Lidstar comes in, Cub and Lily being my favorites because they compliment my skin tone and light features the best. If you are looking for your eyes to really pop, this product might be for you.

How you found it

Walking into the Glossier store and buying up the store with Ola.

Hope you enjoyed learning about my favorite beauty products as well as my friends’. Stay tuned for more fun series in the future!

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A Semester at Sea with Justin Williamson

Have you ever thought that a semester at sea was right for you? Read all about Justin’s experience to find out!

Although studying abroad is not at the front of any student’s mind right now, it really should be! Planning your academic career around your study abroad experience is critical in making sure you graduate on time and taking the classes you need to. My good friend Justin is one of those people who definitely benefitted from looking ahead, packing in two semesters abroad during his time in college. One of them was Babson’s BRIC program, which I also participated in, and the other was the Semester at Sea program. Justin notes that his semester at sea was a unique and unforgettable experience that he hopes others will consider too. If you think you might be interested or want to know what the program is all about, this will be worth the read!


Justin grew up in Los Angeles, California and was heavily involved in the local Jewish community, which he credits to instilling in him a curiosity about the world and teaching him how to ask questions. Justin brought his passion for learning to Babson, where he attended business school. In high school, Justin focused on associating with a close circle of friends, however, at Babson things changed dramatically. Justin realized the value of forming relationships with people distinctly different from himself. Babson College is ranked by Forbes as the number one college for international students and is home to an international student population that makes up 26% of the undergraduate student body, making it the perfect place to meet people from across the globe. When Justin formed friendships with those from different backgrounds, his perspective on life and the world around him grew exponentially. 

Like myself, Justin went on Babson’s BRIC Program his junior year, which only expanded his mind further, as he lived and traveled to Russia, India, and China over the course of three months. Despite having lived in Israel for a summer and having traveled extensively with his family, Justin found that his experience on BRIC was different. On BRIC he was able to learn more in-depth about the cultures that surrounded him through embedded excursions and personal exploration. To him, the classroom was coming alive. From this experience, Justin knew that he wanted to continue to learn while he traveled. He valued the experience of learning about a topic and then going to experience it for himself, which inspired him to apply and participate in the Semester At Sea study abroad program his first semester senior year. Semester At Sea is a study abroad experience where a cohort of students from across the globe study and travel on a ship over the course of one semester. With some extra advanced placement credits from high school, Justin was able to squeeze this extra semester of study abroad into his college curriculum- and it was well worth it. 

While on Semester At Sea, Justin visited the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, and Costa Rica over the course of his semester. Although this might seem intimidating to many, Justin had no apprehensions about this next adventure and was excited to see what this new opportunity had in store for him. When reflecting on his experience, however, Justin highlighted the importance of taking the time to process all of the incredible experiences that he had during his travels. “You are having so many unique experiences that are so different from one another, if you don’t take the time to deconstruct what you did, you miss the opportunity to learn and grow” Justin mentions as a take away. “When on Semester At Sea, you have to take the time yourself to turn experiences into learning experiences” and, as a result, Justin kept a journal to document every day spent on and off the ship. 

Justin’s notes that his favorite part of this unique study abroad experience was living on the ship. Surrounded by water for days at a time and with no distractions, Justin highlights that you are able to forge deep and meaningful relationships with the people around you, whether it be with peers or professors. Through this, Justin was able to create strong friendships and global understandings.

A typical day at sea for Justin consisted of waking up, having breakfast, taking classes, eating lunch, and then attending more classes. In the evening, Justin had time to complete his assignments and hang out with friends before having dinner and then attending a speaker series that Semester At Sea sponsored nightly. The speaker’s topic ranged based on the upcoming country that the ship would be docking at. For example, Justin notes attending a talk on the history of the Panama Canal shortly before the ship traveled down the canal itself. On land, when the ship had docked, students took part in a field experience based on what they learned in the classroom. When they were not having a field experience, students were free to roam about the country and explore for themselves. Justin notes his trip to Ecuador being one of his favorites, as he stayed with his Semester At Sea friends at an Ecuadorian host family’s house, living like a true local. 

Overall, Justin’s Semester At Sea experience helped him to understand that people from other cultures have a distinct way of viewing the world and there is a reason for that, being in the way that they live, their political system, their culture- you name it. In experiencing the people and their respective country first hand, Justin was allowed to relate and connect with people in a new way. “The experience as a whole has made me want to experience the globe even more, making me eager to travel and work with people who are from different countries. There is no doubt that you grow more when you are around people different other than yourself” Justin says. 

What is some advice Justin would give to someone who is also interested in Semester At Sea?

Justin suggests that you ask yourself: are you willing to embrace the unknown? And what is your tolerance for uncertainty? There is so much out of a Semester At Sea student’s control that you have to be open minded and willing to challenge your perceptions and beliefs. Justin also mentions that if you prioritize experiential learning, Semester At Sea might be perfect for you. What Justin learned in terms of life skills and experience during this semester abroad is more than he could have ever achieved in the classroom. The most impactful statement Justin made during our conversation was the fact that “Semester At Sea is so unique because, despite such uncertainty and discomfort that can come with travel, you are able to take that step out of your comfort zone because you know you are only a few days away from returning to comfort back on the ship. That is what helps students learn and grow in ways they would have never imagined.” If you ask me, that is a deep dive worth taking. 


3 Friends Picking their Top 3 Beauty Items Part IX

The 3 beauty products 3 of my friends swear by.

Friends, friends, friends, the time has come at last to say goodbye! 27 friends and 27 products later, here we are! This will be the last traditional post of the series, which only leaves next week when, I- your friend- share 9 of my favorite products with you! Thank you so much for coming along for the ride. I hope you took away some new beauty recommendations, cracked a smile ever Friday morning, and remembered how important your friends are. Without our friends and the ones we love, what fun would this world be? Who would we share make up tips with, who would help us choose eye shadow colors, and who would lend us a make up wipe at the end of the night? Lipstick doesn’t last forever, but with enough care, time, and attention friends can.

Srishti Soni


#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Les beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Blush Stick in N°24 by Chanel

How often you use it

Everyday- the only makeup I use

What you like about the product

It looks super natural and is perfect for everyday use. Bonus it smells great!

How you found it

At the Heathrow Airport. As someone who doesn’t use / like a full face of makeup, Im always looking for a product that looks and feels natural but put together. Im also very lazy when it comes to makeup so this is perfect and I just apply by hand. 

#2 Favorite Beauty Product and company that sells it 

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Skin perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant by Paula’s Choice

How often you use it

Twice a week

What you like about the product

Skincare is very important to me as I rarely use makeup and exfoliating is the key to having bright, fresh and clear skin. I used to use scrubs in the past which are really rough and therefore bad for your skin. Chemical exfoliants on the other hand are amazing at getting rid of dead skin and debris making my skin look clear and smooth.

How you found it

I’ve been binging skincare TikTok and came across this product a few months ago. Game changer!

#3 Favorite Beauty Product and company that sells it

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Lip Butter Balm by Summer Fridays

How often you use it

Everyday and Night

What you like about the product

Again with the no makeup look, this is a great product that doesnt make you look too dressed up but adds a glossy shine to your lips. I used to be obsessed with lip gloss growing up and Im very much going back to that look. Not to mention it keeps your lips hydrated and smells delicious.

How you found it

Browsing through Sephora

Grace Tao


#1 Favorite Beauty Product


Double Eyelid Tape by Daiso

How often you use it


What you like about the product

I have natural double eyelids, however, I like to have it look more apparent without the surgery so I use double eyelid tape everyday. This is absolutely my number one favorite beauty product because I swear by it everyday!

How you found it


#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Tarte Tartelette in Bloom Clay EyeShadow Palette by Tarte Cosmetics

How often you use it

Every time I put on makeup

What you like about the product

I love the neutral/pinkish color tones. This is the only eye shadow palette I use, and I’ve already used up and repurchased 3.

How you found it

My cousin recommended to me

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Anessa Shiseido Sunscreen by Shiseido

How often you use it


What you like about the product

It is a lightweight sunscreen that is SPF 50+ PA++++.  Sunscreen is an essential part of my beauty routine, and this is by far my favorite sunscreen. I can layer primer and foundation on top of it and still have a nice finish. It does its job and doesn’t make my face cakey!

How you found it

I first discovered it when I travelled to Japan, and loved it ever since.    

Bianca Phillips


#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Super Shock Highlighter in Flexitarian by Colourpop

How often you use it

Whenever i want a fresh, highlighted look (you only need a tiny bit) or when I am going out with full makeup

What you like about the product

It is the absolute BRIGHTEST and SPARKLIEST highlighter I’ve ever tried AND it’s only $8. It is a great dupe for the Becca highlighters but better and cheaper!

How you found it


#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution by The Ordinary 

How often you use it

1-2x a week, at night

What you like about the product

It’s only $7 and it does a great job of cleaning your skin at the end of the day without stripping the skin of its natural oils. 

How you found it


#3 Favorite Beauty Product


Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

How often you use it

Once a day, in the morning

What you like about the product: it does SUCH an amazing job of brightening your skin, smoothing out the texture, and preventing fine lines. Its ingredients are all natural, and also the packaging is adorable.

How you found it

My older sister 🙂

Stay tuned for next week where I share nine of my favorites!

Advice on a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul during Quarantine with Christine Porr (Part III)

Self-care is important, which is why Christine and I have brought you our favorite ways to navigate the challenges of quarantine.

Time sure flies when you are having fun! We have finally come to the last post of Christine and my series on wholistic health during quarantine. It has been such a joy to share some of the things that we are doing to make this time more manageable and constructive. Christine is a wealth of knowledge and I am so happy to have collaborated with her on these posts- trust me I have learned more in these few posts than I have all of quarantine. This week, we talk about one of the most important aspects of our being: our spirit. Whether you are a religious person, spiritual person, or you are just going along for the ride, there is something nestled in this post just for you. 🙏



  1. Find a quiet uninterrupted place, and set aside time each morning, noon, or evening to read the Bible and pray. I know I’ve had times when I’ve struggled with loneliness during this period, but it helps me to remember that I can find fellowship with God, anytime, anywhere.
  2. Identify an accountability partner to do a Bible Study with you. I recently did Breaking Free by Beth Moore with one of my friends. We each completed the daily studies on our own and then texted each other screenshots of the parts that challenged us most or just our general reflections on the content.
  3. Stay consistent with attending church, even if it’s virtual. Pour your morning cup of coffee, sit down, and prioritize this period of worship, as you would in person. If your church offers virtual connect hours and/or small groups, I would highly recommend attending these as well. Each Sunday morning, I tune into my church’s virtual service and then join the Zoom “coffee hour.” It’s been such an encouraging time of meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and praying over our respective requests and praises.


A few final thoughts. It’s okay not to be okay some days and to just cut yourself some slack. The world and our personal worlds are all in flux. Everyone is going through something. Don’t feel like you have to minimize your own experience because someone else “has it so much worse.” Take time for yourself and turn for support to family, friends, and most importantly God. He has the world in His hands and will always supply your daily bread, whether you anticipate it or not.


During this challenging time we are facing, getting in touch with our spirituality is super important, thanks for reminding us Christine! It is crucial for us to be able to clear our minds and find stillness, which can come through prayer, meditation, yoga, or some deep belly breathes. When we hold tight to things, it can only bring on more frustration and anxiousness. Sometimes it is best to just let go and see what happens. I have also found that talking it out with someone can really help bring light to the stresses I am facing. In doing so, I have felt that some of the things that I was so stressed about, were all made up in my head! I am no stranger to the fact that I often stand in my own way. It is important to find someone you can speak to and confide in to help with your mental well being. Trusted therapists, family members, and close friends are important people to have on standby that can help you to gain a new perspective, offer some helpful advice, and lend an ear. 

Calm and Headspace are two popular meditation apps that might be useful to you. Headspace’s Chief Music Officer is John Legend, so if that doesn’t spell success I don’t know what does!

My parting words? 

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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on in this post are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this post.  If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), both of which are staffed by certified crisis response professionals, or call 911.

Carlos Brandt on Running his Podcast Dear Queer People and being Part of the LGBTQ+ Community

An advocate and trailblazer, Carlos is taking the world by storm, opening up the conversation around LGBTQ+ narratives.

When I first met Carlos, it was clear that there was something so special about him. Carlos is an incredible human, LGBTQ+ advocate, and entrepreneur that has a calm and gentle way about him. Carlos has taken the world by storm, working for RuPaul’s Drag RaceWerq The World Tour,” creating his own social media and branding company, and starting his podcast Dear Queer People, we wonder when he finds time to sleep! I am happy to call Carlos a close friend of mine and I couldn’t be more happy to share him with you all right here. I hope this post inspires you to change our world for the better and advocate for what you are passionate about, just as Carlos has.

Carlos, my long lost brother, tell us about yourself!

My lost sister, so happy to be connected with you and be part of your wonderful family.

I was born in Venezuela and raised in Spain. I grew up in a very Catholic family and always knew that I was different from others. When I was a teenager I accepted the fact that I was gay and came out to the world. I moved to New York City 3 years ago, fell in love, made mistakes, grew as a gay man, and have never turned back. I use my past experiences to motivate me to continue to learn and grow throughout my life. Here, I built a support system that I never had in my life and I met the greatest love that I could ever feel and see- the person which I experienced many ups and downs with that has allowed me to grow and learn the true meaning of love. Here, I built a company out of my passion for journalism and audio-visuals, in a place that is not my home country and proved to myself that I could. Here, I’m learning and shaping who I am. 

What the inspiration behind starting your podcast Dear Queer People and what is the podcast all about?

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Dear Queer People is a call to action, it’s a call to be better as a community and understand the whole spectrum of LGBTQ+. I started this podcast because I wanted to ask questions and know how queer folks navigate different aspects of life. Also, the podcast served as a way for me to save myself and put my thoughts out, to claim a voice and break from the stereotype of how I look. It was to show the world that I also have a brain, passion, and things to say.

The main purpose here is to inspire people to show up better and do more, for themselves and for our community- no matter who you are, where you are, or what gender you identify with.

I bring guests from all different background, from transgender to those who are disabled, to tell their stories. The purpose is to break the bubble you live in and realized that there is more to see and learn. 

What was some of the feedback that you received from the podcast? Was any feedback surprising to you?

So far it’s been both amazing and overwhelming. Folks from Japan, Russia, Africa, and Mexico have all shared their thoughts with me, explaining how listening to the show’s has inspired them to come out to their families or get involved with local organizations. It’s a great feeling knowing that what you produce is having an impact on someone somewhere in the world. 

Are there any stories that you have featured on your podcast that changed your perspective and outlook on life?

Every story is special, every voice that you hear in this podcast means everything to me.

Carson Tueller speaking about advocating for better disability laws in his local area and how he faces love and sex as a disabled gay man. Jake DuPree, a fantastic entertainer and actor, on how he learned to overcome his battle with depression and suicide to conquer his life. Every story is a hard conversation to have, but that is where the beauty happens, because that’s where you learn. Shequida Hall, Evan Katz Ross, and Jiggly Caliente, every story is unique, starting with my own.

You were recently featured in Out Magazine– congratulations! What was that experience like and what did the feature mean to you?

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It was very overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting anything and when I saw a two-page spread in the most important LGBTQ+ print and digital magazine it was a moment that was so honoring. Being a gay immigrant and having this type of validation that what I’m doing someway, somehow is right- it’s a very cool feeling. 

What is one thing that you wish more people knew about the LGBTQ+ community and the journeys of people within this community?

Be one community. We need to learn so much from one another and accept everyone within our community. From our trans brothers and sisters to non-binaries to value entertainers, it is important not to discriminate and create separations because of labels and stereotypes. It is my hope that some day this utopia will see the light. The fight continues!

What is a dream project that you would like to work on or collaborator that you would like to work with?

 A documentary and a coffee table book. Both are in my mind already, let’s see when I am ready to sit down and work them out, but, as for now, I’m calm, working on myself and taking one day at a time!

Where to find Carlos

Out Magazine Article: How Carlos Brandt Is Helping Queer Immigrants Tell Their Stories


Dear Queer People Podcast