FILM SERIES: “Set It Off: LA Hip-Hop on Film”, @ BAMcinématek Sep 4—8

F. Gary Gray’s Friday

With director F. Gary Gray’s N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton in movie theaters nationwide tomorrow, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is paying homage to the left coast in film. Debuting September 4th, BAMcinématek’s “Set It Off: LA Hip-Hop on Film” will feature seven films in tribute to LA’s hip-hop glory days of the early 1990’s.

Full schedule below. For ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org.

Fri, Sep 4

2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm: Friday

Ice Cube in Boyz N The Hood

Sat, Sep 5

2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm: Boyz n the Hood

Still from Set It Off

Sun, Sep 6

2, 6:50pm: Set It Off

4:40, 9:40pm: Menace II Society

Janet Jackson & Tupac Shakur in Poetic Justice

Mon, Sep 7

2, 6:45pm: Poetic Justice

4:30, 9:15pm: South Central

Still from Glass Shield

Tue, Sep 8

4:30, 7, 9:30pm: The Glass Shield

Will you be in attendance? We definitely will be sliding through. And if you can’t make the screenings, get into the groove by checking out my West Coast Hip Hop Of My Younger Years playlist on Spotify. :D

#ALifeInTheDayinLA: Respite in Nature at The Arboretum in Arcadia

Mountainscape

For the week of my birthday back in the end of July, I took a trip to the Los Angeles area to spend time with family, recharge, and basically get a taste of new scenery. For the majority of my twenty-eight prior years, I have always spent my birthday at home in Brooklyn, and felt this was a good time to hit up the West Coast. It was one of the few times in life where my trip was completely unplanned. I did plan in accordance with one of my aunts so we could be each other’s company for the week, but otherwise, I told myself “I just want to relax and not over-plan this time away”.

Cactus species and sculpture

As I was staying in Diamond Bar with my aunt and uncle, I did not really get a taste for the creative L.A. lifestyle, but I was exposed to something better; nature. My uncle, being pretty in tune with my love of photography and nature, offered to take the family The Arboretum during the week. Located in Arcadia approximately thirty minutes from where I was staying, the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a gem for nature lovers and those that just need a time out. The Arboretum is a 127-acre botanical garden and historical site jointly operated by the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Picture in picture at Queen Anne Cottage

With camera in hand like the tourist I was, I walked slowly and snapped photos of the luscious flora and fauna before my eyes. The grounds are divided up by native region with free roaming wildlife; for example there are sections that feature collections of plants from Africa and Australia, as well as themed sections like the “Prehistoric Forest” and “Historic Circle”. Every plant on the grounds was clearly marked with a description tag for those that wanted a little more back story.

Color variations in an aloe species

As someone who is incredibly passionate about color, I was truly amazed by the color variations of some of the plants and flowers I saw during my walk. The greenest of green leaves, the most potent orange flower petals, and things I had never seen before, like a Eucalyptus tree that had a multi-color bark. I snapped away, adjusting my settings numerous times during my trip as the sun was beaming that day. It made me realize how therapeutic a walk outside can be, and how beautiful nature untouched is.

View from the cafe

We took a break to eat at the Peacock Cafe, and took seats at a table under a shady tree on the deck. I had a surprisingly tasty cheese burger & fries with an apple juice because, #stayhungry. When we looked up and around, we were surrounded by peacocks. I made it my job to collect as many feathers that fell off the birds as they moved around, and snapped photos quick and quietly, as to not disturb them.

Someone is posing for the camera

I was waiting for one of the birds to spread their feathers for a photo opp, and was extremely lucky to capture the photo above upon walking to the exit. Such a serendipitous ending to a lovely afternoon.

If you are ever in the L.A. county area and want to take a break from the hustle and bustle, definitely take a trip to The Arboretum. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for Seniors & Students, $4 for Children, and Free for children 4 and under. For more information, please visit their website. You won’t regret it!

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

A Lovely Summer Evening At Brooklyn Museum Of Games, Sneaks & Eats. Photos by Gyasi Kirtley

Happy to be outside

On a beautiful Thursday evening in Mid-July, I attended Brooklyn Museum’s “Art Off The Wall” series for their much anticipated, The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibition. I had previously seen the exhibition on the day of the press preview (more to come on that), but was present for a discussion including an esteemed panel of female sneaker heads.

Once inside the museum’s lobby bursting at the seams with attendees for the Thursday evening adult programming, I bumped into my girl Gyasi. With camera in hand, she told me she was waiting for a friend, to which I replied, “Chill. I’m on the press list. You can be my photographer.”

And so, the evening began.

In the shadows

We walked around the ground floor and took some shots outside of the dining area as the sun was still beaming. I was feeling cool in my new super-fitted American Apparel skirt, and the natural light really caught the color combo well up top. We head back inside to view the panel, then went off to play in the FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds exhibit. FAILE, the brainchild of Brooklyn-based artist duo Patrick McNeil and Patrick McNeil, showcased various elements in their exhibit, including mixed media canvases, sculpture, neon wall art, and custom arcade games.

Readjusting my specs

Walking into the arcade portion of the exhibit was sensory overload. The walls and floors were covered in various new-school interpretations of old school movie posters, lit completely in black light, with sprinkles of neon light sculptures sprinkled throughout the space. I really enjoy the elements of lights captured in these photos.

Look at these arms!

After taking tons of photos in the black light, we shimmied over to The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit, which includes some of the most iconic pairs of kicks over the years, and their origin.

This picture was me being silly prior to making a proper pose, but I enjoyed this better. Note how long my arms are.

Grade A tings!

The exhibit does take some time to walk through as there are so many pairs of sneakers on view with intricate backstories, and so many opportunities for photo ops. Gyasi got some great photos there, but once we were done, I had to eat.

We walked over to Dutch Boy Burger on Franklin Ave so I could get something to eat. In dire times, I feel burgers are the only thing that could save me, because red meat = protein + iron. I ordered their signature burger and fries (which was probably a terrible idea at 10 PM) and sipped on a glass of water.

Gyasi couldn’t stay, but snapped this photo of me looking like a creep in the window. The evening was truly lovely and unexpected, as I had no idea it would end with such beautiful photos. Keep capturing your summer folks!

*Photos by Gyasi Kirtley

Ovation TV Presents “On The Record With Mick Rock”, Sundays at 8 PM EST In August + West Coast Hip Hop Spotify Playlist!

As a lover of all things related to musicians and photographers, I was tickled to hear about the premiere of new series On The Record With Mick Rock. The Ovation TV program follows famed British rock & roll photographer Mick Rock, who is best known for shooting musical greats in the 1970’s, including the likes of David Bowie, Blondie, and the Sex Pistols.

In each episode, he follows a different musician in their hometown for a candid interview amongst the sites, people, and things that inspire them. The series premiere on Sunday, August 4th at 8 PM ET kicked off with Josh Groban in his native Los Angeles. The show runs through August 23rd, with remaining guests including Kings of Leon, Flaming Lips, and Patti LaBelle.

Mick Rock Speaking on his love for Snoop Dogg

Rock is still a quite sought-after musical photographer, Snoop Dogg being one of the artists he works with currently. Upon watching the video above, I was inspired to create a Spotify playlist of West Coast Hip Hop songs that I grew up listening to, including Snoop and his contemporaries. Check out my Spotify playlist below, featuring 90 minutes of gritty jams.

*Editor’s note: the playlist is completely uncensored, please play at your own discretion.*

 

*This is a sponsored post

#CURLFEST NEW DATE ANNOUNCEMENT: Sat. August 29. 1-6 PM @ Prospect Park in Brooklyn!

After being postponed back in June due to inclement weather, #CURLFEST is back with a new date! On Saturday, August 29th, bring out all of your girls with curls to Prospect Park to bask in an afternoon of fun with the curly hair community. Expect tunes, dancing, curl demonstrations, and eats from some of your favorite food trucks.

Previous RSVP holders will be able to register on August 10th, and new attendees will be able to register on August 11th. The event is totally FREE! For more details and FAQs, head over to the Curly Girl Collective blog.

Lookbook: Let’s Get Active! Summer Fitness Looks For Yoga, Running, & More

I call this the, “Who dat?” look, Sunglasses by CRAP Eyewear

We are in the midst of summer, and you know what that means? Time to show some skin! You’ve probably been in the gym all winter and spring working on your summer body, but it’s not time to stop now. You’ve got to keep up that sexy body with summertime fitness in the best apparel that is both functional yet funky enough to wear post workout.

I teamed up with my buddy Kermit Mercado to collaborate on a fitness-inspired photo spread, highlighting looks for dance-inspired workouts, running, yoga, and more. Get into it.

Meet me on the dance floor!

If you love to dance like me, it is imperative to seek out dance classes and dance inspired workouts from time to time. This mesh back sports bra by Wear It To Heart in the cool Desert Magic print has great coverage with inner-shelf bra with pads to remain shape and modesty.

Mesh detail with matching leggings

Paired with leggings, this look can go from the studio to the street with ease. The higher neckline of the bra with mesh detail on the back is a stunner.

Keep that hair back!

To keep my curls out of my face while I dance up a storm, I enjoy invisibobble traceless hair ties. They don’t mark my curls, and can be used for countless hairstyles.

Downward Dog vibes

This sports bra and shorts pairing from Wear It To Heart is perfect for beach yoga or hot yoga. The fabrication wicks sweat and has a soft feel, whilst maintaining its shape, and staying in place while you move.

It is super important to remain hydrated, more so when working out in the hot summer months. I’m loving 1907 Alkaline water from New Zealand. It’s super light and fresh taste is perfect for my workouts, in a 1 liter size that gives me all the hydration I need.

Crow Pose in action

I really dig YogaSmoga apparel for my indoor yoga workouts as they are made of top notch fabrics with slight compression that keep everything in place. The Imagine Tank has an inner-shelf bra that is perfect for me as I have a smaller bust, and the Momentum Crop legging is super chic, and keeps the booty in place in more demanding poses.

Next level Chair Pose

For example, in this elevated Chair Pose, my leggings did not slide or sag, maintaining proper coverage. This image is actually the first time I was able to do a Chair Pose of this variation, and the prior photo is the first time I was able to do a Crow Pose. I’m getting there!

Knee hugs to prep for a run

Another thing that I really dig about YogaSmoga is that their apparel works seamlessly from my yoga workouts to a run. Wearing the same leggings, I ditch the tank for the Sneak n Peek sports bra with amazing compression to get in my miles.

Warrior III pose, great post run stretch

I usually end my runs with a bunch of stretches borrowed from yoga. My boobies stay in place in this look while I balance on one foot for this Warrior III pose, also called the “Superman Pose”.

Would you wear any of these looks for your next workout? Let a playa know! All links are throughout the story, so happy shopping to you!

*All photos by Kermit Mercado

Take A Sip & Bite: Up On 20 at the Hyatt Herald Sq. Offers Food & Drinks With A View

View of Up On 20. Photo: Real Hospitality Group

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re in the middle of Herald Square in Manhattan on a late weekday afternoon. You may be in the area for work, or visiting for a few days. You are in desperate need of food and drink that doesn’t completely break the bank, and isn’t an Applebee’s either. You are coaxed with huge signs from chain restaurants in the area, but how about if you wanted to be slightly off the main street, and able to catch spectacular views while you are it? Let me introduce you to Up On 20.

Located on the roof deck of the Hyatt Herald Square, Up On 20 is the hotel’s rooftop lounge. I visited on a grey Thursday to check out the location’s food and drink offerings, along with its views. As the weather wasn’t the best, the space was not packed, which made me feel better about having a meal solo. I was greeted by a lovely waiter/bartender and told him I was there for a review. He wasted no time to get me seated and really give me the lowdown on the space.

View from my seat of the Empire State Building. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

The hotel itself opened back in the fall of 2014 and Up On 20 is newly opened for the summer season. I found a cocktail table near the perimeter of the space, to better gaze at the city’s architecture below me, including the Empire State Building.

I snapped a few touristy photos of my surroundings, then got to the menu. The waiter gave me a few suggestions which I trusted as he seemed to be quite the foodie himself. I started with a rum cocktail called “The Old Virgin” which had a base of dark rum and prosecco, with lime and simple syrup. The drink definitely had a kick, but if made with a tad less lime, the finish would have been a little smoother.

All the food. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

My food platter consisted of white fish sliders with avocado, NYC-style fresh pretzels with fresh sesame mustard, meatballs with hoisin sauce, and shrimp ceviche paired with kettle chips. I would call the cuisine style “New American Fusion” as it melded flavors from both the Americas and Asia alike. So what did I think of the food? Let’s go one by one.

  • White fish sliders with avocado on whole grain bun: fresh flavors and overall great ingredients for a slider. As the fish is quite plain, a smokey or spicy element would have made this top notch.
  • Pretzels with fresh sesame mustard: pretzel consistency and mustard was very good. A bit too much salt on the pretzel.
  • Meatballs with hoisin sauce: great meatball consistency with sauce pairing. No complaints, but had to bring the rest home because of the portion size.
  • Shrimp ceviche with kettle chips: REALLY liked the shrimp ceviche as it had pineapple in it and reminded me of the ceviche back in Belize. The kettle chips were good, but went soggy quickly as I visited on a rather humid day. A good alternative would be fresh tortilla or plantain chips.

Drea vs. Food. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

I had a lovely experience at Up On 20, and would definitely want to go back on a sunny day. The open atmosphere makes it great for everything from after-work drinks, birthday parties, business meetings, and a casual date. Prices are mid-range, with cocktails in the mid to upper teens, and food made to share. If you are in Herald Square anytime soon, definitely check it out. Address below.

 

Up On 20 at the Hyatt Herald Square

30-32 W 31st St

New York, NY 10001

What I’ve Been Up To: More Writing, Fitness, Food & Travel!

Mid “Running through the 6 with my woes”/ Photo: AKC

For the past few weeks, my posts here have been a little inconsistent, so I wanted to update you all on some of the new happenings in my life. Here is an update of my past few weeks in the realms of writing, fitness, food, and travel. It is “A Life In The Day of Andrea” after all!

 

I am a new “Cocktail Culture” contributor Societe Perrier

I’ve been following Perrier and their lifestyle blog Societe Perrier for some time now. I’ve been interested in contributing since 2011, but didn’t think my work was strong enough as I was fairly new to writing and blogging at the time. Fast forward to late December 2014. They start to communicate with me via social media, to me eventually landing a spot as a new Cocktail Culture contributor for NYC! I started in late May. You can check out my first post on antioxidant cocktails here.

 

I ran a great race at the Nike Women Toronto 15 K, and took 3 dance classes after

Dancing in my race shirt/Photo: CDC

On June 14th, I ran my first major race in ages at the Nike Women Toronto 15 K and finished strong! You can read the full backstory with images here. Post-race I decided to take a few dance classes at the City Dance Corps open house in downtown Toronto (because I’m crazy, apparently). I took jazz, ballet, and dancehall (bluck bluck!) classes, all thirty minutes each, and had a blast! The photo above is from my most challenging session, ballet. Thank you so much to my girl/fake sister Celina for having me.

 

A new “Liquid Culture” feature on Large Up

Arcachon Cremas/ Photo: AKC

I’ve been contributing food & drink pieces to Caribbean culture site Large Up since December of 2014, mainly my own Belizean family recipes. This was my first feature, focusing on a fledging Haitian-American cremas brand. You can read all about it here. Photos by yours truly also!

 

*BIG NEWS: I am a Staff Writer at super new journalism platform, SLANT*

I’m super excited to share this news. I am a Staff Writer for newly launched (like one week old NEW) journalism platform Slant. It is innovative as its model is crowdsourced journalism, allowing the ones who are experiencing the “news” to contribute and tell their own unique story. I love this idea, because I am really able to express myself in ways I may have not been able to on other platforms. Stay tuned for awesome music, personal, fashion, art & culture stories. In the meantime, you can read these that are now live.

My Super Awesome Hair Makeover at ARROJO Williamsburg w/ My Contest Winner, Jordanna!

BEFORE THE CUT & COLOR

On a rather normal day in mid-May, I was checking my e-mail and came across a rather exciting message in my iCloud account. I was perplexed as to how I was even receiving mail there, as I rarely use the account. I opened the message and see it is from Andrew Arrojo from ARROJO salon. I read the words “free cut & color, for you and a friend, in Williamsburg” and I almost dropped my phone. I had worked with the salon a few times in the past, and I was ecstatic for this opportunity as I was able to reenergize the relationship, transform my hair as it was in pretty bad shape, bring a friend, and not have to leave Brooklyn.

I was invited for the service in the afternoon of their new Williamsburg salon’s grand opening festivities, and given the chance to stay and network at the party in the evening. I brought Jordanna of The Fashionette with me, as she won my contest for a hair makeover.

JORDANNA PRE-CUT

We both came in with dark brown, rather limp tresses. Jordanna had been transitioning to natural hair for a few months, but wanted to go for a short pixie cut for summer, in a blue-black tone. I hadn’t cut my hair in about six months and wanted to do something fresh and new. I decided on warm caramel highlights and fresh layers that added movement, but kept the majority of my length.

FUNNY FACE WHILE LETTING MY CARAMEL HIGHLIGHTS SET IN

This selfie was obligatory as it really looked like my hair was plastic at this point. My colorist Lucy informed me that the plastic wrap helps process the color. My strands were bleached first then toned down to a warm caramel color.

JORDANNA GETTING HER BLUE/BLACK COLOR

Jordanna wanted to give her tresses more edge with this blue-black dye. As some of her strands were a little lighter from previous color, her process was a bit longer, but created an awesome result.

SIDE VIEW OF MY FINAL LOOK

I showed my stylist John an image that I found in a Google search of the type of cut I wanted. The layers were a bit whimsical with great length, just a little past my shoulder. I think he really nailed it as he great technique cutting my curly hair. I’ve had unfortunate cuts in the past where the curls don’t blend and are very boxy. I’m super happy with the cut, and the blowout he gave me.

EXCITEMENT WITH JORDANNA! LOVE HER EDGY PIXIE CUT

Look at how different we look! Isn’t Jordanna’s pixie awesome? Her stylist and colorist did an awesome job, and were really thoughtful and patient with her kinkier curls. I really want to stress the fact that ARROJO stylists are trained incredibly well. They can handle all hair types, from my thicker, wavy strands, to Jordanna’s finer, kinkier strands. I think we both got the look we wanted, and more.

FRONT VIEW OF MY FINAL LOOK

Here is my “sexy/quirky” selfie of my final look. Yes, I felt like a Victoria’s Secret model. That’s how I always want to feel after having my hair styled.

POSTED WITH MY COLORIST, LUCY

After the cut & style, there was the party! Here I am with my super awesome colorist Lucy. We hung out at the grand opening party with prosecco in hand. I was able to meet a bunch of great ARROJO stylists and team members, whilst jamming to the tunes of DJ Spinva (who also happens to be a colorist at the SoHo salon).

ARROJO Williamsburg offered me such a lovely experience, from the service and stylists to the overall vibe of the space. I will definitely be back. In the meantime, you should check them out for your next cut or color. Tell them Andrea sent you! :)

ARROJO Williamsburg

11 Broadway

Brooklyn, NY 11249

718.215.6625

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life In The Day of Andrea

Saturday Sounds: The Internet “Special Affair”

My favorite musical peeps, The Internet set the internet ablaze when they dropped their new track “Special Affair”. The bass-laden, moody, late night caller track is super sensual, telling the story of taking the object of your desire at the bar/club home for the night. There are so many layers to the song, sonically, making it really sound like the darkness of the middle of the night.

“Special Affair” is the first single off of The Internet’s forthcoming sophomore album, Ego Death, which is to be released digitally on June 29th and physically on June 30th. Press play to get into the sensual vibes.

Feeling it? You can pre-order the album now on iTunes and Amazon here.

POSTPONED: Curly Girl Collective Presents Curl Fest 2015, “The Ultimate Natural Beauty Festival” 6/28/15 @ Prospect Park

Girls with the curls, listen up! The beautifully coiled women behind Curly Girl Collective are back with the second annual Curl Fest, dubbed “the ultimate natural beauty festival”. It is an opportunity for the curly girls (and those that love them) to flourish Brooklyn-style in an awesome picnic setting in Prospect Park. In addition to the picnic there will be a live DJ & dance party, food trucks, curly hair styling stations, beauty chats, and marketplace.

Sponsors this year include Carol’s Daughter, Kinky Curly, Hype Hair, and more. Be sure to follow @curlygirlcollective on social media and tag #Curlfest before and during the fest to win very special prizes! Entry is FREE and you can RSVP here. See you in the park!

 CURL FEST 2015

Sunday, June 28th

1-6 PM

Prospect Park Nethermead, Prospect Park

Brooklyn, NY 11225

*UPDATE 6/25/15*

CurlFest has been postponed due to weather concerns. Will keep you updated regarding the new date!

*Photo courtesy of Curly Girl Collective

Concerts in NYC: Summerstage ’15, June Picks Feat. Rich Medina, Jungle, Gyptian& More!

June crept up on NYC with a blister of wind and drab rain, but not to fret, we are reminded that the summer season is upon us. How you may ask? With the full line-ups of various arts and cultural events that are FREE 99 in the city. Here is where I share with you one of my favorite lineups every summer, Summerstage concerts at the City Parks. Now in its 30th year, the programming for the season is one to be remembered.

Check out my picks for the month of June, which is also Black Music Month, below, and stay tuned for  upcoming months!

 

JUNE

Blue Note Jazz Festival: Meshell Ndegeocello / Roy Hargrove / Gabriel Garzón-Montano

June 6 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm | SummerStage, Central Park | Free


Angelique Kidjo / Emmanuel Jal / Rich Medina

June 7 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm SummerStage, Central Park | Free


Unlocking the Truth / Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls / Black Girls Rock / DJ Diamond Kuts

June 7 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm| Red Hook ParkFree


Duck Down 20-Year Anniversary BBQ with Boot Camp Clik & Friends, Kirk Knight & CJ Fly of Pro Era, Chelsea Reject & Statik Selektah

June 11 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm| Betsy Head Park | Free


Horace Brown / Jeff Redd / DJ Chuck Chillout / DJ Mell Starr

June 12 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm | Betsy Head Park | Free


Nuyorican Poets Cafe featuring Elaine Del Valle’s Brownsville Bred

June 13 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Betsy Head Park | Free


Lyricist Lounge featuring Biz Markie and Masta Ace

June 17 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm | Herbert Von King Park | Free


The Big Quiet – A Meditation in Central Park

June 20 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm | SummerStage, Central Park | Free


Jungle / Ibeyi / Sunni Colón

June 20 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm| SummerStage, Central Park | Free


The Bullitts / DJ Spinna / Screening: They Die By Dawn

June 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Herbert Von King Park | Free


Judy Torres / Tony Touch

June 24 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm | Crotona Park | Free


VP Records 35th Anniversary: Maxi Priest / Gyptian / Bunji Garlin & Fay Ann Lyons / Massive B

June 27 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm SummerStage, Central Park | Free


Will you be heading out to the parks this month for these awesome shows? You will definitely catch us out at a few. Here’s to a June of great music! Stay tuned for our July picks. :)

 

WOMANday: Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland Chats Fitness, Training Tips for Runners, & More!

TRACI COPELAND TEACHING

You are a self-professed “yoga-athlete”. Can you tell us a bit about your ​fitness background​?

I was a competitive gymnast for thirteen years- competing in bars, beam, floor, and vault. I also ran track in high school and college- competing in 200m, triple jump, long jump, and high jump. Our high school girls team (me and two other girls) were the first team to ever win a state title. And we did it two years in a row! In college, my first year at Georgetown, we were Big East Champions.

​I first met you in one of my Nike Training Club yoga sessions, as our instructor. What brought you to Nike?

Who wouldn’t want to work for Nike right ? I found out they were auditioning trainers three years ago, so I auditioned. It’s sort of been my dream job ever since. I’m very lucky in terms of the types of projects I get to work on, the athletes I get to work with, and being able to travel the world!

​Spring is here, and marathon season has begun. Do you have any training tips for runners​, both novices and those that are more advanced​?

For novice runners, hold on to what got you motivated to run in the first place. There is nothing more exciting than falling in love with running for the first. Approach without any expectation. Run to finish the race and that’s it. And for more advanced runners, it’s important for them to just be humble. Less expectation and emphasis on times but rather enjoy the race and naturally you’ll run faster.

TRACI’S WORKOUT IN THE NIKE TRAINING CLUB APP

​Where can people take class with you, and what can we expect from you in the coming months?

They can find me at Nike’s Upper East Side Running store every Thursday at 7 AM, and Broadway Dance Center Yoga 9:30-10:30 AM.


It was a pleasure chatting with (as well as taking class with) Traci. Be sure to follow her adventures with Nike on Instagram at @traco4. Maybe she will be in your city soon!

Exclusive Interview: ARROJO Studio Owner Nick Arrojo Talks Hair Education, Styling Products, & Opening A New Salon In Brooklyn!

NICK ARROJO WORKING HIS MAGIC ON A CLIENT

You have been a hairstylist for over thirty years and salon owner for over ten. What initially sparked your passion in haircare and styling?

Growing up just outside Manchester, England, I was constantly re-creating my image. Inspired by music and fashion, I spent every day of my teenage years reading the key fashion magazines of the time (of which there were very few) and getting into all the new trends. Changing the way I looked was a huge part of my development. I thought a hair salon would be a great environment to work, with music playing all day, meeting lots of new and interesting people, and having the chance to be creatively involved in the fashion industry. I loved my new job. The high energy, a hip young team of staff, music playing all day, friendly clients, and parties every weekend. I realized that I wanted this to be my career. By luck or by fate, I landed a job at the best salon in the country, Vidal Sassoon, and I haven’t looked back.

As part of your business model, you operate Arrojo Cosmetology School in your SoHo flagship on Varick St. How important is education to the ARROJO philosophy?

It’s fundamental to everything we do. Education is the foundation of a lasting, prosperous, creative and rewarding hairdressing career. It raises standards of craftsmanship and professionalism throughout our industry. I believe education is the backbone of strong technique, of creative expression, of confidence with clients, of feeling motivated and inspired, of success in any field of hairdressing.

STYLING CHAIRS AT ARROJO WILLIAMSBURG

This past month you opened your first outpost in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Tell us more about the space and what clients can expect.

Williamsburg is an incredible, almost unbelievable space and location for us. Manhattan has always been the place for the Mega Salon, whereas Brooklyn has a more bohemian feel. But it has grown and grown, and become a capital of fashion and trend in its own right. We feel our culture, standards, and aesthetics are perfect for the people and the lifestyle here. Located at 11 Broadway, it’s an iconic spot by Williamsburg Bridge with views to the East River and Manhattan’s skyline. A 3300 square foot site with 15-feet high windows and a 25 foot high ceiling, the custom architectural design is influenced by industrial elegance and modern minimalism; a suspended wall of light, flowing lines and aesthetic functionality make for a strikingly beautiful space.  To ensure continuity of our world-class service standards, the first stylists to work out of Williamsburg come with years of experience at our Varick Street Flagship. 6 girls, 1 guy, and a weekly visit from myself (to take clients), it’s an amazing team of stylists and people, committed to giving the people of Brooklyn Great Hair and Good Vibes.

You have a full line of styling products that you sell in your salons, ambassador salons, and online. What are some of your personal favorites to use on clients?

For guys, I love texture paste –– a flexible, medium-hold product that’s perfect for short and messy styling. It creates texture and separation with a smooth matte finish, which is great for modern men’s styles. I use it on girls with short hair too, especially for that just-rolled-out-of-bed look.

For a great cleanse and condition I recommend our Shine Luxe Shampoo and Conditioner. Sulfate and paraben free, it’s a luxurious combination designed to generously restore hair’s natural luster and luminescence. Filled with opulent oils like macadamia and cocoa butter that quench dryness, add vitality, they are feel good products giving an upscale experience.

PRODUCT WALL INSIDE ARROJO WILLIAMSBURG

For styling women and girls, I have three hero products.

Wave Mist is one of our newest products and already a client favorite. It uses sea salt and sea kelp to create playful body and texture and the loose, wavy and beachy styles that are perfect for summer.

ReFresh Dry Conditioner is another new favorite. Everyone loves dry shampoo and now we have its perfect complement: dry conditioning. ReFresh is a weightless spray for impossibly soft and silky hair, instantly, anytime, anywhere, and especially for second or even third day hair. On clean hair we’ve also found it adds bombshell to blow-outs. Just blow-out your hair as you like it and mist ReFresh into mid-lengths and ends and see how the shine and the silk makes for irresistibly touchable locks.

And then there is our original hero: ReFINISH dry shampoo. Recently recognized in Real Simple’s 15th anniversary issue as one of the best ever beauty products, we believe it’s there best dry shampoo on the market. It gives tons of instant texture and volume, and never leaves any white powder residue. We call it “gorgeous on the go, miracle style rescue.”

WOMANday: Sunnie Ha, Founder of Activewear Company Wear It To Heart Talks Apparel Production in Central America, Sustainability, and Empowering Young Women

WEAR IT TO HEART LOGO BEING TRANSFERRED ONTO GARMENT

Back in February, I attended the first ever AXIS Show at Pier 94 in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. The fashion trade show focused on women’s active lifestyle apparel and home goods, which was really exciting to me. It was there that I was first introduced to Wear It To Heart (WITH), a ladies activewear brand based in Los Angeles and produced in El Salvador.

I was really drawn to the soft, yet technologically sound fabrication of the garments, in addition to the lovely prints used across their spectrum of leggings, capris, tanks, and sports bra offerings. I was also drawn to the idea of their goods being produced in Central America, so I decided to set up an interview with the company’s founder, Sunnie Ha, to discuss their initiatives, predominantly female workforce, and more. Read on!

Tell us a bit about your background and when you came to the point to make Wear It To Heart a reality.

Looking back, it all started with the observation that women’s activewear was just men’s activewear made in smaller sizes.  It seemed as if every woman walked out of the same closet all dressed in black tights and uninspiring, boring tops.  I wanted women to look like women, feminine and beautiful.  In my mind leggings with fun and pretty prints give women a comfortable but bold look that is stylish.  The WITH look allows women to live in every moment and love the life they live. Wear it to Heart was born in California and is growing up in El Salvador.  We work with both designers and artists from Los Angeles and El Salvador.  I have the pleasure of working with artists who, for the first time have an outlet which allows them not only to express but also profit from their creativity.  You should see the excitement of the team when their prints are featured on our pieces.  I feel blessed to be able to love what I do and excited to see what the future of WITH holds.

Your product line consists of fashion-forward activewear suitable for yoga and other low-impact activity. What kind of feedback have you gotten from the fitness community thus far?

So far, the feedback has been very positive. Every piece of WITH is constructed with the highest quality materials and attention to detail, which people notice and appreciate. Also, because the prints are fashion-forward, you can wear them out and about, not just at the gym, which is very important to our customers as well.

DESIGNER SKETCHING

Let’s talk about your workforce. In your company factory in El Salvador, you run a sweatshop-free work force, comprised predominantly of women. Was this done intentionally? And can you elaborate on your company values and in-house initiatives?

Wear it to Heart mainly manufactures in El Salvador to support Project Garrobo which was started many years ago by my husband and I.  It began with a desire to help the communities in El Salvador.  We found ourselves working with single mothers to help them acquire work skills to support not only themselves, but also their families.  Project Garrobo, is an apprenticeship program for several disadvantaged, unwed, and unskilled teen mothers.  We pay them a salary and train them for several types of apparel jobs, but also teach them life skills such as finance, English, and other necessary subjects for them to meet the oncoming challenges of adulthood.  Once they reach the age of 18 they are welcome to work at our factory, or if they choose to leave and work elsewhere, we’re happy with that also. Our payback is satisfaction knowing that we improved their lives.
Our factory is recognized globally as a leader in CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainability.  This distinction stems from many years of researching and implementing the best practices.  For instance, we responded to employee requests to offer a daycare solution.  Our response was to visit several daycare facilities in the U.S. and Brazil.  Learning from those already doing it, we inaugurated our child development center on our premises in 2011.  Since then we have gained Montessori accreditation, therefore giving our pre-schoolers a clear advantage for when they graduate and move on to regular day school.

A PAIR OF LEGGINGS BEING SEWN

Apparel production in Central America has been on the rise in the past few years, using some of the most technologically sound processes in the industry. What do you see in its future?

On-shoring or near-shoring apparel production back to the Americas has been a hot topic for the last couple of years. It’s good news for us because it creates a win-win situation for the U.S. and the Central American & Caribbean regions. Due to the way the free trade agreement (CAFTA-DR) is structured, most key inputs come from the U.S. and then produced as final garments in the region.  So it’s true bi-lateral trade benefitting both sides of the border.  We are to expect this trend to grow significantly due to the changing global sourcing landscape. As China and other Asian countries develop more consumer driven economies, the available capacities and resources will focus more in that direction.  As a byproduct, the Americas will gain more market share of U.S apparel imports.  Flexible, faster to market lead times and real time communication with U.S. brands and retailers  also make CAFTA-DR region a very attractive sourcing hub.  For W.I.T.H., the flexibility and speed allow for unparalleled levels of service and innovation.

It was such a pleasure to speak to, and learn more about the apparel industry in the Americas from Sunnie. Be sure to check out the goods on the official Wear It To Heart website, in addition to following them on social media!

*Photos courtesy of Wear It To Heart (WITH)