The Girl Mob x Twitter Present: “They Mean Business”, October 1st, Feat. Cas Rum Beverages!


Since 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month has been held every year in the United States from September 15 – October 15, as this time period encapsulates the independence of several Latin American nations. To celebrate here in NYC, The Girl Mob has teamed up with Twitter to present They Mean Business: A Celebration of Latinx Businesses & Entrepreneurial Spirit.

On the evening of October 1st, the doors of Twitter HQ will be open to guests who want to meet with likeminded folks in a format that is part speed-networking and part community building. I am so happy to announce that Cas Rum Beverages will be on site as one of the event’s brand partners. In addition to being one of the official beverage partners of the evening (get ready for glasses of #casrumpunch ya’ll!), I will also get to speak on my business, and be a part of the speed-networking round.

Cas Rum Beverages lineup. Photo by Victoria Morris.

I am so thankful for Yari & Britt from The Girl Mob bringing me on to what is likely to be a very engaging and successful event! Here are all of the details:

They Mean Business

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

5:30 – 8:30 PM

Twitter HQ

249 West 17 Street

New York, NY

LNO Studio Campaign Shoot + Brand Launch

LNO Studio group
LNO Studio campaign video still.

Shopping for clothing to wear to work can generally be a drag. In my personal experience, shopping for pants is most difficult as I am pear-shaped, having a 15 inch difference between my waist and hips. I generally encounter pants that are too big at the waist and too narrow at the hip, inseams that are always too long, rises that are too short that make it very uncomfortable to sit down for long periods of time, and basically every gripe that one can encounter when it comes to slacks or trousers.

While perusing my Facebook groups for women in business, I came across a post from Kristin Ulmer, founder of LNO Studio. She was seeking a fit model for her new custom pants line. I quickly responded to the gig, met Kristin, learned more about the line, and was off to posing.


My look. Madewell oversized blouse styled with LNO Studio slim-fit ankle trousers + Opening Ceremony x Vans sneakers.

The line gives users a detailed questionnaire regarding body type and favorite pant fits, along with a visual of how to measure all parts of your body from the waist down to ensure a perfect fit for pants. I was hired for the tutorial photos of how to take your own measurements at home, something that was a breeze for me growing up in a household where my mother and I would collaborate on different sewing projects.


Campaign still of pant styles

A few weeks after my gig, I received my custom pants from Kristin, which I am wearing in these photos. I chose a high rise, slim fit, ankle length style made of a tropical weight wool (perfect for warmer weather), with side slit pockets and two back pockets.

As the pants are custom fit, they are size inclusive, offering an array of options for all bodies.

DSC_7372 copy

Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

The brand officially launches later this fall, tentatively in October and has received much traffic, resulting in a wait list. Watch the campaign video below to get a feel for the different styles offered. Head over the LNO Studio website to join the waitlist so you too can experience the joy that is custom-fit pants!

Video by Remy Fink

Event: The Other Festival, NYC’s 1st All Female Festival, Sat. June 11th at Spring Studios

Here at A Life In The Day of Andrea, we know that the WOMAN is the source of our humanity, and without her, we are nothing. Over the years I have featured the stories of various female entrepreneurs, creatives, and makers in my #WOMANday column who I felt deserved shine for the waves they are making in their respective fields. I genuinely receive most inspiration and support from women, and I always seek to be in spaces with likeminded women to exchange ideas and words of wisdom. Imagine an entire festival featuring badass women?

With the launch of The Other Festival in New York City, we get just that; the city’s first all female festival for makers and creators. Created by Dee Poku, founder of the influential women’s leadership program WIE Network, the fest features panels, workshops, live music performances, and a curated marketplace on Saturday, June 11th at Spring Studios.

Check out the incredible line-up below, featuring talks from Naomi Campbell and Rosario Dawson, and music from Yuna, Vashtie, and many more!

The day begins with talks at 11:30 AM, transitioning into live music at 5:00 PM that lasts into the night. Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $50 for a student pass, $75 for a music pass, $125 for GA, upwards of $1,000 for the super VIP experience. You may purchase here.

The Other Festival

Sat. June 11, 2016

Spring Studios

6 Saint Johns Lane,

New York, NY 10013

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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)

#MANday Exclusive: Le Club Des Douze, The Men’s Online Fashion Destination in English & En Francais


It has been some time since I’ve featured a piece for MANday, so to get back on the ball, I want to introduce you to super-cool menswear aficionado Alex Rizos of Le Club Des Douze. Alex first reached out to me over a year ago via Twitter, and since I have been following his blog which is a men’s lifestyle destination focused on curated fashion-apparel inspiration boards, designer & brand interviews, home goods and food. We are both in good company as contributors to Capsule Show’s We Are The Market blog as well.

The site began entirely in French, and with my little knowledge of the the language was able to navigate the mood boards and posts. It has since transitioned to be a completely bilingual site, featuring content in both French and English. I caught up with Alex at a coffee shop in the city to chat about Le Club des Douze and learn the story behind the blog. Read on.

You started Le Club Des Douze in 2012 with your wife, Olivia. Give me a little background on you guys and your interest, and why you decided to start the site?

Let’s start with Olivia. She used to be a lawyer in England, she’s actually from here [United States] but she moved there to study law, but she didn’t love it. At some point she came back here and went to Parson’s because she was interested in fashion, not necessarily fashion design, but working in a more creative, design-related field. She does PR for interior designers and architects, so it is very specific. As far as I’m concerned, I lived here six years ago for one year, then lived in London for a year, where I met her (Olivia). During these stays in both countries I discovered the renewal of independent menswear [brands]. I don’t know if it was because I felt new to it or it was actually a new wave then, between 2009 and now. I discovered a bunch of new brands between here [New York] and in London, and also a lot of menswear blogs that focus on craftsmanship, more independent smaller brands, and I thought that was very interesting. At the time in France, there really was no blog talking about that. So before moving back here, I had a three-month period where I moved back to France to take care of my visa, and I said “let’s launch something in that field.” I started the blog [Le Club Des Douze] and at some point it had an e-commerce portion to it when I launched, then I realized that it was writing that people were looking for.

How important has social media been in connecting you to fashion brands, in addition to building your brand internationally?

It’s crazy how social media can enable you to connect with so many brands, even the smaller ones, and that’s amazing. When I started Le Club Des Douze I feel like most of my followers were on Facebook. There was an interaction, but I didn’t feel that brands would reach out to me there, and it kind of shifted to our biggest following being on Twitter. That’s where our audience is, where you can visit our website from, where you share articles, and where you connect with a lot of brands. Either we reach out to the brands or they discover us, and they want to talk to us. It’s crazy that five years ago, to know about a brand, I would have to read about it on a blog or go to a trade show. Since the beginning, our following grew a lot internationally. Now we have about 40% French followers, about 30% in the UK, and the rest divided between the U.S. and Japan.


How important do you believe a female influence is for the growth of a menswear-based business?

I think it is very important. I think since she [Olivia] started working with me, she’s added a lot of value in terms of …I don’t know. She just KNOWS when she sees a group of items together, what to add. I need to see things. I need to see the twelve items and then decide if it looks good. She can see three items and already know what the whole section will look like. I don’t know if it’s a feminine thing, but I know that’s the way she thinks. She sees the story behind it all. She has the vision of the guy that’s going to wear the outfit, and each selection is basically one outfit with additional pieces that you can pair and swap out.

What do you foresee in the future of menswear apparel & media?

I think the menswear industry, especially independent menswear …they’re not looking to do something that is “out-there”, these brands are looking to do something that they have seen and that is “heritage” with a twist. Whereas in womenswear, designers create something that is new, and there are menswear designers that do that as well, but that’s not what we are really interested in. The independent brands and designers that we work with are more into heritage and taking something that exists and making it better.

It was such a pleasure to speak with Alex, and see the growth of Le Club Des Douze firsthand. You can check out their site here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

*Photos courtesy of Le Club Des Douze

A Message To You, and Myself: OWN THAT SHIT!


As a young professional woman, at times, I can say the odds are against me. Those odds are raised as a young professional woman of color; not an opinion, but pure fact. It is fact that there is a lack of melanin and varied hair textures in higher management and executive positions across all fields. It is fact that we earn less than our male counterparts. It is fact that we receive more discrimination, whether it be simply for our gender, sexuality, race, or any other reason under the sun. This can put a damper on my and your mood, given your circumstance, but in these times, I always need to remind myself that things can be exponentially worse.

The simple fact in that my parents decided to uproot themselves from Belize to provide a “better life” for their children in the United States has granted me many opportunities, specifically in education and the workforce. Being in New York City has been beneficial for me as it is an epicenter for entertainment and media. Things are within my reach, I would say. I do not remain complacent, although at times, I do struggle with a bit of a sense of entitlement, given the fact that I really hit the ground running building industry contacts since the age of 18. That is now ten years.


I’ve always been a dreamer, but very vocal in what I’ve wanted and continue to want. That voice and will has afforded me great opportunities, but I can say to this date, I can get overwhelmed. Something as simple as being able to be in the same room as one of your idols, or better yet, have a conversation with them; that’s a HUGE DEAL. I look back at emails, and photos, and writings, and I am often taken aback by goals that I have achieved without even realizing it. I have also realized that in times like these, I need to give myself a pat on the back because it was not pure luck which brought these things into my life, it was through tons of hard work and relationship building. I DESERVE IT. And I am here to tell you that you deserve all the incredible opportunities that come into your life as well.

In the past week and a half, I presented & did a tasting at the New York Travel Fest on behalf of my fledgling beverage company Cas Rum Beverages, I was invited to attend the CoInvent Media Summit, which focused on the intersection of media and tech, and attended the final day of the Women In The World Summit, which featured a special presentation and call to action by Angelina Jolie Pitt. Sounds like a lot right? And I can say it is, especially in such a short time, but I know this is all happening now because I’ve truly worked so hard over the years to get to this point.


I’ve got a long way to go, but I am reminded each day that I am truly on the right path. Don’t beat yourself up. With each missed connection and sleepless night, you are preparing yourself for something great. Trust your journey.

Earth Day Is Around The Corner and EDEN Juice Is Here To Shake Things Up In The Juice World! + Giveaway

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.

Meet Eden. They’re a new environmentally friendly company that makes fresh, cold-pressed juices from imperfectly shaped fruits and vegetables. Why imperfect fruits and vegetables? Because despite how they look, they provide the same exact health benefits as perfectly shaped fruit.

Eden’s core belief is that diversity and imperfections are not flaws to be corrected but traits to be celebrated. And they use their line of juices to fight aspects of our culture that threaten diversity, conservation, and overall health:


Superficial Mindset

Photoshop gives us flawless skin, perfect tans, and the ideal physique, but it also erases everything that makes us unique. Now more and more people think these digitally altered images are the norm and are determined to attain these unrealistic standards no matter what the cost.


Food Waste

In the U.S., we throw away close to 40% of the food we grow. In many cases, it’s not because the food has gone bad, but because the produce doesn’t meet our cosmetic standards. We waste food because it doesn’t look good and ignore the most important part—the health benefits.


Access to Clean, Healthy Food

While we throw away our food, over 15 million American kids go hungry every day and don’t have access to nutritious food.1 The worst part is that nutritious food is available; it’s just ending up in landfills instead of in the hands of those who need it.


Overfed and Undernourished

1. More than 2 in 3 adults are considered overweight or obese,

2.  and more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

3. And fewer than 35% of Americans are eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetable.

4. So those in the U.S. who aren’t going hungry are overfed and undernourished.

While these problems can’t be solved overnight, Eden hopes to get one step closer with their line of fresh, cold-pressed juices. They’ll help limit the amount of food wasted in the U.S. by using produce that consumers and retailers usually throw away for cosmetic reasons. They’ll also make nutrient-rich food more accessible to those who struggle to get nutritious foods and those who want a simple way to improve their diets.


You can be a part of the movement! Join Eden’s Kickstarter campaign by going to Drink Eden. Naturally different.


As a special incentive, Eden is giving away three $150 Visa Gift Cards! Enter the contest here. Good luck to you!











* I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. 

WOMANday Exclusive: Tanwi Nandini Islam of Hi Wildflower Botanica Chats Writing & Entrepreneurship, Supporting Local, Social Activism & More!


For this edition of WOMANday I wanted to introduce you to an extraordinary woman, Tanwi Nandini Islam. Tanwi is a published writer with a novel on the way, and the creator of artisan beauty line, Hi Wildflower Botanica, which includes a product range of perfumes, candles, and skincare. In my interview, we chatted about the road to entrepreneurship, the local small business community in Brooklyn, writing, social activism and more.

Get into our conversation below!

What was the turning point in which you decided to start Hi Wildflower Botanica?

Last year I presented four scents at Bushwick Open Studios. I had been experimenting a lot with perfumery because I was doing a lot of research for my new book that I’m working on, and I kind of wanted to see if people would be into the product. Bushwick Open Studios draws hundreds of people into your studio, which I share with three other artists. A lot of people were into it, so I felt like I hit a certain nerve in regards to the fragrances I had made, and it felt like something that could be a viable source of income, and perhaps a new business.

I’m a writer professionally, and that’s not necessarily the easiest way to make a living, especially when you are writing fiction or working on freelance projects, so this kind of became something that I saw myself doing as a fun, indie business. I initially thought it would just be an Etsy or an extra source of income; I wasn’t thinking wholesale or getting stores, new accounts, or anything like that. It kind of really grew fast because I decided to do a launch at Renegade Craft Fair in late August [2014], and it was awesome. I had a really simple array of product. I had my perfume and I had skincare, and people were feeling it and buying it, and I was like ‘Wow! I’m on to something here. This is really cool.’ Since then, I’ve really expanded a lot. Now I’m in ten different stores, and I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that A) I live in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and it’s a really great location I think to be a new business, and to be an entrepreneur and share it with other small businesses, usually store owners who are all my peers. They are usually women my age who are looking for the next line to carry, whether it be for perfume or skincare, or candles.

Since this is WOMANday, I would love to know the feedback you’ve been getting from fellow female entrepreneurs in your community, as well as consumers?   

It has been really, really interesting. I think that the customer is really drawn to the packaging, so the colorful nature of the packaging is really inspired directly by wildflowers. That’s pretty much the central philosophy of the brand, to grow free everywhere, to be the one who is a little bit different than the mainstream, and I think that concept is really beautiful because it’s like every product has its own mini-story and its own aesthetic. I think traditionally that can be seen as ‘Hey! Everything should be super cohesive and one story’ but it’s many stories. This is fun for me. I’m drawn to old botanical drawings, and I think my customer [also] is drawn to that and is really into the idea of ‘this is my signature scent, this is something that really speaks to my personality’; every thing has a different appeal for a different person. If you were to take Night Blossom, which is one of my perfumes that has really deep notes that are floral which I call ‘sex florals’ , and jasmine, neroli, rose; really sexy scents, it’s all understated and it dries down into this leathery ember scent, and it’s for a certain kind of person. Then you have something like West Indies which is grassy, herbaceous, has notes of Bay Rum and lavender; it’s really fresh, and for someone else. I think that’s something that really appeals to people, that they can find their piece within the brand that’s just for them.

For women, I think self-care rituals and finding time in your day to moisturize with body oil, or light a candle and chill, or dab yourself with perfume-oil; it’s all about re-centering and getting in touch with yourself. I would say my customer is someone who appreciates that moment of respite and peace.

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#MANday Exclusive: Reggie Milligan of Mantry Talks Food & Start-Ups, And Why You Should Get Hip To “The Modern Man’s Pantry”


MANday is back and we have a special feature interview for you guys! I had the opportunity to speak with Reggie Milligan, co-founder of food start-up Mantry, affectionately named after a play on words of the modern man’s pantry. They search for the best artisan and small-batch foods around the country, and deliver you the goods every month.

Their latest project is a special box catered towards cocktails, specifically high-quality cocktail mixers. Read on below to get the lowdown, and how you can get involved!

What is your personal experience with food and drink?

I grew up working in restaurants from the age of fourteen, specifically fine dining. I started working when I was fifteen years old, at a restaurant that was called Lumiere, and I actually apprenticed at the ages of seventeen and eighteen down at The French Laundry which is out in Napa (that’s a three Michelin star spot). I was really much the driven guy that was super-interested in owning the next best restaurant by a really young age. So I was really deep into fine dining between the ages of fourteen and twenty, and learned from chopping onions in a back hallway to apprenticing in kitchens and bumping around. I was always very passionate about food; I was a part of that generation that might have been plunked out in front of The Food Network, and absorbed a ridiculous amount. I remember growing up watching Emeril and stuff for hours on end back when The Food Network was based on teaching, opposed to building sugar castles and running around chasing food trucks, or whatever they do now [laughs]. In short, the same way a young boy would get interested in sports, I was always drawn to cooking.

How did the idea for Mantry come about, and why did you decide to make it a subscription-box service?

I actually ended up going to university and doing business school, and once I left fine dining kitchens around twenty, I burnt out a little bit. But back at school, just living the college lifestyle and doing a business degree, I kind of saw how people cooked and would eat at home more, especially living with a bunch of guys, and that’s where the seed for the concept kind of started in a sense. I was just thinking, ‘is there a resource for food that really speaks to guys as much?‘. There’s the GQs and the Details, and that sort of thing, they write the very rare food article, so that’s what planted the seed. Ultimately didn’t know if we wanted to do a men’s food magazine fully, as opposed to just product. Those magazines write about “top sauce to try” and “five artisan makers around the country”, “four products that use bourbon”, and we just thought, let’s hedge our best, put this stuff in a box and send it to guys blind and hopefully they’ll dig it, cuz they can’t read about it when it’s right in front of them.

Mantry came out of just trying to find a cool resource that was tailored to guys. We have lots of female subscribers, most of our subscribers are couples who just like getting six cool products to accessorize their shopping at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or whatever throughout the week. The true concept to why we wanted a subscription was just cuz we wanted to take people on more of a journey. We focus on American small-batch makers, but there are so many stories to tell. Maybe a box would be just focused on different Mexican-inspired foods made throughout the U.S., or different people making Thai foods throughout the U.S.; we did a box called Thai Game which was kind of game-night feature, wings recipes and nachos recipes, and that type of thing, but using different makers that had Thai influence around the country. There was this amazing Thai chili sauce from Virginia of all places, there was Thai basil pickled jalapeños from Washington, from a maker up there called Gordy’s, this supercool Thai curry coconut peanuts that this person was making down in Texas…so we’ve done boxes like that, or we’ve done boxes like “Six Amazing Makers From Georgia” and trying to tell a little bit of a story of food culture in Georgia, we included an amazing small-batch grits from down there with a shrimp & grits recipe, there’s an olive oil company that’s the first olive oil farm east of the Mississippi in 100 years, so there’s so many stories to tell around the U.S.

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WOMANday Exclusive: Atlanta-Based College Friends Embrace Female Duality With Their Online Fashion Boutique, Babs + Mickie Co.

Chatting with Lucy (L) and Monique (M) of Babs + Mickie Co.

The vast mass that is the world wide web opens us up to so many different things; whether it be music, fashion, art, or people. Being one who basically spends their livelihood on the internet via this here blog, freelance projects and more, I find myself connecting with really amazing people via social media. This is how I was introduced to Babs + Mickie Co. The Atlanta-based women’s e-commerce store reached out to me via Twitter about a possible collaboration and I was totally into it. I really appreciated their aesthetic, and here, I am able to share the story of the women behind the brand. Read on.

Tell us the story behind Babs + Mickie Co. and how the idea of this business came about.

Monique: Randomly, it started at mutual friend’s birthday brunch. It was in West Midtown (Atlanta) and we were all just talking about our sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. We were just getting ready to graduate and one of the things about being a student leader on campus and being in AKA is that you have this whole reputation, or this whole responsibility to be prim and proper, just a lady at all times, you know? But both of us are a little rough around the edges with that [laughs]. One of the things with me and Lucy is that we best express ourselves through clothing and style, and being ourselves, so we wanted to create an online store that kind of represented that, and that’s where the birth of the two characters came in, the “Babs” and the “Mickie”. Babs being that typical lady, like the Alpha Kappa Alpha woman, which is really poised and polished, and Mickie is more of the androgynous friend that you like to take out, the rebel, boyish part of the brand. We really wanted to have two styles that we kind of fuse together to make up those characters; to make up what a woman is. We want to make sure girls feel comfortable embracing both sides.

How would you each describe your personal style?

Lucy: I think for me, I definitely find my personal style to be androgynous. I love feminine silhouettes…I think the clothing I like has more shape to it, more geometry and cuts…more futuristic. I do like to play with different textures. I like pops of color, so you will find me in grays or blacks, or nudes; I like to play with nudes a lot, with pops of color. But at the very same time, I like to stay prim and proper, so I do have my nails done, and things like that. I like accessories; hats, sunnies, a pop of lip. I definitely think Monique is more feminine though…


Monique: I’m more comfortable. I like boyfriend jeans, but I will always throw on a pair of heels with it. I love colors, patterns; you will rarely see me in anything very tight. I like to be flowy, and loose, and comfortable. That effortless chic style, I guess is more that I go for.

What are some common misconceptions you believe the public may have of starting your own e-commerce business?

Monique: That it’s easy. That you can just put it up and people can shop online, as opposed to a brick and mortar stores where you are worried about foot traffic, depending on the city you are located in, high overhead costs of getting a building and so forth. People like to go online because 1) we are in the technology age, and 2) it just seems  easier to put up a shop online, but the amount of work you have to do to make people actually go to your site, because you’re one in millions, you know? So that is the main thing, but thankfully we have so many tools like social media and so many ways to bring traffic to it, but you really have to put a bulk of your time into that, because with brick-and-mortar, you can have that foot traffic and say “Hey I like that!”, and try it on, but how are you going to get people to your website? How are you going to find out about Babs + Mickie? That’s a tough battle. I didn’t realize how tough it was until you actually get into it and you’re like “SEO and all these other things…what?”.

Lucy: It’s so much research. I believe we spent the majority of our time researching. As soon as we graduated from Georgia State in 2012, we looked at a couple of our records, and I think we opened the store six days after. Through all that time in 2012, it was just research, research, research. How to start a company? What is marketing? What is SEO? How do you find your audience? Who is your audience? It’s not just getting products and throwing them online. Our main thing is building a consistency with our brand, and discovering our customer; knowing who our customer is, what she wants, what she likes. Keeping up with trends but still having a starting point, or a point of reference. Starting an online store is NOT easy, and 80% of small businesses fail in the beginning, but you really have to do your research, and have fun with it too.


You all are an Atlanta-based business and you mentioned that there are a lot of cool new things on the fashion front for the city. What do you foresee in the future for Atlanta as a burgeoning fashion capital, and what can we expect from you both in the not-too-distant future?

Lucy: Atlanta is great for the new up-and-coming professional, entrepreneurs; so much construction going on, but from Atlanta you can expect new designers, new fun styles, more contemporary-chic, and from us, a plethora of that, going into casual, cocktail-wear, formal, business [attire]. We want to bring color and patterns to the city, and that’s what we want to do through our brand, Babs + Mickie; showing the everyday girl who loves style where she can find that, you know?

Monique: I think what is a good thing about Atlanta is that everything is just sprouting up so quickly, we’re JUST getting our Rodeo Drive with the Buckhead Shops that they’re just building up, we’re just getting our SoHo, so a lot of designers are seeing potential in Atlanta. There’s a growing market and a big media outlet, like a $1 Billion budget, so you’re going to get a lot of opportunities in the entertainment industry, and fashion is really starting to grow because people feel interested  it. With that, we’re definitely going to make sure we capitalize on bringing those patterns and those colors to the city. What I loved about coming to New York is that everyone had their own style, and I feel like Atlanta has their own style, but it’s growing, so we’re really excited to take advantage of that, and provide some cool products for women to be comfortable in.


It was such a pleasure chatting with Lucy and Monique about their business. A special thank you to Lindsey Trimble for the lovely photos (website link below). Be sure to follow Babs + Mickie Co. at the following links:

Babs + Mickie Co. E-Boutique

Babs + Mickie Co. Blog

Babs + Mickie Co. Twitter

Babs + Mickie Co. Instagram

 *Photos by Lindsey Trimble/Pristine Finesse

Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself; Andrea, The Fashion Designer

In our everyday lives, we deal with many ups and downs; celebrations and mishaps, opening and closing doors, each moment adding to our own unique story. I cannot say that my experience is more difficult than that of anyone else, because the major things (food, shelter, clothing), I don’t need to worry about. However, when you suffer from being somewhat of a perfectionist (yes, I used “suffer” in this case) and have extremely high expectations of yourself, points that may be less exciting end up being the lowest of lows. This my friends, is not okay.

It’s been nearly a year since I have worked in a proper office setting, and for me, this has been somewhat of a gift and a curse. A gift because in this time I have been able to learn more about myself as a person, and what I believe my strengths and weaknesses to truly be, and a curse because I lack the structure of an office setting, and at times, have too much time with myself to think. As a writer, my thoughts are a commodity, my thoughts become THINGS. Whether it be a simple reflective post like you are currently reading, a location and full conversation set-up in advance for an interview, the idea for another blog or literary project, my thoughts translate quickly into something you can consume, if I of course, write them down. For whatever reason, in these past few weeks, I have had much difficulty in writing anything down. After the fatigue of fashion month, my mind and body became drained, and I really had to take a step back and evaluate my current situation. Covering fashion and music as a single writer on my own site becomes overwhelming as the cycle is so incredibly fast. I was trying and trying to put out content, but all I really wanted to do was sleep because I was so mentally and physically exhausted. I am happy that I did immerse myself in various types of fashion events this past month because it made me realize how much I care about it, and miss it, because I am indeed, a fashion designer.

I started this blog in 2011 because I have a unique perspective on the creative world, but my main reason in giving myself a voice online was to solidify a space for my fashion design. My secondary major in college was fashion, and since 2007 I have created capsule collections, more so for school fashion shows and other small shows in New York City. I abandoned much of this once I put the majority of my energy into this here blog, and I knew that if I wanted to be truly fulfilled, I had to do both. In these past few weeks, I have been sewing again, making skirts and dresses for myself with excess silk fabrics I have had from previous collections. This was quite new for me as I had formerly constructed garments solely for sample size models, and have ended up with a closet-full of garments that do not fit me. In my observations of apparel during fashion month I truly realized that my perspective in regards to women’s special occasion wear was quite special (not to be trite) and that I should put more of it out there. My mother has always been my right-hand in regards to fashion; teaching me how to sew, how things should fit, what fabrics should be used, and what is “appropriate”. Because of her wisdom, I inherently design dresses and skirts with a timeless appeal that is always appropriate in a fresh way.

With that being said, I wanted to show you a photo of my first completed skirt, of many more to come! This skirt was constructed out of two different silk ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan (note the opposing pattern in the waistband), lined in marigold silk. This was the last of this piece of fabric I had, purchased back in 2010, and is truly one of a kind. I will be making skirts like this in three different lengths; knee, mid-calf, and ankle, to satisfy all tastes. If you are interested in a skirt, feel free to send me a message on my contact page. So excited to take you on this journey with me. 🙂

*Photo by Diana K. Castillo

#WOMANday Event Re-Cap: Women Empowering Women Luncheon & Fashion Show at the United Nations

Artisans from India, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, and Peru w/ model Cameron Russell (fourth from left)

As the United Nations General Assembly has kicked off its 69th session, the headquarters and neighboring venues have been hosting various high-profile events. One of the main focuses of the current session is Women Empowerment, led by UN Women, their officials, and other speakers.

Producer & LDNY Foundation Founder June Sarpong  and model David Agbodjiv

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, the Women Empowering Women Luncheon & Fashion Show launched as the premier event of the LDNY (London New York) Festival, a month-long event that is set to bring the culture of London stateside, and vice-versa. The luncheon and fashion show, backed by the UN and held in conjunction with ITC (International Trade Centre) and the LDNY Foundation, served as a platform of collaboration between selected female artisans/entrepreneurs from around the globe and fashion students from Parsons and the London College of Fashion. Fashion GPS served as the tech partner, whose technology was used to check in all guests.

Creative Director of Malone Souliers Mary Alice Malone (L) and Managing Director of Malone Souliers Roy Luwolt

Together, the students collaborated with the artisans on their collections, whether it be actual textiles, knits, hand-embroidery, or beading. In addition to these collections, the artisans showed their own lines as well, that best exemplified their craft. Countries represented included Peru, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Palestine, Mongolia, and India. Shoes were provided by Malone Souliers, a boutique ladies shoe brand based in London, founded by Americans Mary Alice Malone, and Roy Luwolt.

Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Distinguished speakers included Gina Casar, Associated Administrator of UNDP, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, Cherie Blair (wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair), Ban Soon-taek, wife of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Cameron Russell, supermodel and leading supporter of ITC’s women empowerment initiatives.

I volunteered at the event for an organization called Agent Of Change, who organize and manage events that connect the people who want to change the world with the people that do. I was truly humbled to be in a space with so many powerful, talented, and enterprising women, and I was delighted to be a part of the event, which was the first fashion show to ever be held at the United Nations.

The presentation featured so many beautiful, thoughtful looks, so I wanted to share my favorite four women’s looks, and my favor four men’s looks of the afternoon. Unfortunately, I do not have a detailed rundown of the designers and artisans and whom contributed to each look below, but I hope the gorgeous photos will suffice.









ITC designers, student designers, event organizers, and UN officials

The collections are being housed in the Joey Showroom in NYC for wholesale opportunities. Truly inspiring!

You may watch the full video of the Women Empowering Women Luncheon & Fashion Show here.

*Photos courtesy of GETTY IMAGES

#MANday Exclusive: .Bk Founder Teghvir Sethi Talks The Evolution of Menswear, Production, and Being Brooklyn-Based

.Bk founder Teghvir Sethi [left] and guest at the #InventorsGarage launch event

As a lady who loves menswear, I’m constantly on the lookout for brands and designers that are fresh and cutting edge, not only for my male readers, but for the ladies that love to rock menswear themselves. About a month or so ago I was introduced to .Bk  [said “Dot BK”] by the lovely women at Janine Just Inc. The Brooklyn-based brand designs and produces limited-edition mens shirting in a cool palette and size range, fitting for both sexes.

I loved the concept, and wanted to learn more about the brand and the man behind it, Teghivir Sethi. Read on for the full story on .Bk, and what we can expect from the brand in the future!


Tell us the story behind .Bk.
In September 2012, I was commuting from Bed-Stuy to Midtown & running the menswear division of my father’s small independent brand. Back in the 70s, a production run fit in the back of my father’s Dodge Colt — he’d drive around the Midwest selling to boutiques & regional chains. Where there were once thousands of local boutiques, there are now a handful of mass-retailers dominating the globe.

Generally, online retailers are out to solve a simple problem for customers. Generally, the benefit breaks down to a value proposition (low overhead –> low prices) or convenience (let us choose for you). These retailers claim to “reinvent” fashion (echo:”Silicon Valley”) when they’re simply repackaging mass fashion through the tools of online retail. It’s business as usual for everyone except the customer.

I started .Bk to solve a complex problem for designers & customers alike: scale. We produce clothing at a run of a 100. At a better price than mass-produced “designer” clothing. Why is this different from a typical online retail value proposition?

Aside from saving our customers money, “cutting out the middleman” allows us to operate at a revolutionary scale: limited edition design, artisan-scale production & in-disposable clothing. We’re out to turn back the clock on mass production, mass retail & mass appeal.

A selection of .Bk shirts from the #InventorsGarage launch event


We love that you feature women in your shirts on the website? Will you be doing women’s pieces soon?
It’s one of the many things we do differently when it comes to our branding. We’re not out to sell machismo, or any traditional sense of a men’s brand. We design for individuals. The women & men featured on our site have all founded something unique & different.

With that said, we design to our strengths. So, no womenswear soon. Women’s fits & sizing on menswear? It may be in the works.
What lifestyle does the Dot BK consumer uphold?
Our customer doesn’t want to be told what to wear, or who to buy a basic tee from. They want to know more about the clothes that they’re wearing: who made it, and what inspired its design. And, they’re constantly evolving their own personal style.

Why did you decide to have your business headquartered in Brooklyn?
Our designs are inspired by 21st century subcultures. And, Brooklyn’s got the highest population of “live your own, unique way” kind of people. If it was anywhere else, we’d run out of material after two collections.
What can we expect in the future on the business-end for Dot BK?
This isn’t your typical scale-able startup. Regardless of demand, we won’t be increasing our quantities (60-100 per shirt) any time soon. Right now, we’re focused on expanding the lifestyle collections: look forward to items beyond button-down shirts. And, the Dossier (our spy journal on subcultures, written by the best writers & photographers in Brooklyn & Austin) will be launching in the next week!

It was a pleasure speaking with Teghvir Sethi of .Bk. Stay on the look out for more #MANday features!

*Photos courtesy of Janine Just Inc.

#WOMANday Exclusive: Estée & Felicia Mancini of Girls With Gunz Talk E-commerce, Personal Style & Working With Family!


Once upon a time, there were two sisters from Ontario, Canada who had a vision, and made it their job to bring it into fruition. Their names are Estée and Felicia Mancini and they are the women behind Girls With Gunz, an online destination that is part visual imagery of strong, stylish women, part online shop selling designer, vintage, and custom fashion pieces.

I was intrigued by their imagery and unapologetic style, so I found it fitting to feature the ladies in this edition of #WOMANday. Read on to learn more about the ladies behind the brand.

Tell us the story behind Girls With Gunz.

Estée: In university I was studying Sociology and Women’s Studies and I wasn’t exactly sure where everything was headed, I just knew that something was missing. In my second year of university I bought a camera with no expectations of what was really going to happen, I just knew that I really loved taking pictures of my girlfriends. So whenever before we would get ready, I would always be like, “Let me take a picture of you!”. We would use lamps as lights, trying it all out, and eventually, I guess I started realizing that I only liked shooting women, and I really liked the idea of not using any models at all. All the girls I take pictures of are girls that I either meet through my friends or on the street. I’ll approach them or go on Instagram, so it basically started like that; when people that didn’t know me were asking who was taking these pictures, and ‘how can I be a part of it?’.

Felicia: That’s where Girls With Gunz started; that was Estée’s creation, but I think the clothing and the fashion aspect of it was something we’ve been doing since we were kids and we were never really aware of it. I did styling work for different music videos and Estée worked on a few different film sets, and we kind of found ourselves facing the same problems; when budget was an issue, when size was an issue, when options were an issue, and the mall didn’t cut it. It was for our own selfish reasons. Girls With Gunz was for us and our girls, and I think it still remains as that, but I think when we say “our girls” now, it’s girls in Argentina, girls in Greece, etc. But I think it always started with a love for fashion, and a love for stylish and smart women…to kind of fill a void that we experienced in our own professional careers, and that we knew was something that we always did on a personal level. I had a boutique and at that time me and Estée, it [Girls With Gunz] was mostly pictures, but  we found ourselves making swimsuits, making shorts, making different things with our aunts; it’s a family affair you can say. The Girls With Gunz family has expanded, but it’s still mostly a family, and I guess that’s where it really started, was here, in Hamilton, Ontario.

What’s it like working with your sibling?

Felicia: Like the best and the worst, because it’s like working with yourself. Everything that I hate, Estée hates, which I think is a very important thing, even as much as things that you love; the way we appreciate style, the things we like, the things we gravitate towards, it’s a good thing working with your sister cuz you can have little spats, and ten minutes later you can say, ‘Ok, let’s get back to work’.

Estée: Yea. And I think because what our Mom always told us, ‘blood is thicker than water’, what better person to do business with than someone who you know will always have your back, do you know what I mean? What I lack, she [Felicia] has, and vice versa. She’s got more of the Public Relations side, and she’s more  like the business one, and I’m always the dreamer, thinking of new ideas and how we can present it.  What would other girls like us want to see?


So you balance each other very well?    

Felicia: Yea, and I think that’s the hardest part about having a business with another person, that balance, and we’ve had this balance since I was like 1 1/2 and she was a newborn baby, or whatever the difference is. It’s a good balance and I think also, there’s nothing personal. So when we have these spats or debates over things, we know it’s for the greater good of the business, and we have to have them. It’s not like being in business with a friend or an associate, where you kind of have to walk on eggshells sometimes? You can be as honest as humanly possible with your sister, so I think it’s been a really good experience. Blood is thicker than water, and that’s what we have always been taught.

How would you both separately define your personal style?

Felicia: Estée and me both think we have an inner-J.Lo inside of us [laughs]. I think my style is very dark, and  then I have weird, random moments where I’m in a floral dress. My best friend growing up was a complete androgynous tomboy, so at a really early age, I took notes from her without even realizing it. I love menswear, I love vintage, but I find myself now just trying to create a uniform. So tomboy, I like urban, but I like things that are polished. I like unisex; I think that’s my biggest thing, I like being able to be really girly, but also being able to wear my boyfriend’s t-shirts, and dressing that up as well. I’ll let Estée go…

Estée: Oh, it’s so hard! I feel like it honestly depends on the day, and J.Lo [laughs]. I think the main thing is that I don’t dress for guys, I dress for other stylish girls that notice. It’s like the greatest compliment to me, being able to go out and see another girl who’s got great style say, ‘I really like what you’re wearing!’, and I’m like, ‘YES!’. I don’t really care how other people, especially the opposite sex, are really gonna see it, because I feel at the end of the day when you are unique, people notice that. I don’t really follow what’s going on in fashion too much, I love it and I always keep an eye on it, but I don’t really believe in ‘certain things are in, certain things are out’ because certain things we were wearing a couple of years ago were ‘out’ and certain people are wearing it now, so we don’t really follow it.


What can we expect in the future for Girls With Gunz

Estée: We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. Hopefully just bigger and better. I really want to travel a lot more and take pictures of more girls, whether in New York, or just all over the place basically. I just want to keep doing that and keep meeting girls out there that are like us. Doing more photoshoots, more styling, some more events hopefully, pop-up shops throughout Canada and the U.S. especially.

Felicia: I think for a while we were both working, Esteé was in school, I was working in different areas in media and we always had this love of fashion that was in the background that was always there. So when Estée started doing the photos, things kind of took a different turn. We found ourselves blending Girls With Gunz, the photo and the lookbook, with the clothes, which now we are really focused on branding, and  kind of just trying to make it all fit and mesh as one. So that it’s not even just a clothing line, it’s not even just a look, but I don’t want to be cliche and say it’s a ‘culture thing’, but we’re trying to do something  where it’s all unified. We have pop-up shops in our hometown, there’s an event every second Friday called Art Crawl. It’s artists from our city and beyond, and it’s a whole street, a big block, and people sell things, there’s artists, there’s different events, so we like making our local presence, as far as Art Crawl goes, to support the community, and just looking to do pop-up shops everywhere else, and further expanding our collection. I believe it is an exciting time because we have complete control over things, so it’s really up to us where we take this.

Any advice you may have for young entrepreneurs who would want to be in a similar space in fashion and e-commerce?

Estée: I would just say that you have to know that it will be a very difficult one for a while, but if you really know that it’s something that you love to do, then just keep doing it. There really is no option of stopping, it’s just a matter of what’s the path to take for us to get there.

Felicia: I think if I were to have a little bit of advice, it would be to just own everything, from conception to creation. If you are very sure of your brand and what you are trying to portray, you just need to do it, no excuses. If you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you will find a way.

Follow the Girls With Gunz journey on their e-commerce site, Tumblr, and Facebook!

*Photos courtesy of Girls With Gunz