I’m not sure whether it’s the old time Christmas classics, the cheesy ABC Family movies starring 1999 TGIF stars, or endless holiday jewelry commercials, but it’s around this time of the year that I start fantasizing about a new piece of jewelry. There are many 20 somethings, like myself, who have a husband that’s pulled a Beyonce and already “put a ring on it”.
While I love and appreciate the rock on my left hand there comes a point in a relationship (for example 2 ½ years of marriage) where jewelry starts to look appealing once again. It doesn’t have to be in a Tiffany blue box or even diamonds, but a fashion worthy item with enough glitter to catch Santa’s eye or at least your family’s while scooping the mashed potatoes.
Beyonce might sing to the single ladies, but here’s a tip for the married ones…it’s called Clara Kasavina. Their rings are all under $225 along with being handmade in New York. They are sparkly enough to wear out on New Years Eve but subtle enough to piece with a chambray shirt & pair of jeans. So give him a reason (in other words, a detailed list…seriously, here’s the link) to put a ring on it the second time around!
Still looking for a Christmas gift? This might be a good time to read on…
Gorjana is not just another jewelry site, but one in which you’ll slowly become addicted to and receive compliments for. I have recently experienced “the gorjana effect” three days in row after pulling a move more popular noted to Kate Middleton as the “Recycled Kate”. (Yes, I used two “air quotes” in one sentence. I’m not ashamed.) This week Gorjana is running a GIVE ONE, GET ONE promotion. So whether you’re laziness, procrastination, or busy life has presumably kept you behind on Christmas shopping, it’s luckily paid off. If you purchase a gift you’ll receive one as well. Go ahead and tis’ the season of giving or is it getting?
Finding little or large gems on the web is my not so secret obsession. It can literally make my day when I discover a new boutique, startup idea, or product. So when I ran across Tart Collections I was throroughly happy. With a mix of trendy items & staple pieces, their clothing represents what I’d like to think would be the ideal collection for many 20 somethings. If you’re one of the “those girls” who landed yourself a heck of a job out of college, take a little time to browse around their site. Their prices may be a little above your typical H&M jacket, but so is their quality.
Tis’ the season of eating and eating and eating… Starting a diet after 9 pounds of turkey sounds like a brilliant idea until you remember Christmas is around the corner along with that extra slice of pie. Since Santa, a jolly old man about 90 pounds overweight, is our golden inspiration at this time of year. Our ambitious goals slowly taper off until after the New Year. He can enjoy cookies and milk, so why can’t I?
Of course, in the season of eating also comes the season of holiday parties, events, and family gatherings. In order to attend without looking like a hot mess, now is the time to give thanks for not only family but a little miracle known as shapewear to “skweez” you all in! In all seriousness, former housewife of New York City Jill Zarin, who I had the pleasure of interviewing last month, knows a thing or two about looking good in public. Her shapewear line Skweez Couture is to die for! I honestly can’t get over how soft and comfortable the material actually is. I’m not sure what I expected, but she delivered beyond it. If you need an extra hug, cocktail, or serving of mashed potatoes Skweez Couture has literally got your back!
People always talk about starting a business. You know the “awesome restaurant idea” or the occasional “fashion line or boutique”, but few actually get around to doing it. Kelly Dooley, on the other hand, did. For those of you doubting yourself because of a lack in technical expertise, look no further!
At some point or another we’ve all been shopping and blurted out the same simple phrase, “I wish they had ___.” So when Kelly found herself saying the exact same thing before running a marathon in Walt Disney World she then decided to create a fun, fashionable, functional, and sexy activewear line, post race, of course.
Not only was I inspired by the fact that Kelly did what most of us dream of doing, but I was also able to test the sports bras themselves. Today, Reality Chic got to do a little two in one action to see just how BodyRock rocks your body! Cue Justin Timberlake and his giant diamond earrings…
Important Note: Be Sure to Check Out BodyRock Sport’s Empowerment Bras a New Fashion Forward Line for Mastectomy Patients!
ProFASHIONal: Kelly Dooley – in black
Reality Chic – in pink
How did you become interested in designing? Have you always loved it?
I have always been very creative and entrepreneurial. It’s in my genes. But I specifically became interested in designing only after realizing that there was a huge void in the activewear market for clothing that was equally fashionable, functional and flattering.
What was your Ah Ha! moment in deciding to start BodyRock Sport?
My Ah Ha! moment occurred in January 2009 when I was at packet pick up at the Walt Disney Marathon for my first-ever 26.2 mile race! I was hunting for a sports bra that was sexy, fun, special, and functional, but I couldn’t find anything. It was at this very moment that I realized that I needed to transform the activewear world.
After the Ah Ha! moment passed, what steps did you take to turn your entrepreneurial spirit into a full-fledged business?
As soon as I returned to NYC, I got straight to work. I started developing a concept gallery replete, a business plan, and branding strategy. My goal was to launch by January 2010, and that’s exactly what I did. Aspiring entreprenuers often ask me how to get started, and my response is always the same: “You start by getting started,” meaning you’ve got to grab the bull by the horns and go for it! Thankfully, I have a very supportive and diverse network that enabled me to jump start the process with very few hiccups.
Was designing something you were familiar with or did you learn how to design along the way?
Because I am artistic, design comes naturally to me. But I am not trained as a designer. My education was primarily focused on marketing and luxury consumption. Thus, you can say that I have learned as I have gone along. When thinking of what’s next, I always ask myself, “What would I want to wear in this situation?” In doing so, I am truly able to provide women not only with what they want but also with what they need.
Do you have advice for a 20 something who might have an idea and an entrepreneurial spirit but doesn’t have a clue how to sew?
Yes, as long as you have the ideas, you can hire somebody to do everything else for you. Having a creative mind is the most invaluable aspect of being a designer and entrepreneur. Every other aspect of the job can be handled by various experts.
If you could list the main steps you took to get to where you are today, what would they be?
This is an interesting question because I’ve wanted my own company since I was five-years-old. I used to always go to work with my dad to assemble bolts for his oil pan and air scoop manufacturing company, and I made quite a bit of dough for a young girl. By age 7, I had saved up $700. BodyRock Sport is result of having a dream, a pure vision, purpose, passion, resilience, and undying desire to empower and help others. To be honest, everything has fallen into place step by step as a result of the combination of everything I mentioned above.
Could you take us through the creation of a piece of Body Rock Sport clothing?
First, I have the idea, which usually comes to me while I am racing, while I am in the shower, or while I am sleeping. Then I create a sketch. Then I send the sketch to my CAD artist, who then interprets the sketch so that we can get a prototype made. Once we receive the prototype, I put each piece through extensive testing. This often takes months, depending on what we are creating. Once we agree that the piece is perfect, we go into production, and VOILA!
Could you tell Reality Chic readers the skills they should build or work on to one day become a designer?
Seriously, it’s really simple. You just need to be realty creative, entrepreneurial, dedicated, and passionate. And you can’t give up! It takes time. People are going to deny you all the time, but as long as you remain true to yourself and to your vision, everything else will fall into place.
What advice can you give to a 20 something that you wish you would have known when starting out?
To grow thick skin!!!
Do you have a typical day? What’s it like?
The only predictable part of my day is the beginning and the end. I awake around 4:30 to work out either with my triathlon team, Full Throttle Endurance Racing, which is coached by my fiancee Andrew Kalley, or to box with my instructor, Gary Stark! The rest of the day is unpredictable. My days are typically filled with interviews, meetings, product development, web design, accounts payable and receivable, trunk shows, and sometimes, even fulfilling orders. Right now, I am in LA for the IDEA Fitness Expo, so I spent the day setting up the booth with my brother Mike, who is my business partner and confidante.
What were some of the crucial steps you took to launch your clothing line to consumers?
Hiring a PR firm and creating a solid social media campaign were vital, especially since BodyRock Sport is a lifestyle brand.
Do you believe designing for a niche helps or hurts you in a market place?
I personally think that designing for a niche is a double-edged sword. I believe that we were born in this world to stand out, not blend in. Most activewear brands are generic, but they move a lot of units, because basics sell. But I am providing women with amazing product that makes them feel beautiful. So, while I often wonder what would happen if I went in a different direction, I know that what I am doing is right because women love their BodyRock Sport, and my passion shines through in each and every design.
Your line is pretty much in every major gym across the West/East coast along with being online, how did you get involved & impress these stores?
By being authentic and by offering women something that is equally functional, fashionable, and flattering. BodyRock Sport is hands down the most fashion-forward activewear brand in the world, and I take much pride in being able to say that, because I know what’s out there, and most of it is pretty boring.
I’ve heard you say that your brand grew organically. What exactly does that mean?
I started with 4 styles of bras: (1) Lock ‘em Down; (2) Keep ‘em In: (3) Zip ‘em Up; (4) Show ‘em Off. I really wanted to make my mark with sports bras, since that’s where the biggest void was in the market. From there, the line grew organically. The leggings, tanks, moto jackets, and swimwear have enabled us to create an entire look for BodyRock Sport lovers, all equally edgy, flattering, fashionable and functional. The entire line, when viewed as a whole, makes complete sense, as each piece fills a void in the activewear market in some way or another.
What advice would you give to new designers looking to do the same?
To start out small and grow from there.
Do you believe fashion school is necessary or are there other options for those who went to a typical four-year college?
Absolutely not!!! Most of the people I know who went to fashion school have no idea how to run a company. I recommend getting an MA or MBA.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I think I would most likely be a life coach, therapist, or editor.
Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
Yes, we are currently developing a new product to market for post-Mastectomy and post-cancer surgery patients by addressing their unique needs. One key element is providing a product that adapts to the changing body shape of women as they go through reconstruction and beyond. For cancer patients that seek to thrive, a sports bra that shifts from ‘cleavage to coverage’ is likely to meet their expectations and incite them to exercise, a critical part of their recovery.
Our mission is to empower all women to look and feel beautiful by providing them with activewear that is equally fashionable and functional. The mastectomy bra is going to be called The Empower Collection, and will undoubtedly be “The World’s First Fashionable Mastectomy Bra.” The bra will be available in a several patterns, including floral, leopard, and camouflage. Each bra has been named after a women I know who has experienced breast cancer. Each bra will be emblazoned with the words “I am empowered.” For each bra that is purchased, one will be donated to a woman who has experienced breast cancer who cannot afford an appropriate bra. I have poured my heart and soul into this particular collection, as I want breast cancer survivors to be able to rock their bodies just like they did prior to their diagnosis. The bra recently launched in October, and I couldn’t possibly be more excited!
Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: Jessica Kleiman, Vice President of Public Relations for Hearst Magazines & Author
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My fascination with Accessorize, a British brand founded in London, began pre Pippa Middleton last Christmas when I took a birthday trip into Greenwich Village. Not sure whether the obsession began with the fact that I was shopping on Bleeker Street or that I could actually afford something on Bleeker Street. Either way the more I shopped the more I fell in love and the longer I was there the more I found it socially acceptable to speak in a British accent, which I should probably take this opportunity to go ahead and apologize for. Little did I know that less than a year later I would team up with Accessorize and film a short little bit that not only shows how utterly giddy I become when I shop but also gave me the privilege of sharing just how many hot and trendy accessories they carry with those Reality Chic readers who live outside of New York City. For those already feeling heartbroken, not to worry their online site ships to the US for only $5.
From snoods to wellies and other British things, Accessorize isn’t your 13 year old cousin’s accessory store sporting sparkly feather boas, bedazzled hats, and other rubbish! Thankfully, they don’t act like it either. Their company is highly committed and works closely with the Fair Trade Federation to ensure fair trade practices only to further my likes of the brand. So whether you’re American, British, or follow Piers Morgan on Twitter I’d recommend checking out one of my favorite accessory stores A.S.A.P. Cheerio! (Alright, so I’ll stop with the accent.)
Lately everyone, including television, seems to have a crush on the 1960’s. It’s hard to determine who to blame, the dapper looks of the men or the sexy conservative vibe from the women. Either way leave it to Mad Men, not Justin Timberlake, to bring sexy back. If you’re like me pulling off this style may take more than faking some sort of sophisticated accent while holding an imaginary cigarette. Luckily, Unique Vintage saves you and me from the embarrassment!
This online boutique has anything & everything vintage from flapper dresses to pin up to insanely hot fashion! Pushing this era too hard can look like a costume, but if done right you can literally turn heads. To pull this style off, pair or accessorize one or two vintage pieces with modern/current ones and go anywhere from the office to a wedding to dinner and drinks with friends. So if you’re channeling your inner Betty Draper this upcoming Halloween or want to work 1960 office wear in 2011, by all means have at it!
I ran across this particular brand a couple months back. I always find that online boutiques have interesting pieces, but since the OOOOOOOO’s at the bottom of a GOOGLE search are exceptionally long great boutiques are sometimes hard to find. Then once you do find them it’s a matter of deciding which ones have quality items & which ones have a good photographer. The one thing I have to say about Sadee Says is that their accessories are individual, artsy, and yes, quality as well. It’s not exactly your Forever 21 or H&M. These are statement pieces that complete an outfit, not accent it. From Vintage Chanel (100% out of my price range) to Necklush (my current weekly obsession) they feature emerging designers in an online boutique setting. If you have a weakness for trendy accessories it’s likely you’ll need your credit card!
For the sake of keeping up with my current trend of featuring social fashion brands as product reviews (31 Bits, Freewaters, Civic Duty Shoes), I’d like you all to take a look at FEED projects. If you haven’t heard of it by now, it was started by Lauren Bush a former model and the grandchild of George H. Bush. She also recently married Ralph Lauren’s son leaving her with the predicament of being a double Lauren which if you ask me, probably isn’t that bad of a problem to have.
Most people tend to steer clear of looking like a burlap sack (maybe it was the Brady’s that did them in), but Lauren somehow made carrying one look pretty cool. After designing a bag for the UN World Food Program she was inspired by the people she met and the aesthetic of the bags of food distributed by WFP. Long story short, FEED projects was founded. Their mission “is to create good products that help FEED the world.”
What I love most about the FEED products is how they tell you exactly what it’s made of and exactly where the money is going. Whether you buy a burlap pouch, cotton t-shirt, or organic canvas tote it’s one label worth showing off!
I heart this brand to the point that I’ve already added it to my Christmas and birthday list. Yes people, or should I say family? I’ve begun the making or marking of my official list! I haven’t yet check it twice so don’t hold your breath because it can only mean one of two things: more will soon be added or that I’m not Santa Clause.
It may only be September but who can blame me when I run across shops like 31 Bits whose mission is to “use fashion and design to empower women to rise above poverty.” The mission alone is worth the cause but then on top of that they continually work with women in Uganda who hand make colorful unique bracelets & necklaces out of 100% recycled paper. And yes, they’re affordable! If you have a slight weakness for Etsy, beaded, colorful, or artsy jewelry pieces let me just go ahead and suggest the BACK button also known as the little arrow on the left hand side of your screen. Take control now, before you can’t. On more serious note, be sure not to miss 31 Bits!