A Woman Supporting Women

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I’m a woman. I’m under 30 years old. And I own my own business.

Owning a business is one of the most rewarding and difficult things I’ve ever done. But every day that I wake up I have to smile because I’m able to do this. I get to do this. I don’t take the little things for granted. I’m thankful every time I meet with a client, pay my quarterly taxes or launch a new website.

There are women all over the world who do or could do what I do. Talented, strong women. Women who feel proud of their work. Women who provide for their family. Women who feel dignity.

The amazing thing is that in a small (yet powerful way), we can help women to feel proud of their work, provide for their family and feel dignity. fashionABLE makes that possible.

The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. We offer opportunity to everyone, with a primary focus on empowering women. When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community… and herself.

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A year ago a wrote a post about fashionABLE and shared their mission and goals. I was so happy to bring this company to the attention of others. The scarf that I’m wearing above is a fashionABLE scarf and remains a staple in my wardrobe a year later. Today (through Friday) they are celebrating their 3 year anniversary and holding a 30% of sale.

So in the same way that many of my clients support me, let’s support these women and their talents.

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Comment below if you purchase anything!

How I Simplified My Wardrobe

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I’ve been referencing my wardrobe simplification for a couple months and I’m excited to finally share how I approached the whole process! While I’m still not 100% there yet – I’ve made huge changes and am proud of myself for getting rid of so much JUNK. It all started when I found the blog Into Mind - written by Anuschka. The blog is centered around a minimalist approach to personal style and wardrobe building. I dove in head first but formed my own plan based off hers! Below I’ve outlined the steps that I took:

Step 1: Define Your Approach To Personal Style

My personal style is very simple. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. I almost always wear pants. I don’t tend to layer. I prefer neutral colors. I like to be comfortable. I don’t like to be too cold or too hot for the sake of fashion. Most days I don’t see many people so there isn’t a need to dress up, do my hair or apply makeup.

Step 2: Analyze Your Lifestyle

This step almost gives you permission (and accountability) when choosing items for your new wardrobe. I realized that my time consists of: meetings with clients (about 35% of my time), working at home or at a coffee shop (about 45% of my time), working out or casually hanging out with friends. I never go out partying and I rarely eat at a fancy restaurant. I realize that I need pieces that are professional but comfortable. I don’t need to invest in suits, dresses or many heels because my clients don’t expect that.

Step 3: Find Inspiration

This is the fun part! Since I have a Pinterest account, I was able to see what styles I’ve obviously been drawn toward over the years. I created the following board:

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Step 5: Build a Capsule Wardrobe

This is essentially what I’ve spent the past two months creating. A capsule wardrobe is created around a few simple, quality pieces so that you can add or switch things around easily to create an outfit.  You have a uniform but many of the pieces can change depending on the color or combinations. I’m not going to go into as much detail as Into Mind but I’ll briefly describe what my uniform looks like: slim fitting jeans, a top and flats.

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Your capsule wardrobe is created around that uniform and should contain about 30 pieces total once you’re done. Keep in mind that this is your capsule wardrobe. While I plan on keeping the amount of clothes that I own to a minimum – you can have more than 30 pieces of clothing. This is just your base.

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Step 4: Wardrobe Detox

I did this a little while ago. To begin the process – I cleaned our room and the closet. If it didn’t fit into one of the categories listed above, I put it in the “Give Away/Sell” or “Trash” pile (if it was stained or torn). It is very easy to make a choice once your uniform and wardrobe are established. After that process, I sold everything that I could via an Instagram sale! I sold almost everything and made about $300 after Paypal fees + shipping.

Step 5: Make Additions and Fill Holes

With $300 in my pocket (hello, Nordstrom Rack), credits with Everlane/Pickwick & Weller and credit at a local boutique (the best kind of payment when working with local businesses) – I was able to make the additions that I needed to build my capsule wardrobe! Below you’ll see what pieces I currently own and what I still need (boxed by a purple rectangle):

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Bottoms

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I plan on continuing this method throughout winter and into the other seasons keeping in mind that I’ll have more maintenance between spring and summer/fall and winter.

I plan, over time, to purchase a pair of wedge booties, another sweater, a tweed blazer and two more pairs of pants. Laying this all out is a great way to visually create outfits in your head. Now when I walk into a store, I’m a bit more focused. I can shop but each piece should fit into my wardrobe seamlessly. Almost ever piece that I have can be paired together in any combination. For anything trendier, I plan on supplementing with cheaper pieces from Forever21 or H&M.

Since it is a process, I still found that I had items that just aren’t working with my uniform. I’ve added a handful of other pieces (shoes, too) to my Shop My Closet Instagram account. The pieces all start at $5 (with $5 shipping) and the bidding ends Friday at 5pm EST! I will ship everything on Monday morning.

How to you approach your wardrobe? Is it out of control like mine was a couple months ago? Do you find yourself keeping items that you NEVER wear? Let me know if you try out my interpretation of Into Mind’s 10 Step Process

Dolla dolla bill y’all

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I’ve had a few interesting conversations lately about STUFF and MONEY. What’s up with NO ONE talking about money?

Here’s a brief history of my relationship with work, money and things:

  • I was raised in a household where my mom didn’t shop often, we ate off-brand food and we rarely ate out.
  • I didn’t have a “real” job until mid-college because I nannied during the summers and saved enough for the whole year.
  • Once I got into college, I discovered credit cards and kind of went crazy. I didn’t accumulate a ton of debt (thankfully) but I used credit often.
  • I graduated with a substantial student loan and a car payment.
  • Adam and I got married young and spent the first three years paying off debt.
  • Around that time, I quit my 30-hour-a-week desk job and started working for myself.
  • Welcome to present day! We now make 3x more annually than we did when we first got married by owning a few businesses of our own.

I can be a spender and yet I can also be disciplined. But within the past year, I’ve seen a shift in my spending habits that didn’t exist 4 years ago. Here are 3 observations:

1. I would and do pay people to clean my house or cook me food.

No I don’t have a chef (haha, I wish). But I do eat out more than I thought I ever would. We also pay to have our townhouse cleaned once a month. These are two things that I never experienced growing up as a kid. It’s not something that’s “normal” but it is worth the money. I can actually pinpoint my hourly rate and so paying someone $100 to clean my house for up to 3 hours is worth it if I can be working during those hours. I pay people when it saves me time.

2. Quality over quantity.

A year ago, I had A TON OF CLOTHES. Most of them from H&M or Forever21. Lately I have only a handful of pieces but they each cost more than any of the H&M/F21 pieces that I’ve since sold. I’ll be sharing my wardrobe revamp process next week but it essentially created a framework so that when I walk into a store – I have a method and a purpose. If the store doesn’t have what I’m looking for…I leave empty handed! Hint: I haven’t gone into Target and left with a random piece of clothing in MONTHS!

3. Spending is an emotional action.

The other day Adam was talking about clothes and cars. If the problem is, “I’m naked and need clothes,” then the solution is find something quickly that you can afford and cover yourself. If the problem is, “I have a job but I need a car to get there,” then the solution is to find something quickly that you can afford so you can go to work. But that’s not what we do. People buy BMWs, designer jeans and iMacs. Spending money on something is all about emotions. The emotions can range from:

  • I’m stressed about my finances so I’m going to clip coupons and go to Aldi (btw, Aldi is awesome)
  • I’m stressed about my job where I make a lot of money so I’m going to buy something to reward myself and make it worth it
  • I’m excited about my friend having a baby so I’m going to go buy this unborn baby a ton of sh*t to show my love
  • I want people to like me so I’m going to buy something that will elicit compliments (aka friends? probably not)
  • People who are successful have this kind of purse so I’m going to buy that now that I’m successful

You get the point, right? It really fascinates me. What do people spend their money on?

I pay to get my nails done twice a month.
I would probably never pay someone to design my blog or website. 
I pay $35 to get my hair blown dry.
I would probably never pay to get my car cleaned or washed.
I would pay $7,000 for camera gear.
I would probably never pay that much for a car.
I  pay $100 to get my house cleaned every month.
I would probably never pay to get my clothes regularly dry cleaned.
I’ve spent way too much money on Apple products.
99% of the furniture in my house cost less than $125.

How do you handle money? What would you probably NEVER spend money on? What do you splurge on? What seems reasonable? What seems irresponsible? Be respectful! Everyone is different.

10 Truths

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Do you ever feel like you go through growing pains? Not physically – but just in your life? I’ve felt like that lately. I’ve been trying to shed some negativity that has plagued me my whole life. I know that most of it comes from insecurity but I don’t think that’s really an excuse. Nothing dramatic. Just embracing myself and loving others. Less jealously. More rooting and cheering.

In effort to keep it real around here, I thought I could share 10 truths about my life right now. Feel free to do the same below in the comment section.

  1. I’ve been going to be earlier lately. By 10:30pm I crave sleep but still feel way too tired in the morning. I think my body is adjusting to my non-nocturnal habits.
  2. I’ve also been trying to kick this sickness naturally. I don’t like taking antibiotics so it’s a slower process when you don’t pop pills.
  3. I’m trying a new weekly approach where I schedule all meetings, Skype sessions and phone calls for Tuesdays and Thursdays in hopes that I can actually spend 3 days/week designing and creating.
  4. I’m starting to get nervous about the holiday season. Business can slow down during these upcoming months and it’s a little scary since Adam and I work together independently.
  5. I really want an ONA camera bag. And the Canon 50mm 1.2. Refraining from buying both because of #4.
  6. I wear the same 3 outfits all the time. It’s easy, simple and I treat it like a uniform.
  7. Sometimes I freak out because I still can’t ever imagine being a parent. Almost all of my college friends have kids and being different can make you insecure.
  8. If I talk all day, my throat ends up hurting. And then I think, “C’mon Allie. Pull it together!” I can hear my piano teacher telling me to talk from my diaphragm and not my throat. Oye.
  9. I had to spell check the word diaphragm.
  10. I don’t monitor who unfollowed me on Twitter, Google Analytics or most of my Twitter feed anymore. I used to do all three. Twitter lists are my best friend.

What’s true about your life right now?

Haute Blog Indianapolis

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Erika and I hosted a Haute Blog workshop in Indianapolis last weekend. It was so wonderful to spend an entire afternoon with so many amazing women. Even though I was sick as a dog (I slept 11 hours that night!), it was 100% worth it. I’m excited to share all of their newly launched blogs soon but I’m going to give them a little time to get things ready so I don’t launch FOR them! Ha.

Seriously though. How beautiful are they? It was pretty easy taking their portraits.

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A huge thanks to Canva for providing the design tools, Mandy for doing the attendees’ makeup, Matthew of Adproval for sponsoring, The Speak Easy for hosting us and Violets are Blue for the florals!

SOS! BRF!

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Anyone know how to fix Bitchy Resting Face? I’ve had it my whole life. I remember being a kid and my mom standing behind the kitchen counter while preparing dinner and saying, “You know you look angry right now, right? You really need to work on communicating with your facial expressions.”

The other day I saw a woman in public and she looks so darn pleasant. I was jealous.

*Outtake of me from a photoshoot yesterday. I look irritable. But I wasn’t. What the eff?

A Breather

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On Thursday, I posted this on Instagram sharing how I was feeling irritable, insecure and a bit deflated. Not only was I encouraged – I also realized that I’m not alone.

Lucky for me, we had a roadtrip planned and it was good for the soul. We drive back to Adam’s hometown and spent a day with his family. I sometimes forget how beautiful the open sky can be. How clean the air (except for when you drive by a field that smells like crap). And how good family is. Always.

We celebrated his sister’s upcoming marriage, watched his brother run cross country, snuggled the best dogs and went to WalMart (I never go to WalMart so it kind of blew my mind).

I gotta slow down, people. It’s too important to skip over.

 

Intentional Shoots

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I recently had a photo session with Jessica on the first day of fall. The shoot, for me, was very different than those I’ve shot in the past. I actually spent time thinking about it beforehand. Just like designing – I’m always pushing myself to sketch things out first. To think about it for a few days. To let it simmer.

I did exactly that with this photoshoot. I created a moodboard (below). I sketched out the shots that I wanted. I spent time after another shoot scouting locations. The board below had one purpose – to set the mood. I wanted bright lipstick. An emphasis on her hair. A playful, yet fashionable vibe. I didn’t want to copy the shots but it did inspire the ones that I took.

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I like being intentional in all my work. It brings about a better process. And a better result.

See more photos here.

Chicago Trip

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I grew up in Illinois (2 hours of south of Chicago) but frequented the city/suburbs frequently. Most of my family lives in the Chicago area and so does my best friend. We try to visit as many times as we can but our time in the city neighborhoods are always cut short. We did manage to visit a few great spots this trip and are excited to browse Airbnb soon to find a place in a city neighborhood for spring.

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$5 Bloody Marys at Chez Moi, Meat and veggies at BeeZzee, the best vanilla latte at Intelligenstia, melt-in-your-mouth gluten-free cupcakes at Swirlz, a funky stay at Hotel Monaco, and a donut ice cream sandwich for Adam at Firecakes.

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We love spending time in new places but equally enjoyed seeing my family and friends. I was able to hug my grandpa, laugh with my sister and play with my best friend’s kids. My heart is full and now I’m home. Happy October!

Recent Work

I’ve been pretty busy lately. Mostly juggling the business side of things with creative work. I’ve had a lot of photoshoots and have been learning a lot. I decided to host a pop-up shoot at a local park and charged $30 for a 15 minute shoot with people and their dogs! I used all of the money to buy Adam’s Macbook Air for his birthday. Here’s a collage of shots:

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I also shot products for a local Etsy shop Ben & Co (who has the most amazing scrubs). I designed her logo/labels awhile ago and so it was so neat to photograph it all! It was the first time I really shot a line of product and I really enjoyed it. It’s one thing to shoot product on a stark background but it’s another to create warmth and softness surrounding a single item. I was really happy with how they turned out. Here’s a teaser:

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Last Sunday, I also had a family session! Photographing kids is always a hilarious adventure. How sweet are they?

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I’ve also been shooting for Death to the Stock Photo. Our next pack goes out next week so be sure to sign up! Between all the photoshoots and editing – I have been designing too! We launched two client blogs this week so be sure to check them out! Esther approached me a few months ago about wanting to develop a blog, called The Gluten Conundrum, where she can share all about her gluten-free life. And we’re not talking just diet here. She recommends allergy-friendly hotels, talks about Celiac Disease and all her favorite essentials! I can’t wait to see her content pile up!

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We also launched Kincaid Parade! Rachael was on Blogger before we re-designed and migrated her space over to WordPress! She is one of my favorite bloggers. Being able to follow along with her lovely family has been such a blessing! Excited to see her space grow even more!

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I’m off to Chicago for the weekend so I’ll chat with you all on Monday!