Friday, September 8, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Fix

Workplace Style with an Expert--

Fashion Group International of Chicago is hosting a great event next week on fashion in the workplace.  Yes, you can be fashionable in the workplace.  Don't succumb to boring!  With image and branding strategist Aaja Corrine sharing tips and tricks, attendants will also experience the fabulous showroom of Style Room 326.

Don't miss this!!



While professional dress is always a must for the workplace, it never has to be boring! Being a leader in your industry is measured by both being the expert, but also by looking the part.

Aaja Corinne Magee is an Image and Personal Branding Strategist, who helps high-potential leaders to create game-changing, personal brands by teaching them how to package and platform their purpose. She will teach attendees how to develop their own signature style that compliments their personal brand, without compromising professionalism.

"Signature style begins with deciding how you want to be perceived." -Aaja Corinne
Click Here To Become An FGI Chicago Member

Saturday, September 2, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Empowers

The Girlboss Makes Her Next Move--

After launching a successful...and sometimes lawsuit-laden apparel brand, Nasty Gal creator Sophia Amoruso is expanding her Girlboss radio podcast.  As part of her Girlboss Media brand, Sophia is putting up just over $1M to take the podcast to the next level.  The podcast is just one nod to her Girlboss life.  

Amoruso wrote a great memoir, appropriately named Girlboss.  She laid out her path to creating a unique fashion brand, and the ups and downs she used to motivate her ascension to success.  Despite common challenges in the fashion and retail world, Sophia has continued to relent.  Leaving the Nasty Gal retail life for a stronger focus on female empowerment, the Girlboss brand now also includes a foundation.  As reported by Retail Dive, the foundation offers "breezy pieces showcasing advice like how to set up your LinkedIn profilehow to get a quick hit of happiness and how to make money in the gig economy". Girlboss Foundation seeks to guide young women in achieving their dreams in a seemingly contradictory "shame-free, lame-free zone."  Read her book--this is so Sophia!

It's always great to hear what women are doing for others.  We are greater when we help each other.

Go Girlbosses!

Monday, August 21, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

Technology One-Ups Counterfeits--

Just when the counterfeit market thought it was gaining, particularly with retail experiencing a stumbling block, technology has stepped in to do what it does best--change the game.  To fight back against fakes in the market, the folks at Entrupy created a scanner to determine the real from the fake.

Obviously you can train a machine to do almost anything these days.  Now, this machine-learning system can scan an item and with up to 98.5% accuracy, determine whether it's the real deal or just another really good copy.  As you know, goods are in the market in 4 different classes.  This device will be able to separate the 1s from the 2s with almost complete certainty.  Because of its advanced technology, it will also be improving its accuracy with every use.  

Entrupy won't be marketed to the individual consumer, but primarily geared toward retailers looking to ensure they are selling genuine products, and not gray market goods--those made in legit factories, but outside contracted terms.  This device will also put gray marketers on the defense, forcing them to find ways to defeat the system.  The goal of the scanner is to ensure trust in what consumers are purchasing.  

"We built Entrupy as a scalable and versatile platform in response to the rapidly growing counterfeiting issue and need for trust when it comes to product transactions." Vidyuth Srinivasan, Entrupy's co-founder told Digital Trends.  

This device will most certainly give the gray market a run for its money.  It may press legislators to act on further protecting designs as well.  

For more on gray market goods, click here.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Beauty

Your Best Beauty...Because Ingredients Matter--

Over the last couple years, I have found myself being more and more conscious of the ingredients I not only ingest, but also apply to my skin and hair.  I need to know what's in these bottles.  What does this stuff do?  

Many brands have started forcing the issue of ingredients, even centering their marketing and promotion around them. You've heard them..."Argan Oil-infused... Coconut Oil...Vitamin E extract...".  It goes on.  Certainly there wasn't the same enthusiasm about essential oils and vitamins--even just 5 years ago.  Large brands, like L'Oreal, Unilever, and Proctor & Gamble have latched onto the trend, but independent brands have really been trailblazers.

Independent brands have made it their business--literally--to highlight ingredients and their contributions to the product.  Taking a look at the labels, you see (in order of amount) more ingredients with names you can pronounce and hear regularly.  Not only are the unheard of compounds  less dominant, the oils and vitamins promise more benefits than just preservation.  They get specific.   

As I began to make it more of a priority to buy shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, and other products with healthy ingredients, I also took to some research on what the other components were. The Environmental Working Group has a plethora of information. I started comparing compounds other site to what I saw on bottles.  In addition to highlighting what's in the products, we're starting to see a lot of what has been excluded.  What'd they take out?  Why?  Why was it in there to begin with?  Much of this research led me to learn more about sulfates and parabens, which help emulsify and foam, and serve and preservatives, respectively.  Hmmm...don't I still need foam?  Do I really want this product to last for 5 years?  Do I even need that?

Sulfates are overly drying to the hair, and parabens...well they've been linked to health risks.  The levels have been low,  but enough for them to be widely removed from popular products where they were once mainstays. 

One of the most common (and most safe) compounds you'll see is cetearyl alcohol.  This one is used to emulsify/foam, and has a low hazard rate.  It's similar to stearyl alcohol--both pretty safe, despite the "alcohol" in their names.  On the other end, benzalkonium chloride, a fairly common preservative has been associated with skin irritations and allergies.  The risk here is a bit high, and it is even restricted in some countries.  There are some compounds we need for good reason.  Others, we need to keep away from.  

Many of the most common compounds used, at one time, revolutionized the beauty industry.  They allowed for products to stay in tact over long shipments, keep a long shelf life for inventory availability, and be there whenever consumers needed them--no wait.  

But what independent brands have given us, in addition to a bit of a wait for their heart-to-hand products, is a some self-regulation.  Because there are just 30 substances banned by the FDA for use in beauty products (compared to over 1500 in Europe), we are left to a little trial and error in what works, what harms, and what needs to be celebrated in its removal after 40+ years of use.  Indies are taking charge and using natural ingredients, paired with little to no compounds, carefully curating products often free of preservatives.  If it's carefully curated, just for me (in my heart), there's no need to a long shelf life.  

Hearing which ingredients are in your most needed products and knowing what they do creates an important experience for consumers.  "This will keep my skin soft."  "This will reduce inflammation."  "This will slow aging." That messaging goes a long way, especially when some of those same ingredients can be found in our kitchens and even used for other things.  Clearly coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are staples beyond the kitchen, and solve almost everything known to man.  

Are you watching your labels?

For some of our Ingredient-Infused faves, check out these brands:
TGIN (Thank God It's Natural)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Empowers

Hello June!

Yes, today is already the 3rd day of June, and 2017 seems to be moving along pretty quickly.  My great-grandmother once told me "after 20, those birthdays start moving really fast".  Boy was she right.  Years are going by rapidly, so taking some time to reflect and refresh is very important.  

As a way to reflect on the year thus far, and prepare for the back half, we're sharing these June Journal Prompts--shared with us by creative curator, Tonisha from T_Happy Place. The purpose is to get your thoughts and ambitions flowing for the rest of what this amazing year will be.  Sorry we're a couple days late, but hey, take today to catch up and really get your brain working.

Reflect with us. 

Happy Writing!

Biblically the number 6 represents man, the day man was created, and the month of Father’s day is in the month of June.  The direction of creation and man is what lead to this month’s prompts.

1. What are 6 goals you want to complete this month?
2. What is something that happened to you today that made you smile?
3. What is the first memory you have of your dad?
4. If you had to pick up and move right now, where would you go and why?
5. Who is your favorite singer?  Write a line from your favorite song of theirs.
6. What is something that you can work on that will make you better?
7. What is a moment in your life you would do over if you could?  How and Why?
8. What are you thankful for today?
9. Think of someone to say a prayer for.  Write a prayer on their behalf.
10. What was the most important lesson you learned this week?
11. What is your favorite dance song?  Put that song on and dance your way to a clear mind.
12. What is your favorite part of your morning routine?
13. What does having faith mean to you?
14. What was the most inspirational thing you heard/saw today?
15. Who is someone in your life that you need to make more time to spend with them?
16. What was your favorite childhood movie and why?
17. “A determined person is the most feared and the most powerful individual” What does that quote mean to you?
18. Write about the male parental figure in your life.  How did they help shape you into the person you are?
19. What do you remember about your dreams from last night?  How does that make you feel?
20. Think about your day, what are 6 good things that happened to you today?
21. What is something that you want to do in your career that is on your bucket list?
22. If you were to have a son, what would you name him and why?
23. What is a cause that is near to your heart?  How are you supporting it?
24. What is something that brings you peace?
25. Look out your window, what do you see?  What does that inspire you to do?
26. What’s the name of your first boyfriend?  Write about him.
27. What do you admire most about the person you work for?
28. Write a letter to them releasing any hurt that you feel.  
29. Which of your talents can you turn into a side hustle?
30. Think back to the 6 goals you set at the beginning of the month, how many of them did you accomplish?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Spotlights

Naturally You Book!

A few weeks ago I scrolled past this captivating book cover on Instagram.  I stopped to see what it was and clicked on the link.  What I came upon was Naturally You: A Hair Journal for the Curly, Kinky, & Coily.  I was immediately intrigued.  I scrolled through the website, remarked on "how cool" this was, and immediately purchased 2 books for natural friends.  Once they'd shipped, I got a personal note to make sure I received them and was on my way to enjoying.  Wow.  This is marvelous.  

*Disclaimer.  I am not natural.  My hair is relaxed, however I am a hair health enthusiast, and stop at nothing short of keeping these tresses as happy as possible.  This sentiment is just one piece of what I later learned...

This past Sunday, I got the empowering pleasure of starting my day with Mrs. Layla Bryant, author of Naturally You.  It was not only refreshing to chat with her, but she enlightened me on what it took to put this masterpiece together.  

The Inception:
Of course the first thing I wanted to know was what inspired her to write a book. She told me she's "been natural for about 15 years. It was before it became 'a thing, a revolution--a movement'.  I was getting scalp burns from relaxer.  In all that time, it hadn't been a thing to be natural and healthy. Today, it's a different ballgame to have bloggers and stylists committing to keeping natural and all hair healthy--relaxing less, putting an emphasis on healthy hair."  So true. With the internet being a wealth of any and every kind of information, it's so much easier to work through getting and keeping healthy hair.  We have too much knowledge these days not to. 

Layla said she cut her hair one day--with regular scissors--starting her natural journey.  As she continued contemplating writing this book and how, she realized, "what's out there is mostly how-to books, but there's lots of side conversations about being relaxed v. natural." The side conversations have taken on their own life, as a matter of fact.  She saw this book as a means for continuing those conversations..."What does your texture mean?"  "What if you don't like your curl pattern? The politics, natural hair in the office...I wanted to give people a path to discuss hair.  Give them the questions to make them go beyond the steps of hair care--past everything visible about the hair.  What about women who cover their hair?  With so many things to think about... what if you don't have the 'optimal curl'?  And who decides what that is?  How?"  With so many questions, Layla was well on her way to compiling more than a journal, but a conversation grabber.   

I wanted to know more about how she put together the pieces of Naturally You.  Layla said she started with all those questions (and more) and went from there. "I talked to people about it, and put the discussions I was having down on paper. I broke down the different topics of hair-- hair care, business of hair and products, hair at work... I expect there's a fair amount of people who won't even write in it, but will see it as a coffee table book.  It could be a conversation piece amongst girlfriends."  

Ladies, we all know we've had these discussions.  This book will help us take them to the next level.  

Hair Talk
I was curious as to the group whom surprised her the most in loving the book.  She said it was teenagers!  "They love the look of it, and probably will write in it. It gives them a lot to think about and reflect on.  The book gives them the chance to have these conversations amongst each other.  Everyone else is having the conversation with them--media, videos, Hollywood, etc.  The book will have the conversation with them adults close to them may not."  Layla hopes Naturally You encourages them to consider business, product creation, independent thinking, self-love and more.  She hopes it will open their minds beyond the pressures they see on social media.  

I then asked for her thoughts on what the natural hair movement means beyond hair and products.  She reigned in on a very key point, "For people who study the history of black people and hair, it's in our DNA for hair and hair styles to have certain meanings. It transforms in so many ways to set us apart.  When there's a movement, our hair goes with it--afros, dreadlocks, braids, whatever.  Think about Colin Kaepernick--as he became more of an activist, it seems like his fro got bigger.  Our hair makes our point with us."  That's so real!  

As we continued to chat, I wondered, in all her research how she defined "natural".  She said she always hesitates to define "natural", but terms it more as "natural for me". "Natural is a lot of things to a lot of people. Hearing different debates, some have even said adding color no longer makes the hair natural. It creates the further debates of what natural really means, and how. 'Is natural a spectrum, or an either/or?'  I see it as trying to achieve your healthiest hair without changing the composition." 

With so many discussions going on around hair and beauty today, it was important to know what Layla thought about what her book does for these discussions and hair care in action.  So eloquently put, she noted how today's beauty world really pushes for inclusion.  "In the world today, we are doing our best to embrace everything.  It's all inclusive or nothing. I appreciate all of these blogs and bloggers showing people how to care for their hair and showing them how to love what they have.  I think the hair type discussions are important to help people realize what works for them and what doesn't.  We need to have resources for people with every curl pattern.  We, as a people, span in so many ways-- hair care, body types, skin tones, everything."  

Wait, what about natural?
With natural hair having such a stronghold in our social construct today, there are obviously misconceptions.  Layla shared some of the most common as believing you have to go natural at all and what that experience will be like. "There's a lot of pressure right now on women who are relaxed to go natural. It's like telling people who decide to get locks--something so permanent. I encourage others to use resources to make the decision.  I believe it is a very personal decision.  It's not easy. It really is a journey and takes mental fortitude to get to where you want to go."

"It's easy to think 'going natural, your hair will look like _____.' You never know.  You do have to go through different products to see what works for you.  Manage your expectations.  That's the beauty of our hair.  You can do different things.  It's flexible. You can't have any expectations.  It's an exploratory process.  Go in with an open mind v. seeing others go natural and think it's what you should expect.

This is definitely a sentiment we didn't have on natural hair 20, even just 10, years ago.  The time we're in now is remarkable.  

Not being natural, her words were encouraging. Layla assured, "there's things in the book that apply to everyone, regardless of what state your hair is in. The hair is like an arm almost. It's its own part of you. It reflects who you are, your mood, etc. Many women take their hair through every state you can imagine throughout their life."  It's our privilege, no?

What do people think?
I know how magnificent I think the book is, but I had to ask about the varied feedback she's gotten.  "I've gotten amazing feedback.  I've learned some things in creating a product and marketing.  Everyone loves the cover, but people were tripped up on the word 'journal'.  Some thought it was blank.  After spending a little time with it, people say 'This is awesome', 'This is really cool', 'I hadn't thought about that', 'Ooo, I need to get this for my girl'.

As I suspected, Layla defined the book as "yours".  "What you do with it is what's going to make it awesome.  It's just to get you started."   

After working very hard to finalize the book, just before having a baby, mind you, it was published just over a year ago. In the time since, she's pushed hard to engage as much as possible, learning a lot about marketing and promotions in the process. She even came across a hair show in Texas called "Naturally You", and like all empowered women do, they worked together to promote.   

Next Steps...
So what's next for her Naturally You movement?  Layla attended the Natural Hair Show in Atlanta last weekend, and networked with products gurus and other natural hair enthusiasts.  She plans to "focus is blogs and bloggers, who are doing the job of sharing with people. I believe we've put together a good product and are working to find ways to get it to people to help tell my story that way."  As she continues, she plans to be more directed at youth, and after hearing feedback from teenagers, that's definitely a good move.  

Like others taking part in the everyday Wonder Woman Movement, wearing her cape and crown effortlessly, Layla keeps in mind how her work will reflect to her children.  
"There's a part of life you want to keep for yourself so kids can see you doing other things, and doing things for yourself--more than just a 9-5, and more than just being their mom.  You have to live in a way that inspires them and do things that matter to them. Use the rat race to get to another level of living--appreciate so much more--engaging with people, spending time with yourself. Know there's so much more to life to experience and achieve." 

She mentioned her mom shared a clip of Denzel saying he "was happy he was successful because of his talent, not partying with the right people, or giving in to trends." He just kept plugging away at it and now he's "a 20-year overnight success." There's never a disadvantage to working hard and doing the right thing.  Layla's goal is to sell hundreds of thousands of copies--because hundreds of thousands of women would want a gift like this.  I know a few friends who did.  And a few more who were added to that list by the end of our chat.  

When not wearing her author hat, Layla works as a Project Manager doing software implementation.  She lives in Atlanta with her husband and 3 children.  Wonder Woman Movement. Cape. Crown.  

We ended our Sunday morning chat with talking about how important it is, especially in today's social climate, to love yourself and constantly improve yourself.  With so many things telling you you aren't enough, you must push to keep reminding yourself to do and learn more.  She said she doesn't know that this book will change the world, but it will show our hair is more than just strands.   

I think it will change the world.

Check Layla and Naturally You out on social media and order your copy now!

Monday, April 24, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Cares

My Favorite Outfit - Fashion with a Purpose!

We are always excited about fashion as a means for changing the world, beyond trendy looks and bottom lines.  Just last week, we learned about a Chicago organization doing just that--using fashion to make a difference in the lives of young girls.  

My Favorite Outfit (MFO) uses fashion to empower at-risk girls through self-esteem building, mentoring, and skills-based learning to help them succeed in middle school, high school, college and beyond. While blazing their trail in Chicago, MFO will soon be expanding to Los Angeles!

Stepping on the stage in 2014, MFO has used in-school workshops in Chicago's underserved communities to educate girls on how clothing and self-esteem intersect. Now, MFO is expanding upon our 27-school partnership in Chicago and bringing our pop-up workshops to Los Angeles for the 2017/2018 school year. 

California has the highest percentage of low-income students in the country and the achievement gap rate for these students is startling. In order to help close this gap, there needs to be a change.  MFO is more than fit to help positively change the statistic--one girl at a time.

The Advisory Board created a crowd funding page to help raise money for the west coast expansion. Just $35 provides one student with the opportunity to participate in a pop-up workshop. A donation of $1,000 will sponsor an entire school for a semester. These funds will pay for course materials, clothing for the students to shop from, and the chance to give a young girl personalized learning and the attention to make her feel loved, cared for, and worth it. 

This organization is using a fun passion to change lives.  Changing the lives of the young women they touch will help these young women do the same for those coming up behind them. The empowering (and fashionable) cycle will continue.  

Check our this video to help you learn a little more about the organization. 

Don't forget to donate!

Thanks to our Fashion Friend Christian McKenzie for putting this organization on our radar.  We're excited to get connected!

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