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A Cape Town Beach Look

White sand, pristine beaches, summer fashion…

I kicked summer off in South Africa, visiting Johannesburg and Cape Town. There is so much to see and experience in Cape Town. The beauty of the natural landscape along with the architecture earn it the well deserved title of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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It’s the beginning of winter in South Africa during this time of year, but we were greeted by mild temperatures in the mid 60s (a stark contrast to the cold winters in most parts of the states). The weather was perfect for exploring, though the temperature at night was cooler. We also visited during the low tourism season, so the cities and sights were not over crowded.

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Our adventures in Cape Town took us from the top of Table Mountain (one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World), to an intimate walking tour of Langa (the oldest township in city), and to Clifton Beach. Clifton beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cape Town. It’s a set of four beaches and number 4, where we visited, is infamously regarded as the beach to strut “toned figures and body building”. The water was a bit too cool for swimwear, but we did catch a picturesque sunset on the beach and dipped our toes into the ocean. The mountain provided a breathtaking backdrop and we were enclosed by the beautiful beach homes along Sea Point.

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The beauty of Cape Town can not over shadow the recent dark history of Apartheid, however. Our trip would not be complete without a visit to Robben Island, a site where political prisoners were imprisoned under harsh conditions during Apartheid, including Nelson Mendela who spent 18 years in prison on the island. We toured the eerie island by bus and listened to a personal account from a former political prisoner who at the age of 19, was sentenced to the island for conspiracy against the South African government.

South Africa is a country I would love to visit again. In the coming weeks, I will be showcasing a few South African designers I discovered during the trip, so subscribe to my newsletter and learn about the latest in South African fashion!

Where are your summer travels taking you?

Outfit Details: Midi Ruffle Skirt – The Line by K || Corset Floral Ruffle Top – ASOS

 

South African Fashion Series Part II: The Perfect Summer Dress

Walking through The Watershed in Cape Town and spotting this boutique was love at first sight.

From the vibrant colors and prints to the fitted bodice and full skirt, it was as if the designer had masterfully created the perfect all-occasion summer dress.  The Nama Collection was at the top of my purchase list during my trip to South Africa and is the featured brand for Part II of my South African Fashion series.

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The Nama Collection was created by Ugandan born and South Africa-based fashion designer and model, Patricia Namayirira. Namayirira combines African fabrics with modern designs to develop her collection, which includes a range of pieces from dresses to shorts and pants sets. Her design style embraces the growing movement to honor tradition and authenticity while moving into modern aesthetics. Her pieces are not only stunning, but are made with ethnically sourced fabrics from across the continent of Africa.

This dress is cut in one of my favorite styles for dresses. The neckline is flattering and the silhouette creates a regal daytime look. It is appropriate attire for a variety of occasions, including both casual and slightly formal daytime outings. For the work place, try pairing it with a cardigan or summer linen blazer to create a business casual look.

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If you ever visit Cape Town, do not leave without spending at least a few hours exploring The Watershed artisan market at the V&A Waterfront. Be sure to stop by the Nama Collection boutique, which is located inside the market. You can also shop the Nama Collection online.

I hope you enjoyed discovering another talented fashion designer in South Africa. Stay tuned for the third part of  my South African Fashion Series!

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Create Festive Summer Looks with DIY Bow Tops and the Best Summer Visors

DIY fashion meets function this summer…

Bow front tops are a perfect pick for summer festivals and even to find some relief during summer heat waves. Did you know that you can easily transform your long sleeve button down top into a DIY front bow top? For this style hack post, I am sharing how to easily create a bow front top, along with sharing my favorite visor hats from around the web. Put these two pieces together to create a festive summer look.

To create your own bow front top, start with any loose fitting button down shirt.

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  1. Drape the unbuttoned top off your shoulders
  2. Grasp the bottom of the shirt and begin to tie the ends of the shirt together.
  3. Pull the tie tightly until it creates a look similar to triangle cups, like in the picture below.

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4. Once you achieve the desired shape, finish tying the bow tie to secure the top.

5. If the top has extra ties, like the shirt in this post, pull the ties around your waist and tie them in the front to create another accent.

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I paired the top with high waist shorts, purchased here, and flat black spiked sandals, purchased here.

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I completed this look with my straw visor, purchased here. A straw sun visor is one of my summer essentials. I rounded up my favorite summer straw sun visors from around the web and here are my top picks.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned some new ways to style your tops for summer! Subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular fashion and style inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Achieve Your Summer Glow with All Natural and Vegan Skin Care Products

It has been some years since I traded my household and skin care products in for all natural products. It was a lifestyle decision to consciously mirror my physical environment to the internal environment I maintained through my plant-based diet. I also knew that we can be exposed to environmental toxicants through our every day products that can have harmful effects on our health, the environment, and lead to disease and illness over time. Since then, I’ve kept my skin care routine pretty simple, but I still enjoy exploring all natural skin care products. Continuing with my summer South Africa series, I purchased a few skin care products during my visit and for this post I am sharing my experience with these products so far.

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Rain

Rain is a South African, certified fair trade company that produces all natural, handmade beauty and body products that are created with indigenous plant extracts. We visited their store in Cape Town, which was filled with a range of products that were both beautifully made and fragrant. For years, I have primarily used grapeseed oil as my go-to skin care product for moisturizing, but I highly recommend the body butter bars at Rain. The body butter bars are made in a variety of fun shapes, like the sea shell pictured below. The one I selected smells deliciously sweet and aromatic, is soothing and moisturizing, and can be smoothed directly onto wet or dry skin. I brought a few other products back as gifts as well, including their artisan-made glycerin soaps, and organic scented sachets  for home fragrance.

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Kafui Naturals

I happened upon Kafui Naturals during a visit to the Friday evening Bay Harbor Market in Cape Town. The line features all natural products, ranging from hair care products to facial cleansers and butters. Most of the products are vegan as well. I was also happy to support the small local business, which was created by Kafui Awoonor. I have been using the face oil for over a month now and I can not say enough positive things about it. From the fragrance to the use of some of my favorite oils, like grapeseed, moringa, and jojoba oil, it is definitely a product that has been added to my skin care routine. The ideal of putting oils on your face may seem counterproductive to achieving a clear complexion and blemish free skin, especially if you have oily skin, but dry oils are light, absorb quickly, and are filled with numerous essential fatty acids. This face oil uses a combination of dry and wet oils, so it does not leave your skin feeling greasy or weighed down. It comes in a 7 ounce bottle, but just a few drops are enough to cover your entire face.

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Africology

Last, but not least is Africology, South Africa’s leading spa brand. Africology uses natural and organic ingredients to create a range of products . The lip balm was a hit with my daughter, as I am always searching for non-toxic lip balm and lip gloss options for her. A unique addition to their list of skin care ingredients is the combination of the African potato and Rooibos. Rooibos is a South African shrub that is commonly served as a delicious, earthy tasting red tea. Rooibos is high in antioxidants, which limit the production of free radicals. It is also high in zinc, which among other properties, is anti-inflammatory. Both of these factors make it an ideal ingredient to add to skin care products.

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I emphasized that all of the brands I shared use natural ingredients and are free of harmful chemicals, but they are also all eco-friendly and cruelty free as well. I hope you enjoyed this post and found a few new skin care products and ingredients to try that are better for you and our planet.

 

 

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South African Designer Series: Part 1

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It is the first day of summer in the states and what better way to kick off the summer season than with a hot new series on South African designers. I’m excited to share everything over the next few weeks, from accessories to dresses and even a few all natural skin care products.

If you ever visit Cape Town, you must visit The Watershed. It’s a market near the V&A Waterfront with over 150 shops featuring locally designed products, many of which are handmade and ethically produced. It is the perfect stop to pick up unique gifts to bring home as well as items for yourself.

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My shorts are by Trip Clothing & Accessories, a brand in Cape Town that creates locally handmade items, including clothing and purses. Using materials that are also sourced locally, their clothing features bold African prints in contemporary designs. The brand produces items in limited quantities, which creates an exclusive shopping experience as well. If travelling to South Africa is not in your plans for the near future, I would visit their online store if you are looking for some funky printed shorts and halter sets, which are perfect to wear to summer festivals.

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I purchased a matching halter cropped top (not featured) to wear with the shorts. For this look, however, I paired the shorts with a black cropped top, purchased here.

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My bag was also made by a high end fashion designer in South Africa, Dr. Pachanga. The purse, which can also convert into a back pack, has vegan leather and gold accented wax print. I love the unique styles of his bags, which come in variety of  shapes and incorporate a mixture of textures and prints. Each style in Dr. Pachanga’s line is also produced in limited quantities and the bags are named after women in his life. Carine, named after the designer’s sister, is quickly becoming my favorite bag to carry.

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I hope you enjoyed these items and designers as much as I do! Wishing you an adventurous start to the summer. Stay tuned for more beautiful styles and talented designers from South Africa.

 

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Styling Green for Your Spring Wardrobe

Hello and Happy Friday!

If you’ve been shopping this spring, you have likely noticed a favorite color of mine throughout your favorite stores: green. Olive green, in particular, and other earth tones are staples this season evoking a sense of ease and calm through your wardrobe as we usher in the second half of 2019. While you may be hesitant to wear brighter greens, like emerald, this earthy tone of green is a more subtle but equally beautiful hue to incorporate.

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A monochromatic look

I created this monochromatic look with two different shades of green. Monochromatic outfits, in which you build your look from one hue, can create a sleek and striking appearance. Monochromatic looks can also include incorporating different textures, patterns, or shades. For this look, I opted to play on different shades of this earthy green tone and wore a fitted top with a paper bag waist trouser.

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Complimentary Colors

Olive green, and other earth tones, compliment each other masterfully. I completed my look with dark brown platform sandals (purchased years ago). Gold and grey hues would also work well. I accessorized with a grey bow headband. If dressing for the work place look, I recommend adding a blazer to create a more professional look. I wore this look to work with a peplum blazer (not pictured).

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Finally, last month was earth month and the end of April marked the 6th edition of Fashion Revolution Week. The ethically created and eco-friendly pieces in this post are an ode to creating fashion that honors the health and well-being of the people who make our clothes, as well as, the environment.

What is your favorite color to wear for spring?

Outfit Details: Top – The Green Store||Pants – H&M (Conscious Collection)

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Something Old, Something New, Something Plaid, Something Blue

The solution is not always more clothes, but buying pieces that you will wear for years to come.

I celebrated my birthday last week with a mixture of relaxation and exciting festivities. I wore this BCBG dress for my birthday dinner that I purchased 10 YEARS AGO.  I styled the dress with a plaid blazer, purchased here, and my favorite boots right now by Silent D. A common belief about style blogging and being fashionable in general, is that it requires constant shopping  for new clothes. This has not been my experience, however. If you desire to build a versatile wardrobe with pieces that you will love for years to come, read my shopping tips below.

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Be intentional when shopping trends

When shopping for something new, ask yourself, “Is this purchase just for now or something I imagine myself wearing years from now?”. The challenge with shopping for trends is that you will potentially build a wardrobe filled with pieces that you have little interest in as the trends fade.

Is it the trendiness of that item that attracts you, or the overall look? The plaid blazer, for example, has been a trendy fall and winter piece. For me, this standout look is versatile as well and I consider it to be a staple piece in my wardrobe.

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Avoid impulse shopping

When shopping, I avoid buying on impulse. That means walking away from that beautiful ruffle top I may want in the moment, so when I do make purchases, I don’t have buyer’s remorse because my decision involved more thoughtfulness. Giving yourself some time to think about your purchases can help you determine if it is something you truly want or need. Wait a few days before finalizing that online purchase. I am amazed by how many items I never revisit after adding them to a shopping cart in an online clothing store. As a lover of shopping, sometimes good old fashion window shopping and trying on a few looks is enough to satisfy my desire for something new as well.

Incorporate versatile pieces that can be reworked in your wardrobe.

When I buy something, I imagine different ways it can be styled. Perhaps, it is a maxi dress that can also be worn open as a long top over jeans, a slip dress that can be layered during the cooler months, or a piece that can be styled for professional and casual events, like the blazer in this post.  I avoid purchasing pieces that I only intend to wear with one item in my closet. You can create a closet filled with simple staple pieces, but you do not have to limit yourself to this type of shopping to create versatility. Instead, buy a mix of statement and traditional staple pieces that you can mix and match. It also makes your wardrobe more exciting.

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Invest in investment pieces

After transitioning from graduate school back into the professional world, I’ve been shopping for more investment pieces. Investment pieces are higher quality and usually more expensive pieces that are made to last longer than the clothes associated with fast fashion. I’ve also been buying more natural fabrics. These materials cost more, but they feel better on your skin and are also better for our health, in comparison to fashion made cheaply using harsh chemicals. Some investment pieces to consider adding to your wardrobe that I think are worth the splurge include a crisp blazer, ankle boots, sweaters/cardigans, and a pair of jeans with the perfect fit.

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I hope you found these shopping tips helpful! Interested in revamping your wardrobe? Click here to learn more about my virtual and in-person styling services. Also, subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular style inspiration and updates.

 

**Updated 3/12/2019 to provide webpage link for style services.**

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An Alluring Backless Basic

“In my white tee.”

Here is a style secret. One of my keys to maintaining effortless style, even when wearing casual looks, is incorporating classic pieces that have been revamped. As a lover of statement pieces, my basics are pretty funky. There is little more alluring than an unexpected backless top and this post features a look that embodies non-basic basics.

The Elif Tie T-shirt is by The Line by K,  a collection created ethically in California and designed by blogger-turned-fashion designer, Karla Deras (a woman after my own heart). These days, I am more intentional about my shopping, opting for quality pieces that can be restyled in different ways and that will also last. This top, for example, is made from Japanese cotton. It feels incredibly soft, is comfortable, and also well made.

857611E0-9B46-4661-A30E-C571CEA3CC8CI styled this casual look with an old pair of bell bottom jeans (purchased from The Limited) and converse sneakers.

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As with any look, confidence is key. Confidence comes from within, but the proper support in a backless top goes a long way as well. Depending on the fit, an adhesive bra or petals can provide the support needed.

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Styling Red: Go Bold for a Valentine’s Day Look

With Valentine’s day around the corner, red is the color to wear if you are thinking about looks to celebrate the day of love. Wearing red can be daring on any day. It exudes boldness and confidence, and according to research, can also increase your perceived self-attractiveness (i.e a quick pick me up). Red dresses are a common go-to look for Valentine’s Day, but perhaps your plans are more casual. This look is perfect for a casual date night or a playful look to celebrate Valentine’s day, in general.

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I started with a vegan red leather skirt. It is an attractive piece I knew I could style for different occasions. Color choices are important when putting any look together. The color red safely pairs with black or white, but I opted to pair the skirt with grey and other neutrals, which also work well in the contrast to the bold color. Accordingly, I styled the skirt with a patterned top and sweater that incorporated greys and other neutral colors.

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I wore lace pattern stockings, a fun accent, and black converse to complete the casual look. As I mentioned, this skirt can be styled for different occasions. If you desire to create a chic look, for example, pair a red skirt with a black fitted blouse and pumps, which instantly transform the look from casual to polished.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some helpful tips on styling red. Whether you are celebrating love of self, love for others, or a combination of the two, I hope you have a great Valentines Day!

Outfit Details: Skirt – Anthropologie ||Blouse – H&M (old) || Sweater (old) || Tights – Urban Outfitters (old) || Shoes – Converse

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Wear to Work OOTD: Outside the Lines

“I must be a mermaid. I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” -Anais Nin
Happy New Year! After months of working remotely, I went into an office for work last week. I am still getting use to maneuvering through Atlanta rush hour traffic again, but this transition also affords new opportunities to create more work place looks. I played with mixed prints and metallics, with my new favorite boots, to create the look featured in this post. It was a pretty bold choice for a first-day-in-the-office look and I want to share some reflections on fashion in the work place.

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This story begins with Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. I finished it over the holidays and there were many parts of her journey as a young professional that were inspiring and also experiences that resonated with my own. It was also interesting to read her reflections on her personal style as the First Lady. Mrs. Obama has been photographed wearing some iconic looks and her choices in fashion were commonly praised and dissected during her tenure as the First Lady. At one point in her book, she expressed her discontent with what seemingly was an interest in her latest outfit over her intellect and the social and public health efforts she was spearheading. “It seemed that my clothes mattered more to people than anything I had to say,” she wrote in a telling revelation that resonated with some of my own fears.

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Can you relate? When I started graduate school, for example, there was a period where I considered how my usual attire, often praised for style, may influence others’ perceptions of me as a young Black woman pursuing her PhD. It didn’t help that at the time, I was attending class in a building with the fitness center, so I often passed by undergraduate students dressed in athletic attire as they fit their workouts in between classes. Ultimately, I decided to just be myself. A professor once called me her “little fashion plate” at a conference we were attending, followed by statements about how we, as women, were multifaceted. I couldn’t agree more.

This is the double edged sword that we sometimes experience as women, however, a state in which our appearances are constantly dissected and measured against unreasonable standards. On the other hand, the perception of too much concern or time spent on our appearance can be regarded as shallow. It is an unfair plight where our intellect could be overshadowed by our ‘ootd’ or where our freedom to express ourselves artistically through beauty and fashion could be diminished. A man, on the other hand, could meticulously match ties, to shirts, to shoes each day, yet no one would question his competence or achievements within his field, based on an expression of personal style.

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So, what do we do to challenge these ideologies? We push against them and make way for new ones to be realized. I, for example, accept that being creative and an analytical PhD scholar are not mutually exclusive. One of the many ways in which I express my creativity is through fashion. I accept that sharing this expression of creativity is also a part of living authentically. Although my love of fashion is just one part of me, it permeates through my different life experiences and can be used to shift our social norms.

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What does professional look like to you?

 

Outfit Details: Velvet Wrap Blazer – Anthropologie (old) | Skirt –  Purchased here|Boots – Silent D 

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The Weekend and Styling Faux Fur: What I Wore

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…which also calls for layers and warmer materials.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season! During the winter months, I can be spotted in long cardigan sweaters and wool pea coats (princess cuts are my favorite). When I am creating a more glamorous look, I incorporate faux furs. For this post, I am sharing how I styled my faux fur coat, purchased at Zara, over the weekend with a casual every day look and a more dressed up look.

As mentioned, faux furs are an easy way to add glam to casual looks, like the look below. For this look, I paired my coat with vintage-inspired corduroys with a retro pattern and an off the shoulder ribbed sweater.  I wore this outfit on a Saturday outing visiting some of my favorite markets around the city as they hosted holiday events. I completed the look with silver metallic oxfords.

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Outfit Details: Top – Urban Outfitters (old) || Corduroys – Anthropologie || Metallic Shoes – Wanted (old, similar look here)

I wore this second look to a Sunday celebration. My shift dress is by Mata Traders, a fair trade company whose clothes are made by artisan women in India and Nepal. The dress has become a staple in my closet across seasons and different occasions. It is short sleeve and the material works well during the summer months. It can also be styled for colder months, like I achieved with this look. I created a playful look by pairing the dress again with my faux fur coat and over the knee socks. I completed the look with a pair of simple block heel black pumps.

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Outfit Details: Shift Dress – Mata Traders purchased at The Green Store|| Pumps – Anne Klein || Over the knee socks – Urban Outfitters (old)

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some ways to style your winter faux furs for casual and more formal looks.

Stay Warm and Have a Merry Christmas!

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A Cozy Fall #OOTD and Not Racing to the Finish Line

Welcome December! For the past few years, the month of December has been a race against time to the end of the year. It is the month I launched my blog a few years ago, the month a launched my first business, and while I was in grad school was filled with long nights over the winter break as I prepared for hitting major benchmarks in the new year (like passing my dissertation defense). While this year was filled with accomplishments, like winning awards, finishing my PhD, landing my dream job in my field, there is one goal that I have honestly made less progress on than I aimed for. This year, I am not racing to the finish line to complete it, however, and here is why.

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For most of us, our day to day activities are filled with meeting deadlines, measures that we internalize for success. For you, it may not be professional deadlines at all. How about, “Did I purchase this house by this date?”,  “Did I get married and have 2.5 children and a dog by this age?” I am a program evaluator, so I understand the immense importance of setting  SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives. As an evaluator, I also know that a margin of flexiblity is necessary. I’m realizing that I don’t always allow for flexibility with my own aspirations and personal endeavors, however. In fact, not meeting my personal deadlines absolutely pains me. This year, however, instead of racing to the finish line I am accepting that beautiful things  take time. I thought about a statement made to me my dissertation advisor when I wanted to push up my timeline to finish my Ph.D. a semester early. Essentially,  goals are important and meeting your deadlines are great, but what do you gain from moving faster than necessary to get things completed just for the sake of sticking to a deadline?

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I’ve made incredible progress in my new venture (developing my own fashion line), from completing a program on business development, to moving this idea from ideation to action, to identifying a co-operative for production. The road in launching your own business is challenging and unpredictable. It is also forcing me to slow down. I am respecting the process that comes along with creating something impactful, beautiful, and meaningful. Time is fluid and ultimately, God’s timing is always perfect.

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Perhaps, it’s the increasingly pervasive microwave mentality that leads us to applying unnecessary pressure to get everything completed quickly.  Tomorrow, or January 1st, however is another day to continue the journey. I look forward to sharing more of this journey in the coming months as I move closer to launching my first collection. What are you wrapping up before the end of the year?

Outfit Details: Sweater – Anthropologie || Blouse – The Limited (old) || Leggings – Nasty Gal (old) || Shoes – Anne Klein