I first wanted to go to Palm Springs about 5 years ago. I'm not sure how it even got on my radar, maybe I saw photos on social media or I read about it somewhere. Shortly after, in 2015, I made my first trip to the West Coast. We stayed in LA for a few days and then headed to the desert for Coachella in Indio, which is about 15-20 minutes from Palm Springs. I wanted to check out Palm Springs while we were there, but there wasn't enough time. None of my friends I was traveling with are as into vintage stuff as I am so it wasn't as much of a priority. I made a mental note that I had to make it back to Palm Springs one day.
Then it seemed like Palm Springs became extremely popular. It seemed like everyone on social media was choosing Palm Springs as their vacation spot, so many people that it made me not want to go anymore. I felt like maybe I'd seen everything I needed to see on Instagram.
But after my recent vacation, I don't feel that way at all. I'm so glad I made the trip back to the desert. I think there's still something to be said for seeing things for yourself. I've seen countless photos from inside Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway, people posed on the couch under the infamous photo of him and Priscilla locked arms with a cocktail in their hands. But the moment I walked into the house, a feeling came over me and I realized seeing a photo of something is not the same as experiencing it in real life.
I think another trick to having a unique travel experience is looking for things to do outside of Instagram. According to Instagram, it seems like everyone stays at The Saguaro, so it made me think maybe this was one of the only hotels in Palm Springs. We drove past The Saguaro a few times and while it looked cute, I'm glad I did my research and found out about The Monkey Tree instead because it made for a more unique Palm Springs experience and it was a better fit for my aesthetic and personal taste too.
Overall, I think social media can be a great resource to get travel recommendations or find out about a destination you might not have otherwise known about. However, I think it's important to do your research off Instagram as well. Try looking for more obscure recommendations that are off the beaten path, rather than seeking out "the most Instagramable spots". To me, these spots usually end up being the least inspiring anyway. And even if something is a tourist trap or Instagram bait, if it's something you really want to see, you should still go because no photo will ever give you the same feeling as seeing it with your own two eyes.
In the last month or so, I've been having bad luck when it comes to photo locations. Getting good photos in the winter is always a challenge because it can get bitter cold in NYC. And as most of you probably know by now, the majority of my photos are taken with a self timer and tripod. Shooting photos alone can be more time consuming as opposed to having someone on the other side of the camera. It's hard to physically be outside in the cold long enough to get a good photo when I'm shooting alone. Because of this, I usually venture indoors during the winter months and find retro inspired interiors. Yes, sometimes it can be embarrassing and people stare when I'm shooting in a restaurant or store, but I've rarely experienced the owners or managers telling me I can't take photos until recently.
Aside from 2 record stores and a magazine store, the diner I took these photos in was another place I got in trouble at recently. I met my friend here for breakfast before work one day because we both work in the area, and I figured I would have her snap a few photos of me in this dress. After we ordered, we took a few photos in our booth. Then I moved to the counter (where there was only one other man sitting at the time). Finally we went into the back of the restaurant where they had a wall of vintage decor (which was also empty at the time). A few seconds into taking photos in the back, a waiter came over and said "you know, people usually pay to take photos in here". My friend replied, "oh, we're eating here", so he knew we didn't just come into have a photoshoot. He said, "I know, they usually pay on top of that". When I looked at the diner's Instagram, I saw a few brands had rented out the space to hold a photo shoot or fashion week presentation. I totally get a brand or company paying to use the space. Most of the time, I'm not earning money from the photos I take, so it's not like I'm using their business as a way to profit and not sharing a cut of the revenue. If I'm a paying customer and not in anyone's way, what's the harm in taking a photo of my outfit?
I was venting to a friend about how annoying it was that I kept experiencing push back lately and he sent me an article about a restaurant that had to enforce a "no photo" policy because of influencers. I totally get why business owners could get annoyed with influencers taking photos in their store or restaurant, especially if they're taking up space without buying or ordering anything or getting in the way of paying customers. The article said customers were still allowed to take photos of their friends or food, but influencers were not allowed to. When looking through the other tagged photos from this diner, I saw a photo of a girl, clearly taken with an iphone, posed on the stools just like I was, but she was dressed casual wearing sweatpants. I feel like it's unfair to determine who can and can't take photos depending on how they're dressed or what they're using to take the photos with.
Nowadays, I think everyone can technically be considered an influencer. No matter how many followers you have, what you post on social media can influence the people that see your content. Influencer marketing has been dubbed the modern day word of mouth. I wish more business owners would realize the power of social media and by letting people take photos in their store or restaurant it can drive more traffic to their business.
What do you think? Should business owners be okay with letting influencers take photos in their establishment?
If you'd like to shop my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Sunglasses: Rainbow Optx; Tights: Vintage; Sneakers: Converse
Location: Square Diner (Tribeca, NYC)
Last Friday I found out that my favorite retro spot in Hoboken, Schnackenberg's Luncheonette, closed without any notice. I visited this place almost every week, whether that was to grab a doughnut before work or to sit and have a grilled cheese and milkshake on a Saturday afternoon. I shot a lot of photos for my Instagram and blog here as well. I'm upset I won't be able to enjoy their food or come here to take pictures anymore, but what makes me really sad is that a piece of history is going to be replaced by a trendy salad spot.
Schnackenberg's opened in 1931, so it was in business for 88 years. There have been a lot of articles in the past week about the closing of such an iconic Hoboken location. One article claimed "Schnackenberg's was from a different era and no longer fit in" and that a healthier eatery will be better received by Hoboken residents (even though there are plenty of juice bars and acai bowl places littered across the main street already).
Since Schnackenberg's is no more, I shot these photos at my local Johnny Rockets. While I still enjoy the vintage vibes of Johnny Rockets, it's just not the same as a local place like Schnackenberg's. And while Johnny Rocket's probably has a stronger chance of survival since it's a chain restaurant, it was still completely empty on a Sunday morning (prime brunch time in Hoboken). Moral of the story, we need to support old school eateries before they all become extinct.
If you'd like to shop my t shirt, you can find it here:
Tshirt: c/o One Round Jack
Cardigan: Kate Spade; Skirt: Vintage; Sneakers: Converse; Headband: American Apparel; Sunglasses: Hello Holiday
Location: Johnny Rockets (Hoboken, NJ)
These boots are made for walking...not running.
It's officially one week into 2019, and I can't help but feel a little aimless, specifically when it comes to my blog and social media. It could be the weather and the fact that the freezing cold weather leaves me really unmotivated to take photos. Or maybe it's the fact that I spent the majority of 2018 unemployed and hustling for a new full time job, which left me a bit burnt out. Or maybe it's because since New Years, everyone has been constantly posting about what they want to accomplish this year, which has left me feeling a bit overwhelmed. Whatever it is, I feel sort of stuck and haven't had much motivation or inspiration for how I want to move things forward. So far, I feel like everyone is off to the races and I'm just strolling behind.
I think posting about your intentions for the new year on social media can be great because it holds you accountable. Seeing what other people hope to achieve also motivates me to push myself and work harder. But the last week or so I've felt overwhelmed seeing everyones posts because it was so much all at once. I've written down goals for 2019, but after seeing everyone else intentions, I can't help but feel like what I hope to achieve is not enough and question if I could be doing more. I try to remind myself that there's no timeline on life and everyone's path looks different. Just because someone I follow on Instagram is going on vacation or starting a podcast this month doesn't mean that I can't do the same things later this year, next year or five years down the road. Or maybe I'll never do those things, because it's not something I'm truly passionate about, and that's okay too. Life is a marathon not a sprint.
Since I've been off to a slow start this year, I've been using this time to relax and brainstorm where I want to take my personal brand next. Now that I've reached 10k on Instagram (a major goal I had for my account) I've been thinking about my next goal. Of course I want to continue to grow my community and collaborate with brands to create content. However, this year, I'd prefer to accomplish something outside of Instagram that will still continue to cultivate my retro inspired lifestyle brand. Here are some ideas I have:
What would you be most interested in seeing? Or is there something else I didn't mention here you'd be into? Let me know, I'd love to hear it!
PS if you'd like to shop my boots you can find them here:
My dress is vintage from Mod and Fancy. You can check out their vintage shop here:
Boots: c/o King Tartufoli
Dress: vintage c/o Mod and Fancy
Location: Hoboken, NJ
I shot these photos for a campaign for Winc, a subscription based wine company. To give you a bit of background about how collaborations work, there is always a campaign brief with visual inspiration and requirements of do's and don'ts for the post and caption. Some brands are very specific with what they want, with strict requirements of how the photo should look or a word for word caption (which are usually the types of collaborations I turn down). Other brands are more lenient and give the content creator more creative freedom.
Shooting for a campaign is fun but can also be a bit nerve wracking because you usually have to submit your post for approval before it goes live on your social channels, so there's always a chance your work could be rejected. I always reread the campaign brief and requirements before I go out and shoot to make sure I'm getting what the brand is asking for. There are a lot of BYOB restaurants in Hoboken where I live, so I thought one of them would be a great backdrop for this campaign, to get a vintage, Sophia Loren inspired, Italian vibe. I was happy with the photos and video I created, but then I decided to take a look at the tagged photos on Winc's Instagram to see what other people were posting.
Almost every influencer's post I saw looked very similar, either them posing in their kitchen or under their Christmas tree with the box of wines they received from Winc. Suddenly, I started worrying if the brand would accept the content I submitted. I only featured one bottle of wine from the box, not all four. They never said all four bottles had to be in the photo, but that's what everyone else did. The brand also asked me to submit a video to post on my story. My video was more inspirational to set the mood, rather than informative, such as an unboxing video or me talking to the camera about Winc. Ultimately, the brand approved everything I submitted, but it got me thinking...
Are influencers even influential anymore?
The term influencer was coined because that's what influencers were, influential. They gained a following because there was something about them people liked, whether that was their style, personality, photography, etc. Now, being an influencer has become a career choice and people are quitting their full time jobs to peruse being an influencer. Being a "microinfluencer" myself, I know how much work goes into content creation, so I 100% respect it as a career. However, like any career, I don't think it's just something you can decide to be. It's something that takes practice, natural ability and a point of view. But now it feels like people who set out to become an influencer are taking a cookie cutter approach and thinking if they do x,y,z, they will in fact be an influencer.
Social media critics often say the influencer bubble is going to burst. While I agree that Instagram will not always reign as king, I don't think influencers are going anywhere anytime soon. Nowadays, people are watching more Netflix than they are cable, or spending more time watching YouTube tutorials than they are reading magazines. Traditional forms of advertising like TV commercials and print ads are dying out, so it makes sense businesses and brands are turning to social media to advertise. As a consumer, I've discovered brands or bought a product after seeing it on Instagram, which proves influencer marketing works. Sponsored posts don't necessarily have to be the most creative or entertaining to be effective (how many times have you seen a stupid commercial on TV, yet the message of the commercial sticks with you). However, I think influencers should strive to truly influence and inspire their audience, rather than just following the status quo. After all, you'll never influence the world by trying to be just like it.
Beret: JJ Hat Center; Top: J.Crew: Scarf: Fred & Lulu; Earrings: Vintage
Location: Johnny Pepperoni's (Hoboken, NJ)
It's that week between Christmas and New Year's, when you don't know what day of the week it is or what exactly you should be doing. I've had off work this whole week, and it's been so nice to spend time with family, go to sleep without setting an alarm, and finally catch up on Season 2 of Mrs. Maisel. I'm also spending this week crossing things off my to do list, which includes boring things like going to the dentist and scheduling doctors appointments, to fun things like hemming some new vintage clothes and catching up on blog posts.
When it came time to write this post, I had a bit of writers block, even though I had several ideas for topics. I thought about writing about how to style quirky pieces, like this cat backpack I am wearing in these photos. I also thought about sharing my favorite Mexican restaurants in NYC (although this building says Corner Deli, this place is actually a Mexican restaurant and taco stand called La Esquina). Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines, so I could totally write a whole blog post on my go to spots. I thought about writing about the behind the scenes of this shoot. It was an absolutely freezing and windy day and I hurried to shoot these photos during my lunch break at work. I also thought about writing a post of blogging tips for shooting in the cold or how to prioritize creating content while working full time.
I know blogs are sort of a dying art form and Instagram is where most people consume content nowadays. However, I want to maintain this platform since it is completely my own. We all remember Myspace, and I don't want to spend so much time and energy creating content for a platform (aka Instagram) that could easily become extinct someday. I want the photos I produce to be inspiring, and the words I write here to be insightful or informative. If you could give me feedback on what you'd like to see on my blog (or Instagram too), I would love to hear it! More posts about vintage clothes and shopping? Links to shop products from modern but retro inspired brands? Things to do in NYC? Personal posts? Style Tips? Blogging Tips? Or something I haven't even mentioned here? I'd love to hear from you!
If you'd like to shop my backpack, you can find it here:
You can customize your bag with different colors too!
Backpack: c/o Aris Bags
Coat: Vintage; Top: Motel Rocks; Skirt: Forever 21; Tights & Thigh Highs: H&M; Loafers: Eastland Shoe; Beret: Beau xoxo
Location: La Esquina (SoHo, Manhattan)
It's been a long road to 10k. I started growing my Instagram at the end of 2015 and started my blog in 2016. I know 10k isn't a big following at all, and many people have surpassed this number in a shorter amount of time. However, 10k was still a goal I was working towards, and I wanted to acknowledge it. And the fact that I hit 10k just a few days before my birthday made it even better! I wrote a little post with 10 things I learned about myself, social media and any creative endeavor on the way to this milestone.
stay true to your own style:
It can be tempting to alter your style just to conform with what's popular at the moment, whether that's the clothes you wear, the way you edit your photos, how you pose, or the language you use in your captions. During the last few years on Instagram, there's been several big trends I've noticed. First it was the white/minimalist look, then it was the super colorful trend, now it's the "Tezza look" (photos inspired by, or sometimes flat out copied from @tezza) as I like to call it: overly grainy photos with an orange colored filter and editorial style poses. However, all trends are fleeting, so it's best to just stay true to who you are because no trend, no matter how popular, is permanent. If you're jumping on a trend that's not true to who you really are, it will be really difficult to evolve with it.
seek inspiration elsewhere:
Instagram has become so formulaic, especially when it comes to influencers. Everyone's photos, language and style has started to blend together because we're all in this bubble. It's so easy to be influenced by what we see on Instagram (even if it's subconscious) when we spend so much time on it every day. I try to get outside of the bubble and seek inspiration elsewhere. Whether that's Pinterest or Tumblr, movies or music, or visiting a museum.
stay in your own lane:
It's so easy to look at what others are doing and feel like you need to do the exact same things to be successful, especially when what everyone is doing is on display for all to see on social media. I've been tempted to do things like participate in loop giveaways or start monetizing my blog through affiliate sales because it seemed like that's what I was SUPPOSED to be doing to be a successful blogger. But everyone has their own path for success, especially when it comes to blogs and social media.
slow and steady wins the race:
I've definitely felt envious of girls whose follower counts grow in leaps and bounds. However, most of the tactics they use are not beneficial in the long run. It can be tempting to participate in a loop giveaway to see your follower count grow by thousands overnight, but that's not a good solution because these people don't engage with your posts, which throws off your numbers and looks fishy to brands. Trust yourself and the process and know that hard work pays off in the end and if it's too good to be true, it probably is.
create your own opportunities:
As with anything else in life, there are always going to be people who seemingly have things handed to them. But that doesn't mean that they're the only ones who can be successful. I got a "late" start to the influencer game. The girls who have been doing it longer than me of course have an easier time getting collaborations and get approached by brands more frequently or have managers to secure deals for them because they have a bigger following. But that doesn't mean there's not room for me too, it just means I have to work a little harder to get noticed. I pitch myself to brands all the time. Sometimes they say no or don't respond, but sometimes they say yes too! Which brings me to my next point...
don't be afraid to hear the word no:
Don't be afraid to initiate contact between a brand or person. The worst that someone can say is no or not respond. And just because someone says no or doesn't respond, doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. It could be something as simple as your email getting overlooked or the brand not having a budget at the moment. Don't take it personally!
don't be afraid to say the word no:
When you're first getting started it can be tempting to agree to every brand collaboration or RSVP yes to every event. But it's important to be selective with these offers so your personal brand doesn't get diluted and to not burn yourself out. There will always be more events or more collaborations coming your way. When approached by a brand and given a campaign brief, if I can't think of a good idea for content after I sleep on it that night, I usually pass on the opportunity. If you have to think about it too much, it's probably not a good fit.
numbers aren't everything:
I often hear other influencers or bloggers say they're afraid to reach out to brands and companies because of their follower count or engagement rate. But numbers aren't everything. Brands will want to work with you if you create amazing content or are professional and pleasant to work with. Just like the film industry, you could be the most popular actress, but if you're difficult to work with, have a bad reputation in the industry, or don't deliver results, they won't want to work with you. Being extra creative and having good communication skills can make up for a lack of followers or engagement.
experiment with things:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Social media is constantly evolving, so something that worked for you in the past may not work for you now. If something's not working anymore, try something completely different because you have nothing to loose. Social media, like many creative endeavors, is basically throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
don't worry about everything being perfect:
I can be a perfectionist, so a lot of times I'm not completely satisfied with my work, but I still force myself to post it and move on. My boss always references this Maya Angelou quote, and I think it can be applied to anyone who has a side hustle.The quote goes, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We're always growing and evolving and if you wait until everything is perfect, you'll never get anywhere.
Photos by Madeleine
Dress: c/o Unique Vintage
Tights: H&M; Bracelet: Kate Spade; Shoes: Steve Madden; Beret: Beau xoxo
Location: Washington Square Park (West Village, Manhattan)
Last week I announced a giveaway with Hadron Epoch to give one of my followers these cute products from their line, which includes adorable macaron magnets, a set of ice cream notebooks and a 2019 planner. Getting this new planner in the mail got me thinking about what I've accomplished in 2018 and what I'm hoping to achieve in 2019.
2018 was definitely an...interesting year. I was unemployed for six months, which lead me to transition out of working in fashion and into a completely new industry. I like to believe everything happens for a reason. My new job has definitely taken some getting used to, and I still feel like I'm trying to get the hang of it, but overall I feel like maybe I had to get laid off in order to make this transition into a new industry that is a better fit for me.
And although having a break from working was nice, being unemployed pretty much overshadowed my entire year and finding a new job became my biggest focus. Although I had to put some bigger goals on hold, like traveling as much as I originally wanted to or opening up a 401k, I accomplished a lot of personal goals, like hitting 10k on Instagram, being an extra on a tv show, and going back to dance classes. I think it's important to remember to view these little personal goals as accomplishments too.
Now I'm starting to think about what I want to accomplish for 2019. I definitely want to continue to expand my Darling in Dots brand, whether that's growing my following, creating my own products, or publishing some how to guides. What would you like to see from me in the new year? I also definitely want to plan some trips that I had to put on hold last year, some places on my list are Palm Springs and Texas (Dallas & Austin). I also want to continue to grow and improve at work.
What are your goals or resolutions for the new year?
PS if you'd like to shop Hadron Epoch, you can use my code darling15 for 15% off your order!
Dress: vintage; Beret: Beau xoxo; Tights: Target; Shoes: Eastland Shoe
Location: Woops Bakeshop (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
It was pretty ironic that I was taking photos in front of a boxing gym last week, because by the end of this shoot, I actually felt like punching someone...
As most of you know by now, I usually shoot my photos with just myself and a tripod. Last Thursday, I woke up early to shoot this t-shirt from One Round Jack before work. I headed to Overthrow, a popular, retro inspired boxing gym here in NYC, which isn't far from my office. I set my purse down on a door step, off to the side, and got set up and started shooting. While I was shooting, a guy tried to go in through the door where my purse was, but couldn't because it was in the way. I moved it so he could go in, then put it back and continued taking photos.
A few minutes later, he tried to come back out the door again, but couldn't because my purse was in the way again. He kept jamming the door against my purse, so I ran over to move it again. My foot accidentally hit the tripod, knocking it over. I tried to grab it, but at the same time a woman was walking by and got in my way so I couldn't catch it fast enough. The camera and tripod hit the ground, and since the lens was extended, it jammed, making the camera unusable.
The guy ended up going around and exiting from a door on the other side. When I came out I told him he caused me to break my camera. All he gave me was a lackluster "sorry" and walked away, which made me feel even worse about the situation. I was so tempted to throw the camera on the ground and smash it, since I would need an entirely new camera anyway. I was having a bad week already, and this was just the icing on the cake. I pretty much had a mental breakdown on the street and called my mom upset.
I was miserable for the rest of the morning. Even though I knew it was an accident, I beat myself up with ways I could have prevented this from happening. I should have gotten a sturdier tripod, I should have just stopped and been satisfied with the photos I had already gotten, I shouldn't have put my purse in that spot. I dug myself into a hole of negative thoughts, not just about the situation with my camera, but about myself.
Then when I was out getting lunch later that day, I saw something that put things into perspective for me. What I saw made me remember that it was just a camera and I shouldn't get so upset about material objects. The purpose of this post is not for sympathy or to complain, but just to give you some back story behind these photos. I saw something recently on Instagram that said, people only post about their successes on social media, not their failures, which is so true. I think it's important to publicly share our struggles from time to time to remind one another that we're only human.
If you'd like to shop my t-shirt, you can find it here:
T-Shirt: c/o One Round Jack
Cardigan: Vintage; Skirt: May 68; Tights H&M; Shoes: Eastland Shoe; Bow: Claires
Location: Overthrow Boxing Club (NoHo, Manhattan)
Lately I've been reflecting on my personal style and how it comes across to people through Instagram. I am constantly examining my feed and thinking of ways I can improve it. Ideas for improvement often come from observing what works on other people's pages. It seems like girls who wear the same color in every photo or perfectly primped pinups grow in leaps and bounds, while my account is moving forward at snail speed.
Of course feeds that are extremely cohesive are eye catching and are probably more likely to make you turn that "follow" button from blue to white. However, I have to ask myself, are these feeds even inspiring? Yes, when you first stumble upon them they look like a work of art. But then once you are following them, they become so predictable. Thinking about some of these cohesive feeds that I follow, of course I enjoy their photos, but it's rare that the photos from these accounts ever truly inspire me because they are so formulaic.
I think I have a recognizable style, but sometimes I feel like it's all over the place. Some days I look straight out of the sixties, and others I'm more modern with just a touch of vintage. Some days I'm All-American and others my inner Francophile comes out. But one thing I do know is that I am authentic and stay true to myself. I'm not going to confine myself to wearing one color or one decade just for the sake of social media.
If you'd like to shop my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Beret: Beau; Purse: No Fakes; Belt: J. Crew; Shoes: Steve Madden
Location: Roxy Hotel (TriBeCa)