At the end of July, I did a little cottage core photoshoot in my mom's backyard while I was home for the weekend. Later that day, my 2 aunts (my mom's sisters) and my grandparents came over for a little birthday celebration (for my one aunt). Four weeks later at the end of August, I came home again after moving out of my apartment. When I got home, my mom broke the news to me that my one aunt was currently in the hospital as she had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and it was aggressive. I couldn't believe the words coming out of my mom's mouth. I had just seen her a month ago, how could she be that sick in just a matter of weeks?
I stayed at my mom's for a week then went back to NYC for 6 weeks. After my Airbnb stay in NYC was over, I came back home again. My plan was to do some laundry, repack, then head right to DC with my sister. But when we arrived home, my mom explained how dire the situation was, so I decided to cancel the next Airbnb I had booked in DC. My aunt passed away the next day.
While I was home again, I decided to do another cottage core photoshoot in the backyard, this time with a fall twist. It was surreal, honestly. I couldn't believe how it felt like just yesterday it was summer and I was taking photos on this same gingham picnic blanket, yet things were so different now.
If this year has taught me anything, it's to not take time for granted. I have a habit of wishing away time. I'm constantly looking forward to the weekend, to the summer, to vacations, to holidays. Especially this year, when there is so little to look forward to, it's so easy to daydream about the future and not appreciate the time we have in front of us. But my aunt's death has really put things in perspective for me and made me realize that life can be taken away from us without any warning.
Recently I've started to document the little things through journaling and film photography, and it's really helped me be more present and not rush through life. Looking back, I feel like I wished away my 20's, telling myself I'll be happy once I have a new job or have a boyfriend. Now that I'm in my 30's, I want to savor these years and not wish them away.
I've been a bit MIA on social media the last couple weeks because I've had a lot going on personally. One reason is because I moved out of my apartment at the end of August after living there for the last 7 years. It was the apartment I moved into when I got my first job after graduating college and had been there ever since. For those who don't know, I lived in Hoboken, NJ, which is right across the Hudson River, similar to living in Brooklyn or Queens. My first job was actually in New Jersey, not Manhattan, so at the time, I thought it made more sense to live in Hoboken rather than reverse commute from the city.
While Hoboken is a quaint little city and the home of Frank Sinatra, it was very small with not much to do. It was also very isolating. I lost touch with so many friends because I was the only one that didn't live in Brooklyn and was ghosted by so many guys as soon as they heard the word Hoboken. But year after year, I renewed my lease because the rent was cheap and stabilized, I had a washer and dryer in unit (a rarity) and because it was just easier to keep things status quo rather than take the risk of moving into a new place that might not be as good as my current apartment. I am a creature of habit. I always worry about making a wrong choice and when given the choice tend to stick with the familiar. But like many people, the pandemic forced me to re-evaluate and get out of my comfort zone.
Since the company I work for full time is still remote and will be until at least 2021, I didn't think it made sense to renew a lease on a place I wasn't 100 percent happy living in. Giving up an apartment I was so comfortable in was scary and I second guessed myself at times. But now 2 weeks later, I'm so happy with my decision to try something different. That was the apartment I spent my 20's in, and now that I'm 30, it felt like a good time to close that chapter.
Once things get a little more normal and I'm back in an office full time, I plan to look for a new apartment in Manhattan. In the meantime, I'm living a nomadic lifestyle, so I'll be staying in short term housing and won't be committing to a new long term lease. My first stop is NYC. I'm currently living and working remote in an Airbnb here until October, then will be going elsewhere. The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for so many people including myself, which at first was very stressful. However, instead of fighting this, I decided to embrace it and go with the flow. Being a nomad right now will give me more flexibility to live where is safest with the pandemic as well as try living in different places I wouldn't have the opportunity to otherwise if the pandemic hadn't happened.
As you can see from these photos, the cottage core aesthetic has gotten to me, so I decided to do a picnic photoshoot a few weeks ago. Cottage core is often synonymous with white flowing dresses and neutral color palettes, some things that aren't exactly my style, so I decided to put my own twist on the trend. I had ordered this green gingham bathing suit from J.Crew, but sadly the top was a bit too small. I still loved the color and print, so I wanted to find a way to make it work. I decided to style it with a white button up shirt, beret and vintage scarf, for a casual French vibe. I thought the mini green gingham would pair nicely with my big gingham picnic blanket. To complete the French vibe I of course added some fruit and a baguette.
I haven't felt like taking pictures or being creative on the internet much over the last couple months, so it was nice to be able to blast some Brigette Bardot in the backyard and get into this shoot. When the pandemic first hit, social media was my escape and I would spend my weekends taking pictures and making videos for Instagram and TikTok. As the summer progressed, Instagram became an extremely toxic place for me for a few reasons, so my motivation has not been there. Also, after being stuck indoors for so long in quarantine, I am taking every opportunity to be outside and off my phone. I'm spending my time walking in the city, riding bikes, going out to eat with friends, trying to take advantage of any sense of normalcy while the infection rates in NYC are low and the weather is warm.
My lack of appetite for social media has made me crave finding creativity in other avenues. I've been trying to make more time for reading and learning French on Duolingo. I started watching some classic old-Hollywood films that have been on my watchlist forever. I recently fixed my sewing machine and started sewing again. I've also been thinking about getting into journaling. A few years ago, I couldn't go a day without making time to scroll through my Instagram feed. My obsession was actually unhealthy, because I would have to scroll to the very last post I saw from the last time I was online. Now I go days without scrolling through my feed. It feels good not to have FOMO about what's happening on social media and finding enjoyment in other creative endeavors for the first time in a while.
Although NYC is still on lockdown and the Coronavirus has certainly not disappeared, it feels like we're slowly closing the chapter on COVID-19 (for now anyway). I think I'm feeling this shift for a few reasons. Although the threat of the virus is still very real, the number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths have all significantly dropped in my area. I think it's also due to the fact that people are trying to reclaim as much normalcy as they can, especially now that Memorial Day has passed and summer is officially here. And most importantly, with the Black Lives Matter protests that have irrupted in the last week, it feels like Coronavirus has taken a back seat in comparison.
This time period will undoubtedly go down in history for many reasons, but it was definitely a time for personal growth and reflection as well. In some ways, quarantine felt like a time I'd want to erase from my memory forever, but I think it's important to document what you learned and felt, so I wanted to commemorate it with a blog post:
favorite TV shows + movies I watched:
favorite quarantine activity: TikTok
I downloaded TikTok over the summer, but I really didn't "get it". I thought it was for high schoolers, and I really couldn't imagine what kinds of videos I could create on there. Since I had more time during quarantine, I finally spent more time on the app and I understood it more. It's been fun to experiment with, and there are honestly some hilarious videos on there, which provided some much needed laughs during this dark time. I know a lot of people on Instagram said they felt like they had no energy to be creative during the pandemic, but for me, creating for social media was a great distraction.
something I accomplished:
Although I gave myself permission to not be productive 100% off the time while in quarantine, I did use this time to finally do a few things I had been putting off for months. One of those things on my to-do list was to design merchandise. I have been thinking about designing my own t-shirts, tote bags, pins, etc for a while now, and I finally got around to it. It took a few weeks for the samples to arrive, but they finally did last week, so I've started photographing them so I can post about them soon. I'm really excited to finally see my ideas come to life.
something I learned:
Pre-quarantine, I was constantly on the go, especially on weekends. I am someone who always aims to make the most out of life. I never want to feel like I missed out on something or that I let time or an opportunity pass me by, so my weekends are rarely spent at home just relaxing and watching Netflix. When quarantine first hit, I couldn't imagine sitting home for the ENTIRE weekend, and now here we are, 12 weeks later, every weekend spent at home.
At first, thinking about having to stay home and not being able to go out to a restaurant or museum or vintage store made me feel claustrophobic, but when it came down to it, I actually didn't hate being home as much as I thought I would. Most of this is probably due to the fact that everyone I know was at home, so I couldn't have FOMO. However, I also realized I didn't actually hate cooking or relaxing at home, like I had previously proclaimed. In reality, I had been avoiding being in my own apartment because my current roommate and her boyfriend were constantly there, acting as if it was their own apartment. She's since moved out and now having a taste at living alone, I realize how much happier and relaxed it would make me, so figuring out how to make this happen is a goal I'm currently trying to work on.
some photos I'm proud of:
Taking photos while restricted to my apartment or my mom's house was challenging, but I managed to take a few photos that I'm proud of. Here are a few of my favorites:
As of writing this post, it's been 3 full weeks now since I’ve been in self quarantine in my apartment. Like everyone I’m sure, I’ve had ups and downs. Some moments I feel good, happy to have time to sleep in and do laundry without feeling like I should be out in the city doing something more exciting. But some moments the anxiety creeps in, thinking about the uncertainty around all this and wondering when it will end. Not to mention the fear of the actual virus and what it’s doing to so many people around the world.
I’ve seen some girls on Instagram saying they haven’t been inspired to create through all of this, but for me, creating has been the thing keeping me sane. I took these photos the first weekend in quarantine, wearing a new skirt and shirt I thrifted a few weeks prior. I’m also one of those millennials who has joined TikTok since being in quarantine. I’m having a lot of fun figuring out this new platform and putting together little videos. There’s also some hilarious videos on there, which have been providing me some much needed comic relief.
Overall, as someone who is constantly out and about, I thought I would struggle during this time being stuck at home, but I’ve actually been enjoying my alone time. Although I can't wait to get back to thrift shopping, checking out new museum exhibits and meeting friends for food and drinks again, it's been kind of nice to be forced to slow down for a few weeks and has made me appreciate the little things more.
I think it’s important to do things that make you happy during this time. Whether that’s sleeping in or working on a side project. You don’t have to push yourself to be productive 24/7 while in quarantine. You don’t have to come out of this fluent in a new language or with 6 pack abs. I think the most important thing to come out of this with is an appreciation for the things we used to take for granted.
PS: If you'd like the link to my socks, you can find them here.
Socks: c/o Tabbi Socks
Top & Skirt: Vintage
Saddle Shoes: Eastland Shoes via DSW
Labor Day was a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it wasn't a great "last day of summer" as it was a rainy day with bad storms, so I decided to stay indoors and shoot these photos. Ana Luisa, a jewelry brand, was kind enough to send me these earrings and necklace, so I centered the shoot around these pieces. The heart on the jewelry reminded me of a playing cards, so I decided to incorporate those into the shoot. I also got inspired of a photo of Brigette Bardot in the 1960's playing cards and smoking. The combination of the rain and Lana Del Rey's new album playing in my room made me really get into this shoot, so I spent a good chunk of the day trying to bring my vision to life.
Lately I've been changing my approach to how I take my photos and share them on social media. It's no secret that the Instagram algorithm can suck, and over the summer I felt like my engagement was low, and it made me not want to post or even taken photos as much. I'm starting to feel inspired again though, so I have been brainstorming ideas for shoots. However, I've begun to change my approach more as I move forward with these ideas. In the past, when I was trying to get to 10k followers on Instagram, I posted almost every day. I would post "filler photos" of things even if I knew they might not perform as well, just because I figured any time I would post was a new opportunity to gain followers. Now I'm trying to post fewer, more impactful posts, rather than posting something every day just for the sake of it. I've always tried to post with intent, but I've started embracing carousels and Instagram stories to really tell a story, rather than posting just one off photos.
I also want to continue adding as many of my photos to my blog and cross promote on Pinterest as well. Instagram is still fun, but to me, it feels like it's beginning to loose momentum a bit.
Jewelry: c/o Ana Luisa
If you'd like to check out the brand, you can find their website here.
Beret: old; Dress: Dolly and Dotty
Last week, I spent a couple days in Florida with my family. These photos are nothing new, you've likely seen them on my Instagram already, but I wanted to share them here as well. Lately, I've been wanting to post as much as I can on my blog, and not just on Instagram. When I first started my blog, Instagram was my main priority and my blog took a back seat. I always knew the importance of having your work somewhere online that you actually own, but even back in 2016 when I first started, blogs were already down trending. I'd pretty much only post there when a brand would send me an item and I'd take multiple photos for them. But going forward, I want to put as much as I can on my blog.
I don't think Instagram is going anywhere anytime soon, but lately it's not been somewhere I want to spend my time. It could be because it's summer and I don't want to be inside scrolling through my phone as much, but I've just also felt very uninspired lately. I used to feel excited to get home and scroll through my feed at the end of the day, but now I'm scrolling sort of out of obligation it feels like. There's not much content that excites me anymore. I know a lot of people are struggling with engagement and follower growth as well, which also makes me want to post less. It makes me feel like, what's the point in creating content if barely anyone sees it? It's also really frustrating seeing people with worse engagement than me or people who obviously buy fake followers/likes getting paid work.
Moral of the story, I'm still going to continue creating content because I love it, but especially for the summer, I'm going to take a more relaxed approach to it. I've been going out less with my tripod or dedicating chunks of my day to shooting different things, and just taking photos more in the moment with the help of friends or family. I want to work on making my blog a resource, and add more travel guides, tutorials and a FAQ page. I've also been trying to cross promote on Pinterest by uploading my more aesthetic type photos there as well. Lastly, I want to start thinking about my personal brand beyond Instagram. I have some ideas for products that I want to try to launch or host some kind of event.
Last week I announced that I was working with Grapevine to help change the landscape of social media and use my platform to help raise money for non-profits. I decided to write a little blog post with more information about what this partnership entails.
What is Grapevine?
Grapevine is a platform where you can donate to curated funds of non-profit organizations. The idea behind the platform is to connect with like minded people who have the knowledge and expertise to help you feel confident in your giving.
How did you get involved with Grapevine?
Grapevine is one of my clients at work. I connected with Emily, the Co-Founder of the company, a couple months back. After learning more about their business and how they were looking to work with influencers, she asked if I'd like to get involved and of course I said yes. I'm really excited about the opportunity to raise money for non-profits I care about and get my community involved.
What's in it for you?
Any donations you make would make me SO happy, but I do not financially profit in anyway from any donations.
What's in it for Grapevine?
Grapevine also doesn't take a cut from any donations. Similar to GoFundMe, they just charge a 3.9% processing fee for any donations. For example, if you made a $5 donation, you would be charged an additional 19 cents to process the payment. You can also leave a tip for Grapevine, but this is totally optional.
What's in it for me?
Besides feeling good about yourself for helping out some great causes, I'll be hosting giveaways periodically to reward those who donate. For every $1 you donate, that counts as 1 entry. If you donate $5 for example, that's 5 chances to win. If you donate, just send me a screenshot letting me know and I'll enter you in the giveaway.
What are the organizations we can donate to?
I have 2 funds, one for organizations who are saving the planet through secondhand style and one to protect some of my favorite animals who live on it (dogs, cats, rabbits, manatees and elephants to be exact).
Organizations in the Animal Fund:
Organizations in the Thrift Fund:
Well I want to help the elephants, but I don't like dogs. Can I pick which organizations I want to donate to?
Yes, you can donate to the entire animal or thrift fund, or just a particular organization.
I think that's it! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!
You can check out my fund here.
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)