Thursday, December 5, 2013

Arlene's Autograph

This autograph signifies a lot for me, and not just because its from a Canadian celebrity.

That’s part of it, of course, but its not the real reason Arlene fascinates me. Yes, she may be on T.V, but no, she’s not famous for nothing like a Kardashian or because she was randomly selected to be on a reality show. Arlene is famous for her business smarts and her life story, and that fascinates me. 

I’ve always admired and been inspired by her dedication, outlook on life, and realness. Although her struggle differs from mine, I feel like we have similar stances and characters, thus making her someone I can both look up to and relate to. The main point she made in her speech was to have the strength and confidence to believe in yourself. “It doesn’t matter what people expect of you, its about what you expect of yourself.” She openly admitted that this is probably her toughest struggle, and I am not shy to say it is also mine.  We are often our own biggest critic and it is extremely difficult to always believe that not only do you deserve everything that you want, but that you are in fact capable of achieving it. I am extremely terrified of failure and not living up to expectations (whether it be my own or someone else’s). Arlene’s advice that she offers her children is to adopt a mind frame of “What is the worst that could happen?” They then turned the tables on her and offered her a piece of her own advice when she was going to refuse to audtioin for Dragon’s Den, but more on that later.

Another, less obvious, take away that I got from her talk was a common theme in many of her stories, and essentially an extension of her point of believing in yourself: have the confidence to not only believe in yourself, but to be yourself. Most of her success can be attributed to moments where she unapologetically and genuinely being herself. 

She first told us about a job interview she went on for a sales position. The interview was done as a favor to her, and the interviewer made that overly apparent. She went into the interview well aware of this and decided to just get some experience out of it anyway. When the interviewer began really grilling her, he began to also grind her gears with his pretentious attitude and she through caution to the wind and let him know exactly what she really thought.  I’m sure you can see where this story is going. By brazenly being herself, he saw some tenacity in her and to her shock and surprise, gave her the job.

Fast forward to many years later. She's already achieved great success with Venture Communications, and the folks over at Dragon’s Den give her a call and want her to audition. Again, she didn’t really see it as a real opportunity and only went because her kids convinced her to, with a more or less “why not” approach.  She gets on set, focuses all of her attention on helping out the other ladies fend off Kevin’s cynical comments, and finally the producers hint that they actually want to hear from her as well, and boy do they ever. She lost sight of the camera, crews and people and really gave Kevin a piece of her mind (for the first time, but defintley not the last). She didn’t care or have concern for making it on the show, just fought for justice and in doing so, let her real opinions shine through. We all know where this story ended up. Now, 5 years later, she graces our T.V. screens on a daily basis as one of the daunting Dragons.  
Another concept she explained that really resonated with me was that of luck. Not to rely on it, but to recognize it. She admits that some situations she found herself in were due to a stroke of good luck, but what she did with those opportunities was what made all the difference and caused her success. If you want to be successful you can’t just sit back, relax and wait for that stroke of luck to hit. It doesn’t quite work that way. You have to work your butt off, keep your eyes peeled for those lucky chances, and then work your butt off even more to take advantage of them.  

Lady luck was definitely on my side when I won tickets to go see her. I had heard last minute that she was coming to town, but tickets were too expensive, I didn’t want to have to ask for the time off work, and I managed to find millions of excuses not to put myself out there and go after what I really wanted. The truth? I was dying to see her. I entered a few contests anyways, and was secretly hoping the universe would show me that I did indeed need to attend this. Lo and behold, I won the tickets, proceeded to jump for joy (multiple times, in my office, where no one had a clue who she was and everyone thought I was absolutely nuts) because I knew that fate had intervened, and that I was destined to actually see my idol in person. Her message really spoke to me and I know I was meant to experience this today.

I leave you with a few fun facts and quotes that Arlene shared with us:

-She was actually one of the “first” inventors of the fruit roll up. When she suffered from poverty, her sole source of food was from her gardens so she had a machine to dehydtrate them and essentially make fruit roll ups for her children.

-All of the Dragon’s have failed at math. I loved hearing this one and it only further confirmed that yes, I could be a dragon too.

-"My family was quite dysfunctional and that's what made me a great marketer." She explained how this taught her how to hone her listening skills, which leads to "Sometimes what people say isn't' exactly what they mean."For a variety of reasons, people might have difficulty expressing themselves and the art of listening means to also hear whats not being said. Try to figure out what people mean, not just what they say.

-"Stop and look at where you are, not just where you're going." Arlene brought this point home by describing  a visual of her and her father in London, on their journey from South Africa to Canada, and him teaching her how to really stop and smell the flowers, enjoy the moment you are in and appreciate every moment of it. The image she had of the London skyline in that moment is forever imprinted in her mind. 

Of course I am completely biased, but not only is Arlene an excellent storyteller, but an amazing public speaker as well, and I'm not basing this on my biased opinion alone. I gauged the audience throughout her presentation and I daresay that almost every single person in the audience was completely captivated throughout her speech. 

There are not many people on this planet I would actually pay to see, but she is one of them. If I have the opportunity to see her speak again, I will attend, regardless of the cost. Another lesson she left us with: don't attribute a monetary cost to things of sentimental/emotional value. 

A genuine, business minded woman with a warm heart, Arlene is without a doubt an inspiration. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

(Little) Black (Dress) Friday

It's been a while since I've written a post, let alone a fashion one, so what better time to do so than on the shopping holiday du jour (literally) Black Friday?

I have mixed emotions about Black Friday. Emotions that range on extremities, actually.  It's a deadly combination of two of the things I feel strongest about…amazing deals and aggravating crowds. I'm sure you can figure out which I love and which I loathe. Therefore Black Friday is somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for me.

This year I stumbled upon the perfect plan, accidentally. I found myself in the mall on Thursday evening, where all of the pre-Black Friday sales (basically just the actual sales starting early) were happening. Same deals, empty mall? Don't mind if I do!

What did I get? Well, I managed to get not one, but two LBDs. One can never have too many, right? Wrong. I do have too many, and a heck of a lot more than two too many. I did, however, justify these purchases.

This LBD that borders on conservative is from Dynamite, and I justified it because 1) it is such a classic design that can easily take me from day to night, work to weekend, 2) it fits me like a glove. Not to toot my own horn but I daresay it fits me better than the model in the photo (god bless curves). The reason I do have so many LBDs is because this is usually such a problem. None fit perfectly, and if you lose or gain 5 pounds all goes to hell. This one surprisingly fits not one, but all of my curves, and it's stretchy to boot (thus ensuring it'll fit even with the 5 pound fluctuation). 

This second dress is from Forever 21, and well, it was 9 bucks. 
I'm thinking it'll be my holiday party staple this year. 

Two LBDs, two different styles. How many LBDs do you think are too many? 

On a completely unrelated note, the word nerd in me came out in full force this pre-Black Friday. (Black Thursday?) I had bought one of these mugs a few weeks back, and have been coveting the rest ever since. Yesterday they had a fateful #B3G4 (buy 3 get 4) sale and well, I caved. 

I'm a sucker for a good quote and a good cup o' tea, so it's no wonder temptation struck and did it ever strike hard. I felt like each and every single one of these mugs spoke to me. I now own 5 of these bad boys and it is ridiculous how happy they make me. One was even fit for the Eternal Optimist with a quote of "The glass is always half full". 

We couldn't of said it better. Happy shopping!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lots of Luv for Tulum

Ever had so much to say that you don't even know where to begin? That 's what I've been experiencing as of late...I've been here in Mexico for almost one month now and it has been a whirlwind since the get go. So instead of trying to sum up everything and anything that I've experienced thus far, I'll first give a rundown of my "vacation" in Tulum. (Some may argue that my entire time here is a vacation, I would respond with a "enjoy the cold weather, suckers!")

Upon arriving in Mexico on September 1st, the plan was to take a quick, much needed vacation. I spent two nights and three days there and although it wasn't my first time visiting, I have to admit I fell in love with this oasis all over again.

Tulum is one of my absolute favourite places in the Yucatan Peninsula for multiple reasons:

1. It's not too touristy. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and even Riviera Maya have become way too overpopulated with gringos tourists and spring breakers for my taste. Being in Cancun/Playa del Carmen is pretty much the same as being in Miami, and no, I did not choose to visit good ol' US of A, I chose to visit Mexico. Everything in Cancun is in USD for pete's sake! We are in Mexico, try pesos. The beaches are overcrowded, everything is americanized and it's just not the type of vacation I'm looking for, personally.

2. And the tourists that are there are a different type of tourist.  You won't find the obnoxious americans, or rambunctious college kids in Tulum. What you will find are the hippies, the yogis, the Europeans, the calm, cool and collected tourists that are seeking an authentic and tranquil experience. In my opinion, it's great company to be in and I have met at least one insanely interesting person each time I've went.

3. The closest thing to virgin beaches you are going to get. Any beach that was any where near being a virgin beach has been commercialized and cut up (think Playa del Carmen). In Tulum you simply feel like you could possibly be among the first people there, I am so thankful that they have preserved it to this standard.

Although I could gush for days on how enamoured I am with Tulum, those are my without a doubt the top reasons for my infatuation.  The hotel we stayed at was called Luv Tulum, and I loved it.  It was one of many of the cabaña type hotels in the area. I loved the ecologocial style of the whole place, even though it was a little bit of adjustment to how I usually live. For example, there was barely any light to be found past 8pm, anywhere.  The website even warns "Please note that the hotel's use of low voltage electricity forbids the use of electric hair styling equipment." Goodbye curling iron, helloooo afro. It had approximately 10 rooms and a lovely little restaurant/hang out spot with panoramic views of the ocean. 

It wasn't the ideal climate while we were there, but honestly I didn't mind. September is the rainy/stormy season and boy, did Mother Nature ever rear her ugly head. One evening it was so rough I thought the top was literally going to fly off of our cabaña. That didn't happen but it did rain hard enough to go straight through it and create large puddles in our room, which was rather inconvenient. The best of the storm was the lightening. Experiencing this weather on the ocean brings it to a whole new level. One evening there was no rain, just constant lightening high in the sky over the ocean, that filled the entire surrounding area with an amazing rainbow coloured light show. Not only was it gorgeous, it definitely helped with that whole "no light after 8pm" thing. 

Despite the cloudy weather, Mother Nature did leave me with a nasty surprise The morning after leaving Tulum I woke up with one of the most painful, intense sunburns I have ever had. I'm talking lobster red, hurts to wear clothing burn. I couldn't go out in public for my first week in Mexico, let's just leave it at that. Always wear your sunscreen kids, especially if you are a ghastly white Canadian! 

A few snapshots of lovely Tulum 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Different Kind of September

For me, September usually equals a new school year, (hopefully) new clothes, and the coming of the autumn season.

This September holds a different set of cards for me. I will not be returning to school, I will, gasp, finally be graduating. About time, eh? With the closing of one lengthy, diverse experience comes the beginning of a new one.  Although it may not be an academic adventure, I will be embarking on a different kind of quest this September.

Instead of breaking out my cozy sweaters and necessary knits in preparation for the transitional weather, this September 1st I will be heading to the land of eternal summer, a.k.a Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for an undetermined period of time.

Why, you ask? Simply put, because I can.

For the first time in my almost twenty five years on this planet I will be free educational constraints. For the first time I can do whatever  I want, versus what I assume that I need. And what I want, for the time being, is simply that. I want time.

I will be back in Canada for my convocation in November, for a few weeks. Don't ask me the dates because I don't know yet.  Maybe you think its careless, I prefer carefree. Not that I am free of cares, but I am free to do what I want when I want, and that my friends, is a glorious thing.

Ya, now that I'm graduating I could settle into a comfy, predictable government job. But instead of seeing oppression, I see opportunity. I quite literally have nothing holding me back. No student loans, no mortgage payments, heck, I don't even have a car. My largest and longest running responsibility and commitment has been my cell phone bill, and I hate to break it to you Telus, but after these 6 roller coaster years of our relationship I think it's about time we see other people.

So, as my life takes a turn for the uncertain, as does my blog. Of course the element of fashion will remain, you couldn't remove it if you tried. But my blog will now focus more-so on my experiences living, playing and working as a Canadian in the beautiful colonial city of Merida, Mexico.

Stay tuned for tales of tacos, tamales and tardiness. Nos vemos en Mexico!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Change Would Do You Good

I have been neglecting my poor little blog big time lately. There has just been so much going on so quickly that I can barely keep up myself, let alone keep you guys filled in. So, I deemed it an appropriate time to put my blog through a little revamping and rebranding. Don't worry, the fashion stuff will stick around (couldn't kick the fashionista out of me even if I wanted to) but the direction will change a bit to better reflect what is going on in my life.

Change can be a really, really scary thing. One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my 20 odd years on this planet is how to adapt to it. Change is going to happen no matter what, regardless of whether you run from it or embrace it, so why not just go with the flow? You can't conquer anything that you don't accept, right?

So on the subject, I'm interested to know how often do you change? How often do you update your blog, website etc, or rebrand? Have you gone through a makeover of any kind recently? What have been your results? (a.k.a what do I have to look forward to?)

Fill me in! And stay tuned to find out what changes I will be implementing, in both my life and my blog. It's exciting, it's scary, which also means it should be interesting.

Here's to hoping those changes will do me good! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Nails & New Business

Oh hey blog! How you been? I've kind of neglecting you lately, I'm so sorry about that...I've been busy...I know that's what they all say, but its true I swear!

So, where the heck have I been? Well, I'm in the works of starting my own business, a PR agency entitled Bowda PR, Communications & Consulting, which has been eating up most of my time! So much so that I haven't blogged in FAR too long.

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle I did manage to find some time to make it out to the Koku Nail Bar grand opening event last Thursday evening at St. Laurent Centre.  First of all, let me just tell you how much I appreciated the location. As an Orleans dweller, I have a love-hate relationship with my 'burb. It is literally in the middle of nowhere and all of these events that happen downtown Ottawa are not overly feasible for me to attend. But St. Laurent, St. Laurent is actually on my way home and probably my most visited mall. And now I had a perfect excuse to drop by.

Koku Nail Bar is a new venture in salon services. They offer express mani pedis right in the middle of the mall, making it perfect for that working girl/mom/student on the go. With a team consisting of Mr. Fadi Ghaby and Marilou Moles, better known as 20 York Street behind this new venture, I had no doubt this was going to be an event worth attending. Their highlighted service is an express mani that costs 11$ and also only 11 minutes. I don't know about you but I don't know of any salon in the city, let alone the province that offers prices or services to match that.

I'll let you in on a little secret, I actually visited the Koku Nail Bar before the big event. I wanted to see what I was in for! One Friday night my friend Katherine and myself decided for a little weekend pampering and hit up Koku Nail Bar. Our experience? It was in fact only 11 minutes and 11$ and the lovely ladies behind the nails were just fabulous! Lisa Holden has to be one of the best nail artists, or as her twitter profile boasts, "nail tech extraordinair". Lisa, I can confirm that that title is nothing short of the truth!

On the big opening night Lisa  worked her magic on my nails yet again and even provided me with some oh-so appropriate nail art for my new business, Bowda. Check out my Bowda bows below!

Overall the event was a fabulous success. I even won a gift card for a full mani! And I never win anything, so maybe my luck has improved by Koku. I saw some new faces, and beloved old ones, and as with every event here in Ottawa, was able to put a few more faces to twitter handles.

Oh and the best part? The event wasn't just for ladies, oh no, men can get their mani on as well! Just ask one Nick Bachusky, he certainly did. We tried to convince to settle for a hot pink but he regrettably refused. If you ask me I think he is just saving it for his next trip.

Thank you again Marilou, Fadi, Lisa and all of the Koku team for the fab evening, awesome Bowda nails and the great experience! I will defintley be back, and not just because I have a gift certificate.

If you want to check out all the fun look up the hashtag #locoaboutkoku. There was no shortage of tweets or instagramming that evening so enjoy!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

#GoBillings = Go Shopping!

If you have been anywhere near Twitter or Instagram over the past few days, then this hashtag probably rings a bell. The little local mall, Billings Bridge, has literally taken over the social networks this week with their Instagram contest and party. This afternoon I dropped by Billings for the first time ever to join in on the fun.

Upon arriving I was greeting by the lovely Samantha of Starfish Events, where she proceeded to snap a few pics with me and even allow me the honour of being interviewed about myself and my blog, so stay tuned for that. At the festivities were tasty treats for your sweet tooth (my favourite kinds...cookies and candy), a deejay pumping the beats and an Instagram wall filled with the photos from the contest. Billings did an awesome job of making us normal folk feel like minor celebrities for a day, with our handicraft up on display awaiting our autographs.

Before I proceed with spilling the details of my shopping haul, I'll let you in on a little secret. One of the best perks of Billings? Free Wifi! Oh yes. This is a cherished item for our generation, and sadly isn't given out very often. The perks of this? I am actually bringing this blog post to you live from Billings' adorable little food court. Nothing like on the spot reporting, eh? I am constantly baffled by the beauties of technology these days. Call me fuddy duddy but back in my youthful days this was most definitely not possible, let alone a "thing".

Alright, alright, so what did I buy? I settled on two statement necklaces from Le Chateau, a pair of coral polka dot jeans from Smart Set (on sale for 25$) and well, underwear was on for 3/10$ at La Senza so naturally I couldn't turn that down!

Another perk, running into Emily of Tinfoil Tiaras! She snagged some fantastic necklaces I was eyeing over at Smart Set, but thanks to her suggestion I decided to mozy on over to Le Chateau where I found some other stunning statement necklaces. Check out her blog to see what she found at Billings, she is an accessory addict so expect many pretty pieces (and check out her clothing room, it is to die for!)

Did you guys attend? What do you think of my finds? What is your favourite store at Billings? The contest runs until Sunday so you still have a few hours to get snapping!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Out with the old, in with the Instagram!

This Saturday I'm going to a party and I want you to come with me. Yes, you! And you. Even you over there in the corner. It is kind of a unique type of party, but you will love it, I swear. It is actually an Instagram party, my first ever surprisingly, considering I am such an addict. I do love Instagram. And when I say love Instagram I mean I love Instagram. It is my latest and greatest addiction and I don't think it is going anywhere anytime soon. I mean, it is absolutely brilliant. The only thing I really do on Facebook is scroll through the pictures anyways, so I was beyond pleased to discover this fabulous new app that was solely for photos (with flattering filters to make you look extra fabulous). Billings Bridge is clearly way ahead of the game and picked up on this trend. They have created an Instagram contest to go along with the party, all you need to do to enter is snap 10 of your favourite spots and shots around the 613 area with the hashtag #GoBillings between May 22nd and May 26th. Don't forget to make sure that at least one of those pics is in front of your preferred Billings store! (They need to know where you will want to shop if you win the big prize, naturally!)

So what exactly is up for grabs if you do happen to be deemed "Ottawa's Greatest Mobile Photographer"? Um, bragging rights obviously! Other than that, you will also receive your very own Instagram Art Gallery showcasing your fabulous photos at Billings Bridge, as well as a feature in Metro all about you, $500 worth of photo products from photography experts Black's and last but most definitely not least, $500 gift card to Billings Bridge to shop at that favourite store of yours.

From snapping to spinning to swag, the party is going down this Saturday, May 25th at Billings Bridge and is entitled "Spin to Win. In the centre court of the shopping centre there will be a wheel that you will, clearly, spin and voila, win some swag. I personally am a sucker for free stuff. They say the best things in life are free, don't they?

Don't forget to Instagram your pics around town, you have until Sunday! Being the addict I am, I will definitely be following the #GoBillings hashtag and I look forward to stalking your amazing shots! This will actually be my first time visiting Billings Bridge and I am so excited (and slightly stressed for my wallet) to discover another shopping centre in the NCR. If you stop by on Saturday feel free to tweet me, I am always welcome to the idea of a new shopping buddy!

Now, get out there and get snapping. Like I even need another excuse to Instagram...but I will gladly take it! (Thanks Billings!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Va Va Vintage - Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

Just as spring finally began to sprung here in the 613, the city also preps for one of my most  favourite events held in our national capital, The Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show. Vintage, clothing, and my city ALL in the same sentence? Yes please!

There is just something about vintage clothing. That "je ne sais quoi", a certain va va voom factor that can't be acquired through modern day attire. Maybe it has to do with the fact that each unique item holds its own sassy story, or that that particular piece has stood the test of time. Whatever it is about vintage, I adore it. I also think it has something to do with fit. Vintage clothes are made for a woman's figure, which is not so much the case in 2013. I have curves, many of them actually and I love that vintage clothing allows me to embrace them, rather then curse them like current garments make me do. Viva la va va voom curves! 

Last season was my first time attending. Myself and a bunch of other fabulous fashion bloggers got together for brunch (some of them it was my first time actually meeting in person, its so great to finally be able to put a face to a twitter handle!) and afterwards we hit up the vintage show to see what stylish scores we could dig up. I personally found a great Burberry bag for a steal of a price. I am very, very pleased to announce that this year we are continuing the tradition. We are holding our bloggers brunch in the morn, will eat some breaky and indulge in a mimosa or two, and then hit up the show!

Check out my pics from last season! Burberry BagBloggers BrunchEmily, Laura & Marcia at the show

Now that I can (kind of) call myself a vintage show veteran, here are a few tips if you plan on attending: 

Wear your eyewear! If you need glasses or contacts, wear them when you go to the show! Vintage clothing is usually all about the details and you don't want to miss a single one. 

Bring cash $$$! Many vendors only accept cash, and the last thing you want to do is have to run out of the show and miss precious vintage scouring time, plus you don't want to deal with ATM fees! Better to save your hard earned dough for your vintage finds!

Layer up!  And dress comfortably. Raiding the racks among hundreds of other vintage hungry women is almost an extreme sport. Come prepared for the battle, and for "in the moment" try ones. Leggings are a good layering piece that works with shirts, dresses, anything!

Cut your coupons! If you thought the Vintage Show couldn't get more wonderful, you are so very wrong my friend. They offer a two dollar off coupon that they will send you via email a few days before the show here: Discount Coupon. They really have thought of everything. 

My last comment (before the show, don't worry I will have plenty more to say afterwards) is a huge kudos to the organizers for listening to the people. Today the Vintage Show's Facebook page posted a location change, and the reasons behind it are due to an overwhelming response from attendees about a few issues. The Vintage Show took it all in with ears wide open, and not only listened but delivered.  Last year the sun was a huge issue (we may not encounter this problem this year) and you almost needed sunglasses just to view the vendors. Heck, I was almost to the point of buying a pair just to be able to see what was going on. Also, the vendors booths were very crammed. There was not a lot of space to search and rescue pieces, and many people (myself included) just simple skipped booths to avoid the crowd. The organizers have addressed and acknowledged BOTH of these issues and are  giving the people what they want. Awesome customer service if you ask me. I cannot wait to see these improvements as well as all the show has to offer. 

So, all I have left to say is...will I see you there? If you see myself or any of the other bloggers attending feel free to come up and say hi and show us the treasures you found at the show! The show is this Sunday, April 28th.

You can find the show on Twitter: @613vintageshow and don't forget to use the hashtag #OVSfind!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H&M's Flower Power

For someone who calls them-self a fashion blogger, I don't do many outfit or OOTD posts. Maybe I can chalk it up to the winter and usually not wearing outfits worthy of photographing, or not having a tripod (or boyfriend around) to take pics. Whatever the reason, today I decided to give it a shot. It is finally starting to warm up outside, my boyfriend is visiting (a.k.a playing photographer) and I had a class presentation this morning so I had every excuse in the book to dress up. Oh, AND I had a new pair of pants. These are my very first pair of patterned pants. Last spring I invested in my first ever pair of pastel pants, and thought I would give be adventurous again this spring. Spring is for new things, right? Printed pants have always terrified me, even more than pastel ones. I feel like its just a magnifying glass on the worst parts of my body. I think these pants worked relatively well because 1) the print isn't too big or too small and 2) the black background makes it a little more neural. I picked up these pants, the bow bangle and the black t shirt with lace detail at H&M in Quebec City over the Easter weekend, which brings me to the second point of this blog post...


This morning Bayshore shopping mall confirmed that an H&M will be opening in fall of 2013 and all I can say is it is about time! 

Are you excited about the new H&M in our nation's capital? What do you think of my printed pants?