Standing Room Only

I never know what to say when writing style posts and to be honest, this look is all Topshop from mid-shoulder to mid-calf. If you read my last post about traveling, this is the number one outfit NOT to wear to the airport. First of all, the jeans are high-waisted and sitting is a pain. This is also my first time in a bodysuit since third grade and I can't even imagine what it would be like in an airplane bathroom in this thing. So, basically...if you want a cute look to stand around in at a hightop while you drink your last rosé of the season or you want to do a quick drive-by to check out the scene at the San Gennaro Feast, this ensemble has your name written all over it.

The shoes though! They were a steal at DSW and I can't even find them online anymore. I specifically bought them so that I didn't look like a teenage boy from the 90s rocking some extra long Southpole jean shorts, if you know what I mean. Who knows, maybe I'm still giving off that vibe, but I hope not.

Happy FriYAY!

Tips from a Very Experienced Business Traveler

Last week I was put on a plane for my very last business trip as a full-time employee. Yesterday, I started my career as a freelancer. In a couple of weeks, I'll be back in the air on my way to NYC and over time, you learn a thing or two about life in the air when your world involves clients. You learn how to live out of suitcases, make the most of your days and get through security in record time. Lately, I've been packing much lighter and only carrying the essentials. Here's a few tips that are long overdue:

1. Don't forget your earphones! It's always the last thing I think about when packing, which is why I now keep a pair in my suitcase. Eyes closed, a little Carole King and we're smooth sailing off the ground. 

2. Pashminas are your best friend. On my last flight, I spent 53 minutes with water dripping on my head. It was condensation from the cool air. I was not pleased. Luckily, I kept myself warm and dry with my trusty Zara scarf

3. Pouches are a traveler's best friend. Pouches for toiletries. Pouches to keep your receipts organized. Pouches to fake as clutches for a nightcap at the hotel bar. I never go anywhere without my metallic Mae pouch from Annie Bukhman.

4. And speaking of Annie Bukhman, this card holder is ESSENTIAL. Pack your work AMEX, license and a few business cards and you're ready to go. 

5. Despite my chamomile tea and deep breaths, I still get a bit of travel anxiety every now and then. To combat, I rely on essential oils. My 'no worries' roller from Soul Sunday combines bergamot, lemon, clary-sage and melissa leaf to keep me sane.

6. Podcasts are my favorite thing ever about traveling! No seriously, I love a good podcast. My obsession is Invisibila. It's all about the invisible forces that control human behavior - ideas, believes, assumptions and emotions. It's because of this podcast that I learned that I'm pretty sure I have OCD. My favorite episodes include the one about Thoughts, Categories and Entanglement. If you don't know what entanglement is, I highly suggest you google it. 

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water before, during and after a trip to the airport. I also carry a face mist to spray when I land to re-hydrate my skin and give me a little boost. I'm currently testing out one from Grown Alchemist with Hyaluronic acid. It's also packed with botanicals.

8. I'm not much of a reader on the plane. Instead, I log into my gogoair account and organize my inbox. But I do like to bring a book to read before bed. In my old age, there is nothing I love more than a California King, room service and a good book. I picked up The Girls by Emma Cline from a used book store and so far, so good. I'll report back when I finish.

9.  A hair tie! Pull your hair back on the plane, pull you hair back to wash your face at night, pull your hair back so you don't get your hair in the food at a fancy restaurant. A hair tie.

10. Last but not least, POINTS! Become a SPG member, a Delta Skymiles Member, a Southwest something or other (Southwest is weird). If you don't receive a work AMEX, open a credit card like a Marriott Rewards Credit Card and be prompt about those expense reports! If you're gonna get thrown on a plane every other week, you might as well reap the benefits. 

Oh! Make use of wakeup calls too. Two different calls, 15 minutes apart. Nothing is worse than being the last one downstairs.

Ugh - one more thing - Boingo SUCKS! Don't even bother.

Dreamcatcher: Erin the Bridal Shop Owner

Dreamcatcher Series
Installment 4: Erin Szymanski, owner of Glitter and Grit

Meet Erin: As you know, Dreamcatcher is one of my favorite series on CMJ, and I'm excited to announce that this is our very first Pittsburgh-based Dreamcatcher. Erin and I have only met once, but as soon as I stepped into her bridal shop, I knew I wanted to feature her on the blog. Her shop, Glitter and Grit, which opened in Lawrenceville in 2013, is a bride-to-be’s dream! It reminds me of Lovely, which is where I bought my dress, but much more intimate and special. When I met Erin, she was kind enough to take some time and talk with me about what it’s like to open a boutique in Pittsburgh and we continued the conversation over email. As always, her story is quite inspiring and just the motivation we all need on a Monday!

Name: Erin Szymanski
Current Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Occupation: Owner of Glitter and Grit

So tell us about Glitter and Grit. How did it all start? From when I first started working, I always felt like I wanted to have a business of my own. Over the years, I had so many ideas, but nothing stuck. As my friends started getting married, I would go shopping with them and look around the stores thinking that if it was me, none of what I was seeing, both in the selection and the shopping experience, would fit my personal style. I started to realize that there were a good number of designers out there that were making more unique wedding dresses, but there was nowhere in the area to try them on. I knew that I couldn’t be the only person who didn’t see herself as a “traditional” bride, and that Pittsburgh needed more options!

Did you have a business plan? Sure thing. I had actually written a few in the past for school projects and other business ideas, so it was a natural place for me to start, and to help keep my thoughts organized.

Were you in the bridal or fashion industry before launching Glitter and Grit? I had previously worked retail for about six years, and then worked in accounting for eight - but I kept going back to retail part-time because I missed it! I considered working in the bridal industry in some capacity before opening Glitter & Grit, but ultimately decided that since I wanted to approach the entire shopping experience differently, that it wasn’t necessary.

What's the most challenging part of being a business owner? What is the most rewarding? I have a hard time staying organized and finding focus! At any point in time, I’m thinking about multiple things, working on multiple projects… always with my mind on the next thing. I try really hard to stay on track with a task but can get distracted.

The most rewarding thing is, rather obviously, getting to be a part of such an exciting adventure with all of our clients! There is a specific moment when you can feel the shift of emotions; whether from frustration, fear, or uncertainty – there is a moment when a bride starts to fully enjoy the experience, when it all gets a little more real and they can picture themselves getting married to their favorite person, wearing something that makes them feel amazing.

Describe a typical day for you. Do you have any daily rituals? There’s not much of a typical day in my world, as Glitter & Grit operates by private appointment – and because of my lack of organization!  Literally every day looks different, some dominated by office work, others by appointments, others by working on photo shoots or networking with other wedding vendors.

What do you think it is about your shop that draws brides in the door? What do they say about the experience? Literally word-of-mouth and our front windows are the two main things that attract brides to Glitter & Grit, which is awesome! We focus on providing a relaxing but fun shopping experience, while we help you figure out what the right dress for you is, whether it’s in our store or not. I feel that there’s a bit of a myth that all girls have been dreaming about their wedding day, and their wedding dress, since they were young, and that they know exactly what they want to wear. While there are some lucky ladies out there like that, many of us actually have no idea, and need to do some exploring to find out – and that’s where we come in. I wanted the store to feel like you’re visiting your big sister’s house, playing dress-up in her fancy closet; comfortable enough to hang out, but still a little special. So when brides and their guests say that they don’t want to leave, that’s the biggest compliment! I think that both that vibe and our relaxed approach to exploring versus selling is what our clients tell their friends about the most.

You talk a lot about originality and not changing who you are just because you’re a bride. Can you expand on this? What do you think are the outside forces that cause some brides to conform? Simply, in the realm of wedding attire, choose something that makes you feel like you; a beautiful, special version of your everyday. Don’t feel pressured to wear a certain style or color or fabric just because someone feels that anything else isn’t “bridal.” You’re getting married. That makes you, on that day, a bride. You will be a bride whether you’re wearing a white dress, a rainbow dress, a rad suit, a garbage bag, or a Canadian tuxedo.

There are so many outside forces! Magazines, television, Pinterest, family and friends… I feel like any life event can easily be overshadowed by everyone else’s opinions of how you should act, what you should wear, who should be involved, how much money you should spend, etc…. the focus shifts from that actual, very important, thing that is happening to less significant details.

I just think it’s crucial to decide what’s important to you, and stick to it. Of course, there will be compromises, and I also think it’s worth choosing your battles. I’m not saying that everyone has to buck every tradition, but if it doesn’t make sense for who you are as a couple, don’t feel like you have to adjust how you do things only to appease other people.

What would you like to accomplish in your career over the next five years? Are there plans to expand the business? I’m not really one to set long-term goals, because my thoughts on the future change every day! I’m sure that, like before, I’ll have a million ideas before the right one - the one that comes from a place of curiosity and integrity – sticks.

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? DO IT!! Seriously. I tend to encourage people who weren’t even asking for it to start a business. If you feel compelled to do your own thing your own way, you won’t regret taking the chance.  Also, set clear beliefs or standards from the beginning and always check in with them (a.k.a. your gut or your heart) when making decisions.

How to Style a Vintage Skirt: Part III

You guys! I really outdid myself on the vintage skirt front this week. My hope is that there's a tiny little piece of you that is considering a thrift shop excursion this weekend and a vintage skirt in your future. I will wait patiently for the Instagram photos. 

If you read the blog this week, you know that I've been throwing out thrifting tips like it's my job, but sometimes the best vintage clothes belong to your family! Take this skirt for example - it used to belong to my mother before I stole it a few a years ago. She was an elementary school teacher and had THE BEST wardrobe. I especially love this skirt because of the buttons. It feels so Angela Chase. So, my last tip is to raid your mom, grandma, aunt, great-aunt's closet. I even have clothes that belonged to my dad! 

For look #3, I paired this skirt with a denim, pinstriped top from the Gap (if you click on the link, notice the half tuck), and tied the bottom for an 80s vibe. I busted out my Ray-Ban Clubmasters to take the look even further down memory lane and then just threw on the same shoes and put my Annie Bukhman handbag over my shoulder. What else is new?

So that's a wrap for Vintage Skirt Week! Hope it was everything you wished for and more. Until next time, ciao!