Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.

I saw floral fashion attire left and right this past weekend, and not going to lie but I am all about it. Bill and I took a day trip up to Holland, Michigan to check out the Tulip Time Festival and had a great time. It’s about 3 hours away from Chicago, and let me just say I have never seen a city so on fire for something as simple as a tulip. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but this town lives for the two weekends the tulips are in full bloom. From its parades, tulip art, to tulips in every storefront window, these two weekends are like our fourth of July. Such excitement!

I knew right away I was going to wear a floral arrangement (so basic, I admit…) BUT when I saw this romper with a skirt overlay at Francesca’s I was so excited to wear it out with a cute bralette underneath and my red Target sandals. I am embracing the warm weather and vibrant colors because we have waited too long for these moments!

If you ever want to take a day trip to Holland, MI, I would recommend grabbing a bite at Butch’s, apple cider donuts from Crane’s, walking around Window on the Waterfront, and stopping by the 205 Coffee bar for a latte and cute photos. I really had a great time ooh-ing and aah-ing over the array of tulip colors, and we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to be outside! Shots from my trip are below. Dare I ask what your favorite flower is? I bet you can guess mine.

RomperFrancesca’s // ShoesTarget // Bralette: Styles for Less // Sunglasses: Quay

XO.

Lex

 

Why I Love Barry’s Bootcamp

I never thought I would see the day when I would write about my fitness regime; let alone that I was excited to share it! At the end of the day, I love sharing topics with my readers that are a huge part of my day-to-day life and fitness is no doubt one of them.

So you might be interested in taking a workout class and don’t know where to start. I have been there too. It’s hard with so many choices these days—especially living in a city where people have a craving for fitness left and right. A workout I have always been curious about is the HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout at Barry’s Bootcamp. I never doubted I wouldn’t like it – but so far, I love it. Wherever you are in your fitness journey, you MUST give Barry’s Bootcamp a try. I understand it might be a little nerve racking imagining a “bootcamp” setup, but I mean it when I say you become so empowered from this workout. It is an experience where you are so pumped up by the music and the trainers, you give 200%. The first time I took a class, the music was blasting and the energy in the room gave me goose bumps. If there is one thing for certain, it is that you CAN do it and you will LOVE yourself after.

Again, what is Barry’s Bootcamp all about you ask?The HIIT workout is designed to burn up to 1,000 calories and is divided up between strength and cardio (25- 30 minutes each). I have been fortunate enough to take a few classes and I am obsessed so far with Barry’s and the results I am seeing.  I sat down with my fierce boss lady friend Kate Lemere who is a Chicago Founding Trainer and Marketing Coordinator of Barry’s Chicago to help tell you more because who better to hear from than the fitness expert herself!? If a Barry’s studio isn’t near you, I hope at the least this encourages you to take chances and push yourself to get to where you want to be in your fitness journey. I love supporting brands that I truly believe in, and I love sharing it with others in hopes that they like it too. If you are in Chicago, come take a class with me!! I would love to sweat with you ;).

XO.

Lex

Kate Lemere is a Barry’s Bootcamp Trainer, Nike Trainer and founder of the blog The Four Percent.

 

What is the biggest difference between Barry’s and other fitness studios?

Barry’s is the pioneer of boutique fitness and since its inception in 1998, it has grown into a global community. The energy in the room and the caliber of trainers is what sets us apart. I mean we didn’t even make our own tagline. Our clients coined our tagline as “the best workout in the world.”

 

Tell me about the workout. You either do floor exercises or you’re running your A$$ off on the treadmill– what is the reason behind switching between Floor to Treadmill?

It’s a HIIT workout or high intensity interval training. You are pairing cardio with strength training. This is the most effective combination that helps stimulate muscle fibers and creates an after burn effect. Also, HIIT workouts are approachable for all fitness levels: different exercises can be modified and progressed to cater to all ability levels both on the floor and on the treads. You know your own body the best and what it is capable of.

The Instructors. What would you say is most important to them when it comes to teaching classes?

The energy of the room and focus. ENERGY is contagious and it’s continually repurposed. As instructors, it’s our job to propel energy forward, but it’s even better when our clients feed off of it and feed into it for each other. Something else that is important is FOCUS. There is a lot going on in the room. To give 100% you need to listen and pace yourself appropriately to get the best of your workout. You have to listen to what you are doing and where you are going next so you’re able to pace yourself appropriately and set yourself up for maximum success.

Your classes offer a variety of focus points (Arms, Legs, Chest, Abs.) Why not full body all the time? What is the benefit of having specific classes?

Barry’s schedule is planned on a macro level across the week to avoid overtraining and overuse.  One day you’re working your arms and abs, the next it’s butt and legs, and the day after chest, back and so on. Traditional splits allow for gains without injury.

 

When you take classes at Barry’s, you want to see results. How long does this take? What other steps need to be taken to see the results you want (tight booty, slim hips/legs, toned muscle, etc.)

Every BODY is different. After your first class, you feel different—emotionally and spiritually. After a couple of weeks you will see results kick in. You have to keep pushing a little more speed and a little more weight each time to see the results. Also, when it comes to your diet, it’s just as important to consider when you eat as it is to consider what you eat. Our Fuel Bar, for example, has a full menu of shakes with protein and carbs to help you recover and help your muscles rebuild and repair.

 

It takes TIME to change your body especially when you are just starting your fitness journey. At Barry’s, you will see results but what is most important is to have fun.

 

[End]

 

I always enjoy learning about experts on a more personal level too: How they got to where they are today, words they live by, and more. See below for a few more questions I asked Kate and how fitness is a part of her everyday lifestyle.

For someone who is just starting to get back on the fitness/workout grind, what advice do you have for them?

Don’t get frustrated with yourself—ask questions and enjoy the process. I have my own blog, The Four Percent that helps explain why I prescribe workouts I execute because knowing why you are doing something as opposed to going through the motions helps you to continuously evaluate what you need to get to where you want to be.

During your class, you say some very encouraging words to get your class through the workout. What saying/ quote to you live by when it comes to fitness?

Meeting the moment. When you are listening to a pump up song or signing up for class—you are looking for that push to better yourself. When the time comes, we back down because we are afraid we don’t think we can do it. That’s a shame. This weight (or) run is what you came here for. Don’t back down, meet it, take it head on and when you leave you’ll feel like you did what you came to do. It helps build confidence to help you achieve other things even outside the room.

How do you define fitness?

I define fitness as a prioritizing moment. Fitness doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be crazy or creative. You don’t even need to be crazy active. Just take care of your body. If you don’t take care of your body- your body won’t be conditioned to take care of you. You need quality of life and you have to take care of yourself to do it.

How did you make fitness a part of your daily lifestyle?

I was a competitive swimmer for nearly 15 years, and being active was ingrained into my lifestyle from a very early age. For those who struggle with motivation I would encourage a little tough love. All day every day we do things that we don’t necessarily want to do (think go to work, take out the trash, clean our house, etc) but we do it because we have to. Working out and taking care of your body is no different.

Aside from Barry’s Bootcamp style workouts, what are your top 3 favorite workouts? (Cardio, Yoga, Pilates?)

You need a well-rounded training routine. I recommend mix of HIIT, strength training and mobility/recovery. Barry’s, cycling, pilates, I love it all.

Favorite snack? Guilty pleasure?

I have a raging sweet tooth. I love HALO top ice cream or nut butter based snacks. I must have dessert every night whether it’s fruit, or a protein pancake with almond butter to close out the night. I do it every night and I do it for myself.

What do you think the next trend is in the fitness world? (Food? Style? A specific workout?)

I think there will continue to be a greater emphasis on community and connection. People as humans crave the touch points- a connection to the trainer, instructor, and just connecting socially with the trainers.

One Question for Nicole Richie

What do you consider to be a good leader?

Nicole: Well first of all the ultimate form of being a leader, is supporting other women. If we don’t encourage other women, we are going to get stuck. That means opening up and be the ear . If we don’t have each other, who do we have? Support is #1. I have such a great group surrounding me, and it breaks my heart when I hear girls tell me that they have problems with other girls. We have to appreciate each other and it’s all about love.

For The Sake Of Fashion: Inspiration

For The Sake of fashion inspiration

Lauren Berg, PR Genius, Fashion Maven

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Have you ever wondered what the life of a public relations maven is like? What words of wisdom she would have to offer? Lucky for us, Lauren Berg, the Vice President of Skirt PR, sat down with us a few weeks ago to share some of her past experiences, words to live by, and what it’s like to go head to head with Kris Jenner. Personally, I really admire Lauren for all her work in the industry. It’s not everyday we get to sit down with who we want to be when we grow up.

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ALEX: So how did you get your start in PR? Was this always where you wanted to end up or did you go through a few major changes in college?

LAUREN: Well, I went to Northwestern and I was a history major, completely unrelated. I knew I wanted to go to law school, so I interned at a law firm the summer going into my Junior year, and I realized that it wasn’t for me. It was all working with paper, and I wanted to work with people. It was a little too late to change my major at that time, but I did not know what I wanted to do. I had to do some soul searching and figure out what I really wanted to do, and I realized I loved to read magazines and consume media of all forms, interact with people, and be a planner. I had a few friends in the Journalism school at Northwestern, and I knew I didn’t want to be a writer, but I started to explore being a publicist. From there I dove into researching PR and what it’s all about. I read an article about Skirt in CS Magazine, which is funny because that’s essentially what I do now. I get people to read articles about my clients so they contact them. So I contacted Adrienne [President of Skirt PR] and thankfully, landed as internship here. That was five years ago, and I simultaneously interned on the Obama campaign, which were two totally different experiences, and I absolutely loved it. I really fell in love with Skirt and the clients here, and my coworkers, and the over all environment. Luckily, there was a position that opened up a few months into working here, I was offered the job, and the rest is history.

ALEX: That is so cool, things just fell into place.

LAUREN: It’s just crazy to think about, that it’s been five years since then. I always tell people that your major is important, but for me, in college, it’s about learning how to write, how to organize, how to communicate effectively and multitask, and hit dead lines. If you learn those skills, they are transferable to anything you want to do.

ALEX: Would you say it’s more about the skills one possesses then about the actual degree?

LAUREN: It totally varies by major and what you are looking to do, but I did not feel that I was behind anyone who did study PR when I first started here because you really have to learn everything the way your company does it. For me, it was about applying the skills that I had learned to the tasks at hand.

ALEX: What’s it like day to day working at Skirt and PR in general? Does it change?

LAUREN: I would say that the one thing that is the same, is that no day is alike. There are constantly different, crazy things coming up all the time. If you like that, then PR is a really good fit for you. I like the challenges that arise from having a schedule that does not look the same everyday. At any given day, I could be sitting at my desk writing pitches and sending out emails, to going to client meetings, to running errands for a TV segment, or in New York. It really runs quickly, but I love that fast paced environment. I’s really not a 9-5 job. We are all about networking and sitting down with editors and bloggers and going to events. It’s much more of a career then just a 9-5 desk job.

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ALEX: I don’t think other people our age truly understand how important networking is. Instead of going to house parties, we [Joseph and I] go to events all the time, and it’s always fun meeting new people. You never know what connections you’re going to make.

LAUREN: If you want to be in PR, that [networking] is such an important part of it. I have really learned in these last five years that your connections and relationships are everything. Everyone has to start somewhere, but they really allow you to advance in your career. You can’t come in at an entry level position and know everyone and everything but you can work on building those contacts. It can be as easy as sending an email to the person you had coffee with a few weeks ago and saying hey. Having face time with people really helps in the long run.

ALEX: If you could look back and give yourself some advice when you were first starting out, what would you have said to yourself?

LAUREN: I think I would say to remember to take in the moment, and appreciate how amazing this job is and not to be so hard on myself and realize that I was doing a good job. If you give something your all, good things will come to you. If I was looking back to college, I would say don’t be scared, and have more fun. Because you will miss college so much when you’re done. You learn so much about yourself.

JOSEPH: What advice do you have for people that are interested in getting into PR?

ALEX: And what stands out to you when looking to hire or bring interns onto the team?

LAUREN: Definitely be a sponge to the industry. If you want to be in PR, then dive right in. Immerse yourself in the media landscape because that’s really the key to what we do. You really need to understand all of the different media outlets, and the people that write for those outlets because we pitch to all of those people. When someone comes to an interview for an internship or an entry level position and they are an avid consumer of the media landscape, then I know it’s something that comes naturally to them and something that they are naturally interested in, and that will translate into their work. I also think that for me, because of the fact that I wasn’t a PR major and I didn’t have any PR internships before I started here, while experience does stand out on a resume, I personally feel that it’s more about our one on one personal connection, and the general demeanor and attitude of the potential intern. We love interns here that will go above and beyond with a smile on their face.

ALEX: People don’t always realize coming into the industry how much hard work it is.

LAUREN: What a lot of people don’t realize is that while it may seem glamorous from the outside, it is so much hard work when you’re in it. It’s a lot of stuffing gift bags and hauling things around…like I have flower flats in my office and in my car and I’m always running up and down stairs . All of that stuff that’s not so fun, is a big part of this job and if an intern can handle all of those menial tasks with a smile on their face then that will come across in everything else they do.

ALEX: So do you think that is the difference between you hiring an intern vs not hiring an intern in the long run?

LAUREN: We will always try to carve out positions for those interns who prove to be indispensable. If you can make my life easier, then I will remember you. If I can give you a task and you can not just complete that task but blow it out of the water, or take it to a new level, or come back to me with an even better idea, then that will really stand out to me. If you can make your employers life or job easier, then that is really what they are looking for in an intern. At places that are so small, like Skirt, it’s kind of a sink or swim environment, so you really have to dive in and take a lot being thrown at you. If an intern can do that, then I know they can do that in a full time position as well.

ALEX: In a boutique firm, everyone is so valuable because there aren’t hundreds and hundreds of people getting things done, so I’m sure interns are truly put to work beyond just getting coffee.

LAUREN: We really rely on our interns a lot to do many things. One of our interns is helping out with a large event tonight and is doing a great job. So when one of our interns proves herself, we are willing to give them more and more tasks to work on because we need the help to ensure that things are running smoothly.

ALEX: What is the craziest thing you ever had to do for your job? You mentioned that you do a lot of things that people wouldn’t necessarily expect.

LAUREN: Hmm, craziest thing I ever had to do…I’m trying to think. We did an event with Kim Kardashian in Miami and it was me, and two other girls, so we were a young bunch running this huge event with a major celebrity. She decided not to get on the plane that we booked for her, and the driver that we sent called and told us that she wasn’t there when the plane landed. The cell phone number that we were given for her manager, which is her mom, Kris, wasn’t working, and we had to go through all of these different avenues to track them down. It turned out that they took a private plane, so that was very stressful. I had to then go over to Kris Jenners hotel room and bring the clothes that Kim was supposed to wear because it was a retail opening. Kris told me Kim wasn’t going to want to wear them, and I had to tell her that it was in her contract and definitely going head to head with Kris Jenner was a pretty crazy moment in my career. In the end, it all worked out. The road to getting there was a little rocky, but it was rewarding at the end. Other crazniess…I’ve stayed up for 24 hours for a client when we had to do an event. That kind of stuff is crazy and unpredictable. At the end of the day, I would rather have those stories to tell and that craziness then be sitting at my desk from 9 to 5 twiddling my thumbs.

JOSEPH: What would you say is the most rewarding part of working in PR? After staying up for 24 hours for a client, what makes you feel good?

LAUREN: There are a few different parts that are really rewarding. The core of our job is media relations and scoring amazing placement for our clients, like Blowtique in Vogue. The work that goes into getting a placement like that is way more then anyone realizes that isn’t in the industry. Not taking no for an answer, figuring out different angles to pitch a story, and then having them finally say yes, and then having that placement come out and in turn helping the client grow their business is very rewarding. A lot of this job is about rejection and being able to handle rejection. If we sent out a pitch to 100 people and hear back from one, then that is great. That one yes can be so exciting. As I’ve grown in my career, and as my roles have shifted and changed, I’ve spent the last year and a half working with our team internally and making sure that people are advancing in their careers and fulfilled, and learning and growing, and that for me in very fulfilling too…to watch people evolve and become amazing publicists and thrive here.

ALEX: It feels like family here, not just a work space.

LAUREN: Absolutely. With the set up being so open, and lofty, and the office is so fun…then who doesn’t want to come to work? The team here is amazing, and everyone that works here is so dedicated and so hard working. I really feel that we have the hardest working office, and everyone here really works to succeed for themselves, and for our clients. Our clients are amazing and getting that placement is not only thrilling for yourself, but watching how a small company [a client] can be so successful with business because of something you helped achieve is so amazing. I think that what is also so amazing about Skirt is just the Skirt brand itself, and what Adrienne has been able to build. We are very proud of the clients we’ve been able to represent and everyone that works here. We have spent a lot of time building that up [our brand] and we use it almost as a case study for our clients, like ‘hey, this is what we can do for you,’ especially on social media. Each and every one of us that works here is just so proud to be a  Skirt girl.

ALEX: Where do you see public relations heading in the future?

LAUREN: That is a good question. It is an ever evolving industry. One of my first tasks here as an intern was to build a blog list, because we didn’t have any yet, because blogging was so new. It was a whole new world that was slowly building up to what it is now…taking over the world. There are so many instances of that since I’ve been working here. So many magazine have folded, the market crashed, and the internet is booming, and everyone is asking ‘what is going to happen to print magazine?’ But I truly believe that in my heart of hearts that there will always be people like me who like nothing more then to sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee and a newspaper or a magazine and rip out pages and put them on a bulletin board and I think that there will always be a place for that, because there is still a large magazine market. The PR industry is going to become more and more important. It’s interesting how in the last five years bloggers have kind of become celebrities. Clients use to come to us and say ‘I want to do all the celebrity outreach,’ but now they come to us and they’re like ‘I want bloggers wearing my stuff and talking about my products.’ That is going to continue to grow, and it’s so important for up and coming publicists to have their finger on the pulse of the social media industry. People who we hire at an entry level position, I expect them to have an innate understanding of social media. That is something that will only continue to be more and more important.

ALEX: I just took ‘Writing for PR’ and one thing that was emphasized was that social media is always changing. Is that hard to deal with?

LAUREN: When Facebook first launched, there were no pictures, and it was only for colleges. I remember when pictures launched and it was a huge deal. I remember when Twitter first launched, and it was right after I started here at Skirt, and it was such a weird concept. It looks confusing, so when people would say “tweet me” I would be like “what is Twitter?” That was only three or four years ago, and now it’s just exploded. Adapting to all of the different networks as they come out is a challenge, like Vine, is that going to be the next Twitter? So many of these sites pop up that it’s hard to know what is going to stick.

ALEX: I keep hearing people say that Vine is the new Instagram, but not very many people are on Vine yet.

LAUREN: Well with Instagram, anyone can take quality photos. I recently saw a food magazine doing six minute breakfasts on Vine, which was extremely clever. I haven’t really seen people use it in that clever of a way yet.

ALEX: Where can we find you shopping in Chicago?

LAUREN: I love J Crew…big, big, big  J Crew person. I probably wear it two or three times a week head to toe which is kind of embarrassing but oh well. I love Zara also. Locally I love Roslyn Boutique, she’s been around forever and has a very cool collection of stuff. P45, again been around forever, very cool clothing. I like Perchance too.

ALEX: There are a lot of cool little shops right around here [wicker park.]

LAUREN: I feel like this was the up and coming neighborhood when I first started here [at Skirt] and now it’s having a resurgence.

ALEX: What is your favorite thing that you have gotten to do so far at Skirt?

LAUREN: I feel like great moments here happen so frequently! I think that sometimes, this happens to everyone, you get so caught up in the day to day work that we forget to stop and realize how amazing an experience is that you’re taking in at that moment. We did three different events for Alicia Silverstone for Eco Tools and with the team we executed them from start to finish and Alicia is such a nice person. The travel I have been able to do has been great, going to LA and Miami, is an added bonus because I love those places and seeing those cities. That is always a fun part of it. Even just being able to work with this team here, and after that event in Miami. The three of us could sit back and say ‘wow we just executed a huge budget event with a huge celebrity and it still worked out.’ Being able to do that together and still have both of the girls be here is so cool.

ALEX: Any parting words for our readers?

LAUREN: I would say, don’t be scared to do what you love. Tap into what you are really interested in and find a career that aligns with that. I had always envisioned going to law school, that was my plan for myself and I am a very plan oriented person, so when I was so unhappy interning in Law, and coming to the realization that I didn’t think I wanted to do that as a career…that was a very scary thought. But if you have those plans and they turn out to not be what is most interesting to you, then don’t be afraid to find out what is interesting for you and follow that path because you never know where it will lead you. If you have enough will and determination to find out what it is [your passion] then you can make that happen for yourself. A career is a career, and it’s never going to be rainbows and sunshine all the time, and people get disappointed that they follow their dream, and then find out it’s actually a lot of hard work, but that’s just part of it. The good is going to out-way the bad if you ultimately love what you do.

*Photos by Joseph Kerins

Fashion…and Food, with Jena Gambaccini

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Joseph and I sat down with someone we really admire a few weeks ago, Jena of ChiCity Fashion. Not only did she give us valuable advice about the real world…but now we know what restaurants to check out in Chicago. Success.

ALEX: So what did you study in school?

 JENA: Marketing. I just knew that I wanted to do some kind of fashion marketing or apparel merchandising. I never wanted to do design because I knew that I’m creative, but I’ve never been good at art or sewing or anything like that. But I wanted to pick my school based on the school, not a specific program. I didn’t want to go to a specialty school I guess. I don’t even know why I went to Miami of Ohio, it’s so not me. Marketing was just the closest thing I could find that fit my interest in fashion.

ALEX: Did you start your blog in college, or after you graduated?

 JENA: Yes, I started it at the very end of first semester of my senior year. I was just bored and totally over the night life at school. I actually started on Twitter. I made a Twitter to keep up with celebrities and found that I really enjoyed the fashion presence on Twitter, like the magazines and designers. I didn’t tweet anything for a few months and then I finally got up the courage to tweet style tips and random things I would find. Then I got a little bit of a following and people would tweet me and ask me if I had a blog, but I didn’t know a lot about it at the time. I knew I definitely didn’t just want to do a personal style blog like “oh come take pictures of me.” At Miami that just wasn’t a thing. Someone had suggested WordPress to me, so I checked it out and made one and I didn’t  tell anyone about it because for the first three months I was so embarrassed about it. I didn’t even tell my boyfriend and we’ve been together for almost five years. Then, I got invited to a show at fashion week so I was like “Is this real?” I thought it was a joke, but I was like “Let’s just try it,” so that’s when I had to tell people. So it was cool, but one of my friends met me and came with me so it was really fun.

ALEX: That’s a crazy experience! I can only imagine.

 JENA: Yeah I still didn’t feel comfortable telling people about it unless they asked me about it, up until maybe around when I started working at eDrop-Off. They were the first ones who really embraced it and wanted to do stuff with me, and it made me feel a little bit more comfortable about it. And now it’s my job!

ALEX: Can’t be embarrassed about it anymore!

JENA: So that…long story short…more long then short..is how that happened.

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ALEX: How was the transition from working in fashion, to just being a blogger? Was it difficult?

 JENA: Well lately I’ve just been having a lot of meetings, where people I’ve either worked with before but haven’t met yet just want to meet me in person, or companies want to present me with a new idea or some people kind of just want my opinion. There’s lots of different reasons to have meetings, believe me. I was kind of nervous about the transition at first like “Oh am I going to be sitting at home all the time?” But I’m not at all, which is great. I also have more time to kind of make my blog better. I used a free template for my site until I decided to make ChiCityFashion my full time job. Now I’m working on a mobile site so I’m just always looking for ways to improve. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately.

ALEX: I love your layout already, it’s super easy to navigate which is a nice change from other sites. Where do you see it going from here?

 JENA: I’m really bad at answering those questions. I kind of just wing everything. I don’t just want to be a blogger forever. It’s great for right now, but I don’t think it’s going to be a sustainable career forever, so I’m still trying to figure out what my next move will be. I like being on my own, my parents are entrepreneurs .I’ve always wanted to own my own business, I’m just trying to figure out exactly what I want to do. I also really love food, so sometimes I’m just like I love fashion, but there’s a lot of crap that comes with it and I don’t like dealing with that, but I’m sure that’s how the food industry is too. Lately I’ve just been really interested in it.

 ALEX: Food is always good. Do you think you’ll go into styling?

JENA: When I graduated college I really wanted to be a stylist, but that was at the time that everyone wanted to be a stylist, or “was” a stylist. Once something gets saturated I just move on. I like the idea of it, but I like to do it on a personal level. Anything from “I need help getting ready for an event,” to “I just need a whole new wardrobe.” I would much rather do that then go be responsible for a $100,000 worth of clothes and then pull all this stuff, and in the end, only one look is used. I love the idea of it, but I’m not passionate to do that part. Does that make sense?

ALEX: Yeah, that sounds really overwhelming and kind of scary.

 JENA: The thing that I did with FORD Chicago was perfect because I directed it and assistant styled.

ALEX: What does that mean?

JENA: I came up with the concept, I chose the models, the locations, and all that stuff. My friends Michael is a stylist, so he styled and I went with him on the pulls, but he actually did the pulling. So then when it came down to it, he dressed the models and I just helped out. It was the perfect situation. I remember when he was pulling things he showed me these pants and I was like “those are so ugly!” But he came back and was like “We have to use them!” and I was like “Really??” They were like…these snake print and yellow wide leg pants…and this green jacket…and it sounds crazy, but it looks so cool! It’s stuff like that, where I would never have thought to put that together. I’m more realistic on what I would put together. When it comes to photography, it doesn’t really matter.

JG #6

ALEX: You have to have a different eye. It’s so different. For people looking to get into fashion, or really anything I guess, what advice would you give them?

 JENA: it’s so cliché…but don’t give up. If you truly want to do something, put all you have into it, and it will happen. There is no reason that it shouldn’t if you give it your all. I mean, I still don’t even know what I’m doing! People email me that question all the time. I feel bad, because everything I did was kind of by accident, so I can’t really give advice on how it happened. I know someone who is very passionate about being in fashion somehow, but his parents don’t agree with that. There are a lot of parents out there who want their kid to be a lawyer or whatever. He just doesn’t care though and he’s such a hustler and does whatever he can to make it work. I know that whatever he decides to do, he’s going to be great at it, because of his work ethic. Also, do your research. A lot of people think they like fashion, just because they like shopping, and that’s how I was when I was younger. But once I did my research, I was genuinely interested in it. I feel like a lot of people just say that they work in fashion or start a blog and expect to become a blogger super star, and it doesn’t work that way. I just write what I want and some people like it. You have to be authentic with it. I don’t try to hide anything.

ALEX: You can tell when someone’s writing just to be popular. We see a lot of that lately. It’s kinda weird. There was a blog that popped up a few months ago that would literally copy my posts.

JENA: That’s so stupid! Did you end it?

JOSEPH: Yeah. We also had an issue with the DePaulia asking to use our street style photos for their newspaper and we were immediately like…no. They wound up not even running the story.

JG #2

ALEX: Have you ever had an issue with people copying your site? How did you deal with it?

 JENA: There’s smaller instances, but more with my personal style. The only big issue I’ve had with my site, and I don’t even understand how this happened, but it was called “Fashion201.com” and they were copying everything. The same day, for about two weeks, they copied my photos, tags…everything. It was still in first person…so weird. So I found this person and I stalked them.

JOSEPH: Did they have a following?

JENA: No. Nothing. They had no social media sites. At first, I thought it was a virus. I emailed them at first, but they didn’t do anything, so I had my attorney send a letter and they took it down right away. That was the only direct instance. With blogging in general, there’s going to be a lot of times when people copy you, and it won’t be as direct as that. But I know, and it just makes me be even more creative and come up with new things.

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ALEX: If you could look back and give yourself advice just starting out in your career, or in college, what would you say?

JENA: I guess it would be, know what you’re worth. I underestimated myself, especially in the beginning. I got screwed over so many times, and it’s hard for me to be assertive. At the end of the day, it’s really just me and what I write, and it’s hard to put a price on that. But, I’ve had people promise me things or I’m supposed to get paid for things, and then they don’t pay me. So, it’s really just about being more assertive and knowing what you’re worth. And that’s with any job. It’s so easy to get taken advantage of. When I got out of college, I had so many unpaid internships, so that too. Don’t do it for too long. Some people do it for over a year, and then they get pissed. But at the same time, you can quit whenever you want. So don’t let people take advantage of you either.

JOSEPH: [Gesturing to the wall of designer items] Do any of these have stories?

JENA: They all have stories.

JOSEPH: Can we hear some?

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 JENA: Those are probably my favorite story, the black and white wedges. Proenza Schouler is my favorite designer and that was the collection that truly made me fall in love with them. It was Spring 2010. I’m very motivated when it comes to getting things. If I have my eye on something, I have to get it. I was stalking the shoes, and it was before they had a store so it was super hard to track things down. I fell in love with a different version of these that were on the runway. They wound up not making the runway version into production. I was on the Out-Net one day and saw those at 70% off and they only had my size so I got them and I love them.

ALEX: I’m obsessed with the PS1 medium in the “crowd” print.

JENA: The crowd print! I was at the store, and what they’ve been doing, which I like, is the materials they’ve been using lately is amazing quality. Their finale dress was a crowd print perforated dress, which I’m sure is just astronomical, but they also do a different version of the print on just a silk dress. I’ll show you. Most of the things in here are my favorite things. And all of my handbags.

JG #5

ALEX: What’s the story behind your custom PS1?

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JENA: I am so careful with it. It was after the earthquake in Japan, and the designers in the CFDA all donated something. It was super close to my birthday, and I wound up getting it for like half the price of what it was, and I was going to New York anyway. So I went to their office and I got to meet with Jack and Lazaro, and I was dying. I got to shop the sample sale by myself. It was so cool. It was awesome because they let me use any material I wanted except alligator or croc, so I chose python. It’s a custom color. My initials are on a plaque inside. It’s crazy.

Alex: How long did it take them to get it to you?

 JENA: I made it in July, and I don’t think I got it until December. They had to stop their whole production to do it. They had never made a custom PS1 before.

JG #3

ALEX: What’s your favorite trend this season? I’ve been seeing a lot of pastels.

 JENA: I actually really like black and white. It’s technically a trend, but I don’t know if I would consider it a trend. I would say peplum is more of a trend. I love it because it’s still neutral to wear other colors and I can add pops of accessories and bright lipstick. It’s shaking things up from wearing all black, and there’s a million ways you can do it. It never gets old.

ALEX: Alright, so I have a few final questions. Where can we find you shopping in Chicago? 

JENA: I prefer Blake and Ikram for higher end shopping. I personally prefer Ikram because everything you see in the store is so beautiful…and their cafe is so good. Sofia Boutique has been my go to store since forever. They use to be in an office building on Clark and Division and I use to go there on my breaks when I would come home from college. I love the stuff that they buy. I also really like Edith Hart. All the places on Damen Ave. are pretty good.

ALEX: And because you love food, I have to ask what your favorite restaurants are right now.

JENA: I hate when people ask me that because it’s so hard to choose! I told you about Eleven City Diner. It makes me so happy. It’s very casual, on 11th and Wabash. It’s super good comfort food. Spacca Napoli out in Ravenswood is my favorite pizza place. The guy who owns it is certified to make Neapolitan style pizza. They make their own cheese, and it’s so simple but the ingredients are incredible. The one I always get literally just has mozzarella, arugula, and basil, but it’s the best pizza. To go with friends, pretty much anything on Randolph St. Like Nellcote, and Au Cheval. Floriole on Webster is also a big go to of mine. I’ve also been to Antique Taco a whole bunch of times, and that’s probably my favorite Mexican food in Chicago. For sushi, I love Arami. It’s hard to find really good sushi here.

JG #4

ALEX: Any last words for us?

JENA: I had to learn how to negotiate and figure out what I’m worth and just price out certain things and it’s hard. Just try to get everything in writing. I got screwed over so many times because I didn’t have it in writing. I’ve had to learn who I want to work with, and who I don’t want to work with and how I want to do things. Think about the things you want to take on and if it’s worth it. In the beginning, I took on everything. As annoying as it was, I’ve learned so much doing this.

ALEX: People don’t realize that being a blogger is journalism and being an entrepreneur.

JENA: One problem that i’ve noticed, is that a lot of companies don’t know how to work with bloggers. I’m always approached by a PR company, it’s rarely directly with the brand. The bigger companies already know exactly what they want. A lot of people don’t understand how a blogger functions and  I get that because it’s very new and unique. Everything in blogging and social media for a business is so new and people just don’t know what to do with it.

Photos By Joseph Kerins