Wow. I cannot believe that this year is already halfway done! And personally, its been a pretty awesome year so far! I thought I'd start something new this month and show you my past month in a series of pictures. Hope you enjoy scrolling through!
I run the risk of sounding very Sarah Jessica Parker circa mid-00s Sex and the City, but hear my out here: a tulle skirt is a wardrobe necessity.
Before you roll your eyes, allow me to make my case. Like you, I too was skeptical. But then I found an incredible deal on one, and bought it on a whim. I stuck it in the back of my closet and forgot all about it until an hour before a huge party, and guess what? As it turns out, it is one of the most versatile pieces I own!!
The beauty of a tulle skirt is that it naturally has some whimsy, so you don't have to do a whole lot to dress it up and down, however, the only caveat is that you do need to pair it with something fitted on top to get the proportions right. And if you're wondering about its versatility, here are some ideas:
Backyard BBQ (or similar casual party): pair it with a tee
Date night or Sunday brunch: pair it with a chambray shirt
Cocktail party or other fancy soiree: pair it with a sequin or lace body suit
Top it off with a leather jacket and you have a little pop princess turned rock vibe.
Really, the possibilities are endless!
Versatile, whimsical, usually under $100 - what more could one ask for?
When I created Bombay Taxi Boutique in 2015, my goal was to bring beautiful, high quality, limited edition pieces from India to my friends in Cleveland and across the country. India is known for its handmade jewelry, and in general, Indians tend to prefer pieces that have true value - gold, silver, precious stones. These are usually part of a bride's wedding trousseau, and are widely believed to be a worthwhile investment for eventual resale, if necessary. Now, while I would have LOVED to include precious metals and precious stones in Bombay Taxi pieces, the simple truth is that these pieces are frankly out of my own budget, and I strongly believe that I only want to offer pieces that I wear myself!
And so I went with some great next-best options: brass and gold plated brass. As gold-tone jewelry has increased in popularity over this decade, brass jewelry is also on the rise, and there are few things you should know before you buy.
1. What is brass?
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc - the proportions of the two differ to create different kinds of brass that range in degree of yellow-color. If you have a nickel allergy, you are very unlikely to be allergic to brass since there is no nickel in it at all.
2. Will brass turn my skin green?
It might. It is the copper in brass and bronze that might cause your skin to turn green, and this likelihood is increased if your jewelry comes in contact with water. As such, if you're wearing a brass ring, it is most likely to leave a green mark on your skin when you sweat or wash your hands. This is generally not harmful or painful (it is just oxidation of the metal) and will go away within a few hours of removal. If you absolutely hate it, you can put a thin layer of clear nail polish on the part of your jewelry that touches your skin and you will not have this issue. Note that you will not have this issue with gold-plated brass. The gold (or rose gold) plating keeps the brass from making direct contact with your skin.
3. My brass jewelry is looking dull - what do I do?
Your brass jewelry will change color with time and wear - it may start to take on a patina or darker areas, which is completely normal. Some people like this personalized look of brass, and others prefer it shiny. In any case, if you want to clean your brass jewelry, here are three options that are fairly easy and use simple household items.
You will need the following : warm water, a soft toothbrush, and one of the following: gentle dishwashing detergent (I prefer Dawn), or ketchup, or toothpaste (my preferred method).
(a) Start off by plugging your sink. This will ensure you don't lose any jewelry down the drain
(b) Using your soft brush and some warm water, brush off any visible dirt or particles off your jewelry
(c) If you are using detergent, mix some detergent in a bowl of warm water, and submerge your jewelry for 10-15 minutes. Remove jewelry from the solution, gently brush it with the soft toothbrush, rinse off and dry thoroughly.
If you are using ketchup or toothpaste, put a small amount on the soft toothbrush, and gently brush your jewelry until the shine has returned. Rinse off and dry thoroughly.
The key to all these cleaning methods is to be gentle with the toothbrush. You don't want to scratch your jewelry, and also make sure you dry it off thoroughly.
Overall, brass is an easy and versatile metal to use in jewelry, and with care, brass pieces will be with you for a very long time. As with all jewelry, it is best to put them on last, right before you the leave your house, and take them off and store them carefully right when you get back.
As someone who loves and appreciates her full time job, but has a major entrepreneurial itch, I'm a huge fan of side hustles. Side hustles can take very many different forms: you take your existing career expertise and turn it into an online course, you start a blog, you start a business from scratch, you sell on Etsy, you join a multilevel marketing company or direct selling company like Beachbody or LulaRoe or Stella & Dot... All of these are legitimate side hustles, and if you think you might want to follow this path, I challenge you to answer (and write down the answers to) the following questions.
1. Why are you doing this?
Is it for the challenge? Is it for the income? Is it for some other reason? Make no mistake, starting a business is tough - the highs are incredible high, and the lows are incredibly low. When you have moments of self doubt and start to question why you're doing this, the answer to this question will keep you going.
2. How much time are you willing to invest?
If you believe your Instagram feed, you might think that people start a business and success falls into their lap, and life is glamorous photo shoots and vacations. This is a lie. It take a tremendous amount of work to start and grow a business - I'll be honest with you, I work ALL. THE. TIME. Every evening, every weekend, sometimes over lunch, and even in the mornings on occasion. It is a no-joke commitment, and this is not exclusive to me. At some point your business will become a finely tuned machine and you will grow your team and outsource and you can then adopt a 4-hour workweek and all that good stuff, but the beginning is a hard slog.
3. How much capital are you willing to invest?
Every business, even a blog, involves some sort of capital investment. You may be going, "whoa wait, but blogs are free." And you're right, but you still need to buy a domain name. And if you're using a site like squarespace (which I do), then there's a hosting fee. Unless you are a graphic designer or a web guru, you may need some help creating your online space too. You probably also want a photoshoot so you have great photos for your launch. And what about business cards or social media ads? If you're selling a product there's an inventory cost. Your totals investment may be as low as $20/year for your domain name, or as much as $3000, which is what I invested in my business to start up. Since then, my investment and my business have grown, so my capital needs are an ongoing. Now you could also get outside capital, but that's another story for another time. But the bottom line is, how much can you invest personally, and how much do you need to raise?
4. How do you feel about failure?
Most start-ups fail. This is a fact. And while it is entirely possible that you are not one of those stories, it is still highly likely that you will fail in some aspect of your business. Perhaps it will be a launch that doesn't go as planned, or a product that you love that ends up being a total dud (this happened to me). Perhaps you might struggle growing your social media following, or your email list -- there are endless number of things that you can and will fuck up. How do you feel about that? Do you fear failure? Do you take them in stride? Do you linger over them? Can you get back up and keep going? How long will you allow yourself to fail before you walk away? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but you need to know it might happen.
5. How do you feel about success?
What does success mean to you? What will it look like? How will it make you feel? What happens once you reach a success measure? Do you reset? Will you give up control? How do you feel about hiring? And firing? Will you want to exit a successful business? How will you decide when you exit?
This one is even more challenging for me personally than failure. I'm 100% ok with failure, but success could really complicate things for me in the sense that I don't want to give up my day job, but a certain level of success will change how I approach it. Again, there are no right or wrong answers, and frankly, they will probably change with time, but sometimes success can be harder to deal with than failure - you may grow faster than you're prepared to, and its good to have some barometer for your next steps.
To be honest with you, I didn't answer any of these question (besides the one about capital) when I first started Bombay Taxi Boutique, and honestly I wish I had. My first six months were definitely a struggle, and I considered quitting more than once, but I'm glad I stuck it out - I had my first taste of success, and now I want more! I can't wait to see where this journey takes me. Where will yours take you?
Disclosure: This post first appeared at SheInTheCLE.com in February 2017. I am a founding partner at She In The CLE, a blogger collective that seeks to amplify and elevate the voices of the women of Northeast Ohio.