I had a conversation with a cloud once.
I asked: Where are you going?
She said: Who knows? Just passing.
I said: Me too.
I had a conversation with a cloud once.
I had a conversation with a cloud once.
I asked: Where are you going?
She said: Who knows? Just passing.
I said: Me too.
Together, Zuli and I spent one hundred and forty days in the hospital this year. The day before I was admitted in the hospital, I spent most of it vomiting and feeling nauseated, lightheaded. It was a cold day in January, and I was scheduled to speak on a panel at the WeWorks in downtown Austin about social media and branding with Planoly. I came close to cancelling it, but I convinced myself I would feel better once I had my headwrap and bright lipstick on. I mustered all the energy I had, got ready, and showed up.Read More
When I started Fanm Djanm, if my goal was to get rich and scam people, I would have quit four years ago. Starting a business from nothing is incredibly hard. Especially if the business involves art and creativity. Especially if the founder is black. And young. And a woman. You will find people laugh at you (at first). They will say "no" before you even get a chance to present your work. Then they will be inspired, and ask you all kinds of questions about your business. Then some will copy.Read More
So I may or may not have too many basket bags. I will neither confirm or deny. They are definitely a summer staple, and I can already see how they will work into my fall and winter wardrobe. Yes, I plan on wearing some of them with plaid suits and suede boots. DON'T COME FOR ME! Isn't fashion about having fun and expression one's self anyway?Read More
She was born thirteen minutes after the hour on a Thursday morning. I wish I could say I knew what the sky looked like. And that it was a sunny day with scattered fluffy clouds. That the birds were singing. And beautiful wild flowers danced in vast fluffy, colorful fields with the help of a gentle breeze. And butterflies came to our window to welcome her. That I was surrounded by loved ones. And sweet melodies played in the background as I pushed and pushed and pushed. That I held her immediately afterwards, exhausted, eyes filled with happy tears. But none of that happened. I was unconscious. Something had gone horribly wrong.Read More
One thing that always seems to get me out of my funk is dressing colorfully. I love to mix it, match it, block it, or pop it! It’s all part of the fun for me. In high school I was often teased because of my colorful choices. Now not only do they lift me up, I get to partner with wonderful brands like HUE to express myself as boldly as I choose! I picked four items from their fall campaign and decided to put together four completely different looks around them. Each look, somewhat different, represents a creative side of me. And they all make me feel a certain way while wearing them: Boss Pao, Curious Pao, Sassy Pao, and Chic Pao.
Essential Denim Leggings (Color: Viridian)
I created a monochromatic look with these almost teal leggings. As soon as I went in my wardrobe, my vintage St. Laurent blazer stared right at me, daring me to just go for it. At first glance, the extremely comfy leggings seemed a bit too casual, so I opted to dress them up with metallic blue pumps to play with their versatility. I finished the look with a teal beret, and blue wide-framed sunnies. Since my nails are part of the look, I opted for Give Me A Break, a purplish polish from the ORLY X HUE collection.
Gala Floral Velvet Leggings
The velvet leggings from Amazon were (hands down!) my favorite piece from the collaboration. I could not believe how comfortable and warm they were. They hugged my body like a glove, the fabric felt luxurious. The subtle floral print made it easy to mix with a navy and white pinstripe loose blouse. White boots were an excellent choice for the legging, but they would also look fantastic with fuchsia, grey, navy blue, and, of course, black shoes. Can you imagine how funky they would look with some black combat boots?! Ahhhh! I finished the look by colorblocking my deep blue coat with a bright yellow headwrap and hot pink purse. I love this look because I was able to mix prints and colorblock all at once!
Plaid Tights w/ Control Top (Color: Deep Burgundy)
Burgundy plaid tights are undoubtedly a fall/winter staple in my book. They look fun with minis paired with sneakers, booties, or over-the-boots. They can be super chic with midis, especially when paired with texture. I loved how easy it was to wear them with a yellow blazer and statement purse. They’re also available via Amazon.
Ruffled Luster Sock (Color: Sangria)
I’ve been a fan of socks and sandals lately, but I’m still very particular on how they’re paired. Socks can make or break an outfit and during the fall/winter seasons, I like to spice things up a bit by playing with colorful socks. The right pop of color can bring trousers, loafers, and booties to life, hunny! I love socks in particular when you don’t see them unless you’re seated, and they reveal a fun, or mysterious side about your personality. There are so many ways to express ourselves with fashion, and we should never underestimate the power of socks!
I chose another monochromatic look around the ruffled socks, and since they’re dressy, I decided to be a classy lady. I went with a long red trench coat, cut just a few inches above the ruffles, and finished the look with my vintage red hat. I chose Happy and Healthy, a light pink color nail color from the ORLY X HUE partnership to complement my bag and the pink of my shoes.
This post was sponsored by HUE.
Photography: Mink Made
What would you say if I told you everything I'm wearing in this look with the exception of my jewelry and socks were second-hand purchases? I've always been into thrift and consignment shopping. That's why I think I've been able to add character to my overall personal style. I'd often mix those pieces with basics I'd get from Uniqlo, American Apparel, or trendier pieces from Zara and other affordable brands. For the past few years, (and it might be because I've hit my thirties) I've been shopping less at stores known for making fast fashion, and I've been focusing on building a nice collection of classic and quality wardrobe.
Since I can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on one particular piece every season, I decided that I'd splurge more on my second-hand purchases. For the past two years, I've only purchased four designer pieces at full price. While there are things I've just GOT to have, the important thing to me is that I shop within my budget and I don't let the hype of things affect my finances. The frugal gal in me never left.
I used to thrift most of my pieces for under $10 but often, they'd fall apart or they wouldn't be very comfortable to wear. Now I focus on quality materials, designer goods that I love (if I find it ugly, I don't care what it is, it's not for me). For example, I paid $175 for these Chloé leather embossed slingback booties, $80 for the Dolce & Gabbana suede-trimmed corduroy skirt, and $125 for this Zac Posen suede clutch via TheRealReal. These are all beautiful, versatile pieces I plan to keep in my wardrobe for as long as I can. I spend a little more collecting items I plan to keep in my closet without having to break the bank. I own a small business, and I plan to continue to invest in it in order to grow. So if I spent every dollar I earned on designer goods the minute it comes out, I would have already been living on the streets. What matters to me is if I'll feel good wearing the pieces years to come.
1- I find the most original pieces that allow me to get creative instantly!
2- It's clear that we over produce and we over-consume. Most of the "used" pieces I buy are barely even used. I feel like I'm doing a small difference by doing the majority of my shopping through thrift of consignment stores.
3- I save money! New clothes and accessories aren't necessities, but I love fashion, and the best way I know to express myself is through my style. And so I shop (often).
4- There are no rules. A vintage satin Prada pair of heels can be worn with a pair of boyfriend distressed jeans. If I like it, I buy it. I don't care how old it is.
5- It's my therapy. Just browsing and browsing and browsing, until... BAM! I find the perfect piece.
The socks are perfect! (Click on each image to shop.)
From Gucci to Valentino, the handbags range from $95 to $445!
I am a creative director and founder of Fanm Djanm, a lifestyle brand dedicated to celebrate strong women everywhere. Western Union engaged me to participate in their “On the Map with Western Union” program where they are exploring the inspiration and innovation that different heritages inspire. I’m sharing how my culture inspires my work and creativity.
Up a steep hill in Petion-Ville, just a few minutes away from the Saint Jean Bosco church, stood a two-story house that came with a tropical almond tree leaning proudly on its side, and many, many colorful secrets. Number 10 was the address of that house. It was the home of many loud, sassy, and strong women.
A timid little girl was raised in that house. She would hang out on the second-floor balcony facing the street, and would immerse herself and her wild imagination in the lives of all the passersby that caught her eye.
“Men maaaaaaaabi! Mabi a jeleeeeeee! Mabi!” A street vendor would yell while balancing a heavy bucket of the cold, bitter beverage on her head with a train of metal cups hanging on the side. “Hey! Hey!” The sound would travel like a sharp knife through the air. A beautiful young woman would cover her mouth as soon as it came out. Her friend probably whispered something they shouldn’t have been sharing. Their smiles brighter than the full moon on a clear summer night.
The little girl would later attempt that noise, and her mother throw her a look that would send an icy chill down her back. She would then swallow the words and made sure they no longer escaped her mouth. “Educated little girls do not make these kinds of noises,” her mother would tell her with a stern face. That observant, timid little girl was me. I grew up in a colorful house up the hills in Petion-Ville, a small town in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. And my dream is to share my colors with the world.
Fanm Djanm’s main product is the headwrap, an accessory that symbolizes beauty, strength, and African culture. I’m inspired by hard-working women who work with their hands, like the street vendors in Haiti who can balance dozens of pounds on their heads while sashaying down the street in order to put food on the table and send their children to school. In my photographs, I show a lot of fruits, flowers, and books. These objects are very important in my daily life and I grew fonder of them when my family moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Newark, NJ. I noticed how the fresh fruits were replaced by fast food chain restaurants. How loving to read seemed like a strange hobby to my peers. How fresh flowers didn’t really exist anymore.
As I gained control of my adult life, my creativity, and my work, I am helping to normalize black girl joy, black women reading, and being soft and vulnerable. Everything that I choose to do and feature in my work is a reflection of my culture, my past, and my desire to live and explore. Black women are put in so many boxes, it’s almost exhausting to list them all.
My childhood in Haiti taught me more than I could ever imagine. It birthed my curiosity and desire to explore beyond my measures. When I finally moved to the states, revisiting that little girl who would dream of building tall ladders to look at the world, kept me grounded. Each time I visited her, I would get to a happy place, a peaceful place. A place that told me that once I could think it, I could achieve it. That little girl makes me see the potential in others. She allows me to think outside of the box, and not to focus on what I don’t have, but rather on what I can create with what I have.
Women around the world wear Fanm Djanm headwraps. And since I started, many headwrap companies launched right after. When I first started the business, I was terrified. I thought I would be made fun of because not many people around me were wearing headwraps. I did not invent headwraps, but I made it more accessible. Through my work, I’ve been able to prove that it’s not something women should only wear while running errands nor is it a costume. It is a beautiful accessory we should all be proud to wear. Even on the red carpet!
It all started when I realized that I felt the most beautiful when I embraced my natural features and wore my hair short. Then, I started playing around with different scarves I owned and began wrapping my hair. People would ask me why I did it, and others would ask me how I did it. I was managing two restaurants in Harlem when the idea to launch Fanm Djanm came to mind right after I went to buy some fabric at the African market. I went to all the African shops in Harlem, and none of them sold headwraps. They only had fabrics by the yards, so I bought a few yards and started playing in my studio apartment. Soon enough, I realized a yard of fabric was not enough. Women who have never wrapped their hair before, would not be interested in struggling to wrap a piece of unfinished product. I had to make it easier for them to want to buy it. I cut the fabric various sizes and shapes, and settled on one that made sense to me based on how much space and money I had. And that’s when it all began…how has your culture influenced you today? Share with me using #OnTheMapWU, can’t wait to hear your story.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Western Union
I'm on the road a lot these days. Between weddings, brand partnerships, and going back and forth between Austin and New York City, to say that I'm living in my suitcase would be an understatement. In case you have not caught up yet, my husband and I moved to Austin a few months ago, but my office/Fanm Djanm studio is still based in New York City. And before you ask me "why", I already answered all of that here. So I find myself traveling once a month for at least one whole week. Not only is the constant traveling overwhelming, packing is also one of my least favorite things to do.
I know I can't escape packing, so having the proper materials and some kind of guide makes it a lot easier. Away recently released a collection inspired by the creativity of Stockholm in collaboration with actress Rashida Jones. I received The Medium suitcase along with a tote and four packing cubes this past Saturday, and I'm in love! I figured it would make the perfect opportunity to talk traveling and share some packing tips. I love the suitcase and all of the accessories so much, I decided to launch a giveaway to give one lucky reader their very own! (Scroll down to enter.)
1- Make a list. I know packing seems like a piece of cake, but it's so easy to forget things, especially the necessities. And often, I always worry that I'm under packing, so I end up over doing it. Even if you don't have to get ready for as many events as I do when you travel, make the list. It will save you time and a headache in the long run. You will not always be able to stop at a convenient drug store to pick up toiletries. If you have dry skin like me, the hotel lotion will not be enough to keep the ash away. And the small town you visit in Vermont may not have a camera store for your to get an extra battery or a charger for your 5D Mark III. A list also makes it easy to visualize everything. And sometimes, it helps you pack less!
2- Cubes are your friend. If you want to stay organized and save on space, I highly recommend the cubes. In one small square cube, I was able to pack: two tees, one dress, three headwraps, and a full workout outfit (shorts, tank, socks, and sports bra). In another, I packed two pairs of jeans, a pair of denim shorts, and one faux leather mini.) Pack similar materials together to avoid wrinkles.
3- Roll instead of fold. First I fold, then I roll to maximize on space. You'll be surprised how much you can fit when you roll!
4- One word: Multipurpose. I love to pack things that can be used multiple ways, like a highlighter stick, I can use on my cheek, eyelids, or even as lipstick. Multiple sticks like this NARS one is a super space saver! I love to keep my makeup neutral, but I play with different eyeliners, like this blue felt-tip Make Up Forever liquid liner, and they basically take no space. I also love to pack clothing I can wear multiple ways. A pair of jeans to transition from day to night. A few pairs of heels I can dress anything up with. And I love to travel with a strappy metallic shoe because they complement mostly everything! And who knows if I get invited to a gala while I'm in New York! I can wear them with a gown, a mini skirt, or a pair of destroyed jeans.
5- Fill up your clutch, gurrrl. I attend many events during my trips. I pack multiple shoes for different occasions, which means I have to pack the right accessories. I pack up to three different purses at times. Most of them are small clutches, but I always fill them up with different jewelry, socks, or perfume.
For the sake of the post, I packed my toiletries in the smallest cube provided, my makeup in this makeup box I purchased from Sephora, workout clothes and sneakers, undies, jewelry, two pairs of jeans, one pair of shorts, three blouses, one jumpsuit, two dresses, three headwraps, three pairs of heels, one pair of flats, two small purses, the polaroid camera, and I still had room left. I packed the tote provided with my laptop, an agenda, a book, my wallet, two pairs of sunglasses and my passport. That too was still very spacious! I also love that it has a sleeve that goes over the handle to prevent it from sliding and moving around.
1- Subscribe to FindingPaola.com.
2- Comment under this post with your next travel destination or more packing tips of your own!
3- Like my Away post on instagram.
4- (NOT REQUIRED/EXTRA CREDIT) Tag two friends you'd like to go on an epic trip with!
WINNER WILL BE SELECTED NEXT TUESDAY, AUGUST 29TH AT NOON AND ANNOUNCED AT 5PM EST VIA NEWSLETTER. (SO BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG!) *Winner must be based in the United States.
Disclaimer: Although Away gifted me the items I featured, I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are my own.
I finally made it to New Orleans. And I fell in love with her colors. We hugged for a while. she welcomed me with open arms, and I got lost in her magic.Read More
Summer in Texas is brutal. By 7am, the temperature hits above 80, and it’s hard to walk a couple of miles, let alone run. Going outside is like a chore, you must expect to sit in a hot boiling car for a few minutes before it cools off. You will sweat within 30 seconds of being out, and you will find yourself drinking more water than you ever thought you could. All that is actually fine by me. I love the heat, and if I’m comfortable, it does not bother me at all. I’ve spent the past year curating my closet with clothes that hang loose off the body, that make me feel confident and comfortable.
I love the versatility in a lot of my new pieces. Tops I can wear backwards and wrap around. Pants I can comfortably breathe in even after I eat that I can dress up or down. Heels that I can almost run in and can stand hours in. You get the idea. Do you remember this top from this previous post? I love lightweight cottons, linens, and silks for the summer, especially if they’re made with love by small brands that care for quality.
This outfit was centered around these Classic Wideleg Leharia Watermelon Matter Prints pants. Although these pants are a statement piece with the color and print, I opted with making them the base of this fun look. The pants are a classic cut, and they can easily replace your favorite jeans by playing with different textures and other prints. I went with an oversized white linen top that could be wrapped or tied either in the front or back. The white top allowed for the other prints and textures to pop! I decided to go with a back bow for a little unexpected fun (I forgot the mosquito repellent! And regretted big time.)
My black and white headwrap has a minimal print that complemented the pants and worked with the red textured shoes. I added the purse because the pop of blue is what the look really needed. Sometimes, I don’t really like staying within the same color palette. I love to mix things up. Life is too short to not mix things up. Play with color. It’s fun!
I could easily say that mixing different statement pieces in one look is a hobby of mine. The earrings are statement if worn with a simple white tee and blue jeans. The headwrap is obviously a standout piece on its own. So are the pants, the shoes, and the purse, but they all come together and just work. I always joke about how playing with prints and textures that way is my “minimalist” look because I’m ridiculous.
I’m excited to wear these pants on future trips and around town. They work well with basic tees, a good button-up that can be worn either relaxed or tied up. They look amazing with slides and sneakers, and I love the vibrant pink mixed with the bold black print. These pants will be going on rotation all summer to mid fall. How would you wear them?
Since we moved to Austin, my husband and I have been in full on explore mode. The 100-degree weather is not too helpful, but that doesn't deter us from our usual date nights. I've been filling my closet with easy linen tops and pants, and simple dresses that don't cling to the body. I partnered with Ann Taylor to put together this fun date-night outfit, and opted for this super versatile lace Halter mini dress. It's the perfect little dress to take on summer vacations, wear to brunch, picnics, and other fun summer activities.
We went for a few drinks before catching up with our friends. And since the summer days are so long in Texas, and 7pm looks like 2pm, I kept it simple with the earrings, and played with colorful accessories. It was the first dress I I picked up because it's also a great piece to transition from day to night, and the playful halter cut at the shoulders makes it easy to play with access fun earrings. I also love the lace detail, which adds fun texture to an otherwise basic dress. Little white dresses are the perfect summer base to experiment with pops of color, wearing sneakers with dresses, and showing off your new hair color!
I plan on making this dress a staple for the rest of summer. I will accessorize with a headwrap or wide brimmed hat, and throw on some comfy slides for a more casual, fun look.
This post was sponsored by Ann Taylor.
A few months ago, my husband and I sat in the tiny living room of our two-bedroom apartment in Harlem, and the idea of moving to Austin, TX was introduced. Without hesitation, without even the slightest flinch, I responded, “Yes. Let’s do it!” I’m sure even he was not expecting this response. We fell in this quiet trance for a few minutes as I looked around the room. At the boxes of picture frames I ordered the previous week from West Elm. At the new artwork my parents brought me from their last trip in Haiti. At our plants sitting on random corners of bookshelves and windowsills. I had just really begun to settle in. There was so much work to do. So many rooftop dinners I had planned. The sunset, our friends, laughter, empty glasses that were once filled with delicious wine or colorful cocktails. I had plans, you see?
The apartment was everything I dreamt of when I first moved to New York City. It sat on the top floor of a new-ish ten-story complex with new appliances, a washer/dryer, two balconies, and access to a beautiful rooftop. It came also came with a window in the kitchen… A big step up from my first apartment, a tiny three-bed/1-bath nestled on the first floor of a walk up in Washington Heights, shared with three complete strangers and a peculiar fat cat. My room was really an awkward, triangular shaped closet equipped with a heating pipe that would burn my arm occasionally in my sleep. I still have a scar from that thing.
At this new apartment, I was going to get rid of our old couch, a comfortable brown fluff, I managed to buy when I moved to my studio apartment when I could finally afford to live without roommates. At that time, my husband was still in grad school in Bethlehem, PA, and we would see each other almost every weekend. That couch was the first big piece of furniture I’d ever purchased at a store. Everything else from that apartment came from Craigslist, including the bed I slept on. At this new apartment, I was going to redecorate everything. Really settle in, you know? And just like that, I encouraged the idea of moving away from it all. I said yes to moving from Harlem (the first place I discovered my creative voice), my office, my friends, my family, and my team. I’m not really sure what came over me, but I did.
The months moved by quickly, and before I could even blink, the move happened. Random men from a moving company dressed in distressed denim came and went, equipped with boxes, tape, and saran wraps. I heard rolls of tape screeching, giant boxes I would climb in to scare my husband banging, and an occasional, “Hey ma’am? Where do you want this?” It all happened so fast. I flew in from Austin yesterday, and now I’m sitting my small hotel room in New York City in a hotel in midtown as if I am a stranger to the city I call home. Now I find myself traveling here on business to visit my office once per month, and attend a few events.
Why Austin? That’s what everyone keeps asking me. I get it from the people who know me well. People who just got acquainted with me. And people who don’t know me at all. Why Austin? And I had no answer at all… at first. I just found the idea of moving intriguing. It was a challenge I was willing to take. Then I started to really myself the question. Why was I willing to move from somewhere that was so close and dear to me? What about Austin made it so easy for me to say yes to the move? The Sinatra song, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere…” started popping up. And I’d chuckle every time.
Maybe I found my creative voice in New York City. Maybe the voice was always there, and it took living in uncomfortable circumstances, meeting a shit ton of people, although I’m convinced some of them were just shadows living in the dark corners of the night, and really finding myself. That’s where Finding Paola came from. I started the blog when I first moved to New York in my tiny bedroom in Washington heights, where I made friends with mice, and tried to stifle the loud bachata, salsa, and Spanish hip-hop music blasting from the walls at strange hours of the night.
I’d walk from Washington Heights all the way down to Soho in the summer time, taking in every New York City neighborhood that I’d stumble upon. I’d notice how quickly the fast food restaurants disappeared into vibrant supermarkets with elaborate flower and fruit displays. I’d notice how clean some streets were compared to others. I’d glance at windows barred with tiny metal gates, decorated by mismatched dirty curtains, and how they would change to floor to ceiling architectural delights. I’d peek at the bookcases and the chandeliers hanging proudly, and I would get a quick glance of what a glamorous New York City life was. I’d walk past kids playing with water from a busted fire hydrant. And I’d also walk past doormen, standing in their dark blue linen suits hosing down the sidewalks. I’d even smile at some of them, but my smile was really an inquiry. “Sir? How does it feel interacting with some of the most elite New Yorkers on a day to day basis?” Of course I never had the courage to ask. To me, it was all a dream.
Now I’m truly living my dream. I used to say I was living my dream from the very first day I moved to New York City. The tagline for my blog changed from “A Haitian girl from a small town in Haiti lost in New York City” to “A Haitian girl from a small town in Haiti living her dreams in New York City.” It felt like I was living my dreams even when I would get on the subway at 2 AM after a long sixteen-hour shift standing on my two feet. I still have a giant callous under my left foot to prove it.
It felt like I was living my dreams even when I’d get yelled at by angry customers solely because the persons who worked above me were incompetent nincompoops. It felt like I was living my dreams when I danced the night away with my eyes closed in the racist downtown nightclubs. Where sketchy promoters would kiss every girl on the cheek for a second too long, and always made it their goal to place their hand on every woman’s lower back even if they’d just met them. It felt like I was living my dreams when I’d fantasize about some random magical person handing me everything I desired because maybe they’d see my potential and my work ethics. They would hear my story, and they would tell me that I had what it took to accomplish everything I would ever want. And just like that I’d just get everything I would ever want. That person never came, and I felt like I started getting sucked into this deep hole. Where everyone I met, no matter how well we connected, was not really there. They were there to jump out of taxi cabs with, and strut the streets in mini skirts.
And then one day, I decided to really start living my dream. I decided to be in control fully and truly. I decided to see beauty where most would just rush by. I decided to stop and inquire, and talk, and explore. Every corner I would find interesting, I’d stop and immerse myself within its walls. Bright or dark. Because even in the dark, magical things happen. I decided to listen to my instincts. I decided that magical person who would come to hand me everything I would ever desire would be me. I decided that the person was here all along. And maybe I suppressed her because she scared me.
And so, when my husband proposed the idea of moving to Austin, Texas, I said yes. Yes, because I really like the city. I visited a few times, and each time, I wanted to prolong my stay. Yes, because my husband could work for the same company around people who were really close to him. Yes, because we already had a few friends who also decided to settle there. Yes, because I secretly wanted more space to spread my wings creatively. Yes, because New York City started to become too small. And too familiar. Things slowly started to all appear the same. Nothing really impressed me anymore. Yes, because I also love Austin’s food, and it’s so much cheaper. Yes, because everyone I’ve ever encountered had been incredibly nice. Well, there’s a lack of diversity, but maybe that will change soon too, and maybe I’ll have something to do with it? Yes, because it made more sense for us financially. Fanm Djanm is expanding, and Finding Paola is blossoming. I thought it would be great to be based between two cities for now. And before you ask. Yes, being based between two cities is ridiculously exhausting, but I’m optimistic that I’ll get the hang of it.
I thought maybe being away from New York City would refresh my perspective. The love would be deeper and stronger. We’d feel close again, and the excitement would return. And when I go back to Austin, I’d be inspired by the things I would see and find back in the New York City I fell in love with. The people I would meet, including the cab drivers. When I tell them I’m not really visiting, and that I kind of live between two cities. That I decided to recently move to Austin with my husband. They all seem so confused. They go in this deep thinking mode and would ask me, “Why would you leave New York?” And I would respond, “Why would I not?” And they would have nothing to say. Then they would ask me a lot about Austin.
Why Austin? Because that’s where my heart wants to be. Because if I can make it in New York, I can make it anywhere. Because the love of my life also happens to be there. Because where love exists, there’s a home. Why Austin? Because...
I think it's important to get to know the people I work with outside of the workplace. I think it's important to let my guard down around the people I trust with my business. I think it's important to have fun with my team because it helps build a stronger professional relationship, and makes the work even easier. I enjoy taking my team out when I can. I try to budget different fun activities like group massages, dinners, and other team building events we can think of. I was thrilled when Hudson Hotel invited me to have a few drinks at their dreamy Sky Terrace during my last trip to New York City. So, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring my team along for some summertime fun.
When my team and I arrived, we were greeted by a bright pink flower wall as we made our way to the hostess stand. A beautiful dark skinned woman with a smile brighter than her fluorescent orange dresses welcomed and accommodated us right away. We were seated in a sunny and spacious corner of the roof where we could lounge and soak up all of the sun for the rest of the afternoon into the evening.
The summer breeze relaxed me as I closed my eyes on the plush lounge chair. I felt my shoulders getting less tense, and all my little troubles melting away. Nemah's loud laughter almost disappeared in the background. But there's no tuning out the spicy Ghanian/Tanzanian woman who keeps our office organized and ships everything with so much care. I pictured Toni, the newest addition to our team, trying to shush Nemah or giving her the side eye to get her to behave. Shenel who is part of our operating and creative crew helped to keep me from falling on the hammock as I tried to hold my drink in one hand and keep my dress down from the wind in the other. She's the calmest of the group, and observes quietly while trying to make plans on how to distance herself from the super loud, colorful group. And Indigo, not quite part of the team, but a huge supporter since she moved to New York watches us as we strategically place our drinks on the table for some photo ops. We may not be working, but we will get creative!
The watermelon sangria arrived in an actual watermelon, and I squealed with delight. I'm not joking. I love when fruits are used as bowls. How genius! They get me every time. I will never get used to them, so don't even try. And If I could, I'd eat out of a pineapple or watermelon everyday.
Our cocktails were as delicious as they were beautiful. I settled on the refreshing Hudson Mojito while everyone else tried to make up their minds since everything seemed like a great choice. The prices are pretty standard for a beautiful rooftop bar with great seating. A great New York City skyline and comfy seats don't come cheap. For a group of five people, the bill came around $200 excluding gratuities. That included the giant watermelon sangria and an additional five cocktails. Overall my team and I had a phenomenal experience taking in the gorgeous views as the sun disappeared and the skyline lit up from the tall buildings surrounding us.
I'm doing a massive clean up in my closet. I'm getting rid of everything that causes me the slightest amount of discomfort. Things I held on to to remind me of my size 2 days. Things I used to piece together with safety pins and pretended they were all that. Lots of thrifted polyester things. I want to live the easy, breezy life.
As I get older, I'm falling more and more into myself. I seriously couldn't care less about trends, and you know that. But there are a few I'm seriously LOVING right now. I love mules and I cannot lie. I love mules, slides, block-heeled shoes, high waisted, wide legged denim, and fun statement bags.
I find myself shopping less at stores like Zara and H&M. I thrift more, but I no longer just go for things just being they're three dollars. I shop for quality now. I shop to pass things down to my future daughters. I shop for things that make my life easier and more meaningful. I look for color, but I don't just settle on any color. And now I buy lots of basics too just to play with statement accessories.
I've noticed that lots is changing with my shopping habits. I spend more money on shoes now and jeans too. I don't shop because of brands, you know that. But if I put something on, and it makes me feel better, I will buy it. I think fashion is fascinating. As I look at currently styles that mirror my mom's wardrobe in the early 90's, and how everything just recycles, I don't go by what others say will make me look good. Everything I purchase now is about how it makes me feel. Cheers to comfort. And ease!
Summer just snuck up on me. It grabbed me by the shoulders, spun me around a few times, and said, "Darling! Whether you're ready or not... I'm here!" It's delightful to shed all the layers, and feel the warm sun on my skin.Everything has been a big blur these past few months in my little world. With my big move (we'll get into that later), traveling, and work, it has been really hard to keep track of time, and to really enjoy the sun. I found myself spending late nights in the office, living out of two suitcases, jumping from airbnb to hotels in between cities and projects. I'm not going to lie, it has been tough for your girl. But the challenge has been accepted. We just have to breathe and believe, right?
A couple of weeks ago, I forced myself to take some time off by attending Sweet Spot Festival, a free, family friendly Harlem festival. I also made sure to set some time to be grateful for all my opportunities, and to make the best out of everything whenever I could. I know I talk about comfort all the time. But this time, comfort was my priority. I packed my white and gold Nike Cortez shoes because they made it easy to get dressed in the morning. They go with pretty much everything! I was able to wear them with short shorts, cropped jeans, and some of my easy shift dresses. I even traveled to Paris with them to attend a few matches at Roland Garros. They were the perfect everyday shoe to pack in my suitcase. I love how comfortable and classic they are. I already have two pairs, but I'm currently eyeing this pair of rich gold ones. I can't wait to pair them with more looks this summer through fall!
Three blocks from the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, fifteen minutes before show time, my husband and I clumsily shuffled our way out of the taxi. At that point, we knew that if we stayed in the car and caught one more red light, we'd never make it to the performance. We were on our way to see Come From Away, a new touching Broadway musical that beautifully recounts the true story of "7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that put their lives on hold to open their homes to this world of strangers." I had no idea what to expect about the performance, but the story alone got me very excited. And I love Broadway!
We got out of the taxi and weaved through crowds of families and lovers whose excitements could be felt through their loud chitter chatters and smiles. But we didn't have time for that. We had places to be and a show to see! When we finally made it, time was on my side because the line at the box office was surprisingly short, and my two tickets were handed to me promptly. We were led to the very first row and sat next to an older couple. I'd never been this close to the stage and actors before! The night just kept getting better and better.
A few seconds after we were seated, I did a quick glance around, admired the high, elaborate ceilings, turned off my mobile, and just like that, we were transported to a remote town in Newfoundland. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, America and the world came to a halt. The beginning of the show immediately brought me back to math class in the 10th grade, in my little world in Newark, NJ. A shy, skinny Haitian girl, still trying to hide my Kreyol accent when I spoke, I sat there quietly as we heard the news. Ms. Laurence, our loud teacher who always had a lot to say about how young and silly we were stood there silently, waiting for directions and more news. It was no longer about me, my teenage struggles, nor my daily dramas. Bigger and scarier things were happening. The following days were a blur.
The musical takes us to September 12th, when 38 airplanes and over 6,500 passengers were stranded in a giant airport in Newfoundland. The small town of only 3,000 opened their homes to these passengers. Town officials started collecting all necessary items to welcome their new guests, and the entire town came together to provide relief efforts. Townspeople utilized all public spaces, as well as private establishments, in order to provide their new guests with shelter and food. Human kindness could not have been displayed in a more phenomenal and heart-warming way.
My favorite parts of Come From Away are the brilliant individual stories told of a lot of the stranded guests and their hosts. I don't want to give too much away, but I love how the story touches on different religions, races, cultures, and sexual orientations. I love that there's a love story between two older characters. I admire the female pilot's personal story about being the first woman to fly with a big commercial airline. The personal friendships, the interactions, judgements, and the humor were all highlighted beautifully. I fell in love with every character in the story. They gave me hope.
When the show was over, the entire auditorium stood up for a standing ovation. I've never seen my husband so excited and happy after a musical. Even during dinner, he wouldn't stop talking about how amazing the show was. We talked about all of our favorite parts. It sparked so many great conversations during the evening and the entire week after. This is why I've partnered with my friends from Come From Away to gift two tickets to one lucky follower!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
To win two tickets, tag a friend that you'd like to bring on my recent Instagram post and comment below (on the blog with your email address) with why you want to bring them. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 5th and contacted via email!
I was introduced to Matter Prints last month and immediately fell in love with their designs, prints, and overall message. It wasn't easy choosing a pair because there are so many great options, but the Side Lunghi pulled at my heart strings and just wouldn't let them go. I love the white print on navy blue - it's noticeable but subtle enough to allow room for creativity and versatility. The design of the pants also suits women of any age or size. And it's a great substitute for your favorite pair of jeans. They're comfortable, funky, chic, and were made for mixing with other prints.
I understand that prints can be a little intimidating. There's this belief that they lack versatility, and they cannot be worn as an everyday item. The question I often hear is, "It's nice, but what would I wear this with?" My answer: Anything. Everything. And these Side Lunghi pants couldn't be more perfect to support my statement. The easiest way to wear printed pants is to pair them with a white tee. You can finish the look with some strappy heels, booties, white sneakers, or wedges (hello comfort!) I thought it would be a fun challenge to show you three mixed-print looks that show how easy and versatile printed clothing can be.
LOOK ONE: Polka-dot play with a pop!
I thrift most of my blouses and so it was easy to find a top that complemented the navy and white print of the Side Lunghi pants. I went with a classic button-up with tiny white polka dots that wouldn't distract too much from the print of the pants. To finish the look, I wrapped my head with a blue-hued, African-printed Fanm Djanm headwrap. Notice how each print in this look is minimal and the colors are all in the same color group? I purposely mixed these prints together so I can still pay with a pop of color without the look being too forced or busy. I wanted all the the patterns to flow effortlessly and for the shoes to be noticeable, but not to take too much attention from everything else.
LOOK TWO: Smart, Polished, and Fun!
This time I opted for a loose silky button-up blouse with pin-stripe patterns to transform the super casual pants into a smarter look. This pairing would work beautifully for a work environment. For the office, I'd switch the red chandelier earrings for studs, and the color-blocked mules for classic loafers or pumps. But because I work in the creative field and not a super formal office setting, I layered the entire look with an oversized denim trench, and completed it by adding a boost of color with a bright red solid Fanm Djanm headwrap.
LOOK THREE: Orange You Comfy!?
This is the perfect look for errands - you could go from brunch to the movies to dancing! It's comfortable all around - flats, oversized button up (with pineapple-print pocket!), and a giant orange floppy hat to block the sun and the haters. The leopard print of the loafers add another dimension to the beautiful prints of the pants, and did I mention pineapple-print pocket?!
So tell me, are these pants awesome or what?! What would you wear them with, and which look was your fave!?
This post was sponsored by Matter Prints. All opinions are my own. I only work and promote brands I would personally support.
I’m not a bra girl. Now that I’m thinking about it, is any woman? In all honesty, I wouldn’t wear a bra at all if it weren’t for my girls’ (and yes, I’m referring to my nips here) insistence on very obviously being the first to greet every cold room and sharp breeze. Wouldn’t it be splendid to wear beautiful sheer tops and dresses sans bra? If I had Grace Jones’ boldness I would. But unfortunately, I’m a mere peasant in comparison, so I’m sure that I’d probably end up on hotmess.com with a photo taken from the most unflattering angle (How rude!) I also generally stay away from push up bras. I’m perfectly happy with my itty bitties and boob cleavage is the last thing on my mind. All that is to say that bras are still necessary, so we might as well find the ones that work the best for our desires.
I’ve partnered with ThirdLove, an innovative underwear brand that specializes in bras and prioritizes a comfortable fit. Since all boobs are not the same, before you place order, you fill out an easy form that makes it easier for them to recommend your true fit. They recently launched a “Naked” campaign and added nude options for women of darker complexions. I opted for Naked4 because, although lighter than my actually complexion, I find that it complements my under tones and go perfectly under loose open blouses. The fit is perfect! The bra has wires, which is normally a huge no for me, but I barely felt them, even after wearing it all day. I love that these bras hug my body without suffocating it.
I’ve been really into pants lately. Have you noticed? I used to hate jeans - now I want all of them! My currently go-to look is jeans, heels (either booties or pumps), and a loose blouse or tee. I love to close only one or two buttons and leave my bra fully visible. A man once asked me how my husband felt about this look. You can only imagine how far my eyes rolled back before I put him in his place with a kind smile.
Nude underwear, including bras, are an essential item in every wardrobe. They are a must for all lightweight light colored clothing. I even prefer them over white ones when I wear all white. I’m elated to have a nude so close to my skin tone, which makes it easier to wear my favorite ivory silk blouse! I love the sleek design of the 24/7 tee-shirt bra. The classic cut adds support with style.
Now you can find your perfect fit in a shade that complements your skin tone AND try it for free for 30 days. For a limited time, my readers can try the New Nakeds free for 30 days -- just CLICK HERE for this offer!
The Naked colors will be available via Try Before You Buy until early next week.
This post was sponsored by ThirdLove. All opinions are my own. I only collaborate with brands I believe in and would personally support.
A couple of months ago, I collaborated with Refinery29 on a series of #shortcuts videos. Despite the brutal December snow storm, the whole day was just warm and magical! The entire crew consisted of bad-ass women. Being in the studio as a talent inspired me beyond anything I could imagine. I loved that they considered my ideas while I had the full benefits of a "talent". The studio was a fun, open atmosphere where we created a few fun looks that involved glitter, color, nude lipsticks, and of course headwraps. When I posted the nude lippy video (posted below) on my page, many of you reached out to ask me which lipsticks I used. I also noticed the same feedback on the Refinery page, which of course prompted this post!
I've been really into statement earrings and colorful eyeliner lately, so I often go for some basic lip options. I used to put on a red everyday, but now I often find myself grabbing a nude.
I love nudes! Nude lipsticks that is. • If you're curious about the lip shades I'm wearing in this #refinery29 #shortcuts clip, click the link and subscribe to the newsletter. Trust me when I tell ya the blog and newsletter are about to be LIT (Clearly trying to be cool here. Are the kids still saying that? If not, forgive me.) 🤓 #findingpaola • Oh! And this #headwrap is called Mother Earth by @fanmdjanm • Makeup by @laneamua
"Tampered" by Urban Decay- I love this lipstick when I want to add a soft blush tone to my look. I still consider it a nude although it has a hint of pink with my complexion.
Anise by Bite Beauty- This is by far my favorite nude. I also have Cocoa, a darker shade from the same brand that I would absolutely recommend. I love their cream texture, and I would consider them both beautiful nudes!
860 Spice by L'Oreal- I've been grabbing this almost daily. It's extremely moisturizing and does the trick for my 5-minute makeup looks!