In Favour of Wearing Your Sunday Best!

In Favour of Wearing Your Sunday Best!Do you have an expensive dress hanging in your closet that makes you feel like a complete bad ass, but you never wear it because you’re saving it for a “special occasion”?

Or are there a pair of shoes you’ve been lusting after but you always talk yourself out of them because you wouldn’t have anywhere to wear them?

I went through a period in my early twenties when I lived in jeans and t-shirts. I was drawn to full, vintage-style skirts and edgy, punk rock accessories but I didn’t think this wild style fit into my new role as an activist. I was restricting my fashion choices to fit into someone else’s mold.

Eventually, the clothes I wanted to wear felt unnatural to me. It seemed too dressy and out of place to swan around in retro dresses paired with leather jackets.

Until I decided to just go for it. In 2013 my New Year’s Resolution was to not wear pants. Skirts and dresses all day every day instead.

I started incorporating glittery hair pieces and brightly coloured lipsticks into my outfits until they became my signature style choices. I’m happy wearing a tutu to work, bejewelled bunny ears to the farmer’s market, or a gown for a pizza date. Dressing up and expressing myself sartorially makes me feel good. And people have come to expect it from me.

It’s also changed how I go about buying clothing and accessories. I’m happy having a closet full of high quality, statement pieces with a few basics to mix and match them with. And I’m especially drawn to any item I can remix or restyle to make it completely my own.

Which is why I completely fell for Kirk & Kirk’s handmade sunglasses. You get to choose the frame, colour, and pin for a completely customized look. Jason and Karen Kirk are carrying on the work of their family, who started designing glasses in London in 1919. Each pair is handcrafted in France, while the adorning jewellery is produced in England.

They were kind enough to send me sunglasses from their Solarium Collection and I felt like a kid in a candy store getting to make my own creation. Inspired by the Victorian obsession with science and nature, each frame is named after a celebrated scientist of the era. I chose the Eleanor frames in anthracite with a silver fly pin. They’re the perfect combination of vintage chic with a punk rock edge.

It’s easy to let a high end product languish in a drawer for fear of them getting lost or broken. But I’m here to say: let’s always wear our Sunday best! Let’s get pleasure from the things that we love. Let’s allow them to make us feel good, rather than collecting dust somewhere.

So last Sunday I styled my hair in pin curls and put on a fancy outfit for a trip to the market and a walk around East London. Here’s what I wore…

kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 8kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 1 (2)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 1 (1)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 9kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 3 (1)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 12kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 1 (3)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 13I’m wearing sunglasses c/o Kirk & Kirk, Love, Yu corset top from my bestie’s bridal boutique in Toronto, a Danier leather jacket, a Stella McCartney skirt (from the #VCSwapShop), United Nude shoes c/o AllSole, a necklace from a street market vendor, a tea rose crown c/o Crown & Glory, and an LYDC London bag.

I love the quote by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” When we focus on quality over quantity, we stop our obsession with consuming and start actually getting pleasure from our favourite things.

So why not save up for the most luxurious item you can afford, rather than buying 10 cheap ones that will break easily?

Make “wearing your Sunday best every day” a personal mantra.

Put on your fullest skirt and twirl around your living room.

Instate “dress up Mondays” to add a little flair to the start of the week.

Always keep a bottle of bubbly in the fridge to celebrate good feedback, friend’s successes, or awesome hair days.

Spray glitter in your hair before going to the movies.

Invite your girlfriends over and wear your prom dresses for a pizza party.

Buy beautiful vintage crockery and use it to serve tea every week (even if it’s just for yourself).

Wear a different colour of lipstick every day of the week.

Use those luxury bath products that you got as a gift, instead of saving them.

Replace your mascara with falsh eyelashes that make you feel like an old school movie star.

Learn to do a hair style you really love and wear it once a week just because.

Support independent, creative brands.

Buy things that make you feel good.

And tell me, which Kirk & Kirk frames would you choose? What can you do to celebrate the little things today?

Love, wild sunsets, & rose lemonade,
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Inspiration Interview: An Interview with Kelsea Echo.

Photoshoot with Jess Juergens 2Kelsea, 27, Owner & Jewelry Artist at Kelsea Echo in Seattle, WA, USA

Kelsea and I have been commenting on each other’s blog for a long time now, so I was really excited to see that she’d quit her full-time job to start a jewellery business, Kelsea Echo. I’m certain you’ll be inspired by her colourful style and no-nonsense approach to making her dreams come true. Plus, she was kind enough to send me a few pieces from her shop so you’ll see photos of how I styled them interspersed throughout the interview. Take it away, Kelsea!

How would you sum up what you do?
Kelsea Echo is all about converting the rainbows, fantasy creatures, pictures, glitter, and stories inside my head into unique, wearable art that’s both pretty and practical.

kelsea-echo - 1What unconventional career path brought you from there to here?
People have a hard time believing this when they see my bold, colorful pieces, but I actually began as an accountant! I’ll warn you now… this story is a long one!

I fell wholly in love with polymer clay at a young age, happily mixing colors and sculpting for hours on end. After clay, it was beaded and wire jewelry, friendship bracelets, CDs decorated with Sharpie designs, ceramics, card-making, illustrated story books, and memory books. The one thing that remained constant was that I almost never made anything for myself, preferring to give everything away to friends and family.

Despite my clear love for art and making things for others, it wasn’t until the end of college that it occurred to me to turn that into a living. I was studying in Prague for my last quarter of college and had signed a contract with one of the Big Four public accounting firms. It seemed too late to change courses, so I decided to start a side business. The summer between college and work was spent holed in my apartment, happily and madly cranking out polymer clay and mixed media jewelry for my fledgling Etsy shop (now closed). I swore I’d make time for my business, buy supplies with my corporate earnings along the way, and someday be ready to go full-time.

Then I began working long hours (up to 17-hour days) and studying for the five-part CPA (certified public accountant) exams. Free time and energy were hard to come by. I eventually switched to a less demanding job, but even so, the dream was drifting further from reality.

One day, my boyfriend (now fiancee) asked me why I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. I told him I was – I wanted to get experience with leadership, become a manager, and move up the ladder. He asked me what had happened to my dreams of owning a jewelry business. I said that dream was dead – I had given it up long ago. “No, you haven’t,” he said. “If you had, you wouldn’t spend every minute of free time you have talking my ear off about all of the collections you’re going to make someday. When is ‘someday’? Let’s make ‘someday’ happen this year.”

A few months later I had trained my replacement, said goodbye to my coworkers, and was starting my preparations for Kelsea Echo.

kelsea-echo - 3What measures did you take to prepare for leaving your job and working on your jewellery full-time?
First, I made sure to make the transition as easy as possible for my work team. I gave my boss two months’ notice and spent that time teaching coworkers how to perform my work functions. If at all possible, it’s really worthwhile to leave on good terms. The massive emotional support my coworkers offered through well wishes, goodbyes, and thank yous helped me through a lot of the lonely months afterward. And my boss told me that if I ever wanted to work there again, she’d find me a job in the department, even if her team didn’t have an opening. Given my risk averse nature, hearing that was quite a relief.

My boyfriend and I also sat down and took a serious look at our finances. I estimated how much I’d need to spend on start-up costs like packaging and software and saved up a hefty chunk before quitting. I did my research on the cost of individual insurance. By the time I left, we were fairly confident that we could manage even if it took years to become profitable.

kelsea-echo - 2What does self-love mean to you and what role does it play in your life?
This is actually very relevant to something I’ve been discussing recently with one of my best friends. I was very confident at my old job. I worked hard, led extracurricular teams, was happy with the work I produced, and received plenty of recognition. I thought that confidence would translate to starting my own business, but it turned out that confidence as Kelsea, Accountant, didn’t translate to confidence as Kelsea, Jewelry Artist. Without the external recognition and assurance that I was good at my job, I had to generate it on my own… and it was harder than I thought it would be.

My friend, on the other hand, had never before been accused of laziness. She has worked at many jobs over the years, sometimes two simultaneously, others while attending college. Recently, she quit to become a housewife, and discovered how much our society looks down on anyone who is not currently employed.

We’ve both been learning that self-love really is just that. It comes from yourself. You can’t get it from your friends, your boss, your family, acquaintances, or even your partner. And it’s about truly loving who YOU are, not just feeling validated by your title, your awards, or your accomplishments. It’s knowing that you are valuable, that you have something to offer, and that it’s okay to be happy with yourself, whether or not you fit someone else’s definition of success or societal worth. It’s something I’m actively working on.

Photoshoot with Jess Juergens 3Where does your inspiration come from?
I kid you not when I say everything and everywhere. I can find inspiration in a novel, a jewelry supply, a photograph, the park, a season, a candy shop, or a color. The biggest problem I have is trying to whittle those down into collections that make sense!

What advice would you give for someone with a monumental dream looking to make it a reality?
Former accountant speaking here: take a good look at your finances. Try your hand at estimating a budget. If your dream requires a big investment or substantial initial loss of income, you might need to scale back your lifestyle for a while or build some savings before you start. Not only will it help ensure you don’t go broke in two months, but the preparation will help you feel less stressed and allow you to focus more on your dream rather than worrying about money constantly. And if you’re risk averse, like me, don’t try to fight your nature – just have a backup plan! A friend of mine has been thinking about quitting for years. She asked me how I finally got the push to go for it and we talked finances. Once she crunched the numbers, she came up with a financial projection and back-up plan for herself. I’m happy to say that earlier this year, she quit her office job to run her business full-time!

Break down the steps you need to take into a list. “Start a jewelry business” is fine for an overall goal, but it’s too vague and overwhelming to be your catalyst. Write down everything you can think of to do in Excel or Google Spreadsheet and put them in order by priority/time sensitivity. Ask friends and family for help where their skills match up. Then… dive in!

All of that aside, let go of those fears! Don’t worry too much about ‘failing’ and what people will think of you. People are going to think you’re incredibly brave for following your dreams. If something’s not working, you can always tweak it along the way or take that as an opportunity to implement your next big idea instead. The biggest loss you can take is not trying in the first place!

Thank you so much, Kelsea! Your story is so inspiring and I had so much fun styling your jewellery. I love that they had a pop of colour and playfulness to any outfit. Although I have to admit, they make me a little hungry. ;)

To see more of Kelsea, check her out on FacebookInstagramTwitter, hop over to her shop, and be sure to read her blog.

And tell me: who’s been inspiring you lately?

Lots of love,
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Photographs of Kelsea by Jess Juergens

Ask Me Anything!

Ask Me Anything!My weekly newsletter is where I share exclusive content with my girl gang – those badass babes who are kind enough to share their email address with.

These weekly love letters are my expressions of adoration and gratitude for you. And it’s my hope that they’ll be exactly what you need. Words of encouragement when you’re feeling stuck. A reminder of your greatness when you’re doubting yourself. Tips for living with flair when life feels dull. Strategies for defining your dreams and plotting a course for making them a reality when you’re feeling lost. Invocations to step up and create the life you want. They’re a cheering squad, agony aunt, and gentle kicks in the ass all rolled into one.

If you’ve signed up recently, you might have noticed that my newsletter has been quiet lately. But don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything and a new dispatch will be sent out on Sunday.

I’ve just been working on a new format because I want to make sure that when I grace your inbox each week that I’m dancing in with valuable insights, inspiring stories, and practical tips to help you fall madly in love with yourself and design a life you love.

So I thought, what better way to find out what would help you most than to ask?

So these new weekly love letters will feature an Ask Me Anything column! Do you have questions about anything from self-love and lifestyle design to being an expat or my favourite lipstick? Just leave me a comment or pop me an e-mail. I’ll answer 2 or 3 each week, along with sharing the books, rituals, activities, and simple pleasures that have been lighting up my life or helping me create major shifts. I promise, it’s going to be good.

If you don’t get my newsletter already, you can sign up over here and you’ll get a copy of my Define Your Dreams workbook right away. It will help you get clear on exactly what it is you want, so that you can make your reality match your daydreams.

To give you a taste of what you’d be signing up for, below is a copy of my love letter from March 8th.

Ask Me Anything!Hello gorgeous,

Is there something about your life that is driving you crazy? Is there something you’re yearning for?

Too often we think about how we wish our lives could be instead of how we can actively shape and mold them.

Maybe you want to be adventurous but haven’t been on a vacation in years and your bank account isn’t letting you go further than the other side of your own city.

Designing our lives and taking complete responsibility for our own happiness means showing up everyday and creating magic with the universe. It means stepping up and recognizing that you don’t have to wait for any arbitrary event in the future; your life can look and feel how you want it to right now. It might just require changing your perspective and getting a little bit creative.

That’s why I wrote my list of 50 ways to have an adventure without leaving town.

Adventure might bring to mind images of trekking through the jungle, exploring far off cities, or starting a new life on the other side of the world. But you can be adventurous each and every day. It’s just matter of making small choices that infuse your life with the feelings you want to dominate your life. And pretty soon those small choices add up to a whole new way of being.

Maybe it’s not adventure you want but glamour or comfort or creativity. Could a false pair of eyelashes, a nourishing bedtime routine, or a weekend painting class help you inhabit those feelings you’re craving?

Maybe reading a really challenging book will help you feel more intelligent or signing up for a volunteer program might bring you a sense of connection.

Decide what you want your life to look like and then figure out how you can create that right now, without having to change yourself, learn a difficult skill, or save up tons of money.

My challenge for you is to sit down today and think of 50 ways you can design your life to look more like that fantastical vision in your head.

I was surprised that when I sat down to it, it actually didn’t take me very long and it ended up being a lot of fun.

For bonus points, share your list with someone else and inspire them to do the same. I’d love to read it too, so feel free to reply to this email, leave a comment, or send me a tweet!

Believing in you always,
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Photographs by Warren Burke and Ana Flávia Cador.

Sign up for my weekly love letters & receive the 30-page Define Your Dreams workbook. Download now.
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