BLACK RAINBOW GARDEN

A scrapbook of life, style, and random musings.

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

(Okay, there was really no point in me posting that video—but the Spice Girls were great in the day, am I right?)

Most people find themselves living in a rut at some point (often, several times) in their life. Maybe you realized you were in a rut after eating the same breakfast cereal ten days in a row, going to your same office job, returning home to watch your usual TV show, and then going to bed only to repeat the cycle the following day. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Ruts are enticing little creatures. Often times, there is nothing inherently bad with the situation you are entered in… but in the back of your mind you know you are capable of better and it’s simply the fear of failure that is holding you back.

While the following ideas won’t instantly cure the problem, they can certainly help you think outside of the box and inspire big change. Here we go!

1. Make dates with yourself

Set a time each week to nurture your soul solo. A few ideas: go on a hike (bring a notebook to write in during pit stops!), pamper yourself (get a manicure or do one yourself… followed by a bubble bath and soothing music), order take out and watch your favorite series followed by wine. Anything goes, but the key is to really treat yourself. Once you make a habit of these dates, you’ll notice an enhanced understanding of yourself, as well as a lower tolerance for stagnation and mistreatment from others—after all, you’re directing all of the fun, why settle for less at any time?

2. Go with the flow

Often times people are so focused on the destination rather than the journey that they are unable to embrace what is in front of them and its subsequent outcome. Life rarely goes as planned, so learn to let go and travel with the wave rather than against it. Although it can be disappointing when things don’t work out the way that you wanted, most always the realization will come that the alternate route turned out way better anyway. However, finding it means having faith, letting go… and understanding that if you dwell in disappointment, you won’t discover the better option.

3. Talk to strangers.

Make a habit of engaging in friendly conversation with people you don’t know. Human connection is one of the most beautiful aspects of life, and if you’re open and sincere with people, they will be open and sincere with you. It seems like such a simple and obvious thing to do, but in the world of Facebook and Twitter (and blogging! ;)), it’s all too easy to become and feel very isolated. Break barriers, ask questions, pay compliments… you never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or what kind of impact you will make on someone. And really, once you get in the habit of exchanging cheerful interaction on a very frequent, you will find yourself far less miserable. Trust me. (You might even find yourself in a state of happiness, even)

4. Drop the act.

When you find yourself asking “What should I do with my day/week/life?”, ask yourself what you would do if no one was watching. You can’t please anyone but yourself; it’s only once you drop the pressure of appeasing your friends, or society, or your grandparents, that figuring out what you’re really, truly passionate about becomes a piece of cake. You know, it’s that thing that makes you feel as if you’ve won the golden ticket.

5. Drop judgment.

Everyone has a past, and everyone is going through their own personal struggle. The moment that you stop judging you’ll open your eyes to beautiful experiences and people that you never would have encountered otherwise. Not to mention, our judgments of others are often expressions of the same criticisms we give ourselves—in order to completely be at peace with ourselves and our own imperfections (those same qualities that give us depth!), it’s necessary to do the same for others.

6. Do stuff.

Take up a new hobby, join a club, read a book, garden, go on a hike with friends… do whatever it is that makes your mind tick. The key is to stimulate your brain in new ways and have FUN so that the more mundane aspects of your life are always broken up with really awesome activities.

7. Travel

A trip is worth its weight in gold. Go somewhere new and nourish your soul. Whether your M.O. as a traveler is to experience adventure or to simply relax, traveling is one of the best ways to change your perspective and and allow yourself freedom and excitement. It can also be very cost-effective—check out websites like Kayak.com for excellent rates on flights and stay at hostels (or check out couchsurfing.org). Better yet, stay with friends from around the world—and if you don’t have them now, you likely will on your return getaway. Traveling will also give you something to look forward to on those challenging workdays (I’m always planning a trip, in part for this reason!).

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SIMPLE WAYS TO PROMOTE INSPIRATION

It isn’t easy to find, and at times its capture feels completely up to chance. For this reason, I like Elizabeth Gilbert’s interpretation of inspiration and creativity—as a sort of magical form— described in this amazing TEDTalk (really, you should watch it! now!).

Nevertheless, there are several very easy ways to help promote creativity in your daily life. Try them out and watch it grow.

1. Keep a notebook by your side. Always.

You never know what a bite of inspiration will hit, which is why it is so important to keep a special notebook devoted to your ideas. Nothing beats the convenience of a small notebook that you can keep in your purse, and there’s just something about pressing a pen to paper that a computer just can’t duplicate. Any time you get an idea, jot it down. Don’t think, just write!

2. Remove your filter.

When you get an idea, don’t judge it. Capture it first without saying “yes” or “no”. You can figure out later whether or not you want to run with it, but rejecting your ideas early on can filter out the good stuff. Don’t be afraid, and whatever you do, don’t put a limit on what you can achieve.

“ Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. ” - Andy Warhol











3. Think like a child.

Play more, stress less… or better yet, incorporate play into your daily routine. Children possess expansive imaginations that we are trained to shut off as adults. Nurture ideas that breed playfulness. Run, climb trees, blow bubbles. Keri Smith's dedicated a whole section to this idea in her book Living Out Loud. What were you passionate about as a child? Chances are, this aspect of you will progress you professionally and personally as an adult.

4. Surround yourself with positive people.

It’s cliche, but true: you are the company that you keep! Surround yourself with positive individuals who support your creativity. Join clubs and volunteer at organizations that attract other motivated, positive minded people.

5. Push your own boundaries.

The moment that you enter the “comfort zone” is the moment to escape it! Being “comfortable” usually leaves you in a rut, while challenges move you forward.

6. Don’t give up on want you really, truly want.

A friend once gave me the sage wisdom, “The moment you think you can’t do it is the moment right before you make it.” Challenging yourself is tough work, and very exhausting, but don’t let those growing pains prevent you from trekking on. Take a breath but don’t give up. Remember that you’re that much closer to your vision than you might think.
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CRAVING: CHEAP MONDAY

Established in 2004, Cheap Monday quickly gained a following for its sexy, well-fitting jeans. But the Swedish brand is more than just denim. Offering up an assortment of casual chic dresses in lightweight, easy fabrics, clever label tees, and modern accessories, it’s no wonder that Cheap Monday is the go-to for cool kids and fashionistas alike. My favorite items? The Melinda dress (just take a look at that back!) and the futuristic open necklace. Cheap Monday’s relaxed signature is perfect for spring. And the best part? Items are luxury-brand quality without the luxury pricetag (most dresses are between $50-70, tees hover $30, and most jewelry items are in the $20 range).


Take a peek at Cheap Monday’s spring/summer 2012 collection…

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Wordsmith Wishlist

Say “yes” to these gifts for the wordsmith in your life. Better yet, treat yourself—it’s as easy as A-B-C…

     

1. oui non charm earrings from thorn & wynn, $21; 2. signet initial ring from urban outfitters, $20; 3. latin rings from marc by marc jacobs, $3 (yes, $3!)

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ROUNDUP

Here is a selection of some of the cooler pages we’ve stumbled upon these past few days. Enjoy!

This Spring makeup look from Free People is as effortless as it is chic. (I was waiting to retire my chalky black shadow and heavy foundation, anyway—weren’t you?)

In celebration of the literary icon’s birthday, these quotes from Maya Angelou about life, success, and plain-ol’ kicking ass (her words!) are incredibly inspiring.

Are your impressions of major US cities accurate? Will Doig of Salon.com says that Portland isn’t as cool as you think it is, and LA isn’t all that superficial.

Take a look inside Courtney Love’s closet. Who knew that Love was such an antique garment junkie? Pun intended.

How many bags of clothes can you get rid of? asks one Stylelist blogger. Brie Dyas tackles the art of downsizing.

Tackle your 10 biggest beauty blunders with these expert-approved tips.

In the world of fashion blogging, where are all the real girls? An article on authenticity in a culture where everyone’s chasing their fifteen minutes of fame.

Tavi Gevinson’s speech on figuring it out is both inspiring and charming. If everyone in the world had half of her passion, it would be a much better place.

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THE BRG GUIDE TO RESALE (OR, HOW TO SELL YOUR CLOTHES FOR CASH)

Selling your vintage can be a fun way to earn extra cash (or serious cash—one of my friends is able to pay rent with her “consignment income” alone!). But it can also be time consuming, and for the unprepared, unprofitable.

If you’re new to resale, this guide of tips and tricks is for you—whether you want to start your own business, or just clean out your closet and earn a few extra bucks.


1. KNOW WHAT TO PART WITH

Take a look through your closet and throw out anything that doesn’t make you feel absolutely fabulous—this includes items that don’t fit, are outdated, or show obvious signs of wear. That’s right, try on each and every item you’re unsure about and if it doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks (and nothing short!), it’s time to let it go. If you are like most people, you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time, and although it can be daunting to say goodbye to certain pieces, think of this process as a way to make room for new items… and the cash to buy them!

2. KNOW HOW TO PREPARE

No matter where you choose to sell your clothes, you will need to make sure that your items are in the best possible condition. Wash and press each item of clothing, and examine them for any signs of wear. Remember that resale and consignment boutiques will very rarely buy items with even the slightest spot or stain. Once I brought in a Marc Jacobs dress expecting it to be sold in a snap when the buyer turned it down for a tiny dust discoloration that I hadn’t even noticed. A little bit preparation goes a long way… sure, someone may buy your slightly wrinkled shirt, but the same shirt would have sold for more money if it was wrinkle-free.

3. KNOW WHERE TO SELL

All resale outlets are not created equally. When you learn what types of items each available avenue is looking for, you maximize your chances of success!

• RESALE BOUTIQUES (Such as Buffallo Exchange, Red Light Clothing Exchange, and Crossroads Trading Co.): Resale boutiques require the least amount of effort—but they also tend to bring in the lowest return for your clothes. Your profit will generally be around 35% of the amount that the store prices your clothes for, or a higher percentage in store credit. Resale boutiques are your best bet if most of your threads come from contemporary, mainstream stores (think GAP or Urban Outfitters) that are very “wearable” and will appeal to a wide range of people. Each resale boutique is different, so use your judgment when bringing in clothes (and feel free to call in to ask what each store might be looking for!). For example, our local Buffalo Exchange likes very contemporary, current labels… so if I’m selling an authentic 1940’s wiggle dress, I know that I’ll want to visit Red Light Clothing Exchange first, which favors quality vintage garments. To save time, gather all of your clothes and make the rounds through the different resale boutiques in your area, starting with the stores that you think will favor your clothes and give you the highest return. The best part of these types of stores is that you will get your money right away!

• CONSIGNMENT STORES: The process for selling consignment is similar to the typical resale process, but instead of being paid upfront, you’re loaning your clothes to the store. If and when they are sold, you are given a check (generally monthly) written by the store. Consignment stores tend to have higher standards for the clothes that they take (think Calvin Klein instead of Hollister), and it takes longer to see your profits—but you’re also given a much larger cut of the sale price than at resale boutiques. And if the clothes don’t sell quickly, you always have the option of taking them back and selling them somewhere else.

• ONLINE MARKETS (Ebay, Etsy, Weblogs, etc): The main benefit of selling independently is that you have complete freedom in what you choose to sell and how to market yourself. You also get to keep almost all of your earnings! The drawback is that selling online requires a lot of time and patience—think about the time that it takes to design graphics and a layout for your store, marketing your store, building credibility with potential buyers, taking (and uploading… and editing!) photos, writing clever item descriptions, communicating with buyers, shipping items—whew! However, if you are passionate about clothing, selling independently can be incredibly rewarding and creative work! If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, selling online is by far the most profitable way to resell your stuff.

A few more tips and tricks for selling online:
1. Display lots of different photos so that potential buyers will know exactly what they’re getting. Make sure that your photos have clear backgrounds and good lighting—you don’t need to be a professional photographer, but the photos should be accurate and inspire buyer confidence.
2. Do your research! If you’re selling through an auction website, read up on the best times to start and end your auction (psst… typically, it’s Sunday evening, a time when most people are surfing the net at home before the start of the workweek). It also helps to search other similar items to get ideas on pricing and descriptions, and check for completed listings to see which items sold and which didn’t.
3. If you’re selling through an auction website, master your title keywords so that they’re concise and searchable. The prettiest description won’t get you anywhere if the words aren’t drawing traffic!
4. Be completely honest in the wording of your item descriptions. Remember, reputation is very important when building a network of buyers, so be sure to mention the flaws of each any every item.
4. Communication is key. Check your email several times a day, and respond to buyer inquiries right away. This will build trust with your buyers!
5. I find it helpful to make out a shipping schedule (it can be tricky to stay on top of things with a busy schedule!). You can make a plan to ship items on one or two specific days a week, and let buyers know your plan ahead of time.

So, if you sell clothes for cash, what are your tips and tricks?

I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!
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MONDAY INSPIRATIONS

   

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IDEAS FOR AUGUST

First off, hello and welcome to my new blog! 

It’s hard to believe that August is only a few days away (!), and with that, I think that it’s about time to shake things up before the summer fades away.

Here are some of my ideas & resolutions for a happier and creativity-infused August. 

• Make room for the new. Sift through your living space and purge the items that you could do without. That neon green dress that is two sizes two small? Donate to Goodwill or cash in at Buffalo Exchange. Those books that have been sitting on your shelf for years and years without so much as a page turn? Ship and sell to Powells. 

• Start off your day with morning pages. You can get more inspired by creating your own notebook (personally, I’m a fan of these DIY vintage book journals—cute and kitschy and incredibly easy to make!). For those of you who prefer an online format, 750 words is a nifty application that allows you to privately write and track your morning pages, and best of all, analyzes your data. 

• Make time for leisurely solitude. It could be as simple as popping in your music player and going for a walk to the park. 

• Mail an anonymous note to a loved one! I have an affinity for gradeschool style notes—construction paper, colorful glitter, and glue gives a simple message of gratitude a powerful punch.

• Write yourself a letter of gratitude.

• Go on a date with yourself. If dinner is your thing, break out your best silverware and drink your favorite wine.

• Explore your own backyard. Vacation an area of the city that you haven’t yet seen.

• Revitalize your living space. BLDG 25 (the Free People blog) posts DIY project tutorials—many of them home & decor related—each Wednesday, and they are worth a go.

• Make street art. Tree cozy, anyone? (There is one just a few blocks from my house that always makes me smile!)

• Create a personal calendar for community events. Jot down your new volunteer schedule, book club meetings, or protest. (I’m doing SlutWalk this Sunday)

• Draw a map of your neighborhood that highlights your favorite places.

• Go one day without technology. Write about it.

• Look through your closet and recycle items that are in need of TLC. Those jeans that you haven’t worn in a while could make cute cutoffs, and that oversized t-shirt could be spiffed up with a little t-shirt surgery.

• Make a conscious effort to shake up the way that you interact with the world—look up at the sky, turn on each of your senses, and be more mindful of your surroundings.

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