You Wish You Worked Here: Shoppist Boss Emily Goulet's Awesome Office

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical for Philadelphia Magazine.

We’re serving up some serious office envy in our new series, where we take you inside the city’s most covet-worthy jobs. From fashion-focused careers to just plain gorgeous desk setups, take a peek inside the glam life of Philly’s corporate elite. Our first subject is none other than Shoppist Editor Emily Goulet, whose office is something out of Devil Wears Prada (minus the bad energy), plus charming details that are somehow quirky and chic at the same time. How does she do it? We caught up with her between meetings to find out  –  and snapped some pics for your ogling pleasure. PS: We promise, this wasn’t styled for blog purposes. Yep, it really always looks like this. Le sigh.

My little corner nook is where people come and crash if they need a break. That papasan chair is from college! It’s been through a lot. I love my Jonathan Adler initial pillow—it was given to me as a gift by Dallas Shaw, an incredible local fashion illustrator. My inspiration wall constantly changes—I can’t read a magazine without tearing out pages, either for photography, styling, design or content ideas. (Or sometimes just because it’s pretty.)

I used to cover home design, and I’m still always inspired by how people style their spaces. I miss peeking into people’s houses! I adore my Cynthia Rowley mug; it was passed down to me by a former Philly Mag editor, who I think got it from Joy Cho, the insanely cool woman (and former Philly girl!) behind Oh Joy!.

I keep a few pairs of shoes in my office at all times, in  case I want to switch out during the day. And when I’m not wearing them, they’re pretty to look at. I love that little painted apple container; it was a gift from a local designer, Mariel Rojo, who also happened to make my most favorite kimono/robe ever.  Valentino shoes.

Colette, my hot pink alligator, makes everyone smile. She’s from Occasionette on East Passyunk. And I adore my YSL coloring book, though I still haven’t actually colored in it.


I hang sweet thank-you notes from some of my favorite people I’ve worked with—shop owners and designers—on my bulletin board. They make me smile. My wishbone necklace is by a Philly designer, J. Rudy Lewis. The fashion illustration is by a great local designer, Megan Swansen.

I’m a crazy organizer, and I like to surround myself with things I find beautiful. Instead of boring Staples pencil holders, I keep my pens and pencils stashed in vintage milk glass vases. They also make great bracelet holders for when I need to de-accessorize in order to type.
 


When I was little, I used to type stories on an old typewriter and dream of being a writer. This isn’t the same one I used, but I love it  —  it was a gift from my mom, who is the best vintage shopper probably ever.

I keep a rolling rack in my office to hang coats or other layers when I’m not wearing them, but I also keep some of my favorite pieces here, too, like my gold sequined coat I found at Sazz Vintage in Old City. I just like to look at it, and if I have a last-minute event or party to attend after work, I can throw it on for a instant outfit upgrade. 3.1 Phillip Lim Vest from Knit Wit, Rittenhouse.
 

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I like matching desk goodies, preferably gold. I keep my business cards in a vintage cigarette holder from Vintage in Doylestown. Tom Binns safety pin earrings, Tombinnsdesign.com; Christian Lacroix notebook, Paper Source, Rittenhouse; John Wind bracelet, Joan Shepp
 

I have some of my favorite things framed and hanging in my office: illustrations by talented local artist Melissa Noucas of The Atelier, a drawing of me by Alex Stadler, the owner of Stadler-Kahn on Sansom Street and one of the most fun-loving and creative people I know, and a sweet love note from my husband.

Emily in her office, wearing a fringed mini-dress as a skirt.

Photography by Lauren McGrath.

Here's What Happens When You Buy Your First Pair of Designer Shoes

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical for Philadelphia Magazine.

Until very recently, I considered designer shoes, clothes, anything, completely out of the realm of a possibility for me to own (unless found in a rare vintage shopping moment of glory). Let’s face it, I’m a broke millennial with student loans that eat my paychecks faster than you can say “I know guac is extra.” However, a recent trip to New York ended somehow in a euphoric train ride home clutching my first pair of designer shoes like a newborn baby, and no one was more surprised than me. 

It’s all Emily Goulet’s fault, really. I guess that’s what you get when you go to the Big Apple with a shopping editor. One minute I was at a showroom in Chelsea taking notes for a story, and the next I was falling truly, madly, deeply in love with a pair of embellished black booties. The location was Jeffrey, a non-threatening alternative to Bergdorf Goodman, with a cool selection of luxury brands—far too luxurious for me to be shopping there.

But there they were, the most beautiful boots I’d ever seen. “Dries Van Noten,” the salesman cooed, watching me quiver with joy as I ran my fingers across the funky iridescent stitching. I tried to play it cool, stealing a glance at the price sticker, but I lost all control of facial expression when I saw the number. And then I realized that this number was the markdown price—a 70 percent discount from the original four-figure cost. Emily told me to try them on anyway. (“If you were a shoe, you would be those boots,” she said.) I slipped them on, audibly sighing. They were dreamier than any man, ever. 

I tried to talk myself down from every angle: Where would I ever wear them? They’re deceivingly high; I can hardly walk in these. I don’t really like them that much. (False.)

Emily was my shoulder devil, shouting out the things she knew I needed to hear: “They’re insane,” and “Just do it; just rip the Band-Aid off.” I started breathing faster. I’d never paid this much for anything besides my iPhone. And my student loans each month. Which then reminded me: Hey, I work hard to make those payments on time—isn’t it time to treat myself a little bit? Or a lot? Also, when did these pit stains happen?

And then, something inside me snapped: I was doing it. Emily burst into applause. I closed my eyes as I handed over my debit card, hand shaking. The salesman swiped it like a sword being drawn for battle. How does one breathe again? He handed me my new shoes, all wrapped up in the beautiful Dries Van Noten box, with a giant smile. I exhaled for the first time in 20 minutes. Those booties were all mine—I’d never felt so alive!!! 

What I gained from that blood-pumping, metaphorical-Band-Aid-ripping experience is far more than a pair of hot shoes that make me feel like a badass. My purchase at Jeffrey commemorated my fateful trip to NYC with Emily for life. As I see it, those shoes mark a major rite of passage into adulthood: Investing in something major that I will treasure and care for, instead of blowing the same amount of money over the course of six months on crap that’ll be donated by next season. I now understand what they mean when they say fast-fashion isn’t worth it: Wait to buy great things that set your heart aflutter—you’ll keep them in tip-top shape and have them for life. 

Most of all, I proved something very important to myself: Those luxury brands that seemed out of my league my whole life aren’t so unattainable anymore. Sure, I may have to shop the sale rack until I die, but Dries Van Noten (or any other designer for that matter) can be mine—so long as I work hard and shop smart. And never get a credit card. 

The 4-Hour Spa Treatment That Made Me Cry

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical for Philadelphia Magazine.

You don’t have to ask me twice to try out a spa treatment — especially when said spa treatment is a four-hour, spiritually-focused, astronomical journey into next-level relaxation. I had the fortune of being one of the first to try out The Planets treatment at Lush Spa, set to roll out to the public later this month. Inspired by stargazing and Gustav Holst’s classical piece ‘The Planets’, the treatment took years to develop.

The premise of the treatment is a little fluffy — time is a continuum, there are untapped galaxies within all of us, and that we need to address the past, present and future to take control of our universe — but I totally bought in, delved deep, and walked away from Lush a new woman. Here’s how the four-hour, $495 treatment went down:

#1. 20-minute consultation: First of all, Lush Philadelphia is one of just two locations in North America with a spa attached. When you walk to the back of the bath-bomb-filled storefront, you’re transported to a a kitchen-type room that looks like it was plucked from the English countryside. Here you consult with your esthetician at a long wood table. My esthetician, Tina Casella, began by laying out a deck of tarot-looking cards marked with the planets, each corresponding to qualities like ‘empathy’ and ‘love’ — I chose Mercury/change to set the tone for my treatment.

#2. The treatment room: Tina brought me upstairs to the treatment room, which is like a hippie’s version of outer space, with moving constellations projected on the ceiling, mystical purple lighting, and moving mirror reflections circling on the ceiling above. It was magical.

#3. The past: Right off the bat, your life’s baggage is addressed in a 90-minute full-body massage — and it’s not as weird as you’d think. As Tina explained, humans store specific stresses in certain areas of our bodies; if you talk about the root of those stresses during a massage, your tension will dissipate much quicker than if you lay there in silence. Pretty cool, right? Tina used a planet-looking sphere of melty body butter to work through my tension from head (scalp massage!) to toe (foot cleanse!).

How much you open up during this portion is completely subjective. But when your massage therapist digs her finger into on a knot in your lower back and tells you “This is the area that corresponds with the stories we tell ourselves about our finances, how we exaggerate our situations and feel held back by money … Does that mean anything to you?” and it’s eerily dead-on, you tend to open up. I think I divulged more personal info to Tina in that hour and a half than I have to longtime friends. And the method worked: As soon as I started talking about the root of that tension, I felt it release from my body. When each knot relaxed, she closed that emotional junk drawer of negativity by passing either a hot or cold stone over the healed area to seal it shut. “Therapeutic” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

#4. The present: After I rolled off the table and into the most amazing robe ever (seriously, it was fit for a Russian czar), Tina and I sat down for a proper English tea. She washed my hands over a basin with a galactic bath bomb that fizzed and released bursts of calming essential oils in a mesmerizing fog. This was to “wash away the past.” After a hand massage, Tina read my palm — and that’s when shit got real.

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Tina pointed out things like the fact that my heart line is long and swooping (which means I extend myself and my heart freely to others), and that my fingertips curl inwards, which signals that I’m generally open to experiences and people only to a certain point. Tina touched upon things that felt scary-true. At one point, Tina looked at my fate line, and explained that my life was/is heading in one direction, but it reversed (or will reverse) course, which means it’s heading in the opposite direction of what I thought my life would be. “Lauren,” she said. “I think you have the courage to make that change.” And that’s when I burst into tears. I looked down into my teacup, embarrassed at how much her words affected me, and I saw my planet, Mercury, printed at the bottom of the cup, and the word I chose at the beginning: change.

#5. The future: After wrapping up my tearful tea party, I slipped out of the robe and back on the table to begin phase three, the facial. The focus of this portion is to prepare you to step into the future uplifted, so every movement pulls the facial muscles upwards. There was a cleanse, a steam with warm towels, a face mask. This was the only silent portion of the treatment, where I zoned out and let my thoughts drift to the future. I had a some big ideas come to me about changes I want to make, directions I want to explore in my life. Before I knew it, everything was over. When I opened my eyes, I saw my Mercury projected onto the ceiling above.

#6. The lowdown: You’ve got to be someone who’s willing to buy into the whole experience — the planets, the palm reading, opening up about, ya know, your deep-seeded baggage you don’t even realize is dragging you down. But if you do, I guarantee you will walk away from the Planets treatment at Lush Spa, back into the blinding reality of a storefront on Walnut, and into the future refreshed from the inside out — I know I did. And about that change? I’ll keep you posted.

The Toxic Skincare Ingredients Hiding in Your Beauty Products

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical for Philadelphia Magazine.

We’ve all heard the cautionary tales of secretly damaging ingredients in everything from your shampoo to your lipstick. But how are you supposed to discern the good products from the bad when the ingredients listed on the back read more like a biochemical engineering dissertation? We connected with industry professionals, from estheticians to med spa owners to advocates on Capitol Hill. What started as a look into potentially harmful skincare ingredients hiding in our everyday beauty products turned into a full-blown beauty industry investigation, with a crash course in chemistry. It would take a book to cover the greater issue, but here are some basic rules to live by when navigating the beauty aisle to decrease your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals on a daily basis. 

Can beauty products used on the surface level of our skin really cause damage? Yep. Your skin is porous; it absorbs chemicals into your bloodstream quickly. Why do you think Nicotine patches are a thing? The chemicals that we put on our bodies wind up inside our bodies.

So why are they still for sale? Isn’t this regulated? You’d think products wouldn’t be for sale if they were unsafe for us, right? Wrong. The last legislation regulating the health risks of products on the consumer market was passed in 1938—that was before WWII. Since then, over 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced into products since then, yet only five percent of those chemicals have been tested for safety. We don’t know if most of them are toxic. What’s worse is that the synthetic chemicals we do know to be pre-carcinogenic (cancer-causing) are still used in thousands of products on the market. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Approximately 39.6 percent of men and women [in the United States] will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime.” While that rate is going down, it’s still a sizable number affecting the people around us—parents, friends, coworkers, kids.

Why isn’t the FDA stepping in to eradicate known toxic skincare ingredients? Many see governmental regulation as a constitutional infraction, believing that we should have the freedom to choose the products we use—even if those products are toxic. (Case in point: cigarettes.)

What exactly should I avoid? We’re not trying to scare you into overhauling your beauty arsenal—that can be a tall and expensive order. We get it. So long as this article makes you think twice about buying something, if it’s the reason you bring your skincare products to your next derm visit to decode the ingredients listed, we’ll consider it a success. Here are five easy swaps to stop the gradual, everyday exposure to potentially harmful skincare ingredients.

  • Say goodbye to sunscreens with oxybenzone, which can have hormone-like effects in the body. Dr. Lisa Espinoza of La Chele Medical Aesthetics suggests instead reaching for sunblock made with zinc or titanium oxide—it’s great for sensitive skin and will also cover you from both UVA and UVB exposure. For more info, see here.
  • Throw away moisturizers and serums using mineral oil. It’s a petroleum byproduct which coats the skin like liquid plastic that solidifies. Aside from clogging your pores and offering no benefit the skin, technical grade mineral oil has been deemed cancer-causing. Traces of cosmetic-grade mineral oil have even been found in breast milk samples. Yikes! Naomi Fenlin of About Face Skincare recommends using moisturizers with ceramides—things like jojoba, other vegetable oils that won’t cause a seal on the skin. For more info, see here.
  • If it foams, think twice. Naomi also warns about propylene glycol and butylene glycol, a ingredients added to products for the sole purpose of making them foam. Ick factor: The same detergents are used in car washes and engine de-greasers. They can cause anything from severe drying to skin irritation, so why mess with these toxic skincare ingredients at all? For more info, see here.
  • Fragrance” is just code for “tons of products we don’t have to tell you about.” Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO of Beautycounter (a skincare line that lists over 1,500 banned ingredients the line never uses), warns, “Behind the word fragrance, there’s upwards of 100 ingredients not listed. It’s the one loophole in the industry. Companies are required to list ingredients, but not fragrance—and fragrance has many of the worst offenders in there.” At least with fragrance-free products you know what you’re dealing with. For more info, see here.
  • Ditch shampoos with sulfate. Diana Yerkes, esthetician at Rescue Spa, says it’s only added to create lather, but the chemical actually strips the hair of its natural oils. It’ll be listed on your shampoo as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. (It’s important to note that sulfates are irritants, not carcinogens.) For more info, see here.

The Creepy Science Behind Why You Love Target

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical for Philadelphia Magazine.

It’s no secret Target has our hearts — with those colorful housewares, punchy desk supplies and racks of bathing suits priced oh-so-perfectly, how can we resist? Center City certainly can’t, with people nearly lining the block in anticipation of Target’s new location opening this summer. Target is what my mom calls a ‘$100 store,’ meaning you can’t just pop in for one thing — you’re definitely dropping at least a Benjamin while you’re there, even when you have no intention of doing so.

But why is it that Target has such a hold on us (and our wallets)? Is it the mascot dog with the cute bullseye? The mini sale section in the front? That deliciously sinful, buttery popcorn? We sought out local experts — retail analysts, psychologists, professors at some of the top fashion programs in the world — to help us crack the code, revealing the science behind why you love Target so much. Their answers were insightful, surprising, and, well, downright creepy. 

Why You Love Target: It’s the granddaddy of fast fashion.
Now you can’t walk a city block without walking by at least one Forever 21/H&M/Zara, but that wasn’t the case until fairly recently. “Fast fashion is where everything went,” says local retail analyst Lori Wachs. “But these guys were really ahead of the curve.” Hopping on the $15 bathing suit train before other big-box retailers made Target a go-to destination for shoppers.   

Why You Love Target: It just gets you.
Have you ever strolled past the home goods aisle at Target on your way to buy something boring like a pack of pens, and you realize you want every single item on display? That’s because the Powers that Be at Target pretty much know you inside and out. “They look at who you are tangibly (how much money you make, your gender, where you live, do you have a family) and psychographically (your hobbies, lifestyle, ethics), and mix their product, price, place and promotion in various combinations that resonate with who you are as a person,” says David Loranger, a retail and consumer behavior lecturer at Philadelphia University. Through focus groups, metadata collection, and volumes of demographic information, Target is able to understand their customer so well—creepily well—and anticipate his or her needs, hence the “never knew I needed this but I totally do” reflex.

Why You Love Target: It makes you happy. 
We all have utilitarian reasons for going shopping (I need a new toothbrush), but it’s the hedonic, sensory factors that make us linger, like the great tunes playing on the store sound system, friendly salespeople, and a clean, streamlined presentation of products. This is where Target nails it, connecting with the consumer on a subconsciously pleasing level, Loranger says. 

As far as a positive ambiance leading to actual sales and dollar signs, Sudeep Bhatia, assistant professor of psychology at UPenn points out, “Emotion and mood are influenced by environmental factors like color, music, lighting. If your emotions are manipulated, then your behavior will also change, influencing what consumers choose.” There’s no perfect formula for lighting, music and color scheme within a store to make people spend more money, otherwise every store in the world would adopt it. However, there is something to be said for a store that is well-lit and spaced out, and plays bumping good music that makes you want to shop just a little bit longer than you originally intended. And generally, the more time you spend in a store, the more money you drop.

Why You Love Target: It doesn’t feel like a low-price-point store.
While prices are comparable to an Old Navy or Walgreens, shopping at Target feels like a cut above — and that’s no accident. Joe Hancock, a fashion merchandising professor at Drexel who formerly worked for Target corporate, gave us the inside scoop on how the retailer separates itself. “Walmart’s [philosophy] is ‘stack it high and let it fly’— that’s what places like H&M, Uniqlo are all about. Target likes to borrow strategies of higher-end retailers like Nordstrom. You don’t see 50 t-shirts in Target stacked; it’s only a few in every size. It creates the notion that it’s a specialty item, giving you the impulse is to buy it because it makes you think that it’s more special than it really is.” Hancock also points out that the tech section of newer Target stores look almost exactly the same as an Apple store (minimalist, clean and simple), because the retailer actually borrowed heavily from Apple’s in-store aesthetic. 

Why You Love Target: It does collaborations right.
Long before there was Balmain x H&M, Target was co-designing capsule collections with highbrow brands. “They’re one of the early pioneers in doing cheap chic,” says Wachs. “They partnered with big-name designers early on before others started.” (Hint: Proenza Schouler for Target way back in 2007.) These capsule collections helped to solidify Target’s cachet, making their clothes an acceptable ‘low’ in high-low dressing. 

“People are comfortable wearing a Chanel jacket and Target t-shirt,” says Wachs. “But nobody would ever think of Walmart [clothes] for that.” However, as Hancock points out, “Designer collabs are all made the same [as Target clothes]. It’s not like Lilly Pulitzer is making dresses at their headquarters and taking it to Target; it’s Target clothes made for Target. The designers do approve the clothes, but it’s nothing high-quality worth breaking your neck to get.” In the end, it all comes down to marketing and storytelling.

Why You Love Target: It plays some serious mind games.
Speaking of storytelling, Target loves to make you think you’re getting a deal, when that’s not always the case. First there’s the Target red card, the classic store credit card that takes five percent off every item purchased in-store. Then there’s Target’s Cartwheel app that lets you unlock secret discounts on select items as you scan barcodes throughout the store. At checkout, the cashier adds your Cartwheel discounts to your already-discounted-five-percent total, and that number drops even more — what a rush! 

“It makes shopping a game,” says Hancock. (And make no mistake, that game is geared towards millennials.) “In reality, Target should mark things down at the right price in the first place. Instead, these discounts make you feel like you’re getting a deal when you’re actually not.” Mind blown.

How to Rock a '90s Brown Lip Today

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical for Philadelphia Magazine. 

I was born in 1991, and while many people would argue I’m too young to fully appreciate the decade, I beg to differ when it comes to beauty trends. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom (pictured above) expertly applying her staple brown lipstick and liner in the car – while driving, sans mirror. Try as I might, I will never reach that level of OG skill. I didn’t know it at the time, but her signature beauty look would come back in a big way – as trends do – almost 25 years later. 

Here’s a look back at the origins of the brown lip in all its ‘80s and ‘90s edgy-cool glory, plus how to wear it today. Consider this a beauty education for all the young guns out there: Kylie Jenner is most definitely not the originator of this badass look.

Then: A few people poked at the idea of brown lipsticks in the ‘70s (like this amazing Max Factor ad), but it didn’t really reach the masses until supermodel Cindy Crawford and Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes in all her pant-suited wonder were plastered on every TV and magazine page sporting the brown lip. As the ‘90s rolled into grunge territory, badasses like Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder opted for more of a punky brick-brown hue both on and off the red carpet. This striking color was the ultimate middle finger to the soft pinks and peachy hues dominating pop culture at the time.

Now: Today the ’90s are back in a big way – take a look at slip dresses, crop tops, chokers and middle parts that are in vogue once again. (We love it!) To take your brown lip from throwback to modern intrigue, make sure it’s matte, matte, matte. Find a chocolatey hue that brings warmth to your complexion – it’s easy to get washed out by the wrong brown. Try dabbing in a little red to the center of your lips for an ombre take on the grungy brick brown (and check out our tutorial here). Most of all, rock it out with glowing skin, big brows, and immense satisfaction that you know the trend’s real origins.

Psst: If you’re part of the contouring clan, check out this awesome brown lip hack from Joan Smalls’ makeup artist.

An (Actually) Honest Review of the Kylie Lip Kit and Gloss

This article was published in Shoppist, the digital style and beauty vertical of Philadelphia Magazine. 

Secret talent alert: I’m a low-key makeup artist, with years of experience glamming women up for weddings, proms and big events, and I’m always in search of the best products to use on my clients. All the mania surrounding Kylie Jenner’s debut cosmetics line definitely had me intrigued — and I wasn’t alone. Every restock since the first Kylie Lip Kit release back in November of last year has sold out lightening-fast; her latest product release earlier this week allegedly “broke Google” (and also leaked buyers’ personal information). People are so desperate to get their hands on the makeup,they’re even buying used lip kits on Ebay and Poshmark for two to three times the original price of $29. (First of all: What?! Secondly: Ew.) 

With the help of my gracious coworker Ginny, a proud owner of not one but three Kylie Cosmetics products, I volunteered as tribute to find out if all the hype around the Kylie makeup is actually founded. Here’s how a few days in the life of Kylie-lipped me went down (after I stopped rolling my eyes at her gloss reveal music video):

Day 1: Kylie Lip Kit in Kourt K

10:38 am: Here goes nothing. I take out the liner and gloss, which constitute the “kit.” Lining first is easy, but the liquid matte gloss is a little hard to control. It also dries within five seconds, so there’s no margin for error. Suddenly, my lips look huge. I might have accidentally channeled my inner Kylizzle a little too hard. I’m kind of feeling the look, though. 
10:43 am: Damn, this stuff is dry. It feels like a thin coating of chalky plastic on my lips. 
11:08 am: Holy flaking in my mouth — is this stuff safe to ingest? Because I’m eating a lot.
12:47 pm: After scrubbing in the bathroom, this pigment will not wash off my fingers. Teeth check reveals more flaking. Looks like I just ate a poppyseed bagel. Nice. Also, my inner bottom lip looks starkly pink against the receding edge of the dark purple.
2:24 pm: Post-lunch check-in: Most of the color isn’t budging, but chunks of pigment are missing on my bottom lip. Pleasantly surprised there’s no color bleed at the outer lining of lips, probably because this stuff is shellacked on.
3:30 pm: Company happy hour’s about to go down, but I resist reapplying. Everyone I talk to keeps looking at my mouth. Also, there are black specks in my margarita.
3:57 pm: COWORKER SAYS IT LOOKS LIKE I GOT PUNCHED IN THE MOUTH AND THE BLOOD DRIED.
5:11 pm: I head to the bathroom to remove this lip. Ten minutes and four wet paper towels later, I give up. It’s not coming off. I reapply, and now my lips somehow look even bigger than before.
9:37 pm: Praise the Lord for makeup wipes. It all comes off surprisingly easy with the wipe, but now my lips are stained a bright hot pink.

Day Two: Kylie Gloss in Literally

7:20 am: Just noticed dark purple smeared into the seat of my brand new car—definitely some flaky pigment residue from yesterday’s hot mess. Thanks a lot, KyKy. I officially hate you.
2:02 pm: I’ve put off trying this until 2:00 pm because after the last product, I’m a little scared. Initial thoughts at first gloss swipe: This smells like a dream. But also washes out my makeup-less face beyond belief—must apply a full face immediately.
3:36 pm: With some color on my cheeks, I actually love this shade. It’s a punched-up nude, and a much softer look than yesterday’s “dried blood” look.
6:50 pm: The gloss wears super well: non-sticky, yet still is pigmented and shiny after a full day without touch-ups. This is clearly a better product than yesterday’s—so good, in fact, that I might try to get my hands on one at the next frenzied gloss release. Dare I say it’s one of the best glosses I’ve ever tried? I mean, an all-day wear without a reapplication? That’s unheard of.

Day Three: Kylie Lip Kit in 22

8:45 am: This shade is a pretty, bright brick red, and is much easier to apply than the Kourt K shade.
9:30 am: 22 wears much more naturally than I was expecting. The formula sinks into my lips and feels almost like a second skin. I’m digging this one a whole lot more than I thought I would.
10:37 am: The color is staying in great condition, minus a little fallout below the bottom lip.
1:20 pm: Lunch break caused a little bit of wear and tear on the inner lining, but I’m still really impressed with this formula. The only time the product starts to feel a little heavy is after I reapply, but there’s no flaking whatsoever, unlike Kourt K.

The takeaway: Skip the Kylie Lip Kit in Kourt K entirely; Shade 22 is a much better buy. If you’re going to buy one Kylie Cosmetics product, definitely go for the gloss. There are tons of other great options out there for long-wearing, less-drying matte lipsticks, but a good gloss is hard to find.

A few days ago, Kylie took to Snapchat to announce a new batch of three metallic liquid matte shades coming out for Coachella to add to the buzz. While it might be the flakiest, most drying product on the planet, it does look pretty gorgeous on Khloe below. Only time will tell—and even if it does, I’m sure it will keep selling out because (like it or not) Kylie is an absolute social media genius.

Before & After: How Getting Bangs Completely Changed My Face

This article was published in Shoppist, the style and beauty vertical of Philadelphia Magazine.

I’ve always considered myself to be someone down to experiment with hair, yet I wind up getting the same style every time. However, Shoppist has been putting my self-awareness to the test, first turning me bronde for the love of summer trend testing. To be honest, that was easy. This time, though, we really went for it: I got full-on ’70s fringe.

As a victim of multiple haircut mishaps in high school, it is with good reason that I fear the fringe. However, this shaggy boho hair I’m seeing everywhere from Instagram to H&M to the Creatures of the Wind runway had me reconsidering. Without thinking on it too hard (lest I weasel out), I booked an appointment at Architeqt with Tonia Day, a bi-coastal hair maven who splits her time between Philly and LA. She gave me one of the best haircuts of my life a few years back, so I was excited to be back in her chair.

I took the plunge, and here’s what I found:

  1. It’s terrifying.
  2. I am very aware of hair on my forehead at all times, but it’s only been a day.
  3. These are not the bangs of yesteryear, thank heavens. To avoid the Girl Scout look, don’t dry with a round brush – just make a few rough passes at the bangs with the dryer pointing downward for a tousled finish.
  4.  My look is completely updated, exciting and different without sacrificing overall length.
  5. My balayage colorist Jess (remember her?) told me that my hair now looks like a cross between Stevie Nicks and J. Lo, so obviously I’m sold.

In short, don’t be scared! This haircut is awesome and will make you feel like a rocker chick/Parisian art student. And if you don’t love it, the great thing about hair is (say it with me) it always grows back.

A Quick Lesson on Why Sugar Skull Makeup Is Actually Not Offensive

This story was originally written for Salt Spell Beauty and was featured on PopSugar. 

Recently, sugar skull makeup was banned by a university in Canada — just one of many costumes deemed offensive by the school, alongside blackface and women being molested by Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, to name a few. This story was reported on by the Daily Mail and, to our horror, a photo of us and our work at last year's Día de los Muertos celebration was the leading image for the globally-circulated article.

Here's why we don't belong on that list (much less deserve to be the face of it) — We are Andrea Ortega Costigan and Mariana McGrath, two Mexican-American makeup artists living in San Francisco and the founders of Salt Spell Beauty. Makeup is our medium, and faces are our canvas. Our work does not belong in a roundup of "culturally offensive" Halloween costumes. We understand why a Canadian university and a British media outlet might miss the nuances of why that is, so we broke it down for you:

  • Sugar skulls are a hallmark of Día De Los Muertos, a Mexican holiday celebrated around the world on November 1st, All Souls' Day — not Halloween.
  • The purpose of Día de los Muertos is to celebrate and honor friends and family who have passed away; it's a holiday that with roots that go as far back as the Aztec empire.
  • The holiday is marked by families making ofrendas in their homes to the deceased, surrounding their photo with flowers, their favorite food, and calaveras (aka sugar skulls).
  • This Mexican national holiday is one of reverence, remembrance and ritual; it's one day of the year where family gathers to look back on those who have graced our lives and left us for the next.

Cultural appropriation seems to be the buzzword of 2016, and with good reason. There are lots of people doing offensive things that pick and choose the "cool" parts of any given minority culture and adopt them for the night, only to toss that culture back into society's margins the next day. That is 100% wrong.

Here's the kicker, though: It's not cultural appropriation if it's your own culture. (Talking to you, Daily Mail and Canadian university.) As Mexican-American makeup artists, sugar skull makeup is our way of celebrating loved ones through what we do best — beauty. In fact, we love it so much that we do #sevendaysofsugar every year, showcasing a week of intricate calavera makeup looks on ourselves to mark the holiday. We take that sugar skull costume everyone was rocking for Halloween to whole new levels, incorporating jewels, flower petals, heirlooms and a little bit of our own magic. We begin the creative process, which can take hours on end, with a dedication to someone or something who has inspired the look. We do it to honor the dead, celebrate their legacy, and remember their lessons. This is our art, our heritage and our spiritual tribute.

And guess what? Even if you're not Mexican, we say go ahead and do that sugar skull makeup for your costume party. We hope you're doing one for Día de los Muertos today. (And we hope you tag it with #sevendaysofsugar.) All we ask is that you understand the meaning behind it, you take a little slice of the Mexican way, and you remember the people in your life who have passed on to the next. May the sugar skull art that you create in their honor aide them in their spiritual journey.

To learn more about the women behind Salt Spell Beauty and the work that they do, click hereand find them on Instagram at @_marianamcgrath_ and @dreortega.

 

Meet The Fashionista Broadcasting Betabrand to the World

This story was written for Curalate.

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Welcome to another edition of UNFILTERED, a series of interviews with influencers and marketers that are shaping the future of commerce.

Meet Jessica Egbu, a British expat turned marketing superstar. When she’s not creating gorgeous content for her blog The Oxfordist, she’s changing up the tech-meets-fashion game as community manager at Betabrand, a 10-year-old e-commerce company that’s democratizing the fashion industry through their thriving online community. Oh yeah — she’s only 24.

We connected over lattes and pastries in San Francisco’s Mission District to learn more about Betabrand’s business model, which manufactures crowdsourced and crowdfunded apparel designs, bypassing the traditional barriers of entry in the notoriously stingy fashion industry. Did we mention Betabrand’s secured around $30 million in venture capital funding as of October 2015?

Tell us more about Betabrand’s business model.

Betabrand has the mantra: “New ideas nonstop!” — and we haven’t left that mentality when making our products. We’re new in the sense of an established clothing company, but we’ve done a lot for who we are. We’re close-knit, communicative … not like your typical corporate startup. People say we’re a fashion startup, and we take that role, but I really feel we’re just innovators trying to make the world a better place through apparel.

How does the design process work?

We label ourselves as a crowdfunding company, so the public submits ideas to us, the public gets the opportunity to vote on said product, and if it does really well, we put it in motion. We walk through the designer’s process and create the prototype in-house. Our photographers shoot the prototype, which goes online via our website. If successfully funded by the public, it becomes a permanent product under the Betabrand name. Taking shipping, manufacturing and construction into account, we set a crowdfunding goal for each product. Anyone who supported the product by buying one [in the prototype phase] gets one if it meets the crowdfunding goal.

How have recent technological advancements and changes in consumer behavior helped make this business model work?

We’re all about hype. Everyone wants the next best thing, and they want it now. Our company asks why, how, and what do you want in a product. Giving the public the opportunity to design something they think should be public to everyone and facilitating that opportunity is what makes us different. That’s why we work versus a regular company who has specific collections for specific seasons. The public only has the opportunity to buy what those companies make, versus having the opportunity to be involved in the process.

Want to create Instagram posts like a pro? In our free guide, Instagram influencers dish on the best ways to generate interest and maximize reach.

With social, people now have a voice and can communicate with brands/designers. How important is that feedback loop?

Very important. Say someone submits an idea for a jacket, and we put it into work. We can instantly ask the public, “Hey, do you like this fabric?” We can poll on colors, ask, communicate, and change something we might think works but the public doesn’t. We alter. That’s the route to success, because ultimately we produce products that everyone loves. We want to make products they would want to take a selfie in and share on social media.

At Curalate, we’ve seen brands bring fan photos into product pagesintegrate vertical video into their own websites and use influencer marketing to drives purchases. How has Betabrand leveraged modern e-commerce concepts?

We’ve modernized through designer profiles to allow the public to get a better look at who’s designing the product, meshing the supporter role with designer role and the staff of Betabrand. We’re able to communicate through comments, polls, voting, and it’s all a fusion of an online community for the better of apparel in general. They’re given the opportunity to see the process of a product start to finish and weigh in.

What does Betabrand do differently than other traditional clothing/fashion brands and retailers? 

Any ecomm is competition. We compare to others like thredUP, Everlane or Chubbies, but it’s different in that the public designs our products. We’re more for the people than for the traditional sense of fashion. We give the people what they want.

How does working for a fast-moving startup make your job as a marketer exciting? 

I get to interact with the creative part of the world online. Whoever I’m interacting with is a cool photographer or someone who thinks they can change the way a jacket is constructed. It’s the creme of the crop on social media. As community manager, it’s amazing to be able to meet so many different people on the web every day that want to have a voice, as a designer or someone who loves style in general, and incorporate that into the Betabrand way. I get to communicate, create, and see other people’s points of view.

You’re investing a lot in vertical video on Snapchat and Instagram—why? What do you hope to achieve?

Vertical video is just an extension of the community we have on the website. We want to stay focused on communicating what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Sneak peeks are a gateway to the exciting parts of what Betabrand is doing. We love to show product updates and shenanigans around the office. We owe it to our supporters to give them a window into what we’re doing. It happens to be that IG and Snapchat are great facilitators of the opportunity. It’s also really fun that this is my job.

What are your thoughts on the future of vertical video as a medium?

It’s interesting that we’re reformatting to that way of recording, and it’s only because that’s the way most of our phones are shaped. There’s no right or wrong in conveying a message when it comes to vertical versus horizontal, but apps and social media in general will stick to that path because it’s accessible, easier and the way devices are headed for now.

How do you work with influencers?

I organically reach out to influencers that would be great fits and appreciate the brand the way I appreciate the brand.

Do you think about using influencers to create products as well as promote them?

All the time. It’s not just influencers — we use everyday functions like: “How can I sweat less in a jacket?” It’s less about the influencer and more about the person and how they can survive day-to-day and look great doing it.

You have nearly 10,000 Instagram followers, do you think of yourself as an influencer?

I try not to, just so I can stay grounded. If you asked my friends, they would say yes, but I would deny it. I like what I like, and if I’m bold enough to share it, I will. But I don’t expect anything from the public. I do get excited when my mom occasionally likes my Instagram photos.

What do you think the future of influencer marketing looks like?

People look up to those who participate online and are involved with things they share interests with. It’s a natural human behavior to look up to people we aspire to be. It will naturally reflect the way we buy, dress, live … not really the other way around.

What is something unique to your career experience/background that taught you how to build a brand?

I have a background in fashion journalism. I’m fortunate enough to know how to describe a garment. It helps that I’m the age that I am in this day and age of social media. Everybody is really into “the now” and want to know things instantly. They have the attention span of potatoes. What I bring to the table is that I can inform a user about our brand before they slide up to the next photo on Instagram.

What is your motto that you live/work by?

I do say this a lot: “It’s not that serious.”

You’re Betabrand’s target demographic. Does that help you think like the consumer you’re trying to reach?

Absolutely. It’s nice that I’m able to cater to myself, as if I’m the user.

How does your experience running The Oxfordist play into your role at Betabrand?

F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say.” Just like social media is an extension of Betabrand’s website, the ultimate platform where we sell, the Oxfordist is an extension of me that allows me to gain experience on how I should exhibit myself (or our brand) to the public in a respectable, authentic and innovative manner.

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UNFILTERED was created by Curalate Marketing Director Brendan Lowry and Manager of Content Strategy Jared Shelly. 

Photography by Lauren McGrath.