10 Secrets to Holiday Shopping!

Put away those Halloween decorations and bring on the jingle bells; holiday season has arrived. And if you’re anything like me, it’s time to start Christmas shopping.

I’ve spent my entire career in a retail/fashion environment. I’ve worked in stores, corporate offices, Buying Departments and even as a Liquidator. So I’d love to share some best kept secrets to make your shopping experience a great one!

  • Monday’s are the best days to shop. Stores complete new floor sets on Sunday after the mall closes. So make time to shop on a Monday. You can find new, un-shopped product with ease.

  • Want additional savings, go to www.retailmenot.com. Type in the store you’re shopping at and that discount can be used in addition to what’s already on sale in the store. No registration required!

  • Outlet shopping is worth the trip. High end companies don’t house sale/clearance merchandise in store, they transfer to the outlet. So if you’re not pressed for time, wait until it arrives to outlet.

  • Got free weekends? Get a seasonal job at your favorite retailer. Right now, EVERYONE is hiring. Salary may not be much, but your employee discount is worth it.

  • Ask about shipment schedule. That’s not a secret guys. Stores that get shipment daily will fill the sales floor first thing in the morning. Keep in mind, employees “hold” items for themselves when product arrives. LOL, it’s a fact. So if you’re a size that sells out fast, get there when product comes in.

  • Shop AFTER Black Friday. Promotions are going to run the entire weekend. Avoid the hassle of traffic, long lines and crazy folks.

  • Shop your off-season now! Stores need to make room for cold weather merchandise so they are basically “giving away” summer items.

  • Do not join the email list. Instead become a “client”. Have a member of the store take down your contact information and product requests (items, sizes, color pref., etc.). They’ll contact you as soon as what you want arrives.

  • “Going out of Business” stores. Perfect place to save money. The discounts usually change weekly. The last week of business is normally 80% off! But if you see something you truly love, buy it then. Items are sold so fast that I’m positive that it won’t be there when you go back.

  • Can’t find your size? Request that the store find it at another location. In most cases, they’ll waive the shipping.

"...now go outside and play!"

Once upon a time, wayyyy back in the day, my mother would yell out the most glorious words a kid my age ever heard, "now go outside and play."

 

It meant, you were no longer needed. That the chores were done, homework was completed and this freedom was what early evenings were made of. When long walks to the corner store turned into the BEST therapy sessions. When no one cared about your clothes or hair, we were all just glad to have a ball and enough people to play 4-square until the street lights came on. Where a fight involved a lot of "yo mama" jokes and the occasional fisticuffs but nothing beyond a push, then a shove and a very loud "we will never be friends again!" 

 

That time and place where you found perfect peace in lying in the grass of your mothers backyard (in between the clothes line, in front of the car that doesn't run and right beside the garden). That "now go outside and play" gave you enough time to check up on friends, check in on street life and dream beyond the seams of your hectic house walls. That "now go outside and play" was your innocence. It was your escape. It was my 1976 to 1995.

 

And on days like today, I wish that my mother would stroll through my front door and demand that I, "Go outside and play!", with a single stern finger in the air and the other hand nestled on her waistline. Cause after the week I've had, I'd follow her orders, run out the back, stretch my body across the ground....and lay. That's it, nothing else but.....lay. And why you ask, with reasonable doubt. "Because I've carried the weight of the world on my shoulders all day, so damnit I need the rest." And with my body still pressed down onto the earth below without batting these hazel eyes, I'd whisper, "And I need one more hour of peace and quiet, so go outside and play."

My Adidas

It’s that time of year again and there’s nothing more fitting than to step into the fall season with my favorite shoe! ADIDAS.

The same sneaker I wore my first year of middle school, is the exact same shoe my daughter cried for this past Christmas! That’s 30 years of time between then and now. The same sneaker that made rap history by signing an endorsement deal with Run DMC in 1986 for 1.6 million. 

The same sneaker that partnered with American fashion designer, Jeremy Scott in 2008 to successfully launch his eccentric line of JS Wings and JS Bears. Holding the crown for the most “eye-catching” sneaker ever seen. The same sneaker that created a program in India that sold shoes for $1 a pair to capitalize on the country’s soaring population.

The same sneaker that collaborated with Kanye West for the YEEZY Boost that took home the “Shoe of the Year” award at the 29th annual Footwear News awards in 2015. The same sneaker that signed a 10 year $160 million apparel deal with the University of Louisville just this year.

Yes, the same sneaker company that’s been on the rise because of an industry trend that, just so happens to benefits the brand. Adidas IS streetwear and the stock market responded with a share increase of 22% while other casual athletic wear has fell flat or below. 

Yes, Adidas. That sneaker, that brand, that culture, that business, that story…..that three-stripe life.

Adidas.

Last Call for Summer 17'

I can’t believe that we are already into August! In just a few more weeks, I’ll be getting my kids off to school and preparing for new work opportunities. So, in my last attempt of hanging on to summers end, I’m preparing a few weekend activities with some of my very best girlfriends.

Brunch & Bottomless Mimosas; You can never go wrong with food, friends and a few drinks. Pull out your most comfortable sundress, sandals and hair wrap because this mini-day party is a great start to any day. Create a “cell phone basket” where all devices are powered off and placed throughout the day! Let’s catch up the old-fashioned way.

Splendid Spa Days; There’s nothing more rewarding than resting the mind, body and soul in a salt spa with mud mask or seaweed wrap and a glass of refreshing cucumber water. This is the perfect time to dispose of the negative toxins, energy and drama that every-day life brings. 

Women’s Empowerment Dinner; Women Rock! And when you surround yourself with like-minded, strong and successful women, you’re bound to get that boost of motivation that jump starts any creative mind. If there’s power in numbers, it’s even more power in networking!

 

Elevators or Stairs?

In celebration of my 41st birthday, I spent the entire day working. It's been a common practice, aside from last years festivities in Puerto Rico, that I've been scheduled to work away from home and family on my birthday. Constant questions like, "Well don't you miss your kids working a job like this?", posed the automatic response, "What works for me, doesn't necessarily work for others." I've been a stay-at-home mom previously and it was a very relaxing 12 months. Let me rephrase that, it was "relaxing" aside from cooking, cleaning and parenting without an off day. But even then, I wasn't free of the new question, "What are you doing for money? Don't you want some independence?"

As a woman, we are always judged on the conscience decisions we make with our own personal lives. Were your kids breastfed or bottle fed? Are you dressing like a mom or dressing like a "hot mama?" Are your children home schooled, private or public? Damn, it's not too often that we're given a break from the backlash of what appears to be a very judgmental society.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned in my "Life Beyond 40" years, was that we are apart of that "Elevator or Stairs" concept. I would assume those who take the stairs desire a nice scenic route. Get a bit of cardio during the hustle of the work day, moving at a pace that suits them best. Those who take the elevator don't mind a crowd. Tuning out the world with a 5 second ride of soft jazz, standing elbow to elbow with a total stranger. Neither one is better than the other, both are heading in the same direction...just taking a different route. 

How ever in life you choose and whatever path your take, make it one that you can purposefully stand behind. Without reservation or explanation, you are the final decision maker and unless you request the advice of anyone else, their opinion doesn't matter. So whether it's by elevator or stairs, in the penthouse suite or basement, I'm sure we'll eventually cross paths. And by God's will, we'll both be happy with the traveled road and our final destination.

 

Are We Talking About Football or Fashion?

My dad loves football, therefore I've grown to be a true lover of the game myself. Although I've never sported the oversized jersey of my favorite player on Sunday afternoon with a wing in one hand and beer in another, I been known to place a bet or two for the sheer fun of it all.

This past NFL draft was my first and surely won't be my last since it's just as much a "big deal" as the Super Bowl. As I expected, these college athletes eagerly awaited the moment that they'd worked so hard for all their lives. This very moment was what the hurt and the drive of every game and every stat built up to. The moment that would make their lives feel like one out of every young mans dreams. And to my surprise, I couldn't imagine why the majority of the recaps circled more around "what he wore...." instead of yards per pass or "explosive" plays in their college career.

Who would've thought the world of athletics would become so fashion conscience. I grew up watching Michael Jordan enter the building in a well tailored suit with the announcer rambling out stats from his last game and the expectations of the one to come. Back then, we knew nothing of the brand or the designer, we wanted the win! Today, there's players like Cam Newton who was the first overall draft pick in 2011. But when "googled", you have to scroll past all the "Cam Newtons romper trend" to get to his impressive highlights as a quarterback with the Panthers.

Look at how we evolved from believing that the only "fashion forward" males reside on the runway or some eclectic city street where European trends take precedence over the basic denim and white tee. These guys are "hip" now. These guys are risk-takers, head turners and hell raisers. And as times change and the industry continues to broaden, we are entering a world far beyond the cut and dry. Today, we're not complacent with fitting in....its all about who's standing out

Doomsday for the Department Store!

It feels like just yesterday that my mother packed us all into our bright red RoadRunner on an early Saturday morning to shop for the family. Back then, trips to the mall were not an option. Online shopping was not heard of. And yes, you were trying on every piece of clothing before she even THOUGHT about buying it. One stop, one department store, one transaction and we walked out with clothes, appliances, electronics, bedding and shoes. It's sad to say, those Department Store shopping days are long gone.

In the recent years of my retail career, it's become evident that more and more mall and free standing locations are closing up shop. I'm talking about companies that have been in the industry for years! Departments stores like Macy's and JC Penny's who's built success by way of promotional mailings and coupons. Junior retailers like Wet Seal and BCBG that maintained real estate in every mall or shopping center has now become desolate and non-existent. With a focus now on e-commerce I can't help but wonder...will brick and mortar remain for much longer?

Needless to say, we're in a day and age of convenience. From the comfort of my bed, I can pay bills, order and have food delivered, take a college course, learn to change a car tire and apply make-up before 10 am! With the help of social media, online boutiques have made innovative strides and exceptional business execution in a world of rapid and ever-changing trends. Free shipping, weekly promotions and captivating price points, I too have surrendered to more online boutique shopping over the bustling of mall parking, line waiting and stale options. Yes, retail has changed and I'll say, before long every mall standing will suffer if it doesn't start changing with it.

Forever Denim

I remember my very first pair of denim jeans. A light wash, slim fit pair of Jordache. Before long, my love turned into an obsession when I was introduced to the denim jacket, the denim purse, the denim backpack, hat, shoes....pure overkill! And although I've witnessed the fad of straight leg to flare leg to baggy fit, skinny and cropped; denim is what I assume to be tiless fashion that'll be around forever.

Back in 2012, I was blessed to work with one of the BEST denim brands in the business, 7 For All Mankind of the Vanity Fair Corporation. After a trip to the Corporate offices in Los Angeles, California, I got to experience something that others could only dream. I was front and center in the creation of the entire denim process. These HAND MADE products were dyed, cut, distressed, sewn, labeled and materialized all in-house. Something that many other denim brands were not accustom to. The process, the time; even down to the smallest details, were inspected not once or twice but 5 times before being packaged and sent out to the several hundred locations around the world.

And even now, with close to the 70+ pairs I own, there's nothing like a fresh pair of "7's" that were made to hug your every curve, sit perfectly on the hip and keep the same color after every wash. So if you haven't had the opportunity to slide into a pair, please do so. I promise you won't want to take them off!  

Welcome to Spring, Welcome to Bright Whites!

Before my wardrobe transitioned to my now favorite color black; I loved wearing white. It's something about the clean look against a pair of jeans or under a nice blazer or cape that I could not live without. And there's no place on earth that embraces that "all white everything" like Miami, FL.

Some of the happiest moments of my life come to mind when I think about this great city. From the stellar customer service at Mango's Dinner Show to the wide variety of savory dishes that suits even the pickiest eater. Breathtaking views and long days on South Beach and of course a night of memories that expand far beyond the wildest imagination. Miami is definitely THE place to be.

As we settle into Spring, begin to revisit those styles that invite the uniqueness of yourself. Recharge from the cocoon of winter and step into the season of transition and peace. I challenge you to add white to any outfit and witness how it softens the look. Create from what you own verses shopping for the new. Remember; trends come and go...but fashion remains forever. 

Layers and Jackets and Blazers, oh my!

I grew up in a state where Decembers meant snow and sleet for the next few months. Salt-dispensing state vehicles and school closures were routine. A zesty bowl of chili with cornbread and peppermint marshmallow topped hot cocoa were a must. And getting dressed always demanded layers of clothing. A tank top, under a t-shirt, under a sweater, under a coat with a hood and ear muffs.... it was cold y'all!

So it came as a pleasant surprise that just this New Years Eve in Houston, I was able to cook outside on the grill in 75 degree weather. I mean, I literally walked outside with a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops as if we were in the middle of May. Now, this is something I can get used to but damn, what happened to winter? 

Despite this drastic change of atmosphere, it was still winter and I still wanted to show it off. Layering! Using lighter pieces instead of the winter-resistant items I wore on the East Coast by becoming material conscious and realistic. I choose the silk scarf instead of the heavy cable-knit. The khaki peacoat over the wool full length. Easy switch, easy changes, mission accomplished. So with the right mindset and right items in your wardrobe, anyone can pull off "winter" in H-Town!

The beginning...

It all started with a black full-length jewel studded ball gown at my sons flag football award ceremony. With a Kanye shoulder shrug, and a deadly smile; I was more than pleased that I stood out among a crowd of comfortably appropriate middle-aged moms holding Starbucks in one hand and twirling keys to the family mini-van in another. And yet, this appearance would be my first of many. Doctors appointments, field trips and PTA meetings soon became my runway, and before long, I was crowned the "Model Mommy" by every Elementary School in the district.

However, this period in my life came from what I now realize was my undying love for fashion. I'd took the risk of stepping away from very familiar territory to own and operate a fitness business. And although it was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life, it became clear that I could never escape what I've been doing every since I was 18 years old. 

My closet was my "sanctuary". Overstocked with famous and well-known designers that I've had the opportunity to manage and buy for. With beautifully crafted vintage merchandise that I refused to part with. With sentimental and unique pieces that brought back the fondest memories. And of course, all these things sat and waited to be worn and showcased while I made a living in non-fashion industry.

So with one selfie. One random selfie, on my off-day, in my home, on this very couch that is now the backdrop to my homepage, I knew it was only right to follow what I'd been chasing for years. My love for styling. In a matter of hours, I developed a concept, business plans, key pieces and a long chat with the Lord, and finally..."she" had arrived. 

My looks are simple, my locations are not the norm and my photos are never airbrushed. I'm basically a 40 year old mother of 3, that just so happens to love fashion. So welcome to my page, welcome to my life, welcome to "Beauty and the Streets".