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That Work Grind | Taking A Chance

April 21, 2015

I get tons of emails from readers about how I came to be able to run my blog full-time successfully, still do things that creatively inspire me, and pay the bills at the same time. For me, it really was something that just happened without a plan (although I am much more organized with my work now!), and it all started with taking a chance. And yes, that chance didn’t come with a happy number in my bank account in the beginning. The struggle of balancing finances and creative fulfillment was real ever since I landed my first job after college. And as much as we try hard not to think about those bills piling up and the fact that we are always “just getting by”, these things will always be there. Paying for things is a part of the real adult world, and it by far isn’t a breeze.

When I first moved to NYC from Philly for a new job, the idea of paying more than $500 in rent was horrifying (and I still had a roommate). I had a stable position at a quick growing, on-the-radar start up company, but a stable job doesn’t mean living that NYC life was going to be glorious. I held myself back from doing a lot of things because of my mediocre paycheck (shopping, getting that extra drink with my new co-workers, skipping the movie) to save as much as I could. Add long ass hours on top of that . . . and let’s just say life was pretty crazy and exhausting. But a lot has changed since then, and paying NYC prices for rent isn’t as much as a challenge as it was before, but who knows when that may change again (hopefully not!!!). Maybe if I decided to be a doctor life would be much easier for me still right now (boring but easier), but easy was never really an option in my book. 

I quit my full-time job in NYC with a good amount of savings in the bank (thank goodness rent was cheap as heck in Philly, or this would not be the case) and a few freelance gigs on the horizon. But just enough to cover the rent and food. I went to a gym that cost $10 a month, not $80. I’d still take the late night subway home at 3am in the morning because an Uber was totally out of the question. Sometimes I’d eat ramen noodles for dinner (but I actually really liked the stuff. lol). Deciding to pursue the blog full-time was more of a way to find myself and figure out the next steps of my career. And let me tell you, the pursuit wasn’t easy in the beginning. I worked as many small paying gigs as I could that weren’t even blog related at all . . . assisting on shoots, copywriting for brands, etc. I was trying the best to keep myself busy with opportunities that I thought would help me in the long run, and that I could actually learn from. Life definitely wasn’t as fun or glamorous as Instagram can show it to be. But through all the experiences, every little job and every big job, I allowed myself to expand creatively. And my curiosity and love of storytelling drove me to focus much more on creating great content for my readers that I myself felt closely connected to. You know you love something when you do it for free. And when you have the opportunity to create a job for yourself doing the things you love, you can’t just let it pass.

Collaborating with my sister, friends and other who made me feel happy to be doing what I am doing was the most critical part of me working for myself and actually getting by. And from there, a few months down the road, the paychecks and the struggles finally found a balancing point. I feel like the more confident I felt in myself and my work, the more people respected me for it and viewed this little blog as a legit creative and social outlet. The success and work came more steadily, but I am thankful that it crept up on me not too unexpectedly nor too expectedly at all. It came naturally. It just felt good to be sought out for work as much as I myself sought work out. And all the ramen noodles and late night subway rides were all worth it in the end. I might not be living the perfect dream life still, but I feel like if I ever even got to that high point, the magic would be lost. There wouldn’t be more to work for. 

So that’s my little story in a nut shell. Just remember, that at the end of the day whatever is in your heart is what you should be doing with your life. Your path should be completely and totally your own. It should be completely passionate, especially if you are a creative type. Not something someone else has molded for you. Really, the most amazing thing is knowing that you have a choice, and the confidence that if you find yourself in a rut, you CAN actually do something about it. As long as you realize it and want it. Making the money to do what you love is another story a lot of the times, and I can only pull from my own experience, which for me was based off a cushion of savings and really putting myself out there while also being super focused on making my site the best it can be. Teamwork is key. I never would have made it without family, friends and awesome colleagues. Networking connections are important, too. And I am by far not the greatest social networking in real life. I’ll talk to you because I’m actually interested and enjoy the conversation, not really because there is an opportunity for me to gain something out of it. But you know what, sometimes saying that extra hello and an introduction to someone might be just the extra step you are missing. It could possible be the next person you collaborate with.

I always say giving yourself the opportunity to pursue what you love (no matter what the paycheck) is worth the shot. Life is lesson after lesson of trial and error. Hard work, drive and hope will get you into your groove. Everything is always worth the chance in my book. Because you never really know until you try. 

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New Color with Vidal Sassoon Salonist

March 18, 2015

And here you are guys! My fresh, new and DARKER color thanks to the new Vidal Sassoon Salonist Permanent At-Home Colour. And guess what?! I did it all myself. I haven’t colored my own hair in years, especially since it always ended up with me having too much of that brassy undertone that I hate so much. I recently just got some highlights added at a salon, but I ended up not really digging them as much as I thought I would. I felt like my hair was too light and that the highlights were washing me out. My hair also felt very dry because of the lightening (I felt nearly blonde!!). Not only did I think it was time to give my hair a break from all the bleach, but I also thought it was about time that I took things into my own hands and give a shot at coloring my hair myself!

Because I haven’t done it in so long, the idea of doing it myself was a bit scary at first, but after reading about Vidal Sassoon Salonist’s impeccable two-step process and rave reviews on Amazon.com, it seemed like it couldn’t be that hard at all! I went for the 5/1 Medium Cool Brown color. And I was incredibly happy with the results I got.
The two-step process is quite the game changer, with a treatment for the roots first and then lengths second. Because our roots absorb color differently than the lengths of our hair (our roots are new hair growth and less porous, and therefore need more dye whereas your lengths have been colored before and don’t need as much dye), this two-step process is quite critical! The at-home kit also includes a brush and bowl that aids in achieving professional results for your hair color. I felt like such a pro with just my first stroke of color on my roots. No joke!
I started by using 2/3 of the color cream developer for roots, which I applied by separating my hair into a bunch of equal parts and applying the mixture to each part one by one. Afterwards, I took the remaining mixture in the bowl and added a breakthrough serum that transformed the rest of the color cream into a glaze that I spread throughout the rest of my length. Simple as 1 and 2!

After a little massage to make sure the dye spread through my entire roots and lengths (just 20 minutes to be exact!), I was ready to rinse and unveil my new color. The end result was so natural and multi-dimensional, it was as if I just left the salon. And the process was just so quick and convenient, there really is no reason for me to go back to the salon. I am actually quite looking forward to going maybe another shade darker the next go!

Ready to give Vidal Sassoon Salonist a go of your own? ENTER TO WIN a coupon for a free color kit of your own by telling me why you want to color your hair in the comment section of this blog post. You can also do the same on today’s Instagram post that announces this blog post.

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The Future of Blogging

March 10, 2015
The future of this blog is always something to think about. Many bloggers I have talked to have this exact same thing on their minds. As many of us enter our late 20’s, the drive behind our careers may or may not change drastically. Where exactly will we grow from here? Will we want to be doing exactly what we do now in our futures? How will our current digital presence mature as we mature as individuals? Do we think our careers will revolve around fashion for the rest of our lives? Will we still be having the same urge to share our outfits with you all? Currently, for me at least, this is all left in a big pile called the great unknown. Things have changed so much since I started this blog way back in 2009, which was right around the time I graduated college. I started this blog just as a hobby and as a creative outlet. Never in a million years did I think I could make a living running this thing. But thanks to a little thing called social media and Instagram (INSTAHAM as I like to call it sometimes) everything I do on here has gotten the chance to gain a whole lot of exposure. But a lot of times I miss how blogging was like before social media blew up and Instagram took over. None of this existed way back at the beginnings of DYLANA/SUAREZ (previously Color Me Nana, and before that Dylana in Wonderland . . . cringe). It started to make me wonder, do people even care to visit the blog to read more beyond just a pretty photo? Or would they rather just see something quick on Instagram and call it a day? 
To me, social media is a both a really awesome thing and also a really not very awesome thing. It’s awesome because I wouldn’t be writing you right now from the comfort of my own bed and actually saying this is my job. It’s awesome because I have the freedom to share as much or as little of my life as possible on here, and actually get quite a meaningful response to what I put out there from a good amount of those who visit. Whether it be via a comment, a tweet, or an email, it really is crazy to think that some of you out there really take the time out of your day to put in some extra feedback and thoughts. It’s also awesome because I get to do a lot of different things I love to do on a daily basis and I never feel limited. I’m my own boss and I have a lot of control and it feels amazing. Not a lot can say that. 
On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes (maybe a lot of times) social media can lend a superficial aspect to how we view the lives of others in relation to our own. This superficiality can definitely force one to lose focus on the authenticity of the content put out there. Social media (Instagram in particular) is designed to showcase a perspective that will get a positive response from viewers (a.k.a. a lot of likes). And especially today, brands work with bloggers based solely on the amount of followers they have as opposed to the actual quality of the content. In reality, numbers-wise, I am nowhere near some of the girls who run fashion blogs out there. But at the same time I am consistently working, and I feel like the quality of my work is the game changer for me. I work hard, I’m passionate, and I just happen to have a blog that connects me to more people than if I didn’t have a blog. As a blogger, it’s not my main goal to work with the biggest and most influential brands out there (although at times I do have the opportunity to do so, which is quite amazing), but it’s not the driving force behind the growth of my blog and of my work. 
Personally, I feel like I get the most out of what I do when I am working with the smaller brands, even start ups, who build up these amazing ideas from almost nothing. To be a part of something from the tiny beginning to the end product on a smaller scale level is far more interesting to me. Mostly because it means that I am so much more involved from the get go. I appreciate the industry more when I am actually down and getting my hands dirty. You know, doing the grunt work, as opposed to signing a big contract with a big brand for so and so number of social media posts. Hey, those are nice, too, and I love to support big brands I believe in and who think I am influential, but personally I get the most out of projects I can be thoroughly involved in. I learn the most that way, too.
I work hard to keep it as real as I can on here. Behind the cool outfits, fun parties, and prettier side of the industry is a whole lot of work, organization and spreading myself thin a lot of the times. I do get comments here and there about selling out whenever I put a sponsored-style post out there, and I can’t deny that I do this. But as times changed, a lot on here will have to change, too, especially with me doing this full-time. But I promise that everything you will read and see on here is real and true. 
So as a follower of the social media/digital world, what do you guys think? How many of you are actually coming here to learn, read beyond the pictures and dig a little deeper? And how many of you prefer just the visual aspects and inspirations; to be constantly updated with just bits and pieces via other social media platforms, such as Instagram or (dare I say it) Snapchat. Where do you see blogs in five years? This last one is always interesting for me to think about. I think blogs will still be around. There will always be those dedicated readers who will keep on coming back, as others come and go at a much more exponential rate. But in the long run, I think those bloggers with something actually meaningful to say beyond just the chic outfits, designers digs and glistening vacation snaps will survive. Quality over quantity. I like leaving a blog feeling inspired not to just dress well, but to live well. Those blogs that help me think about more meaningful things than just the best ways to layer in winter. Those are the blogs I’ll keep on reading five years from now. 
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How To Survive Fashion Week

February 13, 2015

TEVA metallic leather sandals // SHOP HERE
A few of my tips on how to survive the the week we hate and love the most . . . New York Fashion Week. I’m obviously trying to be funny, so all you hardcore fashion enthusiasts don’t feel like I’m hating. Fashion is far more fun when you can be humorous about it. So here we go:

1. Stay Hydrated
Because passing out from lack of water in the middle of a show is not cute. Plus your skin won’t look as supple and fresh as the fashion week dress you just overpaid for last week. H2O. Chemistry. It works. 
2. Pack snacks. 
Because you work in fashion, you are already effing hungry 95% of the time. No need to be any hungrier. EAT FOOD (not gum) throughout the day during fashion week. Energy is love and your metabolism will be forever grateful.
3. Don’t kill your feet.
I’ve learned from experience that it is NOT WORTH IT to literally perpetuate the death if your baby toes because you want to be street style photographed. We will all be laughing deep down inside because we can sense pain from underneath those reflective retro cat-eyed sunnies babe. TEVA sandals in-between shows sounds just as crazy, but they are a LIFESAVER!
4. Get at least more than 5 hours of sleep each night.
There’s nothing more dreadful than that 9am fashion show you promised to be backstage at and that you know you will be showing up 10-15 minutes late for . . . looking dreadful. SLEEP PEOPLE. SLEEP. Fashion week doesn’t need anymore unhappy, tired looking people in the mix. 
5. Wear invisible layers under your layers.
UNIQLO HEATTECH layering shirts are you friends people. YOUR BEST FRIENDS.
6. Don’t forget your phone charger (or Boost Case).
You’re trying to get that finale catwalk video and then all of a sudden your iPhone 6 that you just got for fashion week dies on you midway through and everyone and their mama’s is posting the exact same video before you do on Instagram. It’s almost like that feeling of FOMO but worse. 
7. Stay fresh! Deodorant! Perfume! Face Powder!
Homeless chic might be in. But smelling homeless isn’t. Especially when you are dancing hardcore at the BCBG after party at the top of The Standard hotel in that metallic dress with absolutely no ventilation. THAT’S IT. Sorry. 
8. Pho.
Fashion week smack dab in the winter is just about enough sensory overload to make a fashion girl as sick as a dog. Pho is the perfect after-show escape your belly has been aching for. It’s as if the wind tunnels, stilettos in slush, frostbit, delayed subways and annoying fashion chicks in Louboutins never happened. VIETNAMESE MAGIC IN A BOWL. Viola!
9. Walk into the shows as if your favorite song is playing just for you.
Because nothing feels more killer than your fave beat. All day errrrryday. WERK IT and OWN IT. Doesn’t matter what you are wearing. 
10. Don’t over think your outfits!
How many times do I have to repeat? Over thinking leads to trying too hard. Don’t try to be a part of the pack. Be yourself and you’ll be sure to stand out. Dressing just for the street style photographers is LAME. Really it is. Isn’t it so much cooler to be photographed for something you’d actually have worn on one of your normal best days? I think so.
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