2017 #BagsOnAMission Ambassador | R. Riveter

(photo credit Laura Vien at rrivter.com)

Hey everyone!

I’m really excited because these past few weeks I’ve been super busy working on a bunch of really awesome projects. One of my newest projects is that I’m now a brand ambassador for R. Riveter, which is an amazing organization on a mission to bring employment, and a global community, to military spouses. Pretty sweet, huh?

While I’m not personally a military spouse, my family has three generations of men who have served, and I do think it’s really important to support U.S. made products.

(photo credit Laura Vien at rrivter.com)

Q: What is an ambassador?

Glad you asked! To be an ambassador means I am an advocate for brands that I care about. This means these are brands I support because they strongly align with what I value. I’ve talked about my ambassador program with Schwinn, and I’m so glad I now get to stand alongside another amazing brand on a mission.

Being an ambassador means that I get to talk about my experience with the brand, how I use their products and how much I love (because I really, truly do) the community they’ve built around their brand. I could not be more excited!

The first time I ever heard about this brand was when they appeared on Shark Tank, and I instantly fell in love with them. I remember messaging one of my friends immediately after I watched the show, and telling her all about this amazing brand. That was a few years ago, and I’ve loved following along on their journey ever since.

(photo credit Laura Vien at rrivter.com)

What this doesn’t mean: I get paid to promote their brand and to coerce others to buy it. I don’t receive any money for being an ambassador, or for you making a purchase through the use of my codes. 

This DOES means that I get to share special discount codes that get you awesome products at a great price, just ‘cus that’s the way they roll. This also means that I share what’s up with the brand and what’s new with them.

For instance, right now the brand is teaming up with the Red Cross and donating 100% of proceeds from these awesome key fobs to help with those affected by Hurricane Harvey—awesome, right?! Get yours (they’re only $10!) HERE.
It’s pretty awesome if you think about it—you get the inside scoop via me. And you get to hear stories about women empowering other women to succeed. Everyone wins!

Here’s more about the R. Riveter brand:

These products really are amazing, and I can’t wait to share more about them with all of you. Keep a lookout for special codes if you have your eye on one of their gorgeous bags.

If you use the code ‘RREMILEEM’ you can get 15% off any bags in their signature collection!

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Travel Inspiration: My Crazy Life In Textiles

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7 years ago I graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a four year Degree in Journalism. But something I don’t talk about very much is that my initial major was actually Apparel Design (it then became my minor). Clothing and textiles have fascinated me for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been sewing them together into my own designs since I was 5 years old. The daughter of a seamstress, it’s not shocking that I would have an interest in sewing or design. But as I’ve grown older I’ve become more and more interested in the cultures behind the textiles I’m drawn to.

I have a pretty broad ethnic heritage, so there’s a lot to draw off within my own family history. But more than anything, I love seeing the history and stories of textiles when I’m traveling. When I was in Scotland, a couple months ago, I was mesmerized by the National Museum‘s textile exhibits in Edinburgh. If you haven’t been, I would highly suggest visiting, especially if you have an interest in fashion, textiles or the history of women’s clothing.

This week I thought it would be fun to do a bit more research into some of my favorite textile trends. All of these textiles are from cultures that I’m descended from, and they’re each very important to me. The beauty of being tri-racial (it’s a word, just go with it) is that I get to enjoy all of these beautiful cultures, simultaneously. Luckiest girl? I like to think so.

 

Scandinavia (Denmark and Norway) 
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If you know me you know that I love floral patterns more than life. Maybe it has to do with my hippy 4-H childhood, or maybe just my love for nature and the beauty of plant life, but I have too many floral dresses in my closet to count. I’ll attribute some of this, from the artistic point of view, to the Scandinavian side of my family.

My mom’s side of the family is very proud (like seriously, they never stop talking about it) Norwegian and Dane. I haven’t been to Norway before, but I did go to Denmark about a month ago and I guess I kind of understand the hype, now. After all, it’s literally one of the happiest places on earth. Another great way of experiencing a “next best thing to authentic” Scandinavian experience, for those of you in the PNW, is for your to visit the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. Like seriously, it’s amazing and definitely worth carving our a few hours to walk through.

Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) Nations

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It’s probably not shocking to you that Native American textiles are something that can (and probably will) take your breath away. They’re some of the oldest and most brilliant designs we know of, and I’m proud that this is a part of my heritage. Native American textiles have always been something I’ve been in love with, and it’s a large part of my personal style, as well as the aesthetic I bring to my art. I love bold colors, and I love intricate details that take hours and hours and hours to complete.

Although I’m quite a bit Native American, these are the cultures I talk about the least. There’s a reason for that. Since I was raised in the Pacific Northwest, with my mom’s family, I haven’t had as much exposure to a lot of my southern roots. Ethnically, however, I have DNA ties back to both Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) tribes.

 

African American 

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African American heritage, of course, is a mixture of African culture and the resources that were available in the land slaves were brought to. While it’s harder to pinpoint specific designs as being part of my family’s history, there has always been a part of me in love with the intricate simplicity behind designs I do have access to. African designs, as well, are something I love, especially the boldness of of the textiles. As a seamstress is the culture of quilts and quilting and storytelling has also captivated me from childhood. Although I am definitely “beginner status” I love quilting, and if I had more time it would definitely make into my life, more.

I may not be able to trace my roots back to exact spots in Africa (yet), but I am able to love and reflect on the culture that arose from the ashes of slavery.

 

Have a favorite textile, pattern or period of clothing? Comment in the section below and let me know! 

6 of the Best Style Tips I Learned from France

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A little known fact about me is that I have a degree in fashion design. I don’t usually talk about it because in the professional world I don’t use those skills as much, but I grew up making clothes and sewing and I’ve always loved style. I also grew up watching entirely too many black and white movies, so I have a soft spot for classy clothing and pearl earrings. 1950’s Paris *sigh*. When I lived in France one of the parts that I loved was seeing all of the beautiful European style. I would have loved it more if I was making any amount of money close to a salary so I could buy any of these clothes, but not having the income to splurge made me vastly more aware of the trends and how I would apply them to my own life, once I got back into a position to. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

shoppingSimplicity is Queen
One of the most beautiful things about living in France was how simple the style and lifestyle is. Now it’s important to note that we’re not talking Scandinavian minimalism (although I’m sure there are houses that follow that) but the French have a clean, yet intricate, attention to detail that I absolutely adore. I love the minimalism, mixed with color and patterns and my heart was won over by the beautiful patterns that you can find in so many homes.

Pearls Solve a Multitude of Sins
Having a bad day? Not feeling like feeling you’re usual classy self? Throw on some pearl stud earrings! This is one of my favorite style hacks because it makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn on days when I’m feeling more like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. And who doesn’t want to look like Audrey? No hands? I didn’t think so. Not ready to throw down on real pearls? I’ve found some really great pairs of studs at Nordstrom that do the trick, while on a budget.

Mix and Max

You’re probably thinking that the French spend millions each year on clothing. And, of course, for some you’re probably right. But some of the classiest women I ever met taught me the very important lesson to mixing where you shop. This means you may have a designer wool peacoat, but your t-shirt is from Abercrombie. This lesson taught me that it’s not just about what you’re wearing, it’s about how you’re wearing it. And another key is to buy quality, over quantity. When you do splurge, splurge on statement pieces that are going to last you years. There’s a really great book I have called Paris Chic that does a great job of outlining Parisian and French fashion. Your wardrobe will thank you for the $1.99 you spent buying it.

Treat Yourself
The French know how to pamper themselves, and I don’t mean going out and coming back with a carload of clothes charged on their credit card. I mean lotions, bubble baths and perfumes. I mean those things that make you feel like gold – even with nothing on. Spending the extra dollars to buy quality skin care products is worth it. Treat yourself, and your body, by investing in some bath salts or some soothing lotions. You’ll be surprised how lovely you feel without even needing to spend money on clothes.

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Scarves
If there’s one style tip that I’m so glad I learned when living in France, it’s the beauty of scarves. From light and airy to bulky and bold, scarves aren’t really something I invested in before I lived in Europe. But I’m definitely now riding the scarf train! A great scarf can not only double your options on a simple sweater, they’re a lot less expensive than buying a whole new wardrobe. And they’re warm. I’m all about the warm. I’ve found some of my favorites at Nordstrom (because, despite popular opinion, Nordstrom isn’t always crazy expensive, if you know the right places to look), but I also love to buy them at World Market.

Kids Wear
One of the cutest things about living in France was definitely the children. The child style goals I now have are insanely high. Like, I kind of want to fly to France yearly so that I can dress my future children. Yeah, that bad. The cute little animals, the cute little patterns. All of it. If you’re looking to replicate all the cuteness (or just see what I’m talking about), you can type in “French kids clothing” in Pintrest and envy away, or hop over to Petit Bateau which has a U.S. website but totally French kids style. J’adore.

Why Tina Fey is Wrong – You Shouldn’t Have It All

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The other day I was clothes shopping and spent close to a millennia in the store…but only 3 things. SHOCK. Despite what my American upbringing echoed in the back of my mind:

“You should have bought it all!”
“You’ll look better walking out with overflowing bags on your arms.”
“How do you call yourself an adult without being able to splurge on payday?”

I wasn’t “sad” that I had “only” found a few things – I was elated. Why? Because what I bought was what I really really wanted. It wasn’t because I was broke, it wasn’t because nothing else worked, it was because I only bought what I was really passionate about.

I know, crazy.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. And while I was there I had to wonder: Why are American grocery stores the size of small villages? Have you ever been in a European grocery store? There’s like 8 aisles and one option of each thing (Yes, even in Paris). Why? Well for one thing, it’s because they don’t have to worry about organic – it’s all organic. The other is because life in general is more straight forward. You get what you need and then you move on with life.

And while we’re on the topic, have you guys seen that “Impulse Buy” Tina Fey commercial, if not watch it, below.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG Tina Fey fan, but every time I see this commercial I think about how intense the culture of, “I can, therefore I will,” is in the U.S. Not saying it’s always a bad thing, just that it’s problematic, in that it creates this idea that all that is going to make you happy.

Clarification: I am no proponent of the kind of minimalism that Scandinavian countries advocate for. I know that works for some, and high-five to them, but that is NOT my aesthetic. I love having tons of art supplies, and bookcases overflowing with vintage/sketch books. But, something that I think has really stuck with me, from living in France, is that you don’t NEED to have every version and every color and every brand of something, in order to be happy. I mean, I basically lived out of two suitcases for A YEAR (and one of those suitcases was just art supplies) and I was perfectly functional.

During that year I had a lot (probably too much time) to think, and I was able to really analyze what was and wasn’t important/necessary in my life. Essentially, I learned what makes me happy. And, the emphasis here is what makes me happy (this is not a guide to making the world happy, again).

So, here’s what I learned and continue to implement in my day to day:

Languages are my passion:
I’ve always loved learning other languages (except Spanish, which for some reason I CANNOT pick up) and I love exploring the cultures that come with them. Studies show that learning/speaking other languages can actually make you happier for a multitude of reasons, including reducing stress, helping you feel more connected to other people and of course there’s the “chocolate cake high” that comes with learning new words. Regardless of what the motivation is, I love the idea that we can add so much value to our lives for (especially with online resources like Duolingo etc) little or no money.

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.” –

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Art makes me whole:
While I was in France the two things I chose to spend my pitiful allowance on was postcards (another passion of mine!) and art supplies. Why? Because I literally start losing my mind if I can’t create art. Whether it’s painting or drawing (I learned in France, I actually can draw) I love having art as a meditative part of my life. Hop over to my Facebook page if you’d like to see what I’m currently up to, or you can check out my Pintrest board to see some of my drawing projects from France.

Learning new things enriches me:
Three words: Khan. Coursera. Skillshare. These are the trifecta of my learning (with perhaps some PBS worked in there) and I love taking classes, picking up new skills and learning about the world around me.

Khan Academy
was one of my favorite resources when I was in France, because it’s totally free and you can take classes on a million different subjects, including Pixar animation (also, because I’m a Trekkie – ha). I’ve taken ALL the history classes, and I regret none of the time spent. They also have science, art, coding, and math (gross – but if you’re into that kind of thing).

I also love Coursera, although now they’re starting to charge (but you can find hacks by Googling how to get the classes free). Coursera allows you to take academic classes from universities and professors all over the world, which I also think is amazing.

And lastly Skillshare is amazing for learning new creative things like drawing, photography and even cooking! I’ve learned so much from this resource, and the monthly subscription rate is about the same as Netflix/Hulu (but way more valuable, in my opinion).

Books are beautiful:
The Christmas before last I spent my day wandering Paris, and buying a bunch of classic literature. Why? Because for some reason, in Paris, the cheapest books to buy (we’re talking like 1 euro) are the classics in English. Needless to say, I’ve now read pretty much all of Jules Verne and Jane Austen. Books don’t have to be super expensive (especially if you’re finding them used) and yet they have the amazing ability to transport you all over the world and on a million different adventures. I’ve always been such a bookworm, but I think there was definitely a post college (or even during college) period of time when I forgot how much I loved them. I don’t have as much time now, because obviously I’m not a kid running free, but I do try to make sure to carve out 30min-1hour of reading time, each day. What am I reading right now? The Outlander series, and it’s making me want to go back to Scotland real bad.
WARNING: These books are mammoth.

I don’t need a million friends:
Okay, so let’s talk popularity contest. Why, oh why, do we have to feel like we need a million people who you’re “best friends” with? Unknown. But it’s a thing. And, as a proud introvert, it’s a lie I’m not buying into, anymore. I love me time, and I love alone time. It’s when my brain is settled and happy and free and I come up with my best ideas and creations. I do love the friends that I have, and I do love meeting new people, but not under the pretense that if I don’t have 12 friends I’m Snapchatting every night I’ll shrivel up and die like a raisin. Nope. I’ve had to fight hard for it, but creating that space, and bringing in only people in who understand that I need alone time has made me much happier than a thousand friends ever could.

My faith is really important to me:
My faith, like meditation or exercise, is something that keeps me whole. While I’m not sure that I would describe myself as specifically one denomination, Christianity is a really important part of my life, and one that inspires and strengthens me, daily. It’s not perfect, and neither am I, but it’s something that no one can buy, trade or take away and that makes it an invaluable treasure in my life.

What about you guys? Yeah, shoes are awesome, but what else makes you really glow with happiness? Comment below!

Paris Fashion 2015: Gentlemen

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Round 2 for Paris fashion – this one’s for the boys! Parisian guys in their 20s dress pretty similar to guys in Seattle, but there are a few tweaks that are pretty “French.” Like I said, there isn’t any way that I could all encompass everything a city of millions wears, but these are the trends that I’m noticing while I’m walking the streets of Paris on a day to day basis. So here we go, gentlemen!

1. Scarves: Guys and dolls alike all rock scarves in France. Whether it’s a earth tone neutral, a subtle print or a pop of color, the scarf is something you hardly ever leave the house without. There are several ways one can tie a scarf, gentlemen – for further instructions, though, I refer you to one of my personal favorite websites: The Art Of Manliness.

2. Shoes: As far as shoes goes, the key is to make sure they’re of good quality and well made. Whether they’re a sneaker, a dress shoe (oh my word – there are some beautiful dress shoes in this country) or a pair of leather boots, just make sure they’re in great condition (that doesn’t mean new, it means shined, oiled etc.). Grubby is not the way of the Parisian man.

3. Shirts: Graphic t-shirts are acceptable, if you’re mixing them with some nice jeans, but the print needs to be a high quality and have some kind of illustrative narrative. Use your intuition when you’re choosing these tees! Make sure they aren’t screaming for attention, but are commanding it nonetheless. Remember: “Try your best without looking like you ever tried.”  *You get extra points if you grab one with an “ironic” American flag on it.

4. Sweaters: Sweaters are a staple of your wardrobe that you’re able to wear year after year. Not only are they a trendy choice, but can add some patterns to your wardrobe. Don’t look for your Bill Cosby inspired soulmate, though (as charming as that might sound) – grab that pattern in a neutral charcoal or beige. Another great option is a pop of color such as a solid red or turquoise.

5. Turtlenecks: Yep. It’s on here. You knew it was coming. French men are not afraid of turtlenecks, and they wear them proudly. Whether this lightweight style buddy is standing alone as your outfit top, or it’s matched with a sweater over it, you’ll be well on your way to dressing like a Parisian with a couple of these in your wardrobe.

6. Button-ups: First things first: Grab a pink one. As with the turtleneck, you must not be afraid to sport the pink shirt if you’re going to rock the Parisian style. Other great button-ups can include denim, and smaller prints and patterns.

7. Coats: Peacoats right now are pretty popular, the key is to have them fit like a glove. Oversized is not an option. Colors are generally dark blue, black or gray. The leather jacket (of course) is a must have for your wardrobe, but we’re not talking biker tasseled vintage model. Again, you might have to throw down some cash to get the right fit, but the nice thing about leather is that once you commit it’s until death do you part.

8. Blazer: Tastefully mixing business wear and casual wear is a trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The “tasteful” part means making sure your pants, jeans though they may be, are fitted and pull together your outfit, rather than distracting from it. And speaking of pants…

9. Pants: Go ahead and stick with a jean, but why not try a pop of color with that jean!? Red? Turquoise? Green? One of each? Colored jeans are definitely a thing, although I’m seeing them a little less now, while they seemed to be more popular a few months ago. If you’re not up for the colored jean, you can grab a dark wash pair but it is going to need to be fitted. And if you’re REALLY daring, grab a pair of skinny jeans – no, not paint on tight, but just a bit tighter than a straight leg. You’re not trying to mimic your high school emo days.

10. Bags: Messenger bags, canvas or leather are THE thing to have. Parisian men carry bags a lot more than I’m used to seeing in the U.S., but why shouldn’t they!? Men have things to carry, right? So why not have a great briefcase style handbag or crossover bag to carry them!

Notice some other Paris mens trends that I’ve missed? Write them below in the comments box!