START THAT BUSINESS SIS | VOL 1.

Moment of honesty: I struggled with getting this blog post going. I am not a motivational speaker. I can be overly passionate about the way I feel which in turn can lead me to come across as crass. But I am who am I so this is not going to be a sugar coated fluffy “you go girl!” post. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. A lot of you are not starting a business or following through on an idea because you simply do not trust yourself. It’s you. While lack of support, lack of resources, lack of credentials all seem like legitimate reasons to hesitate, they are simply excuses. These are all things that can be gained and earned along the way. The only thing you NEED to get started is actually allowing yourself to do so. Let me explain…

I asked the ladies in my social media audience for their best excuse on not starting their business idea. The top two answers where lack of support and fear.

So let’s start with support.

It seriously makes my skin crawl when people start throwing this word around. What exactly do you mean by support? Do you literally mean customers to buy your product/service or people cheering you on for the journey? It is my honest unfiltered opinion that both of these are to be earned. Customers are earned by consistently producing a quality product & service and consistently investing in your own product/service to make sure that it is evolving and getting better with time. You simply may not have garnered people’s trust on day one, week one, year one of establishing your brand. Throw that instant gratification shit out the window because that’s not how it works. Building trust for people to spend their hard earned money is a process. One that may require you to do some undesirable work, build a portfolio, expose yourself to people outside of your daily group chat. Just because you pick up a camera and snap a photo does not entitle you to people’s money for photo shoots. You need to learn the trade, invest in the proper tools, shadow professionals. Build a portfolio that people cannot deny. My motto is people do not know who you are until you tell them and they don’t care who you are until you give them something they can feel. Put some passion behind what you are doing, buy into yourself, see the value in your own work, then and only then will you naturally attract paying customers and clientele. Attracting clients is primarily about being real with yourself. Is my product/service quality? Am I promoting to the correct people? Do I have unrealistic expectations and an innate sense of entitlement? Yup, have that chat with yourself… ASAP.

Now let’s move onto that other ugly side of support people love to fixate on. Let’s get one thing cleared up. Your best friend, sister, cousin, professor, whoever, for one may not be your target audience and for two does not owe you support. Now we are not going to act like people who intentionally don’t root for you, don’t exist. They do. But whyyyyyyy are you giving them so much energy? People will launch a brand, get a handful of their actual target audience interested, then rant for two weeks on twitter about how their family didn’t support them. Have you lost your mind? Not only is this a slap in the face to the people who have uplifted you (and spent money) but it’s also counterproductive and a complete waste of time. What you give focus to WILL grow. When I see people complaining about support constantly, it unconsciously makes me not want to have anything to do with their work. You are literally creating a campaign of negativity for your own brand. When I see support rants I think to myself, look at all the time this person could have been putting into making their brand unfuckwithable and here they are giving energy to people who the brand may not even be meant for. Most of the support entrepreneurs receive is unseen and unverifiable. Make your brand so on point that people can’t deny it and individuals you have never even crossed paths with become advocates by sharing your message with others. For those who have yet to launch, please stop focusing on support. Support is like a ghost meant to haunt you on your journey to completing your vision. Just remove this word from your vocab because frankly you don’t deserve support yet and once you do it will certainly come naturally.

One last aside about support… please stop expecting people to give you the complete recipe to your industry then being upset when they won’t. If you need specific information on how to get started then you need to seek a consultation with a subject matter expert in your field and that will likely cost money. If you understood the time, money and resources that goes into educating one’s self you would respect people that don’t give up their resources with ease. People have hopped directly into my business account direct messages and ask “how exactly do you do this?” Aht Aht! Six months of researching, purchasing, testing, fucking up, throwing money away, arguing with distributors, working in the burning sun and freezing cold will not be handed to you on a platter via instagram. Sorry not sorry. Most people’s hold up is they are not resourceful (or too lazy to even try to be resourceful). Invest the time & money into learning your process and if you simply can’t wait, be ready to pay for the blueprint. Personally I prefer to get it honest. It drives me to know how much I put into my brand & myself. I am a lifetime learner and if I have to stay up until 3AM scouring the crevices of the internet to find an answer, so be it. And when I hit a roadblock, I can honestly admit I don’t know something and I need to save my money up to seek professional help. Here’s some free game: follow some leaders (and newbies) in your industry. Turn notifications on. People love telling their stories and giving behind the scenes looks at what they do. Make them a coach-in-your-head. Study, take notes, catch the gems. I have learned so much just from the instastories of women in business I admire. You can do the same.

At this point I’m tapped out on writing and you probably feel the same about reading! Let’s table “fear” for another session. This whole stop saying support thing is a big pill to swallow. Sit with it. Tell me where I’m wrong or not making sense. Like I said we are going to figure this starting a business thing out together. I’m open to the support conversation. I believe the underlying issue with support is self-confidence. I understand it doesn’t come easy to everyone but you HAVE TO trust yourself first. You have to build yourself first before you can build a brand. Those insecurities will expose you and take you down every time. You are your own worst enemy. Do what you have to do to believe that your work is of value. Because it likely is but we’ll never know because you keep tip toeing around the idea. Until next time ladies!

Rosé Wine Mansion

It’s 2018 and instagramable pop-up exhibits have become a staple of pop culture. Big bustling cities like L.A, San Fran and NYC host them often, each one with something new to explore. When a fellow foodie and adventurer linked me to the Rosé Wine Mansion, I just knew this would be the perfect introduction to the world of interactive exhibits for me.

My girls and I packed our things up nomad style and caught a train from New Haven to NYC. Our itinerary included the Rosé Mansion followed by Curlfest (the mecca of natural hair culture for women & people of color). I’m honestly glad we planned to Rosé first because the trek to Curlfest truly wore me out! Rosé Wine Mansion is a very short walk from Grand Central Terminal so it’s super convenient if you’re taking the train in. Located at 5th & 39th, you can feel the good vibes radiating from the outside!

Along with your self-guided tour of the Rosé Mansion, entry includes the cutest stem free wine tumbler equipped with a thumb rest, a cute NYC Rosé enamel pin, and tastings of eight different Rosés as you move through the exhibit. You also receive a sticker pack which you are encouraged to use to decorate the first room of the mansion! The stickers are actually various grapes used to create Rosé. I love that this exhibit was heavy on interaction and education.

Each room has great photo ops and a staff member pouring up a sample of a Rosé related to the theme of the room. The Rosé around the world room was super cute and even had a large map allowing visitors to peg places they’ve enjoyed Rosé around the map.

The Blending Lab room was definitely one of my favorites. There was a lot of useful information on how different blends work together to create signature Rosé tastes. We had the opportunity to taste our own blend as well. My blend was medium weight, zing! level acidity, and light and delicate fruitiness. Absolutely delicious!

I really love how The Blending Lab was set up like a chemistry lab. I’m definitely going to recreate this whole look for a wine tasting idea I’ve been playing with in my thoughts!

My next favorite was the Secret Apothic Garden. This is one of the most instagramable rooms of the exhibit boasting a floral framed swing and a clawfoot bathtub filled with rose petals. Rosé Wine Mansion is so photo friendly and actually encourages you to take your best shot. This room suggests two photos and one boomerang per area (just to keep it fair due to the large crowd). We met a friend along the way (what can I say, Rosé brings people together) who hyped us up and helped with our photo ops. Thanks, Mark, for screaming “Yessss Solange!” while I basked in the tub!

We took sooo many photos but I’ll just keep it light because I want everyone to go and experience Rosé Wine Mansion! I actually feel like I have a better understanding of what I like when it comes to Rosé; now I won’t be so overwhelmed in the Rosé isle at Total Wines. A couple of days before visiting the mansion I stood in the Rosé isle looking perplexed. A staff member asked me what I was looking for and I state “a sweet Rosé.” Probably meaning no harm at all he replied: “okay, so you’re looking for a white Zinfandel, follow me!”  Now sir, I said what I said, and I said it pretty clear! I can laugh about it now that I’m better equipped to look at the selections and find the offering that fits my perfect blend!

If you’re in NYC you should absolutely take advantage of this gem that’s right in your backyard. If you are willing to travel for Rosé, like me, its still worthwhile! I didn’t pack light simply because I had another event to attend but all you truly need is a fully charged camera and some good company. Purchasing tickets in advance is definitely recommended, especially with the popularity of the exhibit. If you go, hit me up on insta and let me know what your favorite room was!

Shout out to our new friend + hype man, Mark!

Great time with my girls! Our next stop is the Sue Tsai pop-up exhibit in August!

Fun fact from the mansion: The US & France are in direct competition for the highest rosé consumption. Let me go pour a glass to boost our numbers!!

Until next time, NYC!

NATIONAL ROSÉ DAY

The second Saturday of each June is deemed National Rosé Day. Some people get annoyed with all these “made up” national holidays; I my friends am not one of them! There are several reasons why I love this holiday, faux or not.

Firstly, I love champagne! To me it represents celebration and joy and how could we ever have too much of either? Although Rosé generally refers to wine, like all great things it can not be boxed in and has found its lane in the champagne world. My favorite champagne Veuve Clicquot offers a Rosé label and I love everything about it from the taste to the pink branding.

Secondly, I love the history of this holiday! In 2014 Bodvár – House of Rosés submitted a request for the holiday to be added to the National Day Calendar (yes, this is a thing!). I am low key fascinated with marketing and branding and I find it absolutely genius for a rosé house to capitalize on the fact that this day did not previously exist. Rosé is chic and trendy and many brands have benefited from the holiday’s existence. Celebrating National Rosé day has become the premier summer kickoff celebration meaning not only an opportunity for brands & businesses to grow but also opportunities for us rosé consumers to have a great time!

Lastly, I now have a personal connection to this celebratory holiday. My friends (and now business partners) and I have been working hard to launch a brand that started as a simple vision. Although the master plan has not yet been fully achieved, we decided to stop waiting for that perfect time and share with the world what we had been working on so far. On National Rosé Day we came together to finalize details and talk future moves, of course over a few types of rosé! The result was the launch of our baby Aglow Event Styling. Aglow will specialize in floral backdrops and other luxe event rentals.

We all have this undying desire for good vibes. Good vibes in the moment means laughing until we cry, dancing even if we look foolish and bantering back and forth with the wittiest of jokes over great food and better cocktails. Good vibes is also the feeling of all of those great memories bottled up and creating a space in your heart that no one can take away. We understand how essential celebrations are in curating these vibes and we want Aglow to be an inspiration for these positive feelings. While life is not about material possessions, being surround by pretty things always sets the tone for a good time in the now and a great memory in the future.

Trying out a new brand of Rosé and it looks great with our Rosé All Day floral backdrop!

Of course we had to have a good ole trusty as well! I’m sure there are fancier Rosés out there but you can never forget your humble beginnings. Barefoot has been holding it down since Drake put us on to Moscato lol!

For Valentine’s Day I tried the Angry Orchard Rosé Cider and wasn’t really impressed. I’m glad to say the girls and I enjoyed the Strongbow! It is very light and refreshing. The perfect summer with a crisp taste and the right amount of bubbles. 

Aglow Rosé All Day Flower Wall

This is our premier Aglow floral backdrop, Rosé All Day! She’s a beauty!

Needless to say, I enjoyed National Rosé Day 2018. It was spent working hard with some of the people I truly love creating memories with. Next year the holiday actually falls on what we are calling our official anniversary, June 8th. So you know what that means? Everything rosé business anniversary party with the coldest of rosé bottles and the prettiest of backdrops. See you next year!

MEXICUE STAMFORD

I am always on the hunt for new places to eat and drink. Because I’m so invested in these vibes that I’m constantly mentioning, I get really excited when I find modern restaurants with great interior design and an upbeat atmosphere. Its not just the food thats important, I need to feel comfortable while I’m dining. Scrolling through instagram I came across a location I had never heard of, Mexicue. Now I reside in the Hartford area and this spot was all the way down in Stamford which is a 1.5 hour drive sans traffic. But based off the vibes I got from the photos and website I just knew I had to visit!

 

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Mexicue is a lively restaurant inspired by Mexican tradition and down south culture. It started out as a food truck in NYC and has expanded to four locations. The staff is super pleasant (shout out to our waitress Melissa and the management staff Lynn and Annie who made my friends and I feel so at home) and the place is just gorgeous. The Stamford location is set right at Harbor Point with large floor to ceiling windows that give you a great view of the dock and an endless supply of sun if the weather is good. Even the about section of the website matches the vibe I’m seeking when choosing where to dine: “Just good music. Strong, quality drinks. Shareable, mouth-watering food. That’s all the ingredients you need for the perfect neighborhood escape.” Mexicue definitely lived up to this expectation.

I went with three friends for Sunday brunch. Keep reading to get a peek at everything we ordered and devoured!

DRINKS

Pictured is the Seasonal Fruit Margarita. Chipotle Pineapple steals the show on the cocktail making it a fresh and spicy refresher.

There were so many other great cocktails on the menu but some of us opted for classic mimosas since we were ordering lots of bites from the menu. The mimosas had the perfect proportion of champagne and OJ and were honestly strong (the way I like them). The next time I’m at Mexicue I’ll definitely be trying the Grapefruit Paloma which looks so amazing on the restaurant’s instagram account!

APPETIZER

We kept our appetizer light with a round of chips and guac. The guacamole had the perfect hint of heat which is always nice. The chips were something else! Very thick but somehow still airy at the same time. They didn’t crush and crumble when it was time to grab some guac but they had the perfect crunch once we were ready to taste! The bartender Nicole explained to us that the chips are special ordered and a very popular menu item!

ENTREES

There was sooo much to try. The menu is primarily a la carte tacos, sliders and burritos which are ordered individually. There was also a brunch menu with lots of great offerings.

At the table we also had a ton of sliders, tacos and burritos. Some of the favs were the Bacon Egg and Cheese slider from the brunch menu and the Chicken Avocado taco from the main menu.

I ordered the Cornbread French Toast which is exactly what it sounds like! Thick and sweet cornbread cooked with cinnamon on the outside. Topped with thick and fluffy whipped cream and the seasonal fruit chipotle pineapple. This dish was very hearty and I was actually able to share it with a friend.

 

DESSERT

Of course we couldn’t leave without having dessert. The four of us shared Mexicue’s Churros Nachos which were the thick chips covered in chocolate sauce, caramel, cinnamon and sugar and topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and fresh mint. This was an interesting take on the classic dessert and something I’ll probably try to recreate at home on a hot summer day!

ATMOSPHERE

While the food was delicious I seriously was most impressed with the atmosphere. There was a really good playlist going at a modest volume and the weather was simply perfect on Harbor Point.

Check out these installations in the ceiling and the light fixtures!

Full bar on the main floor.

Annie and Lynn were nice enough to give us a tour of the rooftop bar and patio which they explain gets very busy on great weather days. It was stunning! I loved these paper lamps and all of the greenery!

 

Full bar on the rooftop.

Patio over looking Stamford’s Harbor Point. Melissa told us there’s a water taxi in the summer season that can take you across to check out the restaurants and bars on the other side of the harbor!

I truly enjoyed my visit to Mexicue! Between the food and the atmosphere it was worth the drive. There’s a new train service coming to Hartford this summer so as soon as that is up and running I’ll definitely be back at Mexicue to take advantage of the beautiful patio, try more menu items and indulge in more cocktails!

Donut Crazy

I’ve been team sweet tooth all my life. So I had to get my hands on one of the fancy creations from Donut Crazy in New Haven. Donut Crazy has a big line up of unique and desert style donuts that are not for the faint of heart.

I was told to try the pop tart donut which as you can see from this photo is very intense! This is not something I could finish but I had to get it just to say I did! I love pop tarts so this was a cool find for me.

I also picked up the strawberry cheesecake donut. This one looked right up my taste bud’s alley. I ended up giving it away to someone outside the restaurant so I’ll have to add this back to my to-do list for next time.

Now this here! This angelic avocado toast with bacon and an egg over easy? Yea, I finished this. No question! This was soooo *expletive* good. If I had an avocado toast budget I would eat this daily! I liked that Donut Crazy not only had the extravagant pastries but also classic breakfast menu items that one can eat any time of day.

I think the carrot cake donut will be next on my list!

I’ll be back here soon to try more goodies and do a repeat of the avocado toast 😉