5 Black Woman Owned Businesses to Support Right Now

Hello beautiful people and Happy Juneteenth! I struggled with what to say next, so I’ll just say this: I’m hurting, I’m frustrated and ready for change, but as a white woman, I understand I’ll never be able to truly empathize with the Black experience in America. Something I find myself asking every day is, “What can I do?”

The answer – actually, a lot. I can educate myself, donate to causes I align with, connect with my community, have tough conversations, accept that I am always learning, admit and correct my mistakes, and make every effort to re-evalute any preconceived biases on a daily basis.

I can also support Black-owned businesses, the same way I make an effort to support small businesses.

“A 2017 study from the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Cleveland found that black businesses owners apply for funds at a 10 percent higher rate than white-owned firms, but their approval rates are nearly 20 percent lower. When black entrepreneurs do get approved for financing, only 40 percent receive the full amount they requested, compared to 70 percent of white business owners. Forty percent of black business owners surveyed are so pessimistic about their chances of being approved for bank loans that they don’t even bother to apply.” (click here for the full article)

From the US Census Bureau: Black Americans account for roughly 12 percent of the population, yet own just 3.3 percent of businesses less than two years old.

I also searched for statistics on the percentage of Black Woman owned businesses in the United States specifically and couldn’t find any data. I’m going to take a wild guess that it’s lower than 3.3%. I’d love to update this with the proper stats if anyone knows – hit me up – but in the meantime, let’s all agree that Black Woman Owned Businesses are not prevalent enough in the US today.

DESPITE all those unfavorable statistics, there are SO MANY amazing Black Woman Entrepreneurs doing the damn thing, and I’d like to highlight them here. 

And just a note – these are 5 businesses I’ve ordered from recently, or have a personal connection with. There are so many more BIPOC owned businesses out there doing amazing things; I strongly encourage you to do your own research. AND – I haven’t forgotten about my BIPOC performer friends who ARE their own business. I admire you all more than you know.

Okay let’s jump in:

PARDO NATURALS offers a wide array of products, everything from bath bombs, to dishwashing detergent, pet products and more, all free of harsh chemicals. Their skin and hair care is amazing. I purchased: Hunny Be Clean Hair and Body Wash, Pink Berry Mimosa Exfoliating Body Polish, and a Mango Papaya Bath Bomb. I was especially impressed with the Hunny Be Clean Hair and Body Wash. If you like the smell of lemongrass you’ll LOVE this body wash. It has only 5 ingredients. I compared that to a Bath and Body Works body wash I had at home…it had 42 (FORTY TWO!) ingredients. Price point: $-$$

HUNNYBECLEAN

KARTER L’ROSE CANDLE COMPANY creates beautiful, all natural, dye free soy candles. Great for gifts, these candles are a little pricier than ones you might grab from the store but they’re BIG, provide long burn time and smell SO good. I bought the Cloud 9 candle from their Spring Collection. It arrived thoughtfully and carefully packaged. What I love the most is that once the candle fully burns you have a vessel to hold jewelry, cosmetics, whatever you like. Price point: $$

KLROSE CANDLES

EVERYTHING MADE FOR YOU is a skincare brand that my friend Anna (HI!) turned me on to. They use fair trade ingredients and environmentally friendly packaging. I bought: the Blackseed Milk Facial Cleanser, Bliss Mask, Balance Mask, and the Rosewood and Lavender Body Polish. I keep the masks in the fridge to keep them cool and keep them from spoiling as they’re made from totally fresh ingredients. I love EVERYTHING I ordered. They’re doing 40% off for Juneteenth today and tomorrow only, no code needed! (I like the Blackseed Milk Cleanser so much I just bought two more at the sale price so I never run out.) Price point: $-$$

EMFY

SIP TEAHOUSE offers loose leaf tea, instant tea, gift packages and more. I jumped on their website today and was happy to see they’ve sold out of almost all products. I highly recommend the sunshine and unwind blends – if you like looseleaf tea, it’s worth signing up for the re-stock notification, trust me. The owner Shalese sent along a personal note and a stress-relieving playlist she’d put together. Price point: $-$$

SIPTEA

DIVERSE STYLE BY SYDNI DION I met Sydni and her mom Niki through Addiction Dance Competition, one of my favorite companies to work for. Sydni was Miss Teen Illinois USA in 2018, and struggled to find nude shoes made with women of color in mind. To fill this void in the industry, she created a line of shoes for pageants, formal wear, and beyond for all women, in every shade of nude. Their styles are chic, they offer high and low heel options, and they’ve really nailed the nude shades – each one looks natural and flattering on a range of skin tones. Price point: $$$

CAS_Cinn_1024x1024@2x

Have another business we should all know about? – tell me in the comments!

Love to you all. Black Lives Matter. 

XO, Katie 

 

Love is Patient

Like, really, really patient…
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the year is 2020, we are mid-covid-19 pandemic panic; travel and fun of all kinds has been cancelled, I haven’t driven my car in weeks, I work exclusively from home, and dalgona coffee isn’t worth the hype.
In all seriousness I’m more than happy to stay home if it means flattening the curve (kind of an introvert’s dream), and I fully recognize that this is bigger than all of us. Also shoutout to healthcare workers. You all are the real MVP’s. Thank you.
So, on to the topic at hand: I wanted to put together a blog entry for all my 2020 brides and couples out there dealing with the looming question: to postpone or not to postpone?

 

After a lot of discussion, wine, and tears, my fiancé Rob and I decided to postpone. Our wedding was scheduled for June 13th, 2020. We pushed it a full year, to June 12th, 2021. If you’re struggling with how to proceed, here’s a list of ten things that were major factors in our decision, and may help you too:
  1. When is your wedding? We made the choice to postpone our wedding in early April. At the time I was still a little worried that the decision was premature, that everything might still blow over by our date…now we’re in early May and no promise of the world (Illinois at least) reopening until May 30th…I’m beyond relieved we made the decision when we did. No one wants to hear this, but er on the side of caution. You don’t want to reschedule twice. If your wedding is in May, June, or July, I strongly recommend postponing and pushing to late Fall at the earliest, unless you’re willing to compromise on your vision, see #6.
  2. Where is your wedding? Rob and I planned our dream wedding in San Juan, PR, meaning almost all of our guests would be traveling long distance to celebrate with us. We weren’t willing to ask our guests to travel under the circumstances, and this made it pretty clear that postponing was the right choice.
  3. Who is attending? Do you have a lot of people on your guest list who are more susceptible to Covid-19? 70+, immune compromised, etc? We didn’t want our loved ones to feel like they had to risk their safety in any way by attending our wedding.
  4. How big is your guest list? We were expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 attendees. If you’re planning a much smaller celebration, and your wedding is in July or beyond, you may be able to safely gather. Anything beyond 25 guests, I would strongly recommend putting a plan B in place.
  5. How do you envision your wedding day? This was one of our biggest deciding factors. Do you envision your guests dancing, drinking, hugging? Us too. And we weren’t sure what that would look like if the 6-ft rule was still in effect. We didn’t want our guests traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to be together, only to be kept apart.
  6. Are you flexible on your vision? I read the blogs offering ideas on virtual ceremonies, rotating receptions (x amount of people allowed in at one time, everyone has a scheduled time slot) and while these options might work for some couples, we weren’t willing to compromise on our wedding being much different than we’d planned.
  7. Do you have the ability to postpone without penalty? Contact your vendors ASAP – discuss your options, weigh the financial risk, and assess your timeline. Some vendors may allow you to postpone but only within a certain time frame.
  8. If you do move forward with your original date, do you have the ability to tie up all the loose ends of wedding planning without Covid-19 getting in the way? This was a big roadblock for us. The groomsmen suits were ordered through Macy’s, which is still shut down. Finalizing wedding bands was an issue. Our RSVP deadline came and went, with over 50 people still in the ‘maybe” category, scared to commit one way or another.
  9. What does your gut say? I had a “bad feeling” in my gut from the beginning. I tried to ignore it and look at things logically, but eventually logic supported that gut feeling, which had been right all along. Trust your intuition. You probably already know what you need to do.
  10. If you’re still weighing the pros and cons – ask family or friends you trust. Don’t poll your entire guest list. Ask a few people from each side, max. My family knows I’m pretty strong willed and not easily swayed by other peoples opinions, so they often don’t offer theirs. Lol, sorry fam. When they finally said, “yes, we really think you should postpone”, I was able to trust my own gut saying the same thing, and move forward with our Plan B.
Okay, so, you’ve decided to postpone, now what?
  1. Give yourself some credit, pour yourself a drink, be sad all you want. This sucks. But you still gotta make a plan.
  2. Pick three new dates, a first, second and third choice. If you have a planner, they should be your first phone call. Reach out to them and they’ll help you divide and conquer. I reached out to our two venues, my wedding planner reached out to the vendors. She’s the best. If you don’t have a planner, get your partner or a friend or family member to help you.
  3. You can’t do much else until you get a new date locked down. If you’re trying to reschedule within the same calendar year, consider a date that doesn’t fall on a Saturday. With so many brides postponing, Saturdays are filling up fast. If you insist on a Saturday (Hi, me.) you may need to look at dates in 2021.
  4. Once you’ve locked down your date, tell your bridal party and immediate family. They should be the first to know, before the rest of your guests.
  5. Have family and friends help you spread the word to the rest of your guest list. Under the circumstances, no one minds being notified by text, email, or phone call.
  6. Order change-the-dates. You can get these from Walgreens, Shutterfly – we got ours from Simply to Impress and they turned out great.
  7. Address, stamp, and send. Everyone on your original guest list should get a change-the-date, even if they declined the first time around. Aim to have your change-the-dates in people’s hands a month before your original wedding date at the latest.
  8. Your change-the-date should include: your new date, anything else that’s changing, and a note on whether or not a formal invitation will follow. We have a wedding website through theknot.com, so we’re not doing another formal invitation. If you’re not doing another invitation (my personal recommendation – don’t – make your life easier), make sure to list an updated RSVP date.
  9. Update your website with a note on how your responding to Covid-19 (postponing, virtual ceremony, etc) and another update as soon as your new date is selected.
  10. Expect the unexpected. All in all our rescheduling process has been smooth, but we did have our welcome reception venue for the night before our wedding close completely due to Covid-19. Thankfully a full refund was issued, but now we’re out a venue and looking for another one. Consider backups to your venue and vendors, especially if you’re pushing past 6 months. You never know what could change.
Long story short, you can do this. It’s not a fun process but you’ll make it through. As much as I stand behind these suggestions for my wedding – everyone is different! Do what feels right to YOU and your partner during this crazy time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m here for you!
XO, Katie
Picture credit: Photo: Connie Marina Photography, Venue: BLVD Chicago, Dress: Winnie Couture, Hair/MUA: Kylie Jordan Artistry, Model: Katie McGinnis

Playing for Points

Happy Monday, Friends!

Checking back in with a quick post I’ve been meaning to share for a while: our favorite travel credit card (thus far) and all the perks and benefits we’re enjoying!
Almost a year ago now, in preparation for our big Europe trip, Rob and I made the choice to switch over to credit cards that earn points with every purchase, that we can apply towards travel. We did some initial research, and based mostly on the recommendations of friends, decided to go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Our biggest selling points were:

*A 50,000 point bonus when you spend $4000 or more on the card in your first three months. Sounded like a lot at first, but we put all our Europe trip expenses, and basically every other expense on the card in our first few months, and met it no problem. This offer is still active for new card-holders.
*3x points on all travel: this includes basically ANY travel, even applying to things like Uber, Lyft, Spot Hero, the Chicago Parking app and more, which is great for a gal like me who drives everywhere in Chicago. AirBnb’s as well as regular hotels are included, which was great for us when we backpacked. We also had zero issues with international travel coding properly – when I went back through our statements after our trip, every bus fare, train ticket, etc, paid for with the card came back as 3x points.
*3x points on all dining: this applies to everything from a quick trip to Starbucks, to nice sit-down restaurants. Anytime we go to dinner with friends now, we’re much more likely to pick up the full bill and just have them throw us some cash, or Venmo, whatever…these bigger bills can make a huge impact in the long run in terms of how many points you can rack up!
*1x points on all other purchases: so every little thing counts.
*Built in travel insurance. Say you rent a car with the card: no need to buy an extra insurance plan because the card has you covered. Say you book a hotel room and you get there and they’ve overbooked: Chase will help you re-book nearby at no additional cost. We haven’t had to use these features yet, thankfully, but it gives us extra peace of mind.
*No foreign transaction fees: again, for our Europe trip, this was huge.
*Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them through the Chase travel portal. We’re still focusing on simply racking up the points for now, but this will definitely come in handy down the line.
*$100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit. Rob and I still have to apply for this. We kick ourselves every time we go to the airport and remember we haven’t applied yet…however! when we do we’ll have a credit, which is awesome.
*Complimentary access to 1000+ airport lounges – I just activated this today, and can’t wait for our next trip!

We did have a few hesitations as well:

*The card has an annual fee of $450. Sounds really pricey, yes, but the card ALSO has an annual travel credit of $300, so in actuality, you pay $150 per year.
*The application process was a bit of a pain initially: they were really particular about how you had to submit a couple of the materials like proof of address, etc.
All in all, we decided the pros far outweighed the cons, completed our application and got approved after a bit of back and forth. Our initial credit limit was larger than we anticipated too, which has been great for both our credit scores, seeing as even when we put larger purchases on the card, we were still utilizing just a small percentage of our limit.
Our experience with the card has been excellent so far.

A few additional perks and such we discovered:

*Great customer service. A couple small transportation purchases here in Chicago didn’t code as the 3x points for travel for some reason, and my phone call with Chase to get it resolved was super quick and painless. (Additionally, this is the only incident I’ve had in almost a year of owning the card, of anything coding improperly.)
*Super user-friendly online access to your statements, points earned, the Chase portal and more.
*More options to “shop through Chase”: rotating promotions, where different online retailers are worth extra points, a purchase through Groupon for example might be worth 4x points, Sephora might be 6x points, as long as you click the “shop through Chase” link. Especially great around the Holidays.
*Rotating cash-back incentives. Currently taking advantage of 10% cash back at Starbucks for example, so say I spend $10.00. I get 30 points (3x points for dining) AND get $1.00 refunded on my statement.
*Hotels booked through the Chase portal are often subject to additional upgrades, spa credits, dining credits, etc. We haven’t taken advantage of this one yet either, but can’t wait.
*Chase has increased our credit limit twice without us having to apply.

All in all we’re so glad we got this card, have earned just under 150,000 points in approximately 10 months, and are saving up with the hopes of being able to apply the points to an amazing multi-destination Honeymoon.

Our next step is to apply for another card that will compliment the CSR and allow us to stack even more points. We’ve been looking specifically at the Capital One Venture card, among a few others.

Do you have any recommendations? Any questions for us?

Comment below! XO, Katie

PSA: this post isn’t sponsored in any way. Chase was doing a refer-a-friend promotion that recently ended, so if any future similar promotions are offered, I’ll share a link here. For now, I’ll just share a link to CreditCards.com’s review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which includes links to additional customer reviews and more.

 

 

 

 

19 Goals in 2019

I rang in 2019 in on the job, in full feathers and lashes, holding hands with three of my beautiful gal pals, and as the confetti rained down we all looked at each other and had one of those sweet moments, where you know your brain is locking in a memory you’ll have forever.
It’s gonna be a great year you guys.
I’ve had a couple days to kick back, relax, and reflect, and I’ve finally finished up my 19 goals in 2019.
Some are easy, little things, some are already proving to be a challenge, but they’re all things I KNOW I’m fully capable of, and things that I know will make me a better me.
  1. No more clothing shopping (online shopping is a particular weakness of mine), unless it’s something I specifically need for a gig and cannot borrow, until my birthday on June 29th, at which point I’m treating myself to a shopping trip as a reward. I’ve always leaned on retail therapy for little pick-me-ups and therefore have way too many things I don’t wear, or even forget I have, and want to work towards a wardrobe I truly fully utilize.
  2. I’m giving up hard liquor for the month of January. I’m not a big drinker in general, and thus have never made it a point to cut back on my consumption, but do find that I lean towards cocktails over wine when I’m out, and that the added sugar and added calories when I eat bigger snacks to make sure I’m not “drinking on an empty stomach” all add up and take me farther from my fitness goals. I’m going to start with a month and possibly continue from there, seeing how I feel.
  3. Do more, think less. When I get caught in overwhelming “I am a sham, my career is a sham, what am I doing” spirals, I’m going to be more accountable about shaking myself out of these unhelpful thought patterns, whether that means going to yoga, writing in my blog, or just physically shaking it off, turning on some music, going for a walk…whatever it takes. 
  4. In the same vein: share more, scroll less. There’s no doubt that social media is a powerful networking and marketing tool, and that my career is supported by it. However, like so many of us, I often find myself endlessly scrolling, comparing, and settling into thoughts that don’t serve me at all. New game plan: share something cute, put the phone down, walk away, go LIVE the life I post about.
  5. Stretch EVERY DAY – with specific focus on my back and neck, to get back to a place where I feel whole in my body, and hopefully start to chip away at my recurring back injury.  I can do this.
  6. Support the arts more. My relationship with dance has been strained for a long time, and while I plan to work on that more as well, even when I’m not feeling emotionally ready to go to a dance class, I can still support my friends, go to shows, and stay involved in a community that has taught me so much, that I owe so much.
  7. Find the fun in dance again. I’m going to go out of my way to find classes that make me feel whole, happy and inspired again. That may mean starting from scratch and taking beginner classes, or taking with a new instructor, or at an ‘off the beaten path’ studio, but I’m going to find the love. It’s out there somewhere. 
  8. Keep a more organized planner. I swear by a paper planner, and this year is no exception, but I often find that as the year goes on, I write my appointments more haphazardly, cross things out, over-crowd the pages, and all of that really does make my weeks look more stressful and full than they are. I’m going to be more mindful about slowly writing things in my planner, keeping it neat, and keeping it inspiring and uplifting as the year goes on. 
  9. Tell my friends I love them more. 
  10. Spend more time with friends. Make an effort, and be the first to reach out.
  11. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning, every morning, before consuming anything else. 
  12. Eat breakfast every day, before noon. Coffee doesn’t count. 
  13. Create a monthly budget and put at least $100 in savings every month. (I’m admittedly not a great saver, so I’m starting with a goal I think I can reach.)
  14. Get better quality sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day isn’t realistic for me, but I’m going to decide on an in-bed-at-the-latest time each day, and stick to it, turning off TV, phone, and any other distractions. I’m writing this blog post at 12:42am, so this one is a work in progress. *Insert shrug emoji.*
  15. Take care of what I have. Carwashes, taking nice things to the dry cleaners, keeping the house fresh. Little things to continue to remind myself how lucky I am, how abundant my world is, and that I don’t need any more. 
  16. Take pictures even when I don’t feel like it – when I feel out of shape, or think my makeup looks like crap – I’m going to document these moments anyways. Everything always looks better in hindsight, and the memories are precious.
  17. Demonstrate aerial tricks on BOTH sides equally when teaching. Balance is key.
  18. Track food in the My Fitness Pal app. I started doing this towards the end of 2018 but completely fell off during the holidays, which is okay!
  19. FOLD MY LAUNDRY AND PUT IT AWAY IN ACTUAL DRAWERS INSTEAD OF JUST LIVING OUT OF A LAUNDRY BASKET OF CLEAN CLOTHES 24/7. I am human…and I am a complete mess when it comes to this, BUT going back to goal number 1, less new clothes = less to organize. I got this.
That’s a wrap! I want to know some of your 2019 goals.
I really truly do. You don’t need 19…one or two will do.
Let me know in the comments below! XO, Katie

Planning a Pain-Free 2019

Hi Friends! Thanks so much for tuning back in.
I’m writing today’s post from the comforts of my couch, carefully propped up on an assortment of pillows and cushions, trying not to make any sudden movements.
The last 24 hours or so have been rough. I have a recurring back injury that causes sudden, stabbing, and radiating pain, and completely locks down the function of my neck. I can currently only look about 40 degrees to the left and sorta-sometimes down. Right and up are non-options. Yay! Fun fun!
The most frustrating part of this injury, aside from the fact that I don’t have a solid, clear diagnoses, is that it often flares up without warning, or any identifiable trigger. This time around, however, I completely wiped out in a hotel shower on a gig in WI, so my one silver lining in this scenario is that I can point to a likely catalyst.
Another frustrating aspect of this injury is that this type of pain is not something I can push through, no matter how stubborn I do pride myself on being. This injury presents itself with a pain so intense that deep breaths, crying (which I do a lot of), and really any movements slower than a snails pace, become impossible. I feel helpless and trapped in my body. 
I do promise this post is going somewhere…as much as I do appreciate you attending my pity party, let’s get to it:
 
What the hell do we do, when we feel entirely helpless?
Much of this post is therapeutic for me, logically talking myself down and into a better headspace, but I hope you can relate on some level too, and apply the right now, this week, and moving forward method to your own unique brand of crazy. 
*Right now* I can:
  1. Take time. I took the entire day off yesterday and am doing the same today. Despite the frustration and loss of income, I’m doing what I know I have to do. Last time it got this bad, I spent three days in bed on muscle relaxers and pain meds, so I have to honor that, and do what I don’t want to do: REST.
  2. Let go. And by let go, I simply mean “stop fighting what is”. I’m in pain. I’m angry. I have emotional baggage attached to this injury. I’m not in less pain because someone else has it worse, and I’m not weak because someone else would have pushed through and gone to work anyway, etc, etc.
  3. Reach out. Writing this blog post is part of that process for me. Leaning on my fiancé for help, letting employers know what’s going on, regardless of how I worry it may make me look, are all important parts of getting through this thing.
*This week* I can:
  1. Do as much as possible while couch-bound and/or moving slow. I’m not a big subscriber of “everything happens for a reason”, but I DO acknowledge that maybe I needed to be slowed down this week. I can use this time to get caught up on a lot of things I’ve been putting off, like taking more steps to get my business into motion, finally writing out our Christmas cards, etc.
  2. Be grateful that this isn’t happening at a time when I need to perform. My next big gig is on NYE and requires little to no dancing. I know I have time to heal and will heal.
  3. Set tangible steps in motion, to feel more in control in the future, see next steps:
*Moving forward* I can:
  1. Once the pain has subsided – put a standard back-care regimen in place and do it EVERY DAY, regardless of how I’m feeling. (I’m guilty of being like, “I feel great! I’m cured!” and totally neglecting proper day-to-day care.) A couple at-home ideas I’m going to implement are:
    1. Ice and/or heat after every workout.
    2. Foam rolling after every workout AND classes taught.
    3. Daily mild neck stretches.
    4. Acupressure relief mat to lay on while meditating.
  2. Continue to build consistency in my training routine. Aside from my fall, in the past month or so, I had gone from working out once or twice a week, to working out 5x a week, and changing up my workouts at the same time. I’m going to honor that maybe this change also triggered my flare-up, and am going to get back into my fitness routine with a more mindful approach. I.e. not working out when I’m exhausted and being okay with it.
  3. Continue to clean up my diet and eat in a way that fuels me, with the right balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. This means eating out less, tracking my food on the My Fitness Pal app, and monitoring my mindset to make sure my emotional relationship with food stays balanced and healthy.
  4. Work towards bigger goals like becoming a certified personal trainer (a 2019 goal I hope to talk about more soon) and being assertive about finding a Doctor or team that will listen to the whole story and help me move closer to a solution. 
Alright, that’s a wrap for now! 
This post wasn’t planned – doesn’t come with any cute pictures or on-brand content…but I feel a little better. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 
Let me know if you have any similar experiences with recurring injuries, if you have anyone you swear by in Chicago, etc. 
I love you all for tuning in, 
Goodnight! 

 

Back At It

37258222_10160420905015447_9036367975375962112_nHi my loves,
I barely know where to start with this one, so lets just keep it short and sweet: I haven’t blogged in months, due mostly to life, in all it’s glory, taking a front seat.
What’s new:
*WE GOT ENGAGED! In Venice, on a dock, looking out at the Rialto, so my life is essentially complete. Cue tears.
*We traveled to 10 countries in 25 days, by plane, train, automobile and our own two tired feet.
*I chopped all (okay just a large portion of) my hair off, and feel wild and free every day. And use a lot less conditioner.
*I took a conscious break from auditioning to refocus my intention as a performer and person. This is still a work in progress, and I’ll probably touch on this more in a future post.
*I started my own LLC and still have NO CLUE what I’m doing. But it’s going to be great, just great, just you wait and see.
*And finally: I’ve decided to come back to blogging, thanks to encouragement from my lovely fiancé, who genuinely believes in me and thinks I have a voice that should be heard by fellow artists and movers and groovers, and is also likely tired of being my only source to vent upon. Love ya babe.

Some topics I plan to blog about next, let me know what I should blab about first:

A) My favorite fitness classes in Chicago.
B) My go-to forms of physical and mental self-care, i.e. yoga, massage, cupping, yada yada.
C) Audition and casting etiquette.
D) Dealing with rejection in an industry that gives no closure or feedback.
E) Wedding panic, I mean planning.
Comment below if there’s anyone still out there?!
All my love,
Katie

25 DAYS IN A BACKPACK

In 24 hours time, my boyfriend Rob and I board a plane from Chicago to Amsterdam, to kick off a 5 week long Euro-trip of a lifetime.

25 days out of those 5 weeks will be spent backpacking: Amsterdam > Paris > Venice (break for a 12-day cruise during which time we will have a shared suitcase being brought to us from the states) Rome > Reggio Calabria > Florence > Barcelona > Lake Como > London > Iceland.

We hope to not have to pay for luggage on any of our flights during the backpacking portion, so after much trial and error here’s what we’ve come up with.

General TSA regulations for the budget airlines we’ll be flying permit one personal item, 10 by 13 by 17, no more than 22lbs. We are pushing this a bit, but crossing our fingers and hoping some clever hacks will keep us from having to pay.

Each of our backpacks slightly exceed regulation size, but won’t be fully filled, and have some  drawstrings and such that will make them look smaller, and allow them to squish into the bins if needed. We will also be carrying low-profile fanny packs under our clothes for personal items, and always wearing layers and our heaviest shoes in the airports as needed.

Here are some pictures: the bag is fully packed with all the items below. It’s amazing how much you can fit if you pack smart.

List of clothes:

  • 8 pair underwear
  • 2 lightweight sport bras / bralettes
  • 8 pair socks
  • rubber flip-flops
  • 3 pair shorts
  • 2 pair leggings
  • 4 tops
  • 2 hats
  • solid tennis shoes for walking
  • 1 romper
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 dress
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 cover up
  • 1 lightweight windbreaker type jacket, mine is from Carbon38

List of toiletries:

  • folding toothbrush
  • 2 mini flosses
  • handful of floss picks
  • 2 mini toothpastes
  • mini folding hairbrush
  • full size deodorant
  • sunblock sectioned into TSA-sized container
  • shampoo sectioned into TSA-sized container
  • conditioner sectioned into TSA-sized container
  • razor
  • couple tampons
  • hair ties

List of makeup:

  • mini mascara
  • full size brow pencil
  • full size brow gel
  • full size concealer
  • foundation sample
  • powder sample
  • lip balm
  • one full size lipstick
  • one mini lipstick
  • face halo

Additional:

  • phone
  • charger
  • outlet converter kit
  • Polaroid camera
  • one pack of film
  • headphones
  • travel journal + pen
  • folder containing print outs of all boarding passes, directions, contact info, etc
  • passport
  • 25 euro saved from last trip
  • microfiber towels that fold up super tiny and clip onto our backpacks – 2 sizes
  • similarly designed shopping bag, folds up smaller than an iPhone
  • empty water bottle
  • sunglasses
  • low profile fanny pack, also from Carbon38

General Packing Hacks:

  1. Keep everything organized in the main pocket of your backpack by stacking like-items, i.e. shorts together, tops together, etc, and folding them over then rolling into little sushi rolls and packing side by side to leave room for souvenirs, camera, etc on top.
  2. Keep passport either on your person at all times in a safe, hidden zipper pocket like that in a fanny pack (what I’m doing), or in a hidden pocket in your backpack.
  3. Pack toiletries and makeup in an easily accessible space, like the front pocket, for easy access whenever you need a quick airport/train station touch-up.
  4. Pack a bag within your bag to separate dirty from clean clothes until you can reach a laundromat.
  5. Plan on doing laundry about once per week. We have 25 days of actual living-out-of-a-backpack planned, so we’ve packed generously for about 8 days worth of traveling, knowing we can re-wear certain things, hand-wash undies and socks if it comes down to it, etc.
  6. Do an initial pack, and then see where you can scale back. If you can’t justify bringing that 7th top, don’t. Keep in mind you’re traveling light and will likely want to buy some goodies on your way, so keep it simple.
  7. Wear as much as possible in the airport to make your bag look less stuffed. Wear your larger clothing, heavier shoes, hat, tie that jacket around your waist, just remember to take everything off going through security.
  8. Beauty thoughts: pick and choose wisely. I’m choosing to do my brows and maybe throw on some mascara and lipstick each day. I want to look cute in travel pics but also don’t want to waste precious time primping each morning. I decided to skip the foundation, eyeshadow, etc.
  9. Share space with your travel buddy. Working on a cruise ship we had a very strict 50 lb limit traveling home, or pay for the overage charges. By the time we got through immigration, everyone’s belonging’s were in everyone else’s suitcase, but we made it work. Same rules apply. Share that space.
  10. Function over fashion. We all want to be cute on vaca, but pack for practicality’s sake, you’ll thank me later.
  11. Use the outside of your bag as well. Hats with adjustable backs, anything with a carabiner, etc, can be clipped onto the outside of your bag for easy access and to save inside space.
  12. Pack as many multi-use garments as possible. For example, tops with built-in bras, a maxi skirt that doubles as a dress, a beach cover up that can be thrown over shoulders for sun protection or in cathedrals with dress codes, etc.

Did I forget anything?! Let me know in the comments below.

I have no affiliation with any of the linked items, just love the products, aside from Carbon38. If you do shop Carbon38, use my code KATIEMCG for 25% off your order.

Thanks for tuning in guys! I’ll do my best to keep updating this page as we travel!

XO, Katie

 

 

 

Not a beauty blogger

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Hello friends and welcome back!
I’m doing my best to get into a more structured posting schedule with this lil’ baby blog of mine. To those of you that keep tuning in despite my haphazard posting, I appreciate you more than you know!
Today I want to chat about some of my favorite beauty and wellness products. Like the title suggests, I am *not* a beauty blogger, as in some days simply taking my makeup off before bed is a big victory in itself, amiright?
However, these products have all won my stamp of approval because they’re either no fuss, multi-use, or both! Let’s dive right in:
Lush lip scrub. It’s lush, guys, need I say more? I really love this scrub because I have perpetually dry lips but also love matte liquid lipstick…which we all know can look terrible on said dry lips. Quick scrub with this baby, lick off the excess, balm on top, finish doing the rest of my face while the balm soaks in, wipe it off, liquid lip on top – Lipstick never looked better. It also tastes like bubblegum, so.
Speaking of lips, let’s talk adorable packaging and the perfect deep red for every skin tone. This Jack n’ Coke Lipstick delivers great color payoff, a really creamy formula, (I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality: on par with lipsticks that retail for triple) and is really worth buying for the novelty alone. So stinking cute.
Another lush favorite: solid lotion, AKA Wiccy Magic Muscles. I’ve never been a big lotion girl, as I often find with dance, excercise, etc, that the lotion doesn’t really soak in, and once you work up a sweat, it’s a slip ‘n slide situation that nobody signed up for. Enter our hero, the solid lotion bar. I apply this one right out of the shower: it has a cooling effect for sore muscles and the little coffee beans provide a nice massage. Skin drinks it up and I never feel slimey.
Next up, this magical little bath bomb from Magpie. I absolutely love discovering new indie brands, especially when they’re ran by fellow female entrepreneurs. This almond bath bomb smelled amazing, was super soothing, and had a surprise inside! Check out Magpie’s full line of products, including donut, emoji, rainbow bath bombs…you name it: here.
Alright, the next two: Goddess Rose Mask (far left) and Happy Face Sensitive Skin Moisturizer (bottom right) are the best MudbuM products I’ve found to date.
The Goddess Rose Mask was a gift from my lovely bosses. It comes in a powdered form which allows you to mix with your choice of honey, milk, or water, and tailor the ratios to what your skin needs that day. Its both purifying and moisturizing, and has a nice texture that allows for a little extra exfoliation when I rinse it off. Available in-store at MudbuM.
The Happy Face Sensitive Skin Moisturizer wins this entire blog post. If I could only keep one of these products, Happy Face would be it, no questions asked. It’s an entirely oil-based moisturizer, which typically makes me wary with my combination skin, but it’s deeply moisturizing without being heavy, and the lemongrass scent is delicious. It keeps my skin glowing and balanced all day long and is the perfect base for foundation to prevent that cakey look. It was also purchased through MudbuM, but I’ve also found their Etsy site, HappyFaceBeauty and am so excited to check out the whole line. Once I run out, I plan on buying this facial set to try out all their products.
Sticking with the skincare theme, next up we have this little gem from Embyrolisse. I’m linking the full sized product. What I believe I have here is a sample, gifted from one of my fav MUA’s…heyyyy Aga! which I cannot find online, and is a shame because I love the dual purpose of this product. (I’ll update this post ASAP if I can find this specific product.) Anywho, the moisturizer itself is lovely, a little heavier than Happy Face, perfect for Fall and Winter, and the best part: the top of the cap screws off to reveal a shimmery lip balm, how brilliant is that?
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: my Indigo Rollerball by Nest. The scents I typically gravitate towards are floral and sweet, and while Indigo has those elements it also has some really spicy notes that make it different than anything else I own. It’s the perfect size to throw in a clutch for a night out, and once again, I’m a sucker for the beautiful packaging.
Alright, that’s all for now folks. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products in the comments below, and let me know if you’d like to hear more product reviews in the future!
XO,
Katie
Disclaimer: some of these products were gifted and some were given for testing purposes (Jack n’ Coke Lipstick + Almond Bath Bomb). I was not paid for any of these reviews. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Every Day is Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day! Anyone else feel like these holidays didn’t really exist before the advent of Facebook? Just me?
Regardless, I really am so happy today is International Women’s Day. I’m so grateful I work in a career where women are at the forefront and continually pushing to new heights. I don’t take lightly my responsibility to raise up the next generation of women to be persistent, powerful, and committed: to both their art and the boundaries they choose to establish as an artist. This is SO IMPORTANT.
As much as the dance and modeling world is dominated by female talent, the people hiring us…and behind the casting table…and those deciding how much we get paid are often still majority male and that can create a disconnect in how we’re treated and perceived. Let’s be clear though, I don’t want to storm the castle walls and replace all the men, I just want, I’m going to go ahead and speak for all women here: WE just want equality. What a concept. (And let’s not forget that this equality needs to include women of all colors and backgrounds, non gender conforming individuals, and members of the LGBTQ community, to really be equality, but that’s another post for another day.)
In an industry that far too often takes the attitude of “100 girls would kill to be where you are” to push you out of your comfort zones and not in a healthy way, I want my students (and my peers for that matter) to be able to stand strong in what they are and aren’t okay with on set.
Some of my go-to phrases are:
“No, I’m not okay with that.”
”We need a quick sidebar please, because this wasn’t discussed in any of our previous conversations.”
”What’s our timeline? Let me know if we need to discuss overtime rates.”
Tone and delivery are key of course, but if more women practice asserting themselves in this manner when necessary, we can ALL work together to dispel the rediuclous myth that women who do assert themselves in the workplace are “difficult to work with”.
Right?
Kick some ass today ladies. And don’t apologize.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
XO, Katie

 

SAVVY TRAVELS

Sometimes vacationing is all sunsets, beaches, and nice dinners…sometimes it’s you and your significant other simultaneously getting food poisoning/a flu bug/we’re still really unclear at this point, and spending hours laid up in the hotel room. (I bring you honesty folks, not glamour.)
In our most recent trip to the Dominican Republic, it was a little of both, BUT it was also full of adventure, new experiences, and much needed time to disconnect, reconnect, and wind down from the daily hustle.
A memory I will keep dear to my heart forever is the hike through Scape Park at Cap Cana: seeing snakes, lizards, fluorescent caterpillars, some of the most beautiful plant life…before finally jumping into the crystal clear waters of #HoyoAzul, or Blue Hole, which gets it’s turquoise blue color from mineral deposits in the natural spring.
It’s a ‘must-go’ in my book as far as the Dominican Republic is concerned.
Something we pride ourselves on above all is “why” we travel.
Alexander Sattler says “I would rather own little and see the world, than own the world and see little of it.”
I truly believe broadening my horizons via travel gives me the tools to walk through life a more intelligent, compassionate, and empathetic person. It’s also fun and indulgent and spontaneously hopping on a plane is the best stress-management technique I’ve found thus far.
As a freelance artist, the idea of affording travel can be daunting, both because our paychecks can be so unpredictable and because PTO, vacation days, etc, do not exist in our world.
So here are ten quick tips I’ve come up with for the ambitious yet budget-conscious traveler:
  1. Put it on your tab. Seriously: I know everyone has this massive and often very valid fear of going in to debt, but when you believe in your art you believe the money will come. Just don’t book trip 2 while you’re still paying off trip 1. 
  2. Let go of the little luxuries. Check out Frontier, WOW, and RyanAir. Bring a comfy pillow and knock out on the flight, it’s worth saving the $100+, I promise. 
  3. Set aside actual cash money in a piggybank or similar, and make it so habitual that by the time your trip comes. you have a nice chunk of change ready to be your ‘spending money’. 
  4. Research the best travel credit card for your needs and use. that. bad. boy. I’m in the process of comparing Venture by Capital One to Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’ll keep you updated
  5. CHANGE. JAR. 4 large mason jars full of change equal $500+, we turned that in earlier this year and applied to funds straight to our travels. 
  6. Bulk up your work schedule before and after the trip: having a check come in right before you leave, or right after you arrive home can alleviate some financial stress. 
  7. Explore AirBnb’s, hostels, couch-surfing, and other less conventional forms of housing. Better yet, hop on a red-eye and replace a night’s stay with an overnight commute.
  8. Pack light, no one cares if you re-wear pieces on vacation. Consolidate a suitcase with your travel partner and avoid extra fees. 
  9. Plan ahead: check out Black Friday deals (how we booked the Dominican), and follow your desired flights on Hopper or similar apps. We found flights from Chicago to Amsterdam for $229 by tracking the flights and booking 6 months in advance. 
  10. Don’t limit your travel to peak season. The majority of the Caribbean for example is 80 and sunny even in the off season, and can be booked for 50% less during those slower months. Just make sure to do your research first. 😉 
Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll share all the amazing small business owners I had the pleasure of partnering with on this last trip.
Where have you been that took your breath away?
What’s a destination on your bucket list?
Let me know in the comments, and thank you as always for being a part of this journey!
XO, Katie