Archive for the 'Spotlight' Category

Spotlight: ishka designs

I first learned about the interior design team behind ishka designs when I sat down to peruse the third issue of Rue Magazine, one of the hottest shelter ezines on the internet today. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased to see the beautiful brown faces of Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom looking so cool and chic staring up at me.  A few weeks later at the Rue launch party during the New York International Gift Fair, I spotted them gliding through the crowd.  I admit it, I was a little awe-struck.  There they were, such a glamorous pair in the flesh (it may be a blogger thing, we rarely get to meet those we read about on the web in person).  We exchanged information and became fast friends soon thereafer – who knew!?!?! Aside from their decidedly good looks and enduring bohemian chic style, Anishka and Nyia are some of New York’s hottest interior designers sought after for both commercial and residential projects.

Why ishka designs? The question I asked myself in my last semester at FIT, was why not?  I had worked for many years as an employee at this corporation or that and always gravitated towards the more entrepreneurial roles.  As a career switcher in her 30’s, I found it increasingly difficult to start from the bottom all over again in a new profession.  Since I was starting from scratch, then why not with my own firm?  So, with Niya providing guidance as a serial freelancer, Ishka Designs was born.

One word to describe ishka designs. Two please? Efficiently Beautiful

What was the original vision and goal for ishka designs? Our initial vision was to do the best job we could and systematically build a portfolio through word of mouth.  The vision has evolved in that we now have targeted goals for revenues, a major focus on attracting commercial clients and an actual marketing plan.

How is ishka designs different from other interior design houses? Apart from the obvious, i.e., we’re a minority owned Interior Design firm, Niya and I have a combined island sensibility and resourcefulness that we feel is quite unique to us in NYC.  Also, our combined personalitites definitely sets us apart…ask anyone that has seen us work together. Separately, having two finance degrees, a 10-year career in finance and having a professional photographer in-house helps set us apart. We are long-term thinkers…we want to be around in 20+ years. We are very professional and methodical in how we operate and communicate with our clients but yet we somehow still get a lot of personality in there.

Describe your typical ishka designs client. There is none.  From the go-getter entrepreneur to the meticulous medical professional, we have had a range of personalities to deal with.  The common trait amongst all our clients though is that they are all busy individuals.

Where do you hope to see ishka designs in 10 years? With a store-front selling our ubiquitous furniture designs with random acts of madness thrown in.  In the back or upstairs you will find a team of 5 – 10 staff members working efficiently in a large, well-organized light-filled room.  Our portfolio at this point will be primarily commercial, consisting of office and hospitality projects.  Our residential projects will remain selective.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations? Work hard but smart.  Expect to fail at times and to make many mistakes along the way, but be sure to learn from these lessons. Finally, be passionate because that’s the only thing that will get you through the downtimes.

Was there a Plan B? Nope.  And there still isn’t one.

One wish for ishka designs? Longevity.

Now Let’s Get Personal . . .

First major splurge?

Anishka: My first apartment.

Niya: My house

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear?

Anishka: It used to be this one brown leather belt…wore it for about 8 years with almost everything!  Nowadays there isn’t anything that I am that attached to.

Niya: My father’s ring.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?

Anishka:  Lipbalm/gloss.

Niya: Since I don’t own a handbag, the one thing for sure that I carry in my wallet is my lawyer’s number. LOL.

Silver or Gold?

Anishka: I lived in silver for about a decade and a half.  No more…I’m more a gold girl these days.

Niya: Both.

Flats or Heels?

Anishka: Toss up really, just depends on the outfit.  However, for hardcore running around the streets of NYC, flats or kitten heels only.

Niya: I love to see a woman wearing heels and that can walk in them.  LOL.

Gloss or Lipstick?

Anishka: See no. 3.

Niya: Chapstick for me thank you.

PC or Mac?

Anishka: Mac.

Niya: Mac.

Books or Magazines?

Anishka: Magazines for day-to-day.  Books when I travel.

Niya: Books.

Favorite TV show?

Anishka: I actually have a few…Dexter, So You Think You Can Dance, The Good Wife and MisFits.

Niya: MisFits.

Favorite city to visit?

Anishka: Kingston, Jamaica.  It’s where my oldest mates live, my mom and where the best food comes from.  Then there is Tokyo, Japan.

Niya: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

To learn more about ishka designs and some of the cool projects Anishka and Niya are working on, you can click here to check out their website.  And if you’re thinking about re-doing a room in your house or a full-scale renovation, click here to shoot them an email for an estimate.

[photos courtesy of ishka designs]

Spotlight: Meghan Cleary

Did you know that your footwear of choice says a lot about who you are?  According to shoe expert Meghan Cleary, your “Shoe Sign” is as important as your Sun Sign.  Meghan believes that the type of shoe that a woman wears can indicate her taste in clothing, her career goals and even her ideal mate.  While all of this may be a little tounge-in-cheek, Meghan’s expertise when it comes to shoe trends is spot on.  She’s a world renown footwear authority who’s just as comfortable on the red carpet talking to celebrities about their favorite shoes to hangin’ out in the shoe salon at Bergdorf’s dishing with salesmen about their most popular shoes. Meghan’s new book Shoe are You? may help you gain some insight into your shoe-personality.  I think I’m a Towering Heights (my mother attributes this to my Napoleon complex).

Why shoes? I became obsessed with shoes when I was five years old. I found a pair of baby blue wedge espadrille sandals with embroidery at KMART and insisted that I have them!

One word to describe Shoe Are You? Fun.

What was the original vision and goal for Shoe Are You? I wanted to get across my proprietary philosophy that shoes are the most essential fashion item– because they are the only thing we put on that have a physiological impact on the way we walk, carry ourselves and stand — they affect our moods, reflect our moods and have the power to change our moods.

How are you different from other noted footwear authorities? There really are not any other footwear authorities that cover what I cover. When I started about six years ago I was the only one and there are a ton of copycats out there now which is the best form of flattery to be imitated! I have written hundreds of articles about footwear for everyone from Time Out to Marie Claire, interviewed designers from around the world, sat in Italian footwear studios with designers to learn about the entire process from stylista to modelista and back, discovered numerous emerging footwear designers, been in shoe factories, studied lasts + heels, interviewed celebrities on the red carpet about their shoes, reported on shoe trends everywhere from Extra! to E!, written two books about shoes, had a show on HSN called Shoe Therapy (R) (C) where we broadcasted live 45 hours into more than 80 million homes, had the highest selling footwear item ever in the history of SHOPNBC in the capsule collection I did for them, received a special commendation from the Italian Footwear Manufacturer’s Association and produced their first ever social media campaign, had my first book translated into Croatian, traveled around the world in the name of shoes, was a consulting producer on the feature documentary God Save My Shoes, get called on by everyone from CNN to MSNBC to talk about shoes and cultural trends . . .

Describe your your job for those of us who’d love to be shoe experts, but aren’t quite sure what exactly it means. See my response above! Basically the thing that drives me most is passion and curiosity. I let those two things drive me and they really take me everywhere I want to go with footwear and everything else in life. A Wall Street marketing background doesn’t hurt to have in my pocket either.

Where do you hope to see yourself 10 years from now? I’d like to have my content creation and production company Miss Meghan Media still going strong and maybe branch out into apparel/general fashion.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations? Do what you love and tell everyone you know about what you love and why you want to do it. You’d be surprised at how many people will help you along the way.

Was there a Plan B? Not really. I have done marketing since I was 19, creative writing since I was 10, and I have loved shoes since I was five. I can’t really think of a better combination for all that than what I am doing now.

One wish for Shoe Are you? I hope that when people read it they get a big dose of fun, love and insight.

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge? Mauve Taffeta Jimmy Choos with antique Turquoise brooch

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear? A silk slip – wear them under every dress/skirt

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag? Burt’s Bees Lip Balm

Silver or Gold? Gold

Flats or Heels? Heels

Gloss or Lipstick? Gloss

PC or Mac? MAC!

Books or Magazines? Books

Favorite TV show? So many! Top Gear, Modern Family, and I love documentaries

Favorite city to visit? Rome

So, what are you waiting for?  Pick up a copy of Shoe are You? for yourself or your BFF and do a little sole-searching!


I discovered reFINEstyle last year.  My finger was definitely on the pulse because now it’s been “discovered” by the likes of InStyle, People StyleWatch, Teen Vogue, The Coveteur and even made an appearance on Good Morning America!  So, what exactly is  Well, let me refresh your memory … is an online marketplace of gently used designer fashion and accessories. It’s the nation’s only curated collection of designer consignment available online, culled from the most reputable consignment venues across the country. What’s cool about it is that the lovely ladies behind it have taken the time to gather a fabulous collection of gently used luxury designer clothes and accessories for couture lovers at amazing prices. So, if you’re looking for something designer and new (to you) to round out your wardrobe, but don’t want to pay retail prices reFINEstyle might be for you.  Designer duds at discount prices and all from the convenience of your laptop! Click here to check it out. Trust me, your bank account will thank me.

Spotlight: Edwina Owens Elliott

I stumbled upon Edwina Owens’ beautiful fashion illustrations one day while hangin’ out online.  I was immediately drawn to her line drawings, but I was impressed by the vast amount of talent displayed in her online gallery titled Fashion+Art. She does everything from line drawings to watercolors to digital art and everything in between.  You know I dream of having my own office outside of the home one day . . . and when I do I’ll definitely have one of Edwina’s fashion illustrations on my wall!

Why fashion illustration?

I wanted to be a fashion designer from the time I was a little girl. Applied and got accepted into Parsons after high school. But I couldn’t sew. That simple fact forced me to switch focus to my illustration work instead. I’ve always been an artist. Long before I knew anything about fashion design.

One word to describe Fashion+Art? Diva-spectacular!

What was original vision and goal for Fashion+Art? Simply, to share all of the illustrations I’ve created. And if people like them, hopefully they would be willing to pay for them. Like me. When I connect with a piece of art, I can’t live without it, and that handbag or bracelet I had my eye on will have to wait. I can always get those things. But I’ve got to have the art right now. Can’t sleep until I get it. That’s how I want people to feel about my work, too. When someone who loves art and loves fashion enters the F+A Gallery online, sees that special piece that’s calling their name, I want them to swoon, and not be able to rest until they get their hands on it. And it’s easy! Just a few clicks of the mouse.

How are you different from other fashion illustrators? I’m diverse. I’ve dabbled in various styles and mediums. Some can’t believe that I did all of the pieces in the Gallery myself because the collections are such a mixed bag. Water colors, pencils, charcoal, pastels. Some of the pieces are very photo-realistic and others are long and exagerrated. And others are somewhere in between.

Describe your typical Fashion+Art client. I’d say that the typical F+A client might spend Saturday shopping for a fabulous pair of shoes to wear to a new gallery opening that night.

Where do you hope to see Fashion+Art in 10 years? I’m getting such a kick out of it right now, with the F+A discuss…blog and the Facebook page, I haven’t really considered 10 years down the road. I love social media and the national and international membership we’ve gotten has just blown my mind. When someone from Paris or Hong Kong or Zimbabwe joins the page, I’m awestruck.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations? Go for it. Give it a shot. Whatever IT is. What’s life without risk? BOOOOR-ing.

Was there a Plan B? There’s always a Plan B.

One wish for Fashion+Art? To sell.

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge?

Furniture. Two chairs from Scandinavian Design for my very first apartment. I felt so grown up.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear? I love the engagement ring my husband purchased from the MOMA Gift Shop seventeen years ago. It’s so unique. But my most favorite item to wear is my late father’s ruby pinkie ring. I think most of my close friends and my family know just how much it means to me.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag? My silver card case.

Silver or Gold? Both.

Flats or Heels? Depends on the occasion.

Gloss or Lipstick? Both.

PC or Mac? Mac, baby. Just bought a new Mac Mini and it’s pretty zippy!

Books or Magazines? Magazines. I buy books but never get around to reading them.

Favorite TV show? I love Selling New York. I’m not a big fan of reality shows at all but can tolerate this one because the homes are so stupefying. I spend the entire time watching with my mouth open.

Favorite city to visit? New York, New York. Naturally.

To buy one of Edwina’s illustrations or to learn more about Edwina’s her work, visit her site here.

Spotlight: Karla Lightfoot, Ltd.

So, you’ve heard me talk about Ladies Who Launch and the key role it played in my gathering the courage to leave the practice of law to pursue my creative passions. Well,  I joined Ladies Who Launch because my friend Karla convinced me it was a good idea. And, I’ve waxed poetically about how much I heart my Hermès scarves; again, my friend Karla introduced me to them when I was oh but a young graduate student with loans and caviar dreams.  So, I thought it was high time I introduced you this BFF who’s been a changing force in my life and the lives of so many others. Along with her business partner, Karla owns a couple of Ladies Who Launch franchises and she has a thriving hypnotherapy practice.  Now, I know you’re thinking, “Huh?” . . . Right, I was too.  But, Karla never ceases to amaze me – she’s been quite successful listening to her inner voice and marching to a funky beat all her own and teaching others (yours truly included) to do the same.

Why Ladies Who Launch? Why Hypnotherapy?

I first came to Ladies Who Launch to take the wildly popular Incubator Intensive Workshop while launching compassion couture, a T-shirt company that would inspire the world one positive message at a time. I fell in love with LWL and its power to motivate, inspire and share the resources that enable women to create their dreams! I guess you could say, I came, I saw, I invested. I now co-own the NYC and NJ franchises. It may seem odd, but hypnotherapy was a natural outgrowth of Ladies Who Launch, compassion couture and my lifelong curiosity about the mind. As a leader, I meet and work with women who excel in their businesses and those who flounder. Over the years, I have noticed a pattern: what you believe is what you create. I am also a yogini and devoted reader of books on the mind – a passion I developed thanks to my mom! A little Deepak here, some Wayne Dyer there, Florence Scovel Shinn, Dr. Brian Weiss (Many Lives, Many Masters is a must read!) and the list goes on. As a hypnotherapist, I’ve seen mind-blowing emotional and physical healing, using only the power of the mind. Whether it’s curing high blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol or other dis-eases, eliminating anxiety or fears like flying or public speaking, or working with clients to get rid of pain from stage 3 stomach cancer, labor and birth or just a nagging back issue, the power of hypnosis is astonishing.

One word to describe Ladies Who Launch? Inspiring.

One word to describe Hypnotherapy? Life-altering.

What was your original vision and goal for Ladies Who Launch? To inspire, educate, support and unite women going after their dreams.

What was your original vision and goal for becoming a Hypnotherapist? To transform minds, clear fears and phobias and ignite fully expressed lives worldwide.

How is Ladies Who Launch different from other entrepreneurial networking organizations? It is the oldest and largest network of women entrepreneurs, with over 100,000 unique visitors each month. LWL offers its unrivaled support, resources, visibility and connections so its members don’t have to go it alone — but are part of a generous, like-minded community.

How is going to a Hypnotherapist different from going to a Psychologist/Psychatrist? The subconscious mind carries out and stores 92-94% of our actions and perceptions and is powerful beyond belief. Talk therapy or psychotherapy deals with the conscious mind and is responsible for only the remaining 6-8%. From your heartbeat and breathing to the functioning of your organs and muscles, your emotions and beliefs, even the first thought or step towards reaching ANY kind of goal — your subconscious mind is what runs you. It is responsible for your actions! Hypnosis is the most powerful self-help tools known to humankind and has helped people solve problems and reach goals for thousands of years. It is simply an altered state, similar to meditation or prayer, in which the subconscious mind is highly relaxed, focused and open to positive suggestion. Hypnosis works directly with the subconscious, the part of the mind that drives every action, to uncover, process and reprogram any limiting beliefs, negative programming or emotions that are working against you. Hypnosis is used to heal illness, speed the healing process and as an adjunct to or a substitution for anesthesia in surgery. It is hugely successful for easing the pain of labor and birth, addressing infertility, breastfeeding, weight loss, smoking, general anxiety, depression, relationships and love, for reaching goals and so much more. Most issues are resolved within 4-6 sessions. A good hypnotherapist teaches clients how to use hypnosis for themselves.

Describe your typical Ladies Who Launch client. A visionary. A do-er. Often a corporate refugee. Always a go-getter!

Describe your typical hypnotherapy client. Highly intelligent. Creative. Successful. People who wish to reach their full potential.

Where do you hope to see Ladies Who Launch in 10 years? I see LWL empowering more women than ever to attain their business and life goals.

Where do you hope to see your hypnotherapy practice in 10 years? I see myself traveling the world, speaking about and demonstrating the power of the mind; educating and empowering individuals to harness the untapped power of their subconscious through self-hypnosis.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations? Be of service. Feed your soul. Do what you love. Make it scalable. Delegate. Have fun!

Was there a Plan B? The question is, was there a Plan A? I’ve always followed the fun, fascination and freedom and it has led me to magical places!

One wish for Ladies Who Launch? To make entrepreneurship available to every woman.

One wish for your hypnotherapy practice? For the entire world to gain more knowledge of and access to hypnosis.

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge?

Ahhh, there have been so many!As a teen, I remember buying the coolest pair of Guess jeans in my entire high school, they had pockets and flaps everywhere. As an adult, at the age of 22 or so, I bought my first pair of Chanel shoes, they were navy quilted flats — comfort, beauty and amazing quality all in one.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear?

Without a doubt, they would say either an Hermès scarf or a cashmere wrap. I love being warm and cozy.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?

My cosmetic bag filled with all kinds of goodies from natural hand sanitizer to lip gloss, mascara, hand lotion, Emergen-C vitamin packets and anything else a girl might need.

Silver or Gold? Do I have to choose? Shiny things make me very happy!

Flats or Heels? Two knee surgeries later… flats! I do heels with the best of them, just not every day.

Gloss or Lipstick? Definitely gloss.

PC or Mac? Hello MacBook!

Books or Magazines? Books for an experience and mags for diversion.

Favorite TV show? Don’t watch much TV, but LOVE Downton Abbey.

Favorite city to visit? Hmm… right now it’s a tie — Santa Fe and Istanbul!

To learn more about Ladies Who Launch click here.  If you’re intrigued about Karla’s hynotherapy practice, click here and to learn more about her childbirth hypnosis practice click here.

p.s. And yes, in case you were wondering Karla is one of my BAP Handbook co-authors . . . we go waaaay back.

Spotlight: Billy-Hendrix

So much to do, so little time, right?  If this is your mantra, maybe you should think about hiring Renée T. Billy of Billy-Hendrix.  The movers are scheduled to be at your house next Monday at 9am and your boss just informed you that she needs you on a flight to China at the same time? No worries, Renée’s team at Billy-Hendrix can handle the move for you from top to bottom. You’ll arrive home jet-lagged, but all of your boxes will be unpacked and your furniture situated exactly where you wanted it.  Summer’s almost here and you haven’t had time to change out your wardrobe? Billy-Hendrix to the rescue. Need to get your holiday shopping done and can’t seem to get out of the office before Christmas Eve? Give Renée and her team your shopping list and the gifts will miracleously arrive underneath your tree in pretty paper.  Get my drift?  Billy Hendrix is a full-service luxury lifestyle management service based in New York City.  With meticulous assessment and attention to detail, Billy Hendrix specializes in advanced personal assistance projects that include closet styling, personal shopping, and de-cluttering overhauls.  Billy Hendrix is also an expert in detail event management – everything from a full home relocation across the country to the planning of a wedding, or simply implementing a household organizational structure.

Why Billy-Hendrix? For many years, I was the ‘go to’ for friends, seeking advice on what to wear to that very important interview or work-related social event; How to arrange furniture in their home; How to find space for all their stuff in their tiny NYC apartment.  While having lunch with a dear friend, we were discussing my burning desire to become an entrepreneur and she suggested creating a concierge type business that would offer the services I provided daily for my friends.  I’ll admit I was sure if I could monetize the concept.  I started talking to folks to gauge reactions.  Since most were positive, I started Billy Hendrix.  Working a full-time job, with a busy household, I assembled Billy Hendrix for 3 years before leaving my steady paycheck.

One word to describe Billy-Hendrix? Flawless.

What was the original vision and goal for Billy-Hendrix? To create a business that wouldn’t seem like work for me.  To do something I truly enjoy while making a real difference to the people I service.

How is Billy-Hendrix different from other concierge/personal service companies?

To date, all of my clients are referrals and repeat customers.  You won’t find Billy Hendrix in the Yellow Pages, which tells you, I have been fortunate enough to have many happy clients.

Describe your typical Billy-Hendrix client. Busy professionals who work and play hard.

Where do you hope to see Billy-Hendrix in 10 years?

A national brand associated with superior service and ‘ambassadors’ all over the country that serve clients with the Billy Hendrix aesthetic.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations? Test the waters before you leave your day job.

Was there a Plan B? Not really.  I really feel like I need to make this work!

One wish for Billy-Hendrix? To offer Billy Hendrix branded products resonates with Style and top Concierge Service!

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge? Robert Lee Morris Ring from Bergdorf Goodman when I was 19 years old.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear? Anything with a sparkle…I love metallics!!!

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag? My Bergdorf Goodman Card.  I know that’s BAD, right – LOL!!!

Silver or Gold? Both!  Love the two-tone look.  Mixing metals is so chic to me!

Flats or Heels? I’m a heels girl!  Although, lately I have been on the hunt for some stylish flats…With all the canvassing I do, I need comfortable shoes.

Gloss or Lipstick? Gloss!!!

PC or Mac? PC!

Books or Magazines? Magazines

Favorite TV show?

Old school – The Jeffersons and Different World.  New School – Showtime’s Shameless and I loved Damages with Glenn Close. However, I’m not a Direct TV subscriber so I will have to wait to purchase seasons 4 and 5.

Favorite city to visit? There is no place like NYC.

To learn more about Billy-Hendrix and how Renée and her lifestyle management team can help to make your life easier, click here.

[photos courtesy of Billy-Hendrix, headshot credit Ali Muhammad]

Spotlight: M Mavi

If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business and making the leap from the corporate world to the world of creativity, Michele Mavi might become your inspiration.  While working as a recruiter in New York, she made jewelry for herself that her clients and colleagues kept inquiring about purchasing.  Now possibly different from you and me, Michele had an arts background to draw upon that helped hone her jewelry making skills.  But truth be told, jewelry is in her bones. Michele’s love of jewelry stems from her Middle Eastern heritage, where jewelry was the usual gift offered to young women from relatives on special occasions, and her grandmothers, who unknowingly taught her that jewelry has extreme value regardless of its actual worth.  When her paternal grandmother passed away, among the jewelry she was offered was her grandmother’s large blue turquoise bead hanging on a gold chain, a symbol of protection in many Middle Eastern cultures.  The blue bead, hidden on each creation, is now a trademark of M.Mavi Jewelry and the love, luck, protection and happiness it offers the wearer.

Why M Mavi? I think most jewelry today looks the same and really sticks to trends. I wanted to produce affordable unique looking jewelry that didn’t answer to a fashion calendar and would be cherished for years to come.

One word to describe M Mavi? Timeless.

What was original vision and goal for M Mavi? I wanted the people who ended up wearing my jewelry to feel a personal connection to it as if it were something passed down to them.  Also by drawing inspiration from the Victorian era I wanted to really put people in a specific mood that would unify even the most diverse pieces.

How is M Mavi different from other jewelry companies? We don’t offer many pieces in each collection, I don’t create jewelry just to fill out a line but have edited it down to choice pieces that make a statement.

Describe your typical M Mavi client. She’s very discerning and she has her own style.  She’s not addicted to labels, she likes what she likes and always looks for the pieces no one is wearing yet.

Where do you hope to see M Mavi in 10 years? I would love to have my own storefront.  I love developing personal relationships with my clients.  I personally hate buying things online, I still love going into a store and making a discovery and I hope to develop a group of clients who I know personally and become a go to jewelry designer for all their needs, even for special one of a kind pieces.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations? You have to decide if you’re going to create from the point of view of a business person or an artist.  It is very hard to do both and you have to be comfortable not appealing to everyone.

Was there a Plan B? Stick with Plan A until it was too late to do anything else.

One wish for M Mavi? I hope that I can keep developing the business while still offering personalized service. People are surprised, especially when they call after seeing a piece in a magazine, that they’re actually speaking with the designer. I don’t want to have to sacrifice that in order to really grow.

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge? My Omega watch.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear? My Michael Kors coral colored coat with white buttons.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag? My metro card.

Silver or Gold? Gold

Flats or Heels? Heels

Gloss or Lipstick? Gloss

PC or Mac? Mac

Books or Magazines? Books

Favorite TV show? Currently addicted to Dexter

Favorite city to visit? Paris

To learn more about M Mavi and to bring a little of that luck, love, protection and happiness that Michele’s jewelry is imbued with click here.  Michele has been kind enough to offer PYS readers a discount of 20% off between now and May 15th.  To take advantage of this offer, you must call (855)-blu-bead to place your order and mention Possess Your STYLE.

Spotlight: Tshombe, Inc.

If you have natural hair or have a friend or loved one who’s let their hair go natural, you’ve heard all about the search for the perfect hair product.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about keep reading.  Tshombe, Inc. (pronounced shom-bay) is the brain child of Miriam Bell.  Now an entrepreneur, still a working stiff and juggling it all with aplomb!  They say that necessity is the mother of invention and Miriam’s path to Tshombe certainly bears witness to this truism.  Miriam was the college roommate of one of my best friends when we met oh so many years ago; she had processed hair then, but now she’s liberated herself from the hot comb!

Why Tshombe?
I developed Tshombe after I transitioned to natural hair, which means I stopped altering the texture of my hair by using chemicals or heat. I was having a difficult time finding a 100% natural product without preservatives, silicones or other ingredients that are known to take a toll on the hair.

One word to describe Tshombe?

What was original vision and goal for Tshombe?
The original goal was to create a product to care for my hair. After sharing with friends, many commented that I had “the touch” with creating this unique shea butter blend. As I shared the product, its use evolved; I found that people loved it to use on their hands (it’s an excellent cuticle cream), people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds and hair textures found it beneficial to use on their hair, and it has become hit for use during the cold winter months to combat dry skin. The original vision remains thesame, to create a 100% natural product to lovingly care for the hair and body.

How is Tshombe different from other natural hair product companies?
Tshombe focuses on two products: the original blend and Exquisite. The original blend contains unrefined shea butter blended with nourishing oils, such as argan, borage and baobab,which is then scented with a blend of essential oils. Tshombe Exquisite “ups the ante” on nourishing the skin and hair by also incorporating, sea buckthorn oil, an oil native to China and Russia known for its high concentration of antioxidants and its purported anti-aging qualities. I am focused on perfecting these two products. I have intentionally limited my scope,which will allow me to focus on the continued refinement of these two product blends.

Describe your typical Tshombe client.
Our typical client is not “typical.” Naturalistas, by nature, march to a beat of a different drummer! While many may assume that women who wear their natural hair are making a political statement, the true statement is that we want to take better care of our hair by not subjecting it to harsh chemical relaxers or excessive heat.

Where do you hope to see Tshombe in 10 years?
My vision is to open a boutique where customers can purchase custom made
Tshombe to meet their individual skin and hair care needs.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations?
Follow your passion – don’t get discouraged – be prepared for hard work
- you’re yourown biggest cheerleader – accept that everyone does not share your vision.

Was there a Plan B?
There was no plan B. I fell into this venture, but it is not my sole source of income, so I can take my time and do it right!

One wish for Tshombe?
Continued blessings.

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge?
Louis Vuitton Lockit purchased while on vacation in Barcelona, Spain.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear?
Without a doubt, my Born sandals.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?
My Louis Vuitton Nomade Wallet.

Silver or Gold?

Flats or Heels?
Flats- I’m 5’10″

Gloss or Lipstick?
DuWop Venon Gloss in Jessamine – like AMEX, I never leave home without

PC or Mac?
Is there really a choice – MacBook

Books or Magazines?
Do I have to choose? I’m an avid reader of both.

Favorite TV show?
Oprah Presents Master Class on OWN.

Favorite city to visit?
Eustis,FL – it’s where my Mom lives.

To learn more about Tshombe and buy Miriam’s unique shea butter blend for your hair and body, click here.

Spotlight: House of Wahlia

I met Pavan, one of the dynamic duo behind The House of Wahlia, this past Fall on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Madison Avenue. I was leaving to attend a wedding in Arizona early the next morning and I’d discovered the chappal pictured above while surfing the net the night before. The moment I saw it, I  knew I had to have it to wear while lounging around the pool in sunny AZ. In super-sleuth fashion, I found House of Wahlia on twitter and convinced them that I “needed” their sandals for my trip to Arizona. They kindly agreed to meet me the next day on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (we needed a mutually convenient meeting place).  For the uninitiated, a chappal, pronounced chup-ple, is a South Asian sandal, usually made of leather, with a single strap attached at the sides and passing between the first two toes; an Indian footwear item, similar to a flip flop.  Right now, House of Wahlia only has two designs, I liked both equally so I bought one of each.  And bless Pavan!  He had the patience of Job.  He was so pleasant and chatty while I tried on different sizes and I thought about what which pair would go with what in my wardrobe. Pavan’s off to a great start, he’s definitely got the right temperament to own a women’s shoe company!

Why House of Wahlia?

Myself, and close family friend Medha started House of Wahlia quite organically.  After bringing handmade sandals as gifts for friends and coworkers from travels in India, we were quickly inundated with requests for additional sandals on subsequent trips. Friends would describe the sandals as jewelry for the feet.  Running on that theme, we started working with a freelance shoe designer in New York to develop the first few styles of House of Wahlia chappals (south Asian term for leather sandals often incorporating a toe loop).

The name “Wahlia” comes from a fusion of Medha’s mothers’ maiden name and my last name.

One word to describe House of Wahlia?


What was original vision and goal for House of Wahlia?

To provide high quality, south Asian inspired accessories for the affordable luxury market.

How is House of Wahlia different from other sandal companies?

As described by our consumers, House of Wahlia sandals feel as though you are wearing jewelry on your feet.   Also, our attention to detail is apparent in the look of our chappals. For example, the weaved toe loop on our Jodhpur style is quite intricate. (see the picture below)

Describe your typical House of Wahlia client.

Our clients tend to be casually chic. Our sandals are  for a consumer who enjoys the subtle draw of attention, without looking overly gaudy.

House of Wahlia chappals are often used to dress up any casual shorts/jeans with tee outfit for a walk around the city, a day at the park or at the beach.  We’ve regularly noticed that the “power woman” type who are fashion forward rock House of Wahlia sandals with a power suit en route to and from work, with rockstar heels in her bag to put on during the workday.

Our sandals are best suited for those that are often asked, “where’d you get that from?”

Where do you hope to see House of Wahlia in 10 years?

Honestly, I would just like to see people enjoying our items as much as we enjoy developing them.  We would be truly blessed if we were fortunate enough to still be creating in ten years. We aim to develop sandals and accessories that are enduring, and less on trend.  We hope that you are able to enjoy your House of Wahlia sandals purchased in 2010, in 2020.

Any sage advice for people with similar aspirations?

Nike that ish – just do it!

Was there a Plan B?

Not so much, just enjoying working on plan A.

One wish for House of Wahlia?

That we continue to receive opportunities to showcase our project through supportive fashion writers & customers, such as the wonderful Ms. Kalyn Johnson!   Perhaps an A-List celeb endorsement wouldn’t hurt! …any takers?!?!

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge?

Back in the day, a good friend worked as an associate buyer at Saks.  I took the family & friends discount as a green light to splurge on items I would generally never purchase.  I remember buying a tweed jacket by Edun – fit sooo damn good. A 40% discount, and $600 later…I was effectively addicted to retail.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear?

Hoodies are for all occasions, excluding weddings.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?

If I had carried handbags, I would transport my camera in said handbags.

Silver or Gold?

White Gold count?  Lets do that, and then silver.

Flats or Heels?


Gloss or Lipstick?

Vaseline works for both aesthetic, and functional purposes . . . . I do prefer when ladies use gloss over lipstick.

PC or Mac?

Mac head.

Books or Magazines?

Magazines – my self-evaluated A.D.D. rarely permits me to complete books.

Favorite TV show?

Modern Family, and almost all competitive shows aired on Bravo.

Favorite city to visit?

Austin, TX or Mumbai, India

Pavan, thank you for being such a good sport!  To learn more about House of Wahlia and buy a little jewelry for your feet, click here.

Spotlight: Adha Zelma

Adha Zelma is an audacious and distinctly international, celebrity jewelry line created by long-time best friends Sheanan Bond and Cherise TrahanMiller, two free spirits who found each other in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Adha (pronounced Ay-dah) Zelma’s designs reflect a sexy, yet, sophisticated point of view. The design team has a breadth of inspiration from which they draw: ancient cultures, music and dance, art, design, folklore and the materials they unearth. Their studio specializes in working with precious metals, gemstones, Czech beads and exotic materials like tusks, python ribs and stingray.

Why Adha Zelma?

Cherise: The desire for personal adornment has been a strong and basic instinct in cultures since the beginning of time.  Jewelry holds a very special meaning for the wearer; each piece tells a new story.  Not only do we use it to signal status, it is most often that essential item that takes you from beautiful to exquisite.

What inspired your name?

Sheanan: I believe in the veneration of the deceased; family members have a continued existence. My goal is to ensure both my grandmother’s (Adha & Zelma) continued wellbeing and positive disposition towards the living as well as the continuity of the family lineage.

The power and energy of our work comes from our ancestors, they were warriors, storytellers, healers and lovers. We want to explore these moments with our work. When Sheanan shared the name Adha Zelma, of all the options, I felt it to be the most fitting. It is important to respect our ancestors and give them light.

One word to describe Adha Zelma?

Sheanan: Uncommon

What was the original vision and goal for Adha Zelma?

Sheanan: To create a beautifully crafted, globally inspired jewelry line.

Cherise: When we began looking at the market and the best positioning strategy, we felt like there was a lot of high-end jewelry for thousands of dollars and a lot of inexpensive Fashion jewelry.  What, to us, was missing was artisan-made, edgy works that would sit in between.  We saw this as a huge opportunity.  It is important to us to create jewelry that we want to wear. Women from the very beginning were really responding to our work and we felt there were others who would be attracted to great craftsmanship and collector pieces that have less to do with trends and categories, but work that truly defines a unique personal expression.

How is Adha Zelma different from other jewelry companies?

Sheanan: The designs are centered on bringing elements of traditionalism into the modern world while allowing spirit to flow organically through the designs. We enjoy working with exotic materials like tusks, python ribs and stingray.

Cherise: We are moved to create pieces that celebrate the female form. Our work is very globally inspired, bold and organic.  We believe jewelry is not just ornamental but also spiritual. We explore the many emotions that create one’s journey in life.

Describe your typical Adha Zelma client.

Sheanan: Someone who is not afraid of attention; appreciates and understands the almost lost art of handmade art forms.

Cherise: She loves to be gazed upon. She is daring, and appreciates fashion as art.  She buys what she likes and makes no qualms about it.

Where do you hope to see Adha Zelma in 10 years?

Sheanan: We see Adha Zelma growing into additional markets and expanding across the US, South America, Asia and Europe.

Cherise: World Domination Baby!

Any sage advice for women with similar aspirations?

Sheanan: Follow your instincts – you never know if your ideas will work out unless you try them.

Cherise: Follow your dreams. They know the path.

Was there a Plan B?

Sheanan: No
Cherise: Never Give Up!

One wish for Adha Zelma?

Sheanan: To continue the journey.
Cherise: To collaborate with Jordan Bitten of Lost Art and Roberto Cavalli.

Now let’s get personal . . .

(Cherise TrahanMiller and Sheanan Bond)

First Major Splurge?

Sheanan: My first major splurge was at 18, it was on a Stephen Sprouse Rock Sticker Dress.
Ahh… my Waziri Tribal choker.  I still love the sound it makes when you move.

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear (i.e., something you wear daily)?

Sheanan: My abalone ring.
Earrings. I feel naked without them.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?

Sheanan: Any book I am reading at the time.
I wish there was only one – my phone, lip-gloss and travel size perfume – right now its Crystalline by Bulgari.

Gold or Silver?

Sheanan: Silver
Cherise: Why pick one?  I like to mix.

Flats or Heels?

Sheanan: Bare feet.
Cherise: Heels definitely.

Gloss or Lipstick?

Sheanan & Cherise: Gloss.

Mac or PC?

Sheanan: Mac
Cherise: Are you kidding? Mac

Books or magazines?

Sheanan: Books
Cherise: Magazines

Favorite TV show?

Sheanan: National Geographic’s Taboo
Cherise: True Blood

Favorite city to visit?

Sheanan & Cherise: Bahia!

Now dear readers, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that Sheanan was one of my childhood BFF’s whose creative streak was always most prominent in her jewelry designs. It comes as no surprise to me that Adha Zelma has achieved the level of success it has; Sheanan was a New York-bound artist when we met years ago at Bloomfield Hills Junior High! To learn more about Cherise and Sheanan or to buy one of Adha Zelma’s FABuLOUS pieces, click here. Cherise and Sheanan are offering Possess Your STYLE readers 15% off of anything in their store from now through March 31, 2011. Use the promo code PStyle.  Happy Shopping!

[photography by Dallas J. Logan]

Spotlight: HatSoMe

Who would’ve thought that a banker would have the creative juice to come up with an idea so simple that it just might revolutionize the way we think about hats? Well, they say that necessity is the mother of invention and in Suzanne Ogunsanya’s case no truer words have ever been said.  Suzanne had the same issue that many of us face when the cold weather hits – how to protect her hair and keep her head warm during the Winter.  Rather than go hatless or risk trussing her tresses, Suzanne came up with the idea that sparked her new company, HatSoMe.

Why HatSoMe?

HatSoMe was borne out of my own frustrations from having to deal with hair damage resulting from wearing unlined hats during the Winter. After unsuccessfully searching everywhere, from department stores to small boutiques, for fully-lined Winter hats I decided to make my own! And, HatSoMe was born.

The name HatSoMe comes from the idea that we all have our own personal style, our own fashion esthetic and our own fashion needs.  So, we offer a wide array of hat styles and colors — this way each of our customers can find a stylish hat or two that fits her style personality.

One word to describe HatSoMe?


What was original vision and goal for HatSoMe?

When I set out to start HatSoMe, I was focused on creating quality, well-lined hats. I selected beautiful silk and satin fabrics for lining and I spent a lot of time with the production team making sure that the hat linings covered all parts of the hats that would come in direct contact with hair.

But the more time I spent around hundreds of styles of hats, the more I was struck by the opportunity to create a hat line that married function with fabulous style. As a result, each HatSoMe design not only provides warmth and hair protection, but each hat is also beautiful and stylish.

How is HatSoMe different from other hat companies?

HatSoMe is one of very few hat companies that make the issue of hair protection a main design feature. All of our hats are fully lined with silk or satin material which creates a barrier between your hair and the often harsh materials of hats — wool being the main culprit.  Our goal is to protect your hair and your hair style!

Describe your typical HatSoMe customer.

She’s stylish with a little bit of practical thrown in.  She wants to look good, but not at the cost of her precious tresses. She cares about quality and definitely believes in treating herself well!

Where do you hope to see HatSoMe in 10 years?

I hope is that HatSoMe will grow to be an important accessory line for every woman. We will continue to listen to and fulfill the needs of our customers. Although this year is the last year that Oprah’s Favorite Things will be televised, I definitely have aspirations for HatSoMe to be featured in “O” within the next 10 years!

Any sage advice for women with similar aspirations?

If you have an idea put some good ‘ol effort behind it and bring it to life. I have learned through experience that no idea is too small and that there is no failure in trying!

Was there a Plan B?

Moving on to the next idea if this one didn’t work.

One wish for HatSoMe?

My wish for HatSoMe is that our customers LOVE their hats. So I am committed to providing my customers with high quality hats that fit their personal style yet meets their needs for warmth and hair protection.

Now let’s get personal . . .

First major splurge?

Nicole Miller cocktail dress (full-price!). It was my first experience with retail lust!

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear?

A beautiful green jersey floor-length summer dress that I bought in Buenos Aires. That dress turns heads without even trying!

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?

My small notebook with pen. This is great for jotting down ideas while commuting. Sometimes my wallet does not make the change-over; that can be a problem.

Silver or Gold? Gold, though I do think silver is under rated.

Flats or Heels? Heels, even though I am six feet tall.

Gloss or Lipstick? Gloss. I have an understated make-up style.

PC or Mac? Mac. I love the Genius Bar.

Books or Magazines? I am so short on time and attention span these days, so magazines work best for me right now. But I do enjoy a great novel.

Favorite TV show? The Good Wife is amazing. (way to go Nurse Hathaway!)

Favorite city to visit? Anywhere in Jamaica. But a close second goes to Barcelona…. and Paris ….and Cape Town. (I love to travel!)

HatSoMe is extending 10% discount to all Possess Your STYLE readers from now until December 31st.  Just use the promo code KALYNJO.  So, if you’re looking for something for that hard to please fashionista, a silk-lined hat might be the perfect gift.  Check out HatSoMe’s styles here.

Spotlight: CARDIGAN by Lynne Hiriak

A few weeks ago when I was at the Dream It, Launch It, Live It – Ladies Who Launch conference, I noticed a rolling rack of really cool looking cardigans and scarves. Curiosity peaked, I made my way over to the display and had the pleasure of coming face-to-face with Lynne Hiriak, “Sweater Master” and the dynamo behind this really cool sweater line, CARDIGAN by Lynne Hiriak. Lynne cut her teeth designing knitwear at Michael Kors and Derek Lam; CARDIGAN is driven by Hiriak’s own personal love of cardigans. Believe it or not, her personal amassment hovers around 200 pieces. “My evolving personal collection of cardigans confirms that no matter how many of them I have, I can always find a justification and need to have more. It’s so much fun adding new ones that serve different purposes to the one’s already in my closet. Believe it or not, I just added my first black cardigan to my personal collection.” She continued, “My first sentimental relationship with a cardigan began when I was in Catholic high school. I wore the same classic crewneck cardigan in navy or yellow almost every single day.”


Cardigan’s are that one essential item that we can’t do without. We all have our favorite ones, and we wear them with holes and all.

One word to describe CARDIGAN?


What was original vision and goal for CARDIGAN?

To create a line of great cardigans and coverups that are seasonless. To create a brand that would be the go to place for that essential item.

How is CARDIGAN different from other sweater companies?

We offer about 80% cardigans – a larger assortment than other sweater companies. We also are famous for combining American heritage with European sportswear. And we’re the go to people for striped sweaters!!

Describe your typical CARDIGAN customer.

She loves classics with a twist!

Where do you hope to see CARDIGAN in 10 years?


Any sage advice for women with similar aspirations?

You can work hard and you can work long hours, but if you don’t have the balance of work and play, you won’t succeed. Know that the ultimate success is not how much money you make, but how enjoyable your life is.

Was there a Plan B?


One wish for CARDIGAN?

To make the world a warmer, cozier place.

Now let’s get personal …

First major splurge?

Miu Miu shoes. I used to collect them!

What would those close to you say is your favorite personal item to wear?

My clogs.

Which one item do you transport from handbag to handbag?

My blackberry and gloss.

Silver or Gold?

Gold-my friend caroline’s line Brvtvs is the jewelry i’ve been wearing lately.

Flats or Heels? Clogs!

Gloss or Lipstick? Gloss-neutrogena is the best!

PC or Mac? Mac

Books or Magazines?

Books- I’m old school. I don’t think I ever will get a Kindle.

Favorite TV show?

Glee, True Blood, Mad men and lately Boardwalk Empire.  But, my all time favorite show is Lost.

Favorite city to visit? Tokyo

If you havent gotten all your holiday shopping done yet, a CARDIGAN could be for someone on your list (CARDIGAN has a line for men as well). Check out CARDIGAN’s Fall sale for up to 50% off here.

Thanks Lynne!