Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nairobi's Knapsack: Exclusive Q&A, Plus Special Discount for PPT!

Okay, so whoever said that life slows down after you lose your job lied. My life has done anything but. I'm not complaining though, idle time is (usually) the devil's time. Since I felt so bad for not posting in a month of Sundays, I called a huge favor in for my PPT family! Because I know you're still shopping for your loved ones (admit it) and Christmas is less than a week away I know you'll really appreciate this post.



Below is a Q&A with the co-owners of a funky little toy store and gallery space in Brooklyn named Nairobi's Knapsack. It. Is. Fab. Totally the type of place I would want to host birthday shindigs, princess parties and other fun gatherings for my little one. (I'm definitely taking my nieces there during their next visit!) Continue reading to find out more about NK and how you can redeem an exclusive PPT discount for yourself. You're welcome.


(This model is not affiliated with Nairobi's Knapsack. I just think she's adorable.)

PPT: When did Nairobi’s Knapsack open and who are the owners?
NK: Our online store launched the end of 2006, while the Toy and Play Gallery opened in November 2008. Felicia Stevens-Niles is the founder and co-owner and Letena Lindsay is a co-owner.

PPT: What was the catalyst to open such a store in Brooklyn?
Niles: The store is located on the dividing line between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Nairobi's Knapsack Toy and Play Gallery was born from my love of reading great books as a child and my experience as a mother searching for toys and books for my children. We decided to add the play space component after realizing that it was hard to find a suitable space to hold birthday parties for children [in the area]. While lots of families were in this neighborhood, we noticed there weren't many structured classes for kids offered in the immediate area, and many of us found ourselves traveling for this.

PPT: What are the benefits to parents (or anyone) shopping in Nairobi’s over a mass retailer like Toys 'R Us?
NK: Nairobi’s Knapsack Toy and Play Gallery is the quintessential toy boutique that combines classic books and toys with a multitude of children’s novelties that reflect our culturally diverse world. One key point of differentiation for us is that we’re very selective of the types of items we put in our space and on our website. We don’t want to overwhelm customers with too many options, so we pride ourselves on being “personal shoppers” of sorts by culling through the vast quantities of product and offering only the best quality books and toys that are also at affordable price points.



PPT: Any plans to open other locations in the near future? If so, when and where?
NK: For now, we’re taking baby steps. We were thrilled to celebrate our one year store anniversary in November and look forward to long-term expansion opportunities. Our key focus for 2010, however, will be on aggressively marketing our Toy and Play Gallery to members of our Brooklyn community as well as creating a stronger web presence for our brand for continued e-commerce growth.

PPT: Please share with us the top three sellers in the store and on the site right now.
NK: Those are the Karito Kids Travel Charmers, the Automoblox Mini Wooden Cars and the Keats’s Neighborhood: Ezra Jack Keats Treasury.

Check out my girl and NK co-owner Letena dishing on why this BK jewel is a must visit and sharing info on the store's unique age-driven gift guide!

EXCLUSIVE ONLINE DISCOUNT FOR PEOPLE.PLACES.THINGS READERS - Letena has extended a 10% discount through December 31, 2009. Just enter the code PPT10 at checkout to cash in on the savings.

Happy Holidays, everyone! In the midst of your shopping, let's all remember to do something for someone else this season.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Life is for the Living

Happy Black Friday, folks!

I have a confession to make: It is Friday at 2:33PM and I haven't showered yet for the day. I hate to admit it but this has been a regular occurrence since getting laid off earlier this month. Of course this isn't the case if I have an appointment, meeting or other business to take care of outside the comfort of my home. But, if that isn't the case. Well...Yeah...What had happened was...Sigh.

Now, don't get it twisted, your girl has been grinding -- working on stories (one down, two to go and lots more to pitch), scheduling meetings and informational interviews and working hard on other projects. I'm no slacker and I tend to be a night owl. Often, my juices don't get flowing until after 10PM. But two things that my father used to preach to my brother and I decades ago are finally starting to sink in. The early bird gets the worm and if you look good, you'll feel good and you'll do good.

My relationship with time is admittedly in need of some fixing. I'll save those details for another post. And while "looking good" is subjective, I think it is fair to say that bathing is the first step before debating on which boots should be rocked with what sweater. See, my regular routine, the one that I had become so used to, was removed from my life when I got laid off. So now I have to create my own routine. That is going to start Monday. I will be up, showered, dressed (even if that means a tee shirt and sweats) and ready to "work" by 9:00AM on weekdays. Period. If I could do that for a company, I can definitely do it for myself. I know that the hardest part of this will be the first few weeks but after that it should be easy breezy. We are creatures of habit. The truth is, in order to accomplish all that I want to do, I can't afford to wait until 10:30AM to start my day.



And since I'm trying to avoid unnecessary spending these days, I have locked myself indoors so to speak. I figure, if I don't go out, I can't spend money and I don't want to be tempted. (I'm not a big online shopper.) Naturally, I stay indoors during the winter more than I do in the summer...that isn't changing for anyone. But, I have a feeling cabin fever is going to set in soon. Very soon. Which is why I have decided to treat myself to see the play FELA on Broadway! I think it is warranted in light of all the money I'm saving not buying clothes. Plus, I've found that money spent on experiences (travel, cultural activities) goes much further than money spent on things (clothes, shoes). (Leave me comment and tell me whether you agree or disagree.) These two glowing posts from fellow bloggers Cori and Erika gave me the final push I needed to see this play. I'll post my own review after I see the musical for myself.

I also want to see Race (I think Kerry Washington will be awesome.) and Alvin Ailey (I've gone many times before but this is Judith Jamison's 20th year with the company as artistic director. It seems monumental, no?) I'll keep ya posted.

Life is so much better when you engage.
(Thanks, Rasheda!) I'm trying to find ways to live it up and live within my means. Not an easy feat but I'm dang sure gonna try. ;-) Work hard, play hard and enjoy your weekend everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Going on a Diet!




Yes folks, you read correctly. I'm going on a diet.
No, not that kind of diet. I'm cool with my size and weight (although your girl needs to step up her sit-up game with some crunches). The diet I am embarking on has nothing to do with food and everything to do with shopping.

Let me explain. Earlier today, I was checking out one of my favorite sites, Glamour.com. I came across this post about The Great American Apparel Diet. Quickly intrigued, I checked out the main site for TGAAD and decided I had to be down. These are the specifics in a nutshell:

* I can't purchase any clothing (ready-to-wear or outerwear) for myself before August 31, 2010.

* I am allowed to purchase footwear, accessories and undergarments. (Thank goodness! Truthfully, this caveat was what made me agree to sign up.)

* Gifts and swapped items are also okay.

Why am I doing this? Well, there are the obvious reasons: I just got laid off and drastically need to curb my non-essential spending. But, I've been attempting to cut clothing spending for a minute. And I was pretty impressed by the other women who are already on-board with the diet. They are seemingly women who really have their ish together. My fellow dieters are primarily business owners, living in two-income households and have exciting, fulfilling careers (sure people often "color" their bios but still none of these chicks appear to be wanting for nada). You know what they say about birds of a feather... After losing my job three weeks ago, I was reminded that my savings wasn't close to where I wanted it to be and where it should be. (I don't count my 401k account. I prefer to pretend that money is untouchable.) Better late than never. I know it seems crazy to think I will be able to "save" now of all times but I'm determined to try. Plus, I kinda appreciate the challenge of having to get creative with what is already in my closet.

So, please leave me your comments of encouragement and support. I will need it. I have four closets in my apartment at home and a long dresser drawer filled with clothes -- I enjoy shopping. A lot. But because I own so much daggone stuff, I know that I can pull this off if I truly try. And I know that I will be stronger (and my savings greater) as a result.

Well, one day (almost) down and about 300 days to go. Yikes!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keeping Up with the Obamas

I've expressed my appreciation for Mrs. Obama shopping in her closet here on PPT before and even wrote a story about it for the old gig that was picked up by Shape.com. As the wife of the U.S. President who is currently leading a country facing a massive recession, she's wise not to boast new, expensive looks every week.

Well, the First Lady recently did it again. The mom-in-chief wore a J. Crew ensemble that we first saw last year during her first Jay Leno appearance. Mrs. O rocked the same blouse, pencil skirt and cardigan again last week at a health care event at the White House. This time around she flipped the look by losing the brooch and adding one of her signature wide belts.



Loves it!

Here are a few key points for all of us to remember when shopping in our own closets like Mrs. Obama:

1 - Investing in quality -- not necessarily expensive -- clothing is key. Remember that a bargain isn't a bargain if it falls apart after three washes. By the same token a good deal loses it's value if it just sits in your closet and never sees the light of day.

2 - Taking care of garments to ensure a longer lifetime is crucial. Washing whites with the other whites. Handwashing delicate items. Dropping our boots and shoes off at the cobbler when necessary. Taking clothes to the cleaners and tailor when appropriate are all important in extending the lifespan of the clothing and accessories we love.

3 - Stacking up on items that fit our lifestyles and paying less attention to trends. Mrs. Obama frequently wears pencil skirts and separates that she can easily mix and match. She's also a fan of shift dresses. All of these items are ideal for a wife and mother on the go and are essentials to most female professionals working in an office setting.

Attempting to keep up with the Jones has put many of us in debt. Let's try something new.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Got a Crush on You



No, I don't have a crush on the woman pictured, Lesley Elliott. However, she recently launched a snazzy Web-based retailer called Shoe Crush. (I just had to get cheesy with the title because I heart the 80s classic by The Jets.) If I did have a crush on Lesley however, it would certainly be warranted. Not only is she the founder of Shoe Crush, an online resource of stylish footwear and accessories, but she's a Spelman College and Columbia University B-school grad who throws fabulous launch parties at equally fab Soho boutiques like Bo Concept with DJ Beverly Bond spinning during New York Fashion Week.


Lesley's brainchild, Shoe Crush, is a fashionista's guilty pleasure. The footwear, which range from strappy stilettos to over-the-knee boots, are arranged in fun categories like One Night Stand, Ultimate Commitment and Honeymoon. There are even bridal selections available and the designers this site carries are fashion industry faves who always bring the fire. Aren't you swooning over the sequin pumps from Badgley Mischka above? Plus, Lesley didn't just stop at shoes and boots. Handbags --from compact clutches to hobo satchels-- are also in the mix. I dig this vintage-inspired style from Rebecca Minkoff (pictured below). The site is quite user friendly and new offerings are added regularly. A couple of downsides are that the prices are pretty hefty for most working gals and as I've experienced in the past, purchasing shoes online can be tricky.

It hasn't taken long for the crush on Shoe Crush to spread. A few sexy numbers from the site were recently featured on The Wendy Williams Show in a Tai Beauchamp fashion segment. Pretty cool, right?! So, I highly suggest you check Shoe Crush out soon. Even if you don't purchase anything on your first visit to the super-cool online boutique, I guarantee you'll be just a little more inspired to chase your own dreams. I know I was.

P.S. - While at the Shoe Crush launch fiesta, I was also put on to a hot new nail polish line called Ginger + Liz, founded by two young, ambitious women of color. I’ll be doing a post on that line soon too so stay tuned!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Convo on Good Hair

On Wednesday evening, I headed to my old stomping grounds of Time Inc. in NYC for a panel discussion about the Chris Rock film, "Good Hair". The discussion was moderated by my homie, Pamela Edwards Christiani (she will host her own talk show one day; mark my words) and featured a dynamic group of four other women including culture critic Michaela Angela Davis, beauty blogger/author Tia Williams, celeb hairstylist Tippi Shorter and political journalist/author Farai Chideya.


BE@T (Black Employees at Time) organizes awesome events regularly and I'm glad I was able to enjoy many of them at some point in my career but this one seemed a extra edgy for them. I was looking forward to the conversations that would take place during and after the event. I actually interviewed Chris Rock himself along with Nia Long before "Good Hair" hit theaters and I, like so many Black women, was interested in hearing folks really talk about the historical, political and cultural catalysts for this type of film rather than simply providing more banter about surface issues the flick attempts to address.

The panel discussion began with an approximate five minute clip of the movie. Following that, all of the panelists --including Pamela-- revealed that they were pretty much disappointed by the so-called documentary. Then Michaela said something that I found so profound which was, "We wanted Chris Rock to tell our story but that was not his objective." (In hindsight, Mr. TK basically told me the same thing after hearing me vent about the movie. Sigh.) The panelists were then all asked by Pamela to share how their first relationships with their tresses started. The revelations were just as varied as Black women themselves. Tia, who currently rocks her hair relaxed and just inches above her tush explained how her southern parents placed straight, long hair on a very high pedestal in their household, while Michaela who wears a curly red fro, told a horror story of being taunted as a newcomer to D.C. in the first grade and having older girls in school threaten to cut her thick, kinky blond plaits. Tippi, who hails from southern California and wears her strands blown straight and colored, shared that she and her friends were strongly encouraged to embrace different hair lengths and textures (she dreamed of Lisa Bonet locs as a little girl) and Farai who moved from NYC to Maryland in her formative years broke down how she wasn't encouraged to appreciate her natural hair texture by her peers growing up in Baltimore unlike in the Big Apple but now sports shoulder length locs.

This discussion covered most of the predictable topics that stem from conversations about hair in the Black community: class, colorism, racism and even parenting. Michaela pointed out that a child's first association with beauty standards typically comes from their mother. The blatant sexism exposed against Indian women in the film was even addressed. (By the way, if you're into weaves, be sure to check out Tippi's Web site, getgorgeoushair.com. She and her partner ensure that no women are exploited for these extensions.) Stereotypes were laughed at: Yes, women with twists and locs can still rock 5-inch stilettos. It was a rich, lively and engaging discussion that I wish could have aired on Centric, BET or even CNN. Admittedly, I think there was a lot of preaching to the choir in the room but I guess we have to start somewhere if we ever want to begin healing. Are you thinking we don't need to heal? Humph. While I wrote and produced the Michelle Obama Daily Diary on Essence.com, I lost count of the number of times someone left an ignorant comment like "Malia needs a pressing comb to her head if she's going to be living in the White House around all those White people." See? We need healing and fast, folks.

Michaela strongly encouraged the mostly female audience to tell our own stories and to stop depending on rich men to tell them for us. This is much easier said than done, I know. But I also know many of you reading this work in media...let's take Michaela up on this challenge. I used to take my power for granted but now I get excited every time I am able to profile or interview someone who defies the odds. Even if little 'ole me is able to help break myths with this blog by proving that a dark skin woman with short hair (by choice) can genuinely be content with her life and comfortable in her skin (most of the time and the times that I'm not has nothing to do with my complexion or hair length/texture); we're getting somewhere. At least that is what I hope.


So, did you see the movie "Good Hair"? What did you think of the film and why? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Happy Hump Day!

My best friend and her husband recently purchased a new home. I'm beyond excited for them. I have been thinking of a thoughtful and inexpensive welcoming gift to take them during my first visit which I hope will be this weekend. Once they get settled and I am financially able, I plan to give them a much bigger gift.

Almost as if she knew my inner-most thoughts, my girl Nina shoots me an e-mail about her fab Chayil Candles. Her candles will be the perfect gift! I've known about these candles for a minute but Nina's reminder e-mail arrived to my inbox at an ideal time. I'm thinking about snagging the Rejuvenate and Ch'i for the new homeowners. I've burned these candles in my own digs before and besides the packaging being gorgeous, the candles are soy-based (it pays to be green!) and the scents are longlasting so a little goes a long way. I am disgusted by "scented" candles that look pretty but that you can't smell on the other side of the room. Lastly, I'm always looking for ways to support people (especially women) who are trying to build their own businesses.

For those of you who are going to be guests at someone else's home for the Thanksgiving holiday, consider taking a Chayil Candle as a hostess gift instead of an Enterman's pumpkin pie. It is much more chic. If you do decide to give Nina's candles a try, be sure to tell her Bsquared sent ya.

P.S. - How fab were the Glamour Women of the Year Awards Monday night??!! I love that First Lady Obama rolled up with a few Girl Scouts in tow. Take a look at some of the other notable women who were in the house, courtesy to the ladies at Parlour. **My fave frocks from the slideshow were worn by Iman and June Ambrose.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shopping in My Own Closet

Hey, folks! Last week I was laid off from my job. Yep, my position at ESSENCE.com has gone bye-bye. Thank God for discernment and an awesome circle of loved ones, because I am more at peace than I have been in a long time. When I mentioned this to my good friend D, and added that I was feeling somewhat guilty (and confused...Was my hurt/anxiety coming later? I am notorious for delayed reactions after all...), he assured me that it was quite alright for me to have a positive outlook on the situation and not to force myself to be bitter, angry or depressed. "B, you should own your serenity. So what if people think you're not normal? You've never been normal." See why I think my peeps are so dope?

Moving along, I actually wanted to post about shopping in my own closet weeks ago but now the timing feels just right. Last month, I attended the wedding of a close family friend in North Carolina. The wedding and reception were both taking place indoors; at a church and a loft space respectively. In preparing for this wedding, I did what most of us do and made the decision to buy something new to wear. I had convinced myself that it would be worth it if I found something that I could also wear to the office later. (Isn't God funny?)

So, on one of my rare lunch breaks just days before the nuptials, I head to a Banana Republic a stone's throw away from my former j-o to find an appropriate frock to wear for this occasion. En route I remembered that I already owned a perfect dress, also from Banana Republic, I had only worn once or twice before. Hmmmm. I decided to check out Banana anyway since said dress might not read "fall" (I picked it up on sale over the summer in New Orleans). Well, nothing in Banana that day tickled my fancy enough to purchase it so I stuck with the dress I owned.

The outcome: The dress was perfect. I received many compliments and more importantly, I felt great in it. I paired it with a pair of metallic gold slingbacks and a vintage gold clutch from my mother. These accessories help take the dress from summery to fallish. Plus, since the dress contained neutral colors, the wedding was in North Carolina (temps don't really drop there until late November) and everything was held indoors, my fears that my dress would appear too "summery" were quickly dismissed. Nice!


Me wearing my "old" dress (on your right) and my cousin at the wedding reception. She just might flip that I posted this pic but it's the only one I had access to from the wedding.

Ironically, I spoke on a panel recently and urged the audience (the majority of them were residents of NY's Queensbridge Public Houses) not to buy something new just because society pressures us to do so. As the holidays are approaching and invitations to cocktail parties, office soirees and like start floating in; I strongly suggest we ALL reevaluate what we own before purchasing something new to wear.

Remember this post? Well, now ya girl will really have to practice what she preaches in this career transitional phase of my life. Regardless of what God has in store for me, shopping smarter is an absolute must.

Have you learned to shop in your own closet recently? Leave me a comment with your stories.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Makings of Me

As I read more and more rhetoric in the news about everything from about the state of inner-city youth to the Obamas, I constantly think back to my upbringing. Here's why:

I am grateful that I grew up in a solid working-class home, raised by a set of parents who deeply loved me and my brother and loved each other. I think that is the reason I rarely missed what we didn't have.

I am happy to be a born and bred New Yorker who can give most southerners a run for their money with my knowledge of life below the Mason Dixon line. (Spending summers in Chatham County, North Carolina made me well-rounded in that regard.)

I am thankful that I've attended both private and public school in New York City and can say without a shadow of a doubt that either can help a student to flourish or fail.

I am honored to have received a stellar education from Allen Christian School (an all-Black school with an all-Black staff in an all-Black neighborhood). Yep, it is indeed possible.

I am so glad my parents encouraged me to join the Girl Scouts, take piano, clarinet, ballet and swimming lessons...and practically every other extra-curricular activity they had access to/could afford for me to participate in although neither of them did any of those things during their childhood.

I am downright estatic that my adolescent ears heard Aretha Franklin's gospel and The Last Poet's spoken word, in some cases back-to-back on our living room record player on a regular basis while growing up. It gave me a good ear for quality soul music in all it's variations.

I am so overjoyed that I got to witness how clean my maternal Grandma kept her home and everything in it. I almost told a former coworker off who claimed that "poor" people live in dirty conditions because they just don't know any better. My grandmother was "poor" and you could eat off of her floor.

I am humored that I have partied in the former Jamaica, Queens establishment, the Q-Club, but have also had tea at The Plaza Hotel. How many people can say that?

I cherish memories of Kool-Aid, Shake and Bake and 75 cent slices of pizza.

I love that my parents raised me to always remember: You are no better than anyone else and no one else is any better than you.

Now, I know you've got some too. Please share!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer Lovin'

Can you freakin' believe the summer is almost over?! I can't. (I know most of you consider Labor Day to mark the official end of summer but I hold on to every last minute...) I still have so many things to do and see. The great news is I can (hopefully) still complete these tasks well into October since it shouldn't get too cold in the NY tri-state area for at least another two months. Plus, most of these things are free or very close to it which means they won't interfere with my Capri saving!

On my staycation wish list:

The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park
It's no secret that I adore this place and I didn't make it up there at all this summer. Phewy. Thankfully, I plan to go next weekend. I still consider this gem to be one of the Big Apple's best kept secrets.

The Bronx Botanical Gardens
ESSENCE magazine produced a fashion shoot here back in 2002 and I've been trying to get there ever since. The lush and serene atmosphere here evokes memories of the quaint island Dominica. I love that it is off the beaten path and I think it could be a really cool date spot.

The Rose Garden in the Bronx Botanical Gardens.

Roosevelt Island
This place just tickles my curiosity. It's an island...right next to an island (Manhattan)! Pretty cool, right?! I've been once very shortly a few years back for sh*ts and giggles with my cousins but I'd like to go back and stay for lunch or dinner and soak up a little more history about this mysterious part of NY.

A Bus Tour on One of Those Cheesy Double-Decker Buses
My coworker Marcia and I vowed to take a tour of NYC on one of those tour buses with fanny pack wearing families from Iowa and North Dakota before summer's end. We might miss our deadline slightly but I'm determined to make this happen. Soon. I'm looking forward to viewing the Statue of Liberty up close again (I think I was in grade school the last time), people watch from the top deck of the bus and learn about the city's rich history as a tourist in my own town.

Did you take a staycation in your town this summer? If so, where did you go? If not, where are you hoping to visit in your own backyard before it gets too cold?

I'm in a CAPRI state of mind...

Happy Labor Day Folks!

I'm hanging out at Mr. TK's office today and while he finishes up some work I thought I'd use this rare free time to catch up on my PPT blogging. Labor Day is usually a time to reflect on the summer just passed (although technically we still have 2-3 weeks of summer left) and this year is no excepttion for me. While I am blessed and thankful for the vacations I have been able to take this year, most recently to Cabo, Mexico; (YEAH!) I still have Capri, Italy ranking pretty high on my life's bucket list.


Project CAPRI in 2010 is in full effect!

My fasination with Capri began back in 2000 when I went to Rome to visit my amiga Akhira who was in Italy for a study abroad program. She and her suitemates ventured to Capri for a weekend and every single one of her pictures looked like a postcard. Every. Single. One. I vowed then to witness it all with my own two eyes one day. Then, thanks to my girls G.B. and A.L. who yesterday returned from a super-duper two-week stay in Monaco (they also hit up Canne and...well, just know they had a FLY trip!) I am even more determined that I will make it to Capri (God-willing) in 2010. In addition to their fantastic voyage, reading this post over at All About the Pretty has sealed the deal for me about this Mediterranean excursion.

As I plan my trip to the Almafi coast and the surrounding areas, I will refer to this book, In the Spirit of Capri, to help me keep this state of mind going. I have already taken a small step in getting a little bit closer to this dream vacay. I decided not to go to the last day of the Barneys Warehouse Sale today (this was a huge decision for me, folks) in an effort to save some money for my bigger travel goals next year. Aren't you proud of me? Well, I'll be sure to keep ya posted...

What travels are presently on your life's bucket list and why?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fashion Bits & Pieces

Happy Monday, folks!

I'm just returning from a relaxing vacay in Cabo with Mr. TK. If you go for the first time in the near future, be sure to check out El Squid Roe (a local informed me that Christina Aguilera had her bachelorette fiesta here) for sh*ts and giggles and then pop into Mandala right next door for the downtown, grown and sexy vibe.

Here are just a few of the moment things that I thought you'd be interested in on the fashion tip.

- I've raved about how fly specialty retailer Liberty is before. The thing is however, during my London stint I could only window-shop there because the prices were too steep for my pockets. Well, WWD is reporting that the store is in advanced talks with Target about a stateside collabo. As early as spring 2010, an array of funky Liberty prints could be worked into clothing and accessories at Tar-jay prices. NICE!

The super-cute and talented Keke Palmer is making (more) moves. The teenage actress who is the star of "True Jackson, VP" is the inspiration of a new tween line at retail giant Wal-Mart. Nickelodeon is launching the label that just hit stores just in time for the Back-to-School rush. Selling for less than $14, Mad Style by True Jackson will be available in sizes 7 to 16 and targets 7-11 year-old-girls. I had the pleasure of meeting Palmer last year and she's certainly one to watch. I'm quite proud.

- I don't know how I managed to not inform you of Onion by Whitney Mero before now but put it on your radar, please. Onion is a well-edited line featuring figure flattering dresses that are created by Spelman grad and all-around diva Whitney Mero (so trite that d-word but Whitney just is one). Full of feel-good fabrics, the ultra-feminine collection has a cult follwing of ladies who like to stand out in the crowd a bit. I just learned that there will be an Onion trunk sale in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 29 at 1PM (PT) in Villa Gloria (1819 S. Norton Ave). All you West Cost chicas should check it out. Extra bonus: if you're preggars, most of these dresses will fit over your bump but still make you feel sexy. How cool is that?

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Brother & Me

It's been a LONG, LONG time. I'll spare you any excuses or explanations...I'm back though. Missed PPT but needed to get my mind right. Still not sure if my mind is "right" but I know that blogging helps me and my spirit in more ways than one and posting here is no longer a luxury.

So much has happened since my last post. One major event of course was the death of Michael Jackson. By now you're probably MJ'd out. Let the man Rest In Peace for goodness sake, right? I feel ya. But before I can begin to post on new boutique finds, hot designers, fledging trends and such, I had to share how the King of Pop's death (and life) relates to little ole me and my family.

Since my full-time gig is in the media, I learned of Jackson's passing before most of the world. The very first thing I did when my boss confirmed to my coworkers and I that it was true? I called my big bro. There was no long, drawn out convo -- I had work to do. But he was the person that I immediately thought off.

See, my brother was a mere toddler when "A-B-C" hit the airwaves; all of two years old. I wasn't even thought of yet. But my mother loves to tell the story about how my brother blasted that record (by himself) on his Fisher Price record player. All. The. Time. It was one of those legendary stories in our household growing up. My mother said she, as a new mother, was a tad bit concerned at first, but quickly rationalized that it couldn't have been too bad since at least her baby boy was learning his alphabet and numbers (kinda, sorta).

Well, I am convinced that this helped spark my brother's love affair with music. It's crazy because even though I wasn't even born when the song was popular, hearing "A-B-C" causes a big Kool-Aid smile to appear on my face. I instantly think about my big bro.


My brother and me, circa 1980. (We're both Bsquared, by the way!)

What I love most about music is it's power to transform us to another place and time. Sure, I can get a mean little two-step in on a classic Jackson 5 cut, but the memories of my brother and I walking to the store growing up (and hearing my father instruct as my brother got to the front door "Take your sister with you!"), the letters my bro and I wrote each other when he first went away to college, recalling how he helped me as I struggled with statistics in high school...Those are the things I fondly recollect when I hear a vintage J5 or MJ record. When Janet so elquently informed us all on this year's BET Awards, "To us, he was just family," I felt her pain.


The Younger Years: Janet and Michael

They say "it takes one to know one" and from one doting, younger sister to another, my heart still feels for Janet. However the world saw Michael Jackson -- good, bad or indifferent -- he was her big brother. And he always will be.

Fin.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Black Ballerinas: Remembering my Father

Last month I had the honor of attending not one but TWO events where Mrs. Michelle Obama was the keynote speaker. As I mentioned before, I have been given the plum assignment at work to cover the First Lady. Quite honestly though, May 5th was the first day that I had a real "AHA!" moment about it all.



In the morning, I had the chance to hear the Mom-in-Chief herself speak at the re-opening of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Any excuse to visit the MET is right up my alley as it is my fave museum in the Big Apple. But furthermore, there were children from all over NYC attending the ceremony – even Cambria Heights, Queens (a mere 10 minutes from where I grew up). The genuine, warm hugs Mrs. Obama gave those students (most of whom looked like me) even after the event was over and some of the cameramen begin to leave, gave me a feeling I will take to my grave.



Later in the day I went to NYC’s Lincoln Center for the American Ballet Theater opening. It was a huge deal and the attendees were a who’s who of NYC society. Guests included Renee Zellweger, Caroline Kennedy (who introduced Mrs. Obama) and Susan Fales-Hill. There were a whole ‘lotta other folks there who I didn’t recognize but from their seat’s closeness to the stage I know they sign big checks. People were dressed to the nines and since I LOVE to people watch I enjoyed the "show" way before the curtains were raised. This was about the time I had my "AHA!" moment.

My father (RIP) was adamant about me learning ballet at an early age. While he didn’t necessarily want me to become a professional ballerina (although he wasn’t opposed to that either), ballet dancing, like piano playing, was a skill he thought a little girl would just benefit from having. He would tell me that it would help me with my posture. He thought most ballet dancers had a graceful walk. And while I took ballet lessons as a little girl (along with piano) I never perfected the dance form. Never perfected piano playing either…

While I watched the ballet in Lincoln Center that evening of May 5th, I felt my father’s presence stronger than I had in a long, long time. I imagined telling him all about it the moment I left the center and giving him a blow-by-blow of the day’s events. I then imagined his roaring gut-belly laugh when I reenacted certain scenarios. I cried several times that night (as I am crying now) – I’m sure the people around me thought I was a little nuts. Here I was, this young Black woman from Jamaica, Queens at major foo foo, chi chi events twice in one day with the First Lady of The United States of America! I knew, on that day, my father was smiling right along with me.

Long before we even knew Barack Obama existed my father would tell my mother I needed to know how to properly set a dinner table because I might eat with the President at The White House one day and I would need to know what fork to use when. I haven’t eaten in The White House (yet) but it isn’t nearly as far fetched now as it was back in the 80s when he called it. And I actually did break bread with the then Mayor of NYC, Rudy Giuliani during a black-tie affair for a scholarship I received my senior year of high school. A man who grew up on the gritty streets of South Philly and South Jamaica, Queens envisioned all this (and much more) for his little girl. Pretty special, huh?

Despite the success of Alvin Ailey and The Dance Theater of Harlem, the very idea of Black ballerinas used to be an oxymoron to some (and still is for others). Black women were supposedly not built to be great ballerinas. But, sorta like Michelle Obama, lots of Black young ladies defied the odds and succeeded at it anyway. Now I know that is what my father was trying to teach me all along. It was never just about ballet, piano or even table etiquette as much as it was about being able to hold my head up high wherever I was – be it Gracie Mansion, The White House or a greasy spoon in South Central L.A.

Thank you Daddy. Happy Father’s Day.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Looking Back to Go Forward: My Introduction to The Fisk Jubilee Singers


Durning Memorial Day Weekend, I had the pleasure of hearing my lil' cous' sing with his college choir at The Schomburg Research Center in Harlem. I have heard my cousin sing before and our entire family is well aware of his musical talents. I was excited, sure, but I had no idea what I was in for during this concert. He (a resident of North Carolina) was in the Big Apple for a bunch of shows and I was looking forward to seeing the kid on my turf (normally we're in N.C. when our fam gets together) and showing him around the big city. But, my baby cous' was actually the one who taught me something during his visit.

Said cousin just happens to attend Fisk University (the recently deceased John Hope Franklin was a grad) in Nashville, Tenn. and is part of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Now, in my opinion, ALL HBCU's have a rich history but I had no idea that Fisk was the owner of such an OUTSTANDING legacy. While this country was barely (just barely) out of slavery, Fisk students were over in Europe singing before royalty to raise funds for their school. That tradition continued and now the singers travel the world (still) to perform in front of all sorts of folks.

My cousin (yes, I'm bragging) has trekked all over the United States, Europe and even Africa exposing the young and old alike to beautiful traditional gospel music and Negro Spirituals. The acappella hymns these students belt out are nothing short of amazing and each song tells a story of resilence and tenacity. To hear these young voices carrying on this legacy...well, it's pretty darn impressive. The African-American stuggle is rarely celebrated. I am extremely proud of my lil' cousin and the other Jubilee Singers for reminding folks of how fly we truly are. You too can expereince their talent here and even purchase one of their cds.

Take a listen and tell me what you think. ;-)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Top 10 Tried and True Style Tips

Wow! It's been way too long. While I have been very busy, I have also not made the time to stop in and post as I should have. Tsk, tsk. I will try to do better. In my absence, I whipped up a list of style tips for a family friend who asked me to speak to a group of women who were looking to polish up their image and transitioning from unemployment to the workforce. I couldn't speak to the group because I was out-of-town but I did send her the list of tips below to distribute to them as a takeaway. Although I have shared most of these tips here on PPT before in some capacity, it is still pretty useful and timeless info and I thought it was worth reposting in this comprehensive list.

Enjoy!


Bsquared's Top 10 Tried and True Style Tips


A trench coat is typically a staple in the wardrobe of most working women.

1 - Start with a good foundation.
The right undergarments are key to ensuring everything else falls and lays the way you ultimately want it to. Bumps and lumps are distracting. One last word: Spanx.

2 - Wear the size that fits and stop obsessing over the physical number.
Self-explanatory. Calvin Klein’s 6 is not the same size as Banana Republic’s 6 anyway. Everything looks more polished when your clothes fit properly.

3 - A tailor or seamstress is your friend.
Now in order to pull number 2 off successfully, chances are you will occasionally need to have things altered for a perfect fit. If everything you wear always fits perfectly off the rack then skip to number 4. That’s rarely the case for any of us. Men understand the importance of a tailor, women are late to the game. While it might seem costly initially, just remember that investing in a good tailor will more than pay for itself in the long run.

4 - If you take care of your clothes, they will take care of you.
Okay, I got this one from my southern mother. It seems like a no-brainer but so many people don’t do it. Wash the whites with the whites and the colors with the colors. If laundry isn’t your thing, send your clothes to the dry-cleaners. Too costly? Invest in a steamer. It makes a world of difference in your overall look when garments are crisp and clean.

5 - Know what looks good on you.
Once you learn that wrap dresses are a flattering silhouette on your hourglass figure or that emerald green compliments your cocoa skin-tone, it all becomes a lot easier. While it is certainly fun to experiment occasionally, everyone should have her go-to pieces that she looks and feels confident in without a lot of guesswork.

6 - Back to basics.
I strongly suggest that every woman own the following items. They are timeless and virtually seasonless and excellent basics to build any wardrobe around.

· A classic suit (pants or skirts) - Try pairing a traditional suit with a simple tank or even a lacy camisole to mix it up a bit. For those working in a traditional corporate setting, a less bare top would probably be more appropriate. For starters, black, navy, grey or chocolate brown are probably the best colors to invest in.

· A "crisp" white shirt/blouse - My mom has always said you can never have too many and I now have to agree. Whenever you’re in a bind, pop one on with a black pencil skirt or trousers and you’re bound to look professional and pulled together.

· A sensible pair of pumps - Classic black pumps are a wardrobe staple for any woman. Period.

· A substantial bag (that can hold resumes, recco letters, a portfolio, etc.) Since we are in the midst of the digital age this might not be a big deal to some but there is something so authoritative and professional about walking into an interview or important meeting/presentation with a portfolio case or tote bag versus a purse. (Is that sexist? Shrugs shoulders...) The choices are endless as the handbag market constantly grows. I suggest sticking to something in solid leather.

· A trench coat - The trench is so ideal in the spring and fall. It too is a classic. While it always says "I mean business," something about cinching the waist with the belt screams femininity. It is always disappointing to see someone wearing a dressy suit under a casual bubble jacket to a professional occasion. A trench in khaki or black is ideal but use your judgment when picking the best color for you.

7 - Your time to shine.
The above items might seem stuffy but you can always let your jewelry display a hint of personality. Accessories in general are an excellent way to inject individualism into a look without compromising professionalism. Don’t be afraid to pair a vintage brooch or colorful scarf with your traditional black suit.

8 - Be a denim diva.
An effortless way to go from day to night is with a pair of trouser cut indigo jeans. They can be dressed up for a date with strappy heels and a sexy but tasteful top or worn with a tee shirt and sneakers to run errands. Helpful hint: Wash dark denim with a capful of vinegar to maintain color longer.

9 - Quality over quantity.
Money can’t buy style. It is more important to own ten timeless items that you love and look great on you than to have fifty that are trendy and ill-fitting. Remember, people don’t remember how often you wore something as much as they remember whether you looked good in it or not.

10 - It’s a wrap!
A wrap dress is the quintessential clothing item for the modern woman. It is a one item wonder since the waist cinching silhouette flatters all body types. You can wear it to the office, to church or on a date. Try to own at least one with a ¾ sleeve so that you can wear it all year long.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wanna Read Michelle Obama's Diary?

Well now you can! Check me out here for a daily rundown of the First Lady's comings and goings. While I get Michelle Obama's Daily Diary together for the j-o, I might be posting here a little less (just for a minute) so forgive me in advance.

Lemme know what 'cha think!



P.S. - Oh, I finally had a chance to check out Topshop (remember how excited I was about the NYC opening?) and Matthew Williamson's collection at H&M. I was completely underwhelmed by both. :-(

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wardrobe Makeover

So I picked up a bit of fascinating news during a seminar I attended last weekend. One of the facilitators of a workshop there shared that roughly 80 percent of people only wear 20 percent of their wardrobes.

Huh?

Of course I had to research this "stat" myself. While I couldn't find any hard facts from a recent clinical study, it unfortunately appears to be true.


My closet does NOT look like this.

I guess I shouldn't be totally surprised since I am well aware of how most of us are overconsumers but that info still made me pause. Seriously. It made me think about the roughly 20 purses I have hanging behind my closet door and about 7 or 8 clutch bags on a nearby shelf that I cherish but rarely ever see the light of day. And then there's the tote bags...The huge grey satchel that fits everything from my change of shoes to my lunch to my magazines however? It is in constant rotation and although I just purchased it last December, I've carried it a gazillion times more than most of the bags I've have for years.

So I get it. We're creatures of habit and some of us like me are pack rats. (Mr. TK recently informed me with a straight face that I have a clutter problem when I told him that my email inbox was full...again.) But still, why so much stuff? Don't we know that stuff can't make us happy? The latest designer jeans can't spoon with you at night, right? We've all read the self-help books, the service articles in women's magazines...right? One of the best dressed women I know is in her 50s, far from rich and has a mere fraction of the clothes that I have. But she looks great in everything she wears and rarely impulse shops. She shops like a man -- typically only buying something when she needs it. Shopping isn't receation for her. Why though, after all I just typed, do I still feel like I need another purse (a LV speedy) at this very moment? (I'm being honest.)

What's your take? Are you part of the 80 percent? Do you, like me, regularly donate clothes, sometimes unworn, to charity and rarely ever pay full price for anything but still occassionally feel guilty about having so much stuff, especially knowing what you're NOT a trust fund kid? If so, what are you doing about it? I wanna know, what percentage of your wardrobe do you wear on a regular basis? Leave me an (honest) comment.

WEDDING WEDNESDAY ON ESSENCE.COM!


Folks, don't you love weddings? Of course you do! Even those of you who are cynical about marriage or just flat out think weddings are a waste of time and money are secretly intriqued by them.

Admit it.


Well my cyberfriends, each and every Wednesday on ESSENCE.com, you can read about a different (brown) couple who jumped the broom and learn a little about the hurdles they hopped to get there too. Plus check out pics of the the cake, the dress(es) and possibly view a video. An extra bonus is the practical advice in the form of a "Bridal Budget Bite" that each newlywed shares. The feature is called Bridal Bliss and it sort of my new baby and your support will help me with a much bigger project I'm working on.

Check out yesterday's Bridal Bliss pics here and read the story here. And don't worry, I won't tell anyone you looked. It'll be our lil' secret.


BTW - Happy Belated Earth Day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is It More Than A Crush?

While thumbing through the New York Times "T" mag earlier today, I stumbled upon this beauty below:



Done drolling? Okay. Now imagine this in bold, piercing red. (That is the color T shot it in.) The baby sells for $1,799 at bludot.com. I'm thinking that it is worth the money especially since I envision having my living room decorated in primary colors. So this red couch will go quite nicely with a blue chair and yellow throw pillows. I also love that it is a sleepr sofa and will really prove to be handy when my nieces come up to visit.

Hmmmmmm... It is about time for me to invest in another grown-up piece of furniture so we shall see. First, I need to investigate whether or not I can score this baby any cheaper through a hook-up of some sort. LOL! Hey, it is what it is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Easy Fun: Chillaxin' on Magazine Street

Happy hump day! This past weekend I had a heavenly visit in The Crescent City aka New Orleans. I traveled down to The Big Easy for a good friend's wedding and ended up having the time of my life. She and her husband are a couple that make me love love even more, I ate like a pig, listened to great live jazz and discovered a new shopping haunt that I'm excited to tell you guys about.

While I had read about the trendy shops and hip restaurants on Magazine Street in mags like Lucky before, this visit was my first time in the area. After a $15 cab ride from the French Quarter, my girls and I ooohed and awwwed in boutiques up and down Magazine Street. A vintage lovers dream, the strip of about 7-10 blocks was a nice retreat from the often loud and crowded Bourbon and Frenchman Streets. I scored a sweet little vintage purse from Funky Monkey while my girl Big C snagged a beautiful Petro Zilla sundress from the retail goldmine. I'm also totally siked about my long Indian inspired drop earrings for a mere $12 from the nearby Ah-Ha boutique that I ended up wearing to my friend's wedding.


Me (in the purple dress) and my girl Shay during the wedding reception. I'm wearing my new earrings in this pic. ;-)

A true highlight of our excursion was the dip into Sucre for a sweet treat. Everything from gelato to marshmellows are for sale in this adorable space. Apparently Oprah digs their delectable desserts as well.


Sucre on Magazine Street in The Big Easy is a must-visit. I can still taste my blueberry treat -- part custard, part tart (called a Bluet). Mmm, mm good!

If you happen to make your way down to Nawlins in the near future, be sure to do something off the beaten path as well. Take a walking tour of the historical Treme neighborhood and learn about the free Blacks who were doin' it big in the South long before slavery was officially abolished in the U.S. And then get yourself a plate of catfish and grits from Lil' Dizzy's. Tell Ms. Lucy I said "Hey!"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The One&Only And Other Cape Town Bits

Long time! Today, I wanted to blog about something I should have a long time ago...

Yesterday, I caught up on some WWD reading and learned that the billionaire investor Sol Kerzner hosted what seemed like a fab party in Cape Town to celebrate the opening of his One&Only resort there. (Looks like the property is scheduled to open later this year.) Well, Kerzner certainly brought the big dogs out. Nelson Mandela was invited (not sure if he actually attended), Thandie Newton was in the house, Bebe Winans, Hugh Masekela, Robert DeNiro and Grace Hightower and Mariah Carey were all partying it up in the new space as well. I've been to the One&Only resort in the Bahamas and folks, it is SICK. Simply beautiful and you don't have to want for anything while you're there.

Reading about Cape Town's newest luxury hotel made me think back to my own stay in the Cape last fall. I lodged at the 12 Apostles and it too was SICK. My friends and I had no idea we were going to be staying at such a posh spot when we first booked the trip but once we were there, people thought we were a singing group (real talk). They just couldn't imagine seven young Black women being able to afford the 12 Apostles. (That's a whole 'notha post.) Well the 12 Apostles has a top of the line spa, movie theater, 3/4 restaurants...all the bells and whistles. We got a GREAT deal (told y'all I don't like paying retail, that includes my vacations) and were practically treated like royalty during our stay. Now it looks like the 12 Apostles will have more competition for those taking a holiday on the Cape.


This is one of the 12 Apostles restaurants I ate at during my stay in Cape Town last fall.

But you know what? There's a lot of poverty in Cape Town. Still. PLENTY. I saw miles and miles of shanty towns while visiting and it made me SICK at times to be staying in such a SICK hotel. Poor me? Nah, I'm not about to have an American guilt trip moment -- it is what it is and I don't regret my stay but I am grateful that I managed to dontate to a worthy cause while I was visiting. One of our tour guides told me of the volunteer work she does with orphans and although I didn't know the woman from Eve, I believed she was sincere. I whipped out a U.S. $20 bill and gave to it her right then. In hindsight, I should have given much more. She called me at the hotel later on to thank me again and assure me that the money would be put to good use. Then an email was sent to me from an administrator of the group she works with, Little Angels to thank me. I'm sure lots of similiar orgs exist in Cape Town but now Little Angles holds a special place in my heart. Mr. TK and I plan to go to Cape Town in the near future (he's still salty he couldn't go with me in September) and I hope that we can spend a couple of days doing hands-on work with Little Angels then. In the meantime, I'll donate what I can, when I can. Orphans and foster children have a special, special place in my heart whether they live in South Africa or the South Bronx.


An example of a shanty town in Cape Town. There must be hundreds of them.

So if you consider treating yourself to a stay at the Cape's new One&Only or 12 Apostles, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. But just consider checking out Little Angels too. Tell them an American lady sent 'ya. ;-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Girl Power

When it rains, it pours. As a child, I never understood when my mother told me that but I sure as heck do now. At this very moment I need to get a new phone, schedule a dentist appointment, fax documents to my tax guy, pack for a weekend getaway, return (personal) calls to about 6 people...and that is only half of it -- LOTS going on.

Whew, I had to get that out. Now back to business.


I had the plesaure of speaking at The Young Women's Leadership School in Jamaica, Queens (NY) on Tuesday. I spoke to a group of 10th graders as part of the school's Cool Women, Hot Jobs program. Every single time I participate in something like this I feel partially guilty as I always get just as much out of it (if not more) than the students. Talk about gaining perspective. While I have spoken at a school in Queens before, being in JAMAICA where I was born and raised meant a lot to me. The girls I met on Tuesday have so much promise, so much talent. They were bright-eyed and actually seemed interested in hearing about little 'ole me and what I do for a living. In me telling them to never give up and work hard even when it seems no one is paying attention, I was reminding myself of what matters most too. God is so awesome like that. Why am I sharing with you guys? Well it is probably the flyest thing I've done all year.


How can you not look at this picture and smile?

Then, last night I spent the evening in Harlem for a lovely shindig to help launch Shaun Robinson's new book, Exactly As I Am. Just as the title suggests, Robinson's book encourages young women to nuture their self-esteem. Interviews with everyone from Gabrielle Union to Nancy Pelosi are included. I mingled with more inspiring women there and picked up a copy of the book for my nieces. They can't appreciate it now but they certainly will one day.

We are blessed to be a blessing to others. The youngins are watching us y'all. They really are.

P.S. - Topshop is FINALLY opening in (Soho) NYC today! More on that later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kelis's Hair Revolution: She's Still Bringing Them To The Yard!

Peep this little diddy I did for the j-o:



I really enjoyed working on this photo gallery. So ahead of her time that Mrs. Jones...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Matthew Williamson at H&M!


It's no secret that I have a thing for British fashion designers and Matthew Wiliamson is at the top of my fave list. And now the genius behind Kelis's bold and ridiculously fly green wedding gown is designing not one but two lines for H&M.

Yes, I'm serious.

WWD broke the deets on Thursday and I couldn't be happier about it. As much as I admire Matthew's talent, I can't afford his stuff (yet) so I honestly don't own any of his pieces. But come April 23rd, that will all change. Williamson's first, limited edition women's collection will debut at 200 H&M stores nationwide. As an encore, H&M will unveil styles for men and women by M.W. in all 1,700 locations.

Williamson shared with WWD that he was inspired by the idea of the colors of a peacock feather for the collections. Of course, he's turned to the peacock often in his work as he did for his Smythson of Bond Street collabo. The first limited collection is scheduled to feature cashmere, leather (!), sequins and embroidery and retail prices will range from $49.90 for shorts to $349 for a ruffle gown.

I just hope that I'm not disappointed with the looks up close in personal as I was with the Marimekko line at H&M last year. The prints were not nearly as rich and memorable in person as I had hoped they would be. I'll let you guys know how I do with Matthew next month.

Off to take a disco nap before I meet up with the amigos to go bowling. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shoe Bargain!

Check these babies out:



Cute, right? And can you believe that they are only twenty bucks??!! I am truly a bargain shopper and rarely ever pay retail so these Payless wedges even got me more than a little excited. I can start wearing them in about a month or so with jeans/pants and then pair them with skirts and dresses throughout the summer. Now, I'll be the first to admit that these shoes might be hideous in person but I have no problems returning them should I not like them in person. Payless has definitely stepped up their designs and quality in recent seasons (peep the site for all the higher-end designer collabos). I am not ashamed (in the least) of wearing Payless shoes if I like them and they're made well. I will however be ashamed if I haven't made a move to own my second property within the next 2 years. I'm trying to remember that my wants are very different from my needs (according to Suze Orman and my mother, not enough of us do) and I certainly don't need another pair of shoes. Oy vey, being a grown-up... Anyhoo, I will probably order them later today so I'll let you know what they look like in person next week! (LOL)

P.S. - Any Payless shoe wearers out there? Leave me a comment and tell me if your Payless shoe purchases have helped or hurt your shoe game.

P.P.S. - Is anyone else strangely drawn to BET's Harlem Heights besides me? Sure I have my issues with it --trust-- but I have been watching. For those of you who have been too, how ADORABLE is Jason's daughter???? The cornrows, the beads, the big brown eyes, the way she looks up at her dad...that father-daughter relationship is probably the best (and most "real") part of the reality show. Do you agree or not? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Have You Seen Her?


2003: Near my London flat.

I'm very proud of the young lady in the above picture. She quit her "good" job to chase a dream of living abroad, in expensive a** London specifically. Nevermind that she was unemployed for over a year when she returned home to the States. Somehow, she managed to never get behind in any of her bills with freelance work and a part-time retail gig. Never mind that she didn't stay as long as she originally planned to either. She still jet-setted all around Europe and even spent an eventful night at Gatwick Airport trying to get to Prague (never made it to Prague but the memories are priceless nonetheless).

I'm also proud of the young woman who purchased her maternal grandparent's home (and the acres of land it sits on) because she wanted the property to stay in the family. Had she thought about it too much she probably would not have done it. Sure becoming a homeowner was an important goal of hers but making sure that her kin's strong legacy was maintained was far greater. The process all went by sort of quickly and she even impresses herself to know that she pulled it off and is not only a homeowner but a landlord. All by age 30.

And then there is the woman who took a chance on love (and still is quite frankly) simply to please herself -- no one or nothing else. She honestly still questions her decision from time to time but always comes to the same conclusion: He makes my heart smile. Love is one thing but forgiving? That forgiving thing is strictly for grown folks. I'm not talking about blind forgiveness either, that would just be dumb. But letting your guard down long enough to allow yourself to be happy...I'm overwhelmingly proud of her for that.

So where has this woman gone? If she's been able to accomplish all these things, why won't she get out of her own way long enough to complete that project she's been talking about for over a year? Maybe it is because she worries that at 33, she isn't where she "should" be in her career. Maybe it is because she wonders if she is indeed too idealistic in thinking that she can have it all (in due time): the career she dreams about, the hubby and the kid or kids. And while everyone tells her how proud he would be/is of her accomplishments, she still occasionally ponders on whether she has made (and will continue to make) her father proud.

But lately, she realizes that her career path is not straight but she really wouldn't have it any other way. The hubby and the kids will not be enjoyable if she's not happy with who she is first. (She got that gem from DVF herself.) And truthfully, she's gonna disappoint her Dad and herself here and there. But how lame would life be if she didn't make some mistakes? Every now and again we all lose sight of ourselves but thank goodness I found the woman in the picture. And thank God she's back and ready to rock!

(Writing about myself in 3rd person is wierd but I had to do this. It was like therapy. Thanks for understanding that I needed PPT to be my journal for this post.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I don't wanna toot my own horn but...

I'm enjoying this weekend so much and it just started. It's the little things like wearing my wifebeater and sweats while reading the Real Estate section of the New York Times on my comfy sofa in between my mom catching me up on the N.C. fam on a Saturday morning that make me happy. Awww, life is good.


Remember this? Maybe those chicks at Vogue read PPT??? LOL! (I kid, I kid.)

But on to business. Be sure to read the article, "Heavy-Metal Manicure" on page 154 of the April 2009 issue of Vogue. (It's the issue with Bouncy on the cover.) My girl, manicurist Lisa Logan got a huge shout-out for her Minxing skills in the piece. Yep, the same Minx I wrote about here on PPT months ago. Big C, a fellow magazine junkie, alerted me of the piece. Lisa is so modest (and busy) that she forgets to tell me these things herself. Lisa, the best is yet to come!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shopping Like A Rich Woman

Happy Friday!

So in yesterday's WWD, I noticed a charticle on spending habits that I found quite amusing. The piece shows a snapshot of the top, midtier and discount stores where consumers with annual incomes of $250,000 or more said they've been shopping. Interesting, right? Now, perhaps because I was an advertising, marketing and communications major I tend to take surveys like these with a grain of salt. I'm sure the sample was small, I know first-hand that folks say what they typically think others want to hear, etc. Still, the result of this research is pretty telling. See for yourself:



1 - Target, 46.2 percent

2 - Costco, 39.5 percent

3 - Macy's, 38.6 percent

4 - Nordstrom, 31.9 percent

5 - Wal-Mart, 25.9 percent

6 - Kohl's, 20.6 percent

7 - Bloomingdale's, 19.3 percent

8 - T.J. Maxx, 18.6 percent

9 - Sam's Club, 18.2 percent

10 - Neiman Marcus, 16.4 percent

11 - J.C. Penney, 14.2 percent

12 - Lord & Taylor, 12.5 percent

13 - Saks Fifth Avenue, 12.3 percent

14 - Dillard's, 11.5 percent

15 - Sears, 11.1 percent

16 - Barneys New York, 7.2 percent

17 - Kmart, 6.9 percent

18 - Bergdorf Goodman, 5.8 percent


Now keeping all things in perspective: is an annual personal income of $250,000 high? (in most parts of the country it certainly is), were most of the people surveyed married and/or have children, what part of the country was the survey conducted in...yada, ya... I still think it is safe to say that over half of the top 10 stores (including the number one spot) being discount retailers gives us a real window into the minds of those who what to make their dollar stretch. I happen to LOVE Target (where else can I get a mop, a scented candle, a dress and deodorant under one roof?) and make far less than 250K a year but I've long noticed that Target, Sam's Club, Costco, and T.J. Maxx stores are rarely ever in the neighborhoods that seem to need them the most. Hmmmm.

I'm clearly opening up a much bigger can of worms and I will certainly revisit this topic later. But, in the meantime I'd like to know of the stores listed above, where do you shop most and why? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

Btw, I thought that title would grab your attention. ;-) A whole 'notha can of worms is what constitutes someone being rich, right? All relative my friends, all relative. But do remember that the survey consisted of those with personal annual salaries of 250K or more, NOT household salaries of 250K or more. Huge difference.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What Recession?: Vintage Shopping 101


Okay so the recession is very real but I refuse to moan and groan about it. That old saying about the happiest people not having the most of everything but rather making the most of what they do have couldn't be more timely. And it applies to how we dress as well.

Enter vintage shopping. Vintage has been "hip" for a minute now but folks are looking to vintage and secondhand (or third or forth) even more to make a dollar stretch. Um, keeping your home off the foreclosure block or ensuring Junior stays at University is more important than a new Gucci purse, right????

But I know many people are intimidated by vintage shopping. So, I dug up an article I penned for a custom published mag nearly 4 years ago on vintage shopping. Here are a few highlights:

*The first lesson on vintage shopping is to understand exactly what it is. Constance White, fashion expert and style director for eBay explains, "A garment generally has to be at least 10 years old for it to be considered vintage."

*The best vintage items are probably right under your nose, or in your attic. Search through Grandma's chest and you just might uncover the perfect little clutch you've been looking for. Remember this post about shopping in your own closet?

*If you're saving your pennies (Who isn't these days?), stay away from vintage stores in places like NYC's Soho or Washington's Georgetown. Vintage doesn't always mean inexpensive and touristy areas usually mean higher price tags. Instead, opt for Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage/yard sales and flea markets off the beaten path.

*Fret not if you don't strike gold on your first vintage adventure. It might take a few visits to the same store before you land that must-have item.

*Before determining whether you really have a bargain, check for missing buttons, permanent stains and other damage like rips. Only you can know for sure if the repair costs will be worth it in the long run.

*Wearing head-to-toe vintage is quite a challenge to pull off--even for a vet. Try to stick to mixing elements of vintage into your existing contemporary wardrobe. The result is more likely to be modern and sophisticated than dated and weird.

Friday, March 13, 2009

One to Watch: Miguel Antoinne

It's been too long. *Sigh* I have no "good" excuses for not posting either so I'll just get to it.

Fall 2009 Fashion Week wasn't a big "to do" for me this season. While I didn't get invited to much, I didn't hustle as I have in the past for invites either. I have delayed reactions so perhaps the reason for my blah attitude will be revealed to me later. Although I only went to a handful of fashion week events last month, there was one designer I discovered that I must sing the praises of: MIGUEL ANTOINNE.


Looks from Miguel Antoinne's Fall 2009 debut collection.

My coworker invited me to attend Miguel's event at a posh east side NYC hotel penthouse and I obliged. Tastemakers like Lloyd Boston were in the house, drinks were flowing, complimentary hand massages by Aveda were plenty. (Love Lloyd btw! Check him out on his new Fine Living show, Closet Cases.) The vibe was cool, this is the same event I met Kwame at, but the clothes were FIRE! Miguel specializes in menswear. A fellow F.I.T. alum, his foray into fashion began with him working as a buyer for one of the nation's leading retailers. Miguel's Fall 2009 debut collection is made primarily from Italian and Japanese fabrics and was inspired by gangsters of the 1920s. The details are ridiculous: oversized pockets, constrast top stitching, unique blending of cashmere and pony-hair. His color palette is pretty basic with grey, black and pops of white and beige but the garments were anything but. Miguel's collection put me in the mind of Paul Smith and that is always a good thing.


Miguel (front and center with arms folded) poses for a pic with models during his Fall 2009 presentation. Isn't he a cutie?

Time will tell whether or not Miguel will make it at retail for seasons to come. One thing that makes me feel confident he will (so many young, talented designers don't unfortunately) is his experience as a buyer. While the price points were way out of my league or most that I know, there is certainly a market for his offerings. Plus, Miguel's clothes are investment purchases not a wear for 2 or 3 seasons and then toss type purchases.

Check his stuff out for yourself here.

Happy St. Patty's Day!

P.S. - As of tomorrow, I'm back to posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Paula, I'm sorry!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

First Lady Sleeveless Drama

My bad. I'm swamped y'all. I plan to post (late) tonight but in the meantime, check out this gallery I worked on for the j-o. It has been getting an enormous amount of feedback so I thought I'd share with my PPT folx.

I personally think that Mrs. Obama's arms are the LEAST of America's worries right now. What do you guys think?

Enjoy and Happy Thursday!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

PPT's Black Female Style Icons (Part II)

I promised it so here it is, on the last day of our so-called Black History Month. Peep last year's list here. And do leave me a comment to let me know who I missed.

GRACE JONES

I honestly don't know too much about Ms. Jones, the Jamaican native who started her career as a model in New York City and Paris. Apparently she was a regular at infamous spots like Studio 54 and became a muse to cats like Andy Warhol back in the 70s. I most remember her for the 80s hit Slave to the Rhythym and her role in the 90s flick Boomerang. But chick is a bad ass fo' real. From sporting a short natural do when everyone wanted long, flowing locks to pushing the envelope with her androgynous look. Every now and again the game needs someone like Grace Jones to shake things up a bit.

RIHANNA

I might catch some heat for including RiRi in the midst of this Chris Brown drama. Know that I don't take domestic violence lightly, not in the least. But one thing that Rihanna has demonstrated in her brief career is the ability to evolve and 50 years from now, folks will still be giving her props for being a trendsetter -- trust me. (Hopefully we'll be giving her props for having the strength to walk away too.) When she first came on the scene with her dancehall inspired Pon the Replay, she was heavily styled with the A&R prerequisites for an up and coming R&B singer: long, light weaves, Seventeen mag-friendly gear and an all-around middle-America ready image. It didn't take but a minute for Rihanna to get her mojo together and bring her own distinct fierceness to the world. From her short tresses (yeah, I admitted that she wasn't the first to sport this look but she took it mainstream) to her risk-taking garb. Baby girl looks so much more comfortable now with her rocker edged look then she did during her pop bubblegum debut. Now I sincerely hope she gets her mind right emotionally.

DIANA ROSS

From her days as a Supreme to her memorable role in Mahogany, Ms. Ross has been the boss. When I look back at old pics of her in her hey day I'm in awe. She was bringing it long before artists has professional stylists to dress them. The feathers, the sequins, the platforms...I'm so jealous that her daughter Tracee has access to all this ridiculously fly gear. Even with all her over-the-top costumes, she was equally (if not more) beautiful in shots like the one above wearing a simple tee and jeans. Modern-day divas take note.

LISA BONET

I have a confession: I LOVE The Cosby Show. And Denise was the Huxtable who made the show just a little more interesting for me every Thursday night during my formative years. See Lisa is one of those actresses who you know told the costume designer on set, "I got this". To me, she is a pioneer of the boho-chic era of the 90s to present. She never matched, never had perfectly coiffed hair yet still managed to look fly in every episode and whenever photographed out and about. Sure, she was/is pretty but lots of pretty girls still can't pull this off. Then Lisa and her ex-hubby Lenny went and passed that "it" factor to their daughter Zoe. Geesh.

JAN'ET DUBOIS

Ja'Net played the beloved Willona Woods on the hit sitcom Good Times in the late 70s. Thanks to TVOne, I've been catching up on some old episodes and I admittedly want everything Willona (and Thelma) wore. Everything. I can't say that Good Times demonstrated amazing acting but Willona's character was probably my first introduction to a strong, independent Black woman on the small-screen (I wasn't around for Julia.). Plus, her character adopted which is one of my life long dreams. All the while she was as sexy as she wanted to be in her body hugging frocks and jumpsuits. HA! It's so good to see that Ja'Net is still out and about too.

EARTHA KITT

Last Christmas, while my family sat around and ate second and third helpings of grub in between games of Taboo, I received a text message from a coworker about Eartha Kitt's death. Initially I was a little annoyed; it was Christmas and I was with my fam after all... But after I shared the breaking news with my loved ones, I actually appreciated the info. The older relatives present began to share with the younger ones about how gangsta Ms. Kitt was. My cousins and I listened in awe of stories about how she spoke out against the Vietnam War at The White House, causing her to lose a lucrative Hollywood career for standing up for what she believed in. Dang, they don't make 'em like that anymore. Sometimes I feel like my generation are such cowards (another post for another day). Anyhoo, Eartha demonstrated such tenacity and grace all the while demonstronating oodles of feminity and sex appeal. She showed that it is possible to rock a sick pair of heels with a booty hugging pencil skirt and still keep abreast of global affairs and be a voice to the voiceless. What a fabulous personification of "smart style".

R.I.P. Eartha Kitt.