Monday, April 26, 2010

I Just Had A Baby! BLACK BRIDAL BLISS is Born!

Howdy, folks!

I know, I know. I have a lot of nerve, right? Not updating PPT in a month of Sundays. (Even my mother started asking when I was posting again.) I'll spare you guys the lame excuses but trust that I am going through all sorts of life changes professionally and emotionally. And some of those changes will become clear to you by the end of this post.

I have just given birth! And her name is BLACK BRIDAL BLISS. She's brand, spankin' new and you can check her out here.

While Black Bridal Bliss has been a dream of mine for the past couple of years, I decided I needed to really make her happen after getting bitten by the layoff bug last fall. I had been putting her off and putting her off, (Remember this post?) working on someone else's dream instead of tackling my own. (And remember this post?) God sure knows how to get your attention, huh?

So, let me tell you a few things about my new little one. First and foremost, although I just popped her out I sense that she's going to grow fast. She's fiesty I tell 'ya. There's a lot she wants to share and she finally has the proper platform to do so. She'll be updated every weekday and every Tuesday she'll highlight the nuptials of "real" people. There will also be posts on style, honeymoons, planning, budgeting ideas, expert tips and tricks and more! This baby is something else, y'all.

Be sure to have a look at Black Bridal Bliss and comment here or there to tell me what you think. (Good, bad or indifferent -- this mama can take it.)

Thanks for rocking with me through the "down" time. I'm back y'all. And Bsqaured is now double trouble. Enjoy the bliss!

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, 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 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, 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, 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.