Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Loving Your Body

In the last few months, it hasn't been easy to love my body.  After two biopsies revealed I had cancer in both breasts, I underwent a double mastectomy in March.  It's difficult to love your body when you feel as if your body has betrayed you.  However,  I know my mind is far stronger than my body is now or will ever be.  When my body has felt beaten up from the pain, my mind has said, "It's only temporary. Keep going. One step at a time."  My mind gets me places my body can't at times.  So, even though my body may look scarred and tired, I refuse to feel that way.

For me, however, I started questioning who I really was and what defined me.  I lost both breasts.  Did they define me?  No.  They certainly attracted some idiots at times - and I'll get new, perkier ones through reconstruction anyway.  I was faced with losing my hair when I was told I'd have to undergo chemotherapy.  (I'm now told it will thin but I will not lose all of it.)  Does my hair define me?  No.  I now have scars all over my body.  Do those define me?  No.  As I've come to realize with some help, they are badges of honor.  Cancer came out of the scars that will forever be where my real breasts once were.  My sweet Charlotte came out of my c-section scar.  It's hardly a scar I should be ashamed of looking at.  And a lot of pain came out of the six small scars where I had an abdominal hernia surgery this past fall. What I've come to believe truly defines me is my mind - chiefly, my personality!  I love life and I love having fun and celebrating with colors. I won't let cancer, my scars, my dry skin or anything or anyone else define me.

I took the below photos to have some fun.  Some may say style is trivial at a time like this.  For me, looking good equates to feeling even a little bit better.  Fun colors and patterns keep be feeling happy!  But for me it extends more than that.   I am still studying to help others look and feel their best as an image consultant.  And I hope I can eventually help other women going through this difficult process to look and feel their best even on those not-so-great days.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Woman of Style: Allison Tulio, Owner of bloom. Salon & Makeup Bar

To say that our newest Woman of Style is an inspiration is an understatement.  Alison Tulio makes being environmentally friendly and using safe, natural products both incredibly chic and fun.  She opened bloom. Salon & Makeup Bar just over one year ago in Voorheesville, NY, and she said her salon was the first in the U.S. to be a Green Circle Salon.   Through that program, extra hair, foils, color tubes and hair color are all recycled.  She also strives to use hair and makeup products in her salon that are as chemical-free as possible.   The makeup line she uses, 100% Pure, is fruit dyed and 100 percent free of harmful toxins.  Allison also repurposed mirrors and chairs from Craigslist and also has several pieces her father-in-law hand-crafted for bloom.  She redesigned her absolutely gorgeous floral chairs in the makeup bar (see the photos below).  Allison's mission is to inspire others to make more environmentally-friendly decisions and it's obvious she does that every day in the most stylish way possible.   Congratulations, Allison!  Thank you for all of the inspiration.  (You can read much more below on Allison's environmentally-friendly style!) 

Photo of Allison & ribbon cutting by Katie Petit

A few of the many women Allison and bloom. have made naturally beautiful!

Photos:  Courtesy of bloom. from Facebook

How would you describe your style?
This is hard because I love so many things about different styles! I would describe my style as vintage, somewhat rustic with a twist of bohemian.  I like clean lines, old rustic looking pieces but also love mismatched accents with pops of color.

Who/what inspires you in terms of style?
I love statement and timeless pieces that you know will work for years to come - pieces that all you have to do is change the accessories or accents around them to make them fit your style for whatever it is you're feeling lately.  It wasn't until I opened bloom. that my love of antiques, thrifting and DIY really presented itself as part of my style. I always loved the way antiques looked, but never really thought or realized how fun and inspiring it could be to find something unique and make it your own. It became a mission to find the perfect projects and pieces to add to the salon. I searched trough pages of Craigslist and aisles of antique stores to really find what spoke to me and my passion for bloom.

The wonderfully chic makeup bar at bloom. Salon & Makeup Bar
(Check out the gorgeous chairs Allison repurposed!)

One of the legs of the table Allison found on Craigslist 
& the ultra chic blush pink rug in the makeup bar!

The top photo is Allison's grandmother.  Allison said 
it's as if she is still with her every day at bloom.

Your business, bloom. Salon & Makeup Bar, has incredible style! How were you able to so effectively use your style to style your salon?

Lots of sanding, cleaning and spray paint! I found all the mirrors for the salon on Craigslist and cleaned them up, spray painted them and now they are custom mirrors for a third of the price! The stations and the crates I actually bought unfinished and finished them with a distressed dark espresso which I think brings a sense of warmth and coziness to the salon. I am also extremely fortunate that a lot of the beautiful pieces in the salon were hand made for me by my father-in-law. We created a vision together.  He told me when my ideas were too crazy to work, and I took his professional opinion on it.  Together we came up with great pieces. I owe a lot of the style to his handy hard work!

What is your favorite part of your salon and makeup bar?
I love it all! It is hard to pinpoint a favorite part because it all flows so well together. I would have to say the color bar and the makeup bar are probably my favorite pieces if I had to choose. I love how clients can actually see us mixing the color, using our brains and creativness to stir up something unique for them.  And the makeup bar is just such a fun, flirty girly area - what is there not to love! Every woman loves to feel extra glammed and girly once in a while, and that's what I envisioned when I designed that room.

The gorgeous salon.  In the center is the color bar!
Photo by:  Katie Petit

                               The fun makeup bar at bloom. with 100% Pure products.

How can we be more environmentally-conscious and natural in the hair care products/practices and makeup we use/do at home?
I know it's a daunting task, but read the labels! Look for sulfate-free, paraben-free shampoos and conditioners.  And also think about the bottle and whether or not it is made with BPA. BPA leaches out into products when it is in warm, humid areas. And that is exactly where our shampoo and conditioners live, in the hot steamy shower. A lot of hidden chemicals can hide in our beauty products, and it can be overwhelming. My biggest suggestion would be just to start where you're comfortable.  Do your own research on it, and I'm sure it will make you think twice about what products you are using.

Hair and makeup are obviously very important parts of a woman's overall style. What advice would you give to women in trying to find their own style?
Find your comfort zone! It also helps finding a great stylist who really listens to your thoughts and one that will help you create what you're looking for in that moment. Being comfortable with your hair and really loving it is the best confidence booster. Look in magazines, mark things that attract your eye.  I am sure when you look back at those pictures that you marked they will all have something in common, but most of all have fun and play! That's the beauty of hair and makeup; it can always be changed and it is ever evolving.

Photo:  Courtesy of bloom.    By:  Katie Petit

Photo:  Courtesy of bloom.

Photo:  Courtesy of bloom.

I love that you are focused on bringing out women's natural beauty while keeping the environment in mind. What are some of the things you do to be environmentally-friendly in your salon? How did you decide to make it such a great part of your salon?
When I first thought about opening a salon, I knew my passion for recycling and the environment in general would play a good part in it. From the very beginning one of the things I wanted to do is find a place to donate the hair that gets swept up from each haircut. Many people are surprised that their hair can be used to make hair mats to help aid in the cleanup of oil spills. After some research on the subject, I came across a program called Green Circle Salon. I noticed they were based out of Canada, but I figured I could just send the extra hair there for good use. Come to find out they were about to launch their North American program and not only did it include recycling hair, but it recycles foils, color tubes and hair color. It was a no brainer! We actually became the first salon in America to be apart of this program, which was a really exciting moment! We also recycle all of our paper and plastics through County Waste.

I also did lots of research on the type of products we brought into the salon. I wanted companies that had the same values as I do as a business owner. We carry 'Use Me!,' which is sulfate-free, paraben-free and also is a member of 1% for the planet.  Our makeup line called 100% Pure and Is all fruit and vegetable dyed and never tested on animals.  All of their formulas are biodegradable, come in recycled packaging and best of all - their warehouse is run on solar power.  I am constantly looking for new and inspiring products that showcase the power of plants and essential oils versus chemicals.

If you haven't already said this in the above answer :), I read that you are so meticulous about keeping the environment in mind, that many of the pieces of furniture in the salon are re-finished items. That is wonderful! What are some of the items and how did you find them?

As I mentioned before, all of the mirrors in the salon were found on Craigslist - cleaned up and spray painted to my liking, but I also found the amazing chairs and table in the makeup area on Craigslist! The chairs I completely redid. I spray painted them and covered the cushions with a really funky floral print.. They were so old the fabric was nailed in instead of staple gunned it! I kept the original fabric underneath. The table was just perfect I actually didn’t have to do anything to it! It was definitely fun and exhilarating when I found a piece that I knew exactly what to do with. 

Congratulations again, Allison!  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sweet Dreams of Spring

As much as I adore all of this snow, I am dreaming of spring in a major way!  Many of you know light pink is my absolute favorite shade and I can't help but think of wearing this shade on a sweet, sunny 70 degree spring day.  But I don't think you have to wait to wear all of your beautiful pastel shades on a spring or summer day.  Winter whites are gorgeous.  So, I am going to infuse my delicate spring shades into my winter wardrobe.  I'm going to pair ivory winter sweaters with delicate pastel accessories.  An easy combination is jeans and a white crisp shirt with pastels.

My big breath of fresh spring air was the statement necklace below.  I recently bought the Birdie necklace (top left on the graphic) as a stylist sample with Stella & Dot.  I think it may have been made for me.  The ivory and blush pink "petals" were inspired by real flower petals.  (I absolutely love to garden.)  They are light, airy and wonderfully delicate.  The petals are detachable so you can wear the necklace with just the crystals.  As you can see from the photos below, I couldn't wait for a spring day to pull out these petals so a Blizzard is fine with me :)

Sweet Dreams of Spring

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blizzard Beauty

The 2015 Blizzard is bearing down on us.  The snow is swirling and the trees have started blowing.  Since I love the snow and I spent many years doing live news reports out in several feet of snow for hours on end in my previous career, I figured I'd share some of my winter must-have items!  Read more below.

Blizzard Beauty

Winter Favorites:

North Face Parka:  Mine is about 5 years old now and I still absolutely love it.  After reporting in sub-zero conditions (think -15, windchill of -25) and covering the Valentine's Day Blizzard in February 2007, I invested in a serious parka and this one has kept me warm and dry time after time.  Sadly, I am at my parents' house right now and I didn't bring this with me :(    To keep seriously warm, I also wear lots of layers:  long underwear, jeans, a wool sweater, snow pants and hand and foot warmers.

Warm Boots:    My husband bought me the North Face's Nuptse Purna Boots for Christmas and I love them.  I wanted a warm and rugged - yet stylish - boot.  My husband knows me well! I fell in love with the faux fur detail and they're perfect because they are waterproof and well insulated.  I love playing in the snow with Charlotte and that demands a warm, rugged boot.  I also need a good grip if it's icy out!

Cashmere Scarf:  I always wear a scarf in the snow.  I absolutely hate getting snow down my neck!  I also use the scarf over my face if the snow is blowing.  And nothing beats cashmere for softness.

Cashmere Socks:  One of my biggest pet peeves is having cold feet (literally and figuratively)!  To eliminate that, I wear heavy cashmere socks (usually two pair) and I also put foot warmers in my boots.  Because I used to stand out in the snow for long intervals during television storm coverage, I had to make sure my feet were warm and this worked well!

Hand Care:  I swear by the Satin Hands Pampering Set set by Mary Kay.  I use the set weekly (sometimes more) and for me, it quickly eliminates painful dry skin and redness.  I use the moisturizer that comes in the set daily.  Having chapped hands is one of my big pet peeves.  I also love that this set comes as fragrance-free.  I also use their Satin Lips set to exfoliate and moisturize my lips.

Lips:  When I am out in harsh conditions, I constantly swipe on Burt's Bees natural beeswax lip balm.   I also use it on Charlotte because it's natural.

Hat and Gloves:  These go without saying.  I can't go without a warm yet stylish hat in the snow.  I often carry a couple with me.  Gloves are an absolute must.  Not wearing them is the quickest way to chap your hands, as most of you probably know all too well.  I wear heavy-duty gloves when I am playing in the snow.  Day-to-day, I wear either leather/cashmere-lined gloves or my favorite Isotoner spandex gloves.

Sunglasses:  I don't like blowing snow getting into my eyes.  I did not wear sunglasses when I was a reporter on the air.  But now, I won't leave the house without my sunglasses in the snow (especially since I wear contacts).

Hope you weather the storm if you're in the path of this blizzard.  Or, if you're in 70 degree weather - enjoy that too!! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ladies' Night: Jamberry Nails

I am always searching for new ways to do my nails.  I like options I can use at home while achieving a salon-like look.  Day-to-day, I usually use Butter London nail polish and I absolutely love it.  I like a nail wrap kit, though, if I am going out and would like a french manicure. You wouldn't want to see me try to paint a french manicure.  It's not pretty!

Our Jamberry Nails!

I recently tried a Sally Hansen Salon Effects french manicure at-home nail wrap kit and the finished product looked beautiful but it wasn't easy (at least for me) to achieve.  I was down to the last nail wrap and thought I was going to have one plain nail :)  When my friend Lauren told me about Jamberry nails, I had to try them!  This was my first time using them and Lauren guided me and and my sister, Anne, as we applied the nail wraps.  The white French manicure tip and the entire nail come as one wrap, which is awesome.  It will take me practice to get the french manicure absolutely perfect since you have to be very good about lining up the tip so it's the same size as all of the other nail tips but that will come with time!   

To use Jamberry nails, we cut the nail wraps to the size of our nails with scissors, then we used a blow dryer to heat them up so they would properly adhere to our nails.  Then, we pressed each nail wrap onto each nail with a wooden manicure stick and blow dryed again.  We then filed or cut off the remainder of the wrap.   It sounds like a lot, but once you get used to the process, it's easy.   Jamberry also has very detailed instructions that are good to follow.   In my original package, I still have enough wraps left to do a second manicure!   Removing them wasn't hard either.  I soaked my hands in hot, soapy water and the wraps came off fairly easily and my nails still looked pretty good!

Overall, the Jamberry nails looked salon quality to me and they stayed beautifully for about a week.  I've read some women can get two weeks out of theirs.  I am very hard on my nails though.  I am constantly washing my hands, doing dishes and playing with play dough and all kinds of other things with Charlotte.  I was very impressed with Jamberry!  I think next time, I will live on the edge and try some polka dots or something other than my usual French manicure :)  If you want more information or are interested, here is the link:  Renee Sifferman's Jamberry Website.  Cheers to pretty nails!