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Work it: BBVA Compass

Hi lovelies,

I recently listened to the BBVA Compass 10 podcast series, Working Moms Mean Businessand even though I'm not a mother, the lessons learned from the podcast resonated with me as I'm navigating creating a career that fulfills me while seeking harmony with my career, personal life, and romantic life. 

The podcast series is hosted by Emma Johnson of the Wealthy Single Mommy, who is also a writer and blogger that focuses on personal finance. During the podcast, I realized that as an entrepreneur, particularly a female entrepreneur, that many of the same crossroads and challenges that many working mothers face, were very similar to the same experiences that I needed to overcome while paving my own way as a creative professional. 

The podcast that really hit home for me, was the "Mom Momentum in Careers" interview featuring Samantha Ettus. The podcast touched upon creating healthy boundaries both at home and in the workplace, and gave Shonda Rhimes' "no emails after 7pm" policy as the perfect example of how to create the working lifestyle that you want while conditioning your co-workers, employees, and even bosses, to do the same. 

Another a-ha moment came to me while reading the "Mom Guilt: Why we have it and how to conquer it" ebook, when I saw even more parallels between working moms and myself, such as having to embrace your own sense of independence, financial freedom, and becoming a true example of what it means to be a successful and fulfilled woman. The pursuit of seeking a holistic life was the same for me as a female entrepreneur. 

When I left corporate America to forge my own path and cultivate my own personal brand as a writer, blogger, and influencer, I quickly learned that there was no such thing as "work/life balance." The lines between me-time, work-time, life-time, family-time, boyfriend-time, friend-time, and personal-time, all began to blur and there was no way that all of the parts could get equal attention.

But my true moment of clarity came when I realized that they shouldn't. Not all areas of my life needed equal time and attention and it was ok to accept that without feeling like I'm being a bad friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or professional. It was ok to give more attention to certain things at certain times and that didn't mean that I was lacking in any sense. All of these beautiful parts that make-up a fulfilled life needed to work in harmony with each other, not perfectly balanced and opposed to each other. 

Additionally, whether you're a mother or not, I learned that if you are a woman in the workforce who decides to defy convention, you are bound to experience push-back, guilt, and self-doubt. All of which are born from the need to not feel judged by your co-workers, peers, family, and friends, and most importantly, by your self.

Through my own personal and professional successes and pitfalls, I have found that self-judgement is one of the biggest killers of living a complete and fulfilled life. I remember when I first started out and I had no idea what to charge for my services. I was scared to ask for what I knew I was worth out of fear of being rejected and hearing, "no."

But literally, out of necessity, since being a writer, blogger, and influencer is my full-time job, I had to start charging what I was worth in order to stay a float. It taught me to quickly get comfortable with the word, "no," and that it wouldn't stop me. In fact, it made the "yeses" even that much sweeter. I was doing less work, but in a more meaningful way, while getting paid based on the value that I was providing and delivering for my clients. 

For more insights and to listen to the podcast and download the ebook, visit here.

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Mineral Fusion x CVS x EWG

Hi lovelies,

One of my favorite ways to take care of my body and let my inner beauty shine, is through using eco-friendly and cruelty-free make-up and beauty products on a daily basis. The secret to achieving flawless and effortless beauty is to use products that are formulated with healthy and safe ingredients that are antioxidant- and mineral-rich. That's why I turn to Mineral Fusion® for my face and body needs. 

What sets Mineral Fusion a apart from other make-up collections, is that all Mineral Fusion products are 100% vegetarian, eco-friendly and free of gluten, parabens, SLS, phthalates, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. Most SKUs are 100% Vegan.

Mineral Fusion is also recognized as cruelty-free and holds certifications from PETA and Leaping Bunny. The brand boasts the most EWG VERIFIED products, with over 120 licensed items from its color cosmetics collection.

THE BEAUTY SCOOP ON MINERAL FUSION

"Dedicated to providing safe, effective beauty solutions, Mineral Fusion now provides accessible products to the ever-evolving, health-minded consumer more conveniently than ever before. Beginning in March 2017, Mineral Fusion announced its distribution roll-out across 300 California-based CVS stores and CVS.com. Earlier in 2017, the brand expanded into more than 50 The Vitamin Shoppe locations, as well as VitaminShoppe.com. All points of retail now offer the brand’s vast portfolio including skin care and EWG VERIFIEDTM color cosmetics.

Staying true to its core values, Mineral Fusion continues to contribute to the wellbeing of its community – the pursuit of Minerals on a Mission®. Through the official partnership with philanthropic organization The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Mineral Fusion has taken strides to support the fight against domestic violence and helps women in need through monetary and product donations year-round.

With rigorous criteria and strict ingredient standards, Mineral Fusion is also committed to good manufacturing practices and robust labeling, ensuring trust among its consumers. Furthermore, the brand uses sustainable technologies in all production including the utilization of wind power, soy inks and 100% recyclable packaging.

Mineral Fusion® is available at Whole Foods Markets nationwide, MineralFusion.com, as well as online and in select stores at The Vitamin Shoppe and CVS."

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It's Nice to See You: GlassesUSA.com

Hi lovelies,

I love changing up my look, and that doesn't just mean my outfits. I love to express myself and my style through my eyewear as well, but without breaking the bank. That's why I turn to GlassesUSA.com for my stylish, yet affordable, eyewear needs. While going through their online eyewear gallery, I absolutely fell in love with the Muse M1134 Glasses.

The tortoise print on the wide, then frames are a perfect fit for my downtown, boho-chic style while still being cool enough to stand-alone as its own accessory. 

GlassesUSA.com offers high quality online prescription glasses at reasonable price points with up to 70% off retail prices and a full pair of glasses that includes both the frames and lenses starts at $48.  

Be sure to head over to GlassesUSA.com, here, for special offers and details and peruse a large selection of over 2,500 styles from in-house brands like Muse and Amelia E. to designer brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Tom Ford, Chloe, Armani, Adidas, and more.

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The Girlfriend's Guide to Wine: Stay Golden with NakedWines.com

Hi lovelies,

Spring has officially sprung here in sunny Los Angeles, CA. This means that it's time to take advantage of the beautiful weather and plan fun gatherings and trips with my group of besties. The only thing we love more than laughing, taking road trips, shopping, and just grabbing lattes, is enjoying a refreshing glass of wine, Rosé, or champers, while plotting to take over the world and take our #girlBOSS status to the next level.

My group of strong and intelligent besties reminds me of one another group of equally inspiring women, the lovely ladies from one of my favorite television shows, The Golden Girls. The iconic Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose, may have had cheesecake to bring them all together, but my besties and I have wine to unite us thanks to NakedWines.com.

NakedWines.com gives us exclusive access and special prices wine created by independent winemakers, so we can support other entrepreneurs while we bond and unwind. What we particularly love about NakedWines.com, is that we are able to uncover new wines that we can't get from our average or local stores.

Plus, it allows us to support boutique and smaller vineyards, winemakers, and wineries by using the internet to connect us in a new and innovative way. We simply sign-up as an “Angel” and then we get insider access to

The Girlfriend's Guide to Wine: Stay Golden

DOROTHY ZBORNAK:

If you're a Dorothy that means that you're glue that holds your friend group together and every one comes to you when they need some tough love with a gentle delivery. You're the natural leader of the pack who's smart, strong, and fiercely loyal.

Dorothy Wines:

Christian Patat Pecorino 2015
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2ouftfZ

  • $9.99 angel pricing/$16.99 retail

  • 100% Pecorino (yes, it’s a grape too!)

  • 12.5% ABV

  • From Marche, Italy which is centrally located in the middle of the country next to the Adriatic Sea named after the sheep in Marche who used to snack on them.

  • Appearance: Straw yellow with some hints of green

  • Aroma: White peach, white flower, ocean breeze

  • Palate: Papaya, grapefruit, blood orange

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Shrimp pasta with basil, garlic and a homemade tomato sauce

Mr Glover Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2nTeOnt

  • $12.99 angel pricing/$21.99 retail

  • 100% Sauvignon Blanc

  • 13% ABV

  • From Marlborough, New Zealand which is the north part of the South Island

  • Appearance: Pale, light straw

  • Aroma: Passionfruit, gooseberry, lime, fresh cut grass

  • Palate: Lemongrass, green pepper, guava, pink grapefruit, peach

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Thai food


SOPHIA PETRILLO:

If you're a Sophia, then you're the wittiest and funniest gal in your girl group. Everyone comes to you for a good laugh, sound advice, and a home-cooked meal with a glass of wine. Even though you're quick as a whip and can be super sarcastic at times, you're still super sensitive and would be there for your besties in a heart beat.

Sophia's Wines:

Villebois Pouilly Fume 2015
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2n4Pc88

  • $18.99 angel pricing/$31.99 retail

  • 100% Sauvignon Blanc

  • 12.5% ABV

  • From the Central Vineyards in the Loire Valley, right next to Sancerre

  • Appearance: pale, light straw

  • Aroma: Gunpowder, smokiness (flint), tropical fruit

  • Palate: Limestone, pineapple, mango, grapefruit

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Anything with goat cheese or shellfish dishes

Petit Villebois Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2nPieWu

  • $11.99 angel pricing/$25.99 retail

  • 100% Sauvignon Blanc from several vineyards in the Loire Valley (where Sancerre is located)

  • 12% ABV

  • Appearance: Pale, light straw with some hints of green

  • Aroma: Gooseberry, lemon, lime, grapefruit

  • Palate: Limestone, asparagus, citrus

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Anything with goat cheese or shellfish dishes


BLANCHE DEVEREAUX:

If you're a Blanche, then you never apologize for being who you are and you love it when all eyes are on you. You're the go-to fashionista of your girl group and you always have the best guy advice. You ooze confidence but you have a sweet spot for spending quality with your friends. You bring the spice to every party and you're always game for an adventure.

Blanche's Wines:

Jean Philippe Moulin Champagne Rose
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2n4FUZG

  • $29.99 angel pricing/ $59.99 retail

  • Don't overly chill-48°F to 51°F is perfect temperature

  • 85% Chardonnay 15% Pinot Noir

  • 12% ABV

  • Comparable to Tattinger & Bollinger Champagne rose

  • Appearance: Coral/salmon

  • Aroma: Fresh strawberries, raspberries, red currant

  • Palate: Dry, elegantly smooth, pomegranate, red fruit preserves

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Proscuitto wrapped melon or tuna tartare

W. Donaldson Blanc de Blancs 2014
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2oRlBLP

  • $18.99 angel pricing/ $34.99 retail

  • 100% Chardonnay

  • 12.5% ABV

  • Sparkling wine made just like Champagne, but from California from Wayne Donaldson who used to be the head winemaker of Chandon

  • Blanc de Blancs translates to white wine from white grapes, which makes sense because it is 100% Chardonnay

  • Aged on yeasts for 24 months to create crisp, graceful wine with poise and concentration

  • Grapes are from the coldest areas of Sonoma County

  • Appearance: Yellow straw

  • Aroma: Apricot, fresh baked pastries, grapefruit

  • Palate: Brioche, granny smith apple, green fig

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Raw oysters

Benjamin Laroche Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin 2014
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2ou8jsE

  • $21.99 angel pricing/$36.99 retail

  • 100% Chardonnay

  • 13% ABV

  • From a premier cru vineyard located in Chablis which is a part of Burgundy, France

  • Appearance: Pale, light straw

  • Aroma: White flowers, pear, starfruit

  • Palate: Honeycomb, lemon, chalky minerality

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Triple cream brie


ROSE NYLUND:

If you're a Rose, then you have a heart of gold and is the group's resident sweetheart. You're positivity and encouragement is infectious and everyone always feels better about themselves when they're around you. You love making your friends smile and you're always game to be your bestie's partner-in-crime.

Rose's Wines:

Benjamin Darnault Pique Nique Rosé 2015
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2otUGcP

  • $9.99 angel pricing/ $16.99 retail

  • Grapes from the south of France in the Pays d’ Oc (Languedoc-Roussillon) with coastal Mediterranean influences

  • 100% grenache

  • 12.5% ABV

  • Made by the maceration method, when red wine grapes (grenache in this case) are left alone to rest, otherwise known as “macerate” for an extended period of time. The wine touches the red grape skins for 2-20 hours typically. Afterward, the entire batch of juice is transformed into a rosé.

  • Appearance: Pale rose gold

  • Aroma: Fresh strawberries and whipped cream, rose petals

  • Palate: Dry, rich, medium plus acidity, clean, crisp, refreshing with notes of raspberry, strawberry, golden honeydew, saline, with a nice mineral, savory finish

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Shrimp sauteed in garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil, lemon juice topped with feta cheese on top of mixed greens of a pasta of choice

W. Donaldson Rose 2014
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2n4G5o0

  • $18.99 angel pricing/$34.99 retail

  • 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay

  • 13% ABV

  • Sparkling wine made just like Champagne, but from California from Wayne Donaldson who used to be the head winemaker of Chandon

  • Aged on yeasts for 24 months to create crisp, graceful wine with poise and concentration

  • Grapes are from the coldest areas of Sonoma County

  • Appearance: Pink

  • Aroma: Summer berries, rose petals

  • Palate: Rich and elegant with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Smoked salmon

Stefano di Blasi IGT delle Venezie 2015
Get yours here: http://bit.ly/2nTkeyF

  • $9.99 angel pricing/$16.99 retail

  • 90% Garganega , 10 % Chardonnay

  • 12% ABV

  • Blended chardonnay for ripeness and garganega for minerality

  • The IGT delle Venezie appellation, otherwise known as Tre Venezie (three Venices) is located in Northeast Italy

  • Appearance: Pale, light straw

  • Aroma: Honeydew, white nectarine, fennel and honeysuckle

  • Palate: Marjoram, peach, saline

  • Food Pairing Recommendations: Anything with pesto


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Are You Dating A Narcissist? 7 Red Flags Not to Miss

Hi lovelies,

With more and more people turning to dating apps and websites to meet people, we see a relatable pattern. You see someone’s photo. You’re attracted. You read their profile or brief description of who they claim to be. You reach out. You exchange emails. You text. Maybe you’ll speak briefly and then, you meet. You’re hitting it off. Things seem great. However, it seems almost too good to be true. Is it?

According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, narcissists are everywhere and in varying degrees. She explains that the current “swipe right” dating culture only feeds their agenda, it’s important to understand who they are and how to spot them.

What is narcissism?
Many mental health specialists agree that narcissism is basically an individual who has an excessive interest or admiration of a false self they created to cope with early hurts as children. “Narcissists are disconnected from their true selves and are constantly working to appear better than others. They have an idealized self-image and are in love with that image which hides their true wounded self,” says Hafeez.

Dr. Hafeez shares some “red flag” characteristics of narcissists along with tips and insights that can spare many people the heartache and mental anguish that comes with dating a narcissist.

1. Narcissists are off the charts charming. They are incredibly upbeat and bombard you with compliments. Immediately you are captivated by them and their focus on you. They have quick wit, can read people and know what to say to make them feel good. “Narcissists are great at building rapport quickly; however, they are doing so to serve themselves first and foremost. In other words, they feed off the attention, admiration and validation of others so they charm with an agenda,” cautions Dr. Hafeez.

2. In their mind, it's really all about them. 
The interesting thing about the narcissist is that they make it seem as if they are interested in you however they will always turn the conversation and back to them. “These are not team players. They look to their partner to be the source of their happiness and much of that happiness comes from getting approval or even sympathy,” explains Dr. Hafeez. “Early on in their childhoods the narcissist didn’t get the nurturing they needed to feel secure. They were neglected or made to feel as if they were bad, so they spend their time and energy showing how great they are,” she adds.

3. Rules don’t apply to the entitled narcissist.
They’re most likely to have a handicap tag hanging from the rearview mirror of their Porsche. When asked about the handicapped tag they'll launch into a descriptive, detailed 20-minute story about how they injured their knee, entitling them to the handicapped tag. They want to gain your sympathy. Other rule breaking behaviors, disobeying traffic laws, parking illegally in front of places leaving you waiting as they quickly "run in," cutting lines, and even stealing. “They truly believe the world revolves around them and expect others to cater to their needs. This is due to needs being unmet earlier in life,” says Dr. Hafeez.

4. They disrespect boundaries. Be mindful of your boundaries! Narcissists will do things like invade your physical space, borrow or take belongings or even money without returning or repayment. They break promises without remorse and may even blame the victim. “Protecting your boundaries is incredibly important when dealing with a narcissist. When over stepping is permitted, it leads to codependence and a lost sense of self,” warns Dr. Hafeez.

5. They look great on the surface.
Their desire to impress others may lead them to a lot of time and money on their physical appearance. They are all about status and achievement. They’ll brag about their education, their possessions, who they know, their accomplishments and typically, it’s exaggerated. “This again stems from the desire of approval. They care what others think of them so much that they use people and situations to fuel the false self they created,” explains Dr. Hafeez.

6. They’ll disappear like a ghost and you’ll feel discarded.
Narcissists will put you on a pedestal as they complement and charm you. You will feel incredibly special, caught up on their intent gaze upon you. However, once they see you’re just as interested in your own well-being, that you’re protective of your boundaries, that you have other interests and put them in their place; they swiftly move on. When they see you won’t allow manipulation, they disappear and will be incredibly cold. They may even give the silent treatment and blame you. 

7. Their past relationships are all drama.
They will make it seem like their exes were all crazy, will share horror stories and make you feel as if you are the best thing they found. They paint themselves as the victim and may add that their ex still wants them. “Pay very close attention to how the person speaks about their past relationships,” advises Dr. Haffeez. “Narcissists typically won’t keep answers brief, positive and forward moving when it comes to past relationships,” she adds.

About the Doctor:
Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens. 

Dr. Hafeez masterfully applies her years of experience connecting psychological implications to address some of today’s common issues such as body image, social media addiction, relationships, workplace stress, parenting and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…). In addition, Dr. Hafeez works with individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, attention and memory problems, and abuse. Dr. Hafeez often shares her credible expertise to various news outlets in New York City and frequently appears on CNN and Dr.Oz.

Connect with her via twitter @comprehendMind or www.comprehendthemind.com 

*Note that this is a guest post. The copy and content is not mine. 

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Be a Flawless Beauty with Advanced Mineral Makeup

Hi lovelies,

I had a dream come true this year when I got to partner with Lionsgate on their new movie, the Power Rangers. Based on our partnership I got to walk the coveted red carpet during its L.A. premiere this past week. 

Since I wanted to look my best for this special occasion, I trusted my skin to Advanced Mineral Makeup. Created by the multi-talented Annie Mayo, who is a TV and Film makeup artist, Advanced Mineral Makeup made my skin glow and look smooth and flawless in a natural way. 

Additionally, Advanced Mineral Makeup is an award-winning makeup collection having just won the Professional Choice Award for best liquid mineral foundation 2017 Day Spa Magazine. 

What I love most about Advanced Mineral Makeup is that it's a non-toxic mineral makeup free of talc, paraben, fragrance, and dyes. It has natural ingredients and 100% pigment that lasts all day and color corrects my skin so I'm always camera-ready, with additional protection from UVB and UVA rays physical sunblock built-in.

Get your Advanced Mineral Makeup here, and look flawless. 

About Annie

Originally a native of Brooklyn New York, Annie moved to Arizona in the late 70’s and entered into the field of beauty and cosmetics. As a former salon owner and aesthetician, she spent many years honing her skills in all aspects of hair, skin, and makeup. Eventually she made the progression to Television, film and print add makeup artist.

Some of her work in the field of makeup includes over 25 feature films, countless print-ads, the Miss Universe Pageant, television network news stations and major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and the World Series. She also hosted a morning T.V. segment on Fox News called “The Makeup Doctor.”

In between her accomplishments in the field of makeup artistry she became a very successful sales representative selling makeup and skin care products to Plastic Surgeons, Medical Spas, dermatologist, Resorts and Estheticians.

Annie asserts, “I always believed in the products I sold over the years or I would not have represented them; however, I always felt there was room for improvement in women’s makeup.” I wanted to find the perfect marriage between conventional makeup colors/ingredients and minerals that were good for your skin free of any chemical and preservatives, in essence a mineral makeup the was “Skin Loving” I came up with the idea to create Advanced Mineral Makeup and never looked back!

Advanced Mineral Makeup is by no means a 'Your Name' brand of cosmetics line all colors have been touched with my color expertise and created to be very user friendly to find the right color for your skin. The first three years were devoted to testing and marketing the Advanced Mineral Makeup line of natural mineral makeup and cosmetics.The rest is history Advanced Mineral Makeup has been welcomed into the community as a top brand of minerals we have won the Day Spa Readers Choice award along with the 2016 Dermascope Esthetiticain Choice Award .

I look forward to bringing you the highest quality cutting edge paraben and preservative free all natural mineral makeup available today, all with new and exciting products to follow in the future.

* Excerpt from: http://www.advancedmineralmakeup.com/about-us

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3 Benefits of Using Cleansing Conditioners

Hi lovelies,

Keeping hair healthy is a cornerstone of maintaining the vitality that makes a person look beautiful. Achieving healthy hair, however, is a challenge that requires continued effort and using the right hair products. Utilizing a good conditioner, such as WEN by Chaz, can help to keep hair healthy, moisturized, and looking its best.

1. Repairs Damaged Hair
Hair can become damaged naturally or as a consequence of a cosmetic routine. Hair straightening is a common source of damaged hair because the heat of a flat iron can lead to split ends. Moreover, flat irons can also evaporate moisture from hair, and this can cause hair to look frayed and unhealthy. Conditioner can repair damaged hair by replenishing the moisture that gives hair a healthy look. Hair that has become damaged can generally be repaired with only a few applications of conditioner.

2. Minimal Foam
When people use conditioner for the first time, they are often surprised by how it has little or no foam. Although the lack of foam may appear strange, the reality is that eliminating foam makes conditioner healthier since, thus, it does not contain sulfates. Ordinarily, sulfates are the agents that cause soap to create foam, and, unfortunately, sulfates are not natural and generally unhealthy for hair. Sulfates can also cause damage to the scalp and even cause breakouts on a person's face. The elimination of foam, therefore, is one of the primary benefits of using a conditioner instead of an ordinary shampoo.

3. Works Well with Hair Dye
Hair dye is a problem for people seeking to keep their hair healthy because dyes can cause severe hair damage. Since conditioner can help to replenish the nutrients needed to keep hair healthy, conditioner users will see their hair looking healthy again faster than individuals who use ordinary shampoo. Moreover, conditioner is less harsh, so it is less likely to cause hair dyes to fade over time. Keeping hair dyes intact also means that conditioner users will not have to dye their hair as often, and this can also lead to healthier hair in the long run. In general, people who use hair dye should always wash their hair with conditioner to keep their hair as healthy as possible.

WEN Hair Care
WEN by Chaz is a leading product in women's hair care that can help to keep hair healthy in a wide variety of situations. People who use WEN by Chaz enjoy the benefits of a premium conditioner that is designed to repair damaged hair and keep it looking healthy. WEN by Chaz is perfect for people who like to wash their hair every day because it replenishes the hair oils that ordinary shampoo removes. Although eliminating oils is important for healthy hair, this can make hair appear worse when moisture is not replaced. WEN by Chaz replaces hair oil with a healthy agent designed to make hair look its best. 

Visit https://www.facebook.com/WENhaircare/ for more information. 

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3 Ways Brands Fail at Consumer Engagement & How to Correct It

Hi lovelies,

If you know me, my blog, and my social media channels, you know that I never go negative. It's not my thing and from my perspective, it's a huge waste of energy when you could be saying something positive and encouraging.

But recently, I had two very not-so-pleasant experiences with two different brands, and their responses where vastly different. Despite having a negative experience with Brand #1, I left feeling like they listened to me and responded in a swift and respectful way. Thus, creating a life-long customer, and more importantly, a life-long brand champion. I'll tweet, text, and talk to my friends about how amazing Brand #1 is due to their ability to engage with their consumers in a meaningful, transparent, and authentic way.

However, Brand #2, was extremely sloppy in their response. Perhaps not maliciously, but it still showed their lack of knowledge of how to effectively engage with consumers from a place of service and integrity. Brand #2 held an Instagram contest in which whoever posted a pic that received the most “likes” using a specific hashtag and their brand handle would win a prize.

Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong.

One would think that it would be safe to assume that the “likes” would have to be real “likes” not fake “likes” that someone bought. The Instagram contest failed to provide any clear language on when the contest would conclude, but again, one would think it was logical to assume it would end at midnight on the day before the winner would be announced, which is the standard practice in contests and giveaways.

 

Alas, I casually entered the contest and then realized it was basically just me and one other woman who were contenders for the prize. The moment my photo surpassed hers in real “likes” her photo went up by 2,000 “likes” within the hour. It was extremely obvious that she was buying “likes” in order to out bid me in the contest.

Even though she was blatantly cheating, and it was irrefutable as I documented each instance, rather than expose her to the brand for buying “likes” I chose to make sure to have more “likes” at midnight and to reach out to the brand directly both via email and Instagram to confirm as I didn't think it was ethical to lose to a cheater but I didn't want to call her out either. I know that blogging and social media can be some people's livelihood and I would never want to jeopardize another person's source of income by outing them as a fraud.

Nonetheless, after a few hours, Brand #2 claimed that the other woman was the winner as she continued to buy more “likes” for her pic. At that point, I reached out to the brand directly, again, and told them exactly what happened. Their response, via Instagram DM, not even a proper email, was basically, “Oh well. Better luck next time.”

Brand #2 never confirmed a cut-off time for the contest even though midnight is usually the industry standard and I asked them multiple times. Brand #2 also seemed indifferent to the fact that their contest was clearly compromised by a cheater.

So this got me thinking, was I wrong to assume that a brand would care about running a clean contest? Was I wrong to have not spoken up sooner? If the brand didn't care about the integrity of their own contest, should I? After much thought and conferring with my other influencer friends, my answer was yes.

Not to get political, and regardless of which side of the political spectrum you reside, if brands have learned anything from the current political climate of today's world, it's that integrity matters. Transparency matters. Standards matter. The way in which you respond to your consumers matters. A single hashtag, #DeleteUber, thwarted Uber's CEO political aspirations from joining Trump's Advisory Council, and severely jeopardized the brand's reputation and bottom-line. Obviously that's a more extreme example, but you get my point.

To be honest, if the woman who won wasn't going directly against me, I wouldn't have even noticed that she was cheating, but since I did and I spoke up to the brand, the situation deserved a better response than a virtual shrugging of the shoulders.

It should be noted that Brand #2 got the majority of things right. They have an amazing, super friendly, and helpful concierge service, and what the brand offers is an innovative way to get access to pleasant experiences. So it's unfortunate that this one misstep has tainted that overall experience with the brand.

So based on this experience, I've compiled three ways that brands fail at consumer engagement. But in true Candy form, I'll never give the pit without the peach, so read on for how brands can correct these missteps and turn consumers into life-long brand champions.

#1: Being social without a strategy

Jumping the gun to grow your social media channels and engagement without having a strong strategic plan when it comes to planning, implementation, and follow-up, can have detrimental effects to your brand's business, reputation, and eventually, your bottom-line.

Brand #2 did not have clear guidelines regarding the contest. If exactly what the contest is, who can win, when the contest officially begins and ends, and any other relevant stipulations for entering and winning, isn't crystal clear, then you're not doing your job.

The contest also stated that the “winners” would be announced on March 15th, but yet, only one winner was announced. If you're claiming that your brand followed the contest rules which stated the photo with the most likes, with no clear cut-off time, then how are you not upholding the rest of your contest guidelines? As a brand, you cannot have it both ways, as you can see, your consumers are watching, blogging, and commenting.

Correct it: The devil's in the detail.

Be sure to thoroughly proof read your guidelines when holding any social media contests. Make sure that you have your contest and giveaway rules extremely buttoned-up, so that there's no wiggle room for error and assumptions.

If you're unclear on how to run a clean, successful, and honest contest, then you shouldn't be running one until you get your fine print in order. And don't forget to have standards.

Of course, we can't control if people win contests through dishonest methods, but if the issue is brought to your attention by a consumer, then you should address it in an ethical way that shows the consumer exactly who you are as a brand. If a consumer feels scammed based on an experience that you provided, then you it's your obligation to correct that experience.

#2: Responding with your future strategy rather than a current solution

Brand #2 made me feel as though I had done something wrong by speaking up. They didn't offer any solution to the issue but rather they responded that “moving forward they would have more contests that didn't include likes.”

Well, that's great for future contests, but that doesn't address my current issue. I know that if I held an event, contest, or any type of experience and a consumer told me that the integrity of that experience was compromised, my response would not be, “Oh well.” I would at least look into the situation. Shrugging your shoulders at a consumers concerns is sure fire way to lose them, and quickly.

Additionally, Brand #2 made it seem as though my issue was all about the prize, but it was always about the principle. I felt scammed during an experience that they hosted. As a brand, you have to take ownership and accountability for that. We live in a transparent and social media-based world, and we will happily forgive your missteps, intentional or not, if you own them, but we will meme a brand, literally to death, for not stepping up when they falter.

Correct it: Offer a carrot to your consumer rather than a stick.

Showing them that you care and that their concerns have been addressed goes a long way and is easily done by simply offering an olive branch. If Brand #2 had shown any level of interest into converting me into a brand champion rather than treating me like nuisance, then this article would never have been written.

There's a reason why smart brands offer free returns, free shipping, gift bags, and comped services. They know that giving their consumers a carrot, regardless of how small, will convert them into loyal customers that will then give them their business and praise time-and-time again.

If Brand #2 had simply responded in a way that showed that they cared about me on very basic consumer level, then I would felt about them the way I felt about Brand #1 and would have happily given them my business and word-of-mouth praise to my friends and social media audience. It could have been as simple as sending me one of their mists, that I actually use on a daily basis and love. But honestly, a simple apology, would have been enough to suffice and correct the situation and gain me as a brand champion.

The entire point of social media, globalization, and transparency, is to humanize brands and to create authentic connections between the consumer and the corporation. You need to treat your consumer as if they were your best friend.

#3: Forgetting that tradition trumps trends

Brand #2 only responded to me through Instagram DM, and even though that's “so 2017,” when it comes to creating authentic connections with your consumers, upping your communication game is key.

The fact that I emailed about my issue and then received an Instagram DM with a lackluster response, seemed dismissive and unprofessional. Yes, I'm a tech-savvy, digital-obsessed millennial, but I'm also a person, and they way in which a brand humanizes itself is by offering to communicate with their consumers in multiple ways.

Correct it: Offer options

When a consumer comes to a brand with a concern and they only address that concern through Instagram DM, it can come across as a bit dismissive. To easily correct this, simply offer options.

Ask the consumer how they want to communicate with you regarding the issue. For some consumers, Instagram DM is fine, for others, they would prefer email, a phone call, or live chat. Simply asking the consumer goes along way and it's an easy way to show the consumer that you are putting them first and thinking about their needs.

I hope you found this article helpful! If so, please share with your friends and comment below.

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Sony Music x Mr. Probz

Hi lovelies,

Music festival season is in full swing from SXSW, Austin City Limits, to Coachella. This means it's the perfect time to discover new and amazing music. That's why my latest musical obsession is Mr. Probz. He's a highly sought-after Dutch artist who hails from Dutch Antilles.

Even though he's a break-out artist, he's already won several awards for his hit single, 'Waves,' including the 3FM award for "Best Single." He's also won the prestigious Edison Award for "Best Song" and the super cool Dutch 'Schaal van Rigter' award. 

This past February, Mr. Probz dropped a hit song, 'Til You're Loved' and it's not-to-be-missed. I love his smooth voice, enchanting lyrics, and catchy beats. I'm sure you'll be a huge fan, just like me, so check out his latest song on Spotify here, and watch the video above!

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The Skinny on RSVP Skinnies

Hi lovelies,

This year is all about loving your body and getting healthy, fit, and confident. I love finding new healthy tips, tricks, and products that help me look and feel my best, which is why I feel in love with RSVP Skinnies.

They are a zero calorie and no sugar, pocket-sized drink mixer that can create any signature cocktail or new yummy recipe that you can think of! What sets RSVP Skinnies a part from other mixers is that they are no sugary fruit juices added which makes mixers unprocessed and made from 100% plant-based ingredients. Plus, the mixers are all natural with no preservatives or artificial coloring which goes great with my already active and healthy lifestyle of eating clean, exercising, and meditating.

RSVP Skinnies is the perfect way to treat myself without any unnecessary guilt or fitness consequences.  You can grab your own skinnies on Amazon, Facebook (Shopify) and on the company’s website at www.rsvpskinnies.com and they are super affordable at only $6.00 per box of 6 packets.

THE SKINNY ON RSVP SKINNIES

"RSVP Skinnies are a healthy beverage alternative to regular beverage mixers! This delicious and nutritious beverage brand is the first zero calorie, all natural cocktail mixer that health conscious foodies are loving!

Small enough to fit in your pocket, RSVP Skinnies are guilt-free mixers - guaranteed to make the perfect cocktail every time. Choose from a variety of mouth-watering flavors that include the NY Cosmo, Baja Margarita, Maui MaiTai, and London Gimlet!"

How to make any RSVP Skinnies Cocktail:

  • Pick your favorite mixer
  • Mix 1 Skinnies packet with 1.5-ounce alcohol
  • Add 4 ounces of water
  • Shake or stir and enjoy

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