GIFT GUIDE | FEATURING 48 & SEA
48 & Sea Holiday gift guide Cautiously Obsessed.jpg

The holiday season is here, and I've teamed up with 48 & Sea, an online boutique that celebrates emerging designers in America to create a curated holiday gift guide.  Every year, I try to create several gift guides for the blog, but this year I really wanted to focus on featuring small businesses/talented artisans which is why I thought it would be great to collaborate with a company like 48 & Sea.  One thing I really love about 48 & Sea is that they are female focused, meaning that they highlight the talent of wonderful ladies ( and occasionally some gentlemen) throughout the country (which is amazing!).  Each product they stock was made slowly and carefully by experienced hands and each designer they feature truly cares about the quality of each product.  Above are 9 out of the 10 items I selected to be part of the gift guide, so be sure to head over to 48 & Sea to see the complete list.  This gift guide has a little something for everyone who's still on your list, so head over to their website to have a look.  I also answered a couple of questions for their blog, so be sure to check that out as well!  

earrings | necklace | napkins | tea towel | serving board | | mug |  hanging ceramic pot | coasters

 

 

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PACKING MADE SIMPLE

Whenever I pack for a trip, I tend to try and pack as little as possible.  The reason for this is I try to avoid checking in any luggage, since I'm totally convinced my luggage will get lost - never to be seen again.  As a result, I always stick to a neutral color palette and I like to pack in sets that I can mix and match while I'm away.  For a short trip, I tend to only pack the following:

1. Three Tops - two casual tops that are comfortable as well as one that can be dressed up if needed.

2. Three Bottoms - two pairs of jeans and one skirt.

3. Three Jackets - one denim jacket, one trench coat and another thin jacket to throw over any outfit.

4. Two pairs of shoes (plus the ones you wear to the airport) - I honestly don't wear heels often, so I prefer to stick to flats.

5. One Bag - I love a good tote bag that can be paired with any outfit.

And honestly, that's about it - I do pack some jewelry and accessories such as a scarf or two, but those pieces take up such little space that packing a few of each doesn't make a huge difference. If you guys have any packing tips or tricks, be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below!

grey top | popover shirt | tee | jeans | skirt | jeans | denim jacket | trench coat | jacket | birkenstocks | loafers | bag

CURRENT SKINCARE ROUTINE
Current Skincare Illustrations by ©Cristina Martinez of Cautiously Obsessed.jpg

Above are the products I've been using lately in my skincare routine.  They're all great products that are perfect for summer.  Below is a little bit of information about each one.

1. Thayers - Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera | This product is a staple of mine, I use it every single morning after I wash my face and at night to remove my makeup.  It's super gentle and it leaves my skin feeling fresh.  

2. Acure - Moroccan Argan Oil | I love to use this as a moisturizer and I also like to apply a few drops of this on my hair after I get out of the shower.  I also like to add a bit to the ends of my hair after I style it. 

3. RoC - Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream | I honestly just started using this product about two months ago and I can't express just how great it is.  My skin has never felt so soft, I like to apply a small amount onto my face and neck at night.  I tend to use this after using the Thayers toner and before using the argan oil.  

4. Glossier - Priming Moisturizer |  Although I love the argan oil, it leaves my face a little shiny so I prefer to not utilize it during the day.  Instead I like to use this moisturizer before I apply my makeup and after I apply some SPF.

5. Glossier - Perfecting Skin Tint in Medium | I know I've mentioned this product before, but I just can't get enough of it.  I like to use this after the priming moisturizer during the day because it makes my skin look dewy without being overdone.  I purchased my bottle of perfecting skin tint late last year and I'm nearly out of it, so I'm crossing my fingers that they restock soon.  So, my suggestion to everyone would be to purchase this product the second they do restock, it's such a great product to wear alone and it's also great to thin out your foundation or concealer. 

illustrations by ©Cristina Martinez

LIVING ROOM MAKEOVER

Cabinet | Mirror | Basket | Rug | Chair | Sofa | Coffee Table | Lamp | Leather Pouf | Framed Art | Brass Planter | Pillow

I'm sure we have all been in the position of having to buy completely new furniture, either due to a recent move, lifestyle change or maybe you're just sick of your current living room, bedroom or office and want a completely new look.  Either way, it can be more than a little stressful having to furnish an entire room, let alone an entire apartment (or house) especially if you're on a budget.   Above, I've selected a few items that would be great for just about any budget, and for less than $1,600 (not including shipping or tax) you could have a completely new living room that's minimal with a small bohemian touch.  All of the colors are pretty neutral which is great for any home and you could always add more color by select different pillows, or a color piece of artwork. 

CAUTIOUSLY CREATED SERIES 06 | CHRISTINA SUN

Meet Christina Sun, a native Texan and the woman behind the Houston based online shop, SUNCHILD. I had been following Christina on Instagram (@lovesunchild) for quite some time and recently reached out to her and to see if she would be interested in answering a couple of questions for our Cautiously Created Series.  She kindly agreed, and below are her answers. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am a Texan - born in Dallas, went to school in Austin, and now based in Houston. While I've spent a lot of time in Texas, my heart belongs to NYC & Paris. Any opportunity I get, I'm traveling to one of those two cities. I am also very into food - I work out so I can eat whatever I want! I have owned Sunchild (www.shopsunchild.com) coming up on 4 years and am loving it so much. Follow my shop/travel/food adventures on Instagram @lovesunchild

How did your business come about?:

Sunchild started as a collaboration between me and my dad. My dad had an entrepreneurial mind and I had a dream. Sunchild's name is a dedication from me to my dad who encourages me to follow my passion of inspiring others to love their style. We wanted a shop name that had personal significance and Sunchild felt right. We set up shop in the Summer of 2012 with our motto 'treat our customers as our friends', worked really hard and never looked back.

Describe your typical day:

I'll describe a typical Friday since those are a little more fun. I wake up early and my mind immediately starts running through the things I need to accomplish that day. I begin responding to customer emails and packaging orders - online shops don't get to sleep in! I like to ship packages as soon as I can after receiving an order since as a customer, I am impatient when it comes to waiting for packages. Then I'm on my way to the post office to drop off packages and grab lunch with friends or my husband. My husband is in the restaurant industry so there are always new restaurants we're looking to try. Shortly after, I'm most likely posting my meal on Instagram! My Instagram is sometimes more food than fashion and I'm okay with that. Afterwards, I'll get back on email and take care of customer requests that have come in while I was indulging in a greasy burger + fries. If any shipments like new items or restocks have come in, I'll set up the studio, take photos, and edit them on Photoshop. From the time an item comes in, I like to get it on the site as soon as possible so our customers can start enjoying them! At the end of my day, it's Friday night and I'm getting drinks with friends - work hard, play hard!

Describe one challenge that you've faced since starting your business :

About a half year after Sunchild started, we changed concepts. We were previously selling trendy clothes that were not made with our quality standards. I had a tough time relating stylistically to the pieces we were selling. We talked about the changes that needed to be made to get to where we wanted. We wanted to carry designers who were authentic and cared about their wares. It was an incredibly hard time, lots of tears and sweat went into Sunchild’s makeover. We came out on the other side with our current lifestyle shop, which I am now incredibly proud of. The more I built a shop I believed in, the more successful it was.

Describe your greatest achievement so far:

There are so many moments in Sunchild’s last 4 years I’m so proud of. We’ve been featured in magazines, pop ups with big players like Refinery29, collaborations with incredible bloggers like @designlovefest, but if I had to pick one it would be how we consistently take care of our customers. We realized from the beginning that if a lot of the same stores were selling the same type of things, we needed to differentiate ourselves. One way we do that is by making customer service a priority. We listen to our customers. We’ve adjusted our shipping prices and return policy based on feedback, not based on what stores like us are doing. We’ve implemented a notify me feature on each product listing in which you are notified once an item is back in stock. If your package is lost, we work tirelessly with you to figure out a solution. If you email us, we respond really fast. It’s the little things that make our customers happy and that’s what I’m most proud of.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own business?:

When you own your own business, you will most likely work many more hours than if you worked for someone else, but it's a labor of love and something you can feel extremely proud of. Build a cohesive brand and connect with your audience using social media. Make your posts and comments as honest as possible so your customers don’t feel like they’re constantly being advertised to. If something feels like it's not working, don't be afraid to change and adapt. Set goals and celebrate the milestones you achieve. Always look ahead to discover ways to grow and develop your business.

What inspires you?:

Travel, Instagram, and people's stories.

What's one thing you can't work without?:

My planner! I'm the last person on the planet who hasn't caught up with the times and is still using a physical planner to write my to do lists. I love crossing things off so I'll probably never move to an e-planner. If I lost it, I wouldn't know what to do that next day.

Coffee, tea or neither?:

Coffee! I love the smell of it, but I will also be wired the rest of the day.

What would you say is the most challenging thing about working for yourself? And what is the most rewarding?:

The most challenging and rewarding thing about working for myself is not having someone to tell me how to do things. I do the buying, advertising, emails, etc. (the list is long) for the shop, so there are a lot of decisions that need to be made daily and many that I've never encountered before. I am naturally not a very decisive person so it's tough when I second guess myself. Is this style coming in or going out? Will this color do well? Should we bring in this new designer? How do I handle this customer's issue? I don't have someone else to tell me how it's done so I find out by experiencing it for myself. At the same time, this aspect is the most rewarding thing about working for myself. I love that I'm growing as a shop owner and a person. I'm learning how to tackle new situations and growing from them. I love it when I follow my intuition on something and it blossoms.

And just for fun, what's something people don't know about you?:

I love to karaoke but am extremely terrible at it (at least that's what Snapchat says). In my head, I'm Beyonce!

A huge thank you to Christina for being kind enough to answer a few questions for us.  If you're interested in learning more about Christina and SUNCHILD, please head over to her shop and be sure to follow her on Instagram.  

*all photographs utilized in this blog post are property of ©Christina Sun of SUNCHILD.

CAUTIOUSLY CREATED SERIES 05 | STEFANI ARDEN
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The Cautiously Created series is back and I couldn't be more excited to share a little bit about my fellow midwest small business owner Stefani Arden of Arden Trading Co.  Stefani was kind enough to answer a couple of questions for this Cautiously Created series, below are her answers.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself: 

 My name is Stefani, I am a 29-year-old Minneapolis native, who loves art, writing, travel, yoga, the outdoors and textiles. In the past six years I have lived in Colorado, Minnesota, LA and New York. Recently back from NY, I moved home to Minneapolis about two years ago and started drafting up ideas for an online bohemian shop. Right now this is the main focus of my life. Arden Trading Co. is an online boutique for bohemian dreamers that supports artisans worldwide. Everything you see on our site is one-of-a-kind, ethically sourced and artisan made.

How did your business come about?:

I've known for a while that I want to start my own business, in my early twenties I began reading entrepreneurial magazines and brainstorming ideas for the future. It wasn't until early April of 2015 that I knew I wanted to open an e-commerce store. I began reading countless books on the subject and one day it hit me. I have such a love for travel, textiles and foreign cities and cultures, and as a creative, I also have a strong magnetic pull towards artisans and makers. I think a recent love of decorating and design has also shaped the development of this company. I'm at the age where I want to settle down and make a home beautiful, and I think all of that has a lot to do with how Arden Trading Co. came about.

Describe your typical day:

My typical day consists of a wide variety of multi-tasking. Every day is different, but I typically have several emails every morning regarding creative partnerships or artisan inquiries, I take an hour or two each day responding and prioritizing these communications. Thirty minutes to an hour each day is spent editing photos or planning upcoming images to post on the site or various social media channels. As an online store without a brick and mortar, images are our most important marketing tool, and besides copy, it is our only way of properly conveying our brand to the masses. A good amount of time is spent researching shipping, running to the post office and packaging up goods. I'm kind of a perfectionist, so I make sure each package that goes out looks and feels special. I want to make people smile when they open our goods and I want it to feel like a present from a close friend or loved one.

Describe one challenge that you've faced since starting your business?:

I've faced several challenges along the way as a business owner so far, and every time I find a solution, a new challenge arises that I never considered. A lot of these are good problems, but it definitely keeps me on my toes. Here are a few example of the natural progression of challenges I have recently experienced. My first problem was - "Where am I going to find artisan goods and how am I going to keep them coming consistently?" Since then, this problem has solved itself, I get anywhere from 75-100 inquiries a month from artisans who want to sell on our site. My next problem was, "I have the goods, now how do I sell them?" With a recent growth in sales, this problem has solved itself. And now my current obstacle is - "How do I get the capital to buy a large quantity of goods?" I'm at the stage where I'm starting to look into investors and this is definitely new territory for me.

Describe your greatest achievement so far:

Honestly, I think I am yet to accomplish my greatest achievement. But I think sticking with Arden Trading Co. for a year before I launched the company publicly was an achievement in itself. It's hard to work on something 24/7 that has no immediate payoff. It helps a lot to have people around you that support and encourage you to keep pushing on.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own business?:

If you know in your heart that you have a good idea and it is something you are passionate about - you have to stick with it. If everyone around you is telling you "wow, it is really amazing what you are doing" you have to believe them and believe in yourself. I think being an entrepreneur can be extremely exciting and lonely, all at the same time. But in essence, having a business is like having a plant or a flower. You have to water it everyday, nurture and care for it, and in time, it will grow. So my advice is to stick with it!

What inspires you?:

Creative and hardworking people inspire me. Innovative, smart, motivated, big thinkers inspire me. There's nothing that inspires me more than other entrepreneurs. When I see people working really hard, following their passions and making them a reality, I truly admire that.

What's one thing you can't work without?:

Music, coffee, my to-do list.

Coffee, tea or neither?:

Coffee first, always. Then tea all day.

And just for fun, what's your favorite quote and why?:

I have a few favorite quotes. I like this one from E. E. Cummings - "The voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses" 

I also like this one I discovered recently. "Art and love are the same thing: It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you." - Chuck Klosterman.
I think this quote is so true, you love the things that feel like you.

A huge thank you to Stefani for being kind enough to answer a few questions for this series.  If you're interested in learning more about Stefani and Arden Trading Co., please head over to her shop and be sure to follow her on Instagram.  

 

*all photographs utilized in this blog post are property of ©Stefani Arden of Arden Trading Co.