Realisation Par Leopard Print Skirt Dupes

Scrolling through Instagram I have seen the same skirt pop up countless times. It seems as though every fashion blogger owns the same leopard print satin midi skirt – which I desperately want. The cut is flattering on every body type and while it is an animal print, it’s not so “in your face” as you would imagine. With some digging (not much tbh) I found the original seller to be a brand called, Realisation Par. Their philosophy revolves around creating unique individual pieces rather than collections, something I feel is a little bit out of the norm for a higher end designer. Alexandra Spencer and Teale Talbot wanted to create special items missing from your everyday wardrobe – and I am definitely missing this skirt from mine. But at a price point of $180, I don’t have it in me – or my bank account to buy the original Naomi – Wild Things. If you are anything like me and struggle with justifying spending that much cash money on a skirt, here are a few options to save you the $$ but not the look.

 

Zaful $18.49 – Showpo $42.95 – Boohoo $18.00 – Nastygal $20.00 – Shein $14.00 – Princess Polly $50.34 – Zara $49.90

Iceland: Where to Go and What to Do

IMG_8461We chose to stay in an airbnb about 40 minutes from Reykjavik and 20 minutes from the Blue Lagoon. I was immediately drawn to this airbnb in the listing because of its cozy cabin charm and rustic Icelandic decor. Our host met us on the first day to show us where everything was and explain how to use the hot water etc. He was truly such a nice man and he even stocked the fridge with some bread, cheese and tomatoes so we had something to eat before we were able to go food shopping. The house was a cozy two bedroom with a kitchen, bathroom and the living room had a flat screen tv with netflix and hulu for us to watch. It was nice to live in the more rural area of Iceland rather than in a hotel in town. I would definitely recommend looking into an airbnb somewhere along the beach like we did.IMG_8473IMG_8470

On our first day, we wanted to stay close to home and chose to explore what our local town had to offer. We drove to a supermarket and picked up some essentials (bread, bananas and nutella) among other things.. Then we took our map and explored southern Iceland where we found two amazing light houses, a beautiful cliff over looking the water and a small geyser. The geyser ended up being one of my highlights of the trip because of the multiple rainbows I saw. I even saw a rainbow form a complete circle. One of the craziest and most beautiful sites I ever witnessed. All through our trip, I can honestly say I saw at least two rainbows every single day and from the picture below, you can get a sense of how vivid they all were.

IMG_8459IMG_8458IMG_8467(1)Besides the many many rainbows I saw, the animals were maybe my favorite part. I love farm animals, always have. It may stem from my farming culture back in Poland, but every time I saw sheep or horses, I nearly lost my mind. The animals were all very friendly and for the most part did not run away. One time though, we did spot sheep that seemed a bit confrontational but they were only protecting their young. We came at a great time because we got to see so many babies! Sheep, horses, cows, you name it. Safe to say I had more than one photo shoot on the side of the road with various animals. Here is one of my favorite shots. IMG_8457On our second day, we went to the Blue Lagoon. I had my reservations about the lagoon because it seemed to be the number one tourist attraction and from my experience, the more touristy, the worse. But to my surprise, the lagoon was just the opposite. The lagoon was not crowded and the facility was very well kept and clean. Some of the staff could be a bit nicer but when working with tourists, I understand it can get frustrating. We ended up staying at the lagoon for 3 hours which flew by! The comfort package (the cheapest package) comes with admission, a drink in the lagoon and a silica mask. I heard one of the employees telling another tourist to put conditioner in their hair before entering the pool but I chose not to do so. BIG MISTAKE. My hair turned hard as a rock and drier than hay. I had terrible hair for majority of our trip no matter how many times I washed it and how many bottles of conditioner I used. So, my advice, drown your hair in conditioner before going into the lagoon. Your hair will thank you.

IMG_8468IMG_8472The next day we planned an all day trip to three more widely popular attractions; Skogafoss, the airplane and the Black Sand Beach. The drive down to these locations was about three hours but once we got there, all three were within a half hour drive of each other. Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland and is widely photographed on the internet. The waterfall is surrounded by beautiful grassy mountains with hundreds of sheep frolicking in flower fields. Our of our six day stay, this day was without a doubt the sunniest and warmest. Not the best day to wear my thick nordic sweater. To get to the top you have to climb about 300 steps. In that heat, my back was drenched. If I learned anything from our trip to Skogafoss, it was to always layer. IMG_8455IMG_8466(1)Our second stop was the famous plain wreckage. From pictures online, it looked as if the plane was just off the shore but boy were we wrong. To get to the plane its a two hour round-trip walk on a harsh gravel path. We managed to walk to the trail in only two hours but the sign at the beginning says it’s four hours round trip. If you have long legs like us, you can definitely cut the time down but do be careful because the trail is extremely rocky. That being said, the plane itself was very cool and totally worth the walk. Because it takes a while for people to get to the plane, there were very few people there at a time which made it easy to take pictures. IMG_8465(1)IMG_8464(1)Our last stop of the day was the Black Sand Beach. The name is slightly deceiving because there was no sand. The “sand” was more like tiny black pebbles mixed in with bigger smooth looking stones. By this time, the wind had picked up making the beach weather a bit harsh. Definitely not bikini appropriate but then again, I don’t think anyone expects to wear a bikini there. The beach also has these amazing rock formations that you can climb, perfect for a photo-opp. Overall, the beach was very serene and almost romantic if it weren’t for all the screaming children running around. IMG_8454My third favorite part about Iceland were the flower fields. Everywhere you went, you could see these purple and sometimes blue flowers. They grew in fields and in small bunches on the side of the road and even on rocky mountain tops like this one. One afternoon we went for a hike not expecting anything to find the most beautiful field of flowers growing at the very top. There must have been miles and miles of these flowers. IMG_8460Now here is a little secret I want to share with you. All across Iceland you can find “secret” hot springs that mainly locals know about but somehow word of a few of them has gotten out. We took a swim in this one nestled between two volcanoes. In order to get to it, you have to drive to hidden valley and hike 20 minutes. The water was filled with moss and the bottom of the pool was so slimey you could barely walk but the temperature was nice and the surroundings simply took your breath away. The little building featured has rooms where you can change in and out of your baithing suit but I recommend keeping your belongings somewhere you can keep an eye on them rather than in the rooms. If you want more information on how to get to this secret hot spring, let me know!IMG_8463(1)IMG_8462(1)Finally, I will leave you with my thoughts on our visit to Reykjavik. Let me preface that I have been to European cities many times so I am familiar with this kind of city feel. We chose to spend one day in the city for that reason. And while the city had its charm, any more than a day seemed like a waste. The restaurants were extremely expensive and the alcohol cost even more. We did however, want to try some traditional Iceland food so we chose to splurge on a meal and stopped into the Icelandic Barrin for some meat soup. The smell was a little off putting but the overall taste was good. Keep in mind the meat in the stew is lamb. A few other places we visited were Braud & Co which is known for their cinnamon rolls. We bought two and I am still day dreaming about them. We also visited the Whale museum and stopped into the Chuck Norris Cafe to see what it was. We saw the famous church and the whale statue and of course, browsed all the gift shops. Overall, we had fun in Reykjavik but we preferred seeing the natural beauty of the island rather than spending time shopping. IMG_8471IMG_8469My takeaways from our Icelandic adventure were that no material objects can make you feel the way a mountain can. While we are not “outdorsey” people, there is something about standing in a valley looking up at a beautiful sunset that makes you want to be. If you are thinking about traveling to Iceland but are on the fence because of price, I think you should really go. I have memories to last a lifetime.

BeautyconNYC and Why I Won’t Go Back

In case you wanted to attend this weekend’s BeautyconNYC and didn’t get the chance to, here’s everything you need to know about the land of the pink and home of the highlighter.

I had the chance to attend Beautycon purely by accident. As you know, I work in public relations. One of my clients was interested in participating in the convention next year and I went to scope it out and take lots and lots of pictures. I met a Beautycon employee at 11AM for a walk through tour of the convention center. I thought I would only be allowed to quickly walk through the booths, get my pictures and go but it turns out we were given two general admission wrist bands for free! Also, if I knew I would get the chance to stay, I wouldn’t have worn dress pants. I was definitely looking like a mom in a sea of sequin dresses and crop tops.

I’ve actually been wanting to attend the convention for some time now. I believe this is the convention’s third year and since the first, has exploded on social media. Beauty lovers flock to it almost as much as to Coachella. So safe to say, I would have been experiencing some serious fomo if another year went by without attending.

While the convention is known for having panels of beauty experts, new and upcoming brands, free products and of course, insta-worthy moments, I was curious to see if it’s really worth the money.

Since we were given GA tickets, we were not eligible to receive the swag bag with $200 worth in products. In case you weren’t familiar with pricing, GA tickets for a single day cost $39, a two day GA pass was $59 and if you wanted the swag bag, you have to hand over 200 big ones.

A few takeaways from the booths: Naked men and swings were all the rage this year. Mac had a massive booth bursting at the seams with shirtless men manhandling drills. I will admit, I almost got a picture with one of the guys but another was winking at me and I felt v awkward and ran away. I saw another brand also had shirtless men but the booth was definitely not as popular as Mac’s. While I am not opposed to seeing some man candy, I will say the tactic was a bit corny. Other than shirtless men popping up around every corner, swings were everywhere. While stalking social from last year’s convention, I noticed one brand had a swing which was definitely a hit with beauty goers. I’m sure brands had done their research as well and thought they could incorporate a swing to attract people to their booths and so we were left with three booths with swings. It was definitely a great boomerang but how many swing boomerangs can you really post? The hair care brand, Amika had chosen to include a slide and ball pit into their booth. Obviously I had to slide down it and let me tell you, I nearly died. The slide shook with every step up the ladder and I ended up tripping on the last step but that’s probably my fault and not the slides. Here are two screenshots from boomerangs I posted.

Although there were roughly one hundred booths, I found the content to get old really fast. Being the adult I am, I quickly caught wind of pink lemonade margaritas being sold by the Ponds booth. Had to get one. It was $15. Normal price for a cocktail in NYC I guess…

One of my favorite booth activations was Target’s. I will admit, one of the reasons I loved it so much was because the line was short. Everywhere you looked, there were lines. You were able to choose between three hairstyles; space buns, a braid or beach waves. I don’t know if they were promoting color sprays but you were able to choose between a variety of pinks and golds. I opted for space buns with a zigzag part and pink spray. It actually turned out super cute and I received a bunch of compliments!

Like I mentioned before, because we had general admission tickets, we didn’t receive the swag bag so we had to scavenger for free products where ever we could. Surprisingly enough, there really weren’t that many booths giving out free products. Most booths were selling products which I was not interested in. Side note, I did buy an electric tooth brush for my boyfriend…and a $15 margarita so I can’t say I didn’t buy anything. In the end, I had a small bag with just a few products. Upon reviewing the products later on the train home, I wasn’t really interested in anything I had collected. In my bag were a few lipsticks in some questionable shades, a travel case of tampons, a nail polish, a face mask and a few random itty-bitty samples from brands I wasn’t familiar with. Below are a few of them.

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Overall, my general impression of the convention was lacking. Maybe it’s because I work with beauty everyday or because i’m a little bit older than the average attendee but I don’t think I would purchase a ticket for next year. And for those two day pass holders, I’m a little bit confused as to why anyone would want to go twice. Unless you want to see a specific panelist for example, Paris Hilton and Gigi Gorgeous were speakers on Saturday then there isn’t enough reason to come back. The booths are the same from Saturday to Sunday so your Instagram opportunities would be the same. The Beautycon employee did mention some brands give out different products from one day to the next to attract you back to the booth but receiving a charcoal mask one day and a cucumber one the next isn’t enough motivation to spend the money, at least for me.

I think for younger girls who are super fans of beauty influencers and want to post to cute pictures to Instagram, Beautycon is great. I did have fun, but it’s definitely one of those things you only need to experience once.

Did you go to BeautyCon? Let me know what you think about it and if you would go back a second time.

 

Tips for Finding the Perfect Airbnb for Your Vacation

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Know What You Want

It’s important to have a general idea of what you’re looking for. What is the purpose of your stay? Are you looking for the cheapest option or are you interested in a unique getaway? I like to look for places that are very different than my own home with unique features. The great thing about staying at an Airbnb is immersing yourself in the culture of that area and staying in a place that reflects just that. Hotel rooms are pretty cookie cutter but with Airbnb, you can stay at some really cool places you may never have the opportunity to see. Make a check list and find a place that ticks off all your boxes; air conditioning, on-site parking, bath tub, skylight etc. You can get as creative as you want because the options are limitless.

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Plan Ahead of Time

I recommend traveling with a plan. Do a few quick searches online and scope out the sites and restaurants you’re interested in. Make sure your Airbnb is in the general area of the places you want to visit or is at least a good midway point between them. This will really help narrow down your options. If you’re headed on a road trip and will be bringing a car, make sure to check the listing or ask your host if there is on-site parking. And if you don’t plan on having a car, look for other means of transportation in the area such as buses, trolleys or city bikes.

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Pay Attention to Photos

The quality of photos can tell you a lot about the space. Blurry photos with poor lighting can often mean the host is trying hide something. If there are a lot of close-up photos of random plants, pillows etc. it’s a sure sign something is up. Of course, this can also mean the host is simply a bad photographer but take that with a grain of salt. IPhones can take great photos even in low light so there really shouldn’t be an excuse for bad pictures especially when you’re paying someone for their space. You want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and you expect to get what you see in those pictures. Try to find listings that show all the rooms. If the bathroom isn’t shown, odds are it’s small or in poor shape. Small details like this can really help guide you in your search.

IMG_5572Read the Reviews

If a listing has less than five reviews, it’s either new to the market or it’s not a wanted space. Find out. What are people writing about? You can easily find out about the cleanliness and condition of the space from reviews. Most people don’t hold back if they had a bad experience. Reviews are very helpful for small details you won’t get from the listing. For example, if you have a bad back you may want to see if anyone writes about the firmness of the mattress. Another comment I love seeing is about the shower water pressure. There’s nothing I can’t stand more than a half assed shower. Other things to look out for are any complaints of pet odor or any small children living above or below if the listing is in an apartment building. Traveling can be stressful enough, you don’t need a crying baby keeping you from a good nights rest.

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Netflix and Chill

I always like to keep my eyes out for listings with added perks! Some hosts like to go above and beyond to make their guests feel more than welcome. A fully stocked kitchen with snacks and drinks or access to a guest Netflix account are just a few cool add-ons you can find. You can find out about these perks by reading reviews or even asking the host.

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Get to Know Your Host

Some of the best experiences stem from an awesome host. I know many of us prefer not to interact with strangers but there are definite benefits to sending a simple message to say hello. If your host is cool, they can recommend restaurants and bars tourists may not know about. Airbnb also has an “experience” option. If your host offers an experience, it might be worth looking into. You can learn about the culture of the area your in or just make a friend in another city!

 

A Refinery29 Style Diary: A Day in Beauty PR

Today I will take you through a busy day in my life working at a Beauty Public Relations agency in New York City.

Spoiler Alert: it’s not a lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Name: Nicole – Occupation: Associate Account Executive (AAE) – Location: 45th ST. NY, NY Work Day: 10AM-6PM


5:05AM I wake up to the worst sound in the world; my alarm. It’s still dark af outside. A notification pops up on my phone: “Get your ass to gym”. I fall out of bed and manage to put on workout leggings.

5:20AM I walk into the gym and immediately want to walk out. I chug overly concentrated pre-workout and head for the treadmill. Then the elliptical. I go over to the free weights. I pick things up and put them down.

6:40AM I stand under boiling hot water in the shower for too long.

7:10AM *obnoxious rattling* I down a protein shake out of my blender bottle because “gains”. I use vanilla protein with almond milk. For an extra kick in the morning and for a little extra flavor, I add in a teaspoon of instant coffee. I fry up some egg whites and my favorite Morning Star meatless spicy sausage patties.

7:50AM I sit in a freezing car waiting for my wind shield to defrost.

8:06AM I board the (what I only imagine hell feels like), train. NjTransit, if you’re reading this, I hate you.

8:55AM I transfer trains at Secaucus.

9:22AM I take the subway to Bryant Park.

9:50AM I sit down at my desk.

10:00AM I scan for placements online. We use a tool called Cision which notifies you based on key words when a client has been featured on a publication site or magazine. I find three new placements for one client and two for another. I send an email with write ups on the placements including UVPM, links and images to clients. I input the new placements into our Rolling Report, a fluid excel document that holds all placements to-date. This report is sent to the client at the end of the month for review.

11:00AM I have a call with a client. I print out the agenda I created the day before and dial in.

11:30AM I recap the call in a word document and send back to the client with any additional feedback or information discussed on the call.

12:00PM Print publications have been folding left and right and editors are getting laid off. Every month we send magazine editors the newest launch from our brands. I comb through our list and delete all the editors out of work. I’m left with 24 editors. I print labels and start assembling gift bags. Each gift bag receives a product, press release, note and business card.

1:00PM Lunch arrives. Every Thursday we have an agency wide catered lunch. This week is Indian, my favorite. We sit at a long table in the middle of the office discussing any difficulties teams have been having with clients, products etc. We brainstorm a few solutions while everyone finishes their curry. Someone mentions a funny story about an old intern and it kicks off a chain of funny stories about the old agency owner.

2:00PM I begin scouting makeup artists for this month’s seeding. I collect information such as Instagram followers, email and agent representation in a word document template. The very specific format takes a long time and I end up taking a break.

2:50PM An old client needs their inventory sent back. I pack up the skincare products and any old collateral. We have our own shipping station so I play UPS woman for a while.

3:40PM I take a stab at some pitching, regional to be exact. Regional or mid-lead refers to magazines specific to a regional such as the AMNY(New York) or DMagazine(Dallas). I send a blast and respond to some reactive emails from the pitch.

4:00PM I run downstairs for coffee. We are lucky because we have 3 Starbucks locations within two blocks, a Pret A Manger IN THE BUILDING and a Gregory’s Coffee a block away. Options, people.

4:30PM Two more placements come through. I send the write-ups to the client and update the Rolling Report.

4:45PM I can’t find a hi-res image of a product in our shared drive folders. I decide to reorganize all product images by name, date and category because i’m crazy. And maybe a little bit of an over achiever.

5:30PM I am spearheading an Influencer program at the agency so I am slowly updating contacts in our influencer media list. Every day we receive requests from bloggers to be added to our media list. Once added, these bloggers receive pitches and are eligible to receive samples to try, review and write about. There are roughly 2,000+ contacts in this list. Slowly but surely we’ll get there.

5:40PM My team regroups for an EOD meeting. We discuss any outstanding work and what needs to be prioritized for tomorrow.

6:01PM I head for the subway to Penn Station, take a connecting train to Secaucus and board the Bergen County local train.

7:50PM We arrive in my town. I sit in a freezing car waiting for my wind shield to defrost and drive home.

8:00PM I’m home. I eat dinner and watch television with my mom until 10:30PM. I need to move out ASAP.

11:00PM I scroll through my Instagram feed in bed liking images or girls in bikinis and think about how much the gym will suck tomorrow morning.

11:30PM Lights out. Do it all again.