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Art has the power to connect and inspire people. Art often emerges from unexpected places. In 2002 I was creating wall-hanging and freestanding digital art- very colorful abstract large-scale works. I had my first major exhibition at a gallery in my hometown in Providence, Rhode Island- 40 pieces which I had spent a couple years creating. I lived in a tiny studio apartment and worked in a shoe store to pay the bills while working on my art career in my spare time. 6 weeks after the exhibition began, I dismantled the show. None of the pieces had sold. Flashback 10 years, growing up on a farm in rural New Hampshire, I would watch my mother stain rawhide leather and stitch together harnesses, repair bridles and stirrups. Jumping back to my present-state with a studio apartment overtaken by all my unsold artworks, going in every day to assist customers pick out shoes and bags for social outings. Over the next year I eventually connected the dots from my past and the present- I cut up some of the canvas prints and fashioned them in to evening bags. I had a little showing of these handbags with some of my customers from the shoe store and they sold immediately. Over the course of the following years, my handbags went with me to various lemonade-stand-type events. Gradually getting in to some festivals, on to top juried fine-craft shows, then came celebrities, several hundred retail accounts, global travel. All around this simple idea of using a handbag as a way to frame my art- with themes extending from my original abstract artworks, to light-hearted pieces featuring realistic 3D clasps of donuts and sushi and practically everything else you can think of. My signature style of vibrant crossbody clutch with contrast piping has an instantly-recognizable quality. Once you see one, you will then always be able to pick them out from a crowd. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t considered that I could adapt by making a few littler adjustments from my original concept of what I thought constituted art.
In March of this year, after 5 weeks of solid travel with my collection, like everyone else, I got grounded. I gradually saw my entire year of events cancelled. The stages of grief manifested first in a rush of ambition, followed by days of not wanting to get out of bed. Long ago the studio apartment was replaced with incremental upgrades in my housing, and the addition of a beautiful studio where my team and I worked to craft each piece. I began cleaning in the basement and sorting through nearly 20 years of early-generation bags and was reminded of the origin of my enterprise. Shifting and adapting brought me from the edge of failure to a thriving livelihood. While I saw many designers heroically diving in to manufacturing protective gear, my heart was pulling me to create pieces of curious intrigue. My online business was fortunately established and my production being in-house allowed me to continue to do some scaled-down business.
My web and social media team-member began reaching out across the country to meet new people and share stories and talk about collaborating on some e-projects. I began a video project titled “Grey Areas” which will be released later this summer. All working within the game plan of social distancing and safety regulations set forth by our state governments. When my city experienced the first violent riots in the early hours of June 2, many of the restaurants and independent boutiques that contribute to our vibrant downtown had just been allowed to reopen the day before. Many of them were destroyed. It became obvious that the conversations that needed to take the airwaves would require that I pause my regular uplifting version of online story-telling. Refocusing on assessing the need to listen and continue connecting the dots to adapt again to the shifting landscape. Finding ways to continue celebrating the power of the imagination and the need to connect across cultural, economic, and political lines is our only hope for the future. Giving ourselves and others permission to grieve, learn, while not forgetting to let joy in, this is what my heart seeks. www.kentstetson.com
At 64, Deb Chandler, remembers an uncomfortable "talk" her mom had with her at age 5. "It's like it was yesterday," she smiles, laughs, then explains. A monumental meltdown had occurred while dressing for school that morning. Day 38 of kindergarten was rough for the future fashionista! The first 37 days of school she had new dresses each day, and there must be a new dress for day 38! Wrong. "I managed to survive this early childhood trauma;” she recalls. Adding, "My mother's practical advice has served me well over the years. She was patient, loving and firm. The bottom line, I was going to have to adjust my expectations, pivot, wear a dress for the second time, and catch the bus." A lesson on being flexible that has followed the entrepreneur throughout her life.
Deb is CEO of KF Media Group, LLC, only one of several businesses she either owns, or holds a partnership stake in. Turns out the blond Washingtonian, and serial entrepreneur pivots extremely well, owning a boutique financial services firm since 1994, the media group, and partnering a year and a half ago with luxury fashion brand Dur Doux. I was curious about the types of businesses she chose and why. “It’s a natural flow, in that, I won't go into a business I don’t believe can make money and that I can't love. There isn't a business owner, or an entrepreneur who hasn't had that special moment," she pauses and smiles, "Before you ask, it's the moment you wonder when you took leave of all your senses to start the business. Happens to the best of us. At that moment, you better love what you do.” I asked, if she had those moments often. She explained, she is human, and yes, she does have moments. Not often. However, she doesn't allow herself to wallow. Her philosophy is simple. Time is money, life is short, you cannot live a fear filled life, or you'll never be happy or successful. Pivot, and move forward, there's no going back. Failures are inevitable, learn from them. Don’t repeat and move on.
In January, she admits everything was going to plan. The media group's preparations to film their first reality series was underway. The show is a deep dive into lives of designers Cynthia Burt and Najla Burt, the mother and daughter team behind Dur Doux. Aptly named, Designing Burts - DC will follow the Burts journey to grow the luxury brand into the first true Black Fashion House. Chandler is heavily committed to the success of the brand, and the series. She has worked with Najla and Cynthia, since March of 2019, as an invested partner, taking a stake in the brand. Nothing like skin in the game. In Chandler’s partnership role she serves as brand advisor, collaborating and plotting strategic moves with Cynthia and Najla. It’s a solid fit.
"I was introduced to the Dur Doux brand 3 years ago, by several local DC stylists. At first, I thought they were a boutique," she goes on to explain, "for me, there has always been an interest in the business and the artistry of fashion. The brand Dur Doux kept popping up everywhere. I felt like they had an outstanding buyer. I saw design influences from European luxury fashion houses like Valentino, yet with an edginess of New York based Proenza Schouler. I had to find out more." It was after reading an article in DC's fashion magazine, Capitol File, which featured designer Najla Burt among other leading fashion influencers in DC, that Chandler requested a meeting. She met with Cynthia Burt and came away with a different understanding of the vision behind Dur Doux's label. No boutique buyers here, only designers with their sight set on building a fashion dynasty! Najla had graduated from Parson's in New York. She had also worked with several influential designers, including Alexander Wang while studying. Cynthia's own exposure to fashion early on made the mother and daughter team a refreshing combination of elegance and edginess.
Chandler was delighted, seeing potential as she toured the Burt's showroom located at the trendy Wharf district in DC. The luxury designs, and one of kind pieces were unlike anything she had seen in DC. Having mentored other startups Chandler was all too familiar with many of the obstacles the Burts faced each day as designers. In the late 70’s Deb signed with Model’s One in Athens, Greece, working as a professional print model and actress. The agency was owned by actress and model Mary Drakopoulou. Deb attributes Mary with her total immersion, remembering the Greek icon was much more than an agent. She learned the ins and outs of the fashion and film industries by being thrown into the deep end of the pool. It was a sink or swim. The two industries are not only highly competitive, but unforgiving, with critics at every turn. Cynthia and Najla were in the deep end of the pool, and they were swimming very hard with 3 years, and 5 collections under their belts.
The meeting with Cynthia Burt was pivotal. For some time, Chandler had wanted to create a reality series about the fashion industry. She knew she did not want a competition show, as the genre has been well represented with Project Runway on Bravo, then Lifetime, and back again to Bravo. Netflix entered the fray with Next in Fashion. Amazon offered up Making the Cut last year with a warm reception. Never one to shy away from "the ask" to her industry network, Chandler pick up the phone and called a friend, who happened to have a new streaming network scheduled to release in 2020. she pitched the concept to see if there would be any interest in a distribution deal. The excitement surrounding the idea of "Designing Burts - DC" grew when Chandler received a call back a few weeks later. There was interest in the series. KF Media would create, produce, and distribute to a new streaming network. A huge undertaking for a new Executive Producer. Chandler's media group signed a development deal with the Burts last year. The ball was rolling, with production targeted for Fall 2019/Spring 2020.
The focus was to build brand visibility while preparing for the series to film. The Dur Doux team including Chandler did that; collaborations with famed photographer Tina Krohn for the Washington Ballet, illustrator Cris Clapp Logan, stylist Maggie Francois for Adam Lambert's Superpower video, and British Popstar Aaron Paul's music video Dance America. In 2019, the designers collaborated 3 times with veteran MTV stylist and Image Guru Montgomery Frazier for Paul's Dance America video, a magazine feature with beautiful Hamptons socialite Pamela Morgan and Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin’s Soho Muse launch in New York City. Frazier was at his finest for the Soho Muse launch, showcasing top designers Marc Bouwer, Malan Breton, Nicole Miller and Dur Doux.
The brand next presented for the first time at fashion week in Los Angeles, featuring their elegant designs and resort wear. January brought bold moves with the brand joining The Confessional Showroom in New York. A major leap, the showroom, provides industry stylists access to Dur Doux’s designs for magazine shoots, film, red carpet, and more. The first quarter was exciting with the luxury brand’s designs showing up in magazines Nylon, Cool America, and Guardian Weekend where Tyra Banks wore Dur Doux. Deb was thrilled with the brand trajectory, as they got closer to filming the series. Little did she know what lay ahead.
A week before February's New York Fashion Week, Deb received a call from Terry Owen, the head of the Akyumen Entertainment Network. Owen was informed by his Asian team of a virus, which originated in Wuhan, China and now was spreading outside the country. He did not want to alarm her but thought she should take a few extra safety precautions. Scheduled to sit 34 shows, being exposed to thousands of people, maybe pack an extra hand sanitizer, sanitary wipes and less hugging might be in order during her 10-day trip. Treat it like you would a flu outbreak, he warned. This was weeks before "social distancing" was on our radar in the U.S.
She arrived in New York February 4th and left 10 days later, Valentine's Day. A successful trip. The following weekend the executive producer scheduled a shoot with Cynthia and Najla for the reality series promos. She wanted to shoot the Dur Doux Red Carpet Collection with photographer Carlton Hart. Chandler and Hart are friends and have worked together in the past. In New York, they bumped into one another attending designer Romeo Hunte's show. She was thrilled to confirm with Hart for the Dur Doux shoot. Hart is known for capturing amazing shots during fashion week at Spring Studios.
Back in Washington the morning of the shoot, the news reported a few cases in Washington state and 1 case of Corona virus in New York City. Still no major alarm bells going off in Washington, DC. Numbers were rising in China and Europe, but not in the U.S.
After the shoot, the Dur Doux team walked around the corner for a celebratory lunch together. They chatted about many things the food, the shoot, the show, plans, and the virus. They have not seen one another since that afternoon in late February. All have self-quarantined.
No doubt, there have been hurdles to clear since February, unlike any Chandler has experienced. She has worked from her home office, utilizing the computer, phone, and Zoom to stay in touch. She reflects on our lives mid-June 2020, " As if a pandemic wasn't enough to derail this year, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks have been a devastating blow to their families, blacks in America, and the entire country. History is unfolding. I pray as human beings we get this right. The time is now. Black lives matter is not a movement it’s a must moving forward.”
Yet amid everything life doesn't stop, nor does business. Najla and Cynthia, along with Dur Doux associate designer Moriah Mosley are busy working on a new line Dur Doux Every Day. The brand is also now in the Harper's PR showroom in LA. Last month, funding for Designing Burts - DC was green lighted. Chandler remembers hanging up from the call, realizing that production was shutdown, before she started. She finally had the series funded and can't film. Industry wide film production companies, and networks are figuring out how to move forward in 2020. Production costs will increase in efforts to protect cast and crew when filming from a virus that can’t be seen. Attorney’s and insurers are hashing out guidelines, and risks associated with filming in a COVID-19 world.
KF Media Group has multiple projects waiting in the wings, which include a drama series, documentaries, feature films over the next 3 to 5 years, plus a podcast she launched recently to fend off quarantine crazy with co-host Linda Suter. The Princess Chronicles X Deux (2) is a tongue and cheek grownup comedy talk show, which can be found on YouTube.
Chandler concludes, “Designing Burts - DC is the first of several projects. Provided the series can film and wrap post-production without additional hitches we will premiere early in 2021. This journey will unfold, and the audience will love Cynthia and Najla Burt. I am confident we will film before the end of the year. What else could possibly happen? An extraterrestrial invasion," she laughs, casting a serious look toward the horizon.
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@kickfanniemediagroup @designingburtsdc @dur_doux @princesschroniclesxdeux
Shop Dur Doux: www.durdoux.com
Collage Artist Derek Gores recycles magazines, maps, data and more in his lush portraits on canvas. The balance of detail and playfulness in each piece reveals Gores' knack for discovery and for building seemingly endless puzzles into his works. Rearranging the scraps, he is able to form a sort of surrealist image, where from afar a nearly photo-realistic image comes into focus. However, as the viewer gets near, the small scraps reveal themselves to be other pictures, song lyrics, charts, patterns and more, and sweep your attention away down a new rabbit hole. His subjects feel both classic and modern; strong women building their own stories on the canvas, filled with the details of travel, curiosity, and luxury for all the senses.
Gores is considered part of the New Contemporary Movement, playing in a post internet and post pop-art vista, letting the real, digital, and virtual worlds mingle. He builds on Dada and Surrealist ideas from the last century, especially enjoying the idea of "automatic" art and allowing chance and repetition in as part of the process. Gores' work is inclusive and inviting, partly due to the humble disposable materials, and partly due to his drive to use art to connect.
Gores is a collaborator. He's deeply invested in his home town Eau Gallie Arts District on the Space Coast of Florida, as well as in the larger global creative community, regularly engaging with blue chip brands, who value how Gores' work engages the senses in a way words cannot.
I play in the gap between what you see and what you think you see. I like my pictures to barely come together with teasing little details, trusting distractions, and coincidental encounters along the way. When it goes well, there's a chance to create a real experience, instead of just a picture of an experience.
Some of the little collage bits I use are deliberate, but in most I’m trusting randomness to help build a sort of Zen narrative. I like things a little off- Odd shadows like in de Chirico’s paintings, or odd combinations of mood like in Max Ernst’s surreal collages made from catalogs. I enjoy the contrast of timeless beauty with disposable materials - the pop art, post-Warhol idea that advertising and throwaway materials just maybe could be art. That anyone can touch or use, or reuse, these materials.Artist Derek Gores creating his Art. Photographer | Baris Barlas
Exhibited in the Manifest Hope exhibit at President Obama's Inauguration in 2009.
First solo museum exhibit in 2018-19 at the Foosaner Art Museum in Florida, curated by Serene McGroarty
Commissioned by Churchill Downs to create the official artwork for the Kentucky Derby in 2013.
Commissioned by Playboy to create the cover artwork for the Hugh Hefner Tribute Issue in 2017.
Additional clients include Longines, Heineken, Rinascente, E! Entertainment, Loews Hotels, Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, Sony, the National Football League, and more.
Gores exhibits with Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City, Eisenhauer Gallery on Martha's VIneyard, ArtClub in Paris, and more.Playing Around in the Future for a Bit
Hugh Hefner Tribute Cover
Sometime around the early winter of 1978, my Bronx New York garage band begrudgingly begins to make the conversion from a cover rock- n- roll band (think Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones etc.) to a full on disco dance band. While we are all proclaimed die hard rockers and the change is more than a bit daunting for us, we see the writing on the wall, as the requests for Bowie slowly morph into anything Saturday Night Fever, s'il vous plait. Being the female vocalist of said band, I don my usual get up with refreshed pride; my bright red sequin tube top, the band name RESPONSE scrolled across the center, my Caribbean Queen painted on satin black jeans, my marshmallow soled platform mules and my Farah Fawcett hair blown out to infinitum. I open the night with Come to Me to screams of recognition, and naturally shut it down with the much beloved new hit disco anthem, I Will Survive. The crowd protests and begs for an encore, with lyrical chants and lit cigarette lighters flashing.
The band feigns a weak protest and the song is played again! Go on now go .. walk out the door .... The crowd leaves full and happy and I and my bandmates are totally and officially hooked on disco music.
Fast forward 40 years or so. We are aboard the luxurious and sprawling Celebrity Infinity cruise ship, renowned for excellence in dining, deluxe well-appointed cabins and sublime service. This luxury cruise set sail this past February 14-February 19, 2019, from Fort Lauderdale to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. From the moment that we all walked the gang plank onto this vessel, we were treated to spectacular performances and disco-centric events via endless and vibrant concerts, celebrity artists about the ship, disco parties and memory inspiring music. Artists like KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, The Spinners, The Village People, the parade of disco queens such as Miss Gloria Gaynor, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Thelma Houston along with The Trammps featuring Earl Young, all encourage us to get up and boogie.
I am sitting up close and personal, chatting it up with the one and only Evelyn "Champagne" King. She and I learn quickly, that we both are original Bronx girls. I sing a few lines of her hit song Shame to her playfully and she adjusts my rusty attempt at the lyrics by heart, playing back with me. Later on that day while cruising, I'm hanging out with Gloria Gaynor minutes after she finishes a cooking demo and Q and A session on board, all of us eager to sample the Queen of Disco's baked goodies and perhaps grab a selfie with her as she so gracefully obliges. She is warm and personable, so much so that it feels more like a reunion than a celebrity meeting ....
.... And that is just how the experience feels from start to finish; a spectacular reunion where strangers become dear friends, celebrities get to dial it down to regular life and guests get to feel like and mingle with famous celebrities.
That evening on the ship, I attempt some disco hustle dance moves, and along comes none other than the "Dance Fever" TV host Deney Terrio, the original choreographer for the classic Saturday Night Fever movie and personal dance teacher to the iconic John Travolta. He demonstrates a few moves and we are all transformed to pros. We dance on a STUDIO 54 setup dance floor (named Studio 55) with the original DJ from the studio, the acclaimed Nicky Siano among other great DJ's and we move and groove till the very wee hours. By day or under the stars, on the pool deck and in the Constellations Lounge we enjoy this precious musical era, thanks to shows like The Australian Bee Gees - A Tribute to The Bee Gees, The Urban Guerilla Orchestra and the energetic Boogie Wonder Band, a mega talented 10-piece group singing and dancing to "brassy funk grooves and disco-strutting jams". A Cher Tribute with Cara Lee and a Tribute to Barry White with Jourdan Carroll among others, adds pizazz and comedians such as the great Kivi Rogers, fun audience participation game shows, karaoke, cooking demos and wine tastings, round out the already packed to the brim itinerary!
On top of all of this, Star Vista LIVE, the leader in nostalgia-based music cruise experiences, joins top-rated Philadelphia air personality Bob Pantano to make radio history on board The 2019 Ultimate Disco Cruise with a live broadcast of the legendary Bob Pantano Saturday Night Dance Party, direct from ship to listener. Pantano originally "broke" many a famous song and artist, worldwide in the late '70s and early '80s. Alan Rubens, Star Vista LIVE Senior Vice President of Entertainment/Executive Producer of the Ultimate Disco Cruise, remembers the Disco explosion as a "simply unforgettable lifestyle and musical phenomenon. We're constantly hearing from our guests that their favorite theme nights on any of our cruises are the Disco/Funk nights. Those dance parties bring back the fantastic memories of the Disco era - the clothes, the clubs, the dances, our old friends, our romances, and that fabulous musical revolution heard and enjoyed worldwide."
The Biggest Celebration of Dance Music to Return at Sea in 2020!
The leader in nostalgia-based music cruise experiences, announces the return of its newest uniquely themed voyage, the 2020 Ultimate Disco Cruise. This cruise brings the disco phenomenon of the 1970s from the dance floor to the high seas on a luxury ship to the Caribbean from February 10-15, 2020. Hosted again in 2020, by Deney Terrio of "Dance Fever" and featuring music host Bob Pantano, host of the longest running radio dance party in the nation and music presented by SiriusXM, the ship will cruise from Miami to Key West and Nassau, Bahamas. Live concerts by KC and The Sunshine Band, the Jacksons, The Commodores, The Pointer Sisters, Sister Sledge, First Ladies of Disco Anita Ward, Maxine Nightingale and more will keep the party going France Joli is celebrating a milestone this year, the 40th anniversary of "Come to Me," her smash hit from 1979.
Who better to celebrate with than France Joli?
In the case of iconic singer Evelyn "Champagne" King, her musical career path was paved with self-made talent for sure, but on top of this, it was also pure serendipity and destiny. Born in the Bronx and raised into music, her father Eric K King often performed as a stand-in singer for many musical groups, even at the legendary Apollo Theatre. Her earliest memories are that of inviting friends and family over to her garage from blocks upon blocks around her neighborhood, for an impromptu and make shift garage performance, starring Evelyn herself (nicknamed "Bubbles" due to her effervescent personality) and whoever was around at the time. Weekend after weekend, she would sing and ham it up, just for the love of it. Later, her family moved to Philadelphia, and at age 14, Evelyn began performing professionally with a local band from South Philly. The following year, Evelyn's big break came as she was working, subbing in for her sister as a cleaning lady at Philadelphia's Sigma Studio. During a ladies room break, she stood in front of the bathroom mirror and sang "A Change Is Gonna Come" As the story goes, a well-known producer, singer, songwriter, T. (Theodore) Life heard her singing and decided to sign her to his own production deal , and then introduced her to songwriters John Fitch & Ruben Cross. This is when her career took off. Next she was introduced to RCA Records where she then was signed to a contract deal and produced her first album Smooth Talk. The album included the disco dance smash hit "Shame." In 1981 her song 'Tm in Love" fast became a #1 dance hit. She followed up with the Get Loose album in 1982 and another smash hit "Love Come Down." Evelyn continued to make the charts through the rest of the early 1980's. In the late 1980's she left RCA for E.M.I. Records. The result was another major hit with "Flirt." And over the years, it continued and does to this day.
Over Evelyn's 11 album career, fans and critics have continued to follow the artist expand creatively without ever losing touch with who she is. This she states is her secret. Stay humble and never forget where you come from. Today Evelyn continues to tour and entertain her fans around the world and is back in the studio to release yet another record. When asked about regrets, Evelyn thinks for a while and finally offers a pensive smile.
"I actually regret never having the chance to attend my high school prom." To this I let her know that I in fact, missed my prom as well.
Right there, we made a pact that we would invite the other should we ever decide to plan a prom.
We hugged like dear friends and I truly felt her magic.
And yes, her bubbly "champagne" like effervescence!
Gloria Gaynor is that voice that you heard inside your head back in the day, when crying by the phone that never rings from that guy you really liked. She's that timeless inspiration that begs you through lyric and melody, to claim yourself back from the holdings of tough times and in fact survive, and rather than being a removed spokesperson for this cause, she transcends the differences among people of all ages and times and not only talks the talk, she walks the walk.
"I have more than survived. I have thrived'' she replies to my obvious question about indeed, just what she has survived. Ms. Gaynor nearly lost everything after falling backwards over a stage monitor at the Beacon Theatre in 1978. Paralyzed from the waist down, she endured spinal surgery and a four-month stint in the hospital. After that followed a long period of revival of her health and of her career, and while she still struggles with health issues and the occasional bump in life, she puts those struggles to good use and has come back, with a passion.
'I Will Survive' uplifts, empowers, and inspires people far and wide and it always has. This has become my purpose" Ms. Gaynor says. "It's a great honor to have that song because I think it's my responsibility to share that message as broadly and as widely as I possibly can:'
In that spirit, her new gospel album, Testimony is her testimony of the grace and goodness of God "He is always there for you. He's the only one who knows and wants what is best for you" she believes. For Testimony, Ms. Gaynor partnered with Grammy-winning producer Chris Stevens to create a roots gospel collection complete with Ms. Gaynor's own songwriting, a few hymns and an interpretation ofBob Dylan's "Man of Peace."
Before parting ways, I shared with Ms. Gaynor, that I have dabbled in music my entire life as a vocalist and had much occasion to sing I will Survive as my go to audition song many years back. These days I confessed that I still sing that song on occasion, but not in its original key, in fact I insist on lowering the key a step down or two.
To that Ms. Gaynor looked at me, smiled and without missing a beat said: "Are you kidding me? I don't even sing it in the original key!" No shame in that Ms. Disco Queen. No shame in that.
If you're like most of us, you've been diagnosed with the early stages of "vacation deficiency:' We're so task oriented, we lose site of our basic restorative needs to grab that necessary vacation "me-time." We dream of stealing away a few days, or weeks, so we can be catered to in the South of "Somewhere;' or to quietly explore hidden corners of our awe-inspiring planet.
The psychology of what makes a vacation so curing, starts well before the actual excursion. It's the process of planning, leading to the feeling of anticipation and excitement that feeds that great expectation of that future perfect soul-healing escape. It's a series of needed gates we must pass that are ultimately responsible for creating that final "vacation high" rapture.
Some psychologists will argue that we oftentimes derive more pleasure planning our trips than actually experiencing them. Yet, not being conscious of that can cause us to miss out on the joy, and say to ourselves "I will be happy WHEN I'm on vacation!" But why can't we spend more of our life being happy NOW? Why do we restrict ourselves to only a few carved-out yearly sessions to simply feed and replenish our soul? Why can't every non-workday become a true vacation experience for us? The answer is, it CAN and should be!
Great! Nice. HOW? The answer is right under your feet. If you know the secrets, you can transform your home into your favorite vacation destination and eliminate the constant "homesickness syndrome" and "midvacation crisis" feelings. You don't have to negotiate timeshare travel dates, make another life-pact with your credit card, or feel like you're on the stock market floor committing to the final travel package to enjoy the benefits most seek from an "away" vacation.
When my family couldn't afford to enroll me in the camping adventures I craved, I stumbled on the joys of YardCationing which eventually led to me StayCationing 2.0. I set up my Boy Scout issued pup-tent under the apricot tree, ran an extension cord to my little TV, loaded up the tent with my favorite cookies and unrolled my new sleeping bag. And BAM, at a young age, I found I simply could be in nirvana, while at HOME, sleeping under the heavens!
The Jewish culture discovered this long before I did. They follow an ancient tradition for their StayCation that they refer to as "Sukkah. " The meaning is much deeper than one can explain here, but my simplified, non-religious explanation is, it's a time in which they set up their own tent or shelter, just outside their home, on their property, to rejoice, eat, sleep and appreciate the fragility of life, and the magnificence we can look forward to.
This buzzword StayCation is new, but not the concept. It dates back centuries as we see in other cultures. We've simply lost the art of vacationing at home as modern transportation options became accessible with a few swipes on our phone and a credit card number. After much ado, and a 1 o n g intro, we are going to reveal the Seven Secrets to the Ultimate StayCation 2.0! (Ascending applause here)
1. The Joy of Planning
According to a 2010 study published in 'Applied Research in Quality of Life', planning and anticipating, your trip can make you happier than actually taking it. And if the planning starts at home for your StayCation 2.0, we can guarantee an end to missed flights and unexpected hotel charges on your planned excursions!
Take joy in the "planning" and jot down the things you love doing on your "away" vacation, but never find time to do at home. We're attracted to clutter-free resort environments, so plan your spring-cleaning to be ready for your summer home vacation. We like to set up physical heath goals for our vacations, which is simply a deadline. Do the same at home! Take time to shop for your new seasonal wardrobe. All this comes through the joy of "planning" and is available to everyone, everyday!
2. The Joy of Connection & Disconnection
While hotels and resorts may seem like a great place to find new connections, our hearts desire consistency and something deeper and more sustainable. At times, I often feel "lost" while traveling, which makes sense as the transient nature of vacation consumes our sense of belonging. We all thirst for connection, and for many it's a need second to water. The twist of this is, we think we have to leave our own space to feel, "connected" again as we often, unconsciously neglect our most valued relationships at home, leaving in search of new connections.
Try disconnecting literally and figuratively by unplugging the Wi-Fi router at home during your StayCation 2.0. Then focus on reconnecting and nourishing your relationships and get lost in the "Joy of Connection."
3. The Joy of Being Catered To
A key ingredient in making a vacation so desirable is the pleasure we experience when being catered to. Someone to pull your sheets tight and to replace those wet towels carelessly dropped on the floor earlier, while you're out being served local cuisine. Hotels and resorts have this indulgence figured out. They hire staff for every moment you're there, to cater and indulge your every whim, at every corner. Guess what, you too can call your "Clam Squad" and have them come to your home anytime you choose, and for much less than it costs for an overnight stay and spa package at your favorite resort!
Live like a king or queen at home and hire a private chef, a masseuse and a daily cleaning service. And, go for the big one; invite a private Sommelier to do a wine tasting for you and your loved ones at home! Staffing your personal space with a few professionals experienced in the fine art of private residential catering will ensure your home is transformed into the perfect StayCation 2.0 destination!
4. The Joy of a Sleep Retreat and Meditation
As humans we require adequate rest and relaxation. It's how we recharge and stay healthy. Yet, while we are at home we are often overwhelmed from the pressure of a long "to-do" list! Many of us are guilt-ridden at home for simply sneaking in some sacred naptime, yet while we are away, we boast to others how much we slept in. Allow yourself the luxury of restorative sleep! In anticipation of this, don't forget to make sure your bedding is conducive to extended hours of slumber and update your linens with quality, high-thread count, white sheets and thick sumptuous comforters. Set aside some quiet time each day for stress-relieving meditation, or just simple daydreaming for your next StayCation 2.0.
5. The Joy of Resort Living
One of the most luxurious aspects of vacationing is the uplifting feeling we get from the ambiance of the resort. It envelops us on a sensual level; from the soft music in the lobby, soothing our over stimulated minds, to the scent of fresh flowers and dreamy twinkly lights strung from the trees. When preparing your home for your ultimate StayCation 2.0, take a cue from the interior designers and architects who have spent countless hours creating these "sensory pleasure" spaces. Invest in Bluetooth speakers to fill your home with "soul-nurturing' music, and hang small white globe lights in your backyard. Scatter a few French imported candles throughout your home in soothing natural fragrances, such as eucalyptus or tuberose. And, always remember to keep fresh flowers strategically placed throughout your home in a single palette for maximum "resort" like impact!
6. The Joy of Excellent Food
Vacations, more often than not, are a time we give ourselves a free pass to indulge in our favorite foods. Think of how pampered you will feel if you bring in a private chef to prepare exquisite meals you wouldn't normally prepare for lack of time. Stock the refrigerator with loads of colorful farm-fresh, exotic fruits and seasonal vegetables. Scatter large beautiful ceramic bowls throughout your home filled with papayas, mangoes and your favorite summer fruits. Treat yourself to leisurely brunches al fresco of avocado toast and eggs Florentine served with freshly squeezed orange juice while wearing your most glamorous pajamas and robe at home. Enjoy specialty cheeses and a charcuterie board while lazily taking in the sunset before supper.
It's often considered a luxury upgrade to have a full kitchen in your resort suite. You have one right at home, so plan to use it, thoughtfully, with the intention of providing gastronomic pleasure on a daily basis while luxuriating in your own five star private StayCation 2.0 residence!
7.The Joy of Exploring your Own City
You can't underestimate the value in traveling to new countries and experiencing other cultures, but what if you could find this at anytime in your own hometown! We take our own local culture and scenery for granted, and it's not until we have a guest coming to visit our great city, do we see the beauty through new eyes.
You can find culture in every city. Try walking and be a tourist in your own city. Clear the day and hop on a public transportation and take the third random exit. Find a subway if you have one and head toward your city's cultural center. We often try to learn new languages when traveling abroad to enrich our experience. Pick a local language that you've always wanted to learn and set a goal to become conversationally fluent in it. "Hello, may I have a coffee, please" is my favorite sentence I always try to master.
While modern traditional vacations are simply brilliant, they are not available to everyone, and usually not as often as we need, so take better care of yourself and use these simple steps to take control of your own vacation
life and cure the "vacation deficiency" syndrome for good!
For those of us, who loved Lady Gaga in A Star is Born, there's the natural looking messy chopped hair, which gave her a grand funk 70's style! Want the hair but don't have the length-reach far Barely Xtensions that match your hair color, and cut them to match the movie style you like. Complete the look by mixing wild, colorful clothes or unexpected pieces with something you normally wear. Then add a floppy vintage hat and vintage leather jacket for a hot city vibe.
Wavy hair is all the rage this summer! Braid your wet hair, let it air dry and then carefully unravel for an easy, bohemian wavy look or beach waves.
Add extensions - like the ones offered at Barely Xtensions - for a super-long hairstyle, which is also "super in" at this year's festivals. For a fun wavy style put half your hair in "half up" braided pony tails that get the hair off your neck. Then pair this famous look with funky sunglasses. A perfect look for summer casual!
Pay tribute to Ariana Grande with a simple, practical high ponytail. Arianna is known for her long, straight pony - rock a similar look to look cool (and stay cool) as you dance the night away. All of this adds up to one thing: long hair is a fashion statement this year - pin straight, wavy or curly - just go long for the coolest festival style.
Summer is the perfect time for sporting cool accessories, like flower wreaths, bolero hats, cute sunnies, and a fanny pack, which let you carry your essentials hands-free. You can enhance your boho sundress with mirrored sunglasses, a fringed bag, and an abundance of choker necklaces.
Try western accessories like a studded belt with jean shorts, a giant turquoise ring, or top off your outfit with a straw cowboy hat.
Tissot watches have been touted as the "must-have" accessory for summer. And many of you will want to be practical with a hydration pack - a backpack filled with water to avoid dehydration during the summer heat.
Part of the fun of the summer scene is to let your music play. Anything goes at summer concerts: sheer dresses, short-shorts, kimonos, neon, fringe, even bathing suits.
Enhance your ensemble with glitter on your face and fake tattoos across your body. Drape yourself in necklacesthick metal chokers and chains of various lengths. Also focus on your favorite features with shine, glitter and glam in unexpected ways.
Then frame one eye with glitter dots, glitter leading up one arm, or glitter on each of your toes. Embrace your inner rock star - whether you're partying at a concert or just sporting festival-chic looks.
Beauty knows no bounds, and credit cards make the rounds, especially when we are tempted with attractive, ready-made fashion. Wrap it in a bow, and allude it's on sale, and that off-the-rack deal becomes a full-blown adrenaline rush, ending in an orgasmic state of rapture! But, if you're anything like me, she and they, you take that perfect ensemble home and say, "Wait ... what happened? I felt so glamorously red carpet at the store:' Well, the writing was literally on the wall, or in this case the rack. The term "off-the-rack'; according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as "bought, mass-produced, off-the-shelf, ready-made, store-bought:'
For most, we are repeat offenders adopting the same fashion shopping habits to navigate how we purchase items for our home, or as the French beautifully refer to it, "Maison:' It is my belief that if you understand what you are in search of, you can transform your home into a "Maison Couture:' As a literary nerd, I had to look up the word couture and, in its simplest definition, means: "Something constructed, or made by hand, tailored exactly to your measurements."
Being a builder and creator of homes, practicing obsessively for 32 years, I've been exactingly hand-tailoring items for my client's maisons. One Sunday morning, the phone rang, and a producer asked me to appear on one of those ubiquitous Home and Garden type TV challenge shows. They said I would be given an unusually small budget and a matter of days to design and build my version of a Maison Couture. I said YES, and questioned ... just after my second panic attack, if, in fact, I could do it!
I was accustomed to working with significant budgets, which had been my crutch to finding and creating beauty. But, what if I pulled together every lesson I've learned throughout my career and went on a search for true red carpet beauty without it breaking the bank? What if beauty was not based on what something cost, but rather what it "felt" like when it's wrapped with a completed bow? I pondered this for a few peaceful moments, took a deep, doubt-cleansing breath and realized I could do this, based on a few simple steps. Step one, I needed to take my own advice and jot down my two most important mantras in search of beauty.
Internal Shopping Advisor (ISA)
We are all born with a gift. I call it our "Internal Shopping Advisor (ISA):' It's a designer's best-kept secret in the industry. While we all have it, we often forget to access it. What is this gift we are born with? The gift is intuition. My best explanation for what intuition is - it's the newest, hottest, high-speed evolved version of the Internet. While the internet is more of a one-way search engine, your intuition is a way to connect with every sentient being on this planet simultaneously, and as you think or ask, you're fed back a collectively accurate answer, superior to all others! And the best part is, there are NO advertisements or agendas to filter out when the information comes through.
Set with a few dollars in my pocket, and a lump in my throat, I reminded myself to turn on my ISA. As I was driving home, I suddenly felt the urge to make a right turn, than a left and a right again, not knowing why, I ended up feeling magnetically pulled into a store I would never otherwise travel to. But hey, ISA is on, so follow it, right? I second-guessed myself until I finally hit the back of the store and it all became clear. I saw an inspiring set of black and white, paisley printed chairs that were only $25 each! This find shaped the entire project's design, which evolved into a classic, 1920s French cafe theme. First, the kitchen suddenly became clear: high gloss, black lacquered cabinets with silver leafed trimmings (I used paints), crystal chandeliers, glass cabinets lined with whimsical paisley paper inside, crystal knobs to marry the chandeliers, and pure white marble with stainless steel accents.
Turn on your ISA and take my word that you will never look back again. If you're a beginner trying out this new Ferrari I license, ease into the driver's seat, turn on the engine, listen carefully as it revs with power, and accelerate with your newly tapped confidence of insider information. Just remember to keep the receipts in case your ISA wasn't fully tuned in yet!
It's in our DNA to find beauty. It's so deep within us that it consumes most of our life's thoughts and energy. But not just any beauty, we are looking for the perfect human beauty, the perfect balance and symmetry. While some mathematicians were off in search of defining the power of splitting the atom, others were in search of beauty's intangible formula. They discovered there is one perfect formula that universally emulates nature's beauty known by many as the Golden Ratio.
They proved that what we are instinctually attracted to is, a singular, rectangular proportion that is nearly the same ratio as a 3" x 5" index card. I would bore, even myself, writing about how the equations are used to derive this, but what I do know is, that there is undoubtedly, one magical proportion. When we see this ratio on the body, or on an object, it is often what makes something feel "couture;' and inspires us to react like a teenager in love as we become curiously captivated by it.
As I tuned in again to my ISA, I decided to search for this perfect ratio. They have mapped this exquisite proportion perfectly over the face of Tom Cruise, the Eifel Tower, the Mona Lisa and the list roves on. What if I borrow an index card from my office and see if I can map that over an otherwise simple find? Can mapping the human body over a storebought item make the otherwise passed over item, a novel gem?
With ISA in gear, I let it become my chauffeur. I was again drawn into a discount tile store that I would normally turn my nose up to! Headed to the back of the store again, I found a closeout of what otherwise appeared to be standard subway tiles, ahhh, but not quite. On closer inspection, I saw that their shape was subtly different than the others. I checked and it was nearly a perfect match to the golden ratio!
What if the mathematicians were on to something, but were just too leftbrained to seek the next level of intuitive design?
What if it's not a rectangle that what we are singularly attracted to, but it's actually the shape of the human body we desire? No pressure right? I'm only doing this on national TV, but you only live once ... and after being momentarily empowered listening to a rap star on the radio, I thought I would experiment further!
I started envisioning the parts of the body that catch my eye. The small of a woman's back can be so sensual, so why not use that imagery to create a subtle, yet sexy crown molding? Why not find a single hot-red accent or crystal, laid at eye-level to remind us of intoxicatingly pouty lips stained in a shade of fiery red? I recalled the shape of a woman's rib cage as it seductively flairs out to her hips and found this beautiful shape in the base of an oval table. The armchairs can be masculine and feminine, which was my vision as I found a piece with strong shoulders and tapering shaped legs.
Wait ... I get it. If we use the proportions of the human body and recreate them into buildings and designs, not only are they curiously alluring, sexy and beautiful, but most importantly, they are familiar without the observer knowing why they are feeling a deeply passionate, architectural love affair.
In the end, the show was a big success that led to many more amazing opportunities, but more importantly, I was able to expand my thinking and personally confirmed that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty and Couture is simply flowing in every direction. There is NO such thing as a person or object that is unattractive and "off-the-shelf,' as much as you have to understand what you are looking for by listening to your own ISA and searching your DNA for what attracts you.
More simply put, I'm making a submission to Merriam-Webster: cou•ture noun
• The act of being aware that beauty envelops us.
• Couture is an evolved awareness of human beauty simply broken down by the balance of colors and shapes.
You deserve to live on the red carpet everyday and you don't have to go into debt doing it! Try these free tips and add a little subtle bling into the mix and watch your home evolve into your very own Maison Couture as you elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary!
MODEL / BUSINESS OWNER
The first time I appeared in Gladys, I was just beginning my career in the beauty industry. I now own and operate Fulgenzio Salon located just outside of Boston, MA. This is a growing industry with a lot of competition so you need to try to stay one step ahead of your competitors. I continue to educate myself and my stylists by attending seminars and classes on the newest innovations. One new branch of my salon is "Fulgenzio Follows You." When your wedding day has arrived, you are running in every direction, we try to take some of that pressure off by coming to you. This has been very successful with our brides. In most cases we not only attend to the bride's needs, but to those of the maid/matron of honor, the bridesmaids and flower girls. We also extend our services to the mothers, grandmothers of both the bride and the groom. We have also recently started with the grooming of the groom, his groomsmen and the dad's and grandfathers of both bride and groom. Times have changed and it's not just about the bride anymore. Along with "Following our Brides," we also do other events such as Business Events, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Anniversaries, Engagements, etc.
I have received many awards. I have been voted Best Salon/Spa by the Newton Businessmen's Association for 3 years in a row 2015, 2016 and 2017. I have also received The National Businessmen's Award for being chosen 3 straight years. I was recognized by Boston's Best A-Listers for 2016 and 2017 for wedding hair and make-up.
Since my first appearance in Gladys, I have been a part of "Boston's Fashion Week" 2015, 2016, 2017. I was honored to be part of "New York's Fashion Week" 2016. I was asked to be a Runway Model for a great cause "Model's Against Bullying." I was touched by Gladys Magazine and Andrea Patrick Forte when they were one of the sponsors of the event to show their support for me. I have been on a talk show discussing my business as well as talk radio doing make-overs. I have been featured in several local magazines, but my most cherished is appearing in Gladys Magazine. It was my Gladys experience along with Andrea and Susan Fontaine that gave me the confidence to go out and not just reach for my dreams, but go out and grab them. I have been blessed to be a part of the Gladys Family and want to thank them for this wonderful experience and I am forever grateful to have appeared on the 2016 Beauty Issue Cover and their 2014 Gladys Girl of the Year!
The first parade night featured 14 graduates from the National Institute of Learning showing creative commercialized clothes. Designer Aurinko, featured swimwear. Red Point by Dada presented pajamas, boxers, and accessories. The designer Eddie Abarca showed a daring proposal of accessories. The young Noelia Solano, a specialist in textiles, presented her collection. Then the Nicaraguan Designer, Harry Garay, closed the night.
The second day included emerging designers: Elsa Dominguez with jackets, Hubert Lamb with swimsuits, and the Kaori collection by designers Cristel Prendas and Melissa Hidalgo. Gerardo Jimenez presented his brand "Abraxas" a line of shirts where spring colors evolve to the platinum colors of night. Designer Kassadra Farrier, with her extensive experience in Europe, presented her collection. "Perseven Perfecto" by designer Alonso Vargas showed his casual line. The evening closed with the exquisite collection of Mexican Designer Abimael Trejo.
During the third day, the Endorphina School of designer Priscilla Collado presented. Students showed varied proposals from casual to cocktail wear. Then Priscilla showed her Wewe Sport brand. We could also see franchise brands, such as Fusion, with footwear and other leather goods. Timberland and Ekono combined well. The Sastreria Scagletti, with almost 100 years of tradition, showed both casual and formal dresses. The graduation of 18 young designers coming from the technical education of Costa Rica closed the afternoon.
Then designers Miguel Araya and Luci Arroyo presented Sifho, based on the jellyfish of Costa Rica's seas. Lucia Echeverria presented a collection of jewelry and accessories for brides. Rebeca Fernandez was applauded for her collection Human, designed for all sexes and races. Then came the Costa Rican based in New York: Giovanni Sanchez with his delicate dresses.
Then the Diversity Parade that calls attention to the equality of rights for the LGTBI community that is about to achieve Equal Marriage. The Panamanian Designer Luis Alexis Miranda presented gala dresses. The Mexican designer Aline Moreno closed the night with his designs combining the rock world with religious themes. Designer Antonio Salazar Nicaraguan, and his brand Luxus, presented a fresh and colorful collection. Marcela Ribera presented a fine collection for brides and two minimalist masculine outfits. Then the Panamanian Designer Rolando Torres presented a beautiful collection in white lace.
Later on, Jewelry Designer Hazel Gonzalez presented a collection based on whale sightings. He has received recognition at Birmingham England Fashion Week, Las Vegas and Miami. Then Bolivian Designer Daniel Rua presented us with a sports-casual look. The National School Creative Shop of the Dean of Fashion closed the evening with Designer Sonia Chang. CRFW 2018 closed with designer Jose Victor Lopez from Guatemala with his high fashion gowns.
Now we look forward to CRFW 2019! Start planning your trip to Costa Rica and see fashion as you've never seen it before.
Article by Juan Jose Jimendez Granados, MSc
Director of Costa Rica Fashion Week and Fashion Editor