Shiffon Co. The Gift That Actually Keeps on Giving

 

After a monthlong storytelling hiatus, I feel an explanation is owed. While, “it was finals szn so I was stuck in the library under a pile of books” suffices for part of my silence, the more exciting aspect of my hiatus was my increased involvement in Shiffon Co., a social-impact-fine-jewelry-start-up that is rapidly taking the world by storm. In all seriousness. But first, a little background:

Shiffon Co. is a fine jewelry brand founded in 2017 by Harvard undergrad Shilpa Yarlagadda out of her dorm. 50% of profits from our signature piece, the Duet Pinky Ring fund female empowerment grants through our nonprofit arm, Startup Girl Foundation.

I first heard about Shiffon Co. through a friend who modeled for them. I found their mission and their “Join the #GirlGang” mantra to be very inviting, so I followed their account for a while and ended up treating myself to a pinky ring at the end of the summer - as a sort of “job well done” token.

Designed to be a daily reminder of the pinky pledge taken to support women, the Duet Pinky Ring is adjustable to any size. The two stones in the band symbolize one woman supporting another, and 50% of profits fund female empowerment grants. 

Since I wore my pinky ring every day, it was no surprise when Shilpa herself saw me wearing it in a class we had together in the fall. We then met for coffee, discussed our mutual love for the company and for women supporting women, and slowly I began helping out with Shiffon Co.

First I was just texting Shilpa pictures of my own hand caressing puppies while featuring the pinky ring, but that soon evolved into actual photoshoots, then phone calls with PR people, all the way to a whirlwind trip to NYC to take meetings with our mentors!

Despite a sleeting rain greeting us on arrival to the Big Apple, New York proved to be a dream. In true Shiffon fashion, we stayed with one of our #GirlGang members, had dinner with another, and had about 5 meetings a day. I had the chance to meet with our Creative Director, Sarah Slutsky, participate in a team photoshoot with Shoji Van Kuzumi, set up a trunk show at mentor Tara Abraham’s house, and chat with Meredith Koop, Michelle Obama’s stylist.

Since Serena Williams, Emma Watson, and Nicole Kidman are a few of the big names wearing Shiffon Co., it was not hard to hook prospective #GirlGang members on the product. Everyone we spoke to was not only head over heels for the concept, but offered to help us in any way we needed - a true manifestation of people supporting each other.

Though my stint in NYC only lasted two days, as soon as I landed in Miami I was greeted with the news that Michelle Obama wore her pinky ring on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon! Suffice it to say, everyone was giddy with excitement, and I apologize for the incessant posts about it all over my social media.

It has just been a true treat to fall in love with Shiffon Co. and be welcomed onboard in such an organic and glass-slipper feeling kind of way. Not only have I met incredible mentors and Real Adults who inspire me to follow similar paths post grad, but I’ve been connected to such a phenomenal network of women through this ring and I want everyone to be in on this. Though this isn’t a “promotional post,” I would strongly encourage anyone who is considering supporting Shiffon Co. to check out the pinky rings - they’re truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Xx, Maia
 

Cool Beans: If Stars Align by Marina Zoullas

 

It's April 2nd, and snowing in Boston - delayed April Fool's Joke? Probably. Since I misguidedly started packing up my winter wardrobe, I begrudgingly selected an oversized grey sweater to keep me warm on this uncharacteristically frigid day. What kept me smiling, though, was the anticipation of a chat with Marina Zoullas, founder of If Stars Align: a company that fosters individual creativity during the design process of gorgeous sweaters and other apparel. You bet I wished I was snuggled in and sporting one of her colorful, custom designed numbers on this day. 

Marina is a high schooler in New York City. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she’s either working at the showroom of the clothing brand LoveShackFancy, doing research for FXB, the organization she interns for, or making art. She’s passionate about women’s empowerment and the eradication of poverty around the world, which she supports through her website: http://givegaincollective.com - a collective of organizations that empowers women through the work they produce. She loves to be creating, whether it be through her blog, http://honeyandoats.com, her website, If Stars Align, or any homemade remedies she’s making for her skin. Though she’s just a 16-year-old junior, this is just the beginning for her and she already has a couple of projects in the making for the future.

Having founded her company on two principles, Marina conveyed this same emphasis on uniqueness and individuality throughout our quick conversation: 

How do we reveal who we are through what we wear?

How does our clothing define who we are and how we can show it?

ISA is a way for you to define your look, not others. 

(From Website's About Page)

Image courtesy of site. 

Image courtesy of site. 

Right off the bat I asked her some questions about her vision for her company: 

What gave you the idea to start your company?

I’ve always been making stuff and I’ve been sewing for about 5 years now - up-cycling clothing. I have this jacket and sewed fur cuffs into it from a garment my mom had that she was going to get rid of. I like making things individual to myself. I feel like the fashion industry is now branching out to individuality and accepting people with different styles.

I started [If Stars Align] last year, in May, when I have a blocked out month during school to work on a personal project.

Images courtesy of site. 

What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned while getting it off the ground?

I’ve learned a lot about myself and that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So learning when to just put it out there. I've spoken to a lot of people in the industry and the best advice they've given me is, “Just put it out there, don’t wait for it to be perfect because it’s never going to be perfect.”

Where do you see ISA going in the next few years?

I’m a junior in high school right now, so where I see the company growing is in  putting more of a message behind the brand. Right now a lot of it is sustainable and fair trade in where I’m outsourcing the materials. But I want to incorporate a component of supporting women. It’s hard to find articles of clothing that have some action behind it. The fashion industry is one that wastes a lot of water, and now there’s more awareness about the environment, but I also want to make sure that my company has a social impact; so not just trying to minimize the footprint of how it’s being made but also making difference.

If one of your role models could wear one of your designs, who would it be?

I think my clothing is for everyone - so maybe Emma Watson because she’s someone who does a lot of work with the UN but also has a big following and is making a social impact.

Images courtesy of site. 

Though Marina and I only had a virtual meeting via FaceTime, I could sense right away that she's the perfect catalyst for putting forth a socially conscious, customizable clothing brand. Based off of more personal questions, it's clear that Marina places a large focus on purposefully composing her outfits - a girl after my own heart. 

 

Go to outfit: What's your uniform?

I love blouses, I have a billion white blouses that probably all look the same but for me they’re all different - some have embellishments. I usually wear a feminine blouse with, high-waisted washed out denim jeans to toughen it up a bit, and then probably paired with sneakers.

What's the soundtrack to your life?

I just listen to the Latin music that all kind of say the same stuff and it definitely does not reflect my life. I’m not a huge music person (as in I can never learn the lyrics, even if its in English). I like something more that’s upbeat and dance-y. Which is probably pretty representative of my life right now since there’s a lot going on with junior year.

What's one piece of jewelry that's iconic you?

I always have an evil eye on me. I love evil eyes and it’s part of the Greek superstition - my dad always had one growing up so now I do as well. I usually wear it either as a necklace or a ring or a bracelet. I just love eyes.

What's a trend you're envious of right now?

Because spring and summer are coming up, I'm loving the super long, flowy, beachy dresses. I’m very short so I can’t wear it. I think unless I'm wearing 6in heels I don’t think I could pull it off.

What's a trend you want to die?

I’m not a fan of naked dresses. Like to the beach sure - if it’s a see through cover up. But I’m not a fan of the bejeweled, feathery dresses that people wear on the red carpet.

Last question: How would you describe yourself as a human bean?

I would go with an edamame bean. I know I don’t have to literally choose a bean but I feel like I’m an edamame because there’s the outside shell, but then you bite into it and the inside is sweet. Kind of like me - since it takes me a long time to warm up to people.

 

Suffice it to say, after just a 20 minute chat, I felt like I could tell that this sweet edamame bean is going to do big things. That is, if stars align. 

cropped-If-Stars-Align-Logo.jpg

To purchase some of Marina's designs, head on over to her shop

Xx, Maia 
 

Get (online &) elated!

 

Elated™, the brilliant brainchild of my impressive sister, went live this Saturday, October 21st, and here's why you should be as elated as I am:

First off, my sister is a phenomenal chef. Not only has she successfully made me excited about consuming foods that aren't beige, but she has also made eating healthily and proactively more accessible.

Pictured: Remember Me Salad & Crazy About Curry Soup.

With an undergraduate degree from Wellesley in Neuroscience + a masters from Columbia in Nutrition, she is well equipped to meld the two fields together in an accessible and consumer-friendly way. Simply put: 

Founded from the need to make mental-health maintenance part of a daily habit, elated™ brings brain-boosting, good-mood-making meals right to your door. Made using only all-natural ingredients, our food combines the power of nutrition and neuroscience to feed your brain while tantalizing your taste buds.

Secondly, she's delivering this science right to your door. Well, if you're in Miami at the moment. Operating as a "soft-launch" elated™ promises to supply freshly prepared meals right to you for lunch! How? Through the brand-spankin-new website of course! And, as Chief Technical Officer speaking, I must say the fluidity of the site makes eating well even easier!

Each dish incorporates ingredients identified to boost your mood in various ways like enhancing memory, improving motor function, and preventing Alzheimer's! While they're not claiming to have the capacity to cure you of any brain-based imbalance, elated™ does promise easy education about how to eat better in ways that target brain health. 

With everything from soups, salads, staples, & sweets, you can get a full and happy belly of all of these goodies!

Pictured: Salmon & Confetti Salad & Pretty in Pink Chia Pudding.

Right now, elated™ takes orders at 5pm the day before for noon-2pm delivery time the following day. Need more motivation to get these good-mood-making meals? Use special promo code MODxELATED for 10% off your first order!

And my Boston friends, don't fret. While you can't get these hot and ready meals just yet, you can order her seasonal truffles right to your dorm! I'm talking about her delicious Nuttyberry Truffles. Perfect for snacking, studying, and socializing! My first shipment is already en route. 

So check out the site, follow @get.elated on instagram, and put in your truffle orders today!

Xx, Maia 

 

 

Color Rx: In Retrospect

 

"What's your favorite color?"

... a standard childhood inquiry, yet somehow it always presented more internal strife than it did successful small talk. So, a few months ago, I decided to explore that passionate, colorful love affair of mine a little further. After a summer long internship at metaLAB, with an independent research project included, I produced Color Rx as an interactive installation at the Harvard Art Museums on August 12th, 2017 - and here's why:

First, as a minor synesthete, I grew up feeling strongly that colors had personalities. I remember always being asked to pick my favorite in elementary, and struggling internally to say one I loved without hurting the “feelings” of all the other colors. I also remember owning an extensive collection of pens and highlighters in middle school, and when being asked to name one of the more peculiar and original shades that Sharpie had just released, I instinctively blurted out Electric Salmon.

Second, growing up, as much as I loved colors, my mom loved the Universe – specifically the power of numerology. A fond believer of “everything happens for a reason” my mom taught me how to trust in the Universe and its healing capabilities. From pursuing alternative methods to medicine like homeopathy to frequently finding ourselves in stores that have extensive collections of crystals and sage, I soon learned how capable colors also were in the healing process. And when she gifted me a coffee table book called “Colorstrology” in which you can look up your birthday and read about the color that best suits you, I was amused and intrigued and realized that color’s history, its substance, and its context link inextricably to our perceptions and experience.

So, with the support of my team at metaLAB, countless visits to the Straus Center to view the Forbes Pigment Collection, and some troubleshooting help from the DIET team, I devised a simple algorithm to serve as a tactile manifestation of this conversation between belief and truth, projection and reality, and color and illusion. And, given that I am both the artist behind this project and the author of this summary, let me just quote myself from my Artist's Statement:  

"Color is ephemeral and complex. An installation in the Lightbox Gallery at Harvard Art Museums, Color Rx contended with the individuality of perception, while maintaining that the experiences in which perceptions are grounded can be traced back to, and tethered together by, a common, colorful trend. Drawing inspiration from Harvard Art Museums’ Forbes Pigment Collection, scholarly texts, and the artist’s knowledge and intuition, the piece explored lines between truth and belief, color and illusion. And yet its prescriptions, unconventional and mysterious though they may be, made connections and produced impacts in the world, for gallery visitors and others.

Color Rx used a computer algorithm to diagnose a viewer’s inputs and “prescribe a color” in response. The piece was grounded in questions about trust in, or benefit from, “smart” systems, often in contexts where the algorithms are opaque—even when the output is very concrete. What does it mean for machines or systems to drive our behavior? Can we adequately assess the benefits and risks?"

Video by Bardi.

Set up as a pop up installation in the Lightbox Gallery of the Harvard Art Museums, visitors were able to approach a keyboard and type in a response to the provocation, "Think about what you need and tell me in 1-3 sentences." The thinking behind that phraseology was simply that I wanted to elicit a thoughtful, heartfelt response from my viewers - one in which I could attempt to "detect their mood" and provide them with a color to supplement it or just to make them smile. 

The white walls of the space itself lit up as the 9 screens flickered with changing color prescriptions, and the visibility of the pigment collection on the floor below allowed the visitors to directly understand the relationship I was drawing for this project. 

Friends, colleagues, and museum visitors alike all found their way to my gallery and engaged with the algorithm. After receiving their virtual "prescription," visitors could pick up a tactile "print out" of their Rx, cleverly attached to a paint chip of their prescribed color. 

How did I match the colors to the emotions? Well, I took the 36 most "emotionally resonant" pigments in the Forbes Pigment Collection (for me), matched all of the pigments to commercially found paint chips, and drew associations between hues and affect. With this comparison, I did not attempt to provide a direct correlation between the pigments and paints I chose, rather I used the paint chips as physical proxies for the pigments in hues that, to me, behave similarly.

Color Rx proved to be not only amusing and uplifting for visitors, but instrumental and enlightening for me. I know those are rather sweeping claims, but when you have the opportunity to exhibit your own creations in a space you never thought you'd get to make your own is truly a remarkable feeling. So thank you to everyone who helped make it happen, from metaLAB to the museum to my mother - my young life just got a lot more colorful.

Xx, Maia
 

Oh Wonder(ful)

 

Picture this: two friends on a Friday night, swaying at the House of Blues, and listening to an hour of enchanting music made even more magical by a pulsating color show. Sound ideal? It sure was! This scene happened last Friday at the Oh Wonder concert, a fun lil getaway treat prompted by Lily and her exquisite taste in good vibes. 

While I won't pretend like I knew much more about Oh Wonder than their song Without You, nor will I come at their concert with any valid musical analysis, I will tell you how incredible I found the concert to be as a kind of rainbow filled adventure.

We all know I love color, this is not new information. So, you can imagine how ecstatic I felt to be bathed by a spectrum of colored light accompanied to the tunes of a band I'm growing to love. It's one thing to attend a concert of an artist you love, but it's another wonderful experience to attend a concert with someone you love. We all know I love Lily (platonically, of course), this is not new information. So, you can understand how magical it was to see her light up to the sounds and sights of our surroundings - grinning broadly and bopping happily to the beat. 

Aside from noticing how much she was enjoying herself, and trying to distract myself from the couple making out in my direct line of sight, I felt deeply enraptured by the colorful light show that Oh Wonder put to visualize to their tunes. With each song change, the colors changed. With each tempo change, the colors shone brighter. With the grand finale, aptly titled Technicolor Beat, all the lights flickered into rainbow waves - signaling the culmination of this sensory experience. 

I must say that having multiple senses engaged with at once (audio, visual, tactile - well, if you count being touched in your heart...) truly made this concert one of the best I've been to. Not to mention that the artists themselves were SO kind and profusely thanked us for coming out to listen to them. You can even spot me and Lily crouched by the railing on the second floor balcony right above Josephine's hand in this picture the band tweeted! (wow, I'm even out of breath just typing that sentence).

What would've made the concert even more special would have probably been realizing that Jaymes Young was the opener and RUSHING to see him instead of sitting in a dorm passing the time until the main act. Lesson learned. 

Xx, Maia
 

Artsy April: Student Spotlight

 

In keeping in this month's #arstyApril theme, today's post features an art installation constructed on campus by student, friend, dancer, lover of live, and all around gem, Bruno! Today's high of 70's and sunny sunshine have students crawling out of the library woodworks to chill in the yard, lounge on the HAM steps (ode to G.G.), and enjoy all the art that surrounds them - especially those created by their peers!

This work, while sadly no longer displayed (yes, catch me featuring unseeable art, sorry) hung in the Carpenter Center on campus last semester. I photographed the work for Bruno in an attempt to preserve the movement and functionality of the piece before it got torn down (haha, because it's made mostly of fabric). Anyway, here's the low down, straight from the artist's mind and pen:

“I slipped” (or at least that was the title a couple months ago) is a three-dimensional representation of a two-dimensional recording of movement. After working with charcoal drawings that documented dance, I decided to reiterate one of those drawings in three-dimensional form.

This is the fifth iteration of it—wood, iron, resin, wire, and plastic were all involved at one point or another, but they were not the right materials. The skeleton is made by a couple pieces of hand-bent steel that were welded together. The leg at the bottom is a plaster cast of my own the was cracked in half and glued back together, and I used dyed chiffon as the body of the sculpture. It hangs from a single point and the fabric flows freely except for the anchor points, which means that light touch and wind can make it move and spin. The sculpture dances.

What I enjoy most about it is its asymmetry, given that it is the result of what is supposed to be a symmetrical movement. The leg cast is en pointe which alludes to dance, and the flowing fabric wrapping around the cast as the piece spins creates a sense of freedom and movement which comes with dance but is recreated with inactive materials in this case.

I see people interacting with it by gently touching or pushing it around, although my friends have been reluctant to do so at first. I guess looking at it is nice too. As a VES concentrator, I was lucky to continue my research of bodily movement and its reverberations through different materials as part of classwork. It was a fulfilling project and I’m excited about future exploration and potential collaborations with other media!

Having been able to interact with the work myself, I felt seamlessly (another fabric pun) connected to Bruno's unique movement, while also able to inject the movement of my own body interacting with the work. The wire is surprisingly heavy, and pushing my weight against it reminded me of the juxtaposition of the weightlessness and immense effort of dance. Kudos, Bruno on this stellar piece! Now put down your phone or your computer and enjoy the freshness of the day outside! 

Xx, Maia
 

Cool Beans: Sister Act

 

Full disclosure: I’m truly obsessed with, inspired by, and in awe of the Hartzell sisters.

I first met Jordan, two years my junior, four years ago during a summer program at Brown (yes, I was one of those, and yes, it was a good omen for Jordy because she’ll be Brown Class of 2021!), and had the pleasure of spending some summer time with her this year as she did a program at Harvard. Her older sister, Sydney, who is a freshman at NYU this year, and I have never met - yet we've always felt like kindred spirits, peas in a pod, the whole nine yards of familiar twin metaphors.

For background and general amazement: Jordy is a senior in high school who is going to Brown next fall. She is involved in physics outreach in her community as the founder of the PA Young Women in Physics Conference (an event for high school students to listen to research talks of female physicists from across the state - the goal being to provide high school girls with female role models and expose high school students to real physics work). She's also an amateur science writer (check out her posts here and here!), and a guest speaker to a class/women's group on the state of women in science. She hopes to find an interdisciplinary approach to studying physics/maybe computer science/neuro at Brown. 

 Sydney is currently a second-semester freshman at NYU. She is passionate about art, ballet, learning, and food. She recently started working for Hannah Bronfman, the founder of the nyc-based health and wellness startup HBFIT. Though she’s new to NYC, she feels at home in its chaos and is looking forward to new adventures!

Lucky for me, Sydney was home for the weekend and eager to hop on FaceTime with Jordan for a warm and sunny start to our Sunday yesterday! I went into this convo fully expecting to feel some sisterly love, and left with expectations exceeded and feeling more motivated by these girls than I thought was possible. 

Tell me a little about where you’re from. What do you miss? What do you not

Sydney: Pretty interesting dichotomy in our responses because we’re both at different points in our lives since I’ve just left home and she’s still here feeling like she wants to leave. Now that I have left this area, I can’t express how grateful I am to have grown up here in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania - you’d only know it for Bucknell University, unless you’re visiting the Federal Penitentiary... 

Jordan: It's very community oriented and familial, which I love, but it's hard to reinvent yourself in a small high school that you've been going to for twelve years, which is the part of it that makes me want to leave.

S: Jordan and I are similar in our social standing in that we’re not introverted, have you heard of ambivert? We can be extroverted around each other… Jordan and I spent the majority of the last two years of high school in the library together. We’re kind of outliers in that way. Now that I’m in New York everyone thinks I’m such a cliche. I didn’t grow up under a literal rock!

What’s your background? Phone and literal

J: Mine's my Dog Tashi - she’s on a boat! This summer my dog lived on this boat with my parents, so this is a constant reminder that my dog is cooler than me...

S: My background is marble because, I mean I know that’s a thing, it’s trendy (J: It’s clean!), but for me it feels like creating space. I used to have pictures of my boyfriends - not my boyfriends I’m monogamous -  I love my boyfriend, but even my homescreen is just a gradient. I got the vogue app and it froze on the screen before it enters the homescreen so I took a screenshot of it thinking, “wow this color is so pretty!" My life is busy enough that I need control in the one place I’m always looking.

What’s the story of your name?

J: Ours kind of go together. We have one more older sister, Alexandra, and my mom’s plan was, if she had all girls, to name them all with unisex names, she wanted us all to have androgynous, strong names.

S: Essentially what she’s trying to say, I think, is that my parents thought of androgynous names because they were strong and sexy. The set up was our older sister to be "Alex", but she ruined it with Ally - though Ally is a beautiful name. Back in the really old days, when people would wear cumber-buns (no, wait, that’s the prom thing?) guys used to be named Sydney. I’m really drawn to the name Taylor and Charlotte for a daughter but to call Charlie. I really like Jordan but my sister and boyfriend are both named Jordan and I just can't keep surrounding myself with Jordans!

What’s one fact about you?

J: When I was little, I don't know if it was me wanting Sydney to think I was cool, but I would memorize her favorite things. Syd would say, “update my favorite store” and I would commit it to memory. And then when people would ask about her favorite things, like her favorite flavor of ice cream, I would say, "she doesn’t really like ice cream, but if she did it’d be a chocolate milkshake."

S: My random fact is gonna counter that and make me seem like a terrible sister... Growing up, we would only fly to Disney once a year and it was a big deal. My dad would allow us one treat each before the plane. Jordan would get sour skittles and I would get normal skittles, and I would eat all my skittles and Jordan would save hers. Then when we took off I was like, "Jordan do you want to play a game, I’m gonna close my eyes and you feed me your skittles and I’ll guess what color they are!" And then I ate all her skittles. 

What’s your favorite aspect of your closest friend? Besides each other, haha. 

S: My favorite aspect of Alessandra is that she’s very strong willed. She doesn’t compromise herself or her values in the face of a social situation, which is something I seek out in a friend because, throughout my life I have kind of isolated myself when I don't feel comfortable around people who prefer a social situation to maintaining their morals. Maybe I should change it to authentic, because that’s something super hard to find especially in New York. We can tend to differ once in a while but I think that’s something I respect more than someone who just goes along with what you're saying.

J: I admire my best friend, Alyssa. The word I’ve used to describe her is reliable because if i need to talk to someone or she hears something and wants to share it with me, I can rely on her to actually be excited for me when good things happen to me - that’s kind of rare. She got into Carnegie Mellon engineering and I think I was happier for her to get into her school than me to get into mine!

Favorite conversation starter?

S: ooh OOH this is so good, wait lemme think. I always lead with a joke about being from a small town. People will ask, "Oh where are you from?" "Pennsylvania, you wouldn't know it, it's a really tiny town, we have a motto “medicate, educate, and incarcerate" (they say in sync) for the three things we're known for. When I begin with that I'm from a small town, the expectation is very low about where the conversation will follow haha.

J: In terms of meeting new people, we both like to make jokes. Syd is the wittiest person I know, she’s quick with a pun which I know you are too Maia (S: "Dad thinks my dad jokes are terrible.").

S: I’m a huge fan of pick up lines. With guys I might as well be out there and if it doesn't work it's fine. I asked my prom date last year to prom, it was very last minute, I texted him asking if he wanted to go with me, and the week before we had had a competition with pick up lines. So the last night he picked me up in his car and a bunch of limes fell out, and he said “sorry I’m really bad at pickup limes.”

J: At least with Syd, she’s a very good listener and always makes you feel like what you’re saying is valuable which makes her really likable. She’s good at reflecting what people say.

If you had to think of a mantra your family grew up saying, what would it be?

J: So my dad loves these books called the Aubrey Maturin series, there’s 26 of them and they’re a Napoleonic war series. He loves ships, and he's always said, “steer your ship”, and it's something that’s become inspirational but also normal in the house. It means if you're in a situation you're always the captain and it’s your choice to steer it - you have control. And it’s a less harsh way of saying “get control”.

S: She’s exactly right, it’s been my whole life that he’s said that. Especially in New York, I hear it in the back of my head in a tough situation. 

What music are you listening to now?

S: I’m really into music, my favorite thing about music is curating it. I love making playlists!

J: I listen to music by month and year - Syd organizes it for me.

S: I love making custom playlists. When I first started dating Jordan, I would make him playlists on Spotify and he would be like, "What is this?" (J: "It’s you in music!"). Making mixtapes is my idea of true romance, so that’s what I do on Spotify. My fave quote is, “art decorates space and music decorates time.” It’s so true that music really heightens emotion - it has the power to motivate me or calm me. Now to counter that, I’ve currently been listening to the 50s shades darker soundtrack... I also like the new frank ocean song Slide

J: We have one of those amazon Alexa things and we always play jazz. Around the holidays it's Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, it's always on really low volume and you don't really notice it, but there’s always jazz or concert piano - even our dogs like it!

Go to outfit. What’s your uniform? What is a classic look that everyone would say, “that’s so Jordan/Sydney”

J: Mines probably simpler than yours haha. I usually look fairly sporty so I have a pair of old Nikes and high top Vans and wear that with leggings and a sweatshirt. My new favorite sweatshirt is my Brown one because it’s so “homey”. (S: "You need to get me a brown sweatshirt, one that says Brown not just a brown one lol"). I also love leather jackets over like a silver dress or a patterned dress, it makes me feel so strong!

S: I’m all about less is more with style. I really like the new french look where it’s supposed to be effortless but for me it’s a lot of effort. In New York, everyone wears all black so I don’t own anything that has color, except white, which I guess has all the color. When I shop I buy all the same things but the newest version.

J: Syd’s good that she has a few key things that she can wear really well

S: When I find something that goes with a lot of things I will invest in it. A classic outfit I would say high waisted jeans ALWAYS (I feel so comfortable in high waisted jeans, I only wear high waisted bathing suits because I love that 1950s look), maybe a white button down thats kind of loose so I can tie it in the front, or a blouse/cami, and either leather jacket or a bomber jacket - some sort of easy peasy that kind of thing.

What’s an accessory or piece of Jewelry that you’d like to be remembered by or that is iconic you?

J: We both have these little necklaces. Mines gold, hers is platinum, we got them three years ago, and we like to think they’re like Twitches. I also have a little third ear piercing which is a little out of character for me - I don't wear anything other than these and little gold hoops.

S: I have very tiny ears. I don’t know if anyone noticed. When we went to get her ear pierced the second time I was sitting in the chair, and it didn’t feel very Sydney, so I said, "No nonononono!" and I ran out of the chair. My other thing that I wear is this ring. It’s a sapphire but it almost looks black. My mom and I got it together before I went to Paris one summer, and I made her kiss it so I always had her love and now I haven’t really taken it off. I do like minimal jewelry, the other reason why is because I tried to wear a watch one time and I took it off at the gym and lost it. I can’t have anything nice.

What’s a current trend that you really like or are envious of?

J: I’ve gotten into fashion week so I’m trying to think deep into things I’ve been seeing. I love the new work out chic, athleisure, because I love to be comfortable. I love bringing back utility as fashion, like windbreakers. 

S: I think inherently I’m not a trendy person, I almost try not to be trendy, (J: "You're counter cool!!"), I try to have a timeless style, which I don't always have because I'm mostly in workout clothes. The thing that I love is lipstick thats supposed to be worn in, like stain, it’s kind of messy. Jeanne Damas, she’s a french it girl, style guru, and that’s her thing - she’ll put on bold lipstick and blot it off so there’s a tinge left. I feel very uncomfortable in bold lipstick but I love buying it, so I blot it off. I’m glad it’s a thing now because I feel like I’ve always done it!

What’s a trend that you wish would die?

J: I hate when people wear t-shirts when its freezing out. I don't think its a trend but its an act of ignorance or defiance, unless it comes from not having a coat then I totally understand and want to help in some way, but when its like a macho thing it bothers me. In a more general trendy sense, if you put fashion above utility at the point of being detrimental to yourself I'm not a fan.

Signature phrase. What do you say a lot?

S: Wait, can we think of each other’s? Because I don’t know what I say...

J: I’m sorry we’re spending so much time looking out the window, there’s something about Pennsylvania's rolling hills that really makes you think lol.

S: Oh! I say, "Word" a lot!

J: As an affirmation - like she’s bringing back 1990s Will Smith.

S: I text it sometimes and people are like, "What?” and I’m like, "Like 'power to you'!”

J: There was an episode of New Girl where someone told Jess he loved her and she didn't say it back so she did finger guns, and thats become a thing for me. I also snap, like when people go to poetry slams (S: "You go to poetry slams?"), or especially in class if I like what they’re saying I’ll give them a couple snaps.

Soundtrack to your life?

J: Capsize by Emily Warren, this was my summer song, and even now, it makes me so happy

S: The Way You look tonight with Frank Sinatra is my favorite, favorite song but that’s not the soundtrack because thats just me being like, “The way I look tonighttttt.” Another song I like is Paper Doll by John Mayer. I don't take it for the meaning I think it actually has. For me it's more my self identity but the outfits represent that I'm evolving all the time based on my experiences and my circumstance - I always think about that song in relation to myself.

Spirit dessert?

S: This is gonna sound so dumb but it's so me. There's a grocery store on long island called Fairway and they have these chocolate malt balls. I don't know if that's a dessert or a candy. I went to Rosh Hashanah at my boyfriend’s house and they put out dessert, and they had a jar of malt balls in front of his mom and his aunt and I kept sneaking 3 until they were gone. I love chocolate more than anything sweet. I’m also an advocate of having chocolate every day instead of restricting yourself and then binging. Anyway, there’s like an inch of chocolate before you hit the malt ball on these things - I love it!

J: Mine would definitely be sour gummy worms. At the Bucknell library they always have little baggies, and I just love sour candy and candy in general like a 5 year old, or ice cream, because I’m 5.

What’s your favorite thing to gift people?

J: I was really honored when someone recommended a book to me. So my new favorite thing is to gift a book, and personally pick it out for them. And also give them my favorite book. My favorite book is “The Trespasser” it’s a mystery, and inside the cover I'll write, “It’s so much fun just like you!”

S: I have 3 things. One is specifically for my boyfriend: I gift him the clothing I want him to wear. Second, I love to gift and receive flowers, actually I’m allergic to flowers but I love having flowers and plants near me. I am actually allergic to most living things, but I love having them near me in my space because I soak up their energy - not in a bad way, they still have some energy left. I love to gift candles because I am an old soul, even though I live in a dorm building and I can’t light them...

J: Syd actually came home and she brought me something, wait I’m gonna get it, she got me this card that says “it’s been a while crocodile.”

S: And YET I wrote nothing in it - I just got her the card haha...

J: I also think orange is really inspirational, and I also love planners, and she got me this orange planner that I love. 

S: UGH same, I have like a fetish for planners!

Describe yourself as a human bean:

(Note: for this last bit, I had them text me their answers about describing themselves as human beans and then had them describe each other as human beans aloud. I was kind of curious to see how they saw themselves and how they saw each other)

TEXTS:

S: I would describe myself as authentic, empathetic, and curious about life. I've always stayed true to myself and I feel like having a strong sense of self has guided me through tough situations and challenges. I would say that I'm empathetic because even unintentionally, I feel connected to other human beans. I feel like this leads me into my next adjective, but the connection that I share with other people makes me more curious about life and it's many facets... the idea that we're ever-evolving beans who each experience hundreds of different lives within our own. 

J: Me as a bean: so I love coffee (I'm a two a day kind of gal) and in connection to a literal coffee bean (and mod and Bean ;))I'd like to say that I'm energetic -- the qualities of which I'm most proud kind of stem from this... I'm typically a self-starter and I love to make decisions (though I agonize about simple ones like dessert choices)

The sisterly reveal: 

S: I did it so seriously, whoops! I think I did it the way I would think my teacher would want me to do *face palms*. I feel like Jordan has always been my best friend, my whole life. I love my older sister, but I feel very connected to Jordan (J: "We have telepathy!"), she’s passionate about life - it's not necessarily rare, but it’s tangible. She’s also extremely motivated which radiates. When I’m around her I feel motivated. In general she’s incredibly hardworking, and you always want to be around someone like that. She has an amazing work ethic. Also, she just carries herself very well for her age: she’s extremely mature, wise, and passionate. She’s so funny - like unintentionally funny. She also has a fantastic jazz singer voice! She has this huge belt voice when she’s imitating other jazz artists!

J: In describing Sydney, she’s someone who when you’re talking to her she makes you feel important, heard, comfortable, and valued. The other thing about Sydney is that she’s very introspective and very reflective too, which is something cool about her because she’ll bring out another perspective when you’re talking. She’s incredibly passionate which is inspiring to be around, even if it's about an essay she wrote for class, she’ll turn it into an introspective reflection of what she’s been thinking about (S: "I think that’s because I’m a nerd."). She’s incredibly witty, I always used to say you laugh at your own jokes and you're the only one laughing.

S: I really resonate with this meme of Drake sending a text and laughing because you know it’s going to be fire!

J: The highest compliment I've ever heard, is someone calling Lupita Nyongo a "force." I think Sydney walks into a room and she’s a force. 

Cue the sisterly awwing and hugging, making me realize I should probably call my sister more and compensate for the six year gap we have as opposed to the Hartzell single year gap. Suffice it to say, I fully expected to feel full on sisterly love during this conversation, but felt even more energy and love emanating from these girls than I had anticipated!

All photos courtesy of their strong, and aesthetic social media presences. 

Xx, Maia 
 

Happy Birthday, Mod & Bean! (feat. Danikation)

 

The title says it all: Mod & Bean turns one today! *cue streamers, noise makers, and sprinkles of all sorts* I actually feel like such a proud mom - as if I had a child and said child was celebrating a momentous occasion. I guess that feeling is semi warranted, given that Mod & Bean (a brainchild) was birthed a year ago!

Without getting too sappy (because I know how much I tease my own mother for doing that), I want to take a moment to celebrate the growth of not only the blog, but of me as an adventurer on this journey. A year ago today, Mod & Bean hopped on the internet with the dream to provide an artistic outlet for others (and, honestly, an excuse for me to explore off-campus and purge all the photos cluttering my camera roll). Throughout this year, Mod & Bean has been the vehicle for endless opportunities and the conversation starter for meeting countless, incredible people. Instead of turning this post into a "here are some of my favorite moments from the past year" kind of montage, I'd like to celebrate another artist who's niche is juxtaposition: kind of like a metaphor for Mod & Bean helping me see things in radically new ways. 

I present to you @danikation. I think I first encountered her account when spotting this photo on an explore page, and being instantly intrigued by her eye to find things in nature that weren't actually there. I also can't help but heartily chuckle at her puns (a comedian after my own humor) and be reminded of the line "Why is the chair smiling?" that some friends and I heckle at a scene in the movie Love Story featuring a particularly happy seat.

I find her outlook on life so fresh: constantly spotting similarities in materials that couldn't be more polar. Like a soft looking egg made of rocks, or an egg made of a noodle, absence, and a cherry tomato:

There are several plays on anatomy like "veganatomy" (center pic), "phandtom limb" (bottom right), and "nice plum" (bottom left):

She also won't leaf autumn images alone, and I honestly don't mind ("tiny lungs", "fall lip color", and "bonflower"):

Sometimes I even think it's a foodstagram (okay, no, not seriously, but her food puns are pretty unbelievable): 

I am constantly impressed and inspired by her ability to see familiar objects in venues out of their element - a mantra I try to apply to in taking on new challenges no matter how unfamiliar they may feel. 

So cheers to one year of Mod & Bean, one year of actively fleshing out my artistic inclinations, and to many more years to come!

 

(All photos courtesy of @danikation on Instagram) 

Xx, Maia (proud mother of a "one year old"!)
 

Cool Beans #1: D, Y, & I

 

On one of my last warm, winter-break days in Miami, I had the pleasure to reconnect with two super cool people, who also happened to go to my same middle/high school. I won't pretend like we were best friends, granted they're two years older than me, and in MS/HS, those years seem more like centuries - but we did share a chuckle about similar references and the fact that we've all really put the clichéd "finding ourselves in college" to good use. 

Nostalgia aside, I present to you this glorious day filled with fashion, humor, and tips & tricks across the map. And, in order to foster this new platform of reconnecting and exploring the opportunity to meet/mingle with interesting people on a more frequent basis, here you'll find a new segment to Mod & Bean: Cool Beans. Overdone pun yet?

Anyway, for the launch of Cool Beans, I spoke with Yashi and Danielle over a quick coffee at Threefold Cafe (Miami traffic landing us there right as it was about to close...) and then a little adventure around the streets of Coral Gables. It honestly worked perfectly as a reminiscent, lets-laugh-about-high-school ice breaker pre our quasi-photoshoot in a little Gables neighborhood. Followed up by a bulk purchase of alfajores and casual, quick-fire question conversation.

As a brief intro to these extraordinary beans, I'll let you in on a sneak preview more personal than a cursory glance at their LinkedIn profiles. Danielle, senior at LIM College has been interested in fashion ever since she interned in NYC during a high school summer. She cultivates her personal instagram with stunning shots of trend & travel, and has snagged really neat internships with fashion and PR companies in New York ever since! Yashi, fellow pun lover, runs her own blog The Hip Nip! She started it as a joyful side biz, yet has managed to partner with some brands and even start her own line with a few of her friends - you can check it out at LYNK Studio.  I've also included handwritten notes about both of their ventures at the bottom of this post if you are interested in ~educating yourselves~ further! 

Now, for the good stuff: Post hastily sipping on drinks (of the lemonade and latte varieties, of course) we piled in Yashi's car and drove to one of her favorite neighborhoods in Coral Gables. "Don't worry, guys, the stains in my car aren't scary - they're from beet juice" Yashi shouted as we hopped in her car. 

We parked and stopped to talk in the middle of the street - slowly shifting to the curb as cars rolled through, and waving at the drivers because they probably thought we lived there. Typical of the down to earth nature and relaxed vibes of both Danielle and Yashi, they both giggled and joked about being hounded by the paparazzi as I stuck my camera in their mugs while they talked. At one point, Danielle remembered the sweet specs she had in her purse, whipped them out, and said, "It's Wednesday my dudes" as an homage to the Vine that features similar goggle glasses. 

Following photo courtesy of those who put Danielle on blast for this comparison:

Though we mostly spent this portion of the day laughing about running into fellow high schoolers at Publix or at the mall, here's what we discussed over crumbly and powdery alfajores at Pasion de Cielo:

Go to outfit: What's your uniform?

Yashi: "This [jean jacket]! I wear it all the time - even on Thanksgiving. My mom was like, 'Really? A denim jacket?!'" 

Danielle: "I always want one article of my outfit to be unique - to stand out. Like flared pants, culottes, or a top with an open shoulder. One part has to be weird, and then I build the rest of the outfit around that. This was definitely hard to do in the winter. I would just freeze instead." 

What's the soundtrack to your life? 

D: "The Good Vibes playlist on Spotify. It's full of super old songs like 'For Once in My Life' by Stevie Wonder. It's perfect for driving on a sunny day, it just makes me happy!"

Y: "I love random one liners in songs that just make me laugh, and are just funny or cute. Like there's this one song that goes like "treasure every beating heart that sets your soul on fire." *imitates folk instrument, complete with air guitar motions and twangy noises*

What's one piece of jewelry that's iconic you?

D: "I always have these three rings, which I realize have become an inconvenience in NYC with gloves, but I just feel naked without them. This [purple gemstone] one was my grandma's. This [middle] one I got in a market in Peru. It's cool because the silver of these two rings is exactly the same. And this one is so weirdly cool because it's so big and people always say, 'Oh you could knock someone out with that!'"

Y: "I always have a bunch of gold bracelets. Well now I mix gold and silver because silver deserves a chance. These two rings I never take off - look, I'm white underneath. And then I always have these bracelets like this one with a little eye from Lebanon, and this Brazilian wish blanket. Oh and this ankle bracelet is from a neoprene swimsuit. And this one is a friendship bracelet but it's too big for my wrist - it just kept falling off."

What's a trend you're envious of right now?

*They confer with their Instagram feeds as a quick refresher*

D: "I'm really into headbands and ribbons. I had to pick them up for a Man Repeller article and then I just asked my dad to bring some of my mom's old headbands when he came to visit me in New York. I wore my mom's mink headband to work one day - but some couple kept whispering and looking at me on the subway, so I figured it had to be the headband and I just took it off."

Y: "This isn't really a trend but I'm just really into hand tattoos. Like lil baby ones. I want to get one for my birthday. My mom and I have this inside joke that started when I was 8. I would say 'It's 1pm!' and my mom would say 'Oh, 1' like as in 1:01 too. She's really into meditation and spirituality --

D: "I remember her being the happiest person!!" Danielle interjects

Y: "Haha yeah she is the happiest. She even has this thing called the Gaia minute where she thinks if people just emitted positivity into the world for a minute, the world would be a better place. She does it at 9:09 because she likes 9's and because of our inside joke. So I want to get that tattoo, and I wanted my mom to get a matching one but she's too much of a free spirit to be tied down by a tattoo so I might get her an engraved bracelet."

What's a trend you want to die?

Y: "Adidas Superstars, even though I wear mine all the time. They're just done. Like when I wear them and it rains it doesn't even matter to me."

D: "Bandage/body-con things. I don't need to wear them anymore to get into clubs. Now I just go to loungy clubs and last time went in my mom's high school jacket and jeans."

Do you have a signature phrase?

Y: "It's not so much a signature phrase as its the noises I make when I see animals. Like my friends will be like, 'Look, Yash! There's a dog!' and I get really excited."

D: "I also get really excited about dogs!"

*Cue digression on Danielle's friend who breeds french bulldogs*

Spirit Dessert?

Y: "Oh God a chocolate mousse. Danielle I feel like you'd be a dessert inside a dessert inside a dessert."

D: "Haha yeah, I'd say Oreo inside of a chocolate chip cookie for sure. I even made some and brought them to work and silently put them on the counter and smiled while they were gone in seconds."

Do you have a favorite conversation starter?

D: "I'm not good at talking to people, so no haha."

Y: "I usually just compliment people to start a conversation. But then I can't talk a compliment, so it doesn't work on me."

D: "I got called out for not knowing how to small talk. Like when someone says, 'Oh, you're from Miami?' I'm like, 'Yup.' and then they just stare at me like, 'and??'" 

Last question: How would you describe yourself as a human bean?

Y: "I'm a bean!!"

D: "What if we describe each other?"

Y: "Aww yeah! Danielle, you're effortlessly cool. Probably because you're not intimidating which is cooler than being full of yourself. Like you travel and you dress well but you're also hilarious."

D: "This is funny because I've known you since the 6th grade, but even back then you were super open, friendly, and down for whatever. Now it's the same, but different. Like now you're so entrepreneurial. You have your life together."

Y: "Lol really?!"

Xx, Maia 

 

Note from Danielle: 

I think my personal style first started evolving when I spent an early high school summer in New York interning at a PR firm that represented lifestyle, fashion, and beauty brands. I was exposed to a creative environment at a relatively young age (15), which really inspired me. I spent every summer after that back in New York interning at different companies within the industry from Editorialist to Michael Kors. For college, I knew I wanted to be in New York and study fashion business, so LIM College was the perfect place for me. While attending LIM College I worked at Brandy Melville, and interned other semesters and summers. I studied abroad in Paris for a summer and then for a semester during my junior year. It was by far the greatest experience I’ve ever had. During that semester I was documenting a lot of my outfits and travels on my Instagram as a form of creative expression, which I really enjoyed. I don’t consider myself a fashion blogger, but I do like to share my outfits occasionally, and hope it inspires the people who follow me. I don’t have a specific style or aesthetic that can be characterized, to me it really depends on the day. As I said in the interview, I can’t get myself wear a plain top with jeans. Something just needs to be weird.

Note from Yashi:

I came up with the idea for The Hip Nip in the summer of 2015. I was on the beach in West Palm Beach with my friends Belle and Kristen and we were talking about how I should start a blog. Kristen has a fashion blog of her own and was really encouraging about starting my own. So we started coming up with “blog/blogger names” and they helped me come up with The Hip Nip! I’m always making weird jokes about, let’s say, anatomy so it seemed perfect. Everything on my blog revolves around “the nip” so I call my readers “boob troop” and my blog sections are sort of punny titles that relate to nips as well. 

I started blogging as a hobby but my blog and Instagram @yashmula have started to gain some attention. I’ve worked with a few local companies and boutiques to host events and promote their brands as well as photographers to be featured in their portfolios. One company I worked with a lot last year is called The Makers Collective, a company that hosts Trend Walks every 2-3 weeks in different places around Miami like The Freehand, The Hall South Beach, etc. It’s cool because I’ll get paid to host these events and promote them and get people there. Recently I was contacting by a media company whose client is Coach to promote a purse from their pre-spring collection so I don’t get paid but I get to choose and keep the purse!