Spring Break: The Road to Varadero Part 2

March 28, 2016

The best part about our resort was the abundance of color that was present in every nook and cranny. Whether it was a splash of bright pink on the walls, the backdrop of the constant vibrant blue sky or the golden tan that my friends got after our time spent outside, color was everywhere. Let me tell you, it's hard to have a bad day when your hotel is painted a bright canary yellow. So enjoy, the second part of me and my friends' trip to Varadero, Cuba and let me know in the comments below where was the colorfullest place that you've seen/been.

~Alexandra XO

Where is the colorfullest place that you've been?

Spring Break: The Road to Varadero Part 1

March 21, 2016

It's hard to believe that this time a week ago I was dozing on the white sandy beaches in the warm Cuban weather. Shoes were optional (unless, you wanted to enter the buffet) and music was blasting and waves were rolling and crashing all around me and my friends. I could finally understand the quote by Isak Dinesen that says, "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea," because there was plenty of that on my grad trip. Sweat from playing beach volleyball and lounging under the hot sun. Tears of laughter were shed everyday with my friends. The salty sea water was our best friend throughout our entire stay.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the best way for me to share with you how I feel after a week spent in paradise is simply to show you. Take a look at the first of two parts and let me know in the comments where you went for your graduation trip/spring break.

~Alexandra XO

Where did you go for your graduation trip/spring break?

The Recipe for Success: 7 Business Lessons From a Teenage #Girlboss

March 07, 2016
Image via Pup-Tarts.com
Website: Pup-Tarts.com

Age is just a number, especially when it comes to doing something that you love. This is a lesson that Annie Peterson, age 18, learned first-hand as the founder of Pup-Tarts, a lovable and healthy handmade dog treat company which prides itself on its list of simple, healthy ingredients, and playful aesthetic, welcoming dog-lovers, dog-owners and all types of canine alike. According to Annie, they’re, “gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan (so no eggs, no milk)” and they contain only 4 simple ingredients. Young, driven and a bonafide #Girlboss, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Annie to learn more about her company and gain insight from someone just dipping their hands into the dog treat biz. Fun, relatable and incredibly earnest, she welcomed me with open arms into the world of entrepreneurship and the highs and lows of running your own business. Through her interview, I learned a few important lessons, which are sure to spur your inner #Girlboss into action.

You need a spark

Whether it’s something you’ve been dreaming about since birth, or you just happen to have a lot of time on your hands, this is the spark that you need to get things done. For Annie, this spark came in the form of a “really competitive” program, for which she needed a little something extra to stay ahead of the game. Based on the previous success of her (at the time) unnamed treats, “I made them for my dog’s best dog friend’s birthday party, “ she hit the drawing board and (pun intended) got to cooking.

It’s all in the details…

“Presentation is really big in the dog treat business because obviously the dog owner is not going to know what it tastes like, it’s all about how it looks,” declares Annie. So, she’s gotten to work, whipping up different batches and ensuring that the treat’s staple dog-friendly icing is to her liking. “Once I’ve improved that and once I feel more comfortable about where the icing’s at, I’m going to go back to the retailers," she assures me.

… but also in the bigger picture

“I think that I get really excited about something and get too focused on one thing,” she confesses, “Like the website took me hours, hours and hours because I was so obsessed with it. But one thing that I needed to do was to like sit and plan out pricing and do that because when I went to the retailer I realized that I actually had to sell it for 50% of what I was originally asking for.” A few unwelcome surprises --which resulted in helpful feedback-- in which she got a healthy dose of future business savvy from helpful retailers. This helped her in acknowledging that in order to succeed she had to take a step back to properly assess the situation, stating, “I think that creating your own business is easy up until the point you reach out to retailers.”

Image via Pup-Tarts.com

Exercise some TLC (for your business)

Take pride in your work, so that it shines through for everyone to see. Enthusiastically Annie says,“I put a lot of work into it. I tried to approach it from different perspectives, like doing the web design and making that really solid. And so I made a lot and would freeze them and see how they would be after like a week, and leave them out and see how long they were good for. One of the greatest things that I feel confident about Pup-Tarts is that it’s good from every angle.”

Keep your dreams big and your worries small

Determined, she affirms, “I’m going to go back to the retailers and then once I get into one retailer, I’ll be able to go to another retailer and be like 'Hey! Do you want to carry my product too, because this other retailer is already carrying it?' And so it should create a chain effect.”

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Annie admits that one of her obstacles was being shy about talking about her company--a surprising notion since she’s currently such an open book about it now--but one that is relatable to other creatives in their fields. Nevertheless, she’s the perfect example of someone who learned to get comfortable being uncomfortable. With a little work, she’s “gotten more confidence” and she’s mastered the ability to field any question about her company, promoting it with ease and grace.

The recipe for success?

One word, passion. According to Annie, “So, if I were to do this again I would pick something that I knew I was good at from the beginning, but for someone to start their own business they need to make sure they build their company around something their passionate about. That’s my biggest advice.” It helps if you’re passionate from the get-go, but if like Annie you began your journey with more driven and curious energy, than the passionate kind, a little work is sure to get you in the right mindset.


P.S Are you a girl who wants to change the world? Are you ready to take the world by storm? If so, why don't you try signing up for the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative before March 8th to change the world? #ANNpower 

What do you think is the perfect recipe to success?

Book Series Reviews: Olympians, Fire and Stone

March 02, 2016

Sometimes you can't just read a book, you need a whole series to really appreciate the world that the author created. Since I can't pick just one book from these series that I love, here are all of them. I've spent a lot of time reading them and I hope that you will too.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson

Set in a fictional kingdom filled with deserts, treacherous mountains and a longstanding feud, Elisa is the chosen one. A chosen one and a royal, an auspicious combination which doesn't bode well for young Elisa as she's spent the majority of her life overshadowed by her seemingly perfect older sister. At least, that is until she is betrothed to a ruler of a neighbouring kingdom. A union which thrusts her into a life filled with danger, dark magic, desert escapades and daring exploits, where she is forced to rise to the occasion to save her world. With each step bringing her closer and closer to the prophecy that felled so many before her, we watch her grow into the woman that the mark she bears demands of her. Full of romance, fast-paced action and intrigue, Elisa is a perfectly flawed heroine who takes a stand when the whole world had their backs turned to her. Surprising her family, the courts and herself as she outsmarts, outruns and outlasts them all. With genuine characters in a world brilliantly and intricately built by Rae Carson, every harrowing moment is palpable and will leave your heart and mind racing long after you finish the last book.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

It's the series that birthed two other series and two Hollywood movies, it's one filled with heart, bravery and love in all of its forms. If you love history (especially, Greek mythology), adventure and a wealth of lovable characters and despicable villains then this is the series for you. Percy Jackson and the Olympians follows the trials and tribulation of Percy Jackson (the son of Poseidon) and his demigod friends and acquaintances of all size and species as they save the would from the Titans. Seamlessly merging modern day America and elements of famous myths and legends, throughout the series we are taken through labyrinths, across ancient creature infested oceans, through downtown New York in enchanted taxi rides and left sword-to-shield against infamous Gorgons, minotaurs and other legendary nightmares brought to life. Spanning 4 years over 5 books, as Percy and his comrades grow, so do we as each book is a race against time against the Titan of Time and each chapter helps us to uncover missing pieces and harrowing schemes. It's a thrilling countdown to understand how the prophecy will be fulfilled in the final showdown in the last installment of the series.

--Alexandra XO

What's your favourite book series?