The Retail Race

Let me be clear – I am a shopaholic. Confessions of a Shopaholic? Yes, that brilliant idea visited me in my sleep before it jumped the pond and landed in Sophie Kinsella’s brain to be developed into the Shopaholic franchise. (I will discuss this more when I review Big Magic… once I finish reading it) And to fuel this addiction, I spent many a year in specialty women’s retail (fancy name for LOFT & Chico’s) … mostly for the discounts.

But, because I have spent many years in retail, I understand the game they play with us. I understand the trickle down effect fashion has on the retail industry. Point in case, Fashion Week shows us the newest and hottest trends about a year in advance. By the time our local stores get on the trends, it is almost a year later. What’s worse, their marketing campaigns serve to make women feel as if they need a brand new wardrobe every season! I don’t know about you, but I sure cannot afford that (although I shop as if I can).

I follow A LOT of fashion bloggers on Instagram because I admire their style and their fearless fashion sense. But I also believe that many of them are sporting sponsored duds. I cannot believe anyone purchases new clothing that much and then just wears it to take pictures. I mean, why buy something if you don’t intend to wear it numerous times? Why spend the time to find items you truly love?

But as I write that, I am reminded that I spent a great deal of money in high school and my early years of college purchasing items because I loved them in the moment but then never actually wore them, or wore them only once. I understand and again – I don’t do this anymore. Instead, I have developed a returning issue. Meaning, I return probably 10% of what I purchase on a regular basis. Usually 15-45 days after I purchased it. Hey! I really liked it! I just realized I don’t a) have the proper additional items to pull of the look b) hadn’t eaten any food when I purchased it and now, after eating breakfast, it looks terrible on me or c) it no longer speaks to me.

This is the part that probably truly betrays the depth of my addiction to shopping and clothing… the items speak to me! They say to me “Buy me,” “I will make you happy,” or “I will emphasise all those squats you have been doing.” And I fall into it every time! However, I have found a compromise for myself. I only buy items I love, I don’t rush out and wear them right away, and I utilize the Cluise app, (no this isn’t sponsored, I actually really use the app). Basically the app is a digital closet. It can assemble outfits for you based on weather and event, but I rarely use this feature. Instead, I take pics of everything I purchase, (and am slowly adding everything I currently own), and add them to my digital closet. Then I construct outfits with what I have. Honestly, I don’t generally stick to these outfits, (because I am not an outfit girl, I am a separates girl), but it really helps me see what I have and how the new pieces with incorporate into my current wardrobe. Bonus: I can “see” my closet when I am in a store debating whether or not to buy that super trendy piece. And that is my coping secret.

I have also made an effort to limit my shopping at places like Forever 21, Hollister Co. and Tilly’s. I have realized that I purchase the items at seemingly cheaper prices, just to find the items don’t last and really don’t look good after you wear them once. Of course, it is quick fashion and is meant to only satisfy the season’s trends. And that is great for many women. However, I have found that I can find better fitting and higher quality pieces on sale for the same or less than the items sold by stores such as Forever 21. Such retailers? Madewell – they don’t always have a sale, but they do sometimes. And when they do, (such as an additional percentage off sale items), I shop heavy. I also use my student ID because they offer 15% off for teachers and students all the time, on everything, (don’t quote me, they may exclude third party merchandise). So, top was $68, marked down to $50, additional 50% off that AND THEN an additional 15%? That top is now about $21… And the top at Forever 21? $28.80? No return and may self destruct after first wear? No thank you!

Being a more full-figured woman, (a healthy 12/14, L/XL), fit and quality really matters to me. But I am also basically skating by financially so I really don’t have the room to purchase things at full price. So I try and do my due diligence and follow sales. For instance, Ann Taylor LOFT, (whom I worked for in the past), allows for price adjusting. When I began building my professional wardrobe, I did purchase some items at full or near full price. (Caveat, if you do shop there regularly, you really should have the credit card. Rewards system is fan-freaking-tastic!) So, I watched for when the items went on 40%. Sure enough, they did.I went and price adjusted. (My sister and her boyfriend went with me and had a cow… It was a process) In the end, I ended picking up double what I purchased initially AND I walked out with $1.25 in my pocket! I had a $300 budget and I ended up with nearly 1k in merchandise at ticket value. I should say, I used Cash Cards as well, and that helped quite a bit. But moral of the story, if you do your due diligence, you can really win and make out like a bandit.

Anyways, the point of all this. I think retailers put too much pressure on women to buy new things and to buy them immediately. Obviously, they have sales goals every single day that compound into month, quarterly and annual goals – I get that. But so do we. We have school, new tires, kid’s baseball fees, whatever it may be that we need to prepare for as well. And, I will admit that seeing women with their brand new Chanel, Louis Vuittons and Hermes bags on Instagram sometimes makes me feel inadequate. But, that is okay! I am so thrilled that those bloggers have reached that level of success. But I have reached my own level of success and you have to! So be proud of it and rock your new and old wardrobe staples and show the world that you are feeling good in your duds! And please, be smart about your shopping. The retailers give you the tools, you just need to use them!

In case you are curious, or follow my Instagram, I frequent Ann Taylor LOFT, Madewell, Free People (generally sale online), Banana Republic (by far the best credit rewards system I have seen) and JJill. 

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Human Traffiking

Human Trafficking is a huge topic amongst countries and world leaders as well as police and regulatory organizations. On the surface, it is common sentiment that trafficking of men, women and children is inherently bad. But when the topic is broken down, it becomes clear that there lacks a common moral ground on every social level.

I had the pleasure of hearing a speech on the topic by Jeremy Vallerand, CEO and President of Rescue: Freedom International. The goal of the non-profit is to “empower the rescue and restoration of those suffering in sexual slavery.” This is an excellent goal, however, it is also quite broad. In his speech, he discussed a multitude of facets including pornography. It is here that I would like to focus this post on.

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. Yes, I could throw some numbers at you in order to incorporate that shock factor so many of these presentations incorporate. But I find I tire of context-less numbers thrown at me. I want to know the nitty gritty, I want to understand on a personal level. That doesn’t mean I need to experience it, but I do want to be able to grasp the ideas and magnitude of the issue.

On the other hand. I also want to make a difference. But there are thousands of people trafficked every single day. It seems like a loosing battle to fight, but I have to believe there is a way to insight change – to save women, children and men from becoming trafficked across the globe.

Dreaming out Loud

I recently came across a travel blog written by a flight attendant, or whatever the politically correct terminology is now… She catalogs all of her travels, where she goes, what she does, what she eats and what she thinks of those places she travels to.

I thought this was an intriguing career path and one that I, with a serious case of wanderlust, would be interested in. However, just this past year I was a passenger on an airplane to Philadelphia, PA that experienced extreme turbulence. As a result, (and after hearing the flight attendants yelping), I quickly decided that a that career path was not for me.

I traveled to Pennsylvania for a journalism conference and I have greatly enjoyed it. This particular conference was made up predominantly of professionals in writing, publishing, design, and management. This was an interesting group for a group of university students to be immersed in. I was thrilled at how receptive the attendees were and how willing they were to sit and talk with us about our future aspirations and how we believed their businesses could be a part of our journey.

 

 

And Now, I am Back Again

For any of you who have possibly tried writing a blog before, it is hard. While I didn’t intend to leave my blog alone in cyberspace, untended and collecting dust, I did. I could blame inspiration, but I can’t blame something intangible. Inspiration, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Big Magic”) would call it your genius, comes in waves, huge gusts,knocking you off your feet and pulling you in. And I, ever powerless to resist creativity, goes with it. But inspiration doesn’t stick with you. Oh no, inspiration leads a fleeting existence, constantly leaving the poor soul behind that it fulfilled for an instance.

Unfortunately, I am often caught up in the hurricane that is inspiration and I start things, like this blog, the many short stories I have written but not completed, and the extraordinary theories we have – but keep to ourselves.

This time will be different though. For I am not, at this time, infiltrated by inspiration. Instead, I am full of longing and need to put my words, thoughts and ideas to (theoretical) paper. I want to share my ideas with the world. Maybe somebody will find them worth reading – and if that is the case I feel truly blessed.

Then, perhaps, when inspiration has deemed me worthy, it will come to me for an extended period of time. Then maybe, just maybe, my words will inspire someone else to do something they have always wanted to do as well.

Thanks,

Jenn

Am I to Become an Adult Now?

As the end of my undergrad career looms in the near future, I am struggling with what the future will hold for me. As a Christian, I do believe that there is a purpose I am supposed to serve and I am willing to serve that purpose. I just don’t know how that purpose will present itself.

Working in retail as I do now, I have learned how to deal with difficult customers as well as how to manage people and drive a business. But as my degrees will be in English and History, the experience I have in retail does little to bolster my future career aspirations.

Nor does my other experience in retail, radio, promotions and marketing. I also have political experience and I currently write and edit for the news section of my university’s newspaper. But again, if I do not intend to enter into writing or editing, what good is that experience?

Ultimately, I suppose, the overarching issues arise from the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. Yes, I would love to write and edit. Yes, I would love to travel. I would love a comfortable income. And I would love to help people, women, cultures become more than they currently are. I would love to support and help women create a persona, a career, a future, or a wardrobe! I want to be change and I want to create it too.

Easier said than done. And any change I can create, doesn’t seem as if it will be created by me anytime soon.

adultingMeanwhile, while one half of my brain stresses over the unforeseeable future, the other half seems to be keen on recalling and replaying my past relationship mistakes. Most of which can be neatly surmised to the actual immaturity that I didn’t think I had. Looking back, I see how obvious it is that I was the problem and my impatience destroyed everything that promised to be good, if only I could wait. But, immature as I was, and eager to have a romantic partner, I couldn’t be patient.
Currently, although I am seeing someone, I do not have any idea as to who will be a viable mate, husband, father and provider for the family I dream of having. Although clichéd, I want the American dream. I want a bountiful career with no glass ceiling and a family that is involved in sports, community activities, and vacation.

Cyber stalking past flames only seems to fuel this desire and also causes bittersweet happiness for them. They are happy, which is fantastic, but am I? And when I don’t feel happy, I am no longer thrilled for them, but jealous.

Having a career and a serious relationship seems to make them appear put together, confident, successful. Three things I do not currently feel. When is it that I get to feel that way too? Graduating with degrees does not make one an adult. In fact, it seems to point out just how far away from adulthood one may be. Regardless, bills treat all of us the same regardless of our career and relationship statuses.

For now, I suppose I ride this out. I shall wait and see what the future is going to bring me. I will travel to Pennsylvania in a few weeks for a journalism conference and continue to learn all I can. And I will continue to share this journey with you, my reader, in hopes that perhaps, we can figure this out together.

 

An Elephant in the Sky…

… Is how I feel sometimes.

Symbolically, the phrase means many things to me. Sometimes, I feel like a big bulky elephant, (but usually only after a Jack in the Box binge). Generally, however, I don’t seem to fit in with my generation. I find forty and fifty year olds to be more relatable. Yet, I still struggle with the constant fear that they only see me as a twenty somethin’ year old girl. I find forging relations and establishing connections in my life, both physical and emotional, to be extremely difficult. But by no means am I an introvert. Like an elephant, I reside on the Earth for what seems like millennia, showing the tides of time in every part of my being but remaining steadfast and unwavering. While time flies by, it also stands still, like clouds in the sky…

This Break-out Blogging Gig

I oftentimes wonder how many of these blogs are started up by feverous writers only to be left abandoned in cyber space, alone and in desperate need of a metaphorical dusting. In beginning this blog, am I destined to join those millions of writers who thought they had a thought in their head that the world would want ample access to? I wonder if I am not wasting my time sitting here, writing for the sake of it. Writing to find a way through the tangled rose bush vines that are the never ending thoughts in my mind.

I was encouraged to begin this blogging stage of my life by my parents and one very agreeable waiter on a celebratory evening in a very interesting restaurant. Despite my fears that my blog will go unnoticed by everyone and lack interest for anyone, I am beginning one anyways. My mother declared that writing a blog isn’t for the audience to read, but rather for the writer to self medicate and to truly see themselves.

There is truth to this theory. We write in journals, dictate our lives in “Dear Diary” format and dream in fictional prose brought to life by our imaginations simply to help ourselves through the sticky parts of our lives. We often lack the courage to express our feelings and to say the things we want to say to those who affect us in ways we don’t understand. Often times, I find I lack the sense of conviction needed to really accomplish anything of any value. So, here I am. I am throwing myself into this blog. As I go back to school next week, begin my Chloe and Isabel merchandising adventure, and continue with my new promotion at work, I hope I can touch at least one person. I hope someone learns something, gains the courage to say something, or sees themselves in a new way, even if that person is me.