Shop With Sheila

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am rarely seen without Sheila Fajl’s Everybody’s Favorite Hoops in Brushed Gold dangling from my ears. Thick yet lightweight and , these hoops are so versatile, look fabulous with every ensemble and can easily translate from day to night.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017. 

Sheila Fajl, a Brazilian-born and Californian-raised woman, stands for beauty in all of her jewelry products. “Beauty, to her, is in the soul. It is in how you wear your body, and has nothing to do with standards or size,” according to the designer’s website. With a focus on Sheila’s roots, all of the products are handmade by artisans in Brazil, and are, in fact, some of the most “eco-friendly” products in the jewelry market.

As an avid Sheila Fajl wearer, I have been given the unique opportunity to serve as a Sheila Fajl Brand Ambassador. Along with that privilege, I can now offer friends, family and Talk Trendy To Me followers, 10% off of any Sheila Fajl purchase. To shop with my discount, please visit Sheila Fajl’s website via my page. Happy shopping!

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The Shoe That Saved Us

For years, women have been sacrificing either function or fashion when dressing. It seemed impossible for designers to create pieces that married both of these aspects. However, in recent years, fashion and function now happily co-exist in multiple garment types. With the rise of athleisure, the marriage of fashion and function is even more prevalent. According to J. Holland (2017), athleisure is “sporty clothes and shoes that people don’t necessarily wear to play sport – grew by a staggering 42% between 2008 and 2015, according to Morgan Stanley research.” Additionally, this clothing type is not just reserved for the gym, to the contrary, “it’s a conscious style choice. It’s not just what you throw on to play with your dog in the garden” (Holland, 2017). Specifically in athleisure footwear, one shoe type certainly saved us all—the slip-on sneaker.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

From busy Millennial moms and comfort-focused Baby Boomers to trendy college students and fashion-forward children, the slip-on sneaker knows no age limits and has infiltrated the fashion industry. “Whether you want a leather-bound slip on or an embroidered floral lace-up pair, your everyday shoe game just got stepped up,” says T. Stephan (2017). In addition to the variety of choices, the slip-on sneaker can often just complete an outfit. When throwing on jeans and a loose v-neck, I always reach for one of my three pairs of slip-ons. However, a few years ago, my choices would have consisted of booties (the more dressy option), sandals (the more summery option) or boots (the cold-weather option). Therefore, slip-on sneakers certainly make life easier and also transcend seasons, upholding the advent of “seasonless dressing.” According to E. Stalder, seasonless dressing functions by this philosophy: “instead of limiting yourself to pastels in spring, brights in summer, and vampy shades in winter, wear any palette you want, no matter the season. Ditto for fabrics.”

A pair of Steve Madden gray suede slip-ons in July? Why not! Pairing Circus by Sam Edelman’s motif slip-ons with black jeans in December? Heck yeah! No matter the weather, the season, the occasion or your mood, it is always safe to reach for a pair of slip-on sneakers. Have yet to treat yourself to a pair? Check out some of my favorite styles!

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References

Holland, J. (2017, October 6). Are tracksuits and trainers the future of office attire? BBC. Retrieved from bbc.com.

Stalder, E. (2016, December 15). What Is ‘Seasonless’ Dressing, and How Could it Improve Your Style? StyleCaster. Retrieved from stylecaster.com.

Stephan, T. (2017, July 25). 19 Next-Level Platform Sneakers That Don’t Feel Basic. E! News. Retrieved from eonline.com.

Saturday in Athens

Even when the Dawgs are on the road to Knoxville to (hopefully) beat the Tennessee Vols, Saturdays in Athens are still the best. This morning, my friends—Lauren, Annika and Grace— and I hit the Athens Farmers Market to soak in some of the local culture and buy a few fresh treats. For breakfast, we enjoyed organic baked goods from Sanvi’s Sweets and Savories; I savored every last bit of the Indian-inspired Spinach and Ricotta Pastry Puff. After perusing the artisanal jewelry, home-made pottery, fresh jams and authentic hummus, I decided to purchase some organic arugula and sweet potatoes (to share with my roommate Lauren).

However, when shopping for fresh produce at the farmer’s market, it is essential to carry the perfect bag to store all your goodies. When we were headed out the door this morning, I knew exactly which tote to reach for— my pom-pom basket tote, of course! Truth be told, my favorite part about this fun and whimsical piece is the fact that it was a bargain (only $8 at Marshall’s)! With gray-tinted wicker, striped handles, a drawstring enclosure and various-colored pom-poms, it adds pizazz to any ensemble…or serves as the perfect grocery tote at the Athens Farmer’s Market!

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Lauren Linkowski, 2017.

Because pom-pom basket totes are certainly more of a summer accessory, I only have a week or two left to use this playful piece. With temperatures starting to lower (to the low 80s and high 70s) here, in Georgia, it seems as though fall is coming; and what better way to welcome the season, than with a relaxing trip to the Athens Farmer’s Market. Happy Saturday, y’all!

Target’s Reclaiming Of “Tar-Jay” Title

As headlines often mention the “retail apocalypse” in today’s market, it is necessary to argue that retail is not dying—but it certainly is changing. Many factors—such as the increase in ecommerce retail, shift in consumer behavior and ever-changing trends—can all lead to transformation in the retail space. However, some retailers are adapting to this change better than others. One retailer that has successfully combated the pressures of today’s market has over 1,800 stores in 49 states—Target.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Target realizes that they need to change, adapt and reinvent multiple facets of their company to stay relevant in the retail space. Often, people compare Target to Walmart, K-Mart or other big-box stores. However, Target set themselves apart in the 1990s and early 2000s with more refined, fashionable clothing brands. Now in 2017, Target recognizes that their exclusive brands need to be transformed. According to Kavita Kumar (2017a), Target “is saying goodbye to well-known brands such as Merona and Mossimo and introducing new labels in an effort to not only make the retailer more relevant in the face of newer competition but also to pick up market share from those chains that are struggling.” In addition to revamping their clothing selection, Target also has plans to expand their beauty products. According to Lauren Thomas (2017b), “the collection, called Glow Studio, will feature four-step routine kits that simplify a typical 10-step Korean beauty regimen, making it more accessible to users.” As another private label endeavor, Target aims to sees much value in “growing its beauty offerings at a time when players like Ulta and Sephora are expanding their physical footprints” (Thomas, 2017b). Therefore, Target realized the need to change their product selection and is actively taking action to do so.

Along with reinventing their clothing and beauty brands, Target will use this change in product to help streamline their position in omnichannel retailing. Kumar (2017a) adds that “over the next 18 months, Target will launch more than a dozen new brands, four of which begin hitting stores in coming weeks. They will be accompanied by a ‘More in Store’ marketing campaign that will feature TV and print ads, a big direct mail piece and an increased digital investment that includes tapping into social media.” By promoting these new clothing brands via TV, print, mail and various social sites, Target maximizes their potential to target a wide variety of consumers via the platform they prefer.

In addition to the store level, Target is also making changes at the corporate level. As of August 2017, Target hired Minsok Pak to fill the role of Chief Strategy and Innovation. Pak comes with experience such as “senior vice president of Lego’s stores and e-commerce sites around the world” (Kumar, 2017b). With the new leadership of Pak, Target hopes to hone their presence in the sphere of retail innovation and technology. For example, “innovation efforts are being embedded across all of the work Target does, such as current efforts to launch more than a dozen private-label brands in the next two years, remodel hundreds of stores with an eye toward integrating more digital elements, and remake its supply chain for the digital era,” says Kumar (2017b). Once again, Target plans to focus on digitalization to streamline the omnichannel experience.

Another connection to omnichannel retailing is Target’s plan to remodel over 600 outdated stores. By doing this, Target “will focus on creating more engaging guest experiences on the shop floor,” according to Pamela N. Danzinger (2017). This approach should see much success as many consumers now look for an aesthetically pleasing, fun shopping experience, rather than just a dull warehouse full of poorly-displayed merchandise. Along with the designed stores, “Target also plans to operate 130 small-format stores by the end of 2019 located in college communities and dense urban areas,” adds Danzinger (2107). By doing this, Target is making themselves physically available to more consumers, despite the limitations of location.

Potentially the most notable of the aspects, Target is bringing new, innovative thinkers into their retail space. With their Techstars Retail Accelerator program, “Target invites leaders from ten startups to work with and be mentored by Target executives for 13 weeks” (Danzinger, 2017). The opportunity allows Target to give real-world business advice to young, aspiring entrepreneurs, with the potential that those entrepreneurs could have their inventions sold across the nation at Target. The program is certainly mutually beneficial, and benefits Target in the sense that they are using young Millennials and members of Generation Z to then market specifically to those cohorts.

These various efforts toward reinvention and innovation seem beneficial, but have they stimulated recent success for the retailer? According to Daniel Keyes (2017), Target’s efforts certainly have manifested in the retail space. Keyes (2017) adds that Target revealed “a 1.6% year-over-year (YoY) uptick in revenue to $16.4 billion for the period. The retailer also saw its same-store sales rise 1.3% YoY, marking the end of a three-quarter streak of declines in the metric.” Looking toward future success, Lauren Thomas (2017a) claims that “a focus on executing new merchandising, and on offering customers value through pricing and convenience, will differentiate Target from the competition.”

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Although Target has certainly seen recent success— a claim that is upheld by specific data—and experts in the retail industry predict continued growth for the retailer, how does the reinvention of Target affect the retail industry, as a whole? Because Target operates with over 1,800 locations, the retailer serves thousands, if not millions, of consumers. Since Target is able to deliver a charming shopping experience, with on-trend clothing products, unique home décor, high-quality groceries and other various household, beauty and electronic items, then their customers will be pleased, affecting consumer attitude and the overall retail industry. In addition, Target’s reinvention may spur its competition to reevaluate the state of their companies. Therefore, Target’s changes and adaptations not only benefit them, but could potentially positively affect other retailers who want to remain competitive. Additionally, because ecommerce retail will likely drive the majority of sales within the coming years, Target’s efforts to improve their online and mobile sites, as well as streamline their omnichannel experience, provides consumers with a platform—other than Amazon—to shop for a vast variety of products.

“Target is pulling out all the stops to bring back its “Tar-Jay” magic” (Danzinger, 2017). After making recent changes and with plans for even more transformation and growth, Target is on the fast track to reclaiming their former glory as a more prestigious, “one-stop-shop,” big box retailer. The retail environment has drastically changed recently, and Target recognized this reality and made the radically bold decision to adapt alongside the industry. Although many consumers already have difficulty walking out of Target empty-handed, the retailer just made that concept even more of a pervasive challenge.


References

Danzinger, P. N. (2017, August 29). Target’s Renaissance: New Blood, Not New Brands or Stores, Will Bring The Company New Life. Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com.

Keyes, D. (2017, August 2017). Target sees in-store and online improvements. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com.

Kumar, K. (2017, August 16). Target refreshes brands to stay chic and relevant, phasing out Merona and Mossimo. StarTribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com.

—–. (2017, August 23). Target taps Minsok Pak to be new chief strategy and innovation officer. StarTribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com.

Thomas, L. (2017, August 16). Target shares jump as shoppers return to stores, boosting sales. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com.

—–. (2017, September 6). Target to roll out exclusive K-beauty brand, growing its makeup offerings. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com.

Ear Candy: Mignonne Gavigan’s Mini Madeline Earrings

Want to make a statement with your jewelry? Look no further than the beautifully-handcrafted pieces at Mignonne Gavigan!

In 2014, designer Mignonne “Maggie” Gavigan saw a “void in the marketplace for eye-catching jewelry that incorporates elements of couture beading and artistry.” According to the brand’s website, Gavigan’s most notable piece is the Signature Scarf Necklace, which began by chance. After accidentally tearing a couture gown, Mignonne “tied it around her neck and wore it with a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.” Soon after, the collection evolved to include earrings, bracelets and scarfs, all “define by ornate details, elevated craftsmanship and luxe materials.” Even Mignonne’s loft reflects the aesthetic of her brand, take a tour here.

One Kings Lane.

As someone who spends a good portion of the day on social media, I first discovered the brand through Instagram. After exploring the Mignonne Gavigan’s profile and stumbling upon retailers that stock the brand, I began to consider a purchase, for myself. When exploring the product line, I gravitated toward the earrings; partially because I love a good statement earring and partially because unique, colorful earrings are especially “in” right now. Aesthically, the Madeline Earrings spoke to me, but I ultimately turned my focus to the Mini Madeline Earrings, as they are more in my budget, as a college student.

After more time spent on Instagram, I came across a promotion for all Mignonne Gavigan pieces sold at Gena Chandler, a boutique in Raleigh, North Carolina. With a few Instagram direct messages about the colors and the discount and a quick phone call to the store, Gena Chandler sent a pair of Mignonne Gavigan Mini Madeline Earrings in White & Gold to my doorstep.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Personally, I get quite excited when I receive an online order, as I truly do not do much of my shopping online (I prefer the brick-and-mortar shopping experience). Therefore, when I unwrapped my very own pair of handcrafted Mignonne Gavigan earrings, I resembled a five-year-old on Christmas morning. in fact, I received a notification from FedEx that my package had been delivered at 1:19pm, so I raced home from work to find the newest addition to my jewelry box.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

With the discount I received from Gena Chandler and my choice of a neutral color, I feel as though these earrings are an investment that I will wear for years to come. After all, couture items rarely go out of style.

Teeney Bikini

Happy National Bikini Day! The bikini was created on July 5, 1946; therefore, women have doned this style for over 70 years! I am lucky enough to celebrating from the sand, while wearing one of my favorite bikinis and catching some sun. In honor of #NationalBikiniDay, I have assembled a few of my favorite swimsuit styles and brands.

As someone who has never been stick-thin, shopping for swimwear can often be quite the burden, and sometimes leave me feeling insecure. In recent years, I have become more aware of my body, learning to accept my curves and imperfections. However, this summer I am feeling particularly more confident, as I have shed just over fifteen pounds since returning home from college. Although I still look at myself in the mirror and critique various aspects of my body, I have realized the need to love the body I have, while working for the body I want. Wearing swimwear that accentuates the aspects of my body I like has helped me feel empowered, while walking down the beach.

In terms of shopping for swimwear, I have three basic guidelines. First, always try on at home. The harsh, fluorescent lights in retailer’s dressing rooms often can dim one’s confidence; therefore, whether you purchase in-store or order it online, be sure to try on the garments in the comfort of our own space (and with your own undergarments for hygiene!). Second, try on every style. Even for a piece of clothing that covers so little of the body, bikinis come in all shapes and sizes. Tops—halter or bandeau, padded or unpadded, tie closure or hook closure—and bottoms—cheeky or full coverage, low-rise or high-waisted, ruched or flat—are designed differently and suit diverse body types in unique ways. Therefore, try on a variety of styles to better assess what you like. Third, be a little narcissist. Once you have found a style you like, spend time with the mirror. Examine how you look in the bikini, particularly commenting on what you like about the style and how it accentuates your body. If you can recognize how those cheeky bottoms make your booty look great or that triangle top gives the illusion of a more lifted chest, you will feel incredible when wearing the swimsuit in public. After developing and following these three guidelines, I have become partial to specific styles loyal to particular brands. Take a look!

STYLES

When it comes to tops, I have learned that I really like longline halter tops. With that extra band of fabric below my bust line, I feel as though I am secure. Also, I rely on padding in my bathing suits. Because I do not have the largest chest, I enjoy the added lift that pads can provide.

In terms of bottoms, my favorite pairs tend to be those that are more cheeky. Because my booty is not the most round, the cheeky cut accentuates my butt. Also, I will not purchase a pair of bikini bottoms that do not hold in my love handles. Whether the bottoms themselves are wider or there is a wide band on the side, I feel most confident when I know I have a bit more coverage around my hips.

BRANDS

Take a peek at some of my favorite swimwear brands and the bikinis that I own from each of them.

Target

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Maaji

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

O’Neill

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Victoria Secret

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Aerie

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Trina Turk

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Seamless Fashion: Prime Wardrobe

From food to fashion, Amazon has done it again. After announcing their purchase of Whole Foods last week, Amazon quickly introduced another new component to their growing empire— Prime Wardrobe.

Amazon capitalized on the main reasons many consumers do not purchase clothing online- fit and sizing issues, complicated returns and hefty shipping fees. By eliminating all these risks, Amazon Wardrobe appears to be seamless. According to Amazon, the service will include products from brands outside their private label, such as Calvin Klein, Levi’s, adidas, Parker, Milly and Theory, among others.

Aside from clothing, shoes and accessories delivered directly to your door, Prime Wardrobe includes other unique features. According to Lauren Thomas of CNBC, there is “no upfront charge,” and customers only pay for the products they keep. In addition, Nick Wingfield of The New York Times reports that “customers can return the items they don’t want in a resealable box with the preprinted shipping label that the order came in.” As another component of Prime Wardrobe, discounts are central to the service. Wingfield shares that Amazon will offer “10 percent off the purchase price of an order for anyone who keeps three to four items, and 20 percent off for anyone who keeps five or more items.”

Although I personally value and thoroughly enjoy the process of shopping in-store, the introduction of Prime Wardrobe has certainly peaked my interest. Often, I purchase clothing from local department stores and boutiques, but take them home to try on with my own undergarments, shoes and jewelry and assess if I truly will wear the item. If Prime Wardrobe provides me with that same experience but eliminates my time spent shopping in-store and the hassle of returning to a physical location, I may become a convert. I cannot say definitively, but it may not be too long until Amazon delivers my first Prime Wardrobe order.


Works Cited

“Prime Wardrobe.” Amazon, Amazon.com, Inc. amazon.com. Accessed 26 June 2017.

Thomas, Lauren. “Amazon announces Prime Wardrobe, tackling fashion retail head on.” CNBC, CNBC LLC. 20 June 2017. cnbc.com. Accessed 26 June 2017.

Wingfield, Nick. “Amazon Will Let Customers Try On Clothes Before Buying.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company. 20 June 2017. nytimes.com. Accessed 26 June 2017.

A Maxxinsta’s Delight

While shifts in consumer tastes and technological advancements have reinvented the face of retail, we are certainly not in a “retail apocalypse,” contrary to popular belief. According to Mark Matthews of the National Retail Federation, “the narrative that retail is struggling — or even dying — is significantly overblown.” Furthermore, one retailer in particular is consistently thriving— T.J. Maxx.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

As a self-proclaimed Maxxinsta, I believe that I may be partially responsible for T.J. Maxx’s continued prosperity. According to Fox Business’s Suzanne Kapner, T.J. Maxx relies on creating a “constant treasure hunt.” By rapidly turning over merchandise, T.J. Maxx is able to capture the consumer and keep them coming back. Personally, I frequent the T.J. Maxx closest to my home once a week, or every two/three weeks when I’m trying to watch my wallet. To uphold Kapner’s point, the uncertainty and thrill of searching through the merchandise is one of the reasons I enjoy shopping at T.J. Maxx.

Low prices— another ingredient in T.J. Max’xs recipe for success. After purchasing a pair of Jack Rogers for $60, a Rebecca Minkoff bag for $99 and a Trina Turk bikini for $40, T.J. Maxx has set a standard for me. Knowing that I can find designer items for half the retail price at T.J. Maxx makes me less likely to ever pay full price from the original source, hence why I have become loyal to T.J. Maxx.

Who does T.J. Maxx attribute majority of its success to? According to Kapner, it’s their buyers, as “each buyer controls millions of dollars and has authority to cut deals on the spot, unlike most department stores, which can take weeks to review and approve orders.” After intensive training for several years, T.J. Maxx buyers are given an immense amount of responsibility yet freedom to bring sellable merchandise into the stores.

T.J. Maxx currently operates “3,800 physical locations and plans to open 250 stores this year,” as cited by Kapner. Even in the dawn of the e-commerce age, T.J. Maxx (and similar retailers, such as Marshalls, Saks Off 5th, etc.) still reap the benefits of a unique, bargain business model. Clearly, Maxxinstas everywhere are rejoicing.


Works Cited

Kapner, Suzanne. “How T.J. Maxx is Bucking the Crisis in Retailing.” FOX Business, FOX News Network, LLC. 20 June 2017. foxbusiness.com. Accessed 25 June 2017.

Matthews, Mark. “Retail’s Reinvention Story Is Just Getting Started.” The National Retail Federation, National Retail Federation. 14 June 207. nrf.com. Accessed 25 June 2017.

Trend Alert: Tassel Earrings

From beads and pom-poms to leather and fringe, tassel earrings are this season’s hottest accessory! Whether the baubles add a pop of color or fun element to an outfit, these earrings are certainly a necessity in your jewelry box.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Celebrities and fashion icons, such as Julianne Moore, Rose Huntington-Whiteley and Julianne Hough, as well as royals like Kate Middleton, have adopted the tassel earring trend. Truly, these bold accessories have infiltrated  he fashion industry and become a staple for many women’s outfits. In fact, there is a vast range of retailers that now offer this trend in their jewelry lines.

Anyone and everyone know and love Lisi Lerch’s Tassel Earring; some say she was one of the first to design a tassel earring. BaubleBar offers several affordable options such as their Piñata Tassel Earrings, Crispin Drops and Gabriela Fringe Drops.  Additionally, Vanessa Mooney created a variety of tassel earrings, ranging from The Astrid Knotted Tassel Earring to The Dynasty Earring. If you are looking to splurge on this trend, turn to Ranjana Khan’s Chandelier Earring, Oscar de la Renta’s Long Beaded Tassel Drop Earrings or Auden’s Topanga Suede Fringe Earring.  On the other hand, if you are looking for a steal on this trend, Target’s SUGARFIX by BaubleBar is a fabulous collaboration, with styles such as The Beaded Tassel Earring and The String Tassel Drop Earrings with Embellished Top. Also, Bluumoon Collection offers their unique Four Layer Tassel Earring and Topshop stocks The Sequin and Tassel Earring.

Whether pairing with a simple off-the shoulder gown to a cocktail party or a white t-shirt to have brunch with the girls, tassel earrings can add that needed element of fun!

Christmas 2016: Gift Guide

With only ten days until Christmas, it certainly is time to start your holiday shopping, if you have yet to do so! Whether looking for the perfect item for your sorority sister, beloved mother or BFF, I have compiled my staple items to give this season. From clothing and accessories to gifts for the home, it doesn’t have to hard to shop for everyone on your list, at every price point! From sweaters and gloves to stay warm this winter, to the season’s hottest trends like a pair of over-the-knee boots or even a scented diffuser for the home, you can spread holiday cheer in several, unique forms. Happy shopping!

Christmas 2016: Gift Guide