Don’t “Should” Yourself in the Foot

Hi friends! *Big inhale* What a time it is to be alive! Only 7 months into 2020, and what a crazy, chaotic, whirlwind it’s been!

As we head into our fourth month of self-quarantine, I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. Aside from the obvious restrictions, just like the rest of the world, I have struggled with what exactly my new “normal” is looking like, both mentally and emotionally.

Just one of the many consequences of this global pandemic is that we are now all being urged to hustle harder than ever. We are given examples of Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton (just to name a few) who all thrived while under lockdown. I’ve received newsletters and read countless articles from my fave magazine subscriptions urging me to use the presumed “downtime” I now have to learn a new skill, take on a high intensity workout routine, or “simply” declutter my life.

It’s as if, every second that I am not building towards these ”shoulds,” is a second wasted.

A should is an expectation IMPOSED by us or onto us. While they might seem like motivators, “shoulding” ourselves is actually a major energy drain as it forces us to split focus. We’re forcing our minds to be in two places at once and is often wrapped in guilt and even shame. The pressure of it all is convincing AF.

Put your finger down if you ever feel like vegging out on the couch, eat everything in sight, and just do a whole lot of nothing, but then that little voice in your head tells you, “you should be more productive while you’re at home, sis…never waste a day on the couch,” so now you feel guilty mid-laze and shame yourself for not being as disciplined as others and bam…it’s no longer a day of R&R but rather anxiety just waiting to creep in … (*slowly puts finger down*)

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There’s this common misconception that if we lounge around the house, we must also simultaneously take on a new hobby, like reading, for instance.

This imposed guilt is toxic imo, so that’s why, a few weeks back, I made a commit to cleanse from this “should” with the help of @halotopcreamery and actually celebrate that feel-good feeling from setting goals and taking action on my own terms, OKURRR!

Side note: Halo Top is ya girl’s fave ice cream, so big s/o to them for working with my sweet-toothed self!

But for real, Halo Top’s formula in itself has helped chip away at this “shoulding” culture, because all of our lives, we are told that: “we shouldn’t eat the whole pint,” or that, “ice cream should be a special treat.” But hallelujah that Halo Top is known for their fewer cal/less sugar because, under the latter imposed notion, every night must be a special occasion in my house, because I go through several pints a week, and I’m not mad bout’ it, LOL!

Anyway, as the month has gone on, life has only become even more hectic with the recent global social justice movement, we’ve been experiencing.

Days seem to move a bit slower for me and now more than ever, it has been imperative that I take extra care of little ol’ me.

I realized that up until this point, I have only robbed myself of the satisfaction of real, uninterrupted, rest. Listening to all the “shoulds” of this new era, has only left me never truly in the moment, but rather caught up in a story of another choice that could have been made.

So in efforts of a healthier cycle of self-love and self-care, I have been eliminating the “shoulds” that imply obligation and expectation. On the days, I decide to veg out, I’m going to commit to just that, with an extra pint of Halo Top, while I’m at it!

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After reflecting on the heaviness of the past couple weeks, I’ve realized that now is the time to take up space and be loud! We are all worthy of navigating on our own terms, especially as the world around us, is seemingly falling apart.

So to circle back to the daunting question many of us have been asked:

“Are you going to learn any new skills during the pandemic?

MY ANSWER:

…I already am. How to cope with the pandemic, how to get through the day knowing everyone I love is sad and scared, and how to read the news and still go on.

And all that is enough. I don’t have to come out of this with new skills, new projects, new expectations, or new accomplishments. What matters is that I come out of this”  –

So the next time I hear that little voice convincing me that, “I should never waste a day on the couch,” I will reply, “or maybe, there’s never been a better day than today, to be on that dang couch, mkay!!! (BIG CLAP)

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Indulge or hustle at your own accord, sis! Because, hennieee, you deserve that right.

Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

Hey, hunayys! So last week on IG, I asked y’all a question that really had me thinking: “If you could give your 13 year old self advice, what would it be?!” And your responses were literally giving me life because even though we’ve all come from different backgrounds, so many of us went through similar struggles.

Middle school, man… a crazy awkward time that I think most of us would rather forget, HA! T’was brutal AF but also def the experience that changed me forever. When I say brutal, I mean, there were days where I would think to myself, “how life would be easier if I just had a different name, different identity…”

Mother nature hit me in 5th grade, so by the time I entered middle school, ya girl had hips and breasts, thicc thighs, the whole nine. At first I was excited because I was becoming a woman!! But my eager ass was surely surprised when I arrived to school feeling like a freak, why was I the only who hit puberty?! This is when what felt like a living hell, ensued. Rumors spread quickly that I lost it, where at and with who. These stories were elaborate y’all. I was even “pregnant” a few times according to these people, at freaking age 11 because of my wider hips! LIKE WHAT?! At first, I just tried to keep my head down and try not to let it get to me. But over time, I was cornered at my locker, followed home, pranked called non-stop, and called out for my clothing choices on a daily basis! I remember one day specifically, I was wearing a skirt that my mom and I went shopping together for and as I sat down in the cafeteria, this girl stood up and yelled at me, “so you think you can just walk around here with those big ass hips, wearing that skirt? You must really think you’re hot shit. Come here and show us all how “hot” you really are!” And obviously humiliation ensued. I felt so damn small. Like these hips were out of my control, like I get it, they developed outta the woodworks HAHA but like leave Britney alone!! As shook as I was in that moment, I had to wonder? When will this hell end? I fucking hated it here. I hated my body for doing this to me! Why couldn’t it just stay the same as it was before. It was bringing so much unwanted attention, ugh! If I tried to dress modest, I got sh*t! If I dressed just like the other girls in my classes, I was then somehow promiscuous. Like I could never win!! There were so many days I would eat lunch in a teacher’s classroom, or the bathroom just to limit the amount of walking around campus. In desperation,

I finally decided to ask my parents, “why do I look so different than all of the other girls in school?” With much disappointment, they advised that I only had one option here: embrace my body, period. And I remember thinking, “but how can I, when literally it has been the cause of all this bullshit I’m going through?!” But before I could even verbalize that, they continued…

Because if I didn’t, I would spend my entire life, hating a body that did absolutely nothing wrong to me. And in fact, where I went wrong, was allowing all this time to go by without standing my ground. After a real “aha” moment with myself, I finally made the decision to take my power back. I WILL flaunt what I was given, like how dare I ever hide all that I was to make others comfortable? 

That conversation forever changed my life.

I realized that if I did not accept, own, and defend who I really was, then I’d be leaving room for other’s to make that decision for me.

I may have continued to be picked apart because of my appearance, my extra ass personality, and everything in between but what guess? I no longer shamed myself for any of it!  I would occasionally still eat lunch alone, but honestly, that didn’t bother me much; my lonely ass would happily eat my food in peace. But the thing I noticed about these people, is that they were bothered that I was no longer cracking.

And that was the sweetest victory. Self-love is taking your power back! For the years following, I always made sure to remind myself about that 7th grade conversation. From 8th grade on, I was untouchable! The human spirit in strong AF! I truly believe if you learn how to be secure in who you are, no rumor, no shitty person, no event will shake you!

I am so thankful for those people, b/c of them, I discovered the necessity of self-love and hellllurrr, they paved the way for a body posi queen! Now, as I’m inching closer to my 30’s, holy sh*t, I am so damn proud of the woman I have become. I love my “big ass hips,” I love my curves, and I love my cellulite, b/c you know what? That’s what makes Jasmin, Jasmin.

Looking back, I cry for my 11-13 year-old self. I cry for the girl who looked at her curves with tears in her eyes and desperately prayed for another body. The girl who felt like a freak.

If only I could tell her, that all this BS is temporary. You will freaking flourish to a woman so sure of herself that no one can break! Just hold on a little longer boo, because your time will come! Just note, these people will always find something to talk about, hate does not discriminate! So, have freaking grit, and always remember that beauty shines from within. If you learn to love yourself now, you will live a powerful f*cking life!

So much love to all my girls who went through some ish to get to where we are now! What I’ve learned is that these trolls, these mean girls, these bitter souls will always be around, for the rest of our lives… BUT if we remember who TF we are, we will always win! Xo

Q & A – Instagram Edition Pt. II

Hey boos! I see a lot of new faces on here + it has been a minute since I dedicated a post to my most asked questions so here we go 🙂

  1. Any tips on creating content on a budget?
    • This is tricky! Curating a photo can be multi-layered. This can all depend on location, outfit, props, etc. If you are wanting to shoot at a botanical garden, state park, museum, etc these locations all cost money, not just for your own entrance fee but your photographers as well. So in terms of location, try to stick to public places like the beach, down town area, and even your home. For outfits, if you are not gifted certain pieces, thrifting will be your best bet. I have posted photos in entirely thrifted pieces from head to toe where I spent anywhere from $10-$40. Now if you use props in your shots, which I do almost 100% of the time, flowers are my go-to. Trader Joe’s, Ralph’s, and Whole Foods carry my fave kinds of flowers for a decent price (depending on the week). But many times you can find props laying around the house and just incorporate them into your shots as you see fit.
  2. What is the biggest surprise in your transition into blogging full-time?
    • I would have to say, the struggle lies in the actual adjustment of schedules and time management. Before, when I was working full-time in the office, I knew I would only have the 6pm-12am time slot to work on my blog/IG. But now, as “more” time is available, I am finding myself still cramming everything into a small window of time as I am picking up more work on this end. Before there was some sort of structure there, though chaotic, it somehow worked. So, I am trying to fine tune a new schedule that works for me and that all begins with practicing good habits so that they eventually become routine.
  3. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to gain a bigger but yet organic and authentic audience on IG?
    • Now, I think this can vary depending on who you are asking. And this is because there are several routes to take. And by no means am I throwing shade to those who do the following techniques, but I’m just stating what I’ve seen be done. So in order to build an organic following, you want to refrain from joining any “course” that promises quick growth. Although, you may gain authentic followers, the way in which they advise you to do so, most likely won’t be organic. Because in my eyes, organic growth happens over time and not overnight or in a matter of a few weeks. Also, from what I’m hearing, these techniques can be flagged by IG which can effect your overall reach. In terms of authentic followers, do not succumb to the pressures or even curiosity of buying fake followers. I know SOOO many people do it, but like…it is SOOO obvious. And I have IG friends who have confided in me that they do this only because “desperate times call for desperate measures” and I can totally understand the frustrations of not growing, but I personally could not go about my day knowing I am making moves that have challenged my integrity. I also think there is a different sense of pride knowing you built your community solely through your hard work vs. through sus means.  So, the simple answer here…is literally just do you. Speak on issues that matter to YOU, create content that excites YOU, and by being your true + raw authentic self, people will take notice. Utilize your stories to help your audience get a glimpse into your every day non-curated life. Relatability means a lot to people! I like to ask myself, “am I the same person online than I am in real life?” If I feel I posted something that does not match 100% to who I am, I delete it. This has been key for me in my growth. In addition to authenticity, I love to focus on community. I want to get to know my followers and the only way I can do that, is through engagement. Are you taking the time to make real connections with others? Also, I listen to what my audience likes, if they ask for more at home shoots, I try to throw a few in there to show their suggestions are being heard.
  4. How do you stay inspired/creative?
    • I am naturally drawn to aesthetics. I love to look at content that makes me feeeel a type of way. And usually that is through pretty, thought out, photos. Yes, I love seeing bomb ass outfits, but what else can the photo give me? I want to leave looking at a photo feeling something stronger. So, that emotional aspect of it, is something I try to take with me in curating my own content. And this is not to say, I am successful each time. In fact, there are many photos of mine which will never see the light of day (or I wished never saw the light of day), because I didn’t/don’t feel any type of way while looking at it. It can be hard to conceptualize a shoot and go in thinking it’s going to be amazing, but during post-production, simply hating it. So I think what keeps me inspired, is creating and figuring ways that give me opportunity to feel less of those shitty days. I want every single photo of mine to spark something within me. So the more I am able to pull within myself and up my game more and more each and every time, the stronger collectively my work will be. I also like to analyze my feed as a means of surveying. What am I seeing too often? What am I not seeing enough? Which photos spark joy and which don’t? Whatever data I am able to pull from that, I can then go into Pinterest, IG, the outdoors etc., and try to locate those answers. Also, taking a break from posting, can also give me a fresh perspective on the direction I’d like to take for future shoots.
  5. How do you balance being so active on your social media and being present in your real life?
    • THIS IS TOUGH! I feel like the two go hand and hand at this point but that is partially because I have always been this way! Ever since I can remember, my friends and family HATED that I had to take photos of everything! But, I’d always found joy in documenting my life. So now that social media is actually a thing, I don’t necessarily find it to be any different? I know this sounds bad but I don’t look at it as an inconvenience to whatever my day to day is. But I also think this is because of who I am. If I’m having a shitty day, I am able to talk about it and share what that looks like. No make up, greasy ass hair, etc. But I know of friends, who can’t do that! They feel they have to “show up” for Instagram, make up, cheerful attitude, the whole 9.  So it can be hard for me personally to draw that line, because I can easily watch a movie with bae, take a quick video while slumped on the couch, post it, and keep watching. But what I did in Europe to try to remain as present as possible was saving all my videos until later that day, so I wasn’t spending that time while out adventuring. But again, this is a work in progress for me!
  6. How do you get such great engagement on your posts? 
    • Well, right now I am currently shadow banned so meh, it’s been hard out here for a sis!! HAHA. But overall, I have to owe it all to the community I have been blessed with! I think the amount of time I have put into getting to know my audience, and the friendships I have built has been reciprocated in so many ways, one being through engagement. For me, there is this sort of loyalty to each other so when we post, so we just naturally want to support and engage. And I truly think that has been the case for me.
  7. I’m a smaller account and larger accounts have directly copied my content, any advice?
    • UGH, if I had a dollar for every time this has happened to me (massive ass eye roll). So I know there is this notion that ideas are not owned and we all pull inspo from each other at some point and I get that! However, it can feel like a robbery when all the time, effort, energy it takes to curate one post, can literally be “taken” for lack of better word and treated as though it were an original concept. Because as content curators our work is essentially public, we are not really protected against this. So the only thing I can suggest doing, is finding it within yourself to some how shake it off. It’ll suck, it’ll sting, it really makes you question the integrity of others, but unfortunately this is a risk all creators take by putting their work out for the world to see. It is almost inevitable. But what is most important to remember is that people can copy your recipe, but YOU ARE THE SECRET SAUCE 🙂
  8. When it comes to blogging, what is your biggest fear and what’s your advice to fight it?
    • My biggest fear is that I am not touching on topics that resonate with people. If y’all notice, often times I don’t talk about very blogger-esque topics because simply other things interest me. I’ve found myself wondering if people even care what I’m writing about but then I have to remind myself that I am not creating content to conform, I am creating because I have a passion for whatever it is I’m putting out. So in my case, remembering that as long as I am loving what I’m doing, the rest will follow.
  9. If you knew something when you started your IG journey that you know now, what would you do differently? 
    • I would have cut off toxic, half-assed support earlier on. When you start a small business, you have a lot of skepticism around it. And in the beginning, I went through several months where I struggled maintaining “friendships” that I knew were not supportive but I stuck around anyway because #loyalty. But I realized, life is too short to surround yourself that with type of energy. Life requires you to level up and if my circle is not vibrating to that same frequency, girl, bye! The time and guilt I spent/felt by ending those friendships were yes, worth it in the long run but in retrospect, it would have been healthier for me to just act on those red flags earlier on.
  10. What does your BTS actually look like, if you could paint the picture for us. 
    • AH!! So usually the real BTS takes hours and this is because my posts are all for the most part… fully curated. We start off heading to the store to pick up our props, then we head to our location. Thing is, our location, is usually a longer road trip away, HA! So once we are there, I quickly change into my outfit, we have Troy (our dog) in his stroller chilling on the side of us, and we location scout. Once we have our exact location, I have bae stand in my desired spot, and then we add in the props. Usually the weather is against us, so many times we both are just standing idle until the wind passes. Usually I try 10-20 different poses. Often times after 20 minutes, Troy starts to bark and the embarrassment begins, LOL. Half of my shots are me telling or yelling at  Troy, “almost done, Bubba, just a few more!!” We normally take a break for me to review the photos and if none are to my liking, bae knows the pressure is on, because I can get impatient AF! Our roles are like reversed: he’s the one telling me we need to shoot more, and I’m the one who’s like, “K, lets go!” HAHA. Depending if the photo is due that day, we either edit straight after in the car for posting or we narrow down our selects so once we arrive back home, the post production part is not as long.

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Ah, soooo I know this is long (let’s be honest, when are my posts ever short?) but I tried to be thorough AF. Or if you’re just a metiche like me, hope you enjoyed the tea! XO 

 

How to Teach Your Man to be the IG Business Partner You Deserve: Our Story

Now, although this post is geared towards bloggers/content creators, I know many people outside of this whole influencer world are curious as to how this whole thing works. So in addition to spilling the tea on how we grew my account, I also wanted to share our tips on how your S/O can also become your business partner.

So before I continue, I have to give major props to my boo for growing into a role he did not ask for. Without him, none of this would have been possible. You believed in me before I even believed in myself and for that, I love you so much! YOU DA REAL MVP, BB!

Ah, so where should we begin!?

If you’re first starting out and have no idea where to start, don’t stress, because I was there…we were there! And I’d like to preface that although I’m referring to a significant other, these tips can hold true to any helpful person in your life.

Backstory:

Prior to bae and I dating, I had been blogging for half a year but only shared my posts with my inner circle of about 1K friends and family on Instagram.

Although, my blog views were low, each post fulfilled me more and more. Especially when I would receive messages that people actually resonated with my content… OMG, the best feeling in the world! I also felt creatively liberated after suppressing this side of me for so long. But, it wasn’t easy, y’all! I was simultaneously just as nervous to really open myself up and remain vulnerable on this platform, I was so used to posting random sh*t, like the fortune in my cookie that came with my Panda Express meal, not paragraphs on (for example) my journey dealing with anxiety, and the like. So with each post, I felt my walls go down, little by little.

So after half-heartedly blogging for 6 months, I finally decided to publish one of my most proudest pieces to date, “Why it is Okay to be Single”. I figured, I needed to give this blogging thing a true shot and put my entire soul into my writing. Coincidentally, this was published just a few days before my now bf, asked me on our first date.

Well, the rest was history! We were inseparable! One of the things I was attracted to the most about him, was his genuine interest in my passions and blog! He complimented my work and it was clear, he had read a few reads! In fact, he had been a food blogger for a while so we shared that common interest.

As our time together grew, so did our mini roadtrips. And since he has an eye for photography and landscape, he had asked me to pose for the camera a few times. And although, I’ve always been photogenic, I felt so awkward and uncomfortable, LOL. This was brand spankin’ new! I did not want him seeing my bad angles, ugly outtakes, etc! But weekend after weekend, he had encouraged me to shake the shyness off.

After a few months in, I remember us having this serious conversation about my intentions surrounding the blog and online presence.

Bae had hyped me up and really gave me the pep talk I needed to hear. In sum, he laid out the facts. He believed in my content, my creative talent, and potential brand but in order to see real growth, I needed to give this my allll and actually share it with the world, (not just the 1K followers on my private IG account.)

He vowed that he would do everything in his power to help me grow! BUT DAMMMNN, WHAT A CRAZY, WILD, STRESSFUL, BEAUTIFUL, JOURNEY ITS BEEN!! (We legit had no idea what we were in for!!)

The Beginning of Our IG/Content Curation Journey:

For starters, we really had no effing clue what we were doing.

On 2.05.18 we decided to try out our first curated post! This was the day, I made my profile public and one year ago to the date, I can say that day/decision was the first day of the rest of my life. I know, sounds dramatic but its so true!

In my caption, I let my followers know the shift of purpose I’d decided to make for my platform. It was my way of 1) holding myself accountable for all I had set out to do, but also 2) alerting my peeps that things would begin to look different.

Bae and I began utilizing our road trips as mini shoots. Both of us gravitate towards aesthetic photography so we just began to take shots that felt whimsical and pleasing to the eye!

At that point, what became equally important was learning/figuring out what editing software/style we liked. Bae introduced me to Adobe Lightroom and together, we learned the ins and outs of the program. I truly believe in creating a cohesive Insta feed through your editing but, at the beginning, it’ll likely take you some time to know what that exactly will look like. You can try out cool or warm toned photos, colorful, black and white, etc. Some people buy presets from other creators to slap onto their every photo or you can go our route and create your own presets; either or!

But this photographer/subject relationship is the hardest part! At first, I felt awkward telling bae that I did not like a photo. But now, let me tell y’all, she does not hold back! Haha, ugh!

In the beginning, it’ll take you some time to develop a trusting relationship with your partner/photographer. Especially if your partner does not come from an artistic background, YOU WILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. DON’T ASSUME. Even though bae enjoyed taking photos before, ya girl required a whole new level of expertise! SO, YOU WILL NEED TO TEACH HIM!

If you don’t know exactly what this is: I would suggest coming up with a mood board and showing your partner. What niche are you wanting to dabble into? Fashion, Lifestyle, Beauty, Fitness, Travel, etc… the possibilities are endless and with trial and error, you will find yourself gravitating towards one over the other.

So we decided to shoot every weekend at cool locations with some cool outfits that I had in my closet. In the meantime, I began engaging with accounts I found on my explore page and tried to build relationships via DMs with other aspiring content curators/bloggers.

Almost two months later, I landed my first collab. Now, this was the dopest feeling because it made us feel like we had been doing something right.

But with this, also came the pressures to provide service/quality to brands outside of the one we were trying to build for our own.  The bar of expectations were now raised and bae felt that. (Well the relationship did! Will elaborate in a bit)

Road to 10k:

As time passed, I began connecting with soooo many like-minded people! I decided to use the same unfiltered/authentic voice that I spoke in in my blog posts but now in my work over on IG. The more I did this, the more I felt like I was resonating with others. Like actualllly making an impact in someone else’s life, no better feeling! A couple months in, (still figuring out what the heck I was doing) a girl had confided in me in that her random stumbling across my content the night before, actually saved her from hurting herself. I was taken aback. That conversation really moved me.  What good would it be to just post photos? I needed to provide real relatable substance to those who came across my content. I began to feel like this was God’s way of telling me I was heading down the right path…that this was the purpose he had intended for me to live out. That 1 heavy, genuine message, turned into at times 120+ a day. I truly felt so incredibly blessed that my words and photos actually meant something to so many souls!

BUT. All of this correspondence takes time! SOOOO MUCH TIME!

And if you’re in a relationship, this is time away from the relationship!

We struggled with finding this balance for such a long period! This, I’d say is this second hardest part about being business partners with your S/O! It’s really about finding that right balance. But in order for this to work out, your partner must be truly understanding of the hard work this whole thing takes. But in order for your partner to truly understand this world, you must introduce him to it. Show him your stats, explain the pros and cons of this industry, what your intentions are for the passion and if then your partner is willing and all in, here are…

Ways your partner can support:

  • Take his role seriously: 
    • Bae and I are celebrating today as OUR 1 year IG anniversary. The brand of “Jasmin Vanessa” has two heads behind it. He takes pride in all his efforts surrounding my IG, because he has also put his heart and soul into it! AND HE’S SEEN THE BENEFITS! We’ve been blessed enough to BOTH reap the benefits of complementary stays, dinners, amazing experiences, the opportunity to connect with so many people, creating amazing works of art, and just simply sharing each little milestone together.  If your man is talking crap about your passions, thank you, next! LOL JK… But seriously, your S/O may need some convincing, and thats totally okay! I suggest sharing your vision in its full potential! Map it out, create a powerpoint, buy him dinner on shoot days, just whatever you need to get them fully on board. Because at the end of the day, this is a career, and in just one year from now, your life may very well look 100% different! I know yours, does!
  • Research:
    • Understand the dynamics in turning your IG account into a business.
    • Read business articles, study other content curators, watch YouTube vids, etc.
  • Master an editing software:
    • + assist with edits
    • Bae and I worked together to create our own presets (which we hope to release in the near future)
  • First, learn your preferred style of photography:
    • And show him! Practice makes perfect!
  • Be your photographer.
    • THIS can be the trickiest part! We allll know how bratty we can get when we’ve been photographed in an unflattering angle! And sometimes if a friend takes a shot, we’ll joke or mask our frustration. But when it comes to family members or S/O, most of us will say it as it is. I saw a meme recently that said: *Me after my man takes my photo, “Ew, I hate this photo!!” *Him to me: “What do you want me to do about it, thats how you look!!” HAHA. Some days will be easier than others but I def think this is an art form that can take years to master. I mean it makes sense considering, we as the influencer have a creative concept in mind and we are just hoping our partner can evoke that on the other side of the lens. It really is a symbiotic relationship that requires time and patience. What has helped us is positioning bae in the perspective I’d want him to shoot me in, I take the photo on my phone and he’ll study it and then refer back to cross reference while shooting me on his camera or phone.
  • Be the listening ear you’ll need.
    • If your partner is out of the loop, the complaints or frustrations you have about this platform, will sound so ridiculous. But if your partner is as invested and knowledgeable in this as you are, they will not only be understanding but actually have the capacity to provide you insight, morale boosters, and hopefully constructive criticism.
  • Give honest feedback:
    • I am such an indecisive person but having that reassurance or difference in opinion means everything to me!
    • I live for constructive criticism. I always want to know the areas I could improve on for the next time, so having that outsider perspective can really shape and mold your brand into something even greater.
  • Assist in emailing brands:
    • Once you are at a point where you are working with brands, email correspondence can feel overwhelming. Especially when you are constantly negotiating your rates, getting campaign approvals, or just planning out your sponsored content for the month.
    • This is where you will make your money, so having your partner knowledgable in the business side of things can be a hugee help!

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Today, one year later:

02.05.19. We are still wrapping our heads around this all! Just a little over a year ago, I knew I was called to do something more. God was tugging on my heart to ACT but I was just so scared to take that next step. I almost allowed fear of critique and the unknown to block me from one of the biggest blessings God had waiting for me. I truly believe if something is tugging at your heart and it scares TF out of you, it is not random, it is what you were called to do! I am so entirely grateful for every single soul who I’ve connected with this past year. And all I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Y’all have pushed me to become openly vulnerable, true to my authentic self, and just overall a better freaking person and I thank y’all for giving me so so much in such a short amount of time! I wake up every single day with the intent to create aesthetically pleasing content but most importantly, content that is of substance and content that will somehow shake up and challenge my little community for the better! Love y’all and thank you bae, for everything! I hope I can give just as much to y’all, as you have given me! XOXO

Living With a Significant Other

Hey, y’all! So bae & I have officially lived together for 3 months now but really 1 year (unofficially) so thought I’d answer some questions in full disclosure (because you know ya girl don’t lie) and just simply share my experience with it all!

So with the craziness of our 9-5s, we’ve taken a bit longer than expected to decorate our apartment but thankfully, we have just finished!!!! Yass, honey and we are obsessed! We originally were going for Scandinavian Monochrome with green accents, but somehow made our way to like a boho chic vibe!! Regardless, we finally feel like this is our HOME!

So gathering the decor is the fun part, y’all! We’ve turned so many trips to Homegoods and Hobby Lobby as day-dates, grabbed some hot chocolate beforehand, and literally shared the excitement of what each new piece would bring to our space.

I think this was such bonding experience for us because we both had ideas of what we wanted for the place and worked together to blend those visions into a reality.

But, its not always this fun! HA

Sooo let’s get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?!

1) Q: Are there more arguments now that you live together? And if so, is it normal roommate-type fights? 

A: Hmm! I wouldn’t say there are more than before, but what I can say is that some have become more petty! HA.

Example: “Babe! You took the last meal prep! Now I will have to eat out for lunch tomorrow!”

Example: “Babe! You forgot to leave on the lights for Baby Troy” (our pup)

Example: “Babe! When will you be finished playing your video games?” (You can probably guess who says this :P)

TBH, I’ve had some really BAD roommates in my day so our living situation is a piece of cake in comparison to those people LOL. But I think what is key, is understanding that healthy cohabitation is literally a TEAM EFFORT. If even one person slacks off, the once cohesive environment can and will eventually turn toxic.

2) Q: When you guys do fight, how do you deal with it? Do you give space or deal with it immediately? 

A:  Well, it really depends. In many of my past experiences, living with roommates = one big, fat passive-aggressive mess! Luckily, with us, we address any tension on the spot! I hate awkwardness more than anything so we try our best to address it ASAP. There have been a couple nights when we just rather sleep than talk things through, but generally, we like to avoid going to sleep upset.

3) Q: Is moving together something your parents approved of? Also, how did you tell your parents? 

A: My mom was on-board from the beginning. Although my dad died before he had the opportunity to meet bae, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been opposed to it. And I say this because my parents moved in before marriage as well, ha! From the beginning, bae made his intentions clear…marriage! But as he knows that whole idea scares me (for now), he proposed us moving in together as the next logical step. Initially, I shared bae’s proposal to my mom about 6 months prior to moving. I toyed with the idea for a while and I think she was pleased with how I took my time in processing it all. She was also really fond of him at that point so we had that on our side. I think a parent will only be on-guard with cohabitation, if they sense a faulty relationship from the beginning or if one person has to sacrifice their quality of life for the move.

4) Q: How does your man feel when you have to dedicate more time to your blog/Instagram vs the relationship at any given point?

A: I feel so blessed to have a partner who truly understands this hustle. He was a food blogger prior to us getting together, so he had an idea of just how much time this crazy industry demands. But, what has taken time for both of us to learn is how to balance being roommates, significant others, and business partners. There are times, when one of the three areas suffer, but we have really fine tuned it in a way that works and fulfills us. I truly believe if he did not live with me and/or share similar passions, he would not understand the ins and outs and sacrifices us bloggers make to continue to do what we love.

But when we notice one area is slacking, we sit down and discuss and come up with a game plan on how we can rebalance it all. But it is A LOT of work! Especially when your boo, is your photographer, location scouter, editor, etc. I am very lucky to have found someone who just gets it!

5) Do you still feel the same giddiness you did when you would have sleepovers? 

A: Yes! I still get those butterflies in my stomach when I’m walking in the door and vice versa. I think the nights I feel it the most are when we have plans of doing absolutely nothing but Netflix and chill! Those little moments are the moments I live for.

____

So far, we’ve had a really positive cohabitation experience. We share similar tastes which help in many areas of our living situation, but as everything in life, it is not always rainbows and sunshine. There are days where the vibe seems completely off and others where everything feels just perfect. I think the most important thing is learning from every experience/day you share together as a couple. We have strived to make each month better and better and I am blessed to have found a partner willing to give me that 100% effort. So, I’d say the two key pieces of advice I’d give to anyone on the fence of moving in with their partner is 1) make sure you’ve taken the time to really get to know each other & 2) be sure you’ve chosen a partner who shares similar interests. Because ain’t nobody got time for a toxic and distant living environment. XO 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q & A – Instagram Edition

Hi guys! Long time no talk, ha! So, I’ve compiled a list of my most asked questions as of recently from my IG and thought I’d answer em’ in an easy read blog post!

  1. Q: How do you plan a curated feed?
    • A: I use the app called, “UNUM” It gives you a look of what your feed currently looks like plus a preview of what it would all look like with whatever photo you’re looking to upload next. Plus, I edit all of my photos with the same style of editing on Adobe Lightroom.
  2. Q: What are you hoping to achieve with your personal brand?
    • A: For right now, I hope to create beautiful photos that tell a story. I hope to continue to inspire women to be their bad ass, fierce, confident selves, but also to come together to create the better good in society. Whether that be, helping a stranger in need, speaking up on issues that are important, and/or not being afraid to put you and your mental health first! As I grow with my audience, I hope to create presets and possibly workshops/meet-ups for aspiring bloggers.
  3. Q: Do you ever get body shamed? If so, what do you do to forget the haters?
    • A: Not really in my adult life, but growing up, I would get dumped on for how my body looked! I was called, “cottage cheese legs”, “wide-load”, “corn-bred fed” throughout my time in school. It happened so frequently that I had a talk with my parents. They advised me that in this life, we are giving one body and we have the choice of loving or hating it. Through my practice with self-love, I realized these people were the problem and not my body! I felt empowered knowing this and am very comfortable in my own skin, today! However, just recently I received a comment on IG from another blogger that read, “You are the most beautiful big-skinny girl, I’ve ever seen!!” Now, part of me, was like, whoa! Although, maybe a compliment?? – it came off as icky. But at the end of the day, no matter what people intentionally or unintentionally say, you are the only person living in your body so might as well love it!
  4. Q: Do you connect IRL with many creatives? If so, how do you find them?
    • A: Yes, I actually have! In fact, I’ve made really strong friendships with a number of them! About 6 months ago, I mustered up the courage to host a meet up with some babes I know solely through IG. It went so well that now we talk everyday and are meeting up again this weekend, actually! Since then, I’ve met up AND collaborated with so many others and I think the most useful tool in doing this is your DMs! I heard a podcast that said, “Your DM portal is your magic potion!” You can literally create such strong connections  every single day with complete strangers by simply reaching out and complimenting someone’s feed, recent post, outfit, whatever it may be!
  5. Q: What inspires you to create?
    • A: For me, I get inspired by so so much! I’ve always been more of a visual learner and in my adult life, aesthetics really draw me in. I feel a mood whenever I see something that captures my attention. And this tingly- weird awe-inspired feeling is something I try to bring to my own content. I want to tell a story of some sorts: I want to make the seemingly ordinary look extraordinary, lighting up whatever random corner I’m shooting at. Most importantly, I don’t just want people to look at my content, I want them to FEEL something after looking away.
  6.  Q: Tips on posing and shooting locations?!
    • A: I try my best to scout locations ahead of time. Whether that means: I take a mental note of a cute area I see on my way home from work, or visiting a popular tourist site, or even hashtagging my city and going through recent posts of other IG users to get location inspo. However, there are other times that we just wing it, pick a random neighborhood, and drive around and around until somewhere speaks out to us. As for posing, I try to stand tall and confident in whatever movement I make. I like to go for more action motions such as: walking, arms swaying, dress in the wind, that sort of stuff. But do whatever feels most comfortable for you! If you are a hand on the hip, head tilted a bit, cheesy smile gal- you do the damn thang, boo!
  7. Q: Do you plan your outfits for the location?
    • A: Typically, yes! Like I said, I like to set a mood. So if I am doing a shoot with plants, I will go for animal print or something that is in the same palette. Also, I think you should go based off of your feed! If your tones are more warm like mine, I like to stick to neutral colored items but if its more cooler, than maybe whites, tans, black. Or I’ve seen some really colorful feeds, so likely brighter pieces will fit better. But the great thing about creating is that you can take a completely diff spin on what you’re comfortable wearing and switch it up every now and again!
  8. Q: How do you stay consistent with posting content?
    • A: This is actually a very complex question for me. I used to post on IG, 4 times a week, no matter what! I was on turbo mode and made sure shooting was of top priority. It wasn’t until I sprained my ankle when the universe sent me the unfriendly reminder that it will not always work alongside your preferred schedule. I legit could not walk for almost 2.5 weeks. I was miserable! I felt as though someone was suffocating my creativity and just sitting at home made me feel as though I was not bringing value to the world. I even tried to force myself to shoot, crying in pain on the way to our location, yet smizing for the shot, but what that actually did was exacerbate the injury and leave me with a photo where I looked pained. But as time passed, I accepted what was. But I was nervous, tbh! On this platform, you’re expected to create to remain “relevant” as sad as that sounds but more so, there are so many people looking forward to your content. I decided to be transparent with my followers and made it known the content would be slowed down for a while. Personally, I know of a lot of people who share “filler photos” or throwbacks consistently but I wanted to be true to my situation and honestly listen to my faith and the universe that maybe…just maybe I needed to slow down. Now that I’m finally healed (from my ankle, HA) life has given me a bit of a window to create more content again, so I do what I can for now. I try to make shooting a priority but I realize life will get in the way sometimes and we have to take care of our health first and everything else second.

 

So if you’re still reading this, you da real MVP! I’m such a chismosa and LOVE reading Q&A’s so hopefully this brought some insight into who I am and most importantly, has been helpful in any way to other aspiring bloggers or influencers. XOxo

Personal Growth > Social Media Growth

The number one question I receive on social media is : “How do you suggest I best grow my following?” And there is not one simple answer to this. For me, It’s actually taken a lot of PERSONAL growth to even see a dent in my social media growth.

As many of y’all know, blogging and maintaining a social media presence…is basically a full-time job. We are expected to create quality content time and time again, which I LOVE! BUT! We all know the occasional struggle of when we pour our heart into a post, yet it does not do as well as we thought it would! It can be really, really, really discouraging at times. But then theres the other side of that too! When my content compels people to reach out to me, it is in those moments where I feel the most fulfilled. It’s like “whoa, I’m actually making some sort of impact here!” So all this to say, this industry can be an emotional rollercoaster!

And of course, as an individual trying to navigate my way through this space, my own  psyche is affected by it all. I’ve had to learn or am still learning how to be inspired by others’ content rather than intimated. I’ve had to learn how to be vulnerable with all of my followers, rather than just showing the surface level of who I am. I’ve had to shake off and/or learn from any negative comments or criticism I get on posts. And most importantly, I’ve had to gain the patience and understanding that this journey of becoming an “influencer” TAKES TIME! And the most important part of the journey (at least for me) is learning how to accept and grow as a person from all of the ebbs and flows that come our way. Back in February, right before I started to take this platform seriously, I was still very weary and unsure of my content. The numbers meant everything to me and I was heartbroken when they were not up to par. I would compare my humble ass beginnings to one of an influencer with millions of followers! But thank God as time has past, I’ve grown so much as a person and hence, that wisdom and maturity has poured over into my creative realm.

I think the most common sentiment I receive from people asking this question, is discouragement. “Why is my account not growing?! UGHH!” That question alone has the ability to make you second guess yourself and even your potential of making it on this platform. But what has helped me is shifting that question of “how do I grow my followers?” to “what do I need to do to grow as a person so that my content reflects that?”

As an example, I share with y’all these two photos.

The bottom was a girl who was shy and thus a bit uncomfortable with her photographer. I was self-conscious of what the people around me were thinking and you can see that in my pose!

pg1.jpeg

Over time, I worked through those personal flaws. You now see (in the featured photo) a confident, DFAG gal, living her best posing life. Of course there was a line of people staring at me, but oh well! In addition, you also see the strong connection and trust, I’ve built with my photographer. My personal growth blossomed and in turn, so did my creative juices.

Sooooo, if we only shift our thinking and look inwards for growth, that growth can be multiplied in our content and reach so many more people than even imagined!

I found this quote online and thought it was pretty magical:

“Dream big, develop yourself, unleash your potential, play well with others, play to your strengths, enjoy the process, share your unique gifts with the world, and grow your greatness by testing yourself, expanding yourself, learning and improving.” – Unknown

Owning Who You Are

So, aside from this topic being close to my heart, I’ve also gotten several requests to expand on this on the blog! So, yay!

If you know me well, you’d know that I’m really unapologetically me. And although this has gotten me in soo much trouble in my life (LOL ugh), I feel blessed to have accepted and loved myself from a really young age. I mean, after alllll, we spend more time with ourselves than we ever will spend with anyone else in life.

Owning who you are is a complex matter. There is our inner and outer self. Do our inner and outer selves align? This is a huge question. Your inner self pertains to your values, personality, thoughts, etc. Where as your outer self is what we present to the world; this can include our physical appearance as well.

To me, having a strong inner self is reflected through self-awareness, knowing what you want in this life, being mindful of your feelings, and having clarity in handling them. I think a strong sense of outer self is having the ability to act in ways that avoid putting up a facade for others- aka behaving in ways that differ from what you ultimately feel on the inside. *Aligning both inner and outer self is important because I think this is where our personal happiness meets. *

Okay, so now I’d like to dive a bit deeper. Let’s backtrack to 5th grade. This year was possibly one of the biggest turning points in my life. On this particular day, my parents gave me the two options that forever changed me. Okay, so earlier that day during “weigh-ins,” my P.E. teacher was going around the circle giving everyone their weight for reference. When he got to me, he whispered my weight into my ear, and I instantly became the laughing stock of the class. But in that moment, I wasn’t nearly as embarrassed as you would think. I was actually annoyed at my teacher for attempting to exclude me from the general group practice rather than the kids making fun of me. I mean, I knew I had newly developed hips, but I wasn’t an at-risk overweight youth. So anywayyy. When I got home I remember asking my parents, “why do I look so different than all of the other girls in school?” And my parents then presented me with two options. “Well, Jasmin, you could either embrace your body and all that you are or embrace your body and all that you are. Which one will it be?” And I’m pretty sure that conversation molded my confidence and self acceptance going forward.

As the years past, I kept that conversation close to my heart. And from that young age, I did an inventory check of myself. Who was I? At the time, I gathered that I was stubborn, loud, fiercely passionate, sassy (aka extra), independent kid. And honestly not much has changed. Anyway, I attended three different middle schools. Now I would hate to use the word “bullied” (as I always stood up for myself) but lets just say, some days were torture!! I was picked apart because of my appearance, my extra ass personality, and everything in between. There were even days that I would eat lunch alone-but honestly, that didn’t bother me much; my lonely ass would happily eat my food in peace. But the thing I noticed about these people, is that they were bothered that I wasn’t cracking. Of course there were one or two times that I felt overwhelmed, but I had to remind myself about that 5th grade conversation. If I did not accept, own, and defend who I really was, then I’d be leaving room for other’s to make that decision for me. I truly believe if you are secure in who you are, no rumor, no shitty person, no event will shake you!

And I know some people may say that being secure in your own skin is much easier said than done, but I say that is the only choice you have. You can either own who you are or own who you are! There is no other option!

Believe me when I say, I’ve gotten into a lot of sh*t because of who I am (eeek) but at the end of the day, I know that my inner and outer self (for the most part) align…and hell, I know I’m a bad ass. Don’t allow comparison, shitty people, or doubt hinder your ability to own and love who you are!

If you are struggling with self acceptance, I’d advise to re-frame the ways in which you speak to yourself. Possibly list down the pros and cons of who you are, ask yourself if your actions and presentation to others mirrors what you really feel on the inside, and remember that you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so might as well love (clap) thy (clap) self (clap) !! Xo

5 Ways To Keep Negative Energy Out Of Your Relationship

Heyyy guys! So with the demands of the 9-5, social media, our nation’s climate, and so on, it can be very easy to get sucked into these negative vortexes. Especially when you share your time with another person, it’s so important to understand how these negative energies can detract from the happiness within your relationship.

The spread of these negative energies invites toxicity, annoyances, and unhealthy behaviors into the dynamic. But through stimulating the flow of positive energies/practices, you’re creating an inviting and appealing environment.

Here are my top 5 favorite practices.

1. Pray/Meditate together

  • If even for two minutes, pausing the chaos to center your thoughts can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain as well as calm the fight or flight reactions. For us, prayer is huge. We ask for direction and clarity but also extend our gratitude.

2. Identifying the negativity 

  • Is the attitude, behaviors, tone, etc. caused from outside tensions (the media, work, friends, family) or is it stemmed from something occurring within the relationship? Regardless of the catalyst, it is important to acknowledge/pin-point the issue.

3. Address tension(s) then and there

  • Super important! I am a firm believer in voicing what issues are at hand and working through them, ASAP. My biggest advice is not to go to sleep upset. We all know the couples who prefer to sweep issues under the rug vs confronting them head on with their partner. But this is soo problematic, because if you’re feeling your energetic connection is out of whack, it is likely that there is healing to do.
  • When there is lack of resolution, this can slowly lead to the demise of a relationship. So all this to say, even if the conversation is uncomfortable, it’ll be worthwhile in the long run.

4.  Experience new adventures together

  • I think the best way to free of negative energies is to travel! If you feel this thickness around you, plan a day-trip together and head that way. Seeing new stimuli is incredibly healthy. I know for us, our worries melt away once we see something new.

5. Build together

  • Working towards a common goal helps create commonality and trust. Whether it is a passion project, DIY home fix, or even the desire to move up in your respective companies… depending on each other for support, creates a focus for an even stronger dynamic/bond. For us, my boo is my photographer and go-to for shoots, blog ideas, etc. He believes in my content just as much as I do, and we work together everyday in attempts to build my social media presence.

 

*Okayyy, enough blabbering. I hope these tips are helpful and provide some sort of relationship Feng Shui or Spring (welll, Summer) cleaning of your relationship interactions. 

How to Feel Inspired When You’ve Lost Motivation

Heller, friends, Happy Thursday! I find it well suited to touch on this topic as it is one that has been so powerful in my life. Ever since I launched this blog, I’ve felt my creative juices flowing more than ever! There are days where I’ve had so many ideas for shoots and/or blog posts that I’m just like, “whoa, this is pretty bad ass”. But on the contrary, I’ve met days where literally nothing comes to mind and all inspo is lost. This feeling of being stuck is entirely frustrating because I know what I’ve been capable of creating. But its almost as if my own psyche gets in the way. This being said, I wanted to share my tips in how to feel inspired, when all motivation is lost.

  1. Channel your energy within
    • For me at least, my mind is always in a million places at once! During breakfast, I’m already thinking about what to make for dinner. If I am stressed at work, I’m thinking ahead to all that still needs to be done before the end of the week. If yet another stupid decision is made by our government, I’m already thinking of its’ repercussions. All this to say, my mind can be so hyperactive sometimes, which leaves my energies are all over the place. And when you try adding content curation to the mix, it’s obvious that the creative energies are either shot or not of quality.
    • It is in these moments where I have to acknowledge both the chaos internally and externally and simply focus within; freeing my mind of worries and opening space for the creative juices to flow in and out. You know, be in the moment!
  2. Take a Break
    • Due to the heavy demands of our day to day, by the time we sit down with the intent to create, often times we are just too exhausted to do so; creative block.  As much as I love to be productive, there are some days when, it just won’t happen. I’ve had weeks where I’ve tried to jam pack my day and almost force some sort of content to come out, but all I was doing was leaving myself discouraged. Once I accepted that I needed to just rest and pick it up another day, I then allowed myself the time to gain inspiration.
  3. Venture to a New Location
    • My room is usually my work space. A place where I am relaxed and clear minded. However, there are days where I don’t exactly feel inspired in such a familiar/quiet space. The best way to break this, is to step outside of your comfort zone and head to a new location. Whether that be a local coffee shop, nearby park, beach, museum, etc. You will be introduced to new stimuli and hopefully new inspo.
  4. Keep Your Head Up
    • Its easy to feel discouraged when you dedicate so much time into your content and it does not get the feedback you were expecting. I am so guilty of this. There was one time in particular where my stats were so low that I thought, “ugh maybe people are getting tired of my content” and I literally laid there, felt defeated, and could not sleep. Instead of allowing this to propel me to work harder for the next one, I allowed those numbers to crush my spirit. For following day, I had 0 motivation to work. By the end of the day, I just had to remind myself that not all content will be received in the same way. This being said, I had to shake it off and keep on going! I legit had to inspire AKA talk some sense into myself, through positive affirmations…
    • For example: “Gurrrrl, look at all of the content you have put out lately, you’re a bad ass B- Keep it up!”
  5. Turn to Creative Outlets
    • Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Moodboards- are all great outlets for inspo. If I have an idea of a location, but am not sure what props, outfits, aesthetic I’m trying to achieve, I will look up related posts, narrow down my options, and of course put my own spin on it.
    • But this can be dangerous at times. I think at some point or another, we have alllll compared our work to those we find already published. If we think too much about it, we can start to doubt our own work. So in short, focus on finding the inspiration you were looking for vs comparing their content/success to your current state of work. I have to remind myself, that there is room for everyone as we each bring something different to the creative table.

 

In short (not really, lol) I hope that these tips are helpful in times of need! Xoxo