Life

Lessons I Learnt in my 20’s

In my last few hours as a 20 year old something, before the big 3 0 becomes the next chapter, I wondered if I should take a few moments and write down about the last decade of my life (never mind the fact that I still feel like I’m 17 🙂 ) .

In summary, I feel like “I did it my way” so far as Sinatra would say. Not everything of course turned out the way that I had planned it, but I’m truly grateful for each and every single feeling, emotion, experience and decision I made in the last 10 years of my life. I’m blessed with a small family and a few close friends who encouraged me even when they were scared, who tried to support me even when they thought I were insane.

In Life:

  1. Take risks. Your 20’s are the best time to figure out how you want to spend the rest of your life.
  2. No one will believe in you as much as you’ll believe in yourself.
  3. Make sure that you’re living your life the way you want, not one that is a projection of others’ thoughts.
  4. Danger is real, fear is most definitely not.
  5. God helps those who decide to help themselves.
  6. You won’t always be right, but you have to trust your instincts. That’s how they develop to be a powerful guide.
  7. Your journey will always be about discovering yourself. Every step, every move sheds a light on something within. It’s your responsibility to make the effort to bring your most beautiful self out to the world.
  8. It will always sound crazy, difficult, and impossible along every step of the way, and it probably is, but just until it’s done.
  9. Your parents are and will always be your greatest blessing. Spend as much time as you can with them.
  10. You will most definitely fail miserably in something in your life. Accept the loss. This is meant to teach you, not break you. So, fail sooner rather than later.
  11. In your pursuit of happiness, you’re going to get smacked down and soul crushed a lotttt. It’ part of the process 🙂
  12. Trust that the universe will always turn out to be on your side.
  13. Life is not meant to be comfortable, that’s an illusion. It’s meant to be periodically enjoyable. I think!
  14. Spend time with children or elderly. They’ll teach you a thing or two about life.
  15. Take care of your body. You live your life in it.
  16. Learn a new language, it’ll bring out a version of yourself you never knew existed.
  17. We are all spiritual beings having a physical experience. Take care what type of energy you’re bringing into your and other people’s lives.
  18. Be someone one day your kids would be proud to call a parent.
  19. Nowadays, Freedom is a very expensive choice. Everything around you is built in a way that is meant to tell you that you can’t afford it. Break free whenever you can.
  20. The more you know, the more you learn, and the more humble you’ll become.
  21. Smile a lot. It tricks your brain into thinking that everything is going to be ok even when it’s not 😉
  22. When in crisis, breathe. Breathe deeply for a few seconds. It’s life changing.
  23. Never make a decision when you’re angry or hungry. You’ll most definitely regret them.
  24. There is no life to a life lived without mistakes.
  25. Crafting your story starts by working on yourself.
  26. Once in a while, get lost in the sea.
  27. Flowers are a divine creation.
  28. You need hobbies and sports in your life. They allow you to practice focusing on the present moment instead of worrying about the future.
  29. Sometimes decisions are not a matter of choice, but that of timing.
  30. Yoga is pretty awesome.
  31. Collect memories, and if you must, very very very few things.
  32. If it’s meant to be, no force on earth can stop it. Not even you.

 

Human Relations:

  1. Always choose to be kind.
  2. Never assume that others think the way you do.
  3. Communicate. Don’t just assume in your head what or how others think.
  4. What you say might not always be correctly understood (no matter how clear you think you might be).
  5. The limit to your giving should be you getting hurt.
  6. If you don’t like someone, you don’t have to vilify them. We’re never all good nor all bad.
  7. No matter how much you want a relationship to succeed and nourish, it doesn’t solely depend on you. There are “two” in any relation.
  8. If someone doesn’t return your love, this doesn’t make them evil or worthy of your curses. Relax, they might just not belong to your tribe.
  9. Others’ opinions of you shouldn’t concern you. It only concerns them.
  10. Stop trying to impress, stop trying so hard to be liked. Instead, try to inspire. It’s harder to do and it edges your ego out.
  11. Those who lack the courage to take risks with their lives will always try to bring you down. Do your best to lift them up. They need your encouragement and help.
  12. Never be in a relation that drains your energy. No good can ever come out of that.
  13. Don’t keep score. If you started keeping score, you’re better off without the entire relation.
  14. When they can’t win with you, some will resort to talking about you. Rise above it.
  15. Sometimes others’ problems with you is merely accepting the idea of your existence. There is nothing you can do about that.
  16. Don’t judge others, just be grateful and pray to never have to walk in their shoes.
  17. When people ask for your help, even if you think you’ll never hear from them unless they are in need, be grateful that you can make someone’s life a little easier and a little more beautiful.
  18. If you’re lucky to find people who will support you through thick and thin, know that you’ve found a treasure.
  19. Sometimes we get acts of kindness from the most random people.
  20. Friendship is never measured by years.

 

Career:

  1. You’re never too late, too old, too stuck to change the course of your life.
  2. You catch glimpses of your passion throughout your life. Believe in them and follow your heart.
  3. Changing a career is a mental, emotional and physical struggle. It’s worth every moment of your pain.
  4. Success has nothing to do with money. The day you wake up grateful for what you have to do in the day, is the day you’ll feel accomplished.
  5. Pick a career that helps you express yourself. Only then will your work become therapy.
  6. There is no shame in trying different paths until you settle on one.
  7. If you wake up tomorrow with enough money for you, your kids, and grandkids. What is it that you would want to do with your life? The answer to this question is exactly what you should be doing now as your career.
  8. Try your best to stop procrastinating.

 

Travel:

  1. Travel, travel a lot. Travel even when you don’t have the money. Travelling, if you allow it, will turn you into the best possible version of yourself.
  2. You don’t need anywhere to be you, you can be yourself anywhere you go.
  3. Money spent on travelling is money well spent.
  4. Travel alone at least once in your life.
  5. Take pictures of moments not places.
  6. Planning is essential when travelling, but sometimes it’s more wonderful to move with the flow.
  7. Travel with light spirited people. They add a whole other level of awesomeness and enjoyment to your trip.
  8. Take road trips, lots and lots of road trips. They teach you patience, and appreciation for the journey more than the destination.
  9. Sometimes all you need is a fresh stamp on your passport.
  10. If you still decide to take the trip, even if you post nothing about it on social media, then it’s worth your time, effort and money.

 

I wonder if this will change in 10 years 🙂

Love,

Dina

 

 

 

Life is a piece of art. Make it your masterpiece.

DayDREAM…

How many times have you slipped into a daydreaming mode only to find yourself or someone else telling you to wake up, grow up and live in the “reality” where the rest of “us” are?

How many times have you belonged to your dreams and felt connected with them much more than with anything or anyone else? The reason is because your dreams have magical powers. It’s not just that “in dreams you lose your heartache” or that “whatever you wish for is real” as Cinderella would say 😀 It’s because a dream’s power lies in the fact that it helps you express your ideas with confidence. You don’t doubt yourself in your dreams, you don’t fear anything or anyone. On the contrary, your dreams are your most vibrant, confident and truthful expression of yourself. This includes daydreaming too!

How To Daydream?

When you’re in a car or a train, slip into your daydreaming mode. Whether you’re dreaming of an entirely new reality that includes changing careers, countries, possibly a life with no drama, or simply wondering what toys to get for your kids, daydreaming helps! For example, if you’re imagining your dream house, try to make the picture as detailed as possible. Start by imaging the size of your house, its color, then maybe add a front lawn with flowers. What kind of flowers do you like? Would you have a driveway? One or two car garage? How many bedrooms? How many windows? Keep adding details as much as you possibly can until the place starts to feel real to you. Maybe you don’t have access to it yet, but it’s out there waiting for you. The more you breathe life into it, the closer it gets.

If you want to focus on a work assignment, think everything through while daydreaming. Collect all the data that is associated with the problem, assess it, consider all the factors that might affect your task and finally, “mentally ask for a solution” as the Disney Imagineers would say 🙂 Your mind wants to help. Maybe it doesn’t actually give you an answer right away, but it never leaves you out there in the blue. There’s one more thing, the trickiest and hardest thing to do, LEAVE THE PROBLEM ALONE LOL!! Give your mind SPACE and TIME. Allow it to engage its problem solving skills without clobbering it with more of the same questions, information or uncertainty! Wait for a solution.

Do You Get Distracted Easily?

It’s ok if you went for a walk, thinking you were gonna daydream about something and find yourself totally lost to something else! Let your mind wander, set it free. Allow ideas to move freely in your imagination, for most of the times you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised by something that comes completely out of the blue 🙂 You’ll understand yourself more, you’ll hear your inner voices more clearly, and you’ll feel more connected to your soul than ever before. Just DON’T FORGET to have a piece of paper or a phone to record your most brilliant, best-selling ideas when they suddenly take shape in your mind 😉

Tell me your daydreaming stories in the comments ❤

Love,

Dina

ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Visual Merchandising

Bonjour wonderful people 🙂 How’s your week going so far? Mine is filled with assignments and work and it’s one of those weeks where I just need some beach therapy!!! Anyway, moving from my beach dreams to the inside world of visual merchandising in retail shops 🙂 Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel at ease and a sense of pleasure in certain shops more than others? The answer is in the story being told through visual merchandising techniques.

The image in this post belongs to a store here in Canada called Club Monaco. I love the ambiance of that store. Its story always feels like a romantic one to me, with corners that are there for me when I wanna pick a light, delicate outfit for a date night. An outfit that makes you feel like a modern princess with a cute smile on your face that would make your loved one’s heart melt with happiness. The pink, flowery colors in the summer, the folded tops with a dramatic neckline that are full of romance, to the simple yet statement piece accessories that would complement your look. Taking a closer look, you’ll find it’s not just about the outfits, but about the colors, the hanging dresses that you can see yourself flying like a butterfly if you were to wear one of them, to the sense of romance when you go through a folded top and unwrap its story, to the lights, and finally the breezy smell in the background of your shopping experience.

You’ll find other corners that talk to the working woman in you, yeah you know her lol!! The one who is always hustling, but she’s doing it in style. She’s doing her work with passion and elegance. She’s romantic even about her work for she loves being there 😉 Last but not least, every time I visit I find something new which keeps me excited to visit the store every time I’m at the mall for they’re either adding new pieces, changing the layout or pairing their items together to form new amazing looks. This is a gem of a store and it’s certainly affordable luxury!

Now that you know about visual merchandising, what story would you tell with your store, booth or your next pop-up shop? 🙂 I’m excited to see and know what you guys love!!!

Xoxo,

Dina

 

Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

Your Audience…

Bonsoir personnes adorables!!! Yupp, I’m trying to learn french so I’m kinda practicing it a bit everywhere I go 🙂 Let’s talk about you, my beloved audience, or your audience for your blog, instagram, facebook, or really any other social media outlet.

Whether you’re trying to build a fashion blog or a personal style one, or maybe even your own lifestyle Instagram account, you’re probably curious about your audience. When you start a small business, you do your market and customer research to get to know your target audience. This helps you cater your products or services to their needs and values. As you go with your business, you wanna make sure you’re attracting your target audience and maybe even have a lovely surprise of being able to attract an unexpected type of customers or readers.

When I first started my Etsy store, I knew that Etsy customers, in general. were people who appreciated handmade items and supported sellers who continuously work on improving their craft. For fashion illustrations, in specific, 90% or even more of your clients are females. The males, however, come to buy gifts for the special women in their lives 😉 Cheers to them too!! Women or girls who buy fashion prints, planner dashboards, or even mugs are mostly in the age range of 18-36. This is when they look for self reflection in their piece of art or something to motivate them as they go with their work tasks or daily routine. A piece of art adds a little bit of beauty to their day and puts a smile on their face. A year and half into my business, I realized that the 18-36  age range applies more to women who like and follow my art on social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, however, women whose age ranges between 22-38 are the ones with more buying power. Having a source of income is most likely the reason for their ability to buy artwork for themselves.

North America, France and the United Kingdom are the countries where most of my sales, favorites and followers are from. This is probably because so far I’ve been targeting the western lifestyle within my illustrations and not that many cultures (Something I’m working on right now to expand my reach). A lot of customers are also travel and lifestyle bloggers or women entrepreneurs who are looking to open their own business and need personalized custom illustrations for them. The featured image for this post is for an awesome travel blogger to whom I created this illustration as her logo and part of her website banner 🙂

Knowing my customers more and more each day with every illustration, purchase, and like helps me decide what type of products I should offer, at what price point, with which quality, and in what themes. These are all extremely important decisions for running your business whether it’s an Etsy store, a blog, or any small startup. Pay attention to your customers’ preferences, attitudes, needs and values for that’s your ultimate success; a loyal ecstatic client who feel like they got a little piece of magic when they purchase your product or spend time read your article!

Love,

Dina

Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

My Journey Towards My First Craft Show: Craftadian; Etsy – Made in Canada 2017

Hello again 🙂 It’s been a hectic few weeks and an awesome long weekend filled with dancing, shopping, and fireworks celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday (more on that in another post 😉 ). Today, however, I wanna talk to you about a huge step for me, something that is totally new to try and that is out of my comfort zone; Attending Local Craft Shows as a Seller.

As most of you know, if you’re following my blog or Instagram, that I have an Etsy store where I sell fashion prints, note cards, planner dashboards, and expecting coffee mugs in less than a week (wohoooo!! super excited LOL). When I first opened the store, I thought Etsy’s customer base was huge and that would be enough in terms of sales and marketing, but man was I wrong!!!  It’s been a year and a half now, and most of my sales come through Instagram or by random coincidences.

I’ve known for a while that I needed to invest in marketing, and I wanted direct interactions with my clients so that they could not only put a face behind the maker, but also a personality and a story. Yes, I did add some info and photos on my store’s page, but I didn’t think that was enough. I needed marketing on social media platforms and I needed to attend event shows that would allow direct interactions with my clients. I took a few online classes, attended Etsy and other events to take notes about the general expectations, the types of clients, the overall table or booth setup, etc. which should be great in helping me attend those events myself, right??!! Nop, not so much LOL! I realized that my biggest obstacle was still me!! Was it fear? Maybe!

In the past year and a half, I’ve been trying different techniques to establish my own style with my illustrations and designs. I’m not yet perfect, but I’m on my way! This is also much harder to attain than I thought. That was one of the main reasons that kept me from attempting to go big with my store. I’m a perfectionist and I wanted everything to be perfect before I started marketing my products or attending local events, but wait a minute, is that ever gonna change??!!!!! Are you ever gonna look at your products and say “yes, now they are perfect”? A year ago, my response was “wait until you have a good stock of items”, or “wait until Christmas”, etc. Fear, your worst possible enemy for trying something you love!

So, what changed my mind? The answer is exciting, it was fashion designers 🙂 Looking at my most favorite haute couture designers, especially those who are self-taught like me with illustrations, I realized that their early collections are not nearly half as good as their later magical ones! They learn, they improve, and they put everything they create out there as long as it’s made with passion and love. And so, the hunt for ways to increase my sales and market my products began.

Hearing some #etsysellers talk on #parsonsxteenvogue certificate videos, I realized that most of their sales on Etsy actually comes from loyal returning customers that they’ve met at local or international craft shows, and then from marketing. I decided to apply for Etsy: Made in Canada, and for my area, the awesome #craftadian team was responsible. I’m superrrr happy to announce that I got accepted, like jumping up and down happy and doing “my chocolate dance” LOL!! (more on that later also 🙂 ). I’m gonna be attending the Etsy: Made in Canada show in Mississauga, Ontario on September 23rd, 2017. Those of you who can make it, please do 🙂 It’s gonna be so much fun, and I have a ton of things planned for you ❤

Sorry if the post was long, I really did wanna share as soon as I applied, but I decided to wait till I got the response. Was it fear again? Maybe! Man, it seems like I’m gonna be fighting it for a while 😉

Love,

Dina

 

ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 5

Hello again wonderful people 🙂 How is your week going so far? Hope it’s been awesome!!! Today we’re going to talk about product mockups! yuppp!!! When I first read the assignment, I was freaking out a bit. I mean I was like ARE YOUR SERIOUS??!!! How can I create a mockup when I haven’t studied fashion before (this also applies to the next assignment of creating an actual product LOL!!!), so let’s see what happened.

Generally, designers create mockups because they act as a communication medium with the manufacturers in addition to helping the designers understand the production process, think and make decisions about suitable fabrics & materials, as well as estimate production costs, etc.

The “Mockup” assignment was as following:

1. Create a mockup of your “signature” bag. This could be a purse, a backpack, a messenger bag, etc.

2. The mockup should represent your visual style that has been established in one of the previously created mood boards.

3. Make use of previously found fabrics to create a production cost grid for the bag. This grid should include your proposed retail price.

So, how to tackle this project? First, I decided to create a mockup for a previously designed bag for one of the certificate modules. The bag design was couture style so it wasn’t easy to come up with a plan. I decided which colors, fabrics, and materials to use. I wanted the base of the bag to be pink leather, and the bag handle to be metal welded with colors. The main branch to be gold color and the flowers to be dark pink, blue and green. The butterflies would be colored as well. These are not the fabrics I chose for a previous mood board, since I was only thinking about dresses when I chose the fabrics and not bags. Another trip to the fabric store was inevitable to get the price for pink leather fabric, but I decided to delay this to the very end.

Next comes a visit to a local craft store. I picked up pink card stock paper with texture similar to the leather I imagined, colored flowers to add on top just to indicate where everything should go and decided to create the butterflies myself. I looked for gold card stock paper for the handle, but couldn’t find any so I decided to use the pink paper for the entire bag since it was just a mockup.

The assignment at this point was gonna take so much time, much more than the suggested 90 minutes so I needed to make decisions. First, I created a mockup of the bag using regular white paper. These pieces of paper would act as my pattern for the nice pink card stock paper and build my experience constructing a bag. I finally created the mockup for the bag using the pink card stock. I added the flowers, but creating the butterflies would have consumed so much time at this point so I stopped.

The final challenge is with the production cost grid. I had two problems; finding the cost of the materials (leather, metal sheets) and estimating the labor hours especially for the people who do metal welding. I went to two local fabric stores and they had no leather.  I researched on Etsy to get a price estimate, but the fabrics weren’t what I had imagined, so I decided to get a production cost price estimate from an overseas designer I know in Egypt. I sent her pictures of my mockup and the materials I had in mind, asked her to give me an estimate if I were to use her workshop for producing my bag. The cost should include: (a) pink leather fabric, (b) stitching, (c) liner if needed, (d) metal sheets, and (e) labor costs. The estimated total production cost in Egypt is USD $450. Adding 20% profit would total to USD $540. The estimated retail price would be USD $600 using these materials.

I hope this sheds some light into what it takes to produce an accessory piece for you 😉

P.S.* There is a tiny detail on the front of the bag design that is not present in the mockup!

Love,

Dina

 

ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 4

This is SUCH a cool course in the fashion certificate!!! Not only do you get exposed to new info about fashion production, but you get answers to questions you’ve been thinking of whenever you try on garments. Ok, so how many of you think they know their size in a specific brand, go buy a similar item without trying it on and then figure out that it’s a bit tight or a bit loose?!!! The answer to this mystery is right here in this post 😉

The days where I buy a few items blindly thinking that I’ve figured out my size(s) in pants, blouses, tops or even dresses from a specific brand are long gone. I’ve always wondered why can’t the factories of a brand get it right every time. I mean don’t they have specifications to work with? How hard is it to follow the measurements on paper? The answer is Standard Deviation. Although we’re relying on machinery to stitch garments up, these machines are still operated by humans and humans make errors!! Each designer adds an allowance within certain areas of the garment where an error might occur. These are usually a deviation of half an inch or one fourth of an inch, or one eighth of an inch. This is acceptable for mass market production, not in couture though as in high end collections, they are made to fit the client’s specific measurements.

In order to experience this, I went to a department store, picked several jeans that I liked from different brands in different sizes. In order to nail down the look and feel that I wanted from each brand, I found out that my size varied up to two inches in the waist for the pants. This variation was not only between different brands, but between different pants for the same brand. Hence, realizing that one of the many challenges faced by brands in the mass market category is fit and sizing.

Adios amigos, or till the next awesome assignment 😉

xoxo,

Dina