Best Gender Neutral Gifts of 2017

Best Gender Neutral Gifts of 2017

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the grab bag gift game that my family plays on Christmas day. There’s about 12-15 of us (including my extended family) and we battle it out to “win” the best gift. I could get into the rules, but I’ll save that for another post. Anyway, the catch is that the gift has to be a gender and age neutral. As such, I’m always picking my brain trying to think of what to get. What can my sister possible like that my 60 year old uncle would ALSO like?!

However, stocking up on gender neutral gifts during the holidays isn’t a bad idea. Need to give your boss something last minute? Going to someone’s house for a holiday party and don’t want to go empty handed? Keep a gender neutral gift on hand to have as an option. See my selects below!

 

5 Unique Ways to See the New York City Skyline

5 Unique Ways to See the New York City Skyline

There is seriously nothing prettier than the New York City skyline. Sometimes when I’m staring at the city in which I live, I have a little *pinch me* moment. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to discover some of the best ways to take in the amazing view. So whether you’re visiting New York City for the first time, want a backdrop for the perfect Insta or just want to do a fun activity – I think you’ll find the below helpful.

1. Take in the View from The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg
I had the pleasure of doing a little “staycation” at The William Vale and fell in love with the property. My room had a balcony with a view of the NYC skyline [pictured below], but that wasn’t the only place I could take in the sights. One of the hotels restaurants, Westlight, boasts a rooftop bar with panoramic skyline views from a terrace & glassed-in lounge plus craft cocktails. This place comes highly recommended.

ready for a lil’ sunday staycation, thanks to @soldejaneiro. i guess today is just a day of great views✌🏼

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2. Jet Ski Around the City in the Warmer Months
One of the cooler things I’ve done since living in Manhattan was cruising around the Hudson with my friends on jet skis. I know what you’re thinking, “ew, the Hudson water is gross!” But honestly, it was fine and we would have hardly gotten wet had my friend not purposefully splashed us. Seeing this city this way is truly breathtaking. We were able to get right up to the Statue of Liberty and go under both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

3. Hop on a Helicopter Ride
I’ve yet to do this, but you best believe I’ve already been in touch with Flyon NYC – a company that flies you around the city and helps you capture the perfect insta. They make professional aerial photography services accessible to everyone by providing a crowdsourced aerial experience. Whether you want to snap a signature shoe selfie on your iPhone, or you want to capture incredible aerial content for your portfolio: they’ve got a variety of options for you.

4. Cruise Around Via Boat
Everyone loves a good boating experience. You can join Hornblower New York for a dinner cruise around Manhattan, sightseeing tour of NYC, private party, happy hour, or celebration on a luxury yacht. All options comes with one thing guaranteed – an awesome view of the skyline.

never sick of this view 🎈 #mylifeooo

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5. Go Up to the Top of The Rock Observation Deck
The Top of the Rock is one of the greatest observation decks available and attracts people from all over the world daily. Here, you can take in the most incredible views of New York City and get a close look at Central Park from above. On weekends, you can buy tickets here for as low as $30 a head. 

Checking out @ChasenAllen cause he’s da hottest.

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Any questions? Leave a comment below!

 

The Great Insta Debate: Loop Giveaways

The Great Insta Debate: Loop Giveaways

When it comes to growing my Instagram following, I’ve always prided myself on letting it happen authentically and naturally. By taking this route, it takes a lot of time and patience. I’ve been at it for over a year and a half. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a few giveaways here and there, but generally stick to small ones that only attract a handful of followers. I also do a lot of independent giveaways vs. large group ones. Disclosure: I’m actually doing a small giveaway in the coming weeks.

However, I want to state that this is a no judgment zone. I’m writing this post because I’m genuinely curious what fellow consumers (followers), influencers and Brand’s think of the recent trend of “loop giveaways” on Instagram. For those of you that are not familiar, this is when a group of influencers team up to give away a prize and prompt you to follow them and the next influencer tagged in their post in order to be entered to win. This prompt keeps going until you’re looped back to the original influencer’s post you started on.

The thing is, by doing these types of giveaways, bloggers often gain a lot of followers. I’ve seen people gain anywhere from 300 followers to 50,000 followers (I know, crazy!) in just a few days. As a publicist, I always think about things from an industry perspective, but as an influencer, I totally see the appeal. So below are some of my conflicting thoughts/questions. Comment on my post or send me a DM to let me know which side you’re on or what you think! Again, genuinely curious.

  • I feel like loop giveaways are a great marketing tactic for influencers to use to appeal consumers they might not otherwise reach (especially if you’re doing an international giveaway). With the new algorithm, it’s hard to get your photos to pop up on people’s feed, so giveaways allow you that chance to be seen.
  • A concern is that if you get an abundance of followers from a loop giveaway, your engagement rate may be low. For example, just because you have a lot of followers doesn’t mean that they’re actually taking the time to comment/like your photos. PRO TIP: For those of you that don’t know, the industry benchmark for engagement is .3% (to calculate, add up the numbers of likes + comments on your last 5 photos and divide by the number of followers you have). If you have a .3% engagement rate or higher it means you’re doing really well. As someone that works in PR, I know that Brands are getting smarter and this is really important to them. So my question is – is having a lot of followers worth sacrificing your engagement rate? Brands, would love your input.
  • The other thing that upsets me is when new influencers do a ton of giveaways and have 10x more followers than me, yet just started on this journey. It seems a bit unfair, no? It also kind of feels like their cheating the system.
  • Consumers aka Followers – I wonder what you think? Do you like the opportunity to win a really cool prize? Or do you just feel like loop giveaways are a great way for you to discover new influencers?
  • I’ve also heard from select influencers and publicists that partaking in loop giveaways is inauthentic and means your “buying your followers.” While I do think they can be a bit unfair, I have to disagree with this. Just because you’re partaking in a giveaway doesn’t mean you’re purchasing followers. These consumers are CHOOSING to engage and follow you. Plus, they’re real people, not bots.

What are your thoughts? Obviously I’m not against loop giveaways completely (for the reasons listed above), plus like I said, I’m doing a small one in the coming weeks. However, I  do wonder what other’s think. When you’re running your own business, a lot of it is trial and error, so it’s interesting to hear what other people think. Comment below or slide into my DMs!

Sippin’ My Way Through Summer – One Dunkin’ Flavored Iced Coffee at a Time

Sippin’ My Way Through Summer – One Dunkin’ Flavored Iced Coffee at a Time

If you follow me, you know the below to be true.

  1. I’m always on the go
  2. I’m always drinking iced coffee
  3. My blogger BFF is @LaurenMazzei

So you may be wondering – how do all of these items connect? Well for starters, Lauren and I are both devoted Dunkin’ Donuts fans. So much so that during our photo shoots we often have our photographer hold our coffees (so it’s always on standby). Oh and that’s not to mention the fact that Lauren only gets an *understated* Large Iced Coffee every single time she orders. There’s also that one time after Fashion Week when we were both in dire need of a pick-me-up so we went out of our way on our route home to stop at Dunkin’ Donuts (in our heels and absurd outfits) just to get our fix.

Anyway, enough about our not-so-hidden passion for iced coffee….

I’m telling you all of this to explain why we are both super excited to be partnering with Dunkin’ Donuts this summer. From New York City to the Jersey Shore to the beaches of the Hamptons and Stamford, we’re constantly on-the-go and sippin’ our way through summer every pit stop along the way. Fun fact: we both actually drink iced coffee year-round.

While we both have our go-to iced orders, this summer we vowed to break out of our everyday routine by trying some new flavors. Check out the flavors we tried below:

  • S’mores Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee : Combination of graham cracker, toasted marshmallow and chocolate flavors
  • Coconut Crème Pie Cold Brew: Flavored iced coffee offers a creamy combo of vanilla, coconut and sweet pie crust flavors
  • Butter Pecan Iced Coffee: Flavored iced coffee features indulgent butter roasted pecan and sweet cream flavors

(*All are available in Dunkin’ Donuts’ hot and iced coffees, lattes, macchiatos and Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee through summer)

Of all of the flavors we tried, I have to say that the Coconut Crème Pie Cold Brew was my favorite. It’s a fresh flavor reminiscent of the tropics, making it the perfect beverage to sip on during the warmer weather.

So I urge you to also break out of your routine, by trying one of the new flavors this summer. All Dunkin’ Summer coffee beverages can be enjoyed in hot and iced coffees, lattes, macchiatos and Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee all summer long! Be sure to leave me a comment to let me know which your favorite is!

Ps. Thank you to Dunkin’ Donuts for sponsoring this post and providing my with delicious sips all summer long! 

How to Master Early Morning Photo Shoots

How to Master Early Morning Photo Shoots

When I tell people I shoot all of my blog/Instagram photos in the morning before work, they generally say something along the lines of, “What?! I can’t wake up that early! HOW DO YOU DO THAT?!”

Guess what? I’m here to tell you HOW.

Waking up early isn’t fun. I’m not really a late sleeper to begin with, but something about waking up to the sound of an alarm is just dreadful. However, I’m committed to my blog and dedicated to featuring new, fresh content as often as I can. Since I do work full time in PR, I have no choice but to shoot before work (or after now that the sun sets later in the summer). However, after work, I generally want to go home, workout or attend an event, so that really only leaves the morning open to shoot most weeks.

But how do I pick a location? And how do I determine leaving myself enough time to get to work at 9am? I’ve kind of got it mastered at this point… so below, find my tips for mastering early AM photo-shoots.

1. Pick a location: I try to pick somewhere that is convenient for not only me, but my photographer as well (shout out to @photosbytifff). Since we both have to be at work by 9am, we generally stick to lower-midtown locations like Madison Square Park/Flatiron, Washington Square Park or Bryant Park. Are you wondering why I shoot in so many parks? Here’s why. Parks generally have public restrooms, so you can run in to change between looks. Parks also have greenery and character. Sometimes just doing street style photos can get monotonous, especially in the summer when there are so many natural beautiful colors from trees and flowers.

2. Plan your outfits the night before: This may sound intuitive, but make sure you lay out everything the night before, so in the morning you just need to apply your makeup/fix your hair and go. I lay out everything from my outfit, to shoes, to accessories (purse, jewelry, sunglasses).

  • Pro tip: If you really want your shoot to move seamlessly, pack each outfit with all of the matching accessories into individual baggies. This way, when you’re looking through your main bag, you can easily locate everything you need for that one look vs. digging through your suitcase or tote to find everything.
  • Pro tip #2: Since winter clothing items are bulkier, I sometimes bring a wheelie suitcase with me. To me, it’s easier to roll something around the city than having to carry it over my shoulder (it gets heavy).

(I recently bought this clothing rack so I could lay out all of my outfits the night before a shoot. Buy it HERE

3. Changing in Public: If you’re not in a park and there are no nearby restrooms, you need to get creative when it comes to changing. I’m not shy, so I generally change on the street. If this is the route you’re going to take – there’s an art to it. Follow the below steps:

  • Strategically plan your outfits so that you can easily change. For example, if you have one dress and one pant outfit, wear the dress first. When you’re done with that look, slip the pants on under the dress and wiggle your way into the top without exposing yourself.
  • Make sure the last outfit you shoot in is the one you want to wear that day. Knowing I need to go to work after my shoot, I generally save my most work appropriate outfit for last. This way, when I’m done shooting, I just run to work in whatever I’m in.
  • Too risky for you? Get a changing tent or bring a sheet. Some photographers (shout out to @LaurelCreative) bring changing tents with them, which makes for easy changing, anywhere, any time. If they don’t have one, you can either purchase your own OR just bring a sheet and have your photographer hold it up for you as you hide behind it to swap outfits.

4. Timing: Knowing I need to be at work at 9am, I generally make sure I’m shooting by 7:30am. This way, I have from around 7:30-8:30 or 8:45ish (depending on the location) to shoot. Within this time, I can generally shoot 3 looks and even sneak in a flatlay.

Any additional questions that I didn’t cover? Comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!