The Best Pajamas To Cozy Up In This Winter

So, we’re stuck in the house. The way I see it, our style shouldn’t be restricted to out-of-the-house activities. Over the past year, I’ve been exploring my loungewear look (see examples here, here, and here). I’ve also been fine-tuning my nighttime style, aka sleepwear. And, if I’m honest, some days are sleepwear all day kinda days. I found a few pajamas sets recently that I enjoy wearing so much that I had to share before they’re gone.

Satin Pajamas

What I’m Wearing:

Pink stripe satin pajama set ($25) | Bobeau cardigan c/o | Fenty gloss bomb (color: Fu$$y)

Satin Pajamas

The pajama set, which includes the shirt, shorts, and a matching sleep mask is only $25. Don’t let the price deceive you, though, this set feels as luxurious and comfortable as higher-end options. I bought the pajamas on a whim, brought them home, tried them on, and I immediately returned to Target to buy another in red. The pieces fit perfectly. The fit is cozy and soft. For reference, I’m wearing a size medium, and sizes range from XS to XXL. By the way, the set also comes in a floral option and a black one.

To add a little styling and some additional warmth, I paired my pajamas with my Bobeau cardigan. The color complements my set well. And, Bobeau pieces feel like your favorite hug…so cozy.

Shop cozy pajamas:

Jim McKelvey’s Innovation Stack Offers Inspiration For My Next Big Move

This post is sponsored by Jim McKelvey, author of The Innovation Stack.

As a resident of St. Louis, I was especially pleased to read The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time (2020) by Jim McKelvey. The book is instructive and inspiring.

McKelvey is most well-known as the cofounder of Square—a company that made it possible for small businesses and individuals to make credit card transactions using their mobile devices. The idea revolutionized the way people could participate in business activities, and even more importantly, a basis for Square was winning some justice for smaller operations.

Innovation Stack

McKelvey is a longtime artist, specifically he supported himself as a glass blower. The spark of an idea that would lead to Square occurred when McKelvey lost out on a sale of one of his products because he had no way of accepting a credit card payment from a potential customer. That problem prompted him to work with one of his collaborators, Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter) to create Square.

In the process of researching steps to developing their device, McKelvey immediately became troubled when he learned that credit card companies were charging small businesses rates sometimes forty times higher than large-scale corporations. I was intrigued and impressed that economic justice was tied into the backstory of this familiar square device.

Innovation Stack

McKelvey discusses an “innovation stack” the cycle of “interlocking and evolving inventions” when and if you dare to make truly novel creations. Square was not simply one solution to a single problem. Instead, the company was created on a series of inventive developments, that is, an Innovation Stack.

This focus on a series of interconnected developments from McKelvey’s book really appealed to me. Over the last couple of months, I have immersed myself in the study of coding. How did I get here? More than ten years ago, I created a website to share my interest in shopping on a budget. Soon after, the challenge of producing high quality images led me to acquire skills as a photographer. The task of composing combinations of texts and photographs prompted me to learn aspects of graphic design.

Innovation Stack

Then, the process of transforming a hobby in fashion into a profession pushed me to learn how to interact with a variety of fashion, makeup, and PR companies. I was obliged to coordinate events throughout the city. Changing technologies made it necessary for me to master multiple modes of online media. Ultimately, my curiosities to think beyond the front end of websites and delve into the back end motivated my journey to coding. The series of problem solving that got me here, in other words, amount to an Innovation Stack, or a kind of skill stack.

McKelvey’s book provides encouragement for those of us who consider the value of responding to challenges with novel solutions. Of course, oftentimes a new solution reveals a new, unfamiliar problem, which requires yet another original solution. When we approach challenges with an awareness that powerful projects or wonderful accomplishments are the  results of an Innovation Stack, then we are usefully prepared for the extended series of steps that await us.

As a Black woman seeking to pursue a career in software development, I understand there are numerous barriers and reasons to feel professionally isolated. At the same time, I remain excited about the possibilities. And who knows? Perhaps some of those challenges are in fact opportunities for innovation.

You can purchase the book here. I’ll also be giving away a copy of the book on Instagram later today.

6 Black Fashion Designers You Should Know

February is such an important month in style. It’s Black History Month, and black creatives have contributed so much to style movements. New York Fashion Week also went down this month. So, I thought it was a good time to share some of my favorite black fashion designers to watch. Some of them, like Tracy Reese, I’ve worn for many years, and others, I can’t wait to be able to afford a piece or two.

6 Black Fashion Designers To Know

1. Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese launched her label in New York City in 1998. It’s a women’s ready-to-wear clothing line. She’s since launched Plenty by Tracy Reese, a more affordably-priced line that makes her styles more accessible. I’m a huge fan and usually grab her pieces at Anthropologie. The jumpsuit below is an all-time favorite Tracy Reese design.

2. Cushnie

Designed by Carly Cushnie, this label is a luxury ready-to-wear line known for its clean lines and precise tailoring.

black fashion designers

3. LaQuan Smith

LaQuan Smith started his line in 2013 and has since gotten the attention of big names like Rihanna and Beyonce. No surprise, his designs are distinctive and edgy. Good news for us is they’re also available at Asos. See some pieces from his Asos design collaboration here.

4. Demestik

Demestik by Reuben Reuel creates beautiful, contemporary designs using globally-inspired fabrics. Remember Beyonce’s epic baby shower ensemble? The skirt was by Demestik!

5. Studio One Eighty Nine

Studio 189 was co-founded by Rosario Dawson and Adrima Erwiah. It’s a fashion and lifestyle brand and also a social enterprise. The brand offers African-inspired styles created by artisanal communities in Accra, Ghana.

6. Telfar

Telfar by Telfar Clemens is a super cool, unisex line. The brand promotes inclusivity in fashion. It operates under the tagline, “Not for you—for everyone.”

10 Important Takeaways From Real Talk With Regions Bank In St. Louis

This post is sponsored by Regions Bank, member FDIC.

Attending Real Talk with Regions Bank was the smartest decision I made a few weeks ago. The event, sponsored by Regions Bank, The Regional Business Council Young Professionals Network (RBC), and the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, brought local young professionals together to explore the intersection of two critical themes–innovation and leadership. It all took place at the beautiful Third Degree Glass Factory.

I knew I was in the right place when I ran into fellow entrepreneur and owner of Heritage1933™, Latoya Thompson (pictured below), and Tim Dean, a business educator and coach (who kindly took the image). There was such a high-spirited synergy among the over 120 attendees all because of a common interest in business and workplace innovation.

Regions Bank Real Talk

As a proud St. Louis resident, I was especially pleased to see the rich diversity (age, race, gender) of this city represented at the event as well.

The most memorable part of the night was undoubtedly the professional insights shared by the powerful panelists. The panel discussion was moderated by Laura Hettiger, a KMOV traffic reporter and cohost of Great Day St. Louis. Featured panelists included Shannon Buebe, Commercial Banking Solutions Relationship Manager at Regions Bank, Kendra Elaine, Kendra Elaine Consulting LLC, Chyna Bowen, Regional Senior Manager at Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and Jason Hall, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Arch to Park LLC.

Hettiger prompted the panel with questions that probed about their passions, inspirations, empowerment tips, networking hacks, and more. I left the event so inspired by the stories and insights of the featured young professionals. I was so moved that I had to share with you all my top 10 takeaways. Warning: They’re potentially career altering (in the best way possible)!

L to R: Laura Hettiger, Chyna Bowen, Kendra Elaine, Jason Hall, Shannon Buebe

10 Important Takeaways from Real Talk with Regions Bank:

1. Passion is not a destination. It’s a journey. Bowen reminded us of that. Elaine went further by saying, “it’ll look differently as you grow and change.”

2. “There are no menial jobs,” Elaine confirms. Elaine believes this and encourages millennials to understand their positions and how these jobs add value to the companies they work in and to their own growth. Doing so makes work become more meaningful.

3. Not sure about your ‘why’? No worries. “Stay curious about the possibilities. It’s about the long game,” Bowen tells it.

4. Have big ambitions. Buebe encourages millennials to find someone doing what you want to do and openly share your ambitions and goals with them.

5. Don’t let the term networking intimidate you. Hall believes the word sounds transactional and instead encourages millennials to focus on building soft relationships and to use social media to facilitate introductions and engagement when possible.

6. Have patience. According to Buebe, since you don’t know what you don’t know, be patient because the experiences you’re attaining now could lay the foundation for what you want to become.

7.  It’s okay not to prove every point. Hall believes that trying to always be right could come at the expense of actually being influential. It’s ok to let some things slide.

8. Shift your focus from ‘what’ to ‘how’. Bowen argues that it is more beneficial to explore how you will get where you want to be instead of just stating what you want.

9. Seek career help when needed. Hall aptly reminds us that no one is good at everything. Don’t let what you don’t know hinder your growth.

10. Understanding what motivates other people is a crucial characteristic of a leader. Hall also believes that leaders don’t have to be the smartest people in the room to be influential. They should aim to be the most understanding among those around them.

If this panel’s insights have left you wanting more advice and guidance, then Regions offers many online tools and resources for young professionals. I hope that these takeaways are just as inspiring to you as they were to me! Special thanks to Regions Bank for inviting me to such an inspirational event.

4 Reasons Why Personal Branding Is Important For Us All

I participated in a panel discussion hosted by Fashion Group International (FGI) in St. Louis recently. Since I enjoy talking about the business of blogging, I was excited to join the panel. I was especially thrilled, though, because the personal branding discussion was led by Carrie Lannon. Lannon is a branding consultant with a roster of  high-end clients. She also served as the national public relations director for Ulta Beauty.

Today, I’m sharing 4 takeaways from Lannon’s presentation and the panel discussion that evening. No matter what you do, these points on personal branding are important to consider.

Personal Branding

1. 90% of first impressions now happen online.

It’s crucial to be aware of how you are represented online (your own posts and those by others). Lannon offered further that your digital presence should do at least one of the following: inform, entertain, educate, or engage. Your next job or branding collaboration could depend on the results of a Google or Facebook search of your name.

2. Social posts are PERMANENT.

Be mindful and intentional about everything you post online because it can be permanent. Simply deleting posts may not be sufficient because of the ability of others to instantly share our content.

3. Your digital and personal presence communicate what you value in the world.

Of course, I talk a lot about how our style says something about how we think about the world. Your digital trail does the same thing. Using both to communicate your best qualities can benefit you in work and life.

4. Standing out online is a wonderful opportunity and challenge.

There are millions of people online, so getting heard is a wonderful opportunity. The challenge is doing so without compromising your integrity.

Thank you to FGI-STL for having me. Learn more about the speaking engagements I participate in here.

*All images courtesy of FGI-STL