MW of the Month // February 3, 2015 

Walking distance from my condo is the cutest little bakery. I pass by it every time I take my dog for a walk. I’m always so tempted to go inside and buy one of those 3 tiered cakes that they have on display in the window. I remembered that once upon a time I was a pastry chef and I could probably make that cake myself. Yup, like most 80's kids I used to whip up the finest of delicacies in my Easy Bake Oven. I’ve come a long way from my little amateur oven, but I’m sure I can still make sugary magic in the kitchen. I’m 26 years old, I can bake a cake. I mean, it can’t be that hard, right?

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Truth is, it is hard to bake cakes. It takes an immense amount of patience, attention to detail and culinary skill to pull off creating those beautiful and tasty things. As the Executive Pastry Chef for Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Atlanta, Chef Kathleen Miliotis not only bakes cakes, but she kicks all kinds of ass in the kitchen as the woman in charge of one of Atlanta’s premier Italian restaurants. She oversees the entire production of pastries and desserts, including creation and execution, recipe and menu creation, supervising, training, managing the pastry staff, and community involvement. She has been in the pastry game for over 10 years and received national recognition for her work, including The New York Times naming Miliotis as “a rising star, her French dessert so venerable they belong in the Louvre." We were stoked to get to chat with Chef Kathy about culinary school, her career as a pastry chef and one of our favorite topics, CAKE!

Jasmin Martin: Why did you want to become a pastry chef? Did you bake a lot when you were growing up?

Kathleen Miliotis: I wanted to be a culinary chef but my sophomore year at Johnson and Wales I took a class on intro to baking which introduced me to the world of artistic baking and pastry, such as how to blow sugar. Not just making your typical pies or donuts! I learned about sugar artistry, chocolate and so much more. It changed my course..I had to take two extra years to get my bachelors degree in baking and pastry!

JM: Can you talk a little bit about your training? Where did you go to culinary school?

KM: I attended Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island… was a very intense program with strong teachers. Before I got there, I thought I already knew everything but there was so much too learn. Pastry is an art it’s not just a hobby…it’s a career so you have to take it seriously. My first chef job was at the Jarrod Coffin House in Nantucket. I was the pastry chef there in 1998 and I was only 21 years old. It was all hands on deck. I made cobblers cheesecakes, country style…it was great experience. I had to learn and teach myself what the guests were asking for. I made my first wedding cake using rice paper, it was a very vintage wedding. 

JM: In recent years people have become more familiar with pastry chefs thanks to reality TV shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes. It seems like there is a lot of stress in the kitchen! What is the most difficult thing about being a pastry chef?

KM: The most difficult is time management and getting stuff done on time. Everything is dependent upon time in the kitchen. Pastry is chemistry, you can’t rush it. Everything has to be precise. It’s really is a science.

JM: As the executive pastry chef for Davio’s what is a typical day like for you? How big is your staff?

KM: Walk in, see what my day entails – bread production first, then pastry production based on what parties we have that evening or the next day. We make everything in house – from our breads, buns, tart dough, everything is made from scratch in our kitchen by four people including myself.

JM: What inspires you as a chef? How do you make your desserts stand out?

KM: Staying on the trends. What our guests enjoy, seasonal, bold flavors… Sometimes you see something beautifully plate but there is no flavor. I am big on flavor and taste and keeping it simple yet beautiful.

JM: As a female pastry chef, do you feel like you’re a minority in your field? 

KM: Maybe two years ago yes but once I became a Les dames I realized that there are so many powerful and strong woman who are in this industry that stand together – I see more female chefs in the kitchen now and it’s very a powerful thing.

JM: When you dine at other restaurants, what are you looking for in their dishes? And desserts?

KM: What’s in season, unique ideas, sauces or something I’ve never heard of before. I think of myself as a risk taker. My key ingredients to any dessert are crunch, salt and sweetness and its very important how they are used. I love dining out and seeing what my competition is and the creativity out there, it makes me a better chef!

JM: What is your favorite dessert to make and why?

KM: My rendition of a Kit Kat Bar using peanut butter and chocolate I love recreating childhood favorites like my ice cream sandwiches which were a big hit…and of course our adult flavored popsicles for the summer!

JM: What do you do to stay on top of industry trends?

KM: I think its really important to look at other menus, cookbooks and even some from ten years ago which are still relevant. I love researching by looking at magazines, top ten restaurants in the US and what are their chefs making or trying to do differently. I get inspired by new media like Pinterest or Instagram, they are great tools for fun ideas.

JM: I’m sure one of the most difficult things to create as a pastry chef is a wedding cake. As much as we love to look at them, we know that pastry chefs must have a love/hate relationship with crafting them. Do you enjoy creating wedding cakes?

KM: YES… You're making the bride’s dream come true. A wedding cake is a piece of artwork. It’s very time consuming and they are many steps involved including many intricate details from fondant work to airbrushing but the final product is worth it!

JM: What’s next for you as a pastry chef?

KM: The Food Network! Another dream of mine is to someday own a café or brasserie and to be an Entrepreneur.

I'm still not much of a pastry chef. I admit, I burn cookies every time I bake them. But if you’re ever in the ATL and your sweet tooth won't let up, drop in to Davios Northern Italian Kitchen for a little something special from Chef Kathy.

Published in Business
Monday, 12 January 2015 14:55

MW of the Month | Autumn Williams - Ashoka

MW of the Month // January 12, 2015

From the time we’re little, we’re told that we can grow up to be whatever we want to be. We can be actresses, princesses CEOs or MVPs - the possibilities are endless. But what about those little girls (and boys) who don’t have the chance to thrive, chase their dreams and reach their full potential - what happens to them? How do you tell a child that they’re dreaming too big or that there isn’t a lane for their aspirations?

Autumn Williams is living proof that there is no profession too complicated and no dream too big. A Stanford School of Engineering graduate -- a field that doesn’t have many women or women of color -- Autumn found it necessary to be a part of something that not only believes in empowering youth, but also encourages their aspirations. At 25 years old, Autumn is the Senior Entrepreneur of Changemaker Schools for Ashoka, the largest social entrepreneurship network in the world. Autumn uses her passion for education reform and social justice to help cultivate the next generation of leaders, thinkers, movers and shakers. Autumn is a good friend of mine and I had a chance to chat with her and learn more about this exciting new take on education. 

Jasmine: What exactly is social entrepreneurship? 

Autumn Williams: By definition, a social entrepreneur is an individual with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. At Ashoka, we select, connect, and multiply multiple individuals’ work and ideas in over eighty countries around the world. In my specific work within Ashoka, I select and recruit schools in the U.S. that are doing innovative work in cultivating what we call changemaking skills: leadership, teamwork, empathy, and problem solving. The idea is that we can change the narrative around education by creating the platform for these schools to be thought leaders in education. We’ve found that this same work is happening around the world as Ashoka selects these Changemaker Schools. What I’m especially excited about is what happens when we put these schools and school leaders in conversation with each other. I’m thrilled to learn about what’s working in Nairobi that can work in Watts.

JM: What made you want to want to work with Ashoka?

AW: In different shapes and forms throughout my life, I’ve always been passionate about creating change. While at Stanford, I founded a student organization called STEMgineers Shifting Gears. STEMgineers was originally an initiative to encourage middle school students’ curiosity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through a spring break program. After I was tired of being the “only one” in classes, research groups, and conferences, I started doing some research on the state of American education and saw that middle school was when many young people lose interest in STEM and when mathematics and science are taught differently. I had the idea to travel to Los Angeles during my spring break and lead an afterschool program. A few of friends liked my idea and came with me to teach what they were learning and researching in a way that middle school students could understand. Every lesson was project-based and we fed the students all organic food. That program grew and I now work with middle school and high school students during the spring and summer. The lessons are still project-based and the instructors are still college students. Although I was on track to continue my work in aerospace after graduation, I really enjoyed working in and researching education reform and wondered how I could make this a full-time gig. I wanted more of an opportunity to create, shape and lead a movement that was close to my heart. It’s so rewarding to be involved in every aspect of your own project. After my work with Mayor Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, one of my best friends and I were talking about social entrepreneurship, changemaking, and the work that he was doing at Ashoka. I became interested in the intersection of social entrepreneurship and education and an opportunity at Ashoka presented itself where I could further explore that intersection.

JM: You graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Engineering. That’s impressive for not only women of color, but women in general. What do you see as the disconnect between women and the field of engineering?

AW: I think the fact that we say it’s impressive is the problem. It shouldn’t be rare for any demographic to be rare in any sector, but unfortunately that’s the reality in many spaces including STEM fields. I think that shifting the way people view the industry has a lot to do with how we talk about it. That’s the disconnect - continuing to see it as a one-off career choice or seeing the female engineer as an anomaly. We have to make sure young people and adults know there’s no such thing as a typical engineer or scientist and no such thing as a typical career for a woman to choose. I think once we take away the “rare factor” and make it more of a normal occurrence and something that’s attainable, then we’ll start to see a change. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, but I hope that one day it won’t be surprising to hear a little black girl say she wants to be a rocket scientist.

JM: I hope so too! What has been the biggest risk you’ve taken professionally and how has it paid off?

AW: I think the biggest risk I’ve taken has been my transition from engineering to education and social entrepreneurship. When I was toying around with the idea of pursuing a field very different from aerospace, I talked it over with my mom. She asked me if I was uncomfortable. When I said “of course I am” she replied, “then go for it!”. Trying something new and different has been so rewarding for me. I really learned from her that we often grow the most and thrive when we’re in a new place that’s uncomfortable. I don’t regret pursuing something unknown or challenging myself to be greater. So I’m looking forward to taking more risks and hopefully thriving in that space.

JM: Your work with Ashoka is admirable and inspiring. What’s one piece of advice you would give to young women aspiring to work in the field of education and social justice?

AW: It’s going to sound so cliche, but just do what you’re passionate about. Don’t find yourself in a job because it’s safe or what you’re “supposed to be doing.” Choose a career that ignites the fire in your belly, something that makes you feel good everyday. It’s important to love what you do because sometimes work will require a lot of sacrifices. When you’re passionate about what you do, those things you do for work won’t feel like sacrifices. In addition to being in love with work, it’s also important to remember to set time to metaphorically go back to the well. Make it crucial to replenish your energy and keep yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually fulfilled. Don’t work so hard or so much that you don’t have anything left to give yourself.

JM: Your work is so inspiring and you’re helping to change lives. What inspires you?

AW: I’m inspired by so many things, but if I had to narrow it down I would say I’m inspired by two things. One, I’m inspired by seeing young people give themselves permission to be catalysts for change. It warms my heart to see youth not wait for some adult to tell them the can change something. Despite so the world of inequality and injustice we live in, there’s something magical about watching young people being the change they wish to see and finding hope and light in adverse situations. Secondly, I’m inspired by women. I’m blown away by the strength and tenacity of women to exist in spaces where we aren’t expected to. Women are innately powerful and I love watching us use our power to not only survive, but to thrive.

 For more about the work that’s being done with Ashoka and their initiatives, visit

Published in Business

MW of the Month // November 3, 2014

God blessed all women with hips, thighs, boobs, tummies and arms that we curse every time they don’t fit neatly into an outfit or resemble Beyonce’s. Kirstin Klingshirn, an over 10 year radio vet and an on-air personality from Atlanta’s hit radio show The Bert Show, has a different approach to body image. She doesn’t want women to hide who they are. Instead, she wants women to stop shaming themselves for not having the perfect bodies and love the ones they do. With the #SuitYourself campaign, she helps to encourage women to embrace their bodies with pride by putting them front and center in a swimsuit (eek!) and uploading the picture onto social media (double eek!).

 We sat down with Kirstin to talk self love, support systems and why the hell we have to show it all in a bathing suit, the official uniform for #SuitYourself.

Jasmin Martin: We see skewed images of beauty everyday in magazines, music videos and billboards. All of them Photoshopped. How do you think a campaign like #SuitYourself will shift the standard of beauty and what is considered beautiful?

Kirstin Klingshirn: Beauty is subjective and always will be. #SuitYourself isn’t so much a mission to shift the standard of beauty, I would say it’s to expand the standard of beauty. It’s more to encourage women to love their bodies and to quit being so hard on themselves and each other. We just want women to know no matter what their shape or size, they should love themselves. Magazines will always be airbrushed and photoshopped. But we don’t live in magazines. We live in the real world. And that’s why it’s important we stop comparing ourselves to those images, because they just aren’t real. That’s why posting the pics of real women was so important.

JM: Why is the bathing suit the outfit for #SuitYourself? Why bear it all?

KK: This campaign was brought to The Bert Show table by our former phone screener, Marisa, who was inspired while shopping for swimsuits. Most women, including myself, feel the dread of swimsuit season and finding the perfect bathing suit. We wanted to remove the dread and instead replace it with a love of one’s body. No more tears in dressing rooms, it was time to focus on being positive rather than negative. It’s so easy to tear yourself down when looking in the dressing room mirror rather than build yourself up. We wanted to change that.

JM: #SuitYourself is not only a campaign about self confidence and positive body image, but it also is a collaboration of women coming together to support each other. How does this support system help women feel more confident?

KK: That was one of the highlights of #SuitYourself. There was tremendous comraderie that came from posting a swimsuit picture and knowing women would be uplifting, not judgmental. Being a woman is hard, rewarding, but hard. We should make it a little easier by being supportive of each other.

JM: Although you work in radio, people sometimes forget that you’re still a public figure and have to make appearances. Do you feel the pressure to look a certain way?

KK: If I’m being honest, no. I go to work in no makeup and super casual clothes, unless we have a guest in studio. Then I’ll make sure I look what I consider to be presentable which I think is the professional thing to do. I love getting dressed up for events, but I wouldn’t say there is a pressure attached to that because I enjoy doing my hair and makeup when it’s necessary. There’s so much pressure when it comes to being on-air that there’s just none left when it comes to my appearance!

JM: #SuitYourself is a great campaign because it helps to boost self confidence for females from all walks of life; young, old, mom, single, svelte or bootylicious. What’s your favorite success story from someone who decided to join the #SuitYourself challenge?

KK: My favorite moment from #SuitYourself was going to Instagram on the first day of the campaign and clicking on the hashtag. I was moved by the sea of pictures. Women from all walks of life, overcoming their fear of posting a swimsuit picture (and yes, that fear exists.)

JM: Do you think there’s a double standard in fashion and beauty between men and women? (Ex. a man can be overweight and hairy and it’s funny, but an overweight, hairy woman is labeled disgusting and rushed immediately to her nearest wax salon.)

KK: I do think more is expected of women than men. I don’t think men are exempt from beauty standards, but I definitely believe women feel more pressure. That’s obvious when you see the amount of ads targeting women. 

JM: Why is it important to love your body the way it is?

KK: Because you are more than your body. And if you want to make changes, just remember to love yourself along the way.

As someone who struggles with body image I truly appreciate Kristin’s work. You can check her out on the radio on Q100 Atlanta through the I Heart Radio app and get involved with the #SuitYourself campaign by searching the hashtag #SuitYourself on Instagram and Twitter or by visiting

Published in Business
Monday, 13 October 2014 17:38

Style | Startup Spotlight: Philthy Ragz

Style // September 15, 2014

What could be more fun than running a business with one of your best girlfriends? Running a fashion line with one of your best girlfriends, duh! Shianne Winston and Jasmine Peters have been BFF’s for 22 years and are living the dream as the dynamic duo who run Philthy Ragz; the premier location for edgy, sexy clothes in Los Angeles.

Although they’re both only 25, Philthy Ragz isn’t their first take at entrepreneurship. In fact, Shianne and Jasmine had the business bug as preteens when they had a neighborhood babysitting service. Now as start-up savvy women, they can tell you a little something about what all it takes to keep a business booming. These girls GRIND. From sweeping floors and planning events to managing their online store and styling celebrities, these ambitious besties have their hands completely immersed in the Philthy pot. We had the chance to sit down with the Directors of Operations (just one of their titles) right after the launch of their Garden of Eden line to talk a little bit about sisterhood, entrepreneurship and what makes them “Philthy”.

Philthy Ragz

Jasmin Martin: Where did the name “Philthy Ragz” come from? What does it mean?

Shianne Winston: The term Philthy Ragz came from a Bible verse my mom found. Isaiah 63 says, “we’re all nothing but a filthy rag”. The person wearing the clothes holds the power, not the garment itself. So be the best you can be and let your personality radiate humility, love, kindness, sex appeal or whatever through your clothes. 

JM: So how did you two meet up? It must be so much fun to work in fashion with your best friend.

SW: We’ve known each other since preschool and we instantly bonded.
Jasmine Peters: It’s great to work with someone with the same business mind that you have. We’re on the same page and aspire to have the same things, so it’s cool.

JM: Shianne, your mom Ms. Gaynelle is the store owner and the designer for Philthy Ragz. I’m sure she cuts you a little slack, being the boss’ daughter.

SW: Oh, no! Even though it’s my family business and we both love working here and it’s our baby, my mother and I see Philthy Ragz as a business. I work with my mom not for my mom. She knows how to deal with me as her daughter, but once she comes in here, it’s boss mode and we have a job to do. I don’t take advantage of her being my mom and assume someone else can just pick up my slack. That’s not even my personality. So I’m working hard to keep this thing growing so we can achieve bigger and better things.
JP: People think that when you work at a store all you do is sell clothes. The stores sell themselves, we don’t have to do that. We’re involved in every aspect of making sure that the store and the brand are being run to standard. Gaynelle put her blood, sweat and tears into this business and trusts us to help further her vision. She guides us and works with us, but also gives us a lot of  room to make decisions. It’s more of a collaboration.

Philthy Ragz

JM: Tell me a little bit about the typical day at Philthy Ragz.

SW: *laughs* There is no typical day. Every day could be something different. We could make a to-do list and think that’s what we’re going to work through and it could be a completely different story. One day we might walk in and my mom will say, “we’re having a pink party today, we just received 25 pink dresses” and the plans immediately change.
JP: Right, like we can get a call in the middle of the night like, “so and so celebrity wants to come by the store at 8 AM to pick up her dress”. That’s not what we were prepared for, but we get it together to make it happen. You have to be flexible to work here.
SW: You have to take initiative and have the personality to be flexible, open minded, innovative. We aren’t micro managed and we don’t have the time to micromanage, so there’s a lot of trust that goes into working here and getting things done.

JM: What do you think separates Philthy Ragz from shopping at a Nordstrom or other store? What brings people to Philthy Ragz?

SW: Our customer service. People CHOOSE to shop Philthy Ragz because we don’t treat our clients like they’re just customers. We make them feel comfortable, like they’re our girlfriends. When clients walk in it isn’t “Welcome to Philthy Ragz” as much as it is “ hey girl, hey! Where you going this weekend? Let’s get you in something fly…”. It’s important to us that our clients can relate to us and feel comfortable with us. We won’t just send you to a rack and hope you find an outfit. We actually care that you look and feel good in what you’re wearing and we’re here to help you find that. We’ve giving them a styling experience.
JP: Customer experience, for sure. I also think that people shop us because of how frequently we get in new inventory and how unique our designs are. Gaynelle puts a lot of effort into finding things that are different. She’s into creating things you won’t see anywhere else. She isn’t looking to follow the trends out there -- she's setting the trends. 

JM: That’s awesome. There needs to be more positive interactions amongst women, especially when we’re self conscious about how we look when trying on clothes. We could definitely use that support.  Speaking of support and female empowerment, what’s a word of advice you would have to a young lady who was considering entrepreneurship but was afraid to leave the safety of her 9-5 to follow her passions? 

JP: Do what makes you happy. At our age, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of doing everything by the book. You don’t have to do the college, grad school, corporate job thing if it doesn’t make you happy. Don’t do what you think you have to do to please other people, please yourself.

JM: Do you ever feel like because you are so successful at such a young age that clients, vendors or other business women don’t take you as seriously?

JP: Oh, it happens all the time. Standing your ground at 25 is important in demanding respect from people in business. Sometimes people will ask to speak with the manager and I’ll tell them I’m the manager, but if they would like to talk to Shi, I can refer them to her. Then when they see she’s young too, they’re just as shocked that she would be the next best thing. It’s like people assume I don’t know what I’m doing or that I’m not capable of doing this well because I’m younger than them. If it makes you more comfortable to speak with someone older who you feel you would respect more, that’s fine, but know that they will tell you the same thing I’m saying.

JM: Which celebrities have been seen rocking Philthy Ragz?

SW: Claudia Jordan was seen in our yellow Mackenzie dress on the red carpet at the BET Awards.
JP: Brooke Bailey from Basketball Wives, Michel’le from R&B Divas, Angela Simmons, Draya, Melanie Fiona,Tahiry, Meagan Good. We've also dressed some of the cast from the upcoming series of Love & Hip Hop LA.
SW: We do a lot of reality TV shows and sometimes we can’t talk about who was wearing our clothes until the show airs. We work with a lot of executives and business women who come in and get dresses to wear behind-the-scenes and not on the red carpets. We also see our clothes in a lot of photoshoots.

JM: Who would be your dream client to dress?

S&J: BEYONCE! *laughs*

JM: Who is the typical Philthy Ragz customer?
JP: The type of clients we have are looking to stand out and they’re the trendsetters of their crew. They aren’t afraid of  wearing a bold color, or shying away from something because of their age, the length of the dress or their dress size. A woman who shops Philthy is confident.

JM: How do you think you’ve grown from your experiences from working at Philthy Ragz?

SW: To work here is to be multifaceted and know that you can get asked to do things that aren’t necessarily your thing, but you have the determination to get those things done.That’s applicable to anything in life. Perseverance is like a lifelong skill. We can troubleshoot and problem solve and we’re proactive instead of reactive. Like Jas literally built our website in 2 days. She didn’t know anything about computers, but she did it.
JP: *laughs* yea. It’s comforting to know that from working here, I feel like I can get handed anything and I can handle it.

Published in Style
Monday, 01 September 2014 23:08

Entertainment | Why We Love Reality TV

Entertainment // September 2, 2014

If watching television has surpassed baseball in becoming America’s favorite past time, watching reality TV has our become our hot dog and peanuts. Just think about it; every time you turn the TV on you’re likely to catch a reality TV program. Dance Moms, The Voice, Dating Naked, Love and Hip Hop. Since it hit our TV screens in the early 2000’s, reality TV has changed how and what we enjoy watching on TV.  

As with anything popular, this genre of TV doesn’t come without it’s fair share of criticism. Some shun reality TV for it’s glorification of ill manners, dysfunctional relationships or hyper-sexuality. Others enjoy taking a look into how people on the other side of religion, the poverty line or the world live. Like it or not reality TV is here to stay. Whether it’s watching the wives, fiances, girlfriends and er…jump-offs of NBA stars,  brawl at brunch on Basketball Wives or watching women fight over one man and one rose on the Bachelor, we are tuned in to watch reality TV shows every week to catch every episode and we’ll be damned if we miss any parts of it.


Why do we love reality television so much? You know it’s just a collection of all that is wrong, wild and drunken in the world. Is it like driving past a car wreck on the street --- you just HAVE to peep it out? Whether we choose to attribute our attraction to FOMO ( fear of missing out, as the kids say) or not, I believe that our obsessions with reality TV run much deeper than a casual glance at the disaster unfolding in front of us.

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At the most basic of understandings, we love reality TV because it’s an opportunity to admire the lives we don’t live. It’s a fantasy --- for 47 minutes we can be enthralled in the scandal, romance or comedy of someone else’s situation before going back to the regularly scheduled programming of our own lives. Reality TV is safe. There’s no repercussions to watching what happens to other people from afar, right? Wrong.

Going beyond the ground-level understanding of why we love reality TV is the belief that it feeds into not only our voyeuristic nature of peering into other people’s lives, but it drives our jealous nature of coveting what we don’t have. Our own insecurities about the songs we can’t sing, the recipes we can’t make, the jobs we don’t have or the cars we don’t drive are what keep us tuning in every week, wishing it was us with that talent, that car or that opportunity. However, that “keeping up with the Jones’ “ (or Kardashians) mentality is what makes reality TV unhealthy. The constant comparison between what we see on TV and our lives off screen shifts the standard of what is considered “normal.” These reality stars are not “just like us”. The typical American family does not have expendable income to blow on a month long vacation overseas nor can they afford to throw their 16 year old child a birthday party to rival their wedding, so why make it our guideline for what’s acceptable for our reality? There’s no need to base our self worth on what’s happening on TV.

And this isn’t just me talking in my “mom” voice. Research has shown that watching reality TV begins to shape one’s perceptions about the world around them. In fact a study by the American Psychological foundation found that heavy viewers were more prone to think women really do engage in arguing, gossiping, being verbally aggressive and other bad behaviors more than men. Heavy viewer also overestimated the prevalence of discord in relationships (meaning affairs and divorces) and the emphasis of sex in relationships.

But what about the reality TV shows that AREN’T all about flashing your wealth, physical challenge or serial dating? Not all reality television is condoning bad behavior or narcissism. Truth be told, some programming can actually have a positive impact. MTV’s 16 & Pregnant made us all hang our heads in disbelief when it first debuted in 2009. Season after season we’ve watched young mothers struggle with the perils of raising a baby while still being babies themselves. Although the show may appear to just be reality TV garbage that exploits teenaged girls into documenting their unplanned pregnancies, 16 & Pregnant and it’s spin offs Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, may have actually done some good. According to a study conducted earlier this year by the CDC, statistics show that teen births (all births with females under 20) have shown a constant decline. Insight into the day-to-day struggles of these young mothers may help deter young women from wanting that same experience. MTV’s pregnant programming is a cautionary tale and a warning to young women about the consequences of their youthful actions.

Fact is, reality TV is as real as you make it. As TV lovers, we need to be able to differentiate between the fiction of reality TV and the facts of our personal lives. If we aren’t applying the principles and standards we see on TV to our principles and standards of living, reality TV has no power over our self esteem, bank account or social network. The reality TV culture of overindulgence and overachievement would have no affect on us if it stayed right where it is - on our screens.

Published in Entertainment

Dating // August 18, 2014

Ahhh, the one night stand. Whether they admit it or not, many people have had this casual sexual experience at least once, and usually during their 20’s. However common an occurrence in pop culture they may be, not everyone is sold on the one night stand (O.N.S) experience. Some view them as the greatest “after the party it’s the after party” night cap; in a glass half full kinda way. Others see them as the most embarrassing thing they’ve ever done after leaving the club; in a glass half empty kinda way. However you choose to look at your glass, there’s one undeniable fact: somebody quenched their thirst and got some.

One of the reasons why one night stands have become so prevalent is because the modern dating scene has become a little complicated. For some, dating has become something like the job interview process where, if you’re lucky, by the final stage of questioning you get laid. People don’t really have patience for the run around routine of dating anymore. The beauty of a one night stand is that it isn’t about checking your relationship resume. They don’t require confessing the background story on your last boyfriend or three dinner dates before you…. can show you’re qualified. The prerequisites for a one night stand are easy: as long as you have the complementary parts to get the job done, you’re hired.

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One night stands may seem like “the norm”, but trust me, they aren’t for everyone. Some are just using sex as a Band-Aid to cover up pain from past relationships, or as a tool to manipulate and hurt other people. (Payback for an ex maybe?) But O.N.S. do happen. So, when you leave the club this weekend, before for you decide to subscribe to the mantra of “YOLO” and go home with that cutie you JUST met, here are some questions to ask yourself: 

1) Can you accept responsibility for what is about to happen?

They say the first step to addiction rehabilitation is admitting you have a problem and thus accepting responsibility for it. Well, the first question of a one night stand is similar to that in that you have have to go into that experience knowing and accepting that whatever sexual encounter that is about to happen, is happening because YOU want it to. Far too often people find themselves making excuses for why they had a O.N.S because they feel embarrassed that this type of behavior may be deemed socially unacceptable. Don’t feel like you have to find fault with deciding to spend the night with someone you met hours before. So you slept with the guy from the wedding reception. Hey, it happens. We aren’t judging. But if you know you are going to end up making excuses for it after the fact by saying you were “soooooooo drunk “and blaming it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol, maybe the O.N.S. isn’t for you. Be a big girl and own your mistakes with the same fervor as you would own your triumphs. If you’re confident in your decisions, there’s no reason to be ashamed. And vice versa, if you aren’t confident then don’t do it!

2) Can you Get In, Get Off and Get Out?

When you choose to have a one night stand, there’s a 90% chance that you aren’t looking at the guy you’re going to marry (that remaining 10% only happens in movies that are rarely based on a true story). As a matter of fact, a O.N.S is probably the most non-committal thing you could ever do. One night stands are strictly about sex - not love, not relationships.  Don’t expect breakfast or for your night time fun to sprawl over into a day date or some whirlwind romance. He probably won’t call you the next day (even though he said he would) and you have to be OK with that. Typically women are emotional beings and we tend to attach ourselves to situations relatively easy. If you’re the type to ask “what are we” in a relationship, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT partake in one night stand activity unless you want your feelings hurt when he says, “we aren’t anything”.  This all goes back to the #1 rule of a one night stand. If you know your reasons for sleeping with someone and you’re legitimately OK with the consequences, you won’t be shocked by the big let down that he doesn’t want to take you home to meet his mother because you don’t want to meet her anyway.

3) A One Night Stand Does Not a Whore Make

OK, so this isn’t a question but from the beginning of time, society has always classified women in two categories: the good girl and the bad girl. You’re either a virgin or a harlot. Marilyn Monroe or a Jackie O. Beyonce or Rihanna. Apparently as a woman, you can either have no sexual desires outside of the satisfaction of your marriage or you’re some wild woman out here bedding everyone with a penis. Don’t feel like you’re some skank or sexual deviant because you chose casual sex over companionship. We see it all the time with society’s double standard when it comes to sex: A man can have a wife, girlfriend and a side-chick and be considered “the man”, but let a woman sleep with people she is casually dating and she’s a ho. It’s ridiculous. I’m not encouraging you to change the way society views sex by hooking up with everyone to make a point, but I am telling you not to feel bad for getting it in a time or two. As long as you are responsible in your bed buddy choices, feel free to sleep with whoever, whenever and however you want to. Although they’ll try, nobody can really tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. Begin to own your sexuality. It’s surprising how empowered you’ll feel once you start being OK with your sexual preferences and stop comparing them to other people’s.

4) What’s Really Going On? Get Introspective...

Although it would be nice to say that all one night stands happen because you just felt the urge to get laid, there is a chance that your promiscuity is coming from someplace deeper. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to get over someone is not to get under someone else. Sex doesn’t equal love the same way a one night stand doesn’t equal commitment. A one night stand may sound like a great resolution to cure a bad breakup, but in reality it’s only masking an insecurity or self esteem issues you may have. A O.N.S works best when it is happening with purpose. Are you considering a one night stand because you want to let loose for a night or are you trying to get back at an ex by sleeping with his coworker in hopes to make him jealous? Be honest with yourself. Sex is more than just a physical act, it also warrants an emotional connection. Listen to your intuition and make sure you’re sleeping with people for the right reasons.

5) Are You Being Safe?

This isn’t just a PSA about practicing safe sex and using condoms (which is mandatory for a O.N.S by the way), but this is also about protecting your physical and emotional safety as well. Don’t sleep with someone who disrespects you or who doesn’t take your sexual boundaries seriously. Be cautious of who you give your address to and invite into your home. ALWAYS tell someone you trust (a girlfriend, a neighbor, your mom, etc.) your whereabouts and give as much detail about your partner as possible via text. Check in with your confidant if you can, so they know you’re OK. This tip may take the fun out of a casual hookup, but a huge part of owning your decision to partake in a one night stand is being responsible and protecting yourself.

So how do you know if you are capable of pulling off a O.N.S? Well for starters, make sure you aren’t just a girl looking for love. Make sure you aren’t just bed hopping in the hopes that someone will validate your worth and find you pretty or smart or funny. Don’t just succumb to the peer pressures of “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” and irresponsibly sleep with people to uphold some warped self image. One night stands are for the girls who know who they are and what they have to offer outside of the bedroom. They are for the women who can look at a one night stand for exactly what it is: one night of safe, no strings attached, see ya when I see ya sex. Make sure you know who you are, what you can handle and what you are getting yourself into before you attempt to execute a O.N.S. Because while you do only live once, you don’t want to live with regrets.

Published in Dating

Beauty // August 18, 2014

We’ve ALL done it - gone a little long in between brow waxes and now our brows resemble something like a caterpillar. We can’t hit the streets with overgrown eyebrows, so we must take our metamorphosis into our own hands. We reach for our handy, dandy tweezers and pluck any and everything that’s growing out of our foreheads. ANY and EVERYTHING. Five minutes later, as opposed to looking like a beautiful butterfly, we just look perpetually surprised. Now is not the time to panic (five minutes ago was the time to panic), so we have to compensate. But before we channel our inner Picasso, grab our eyebrow pencil and try to make sense of these wayward brows, consider getting the help of a trained brow professional.

Brow savior, Mersedeh Jeihooni of Kelley Baker Brows knows a thing or two about the importance of face time and knows how to fix bad brows. By simply tweezing, waxing and shaping, she’s able to create killer brows and transform your face to look like a better and brighter you. Talk about arch support!

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I recently had a chance to catch up with Mersedeh and salon owner, Kelley Baker, at the Kelley Baker Brows Venice location and pick their brains about brow maintenance: 

Jasmin Martin: I guess we can start with why brows? Why did you decide to make a career out of eyebrows?

Mersedeh Jeihooni: I’ve been in the cosmetology industry for fifteen years - I didn’t decide to do brows overnight. I started when I was eighteen as a makeup artist and then transitioned to working for a plastic surgeon as a medical esthetician. Paying attention to eyebrows comes naturally for a makeup artist and when I worked for the plastic surgeons, we would always talk about how important brows are and what a huge impact they make to the face. Brows are the only feature on the face that can take off ten years and people would frequently come in requesting eyebrow lifts and fat transfers to make them look more fresh. All of that surgery isn’t necessary when you can make someone look younger and feel better with routine eyebrow maintenance.

JM: Crafting eyebrows is a popular beauty trend, but not everyone is doing it right. I’ve seen some pretty scary eyebrows. What are some of your brow pet peeves?

MJ: When people bring in pictures of eyebrows that they’ve seen online or on a certain celebrities and want me to craft those EXACT brows. Eyebrows have to fit your face shape and full, thick eyebrows don’t work on everyone. If you come in requesting full brows and don’t have much to work with, I’m not a miracle worker and I can’t replicate that picture. After a couple sessions of manipulating your brows to grow a certain way, we can achieve the full look you want, but I’m not going to promise anyone full brows after one wax. You have to be patient.

Kelley Baker: When people fill their brows in. A lot of people do it...incorrectly. I get that women want to fill their brows in, but there’s a way to do it.

Stylist Mersedeh Jeihooni at work

JM: Speaking of the right way to do brows, explain the step-by-step process of creating fabulous brows:

MJ: Sure! First, I analyze the brows by looking at bone structure and the face shape. I comb the brow hairs up and down to look for sparse areas, scars, or holes before trimming all the long hairs. Then I wax in between, above and below the brow line to create the shape. After waxing, I tweeze for a more detailed shape. If the client requests brow tinting, I’ll do that, but it isn’t always necessary. Lastly, I use KBB brow powder to fill in the brow, KBB highlighter right below the brow to accentuate the shape and KBB clear brow gel to set the brow powder and hairs in place. My signature brow is a full, thick brow with a long tail.

KB: Our KBB products make it really easy for women to properly fill their brows and maintain them in between appointments. We have a brow powder in one color that everyone can use. If you can’t get into a shop, DO NOT DO IT YOURSELF! If the new hair growth in between appointments is driving you crazy, pluck them as you see them coming in, but I would rather you hold out and come to a professional. Find a brow artist you like who can shape and maintain your brows for you, especially if you are trying to grow your brows in.

JM: Got it, don’t DIY my brows and if I absolutely have to, don’t get tweezer happy and go overboard.

After the interview, I had the chance to give my brows the Kelley Baker treatment. I was blown away by how different my face looked. I looked like a whole new me!

Staff writer Jasmin Martin checks out Kelley Baker Brows

After seeing the results of having my brows Kelley Baker’ed, I vowed to start treating my eyebrows with a little more TLC. I will no longer subject my brows to excessive plucking or bad fill-in jobs. I will seek professional help with my eyebrow maintenance. I now know that the best eyebrows out there are a collaborative effort. It takes teamwork between you and your brow artist to make your eyebrow dreams work. If you’re in the market for a teammate to help you achieve winning brows,  Mersedeh Jeihooni of Kelley Baker Brows is an all star.

To book an appointment with Mersedeh Jeihooni or for more information about Kelley Baker Brows click here.

Published in Beauty
Friday, 18 April 2014 22:27

Beauty | Easy DIY Spa Treatments

Beauty // May 5, 2014

Even though we know we need some “me time” to decompress and recharge, much like everything else in our lives, we just can’t find the time to do it all. We can’t schedule a massage at the spa - that would take an hour out of our day that we don’t have to spare. When it comes to getting our nails done, anything longer than an express manicure is out of the question. And have you seen how much a facial costs? Oh, hell no. There has to be a solution that allows us to revitalize ourselves while also accommodating our busy lifestyle (and our pockets).

Lucky for us, there’s something we can do to fix our problem - starting with forcing ourselves to make personal wellness a priority.  Just because we can’t make it to a luxury spa resort doesn’t mean we can’t pamper ourselves. DIY it and turn your place into a Burke Williams with simple ingredients from your kitchen and some fabulous at home spa treatments. Check ‘em out here:

Bubble Bath With Soothing Lavender Bath Salts

* 1 cup Epsom Salt

* 1 tbsp Baking Soda

* 3 drops of Essential Lavender Oil ( add more drops for a stronger scent)

What’s more “ahhhhhh” than a hot bubble bath? To create this bathtub oasis, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Once you’re ready to hop in the tub, scoop about a half a cup of bath salts into the water and enjoy feeling all your tension melt away.

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Avocado Face Mask for Oily Skin

* 1 small avocado, mashed

* ½ teaspoon lemon juice

* 1 tbsp plain greek yogurt

* 1 egg

Olé! The guacamole facial is perfect to boost your skin’s moisture. Combine all the ingredients together and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, smear a thin layer on your face carefully to avoid your eyes. Sit with the mask on your face for 10 - 15 min before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

Brown Sugar Vanilla Body Scrub

* ½  cup brown sugar

* ¼ cup white sugar

* 3 tbsp vanilla extract

* ¼ cup almond oil

Get your glow on and exfoliate your skin with this yummy smelling body scrub. Mix everything together before lathering it on your skin in the shower to get rid of dead skin. Don’t be afraid to scrub hard and make sure you rinse well -  you don’t want any body parts stuck together!

Relaxing Rosemary Foot Soak

*  Rosemary

* 2 lemons

* ½ cup epsom salt

It’s important that we treat our feet! Show your tired soles some love by letting your feet soak for in this healing treatment. Boil a few branches of rosemary in water for five minutes. Find a separate container that you will use as your “foot bath” or purchase an inexpensive foot spa. Place the lemon slices, epsom salt and rosemary water in your foot bath (be careful!). Soak your feet for 15 minutes. Dry your feet a little bit and if you’d like to, attack those callused heels with a pumice stone. When you’re finished with your feet, lotion up with a creamy moisturizer (like a body butter) and slip into a pair of cotton socks to seal the deal. Hello, heaven!

What are some of your favorite “me time” rituals for a DIY at home spa treatment? Tell us in the comments below!

Published in Beauty
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 07:19

30 Days of Made I Day 2: Global Soap Project

30 Days of Made // April 2, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

I’m sure most of you have stayed overnight in a hotel somewhere. Whether the Ritz Carlton or the Holiday Inn, we’re all familiar with hotels having housekeeping services and we often take those amenities for granted - like the soap we use in the shower.

To accommodate their guests, hotels will provide personal hygiene products such as mouthwash or shampoo for use during their stay. Shampoo and mouthwash get replenished when they’re empty, but other amenities like soap are a one-time use. After a bar of soap gets used, housekeepers will discard the used soap into the trash and replace it with a fresh, newly-wrapped bar. That’s a lot of wasted soap for a single-use shower, approximately 2.6 million bars daily in the United States. There has to be a better way to repurpose that soap so it isn’t just tossed away, creating more waste. Enter the Global Soap Project.

The Global Soap Project is a non-profit out of Atlanta, GA that partners with leading hotel brands to receive partially used and discarded soap to recycle it. The new bars they create are distributed to those in need around the world. That’s great, but what can a bar of soap do? Actually, it can do a lot -- even save lives. Surprisingly, the leading cause of death for children in underdeveloped countries are hygiene-related illnesses. A staggering 1.6 million children die each year from poor hygiene, accounting for nearly one-third of all child deaths. Although vaccines, clean water initiatives and medications can help fight the diseases, the best way to effectively prevent illness is by hand washing with soap. So by repurposing soap, The Global Soap Project is eliminating waste and saving lives. Not only are their efforts servicing those abroad (reaching 32 countries on four continents), but they also work in collaboration with health organizations like the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Partners in Health to aid those domestically. The Global Soap Projects aims to ensure that all who lack access to soap receive it as well as receive an education on why soap is important.

The Global Soap Project :30 PSA from Gregory Miller Pictures on Vimeo.

The Global Soap Project Process

Once hotels release the discarded soap to The Global Soap Project, a thorough recycling process has to occur before the soap is ready for use:

1. Sorting: Once the soap is collected and received into the warehouse, it is sorted into boxes for the designated hotel. Each hotel brand is distinct with their own soap ingredients, so The Global Soap Project does not mix soap.

2. Sanitizing: Soap only holds bacteria when it’s wet, which is how the dried soap is able to be reused. To eliminate any bacterial remnants, the top layer of the soap is scraped off before the soap gets heated and filtered through an extremely fine mesh screen to remove any excess dirt or particles. After cleaning the soap, it is then melted and molded into finished bars. The soap is then cut into individual bars and ready for verification.

3. Verification: After the sanitation process, a third-party laboratory test is used to screen for pathogen samples from each batch of soap before it gets packaged and ready to ship.

4. Packaging/Shipment: A packaged box holds 120 four oz. bars and weighs 30 pounds. One pallet is 50 boxes totaling 6,000 bars. Those boxes are then shipped via non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to assist their intended populations.

I’ve been a supporter and volunteer for The Global Soap Project for two years. I love that they aren’t just giving away soap to help people (even though that’s awesome!), but that they are also encouraging better hygiene practices through education on how and why soap is crucial. I also love that they’re encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health and hygiene by not just relying on free soap, but also implementing what they now know into their lives as a lifestyle change. If giving someone soap to wash their hands or body is all we need to do save a life, I’m on board for making sure they have those resources.

Love the Global Soap Project? Give Back!

If you love the mission of the Global Soap Project show your support! Just click the buttons below or Tweet at them @globalsoap!

Published in Current
Saturday, 25 January 2014 00:37

Hair Care | A Lazy Girl's Guide To Hair

Hair Care // January 27, 2014

Think about the laziest person you know. I don’t know who popped into your mind, but I immediately thought of myself. When it comes to getting dressed, I wish I had a personal glam squad to help me get ready every morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love how I look when I’m all composed, but I’ll be the first to admit that I am less than thrilled about how much time it takes to transform myself from “Oh, god!” to “beauty goddess.” For me, it’s not doing my makeup that’s the issue-- it is doing my hair. I swear my hair is out to sabotage me and my social schedule. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big event or something as simple as a Girl’s Night In, my hair refuses to cooperate with me on a regular basis. As someone with minimal patience, and a busy schedule, I can't devote a million hours to washing, conditioning, drying, applying product and styling my hair - it just can’t happen. Some days, I need my face, hair and outfit to look decent without having to put out a whole lot of effort. So in an attempt to help out all my lazy girls (mainly myself, Hair Offender #1), here is a list of hairstyles that are the perfect mashup of cute and convenient.

The Ponytail - aka “Old Faithful”

We all love a ponytail. Typically known as the quick fix for a workout session or a bad hair day, this style has taken a fabulous turn into fun and fast hairstyling. The new pony is all about looking full, so spruce up your typical slick pony by adding texture. Fluff up the crown of your head to create volume or section off pieces and twist them around your ponytail for a more bulky effect. When trying to achieve this style, think poofy hair, but not Snookie poofy.

The Top Knot / Messy Bun - aka the “It Only Looks Complicated”

Before this popular look ripped the runways, it was the hidden hairstyle we all rocked at home while washing our face. Well now the secret’s out, and women all over are embracing this trendy, unstructured high chignon. Instead of the typical “grab, wrap and fluff” technique typically used, add a french braid to the back of your head to show a lil effort and showcase a lot of style.

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The Loose Braid - aka “ Pippi Chic Stockings”

Braids aren’t just for elementary school children, and they definitely don’t have to look like they are. Take a grown-up adaptation on this classic by side sweeping your hair to one side before taking 3 strands and liberally braiding them together. Try to keep the illusion of a pigtail without having the definition (the more strands that don’t make the braid, the better). Not really a braided lady in the streets? No worries; tightly braid your hair at night and undo them in the morning for relaxed waves before you go on your way.

Accessories - aka “The Lazy Girl Sidekick”

When all else fails, lazy girls know to grab a hair accessory, throw it on and keep it pushin’. If your hair isn’t giving you problems and you just want to jazz up your ‘do, opt for an ornate headband that can turn even the most basic of hair days into a fancy affair. For semi cooperative hair, throw a bandana to an updo and go for a 50’s inspired style. For completely disobedient hair days, go for a hat, beanie or headwrap that fits your personality.

So there you have it ladies, a goof proof guide to hair styling that can fool people into thinking we actually have time to do our hair. What are some of your favorite lazy girl hairstyles?

Published in Hair
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