Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Vote With My Dollar: My Secondhand Graduation Dress

Photography by Maria Daniela Lynn 
Happy graduation week! As of yesterday, I am officially a Villanova University graduate (click here to see my speech for the Villanova School of Business Ceremony! Believe it or not, I started searching for my graduation dress over a month ago because I knew I wanted to purchase sustainable or secondhand dress.

My initial search for a sustainable dress brought me to:
While I found dresses I loved at Reformation and Christy Dawn, I just couldn't convince myself to spend $200+ on a graduation dress that I knew I would likely only wear once. I couldn't help but think that money could go towards my travels to Eastern Europe this summer. I wholeheartedly support and understand that prices need to be higher for sustainable clothing due to the materials which the clothing is made of and the responsible conditions under which the clothing is made. However, given that I would only wear this type of dress one or two times, it didn't make sense for me to make that kind of investment. If the item is versatile and I know I will wear it often, then I am happy to purchase sustainable clothing. In fact, I just purchased my first pair of Reformation jeans! The important thing to remember is that fast fashion, while it appears cheap, comes at a high cost to the environment and the people making it (for more info, I suggest watching the documentary, True Cost).

My next option was to search for a secondhand dress on the following platforms and stores:
After searching on each of these platforms, I successfully found the dress in the pictures above at Value Village which was the dress I wore for the Commencement Ceremony on Friday! This was my first time at the store and I liked it a lot better than Goodwill because there was a larger selection. I used to shop at Goodwill frequently, however I found that most of the clothing is outdated for my style. This isn't to say there aren't some hidden gems in the store, I just won't be frequenting it as often as I was before. 

I also bought a dress on Depop that I wanted to wear for the Business School graduation yesterday. Unfortunately, it didn't fit right so I couldn't wear it. Overall, I like Depop for vintage and more fashion forward clothing, and Poshmark for classics. Both platforms are also great for selling used clothing. 

Okay, so you may be wondering why I spent so much time and put so much effort into finding a secondhand dress. For me, it was really important to purchase a dress that aligned with my values and embodied all that I've learned about the fashion industry this last year. What better way to celebrate the end of a chapter with knowledge that will create a greener future? I firmly believe that we vote with our dollar about the type of world we want to live in. I voted and will continue to vote for a world with less waste, less pollution, and less toxins. What type of world do you vote for? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Book Every Aspiring #GirlBoss Should Read

Vintage Levi's Jeans // 
Sustainable Tee from Visible Clothing (the company no longer sells women's clothing) //

Ever since I was a little girl, I always loved reading. My sister used to take me to the library once a week and I would end up picking out way too many books, more than I could read before the following week when we would make our way back to the library. However, during high school and throughout a majority of my college years, reading for fun was placed on the back burner and instead was overridden by reading Business textbooks and English novels (I'm a Marketing major and English Minor at Villanova University in case you didn't know). Despite being consumed with reading for class, I made a point to start reading for fun again about six months ago and have since read about a book a month...pretty good for a gal trying to balance all that comes with being a college student!

Back around October when I started reading again, the first book that I picked up was #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso. My friend, Jerica, actually lent it to me when I visited her in San Francisco. I loved it so much that I read the entire book in just a few days! I won't give the whole premise away, but it's an inspiring story about Sophia Amoruso, the woman behind the successful fashion brand, Nasty Gal. She started her career by selling vintage clothing on eBay, grew her customer base in an organic way (unlike influencers and brands paying for likes/follows today), and used her knowledge to create what Nasty Gal is today. Throughout the book, she shares her ups and downs and how she was able to embody the true meaning of a #GirlBoss. I'll leave the rest of the story for all you girl bosses and just share a few of my favorite quotes below. 

Positive Thoughts:
"We control our thoughts and our thoughts control our lives. This is an extremely, simple totally straightforward concept, but for a lot of people, it's so alien that it might as well be magic. Chances are you know someone who is really negative. These people are convinced that life is shit..and so it is. It's the age old concept of like attracts like, or the law of attraction. You get back what you put out, so you might as well think positively, focus on visualizing what you want, and send the universe your good intentions." 

So simple, yet so powerful right? I used to be the negative person she was referring to...the person who would complain about my order being wrong at Dunkin' Donuts or be annoyed that I got stopped at a light when I was in a rush. I shifted my mindset 360 degrees after studying in Milan for a year. I finally realized that whether I was annoyed, complaining, or impatient, the same result would still occur so I might as well just be positive and happy instead! This shift has drastically changed my day to day life and I will never go back to being that person again! 

"Though there was no doubt I was depressed, I refused to take the pills that the psychiatrist prescribed, instead throwing them away. I knew then that my utter misery and universal discontent were not due to a chemical imbalance. This wasn't something that could just be medicated out of me - I just hated where I was." 

Preach, preach, preach. Among other reasons, this was one of the reasons why I studied abroad three times and traveled to 20 plus countries. It goes back to another one of my favorite quotes that I've shared on Instagram before, "When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower". (insert praising hands emoji) 

"Own up to your mistakes and apologize for them. Everyone will make a mistake at some point, and the sooner you can admit where you went wrong, the sooner you can start to fix it. Be honest with yourself about your abilities. Many people accept titles beyond their experience to only later find themselves up to their neck in problems they can't solve, and too embarrassed to admit they weren't qualified in the first place. And what's the first rule about holes? If you're in one, stop digging."

I'll let this one speak for itself. Been there, done that. If you're in a hole, stop digging. 

Planning vs. Leaping:
"Had I waited to finish a business plan, or waited for investors to validate my idea, my 10,000-hour clock might never had begun (in reference to the idea that it takes 10,000 to be an expert at something). Don't get me wrong: I'm not knocking business plans. What I intend to illustrate is that just going for it can be much more rewarding...The best entrepreneurs know to listen along the way. This advice applies to life as well. Turn on the jets and ready, set,...listen." 

I began to realize the power of this after I made my vision board back in January. I visualized all of my goals with no idea how I was going to accomplish them. I jumped right in and began to take advantage of every opportunity I could while listening to all the advice I could get along the way. I'm still happily enjoying the ride and chasing after all of those goals. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if you read this book! Also, if you want to read another blog post about being a #GirlBoss, check out this post. xx

Monday, March 26, 2018

How to Survive Being Vegan While Traveling

Thrifted White Tee // Thrifted Pants //

My recent trip to Italy was the first time I traveled internationally being 100% vegan. Cheers to that! During my year abroad, I was still transitioning to veganism (read more about why I transitioned and how to transition to veganism). I would say that I was vegan for a majority of my time in Milan except when I went out to eat and when I traveled to other countries as it was difficult for me to find vegan options. However, I was determined this time around to do my best to be fully vegan! 

Before I get into the details about how I was able to be vegan, let's be real...I probably did end up eating some form of dairy unknowingly (i.e.: in fresh pasta) and am still convinced one of my dinners had anchovies in the sauce (my body told me so too). I want to be real with you all because when you travel, you can't control everything no matter how much you want to. All you can do is try your best. One of my favorite eco-bloggers, The Girl Gone Green, spoke to this point recently too!  

That being said, I want to share some tips that helped me stay vegan: 
  • Be prepared! I brought a jar of trail mix with me as well as some energy bars (I brought the wrappers back with me to recycle at Mom's Organic Market). These snacks came in handy while I was waiting in the airport and on the plane. I probably would've brought more with me, but I didn't have room in my backpack.
  • Look up farmer's markets in your destination. I already knew where the farmer's market was in Milan, but I looked one up as soon as I got to Cagliari. I stocked up on tons of fruits to munch on there. It's also really cool to go to farmer's markets because they're mostly visited by locals so you get a more in depth look at the culture and the produce is often very cheap!
  • Go to the grocery store. If you can't find a farmer's market or didn't pack snacks, find the nearest grocery store and stock up. Often when we travel, I think we forget that we can go grocery shopping and don't have to eat every meal out. Going to the grocery store is a perfectly viable option! I went to the grocery store in Milan the second day I was there for snacks and both days in Cagliari because I had difficulty finding vegan lunches and wanted to restock on snacks for the long plane ride home.
  • Translate "I'm vegan and can't eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy" in the local language. I didn't do this because I speak a little bit of Italian so I could explain to waiters that I was vegan. However, if you don't know the language, it is helpful to keep a translation on your phone and show the waiters so they understand. 
  • Use Happy Cow to find vegan restaurants. This website is life-saving for anyone who is vegan or vegetarian! You can look up vegan or vegetarian options in almost all major cities. 
  • Accept that you may unintentionally eat something non-vegan. As I said previously, I did my absolute best to eat fully vegan, however I'm pretty sure there was probably some egg in my pasta or anchovies in my sauce. At the end of the day, you ultimately have to eat and nourish your body. Just do your best! 
I hope these tips were helpful! Even if you're not vegan, you can still use these tips to stay healthy while you travel! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Newer Kat in MILAN (as a tourist this time!)

Previously Owned Jeans // Thrifted Sweatshirt 
Hat from Swap // 

It's been quite some time since I did one of these posts! Even though I studied abroad in Milan for a year, I went back this time as a tourist and I figured I'd create a guide of where I stayed, where I ate, and what I did. I already wrote a very general post about my favorite things to do in Milan and could write another super long post about Milan, but I'll try to limit it to what I specifically did on this trip and must-see places! Be sure to also check out my Milan vlog!

Where I Stayed:
As always, I stayed in a hostel. I always opt for a hostel when I'm traveling solo because it's a great place to meet other solo travelers who are doing the same thing as you. There are a ton of misconceptions about hostels and I think people often fear them which shouldn't be the case. I'll do a video soon about why I love them! For this particular trip, I stayed in Ostello Bello right in the heart of Milan. I loved my stay because it was only a 10 minute walk from the Duomo, it offered free breakfast and dinner, had a garden on the roof, and it was a really social environment with a lot of activities (some hostels don't offer any activities like tours, etc.). The only downside is that it was a bit expensive at $50 a night for a bed in an 8 bed female dorm. Of all the cities and countries I've visited, this the MOST I've ever paid for a hostel. However, I think the amenities were well worth the cost! Lastly, I would recommend booking on Hostelworld which is where I always book my hostels!

Where I Ate:
Eating was a little different for me this time around because this was the first time I'd traveled internationally being 100% vegan. While I was living in Milan last year, I was still transitioning to veganism so I usually cheated when I went out to eat. That being said, I had to make more of an effort this trip to find vegan food.

Here are all the places I ate:
  • Macha Cafe - the cutest little cafe with vegan options
  • Fancy Toast - delicious avocado toast and beet hummus 
  • Fruteiro do Brasil - yummy acai bowls and smoothies 
  • Temakihno - literally the BEST sushi ever and I crave it all the time 
  • Flower Burger - vegan burgers
  • Pizzaria Sibilla - one of my favorite local restaurants for Italian food 
  • Riva Reno - vegan gelato
I also recommend checking Happy Cow for all vegan/vegetarian listings when you travel!

What I Did:
I didn't do as many touristy things in Milan since I had previously done those things. Instead, I spent some time walking around my favorite spots in the city including the Castle, Duomo, Brera, and Navigli.

If it's your first time in Milan I recommend seeing: 

1. Duomo (inside and the top + Mass if you can!)

2. Galleria (enjoy a coffee and people watch!)

3. Navigli Canals

4. Armani Museum 

5. 10 Corso Como 

6. Streets of Brera 

7. Sforza Castle 

8. Arco della Pace 

9. UniCredit Building (I'm at a viewpoint on top of a building close by the Unicredit Building in this photo)

What to Be Prepared For:
Milan is a very diverse, metropolitan city so most people speak English. However, it would be culturally thoughtful to learn a few basic Italian phrases. As always, be careful of pickpocketers! 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my posts about Cagliari! <3 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Where to Buy Thrifted Clothing Online Featuring

Thrifted Jacket from Swap // Thrifted Sincerely Jules Tee // 

I can't believe it's only been a week since I arrived back home from my trip to Milan and Cagliari. I feel like I've been back home forever. I'm already counting down the days until I'll be back (hopefully this summer)! For my trip, I packed almost all thrifted clothing which you see in this packing video. The main reason that I packed thrifted clothing is because I stopped shopping at fast fashion stores like H&M and Zara about 8 months ago due to the immense pollution they produce, the poor quality of their items which contribute to our "throwaway culture", and the troubling and unsafe working conditions they allow. If you're interested in learning more, check out this blog post where I talk about a must-see documentary revealing the truth of the fast fashion industry. 

That being said, I've had my fair share of thrifting the last few months. I usually go to Goodwill, but sometimes I honestly don't have the energy to sort through all the clothing there! That's where Swap comes in! Swap is the largest online consignment and thrift store and has TONS of options for every occasion. I love the ease of thrifting on Swap because I can easily sort by whatever I'm looking for in my size, something you obviously can't do at brick-and-mortar thrift shops. I also really like Swap because you can make returns for store credit which you usually can't do on other online platforms like Depop and Poshmark (I also shop on these platforms for thrifted clothing). If you are shopping at Swap, I recommend having something in mind, otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming with so many options! While I really like the platform, I will say that my one compliant would be the packaging which is not eco-friendly and can easily be improved. Anyway, aside from the jacket I'm wearing above, I just bought an entire spring haul on Swap today which I can't wait to show you guys! Happy shopping and let me know if you find any hidden gems! 

*Thank you to Swap for sponsoring this post!