Meet Alexandra Styles

la-isla-nena-michael-david-adams-03

la-isla-nena-michael-david-adams-18

I met Alexandra at St. Alban coffee shop on a sunny Wednesday morning. She walks in with a smile on (a usual look for her) and a boho, summer maxi-dress with the most delicate embroidered detailing. If you were meeting her for the first time, you would instantly feel welcome.

Alexandra Munzel, the creative behind Alexandra Styles, is a fashion stylist with an air of confidence. Her cool, calm, and collected personality draws you in as if she’s your hip older sister about to give you fashion advice. Her clientele (from Charleston to Dubai!) keeps her busy as she educates them on their own closets: what works for their specific body type and skin tone, which classic clothing elements to stick to, and what trends they can mix into their wardrobe. Her resume includes world traveling, styling celebrities for events like the Golden Globes, and building couture fashion brands from the ground up. Yet there is one thing about her that I like most: she is incredibly humble. Alexandra makes you feel instantly comfortable and has a “you-can-do-it” and “live-your-life” kind of mentality.

We order coffees and I splurge for The World’s Best banana bread. Right away we both get off on tangents about our goals and aspirations: then and now. I sit and listen to her stories and knowledge and think to myself how amazing her path has been and how my 24-year-old self still has so much ahead of me.

“Every path you take is a lesson,” she tells me.

Alexandra Portfolio
Alexandra Munzel, stylist behind Alexandra Styles

Tell me about the Alexandra Styles. Who are you as a company? What do you stand for?

“People often think my last name is “Styles,” which it’s not. I wanted to create a brand outside of my name because what I do is for other people, not for myself. When I created Alexandra Styles five years ago it was to help enable people to feel better about themselves through fashion. It was a merger of two entities I had a passion for… education and fashion.

I didn’t become a stylist because I had the financial means to do so. It’s actually quite the opposite. I didn’t grow up with money to spend on clothing and accessories. I had my first job when I was nine, delivering newspapers, and I’ve worked every year since. My father wanted me to learn the importance of making my own money and being able to manage it at a young age. So, I want people to know that it doesn’t require money to develop a sense of personal style; it takes a better understanding of one’s sense of self.  Then the  formula becomes simple: when we look good, we feel good.”


I want people to know that it doesn’t require money to develop a sense of personal style; it takes a better understanding of one’s sense of self.


 Describe your personal style. How does that play a role in your business?

“I try to practice what I preach and follow the rules that apply to my figure and coloring.  My personal style is rather eclectic but I always include a classic piece in my daily wardrobe. Trends come and go but the classics have major staying power in ones wardrobe. I tell my clients to spend their dollars on the pieces that will stay with them the longest. Not only will trends be out of style quickly, but not all trends work for all people.”

You have worn many hats over the years as a teacher, corporate PR manager, celebrity stylist, and boutique owner to say the least. How did those experience train you to start your own business? 

“I have had a lot of jobs in my life and I am often questioned why. For a long period of time, I just couldn’t settle into anything. It took me a while to relax, listen to my strengths, and trust myself. By the time I made the decision to start my own company, I was 35… hardly a young person anymore. However, I had enough experiences under my belt to make a very calculated decision. I’ll never forget – I was sitting at my dining room table, looking out the window, and it hit me.  I knew what I was going to do and it was going to start tomorrow. I’ve never looked back.”

We’re all dying to know… What was it like to style for A-list celebrities? How did that experience impact your styling perspective today?

“Every experience in one’s life has an impact on who we become. Working with A-list celebrities and stylists was wild, crazy, insane, stressful, and fun all at the same time. I quickly learned that there is a great irony which can exist within the fashion industry.  Fashion is beauty, art, composition, perfection and yet there is a very dark and ugly side to it. I told myself to always keep fashion fun and if at any time, I didn’t enjoy it, then I needed to walk away. “

Talk me through your design process. How have you mastered the art of styling?

“Whether I am styling one’s personal wardrobe or styling a shoot for a magazine, I always listen and pay attention to the subject matter. I try to get inside the person’s head and ask “what is their daily life like?” “what is this person’s needs?”. You need to know the functionality of the wardrobe.
Once I’m selecting clothing, I make a list of the client’s needs and really focus in on what I’m buying. There should never be a shock factor – it always has to make sense.”

What’s the next step for your brand?

“For better or for worse, my brain never stops. The only thing that inhibits me is time…there’s never enough of it.  Developments of a book and a TV show are on the top of the list but always with my goal in mind: I want to continue to help people feel better about themselves through fashion.”

What is your best networking strategy? 

Alexandra literally lol’s and humbly admits that she isn’t the best at networking. “My best strategy is being myself, always. If people like who you are, then great.  If they don’t like who you are, you just saved them, and yourself, a LOT of time.”

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your professional career?

“Give everyone a chance. It’s amazing the talents people have if they are put in the environment that lets those talents really shine. Always work hard and have good intentions. Listen twice as much as you speak.”

If you could give a piece of advice to young women in the professional world, what would it be?

“Live! Life is short. Take chances when you are young because you never get that time, innocence and ability to experiment back. Follow your passion and create something of your own. “

Just for Fun:

Quick! Dress me for an outdoor summer soiree. Ready, set, go:

“A neutral wedge shoe (beige or metallic) to elongate your legs and so you don’t sink into the grass. I’d go with a dress that flatters your figure and personality – either a bright color that complements your skin tone or a print that isn’t too large. Patterns and prints are important because they can either magnify or swallow a person depending on their figure.”

Name your go-to Charleston lunch spot. 
“A sandwich from Normandy Farms sitting on a park bench with a great friend.”
Describe your home’s style in 3 words. 
“Eclectic, classic, and colorful…sound like my wardrobe?”
Afternoon drink on the beach or cocktail on the rooftop? 
“A drink on the beach”
What’s your favorite place to travel?
“Any place that I’ve never been.”

Screenshot 2015-06-07 at 8.26.39 PM
 Don’t miss a style beat! Follow Alexandra on social media:

beetle necklace how-to

FullSizeRender 2

From Charleston’s own Croghan’s Jewel Box goldbug earrings  (photo below) to J.Crew’s most recent window displays, the fashion industry is bugging out – pardon my pun. 

Springs hottest new trend: bugs. 

I am all over this trend. I’ve always liked the creepy crawlers; in an artistic sense, that is. Even my gallery wall has watercolor painting of 8-legged creatures. There’s something a little cool about bugs in the artistic world.

Croghan's Jewel Box Goldbug Earrings, $110
Croghan’s Jewel Box Goldbug Earrings, $110

Today I’ll be teaching my fantastic followers how to make this killer necklace. It’s the perfect pairing of edge and feminine, summer vibes: the bright-white, nautical-inspired base, the happy-go-lucky neon color pop, and of course, the statement beetle that I found at Hobby Lobby. All and all, this necklace cost about $30 – a steal compared to the Croghan’s find above!
IMG_3292

Here’s what you’ll need

  • Rope (roughly 1 yard)
  • Textured leather or fabric (metallic will catch the eye)
  • Nuts or other metal detailing
  • Thread or twine (I chose neon for spring)
  • A medallion or statement bead (my beetle)
  • Hot glue or super glue
  • Wire

Step1

Step #1

Cut your yard of rope in half. Start with one half of the rope and string 5 nuts about 10 inches up the rope. I chose verdigris shaded nuts which means they have a slight aqua tone. One you’ve strung your 5 nuts, tie a knot just below them to hold in place and to add dimension to your necklace.

Step2Step3

Step #2

Using your hot glue gun or super glue, adhere your leather or fabric to the rope by rolling it around the rope and gluing in place. I used hot glue because I had it on hand, but super glue will be much thinner and easier to work with. Once stable, tie a knot in the rope at the bottom of the leather/fabric piece and string 3 more for a patterned look.

Step4

Step #3

Tie a knot below your last three washers. Then, string one more. This final washer should be about an inch below the knot. Using the final washer as a center point, create a ‘U’ with your rope. Using about 5-inches of wire, wrap the ‘U’ together to form a loop. This will be where side 1 of your necklace ends. Cut off all excess rope.

Step5

Step #4

Attach your medallion or statement bead by wrapping its loop with the final washer using 3-inches of wire.

Step6

Step #5

Finally, add a pop of color! Hide the looping wire in Step #3 by wrapping it with neon thread. Careful, this step takes longer with thinner thread so try doubling-up your strings when wrapping. Secure the neon thread by tying a knot in the final wrapping. For extra strength, I added a small drop of glue to the back side.

FullSizeRender 3

Step #6

Repeat Steps #1-6 on side two of your necklace. I chose to attach the two ends casually by tying a knot.

IMG_3311

Share your buggin’ DIY necklace with me on social media (@blancblog) and hashtag #boldwithblanc 

xoxo

 

Reece Blaire: meet the girls of sass, wit, & sophistication

BrandingPhotoShoot-91 Remember in middle school when you’d come home from school blabbing about how Suzie has way cuter clothes than you anddd her mom lets her wear mascara. SO not fair! You spent lunchable after lunchable pining over her pretty skirts, non-plastic pearls, and straightened hair. If girls in their 20’s still went to middle school, this Suzie character would be walking around with a custom, gold RB monogram necklace delicately placed around her neck.

This RB stands for Reece Blaire – the dynamic duo of up and coming jewelry designers.

ReeceBlaire Blanc I’ve known the girls of Reece Blaire for quite some time. Katelyn, Emily and I were all in the same sorority. Emily rushed first, then Katelyn, and I the following year. We did as all sorority sisters do: we laughed, we cried, and we threw a lot of parties that got us into trouble. Looking back, I can’t help but relate our time together with Reece Blaire’s three elements: Sass, Wit, and Sophistication.

They were certainly sassy… how else would we get rush numbers? But on the other hand, their wit always surprised me. Not that I ever thought they were a pair of dumb blondes, but I have distinct memories of Katelyn quoting the dictionary. I’m not even kidding. As far as sophistication goes, well, let’s just say it was a work in progress… We were in college after all.

All grown up with numerous lessons learned, they have turned these three attributes into a catchy slogan for their lifestyle blog and original jewelry designs. They describe these three elements as:

Sass

It is crucial for every woman to have. We’ve learned through experience that it is important not to be a pushover. Sometimes you just need to throw a little tamed sass into a difficult situation.

Wit

This explains itself. One of our most favorite quotes to date is, “Every time you are able to find humor in a difficult situation, you win.” Being able to laugh through a hard time is key to finding sanity.

Sophistication

Above all else, we strive to be sophisticated women. Undoubtedly, we both have our moments where our inner demons make an appearance, but you will never regret maintaining your poise in a less than favorable situation.

ReeceBlaire Blanc

With a year of tremendously consistent business under their belts, I have to wonder how they got started. The big idea took off with a blog.

“I preferred the fashion side of blogging,” Katelyn tells me, “Emily preferred the lifestyle and entertainment side, so it was a perfect pairing. Reece Blaire literally started through a text that went something like, “Hey Em, let’s start a blog and call it Reece Blaire.” Emily’s answer was very, very simple — “Okay!”

“After dabbling in blogging, we found some of Emily’s old jewelry she had crafted up for her wedding in 2011. I urged Emily to create some new pieces. She experimented with a few designs and hated them. I, on the other hand, loved them. Using our established social media accounts as a platform, we showcased the jewelry to get some feedback. The demand was instantaneous, so we ran with it!”

I’m sort of in the same boat – taking the social media route to creativity. What challenges did you have in the 1st year?

“LOL – literally,” they both chuckle. “We could probably write a novel on our first-year challenges alone. Aside from the normal challenges, like competitors and expenses, we became very frustrated with the lack of support from some of our peers. Naturally our family and close friends were amazingly supportive, but other acquaintances could be quite nasty at times. Ironically, the people who didn’t believe in us fueled our success by giving us a drive to work harder and become a better brand. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate hate…”


If you lack confidence in your brand and the job you are doing, you are only setting yourself up for failure.


RBinsta
Follow the girls on Instagram for their latest releases: @reeceblaire

Why baubles?

“We went through multiple different ideas for taglines that would be catchy and embody Sass, Wit, & Sophistication. Baubles is an older term for jewelry that nobody really used. To be honest, we found the term “baubles” in a thesaurus search and formed a phrase around it. As our bangles look best in a stack, Keep Your Baubles Stacked seemingly formed itself. The bigger the better, right?”

I have to admit, there are so many bauble brands out there. How do you differentiate yourself?

“One of the main things we focus on is a strong brand image and brand identity. When we decided to pursue Reece Blaire as a career rather than a hobby, the first thing we did was rebrand. We want our customers to feel the Reece Blaire experience from the second they reach our website until they are wearing their purchased pieces. We strive for consistency. Our goal is for every customer, throughout every medium (retail locations, website, social media, trunk shows), to resonate with our brand and understand who we are as a business. We pay attention to every little detail from the filters on our photos to the captions on our pictures.”

Starting a business is a lot of work – everyone knows that. What goals have you accomplished as a company so far? What lies ahead?

“For the last year, we’ve both been pursuing Reece Blaire part-time. We’ve successfully rebranded, gotten our merchandise into over 80 retail locations, and increased our product line.”

Katelyn has finished her MBA and Emily has just recently had a baby (Congrats Em!). So now that they’ve reached some personal milestones, it’s time they focus on Reece Blaire. Katelyn will be pursuing Reece Blaire full-time, while Emily takes some time to be with her new born little girl. They are launching their new Reece Blaire Collection line this week (SWOON! My favorites, old and new, listed below), and have new arrivals lined up for February and March. “We are looking for a warehouse to move our business operations, and hope to expand our product line even more by August 2015. Long-run, we would love to be featured in a department store, such as Belk or have our own studio shoppe. Right now, we are taking it one day at a time!”

ReeceBlaire Blanc


Who says New Years Day doesn’t come with presents?

Since we’re no longer in middle school and we’re actually able to attain Suzie’s cool baubles without our mother’s help, Reece Blaire will be giving 20% off their website with the code BLANC20! Hurry, hurry – coupon code lasts until January 3rd. My favorites are linked below.

 Blanc Favorites via Reece Blaire:

www.reeceblaire.com

@reeceblaire

Natalie Taylor: Artist Feature

IMG_1734Photo Dec 07, 5 21 32 PM

I find artists that I love in many different ways – local galleries, magazines, social media… Though there’s one artist in particular that never needed a formal setting to catch my eye. In fact, it is her work that pulls you in itself. It has gazed at me as if I were the one being studied.

“In art, there’s a distinction of who holds the “gaze.” In early renaissance art, the viewer held the gaze over a naked lady charcoal drawing or a Madonna and Child oil painting. The gazer is looking into the life of the subject matter – they have the control. My work is themed around women. They hold the gaze. They have the control.”


 

“My work is themed around women. They hold the gaze. They have the control.”


 

Meet local Charleston artist, Natalie Taylor Humphrey. A true fashion-guru with an eye for a killer collage and a hand that doesn’t stop creating even after the eighth repeat of her Dave Mathews playlist (or when her college roommate turned off the lights – yup, that’s me!). I’ve known Natalie for five years and she continues to surprise me. Her impressions of all things crazy still make me laugh and her never-ending pool of inspiration spreads wider and wider.

“My work definitely plays into feminism.” She writes in her artist statement, “while looking at fashion magazines I find myself wondering who these woman really are that model their bodies draped in designer clothing.”

Perplexed by the question, “Who is she?”, Natalie employs the use of wonder and mystery in her designs. The artwork lacks information referencing time and place, creating ambiguous scenes, that ultimately asks the audience to fill in the gaps with their own personal experiences.

IMG_1734

Over oysters and cheap wine, we discuss her latest collection of fashion sketches and collages. Natalie creates her pieces to be dynamic in the sense that they’re not perfect, but they’re more about capturing the woman wearing the fantastic dress or the girl behind the store window.


“Fashion is only as much as the girl who buys the clothing.”


 

Her work is based on trends, patterns, and time-specific styles. It is truly seasonal in the sense that there is always something fresh springing from her collection. Her most recent body of work draws inspiration from everyday life and depicts the beauty of ordinary moments we normally overlook.

“I do not seek out these mundane moments, but rather try to recognize them as they happen naturally in the course of a day. People, in all manners, inform my work; from the physical form and appearance of a human to the personal stories of what makes an individual unique.”

IMG_9485

Recently published in Charleston Style and Design Magazine, Winter 2014, Natalie continues to grow her portfolio into something sassy and relatable. Her fashion sketches have become one of my favorite pieces of art in my home. I even had the privilege of getting my hands on her – yet to be released – latest work and have featured some of my favorites from the past and present below.

 

NatalieCollage

This weekend only, Natalie will be giving away one of her extraordinary fashion sketches – just in time for the holidays! For a chance to win her original work, follow @blancblog and @natalietaylorhumphrey. Like today’s feature post and tag a friend that you’d like to gift it to! The winner will be announced Sunday, December 21st.

Good luck!

 


 One last note: Natalie Taylor will be having a 20% off sale on her website this weekend only! Check her out!

For questions concerning commissions, buying locations, or other inquiries, please contact Natalie directly via NatalieRushing21@yahoo.com or visit http://www.artbynatalietaylor.com


 

 

 

how to: strap & tassle necklace

necklace

You know that moment of absolute lust you get when seeing the perfect piece of jewelry? Yup, it happened. My stylish boss walked into the office with this killer boho necklace – a chunky leather strap (which had her initial embossed on one side) escalated down to these gorgeous stones and ending with a perfectly plump, oversize tassel. Ugh, I moaned. I want.

In the midst of The Every Girl’s 30-day-Wear-Your-Wardrobe challenge, I had sworn myself to not buy any new clothes or accessories for a month… not that I could afford the necklace anyway. Being the smartalic that I am, I knew I could find a loop hole. For those who can’t afford, make. And for those who can’t buy clothes, buy art supplies. Nailed it.

IMG_1192

Here’s what you’ll need:

IMG_0624
Depending on your beads, $25 should get you all the supplies you need to make this necklace.
  • A yard of 1″ thick leather, belt strapping, or ribbon of your choosing. You want to think durability here.
  • Crafting brads (these look like push pins that have two legs), any size
  • Mod Podge or another gluing agent
  • Craft wire. Be intentional with color.
  • Beads of your choosing. I went for a tribal look, but stones or agates will work too!
  • Fringe (I chose leather) or a string tassel

I spent a total of $21 at Hobby Lobby.

(Step No. 1)

IMG_0637
Make sure your ends don’t fray by using Mod Podge or glue

Secure your strap: use Mod Podge to seal the ends of your strap to avoid fraying. Once dry, fold about an inch of the strap over to make a loop and push your brads through the two layers. Separate the ends of the brads to secure the loop. I used small, antique copper brads so I used three on each side. If you have larger, more decorative brads, you can use less.

(Step No. 2)

IMG_0646
Tip: fold over your wire end to avoid getting caught in your strap.

Cut 4-feet of wire. Start by folding over the tip of your wire. This will avoid it getting caught in your strap material. Next, push about 18 inches of wire through the strap loop. Wrap the wire through your strap loop repeatedly so you get a layered look. Secure the loose (bent) end of your wire by twisting it around your newly created wrap.  String the first side of beads.

(Step No. 3)

Glue, roll, & hold to secure
Glue, roll, & hold to secure

Create your tassel. Simply apply glue to the top of your fringe and roll like a sleeping bag. Once your glue is dry, string your wire through the center hole, starting from the bottom and through to the top. Then, wrap the tassel’s top base for security (same as step one). Once you have a wrapped look you like, string your wire through the center hole again, starting from the bottom and through to the top. You should have a tassel that sits happily between the two sides of your necklace.

(Step No. 4)

I chose tribal beads for a neutral look
I chose tribal beads for a neutral look

String your beads on side two. Repeat step one to secure the other side of your necklace.

(Step No. 5)

Share your version on Instagram (@blancblog) or in the comment section below!
Share your version on Instagram (@blancblog) or in the comment section below!

Go rock your designer look-alike necklace. Share your version on Facebook and Instagram and tag me, @blancblog!