Monday, October 31, 2011

Becoming a Doer

by Noah Cohen

When Sarah approached me about a motivational writing piece, I was happy to create a small excerpt to help her on the quest of happiness and great quality of life based on success formulated from pursuing passion.   Motivational speaking and writing have been part of my life for almost 10 years now.  If I were reading this, the question I would ask myself is, "Why is this guy qualified to motivate me?"  Valid question.   I have included a short bio (not for the sake of my ego, because I could care lessabout that.)  To be happy and successful, we must always operate without egos. The ego must be set aside.  The ego plays no role in success.  There has to be a reason to read on.

So, here it is in the condensed form. I am an entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in start-up development.  My largest of many companies is Premier Innovations Group which I founded in 2007.  Premier Innovations Group is a Pittsburgh based spirits importing company that launched Clique Vodka and Don Pantaleon Tequila into the US markets.  Premier is a conglomerate that owns an event-based entertainment company and graphic design company which serve as subsidiaries.  

At the age of 30, I have been involved in the development over 20 start-up projects in a broad range of industries including technology, real estate, restaurants, chemical products, direct sales, advertising, music, nonprofit philanthropy and entertainment.
After constant new ventures, many successful some complete failures, I have been on a quest to achieve a great quality life and be the best person I can be since my very first major failure over 10 years ago.  Although I am never complacent, I think I remain reasonably well.  I do very well financially and will never have to worry about money again, but more importantly I have strong relationships.  I work for myself doing only what I love and want to do every day of my life no matter what.  Pretty lucky?  No, I don’t think luck had much to do with my journey.  Luck is a cop out for success and I sure don’t think you learn much when something is luck related.  I have often said I’d feel like I completely cheated if I won the lottery and would not be interested in financial success by luck.  I must have rich parents that gave me money to start my first company or I sued someone or my uncle died and gave me an inheritance?  No, I never had that luxury. I must be a genius then, that’s it.  No, actually I consider my intelligence to be average maybe a little below.  I don’t think I am a smart man.  No IQ to brag about or scholastic excellence. Complete normality there.  No natural talent my brother got that.   So what is it? Well its pretty simple actually.  I am a doer.

When everyone says something can’t be done, this something sounds like a good idea to me because I am sure it can be done. And, I am willing and open to do it. Why not?  Anything one person does another person can do, so why not?  Even if it hasn’t been done before, when your attitude says “I can” and you dive in and do something anything will and can be done.  What are you afraid? Failure?  Failure is inevitable and when you take a step back and learn to be a problem solver and then implement solutions, you will move two steps forward.  Failures and mistakes are the building blocks of knowledge; they are the “how to and not to do again roadmap”.  You learn to be a great problem solver when you’re a doer.  We are all problem solvers deep down but if you don’t do anything theres nothing to solve.  No practice makes inexperience.

When is the time to start doing then?  Everyone says to me “I'll wait until this and then I'll do it” or "when this goes I'll do this." This is vicious procrastination cycle of lies to tell yourself.  How about start NOW?  I mean right now. 

What will you do in the next 10 minutes, 10 hours or 1 day after you read this?  Stop waiting.  Be a doer and start doing something you are passionate about right now.  Get ready to make commitment to yourself and do something.  Even something small toward accomplishing something you are passionate about.  It does not have to be cold turkey if you are committed to other jobs and things, but you must get started with something now.  Do something.  Commit one hour a day.  Or 10 hours a week.  Make changes if you are not doing what your passionate about and become a doer.  No excuses,  no “I'll do it tomorrow" or "when this happens, I'll do it", none of that. 

When you just dive and start with those fear bubbles popped you will see some accomplishments and it will motivate you to get your project from A to B.  Then, with some sacrifice, dedication, commitment and drive, these core values will get you to C many times yields a better quality of life. If it doesn’t yield a better quality of life, keep going! Weather that storm and push on.  Remember nothing is the only thing that comes from doing nothing.  Right now is your time to be a Doer. 

Yours In Success, 
Noah Cohen

For more about Premier Innovations, click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dinette Review: The Only Good Thing About This Restaurant Is Their...Water?

by Sarah Davis

Restaurant: Dinette
Executive Chef: Sonja Finn
Description: Upscale Pizzeria
Location: East Liberty/ 5996 Penn Circle South

I recently had dinner at a chic little joint called Dinette, located in Shadyside.  It's a rich-folks pizza place, with really small portions.  As attractive as a reserved, upper class pizza establishment sounds, I would say that you can't mess with the messiness of an authentic Italian pizzeria. You grew up with pizzas coming in box or single-served on a paper plate, soda in a styrofoam cup with far too much ice in it and breadsticks that leave your hands smothered in grease.

The "breadsticks" at Dinette come in a glass and every table only gets about five.  They are the dry, skinny kind you avoid buying at the grocery store, yet you know some pompous rich woman, who normally doesn't do her own shopping, would pick them up because she didn't know any better.  

One thing that I found to be a little absurd was that the wings come in servings of four.  (I am all for the finer cuisines and appropriate plating, but don't take a chicken wing and make it pretend to be something it can never be, okay?) I can understand serving scallops like they are scarce in resources, but not wings. 

I ate here with my sister, who is Style & Wisdom's art director, and one of her comments about the atmosphere was that it was "as sterile and cold as a hospital room."  It definitely isn't cozy, the lighting makes gives you anxiety and the tables are so close together that you can hear the conversation of the next table over.  (Which, if you've been to Salt of the Earth, you know can be exquisitely done. Dinette just doesn't have the same finesse as Salt of the Earth, which is probably one of my favorite restaurants. )

On a positive note, the way that Dinette serves their water has me addicted to this new trend, which is serving it in fancy bottles.  (They serve both their sparkling and flat water in this manner.) Also, I was intrigued by their metal straws.  Yes, I said metal straws, that arrive at your table when you order a soda. 

Overall, I'd say that this restaurant does everything right.  They have the trendy name, the cool idea to do a modern spin on a classic restaurant, and impeccable details (like the metal straws) but there was something about the atmosphere that makes me want to never return.  It was cold & you get the sense that they are trying too hard. 

Photo Credit: Borrowed from the lovely folks over at Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are You Willing To Live Fearlessly?

by Sarah Davis
Pinned Image
Is that stylish scarf you're wearing really just a
choking device?
The more that I dive into life, the more that see that I really don't have as much control as I think.  There are a lot of things you can do in life (you can try to get jobs, you can save money, you can start a business), but there is something else that is out there.  There is this flow of life that we cannot control.

If this wasn't the case, we wouldn't have to deal with things like chaos.  Our emotions wouldn't matter.  If we had a negative attitude or a positive attitude, it wouldn't matter. The only thing we can do is believe that this flow has our best interest in mind, and let it take its course.

For instance, I recently had to make a phone call that I've been avoiding for three years (to a family member I had a disagreement with.) I was forced to leave a voicemail for this phone call and then I had to do this thing that I loathe: wait. I couldn't be frustrated with the situation after not hearing back because I waited three years to make this call.  However, I had no control.  I couldn't demand that these people call me back.  I had to wait.  

There are situations that we have no control over and you cannot force them to happen.  If you try, it is a wasted effort and your attempt will act as a choking device on the situation.  All that you can do is sit back and learn how to breathe in this chaos.  

Learning how to sit in chaos and meditate or allow life to happen to you is otherwise known as living fearlessly. This is something I work on every day. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Who, What, Where? South Side's Highway Robbery Vintage

by Sarah Davis

Kate Minton, owner of South Side's Highway Robbery Vintage

Who? Kate Minton's vintage store, Highway Robbery Vintage recently opened up in South Side's Carson Street (right next to Pizza Sola.)  

What? Minton describes her store as vintage casual! It's a cozy store, stocked with all things vintage and is owned and operated by Kate, who studied Fashion at the Art Institute.  The store sells men & women's clothing, shoes & has a darling collection of jewelry (all within an affordable price range) that you won't find anywhere else. The store has a hip vibe to it, with music like Ellie Goulding & Lily Allen on in the background while you shop.  

I asked Kate what exactly makes clothing vintage? It's a term that gets tossed around a lot and everyone seems to be obsessed with it. She informs us that anything vintage has to be 20 years old and she has a great collection in her shop, including some ultra wide leg jeans! (If someone hasn't bought them yet.) When I asked her what her favorite piece of clothing was in the store, she pointed out these particular jeans.

Where? 1411 E Carson Street/ Pittsburgh

An interesting fact: Kate tells us that her friend, Eli (who wrote a guest blog for Style & Wisdom) came up with the store's name!

Words of Wisdom? Words of advice for anyone trying to open up their own store? "I'm a really big believer in positive energy", says Minton, on a cold, rainy September evening. "When opening up a store, you have to focus on staying positive because it's a lot of work."

Whenever you have a moment, stop in to check out Highway Robbery Vintage and chat with this fab girl!


The darling jewelry I mentioned.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do It Yourself: Be Successful

by Sarah Davis

If you're going to be successful, you might as well have a great outfit.
I've decided to draw up a list of ingredients that I've needed and learned as I've made my slow journey into becoming a successful woman. For me, success means having a website that people read & rely on every day and publishing a book that I know will change lives.  I would by no means consider myself a "success story" at this point, but I can feel in my bones that I am on the right path to it.  A lot of people ask me on things that I do daily to accomplish this, so I've decided to write it down. Everyone has a dream but most people are scared to fully chase after it.  Why? Because it looks a little scary. We could fail, we might not make it, a jealous person might make our life a living Hell if we do it. I'm here to tell you that it can happen though, despite every negative thing you think might happen.  You can do anything you want in this life (I truly mean anything) and the journey is the real part of conquering your dreams, not necessarily what you want to achieve.  

1. Show up every day. The hardest part of success is endurance.  Anyone can achieve success up until the "15 minutes of fame" level, which involves that a person has a tiny dose of success & other people start to notice.  However, you get to this other point where things start to level off and it becomes all work and no play.  No one really cares, but they care if you stop.  They just expect you to be there.  It's this thing called consistency.  If you aren't stable, your business will obviously collapse.  If Giant Eagle was only open once every couple of weeks, or open for one whole week and then closed for two weeks, who would go there?  

2. Warning: You will struggle and will be harder than anyone tells you. Then, the part where everyone usually jumps ship is when things get really rough.  Your dreams look like a really stupid idea.  You might lose a lot of money at this point, things just look incredibly hopeless.  Most people don't make it through this part, which is why success is so Darwinian.  It's only meant for the strongest because weak & lazy people will never make it. Not because they are limited in any way, simply because if you choose to be weak & lazy, you will never make it through the rough patches of chasing your dreams.  The getting-back-up thing is truly imperative because a lot of people won't do it.  If you get back up after life tosses you a big hurricane and you fall down really hard (I mean you fall so hard that the back of your head is bleeding and bruised), you've already succeeded. 

3. Hungry? People are always serving criticism.  At the end of the day, your gut reaction is going to get you the farthest.  Everyone, and I mean people you've never even met, like people at the grocery store, are going to give you their opinions on your success.  This becomes more prevalent as you venture out into new territory.  New people are always the ones who criticize the most.  People get jealous very easily.  If you accomplish anything, people tend to be intimidated by you.  In a fairy-tale world, people would be inspired by your success and encourage you.  However, in the actual world, people (not all people, but some) instinctively become jealous and feel angry because they aren't doing what you're doing and get mad at you.  They gossip about you, etc.  That's why everyone loves tabloids and reality shows, because we are jealous of the celebrity lifestyle.

4. Be courageous. Dare to love yourself all the time, because other people will not.  Another reason why success is so Darwinian is because people get discouraged when others don't support them or offer good advice.  People want to be a part of crowd and they want everyone to like them.  They want to be different, they have a dream they want to achieve, but they don't want to step on any toes and stand out like a sore thumb.  To be successful, you have to be courageous. 

5. Believe in yourself, unrealistically. The journey will mold you, even if you don't know what to do. As long as make an effort and try, things will happen.  I swear I've been knocked down so many times and thought things like, "I don't know how to do this" (with things like writing a marketing platform for a book), but as long as I just start working on it, it happens.  It gets done.  The important thing is to not give up.  You almost have to be unrealistic in your pursuits and believe you can do anything.  The odd part is that you really can, society just molds us to believe that we have limits.  That, for some reason, we are limited.  

6. Be prepared to do things you don't want to do.  It isn't going to be easy to start your own business or become a bestselling author.  These are things that are hard.  So, be prepared for it to actually be hard.  It isn't going to happen according to the book, or the way they taught you in college.  It might get messy.  You are going to have to do things that aren't pretty.  Things get tricky and you might have to pick up a second job (a job that you never wanted).  You might have to move to another city.  The important thing is to go with the flow.  If you fight the flow of your life, things will stop.  Never stop moving.  Don't worry about looking dumb or stupid, because it's really only you that will think that.  

7. Connections, connections. Get out there and tell people what you're all about.  Network every chance you get.  Establish good relationships with people who know people.  You will never get anywhere by sitting in a room, all alone.  Stay up to date with social networking and hustle to promote yourself within the world.  Get business cards and actually pass them out.  An important thing to remember when creating new professional relationships is to be the person who people want to do business with.  Have a good personality.  Don't reschedule meetings, show up early to them.  Be a warm and inviting person and give out positive energy. It matters, a lot.  

8. Fake it until you make it. I always tell people to walk with more confidence than they feel comfortable with.  You'll need whatever you don't use at a later date.  You need to treat yourself professionally if you want other people to.  Your image needs to be proper.  You can't do things like get on Facebook and complain (we're all guilty of this).  You need a professional website, professional business cards and you need to be wearing great outfits when you're networking with people.  As materialistic as it sounds, your face is the first thing people see and the main thing that they see when they listen to you talk, so you need to be wearing makeup and doing things like grooming your eyebrows.  People respond to you better when you look inviting.  If you don't take care of your own body, people might question if you can take care of your business.  Why would they invest or help you out?  

Image Credit: Pinterest

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Have You Liked Style & Wisdom on Facebook?


1. Have you liked Style & Wisdom on Facebook?  We are offering a special treat for every 100th LIKE! Get on that! (Hint, free tickets to local concerts, free goodies, etc.) You can do this right here.

2. We are now allowing advertising! Interested? Find the complete advertising kit located on the sidebar of the blog.  Or, click here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Entertaining Tips: Pairing Wine With Chalk

by Sarah Davis

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An easy way to ensure everyone knows what they are digging into at your wine tasting party.
Eating healthy is so incredibly important to me.  But, wine and cheese go together impeccably that no one can deny their bodies of these calories.  After a long week, a Saturday night dinner party is one of my favorite things to do.  Around this time last year, I did a blog titled "Girl on the Go's Guide To Wine" & here is a follow-up with ideas on what to do with that guide.

I love the chalkboard idea when serving wines and cheeses because it looks so much better than than awkward little signs.  (They can either look like too much or horribly out of place.) If you're at home, I think it's nice to feel comfortable when trying out wine/cheese pairings. This makes it feel a little bit more fun, as opposed to a lesson on wine. 

Pinned Image
Another chalky idea: writing your names on the bottom of your wine glasses.  

Image Credits: Pinterest

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is Your Energy Dehydrated?

by Sarah Davis
Lately, I've been fortunate enough to watch a few episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants.  While I think he's a little creepy and was surprised to discover he is a grown man, I saw an episode where he dries up. Since he's a sponge, if he isn't soaked in water, he gets super dry.  I'm 25 and I was frightened by the image.  Kids seem to think it's funny. Kids...

I haven't posted a blog in about a week and it's because this week has been tremendously hard on me.  I battled some major problems and an actual sickness (one of my wisdom teeth got infected, which is no joke.)  My spiritual meter was similar to SpongeBob's water level, it was barely there.  It had been sucked out of me.  All of it. Dare I say, I was almost even at the point where I wanted to never write again, especially about God.  While I truly feel like my calling in life is to write about God for some audience I may or may not ever meet, this was a rough week. I feel like I died and came back as a stronger person.  

When people have a high percentage in their spiritual meter, they glow.  They radiate warmth because they feel happy on the inside.  However, there are a lot of things than subtract from your percentage level.  Jealous people, people who bully you, and people who attack you for reasons no psychology book will tell you. All of these things subtract from how good you feel, or the energy you experience and release into the world. Sometimes, you get so many of these things in your life at one time that it feels like you have zero energy.  You feel like how SpongeBob must feel when he is completely dehydrated.  

You cannot allow yourself to dry up like a sponge.  Bounce right back! Submerge yourself in positive energy and allow yourself to swell back up into a healthy sponge, like creepy Spongebob normally always looks like.  Even if it looks impossible or feels like you don't deserve it, jump right in.  Do it anyway.  You will figure it out along the way. When life is throwing you lemons, you do not have to let it crush you.  You CAN deal with it gracefully.  Just make sure that you are submerging yourself in enough positive things, even if it's right alongside an entire shitstorm.  Do something like take a bubblebath, read a chapter of a good book or cook a meal.  Life can get really rough, but always remember that there is always a steady supply of spiritual "water" to revive yourself with.  

There are a lot of things you cannot control in life and you will get setback a lot, and you won't be able to control any of this sometimes, but you can control your personal spiritual meter.  People can take everything you own, everything you've achieved, but you never have to give up your energy and your relationship with God.  Because, it's always there for you.  With God, you're always taken care of.  If you're willing to give it all up, you'll never actually lose anything.  If you hang onto things you don't need, you'll end up losing everything.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that love is the most powerful force in the entire universe, but it is. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Pregnant Beyonce Covers Harper's Bazaar

This month's issue of Harper's Bazaar includes an interview with Beyonce, where she spills about her pregnancy.  Remember when she declared she was pregnant on stage at the VMA's? "I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to unveil it. It was important to me that I was able to do it myself. I didn't want a crazy picture or gossip story to break the news, so I decided to say nothing and proudly show my baby bump. I felt it was more powerful to see the love and enthusiasm as opposed to saying anything." She also informs us her clothing line, House of Dereon, will be launching maternity wear.  

She says in the interview, "it's great to be a woman and have the freedom to express my emotions through fashion." I think all of us are curious to see what Beyonce wears throughout this pregnancy.  I'm thinking tons of...stilettos? From the looks of this interview, a baby bump isn't holding Beyonce back from high fashion.


Photo Credits: Harper's Bazaar

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pittsburgh Celebrates Love is Louder's First Anniversary

Brittany Snow
Love is Louder recently celebrated their first anniversary and this campaign holds such a special place in my heart that I wanted to do a special blog. I fully support everything about the Love is Louder campaign and after asking around for help on this blog, I realized that a lot of people really connect with Love is Louder.  (Love is Louder was created by Brittany Snow and Courtney Knowles, of the Jed Foundation, after witnessing the harsh effects of social networking, bullying and teen suicide in recent times.  It is a viral campaign that promotes a positive message within the online community.)

A lot of people ask me, "Do you really think taking a picture of your hand will end teen suicide and depression in general?"  I really do.  I know that when I'm feeling like negative voices are being particularly loud, that little message pops up into my head and reminds me that love is way more powerful than all things negative.  Whenever I come up against problems in my daily love, I really do remember, "Love is Louder."  

Whenever I first interviewed Courtney Knowles, I was a little skeptical that this campaign was doing major work because it was a bunch of celebrities writing 3 simple words on their hand.  However, for some reason, you seem to never forget these three words because they pack such a punch.  It sends out this message that, yes, we've all been through something and that makes it easier to get through whatever your going through that is making you feel all alone.  

A lot of people call me crazy for sharing my story with the world in this book (because it isn't pretty and it exposes me), but no one is meant to feel like they have so many problems that they need to end their life.  If I could travel into their mindset with a book that says, I've been there & I pulled myself out of it, I'll feel like it was all worth it.  

I've said before that the media is the only thing that gets in the homes of abused children, so campaigns like this, backed up by media outlets like MTV, are crucial.  (The "media" can be looked at as a deceptive thing, but it can also be a very powerful tool.) When you support campaigns like To Write Love on Her Arms & Love is Louder, you are literally traveling into homes that no one can get into to support teens and children who are scared to tell people that they are depressed, abused, and everything else.  

So, in honor of supporting Love is Louder, I asked around familiar faces who've appeared on the blog before and I have some fun photos to share with all of you.  Thanks Courtney Knowles and Brittany Snow for starting this amazing campaign.  Thank you to everyone who sent in their Love is Louder photos for this blog! 

Brandi Engel

Eli Rebich

Cindy Hines

Courtney Suder

Frank Bachurski

Kara Sambrick

Lia Savini

Ryan Goodworth

Craig Anderson

Rose Davis

Lindsay Houston

Christian Kamensky

Gina Hussar
Christina Temple, Akayzia 
Lee Terbosic
Skip Douglas
Sarah Davis

Kristin Radascy

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Love is Louder: An Interview with Courtney Knowles, Executive Director of the Jed Foundation

This interview was originally posted on March 4, 2011 before the blog changed its name to Style & Wisdom.  To celebrate the first birthday of Love is Louder, we are re-posting this interview & featuring a special blog tomorrow, where Pittsburgh celebrates this occasion.  Stay tuned.  

by Sarah Davis
Brittany Snow and Courtney Knowles
You might be seeing "Love is Louder" written on people's hands all over the internet right now. Brittany Snow, Whitney Port and Sophia Bush to name a few. When you see these words, it not only tells you a simple, yet powerful, message, but it also makes you wonder, "What is this movement and how can I get involved?" The Vintage Rush is proud to talk with Courtney Knowles, executive director of the Jed Foundation and a founder of the online campaign. He lets us know what it is, why it is such an important message and how we can get involved.

In today's world, it becomes easy to get overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. We've all been there and for some people, it's a little harder to bounce out of than others. There are a lot of negative aspects of the media, but there are also a lot of really inspiring movements right now. One of which is Love is Louder, led by actress Brittany Snow, the Jed Foundation & MTV. It was created in September of 2010 to provide more online support to make a change in the growing number of teen suicides. Spreading positive words to people can alter their life. Think about how bad a really negative person makes you feel about your own life, something that Courtney mentions in this interview is that a small act of kindness makes a tremendous difference. One of the most valuable things you can offer someone is support and positivity.  So, get in on this movement and spread a message that will help more people than you realize.  (Write "Love is Louder" on your hand, snap a photo and anytime you tweet, use the hashtags #loveislouder). 

Sarah Davis/The Vintage Rush:  Why is it important to have an organization like the Jed Foundation available for today's youth?
Courtney Knowles, Executive Director of the Jed Foundation: Research shows that emotional health issues, like stress and depression, are top reasons that young people aren’t able to succeed in school or do well in other areas of their lives. All of us can benefit by protecting our emotional health and looking out for ourselves and others. The Jed Foundation is providing the resources and programs that help young people better understand common emotional health problems and encourage them to get support if needed. We work really hard to talk about these issues in a way that will connect with teenagers and young adults.

SD: What is Love is Louder, in your words? How do you hope it will change the way young people approach depression or anxiety?
Courtney Knowles:  Love is Louder is a simple, but powerful message. No matter what we are dealing with – stress, depression, mistreatment, anxiety – the love and support that exists to help us is always stronger and louder than the pain. Sometimes during the toughest moments, it is the simple knowledge that there is help or hope that can help us move forward. It’s also a message about our impact on other people. We each have the ability to help someone who may be lonely or depressed, we also have the potential to harm them if we treat them unfairly or dismiss them. Whether the message is for yourself or for those around you, the truth is that we can make the love, support and hope louder than any internal or external voice that makes people feel mistreated, misunderstood, alone or hopeless.

SD:  What has been one of the most rewarding parts of your job? Has there ever been an experience that has changed your life or motivated you in some way?
Courtney Knowles:  Launching Love is Louder with Brittany Snow is certainly a highlight of my work with The Jed Foundation. The idea we came up with was so simple and within days it had spread across the country. We developed and launched the idea within a 48 hour period and I remember that just a day or two later there were videos on YouTube of crowds of college students chanting “Love is Louder.” It’s a humbling and inspiring feeling to see people taking something you created and using it to empower themselves and their communities. Since Love is Louder was born as an online, viral campaign – we’ve always been able to watch the impact in real-time and see how people are changing their schools and communities by joining the movement. Looking at the thousands of Love is Louder pictures that have been uploaded by people around the world still makes me speechless.

SD: What are some inspiring words that you live by that would help anyone (not even just a young person, but anyone reading this blog) who feels a bit overwhelmed by the hardships life throws at them?
Courtney Knowles:  May seem corny, but my inspiring words are “Love is louder.” The more I’ve worked on this movement the more I’ve seen that to be true. We all deal with lots of internal and external “stuff” each day that is difficult and it is amazing what the smallest act of kindness can do to overshadow all of that. More and more research is showing that taking time to be grateful, thinking about the good things in our lives and helping others, can making us more resilient and better prepared to deal with the tough things. When you get overwhelmed or ticked off or feel hopeless, take a deep breath and say “Love is Louder” to yourself a few times. It really works.

SD: Why do you feel this generation is getting hit so hard with depression and anxiety? On a similar note, what is the most amazing thing about this generation?
Courtney Knowles: Research does show that an increasing number of college students say they are struggling emotionally. I think there is a lot of pressure on this generation – pressure to succeed in order to compete for recognition, jobs or social status. I also believe than an increase in use of technology to connect and communicate sometimes makes people more isolated and decreases the number of real connections and interactions that today’s young people have. Feeling connected and supported is really important in preventing and managing emotional health issues like depression, anxiety or stress.

SD: Lastly, how can we get involved?!
Courtney Knowles: You can get involved in the movement by visiting and joining our Facebook page, following us on Twitter and spreading the word through your tweets and status updates (hashtag #loveislouder). You can also write “Love is Louder” on your hand, take a pic and upload it to our FB page like thousands of others have done. And you can spread the impact of Love is Louder by focusing on the positive instead of the negative in your world, and using your words and actions to help and support others, especially those who may be struggling emotionally.

Photo Credits:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Q&A with A Fine Line Clothing's Creator, Alisia Leibel

by Sarah Davis

A Fine Line Clothing launched this past Spring and was created by Alisia Leibel, who is from Pittsburgh!  I fell in love in less than 60 seconds.  A Fine Line Clothing is really unique in that you can wear it during the day and feel comfortable & then accessorize it at night and feel just as comfortable.  Women, in current times, are busy! We do a lot during our days, we're on the go and Alisia has truly taken this into consideration.  The results are simple, chic and embody a relaxed state of beauty.  

recently had the wonderful opportunity of talking to her about A Fine Line and she is not only down to earth and really charming, she is incredibly smart and in tune with the fashion industry.  Her personality is similar to her clothing line; a powerhouse woman in her most relaxed state.  

A Fine Line is amazing, looks so comfy! How did you come up with the concept?
I came up with the concept because I was searching for something that was missing in my closet! I wanted to find a t-shirt that was versatile  and that I could wear all day long and into the night.  I wasn't finding things like pockets in sweatpants; pants that could be worn all day.  

The designs are really feminine & flawless. Do you do all of them yourself? 
I do, yes.  My brother, George Geanopulos,  helps out a lot on the business end (which there are no better people to do this with than your family.) But,  I do all of the sketching for the line.  The only thing I don't do is the sewing, but I do know how to sew!

Describe your own personal style a little bit! Who are some designers who you love and can say have influenced you?
I'm really comfortable, practical when it comes to my own style.  I don't really follow trends too much.  I like jeans, t-shirts.  I'm really into IRO blazers right now; they're so chic.  For Fall, I love the Loveday hoodies.  I'll wear A Fine Line top, with a flannel or a scarf, Keds flats during the day.  If I'm going out that night, I'll pack a pair of heels and a pair of big earrings to throw on.    

Some of my favorite designers are Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Valentina and Chanel.  I don't always buy those things but I am definitely always inspired by them! I really love vintage treasures.  There's a really great flea market here in Los Angeles, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, that I gain so much inspiration from.  It only happens once a month and I'll wake up at 6am to go to it.  The history of some of the things you can find there is so inspiring. 

Tell us a little bit about the process of not only thinking up a concept for a clothing line, but actually bringing it to life so that people can wear it.  What have been some of the struggles? Have you come up against anything that was totally unexpected? 
Well, it starts off with the need or desire for something missing and then it becomes a sketch.  Then it goes to a sample maker and we test out fabrics and silohettes.  Some of the struggles would probably occur when the fabric doesn't sit just right or the fabrics just aren't perfect for the piece.  On the business end, meeting deadlines and ensuring that your customers are happy and packages are mailed out on time.  I am normally hustling up until the last minute before any fashion show. I am always doing something!

Besides other fashion designers, is there anything else that you gain inspiration from?  Art? Travel?
I'm definitely inspired by flea markets, like the Rose Bowl.  Nature; I'm inspired by the colors of birds and the shapes of architecture.  I did some traveling to London & the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean.  I got to see things like fish I've never seen before and found a lot of inspiration in the whole trip.  Those were some of the things that inspired me for the line we have out right now!

You're from Mt. Lebanon, which in high school, everyone referred to as a "bubble." What has been the most memorable experience that you’ve had in LA? 
I was talking about this with my brother (George) and he said the most memorable experience was the day he got here! Which, of course that was a memorable day but there was another time when I woke up one morning and my whole family had surprised be by flying out to see me.  My two grandmothers, my great-aunt, and my parents were all there when I woke up that morning and we got to spend time together.  We don't always get to spend time like that together and it was just really nice. Where we're from, family is just really important.  I took my grandmothers to fancy restaurants and they got to try new things like sushi!

Back to your hometown! What are some of your favorite things about Pittsburgh?!
It's the greatest place to grow up and raise a family! The people in Pittsburgh are real and down to earth.  I love the four seasons, feeling each season change, the smell in the air.  It is very different from living in California.  I love the Warhol museum and all of my friends and family who are there! 

Where can people purchase A Fine Clothing Line? 
In Pittsburgh, you can buy it at Reflect Clothing (in Settler's Ridge) and also on, which is a Pittsburgh based website.  Here in LA, you can find it at Switch Boutique.  It is in Sharon Segal, which is in Fred Segal stores, and Ron Herman.  

In your words, what makes A Fine Clothing Line special? 
A Fine Line is versatile, super soft and relaxed.  The silhouettes are thoughtfully created around a woman's form.  The line is feminine, classic and has an edge.  

So, my blog is about “Style & Wisdom”, what are your personal words of wisdom?  Any advice to the many girls out there who dream about having their own clothing line?
I should have a daughter because I have so much to say about this! Believe in yourself and your vision.  Stay true to what you believe.  For girls that dream about having a fashion line, I would tell them to intern.  Find someone in the industry, shadow them and learn as much as you can from them.  Having a mentor is invaluable.  Sketch often, keep a sketchbook so you can house all of your creativity and make a library of your ideas and inspirations.  This way, when the time comes, you'll have it all.  

Now, for some important journalism….What's in your purse?!
I always keep a pair of sunglasses, my iPad, I have a really great sketchbook by Postal Co.  I carry an iPhone for the creative side of my life and a Blackberry for business and texting.  I have a travel size bottle for my favorite perfume (Le Labo Musk 25) that I actually bought on Oprah's website.  Nars Bronzer in Laguna, a brush (I think Nars has a great bronzer because it sits well on your skin.) I always have lipgloss in my bag, right now I have La Mer clear lip balm.  

Favorite item in your closet right now?
I'm obsessed with an Isabel Marant belt right now.  It's this silver mesh belt that goes with everything.    I also have this really great Vera Wang hankerchief necklace.  It has crystals and knitted mesh.  It never fails to brighten up an outfit and make it look like your going somewhere really important.  I got it from Neiman Marcus and it was a little pricey, but well worth it.  

Finally, if you had to create A Fine Line Playlist for people to jam to, what songs you put in it?
1. Foster the People- Pumped Up Kicks
2. Adele- Someone Like You
3. Michael Jackson- P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
4. Kings of Leon- On Call
5. Jay Z- Forever Young

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