Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe

By Lamya Cruz (@thatgirllams)

Lately I have been finding satisfaction in buying things. More than usual, because of the best excuse—we are in the depths of holiday season. Black Friday has just come and gone but the feeling of it still lingers incessantly. Discount season is in full blossom and somehow cannot be ignored for too long. The satisfaction I get from saving and spending is beyond me. When my phone buzzes because I have just received a confirmation email that my item(s) have either gone through or shipped is ironically priceless—and although I do my best not to overdo it, sometimes I feel engrossed by it. So, then I must wonder: who is really in control here? You, or your ego dressed up as your psyche, telling you that if you don’t have this or that then you are critically futile? And why does the feeling make me feel so uneasy after it’s all said and done?

I often pride myself at being a rather fruitful shopper. I usually know what I want, how it works, why it works, etc. I don’t usually steer too far from that logic, because I prefer it. I like things all laid out, but every now and then I will play fast and loose if I have a good enough feeling about something. However, I never want to feel too overwhelmed by choices, because they can get very overwhelming and very expensive very quickly. The things that I don’t anticipate getting at times can often affect the flow and mood overall and that aspect I loathe.

But I would be incredibly dishonest if I didn’t say that I felt the pressure to get certain things in fear that I would be missing out on a certain experience or an opportunity. It’s like you must weigh all your options in a lot of what you buy, and you honestly have to think about whether this is pertinent to your prosperity or not.

Shopping for a lot of people can either be a leisure pursuit or dependency. “FOMO” is an acronym that was popularized by author and Harvard MBA Patrick J. McGinnis back in 2004 that is short for “the fear of missing out.” Whenever I feel myself getting something just for the sake of getting something, I must reevaluate why that is. Am I doing it for me or is it pure FOMO? As author Mark Manson once put it in the article “THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE INSTAGRAM”:

“FOMO is becoming a big issue with our generation for the simple fact that our generation has the most options and choices to choose from. This has been famously called “The Paradox of Choice” and it’s pretty much why the more amazing things get, the less happy we all become.”

There is this idealism that more is better. We often get vexed about being out of the loop with culture, trends all relating to that of buying things (and we do like buying things over here, so don’t get me wrong). But at what cost? We all want to feel like we are a part of something just like everyone else, but this feeling to feel “a part of a whole,” can make us feel suppressed and underwhelmed at times.

The feeling of dissatisfaction can be real, as I’m sure we all have experienced at one time or another with a purchase, and not because it wasn’t what we wanted, or the quality was horrendous but because we were just over it already. It was what I like to call a, “on a high purchase.” We knew we didn’t need it, but we bought it anyway because why not?

The truth is shopping isn’t the enemy. Nor is shopping on a whim from time to time. It is the idea behind the shopping that matters. If you feel hungover after doing it then simply reevaluate why that is and mend it if possible. The concept is to be fully conscious of said purchases, so that way we can have little to no regrets.

In the past year I can honestly say that this has been the case with me and my purchasing habits. Not perfect but that’s not the goal. Although, I am still in the early phases of doing better, I honestly don’t have too many recent buyers’ remorse. One of my favorite mottos are, “you can always return it.”  

I do have loads of respect for the concept of minimalism. The ideology that you do not belong to your belongings and your belongings do not belong to you—could be mediated on and honestly should be.







Saturday, June 23, 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Vim Mood is excited to present the Bold Women Who Lead event. There will be networking and an interactive panel focusing on topics surrounding women and leadership across various industries among art, fashion, beauty, business and lifestyle. Learn more about our Speaker Line-up below:


lightning round speaker line-up

Lindsay Boccardo Headshot 2018.JPG

Lindsay Boccardo

I graduated from college and shared the news with my parents: I’m not going to grad school OR getting a job! I’m gonna travel the world in a rock band. I played drums on a pool table in Mexico City, played in maximum security prisons, and underground clubs in Europe. I found my love and passion was actually in the people we’d talk to before and after concerts. I realized that I wanted to help them feel something new and fresh.

I left the road after 6 years and went back to school to be a career coach. My colleagues became executive coaches and I took all that I learned and brought it to Millennials. The youngest generation in the workplace. I built a private practice with young professional clients and after a few years, realized that bosses and company owners wanted to get in on the changes they were seeing in my clients. I now work with several companies in Indianapolis and speak regularly on how to design the career you want (that’s more exciting than binging on Netflix!)


Juanita Ingram

Juanita Ingram, Esq. is an US licensed attorney and author. She is the founder and Board of Trustee Chairman of Dress for Success Greater London. She is also the current Assistant General Counsel at Allegion PLLC. She was awarded the Up and Coming Leadership in Law Award as well as Top 40 under 40 Professional Award. As an advocate for young girls and women, she travels internationally speaking on various topics regarding female empowerment and self-worth throughout the US, Europe & the UK. She is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Tennessee State University, along with her MBA and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of Memphis. She is a wife and mother of two currently resides in America after living in London for the past four years.

Juanita is the first African-American woman to compete and win the title of Mrs. Indiana United States in 2007, national title of Mrs. US Beauties 2009, and has since gone on to compete and become the first African-American Ms. World International 2012, Mrs. Great Britain World 2011, Mrs. Universe UK 2013, and Mrs. UK International 2014. She was also the fitness, interview, photogenic, and career achievement award winner at the 2011 and 2017 Mrs. Indiana America competition. Madame Noir acknowledged her as one of the Top 7 Black Women in Pageantry to turn Beauty into Business along with Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, and Vanessa Williams.

She recently concluded her international book tour having published a multi-ethnic Christian children’s series The Wonderfully Made Pals Presents, which includes the publications Kind Kinsley, Wonderfully Made Wanita, Confident Kenan, and Generous Gregerio. She also published two Christian inspirational books for women, Winning with Christ – Finding the Victory in Every Experience and Beauty for Ashes – Transforming Testimonies for Every Woman. Her third inspirational book for women, Fabulous, Faithful, and Free, will be released next month.

To learn more visit www.iamjuanitaingram.com.


PANELIST & moderator LINE-UP


Aicha Balde

Tales & Turbans is a lifestyle blog created with the millennial mom in mind. It’s a space to come for inspiration, conversation, tips and how-to’s on all things motherhood, fashion, travel, and even food.

Aicha, the creator of Tales & Turbans, captures the moments that matter the most, to the modern mom. She, like many moms, gives all she has to her family.  So, she understands that moms need love too. After working, going to school, being a super mom (and wife if you’re like Aicha) and everything things else that needs to get done, moms need a space to relate, be creative, share ideas, and just hang out. T & T is that space. It’s not just a lifestyle blog, it’s a community.


Danelle French

Danelle French is an Indianapolis based makeup artist and esthetician. She graduated From IU with a BA in Communication then went on to Honors Beauty College to get a license in Esthetics. Her makeup work has been published in numerous fashion magazines and she works with high end clients such as Macy's and Finishline. She also makes time to regularly raise money for charities and recently produced and directed a documentary with all the proceeds going to the Human Rights Campaign. 


Lexi Hiland

Lexi Hiland is an Indianapolis based filmmaker and editor with a love for adventure, mission and the conversation of home and family.  Before the age of four, she had lived in two different countries and four different houses. As a cross-cultural citizen, the themes of identity and culture are prominent topics that she enjoys discussing with others. Her adoption from Colombia has led her to share her story through the art of film and she encourages others to share their story too. She is a fellow with the Mitch Daniel's Leadership Foundation, striving to create an Indianapolis where everyone (especially the younger generations of women) are able to thrive in their vocation. She currently lives in Broad Ripple with her furry child, Maven. 


Kat Marris

Kat Marris is a local Indianapolis chef, e-cookbook author and food blogger. She focuses on meal prepping healthy food that is easy to make and delicious. She writes and develops healthy recipes for her blog Fresh and Balanced, www.freshandbalanced.com, and shares meal prep and healthy eating tips and tricks on her Instagram (@katmarris). She also creates weekly meal prep menu’s and cooking instructions for her Ready, Set, Go! Meal Prep Program. Kat teaches private cooking lessons and presents group cooking demos that focus on healthy cooking techniques and other topics. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communication and attended the Art Institute of Indianapolis culinary school to become a chef. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two cats. 


     Deonna Craig

Deonna Craig is an Indianapolis based visual artist and the owner of DC's heARTbeat. She graduated from Cathedral High School and DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Sociology. Her eclectic spirit let her down various career paths from production assistant for the Jerry Springer talk show to Insurance where she honed her leadership skills in management and training. After spending 14 years in Corporate America, Deonna's creativity and love for adventure caused her to pursue art full-time. 

As an entrepreneur, Deonna is able to pursue her passions of community building, teaching, public speaking, and of course visual art. She has received great recognition for her work in the cultural community. She also serves as a mentor, a dance instructor, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. 

DC's heARTbeat provides original artwork, live painting experiences, painting classes, and art therapy. Her unique work has been featured in various galleries and trade shows over the past 8 years. To learn more about Deonna Craig be sure to connect with her!


IG: deonna_heartbeat

Email: deonnacraig@yahoo.com

Website: deonnacraigart.com



Natalie Murdock

Natalie is a rising Junior at Purdue University. She is currently majoring in Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is also pursuing a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She enjoys singing, writing, and is deeply invested in her relationship with God. Natalie will be serving as the Vice President of the Students of Purdue Against Racism Coalition in the fall at Purdue, and she was most recently named the 2018 500 Festival Queen Scholar.  She is thrilled to serve in any capacity and is looking forward to serving you. 



Photographed by Norman Cacho

Photographed by Norman Cacho


A Question and Answer with visual artist and art director Jade Purple Brown ( @jadepurplebrown


What does a busy morning look like for you?

I normally wake up around 5 am to spend a few hours catching up on freelance work and returning emails. After that, I'll write out a list of everything that needs to get accomplished for the day and then start doing my hair & makeup so I can head out to my full-time job. I work at Moroccanonoil as a Digital Designer. So, I hop on the train and head to the upper east side to be in the office around 9 am. 

Are you listening to anyone good at the moment? Who’s on your musical playlist that we should check out? 

Lately, I've been having Majiid Jordan and DVSN on repeat. You'll love them both if you're into alternative R&B. 

How did you get started? 

I went to school for fashion marketing and management because I originally wanted to pursue a career in styling. While I was in the program they taught us the basics of photoshop, illustrator & InDesign to create marketing materials, and I quickly fell in love. With the help of online tutorials, I started using the programs in my own time to create wacky designs. I slowly started to figure out that my true passion was graphic design and that I had a natural talent for it. 

Who were some of your inspirations early on when you first started graphic design and illustrations? 

I was really into experimental/psychedelic digital art when I first started. Artist & Designer, Leif Podhajsky were huge inspirations to me, as I used to work with dark yet punchy color palettes and incorporate organic patterns/textures similar to his work. 

What are some of your responsibilities as an art director? Was that a natural progression for you as a graphic artist? 

My main responsibility is coming up with visual concepts for still life and on-figure photography for digital platforms and ad campaigns. This includes working with a photographer and stylist to make sure that images are produced to reflect the concept of the shoot and that all objectives are filled. Design and art direction go hand and hand so it can be very natural to me.

What inspires you now? 

70's interior designs, simple color blocking, and powerful women with grace & style.


What has been your favorite project to work on? Why?

I really enjoyed working with Toyota to create content for their social platforms. That was the first project that I felt like I was hired solely for my own personal style, which gave me the confidence to go crazy and not limit myself one bit. 

How would you describe your personal style (fashion wise)? 

Being comfortable is key to me. I love simple no fuss outfits that I can just put on and go. My everyday look normally consists of high waisted denim pants, a vintage t-shirt, big gold hoops, and a pair of comfy sneakers.

How would you describe your artistic style? 

I love to create unexpected art that’s a visual feast for the eyes and explores different relationships between shape and color, and powerful women.  



What do you think has made you unique amongst your contemporaries?

I think my dynamic use of color and texture and my abstract interpretations of women has really set me apart from the crowd. 

Do you remember the first piece you created? 

My dad actually has my first painting from preschool framed. It's an abstract watercolor piece with swirls of green and purple. 

What’s your own personal motto?  

"Create Your Own World" is something I always repeat to myself. It is a reminder that there are no limitations and that I can create the wold I want through hard work and consistency. 

What’s empowering to you as a creative? 

Knowing that I have the ability to bring something that's floating in my mind into existence is the most empowering thing. I'm constantly encouraged to keep experimenting and keep pushing my art forward. 

What do you want people to take away from your designs/illustrations? 

My number one goal is to encourage others to be more optimistic and free. I hope my work brings joy to each viewer, even if it is just for a few seconds. 

What’s the thing you heard the most when you were starting out? 

You can do anything if you put your mind to it.  


Don't forget to check out JADEPURPLEBROWN.COM




By Bethany Reed, (@brrphoto



Whether I am working on an idea of my own or helping to produce someone else’s idea, my workflow [when approaching a fashion shoot] is usually always the same. The very first thing I do is look for inspiration to start putting together a mood board - so that way when I do present my idea to whoever I am asking to be on board, [like a modeling agency], they immediately have an idea of what I want to do. A mood board/vision board is a collection of images (or sometimes even physical materials/text) that can help get across the concept of the shoot. I use this to help pin down hair, makeup, location, wardrobe, and the overall mood of the shoot. Pinterest is amazing!

Here is a mood board from a recent shoot of mine. The idea was to go over to Sun Valley, where Southern CA was recently hit with some pretty horrible fires to find some charred up spots to shoot in. That was really the bones of the shoot and we built it from there. The model knew of an amazing HMUA (hair and makeup artist) and the two of them exchanged some ideas that she later shared them with me. Later, I added that to my mood board. I tried to include sample images of the location as well as some props I wanted to try, and some wardrobe and posing inspo.



After we set a date that worked for all of us my last step was to find a stylist. I used to really love styling all of my own shoots but having a professional stylist on board elevates the shoot to another level, especially if it’s an editorial. Financially, it makes more sense right now as well since I used to buy/thrift all of  my own pieces, and that really adds up quickly. Once the stylist was confirmed I was then able to create a Call Sheet (essentially a schedule of the day that also includes the entire team’s contact information and the shoot details. I also include my mood board on my call sheet) and send it out to everyone. When working through a model's agent, it is imperative to keep them in the loop and make sure they receive all of this information as well.

Day Of

On shoot days I’m always super nervous. Especially because as the photographer, if you’re not setting up a studio or prepping in another way, the first hour or two of the shoot you’re just sitting around waiting for the model to finish hair and makeup and planning out shots in your head.

This particular shoot I wanted to be more editorial than my recent work so when shooting, my focus was centered heavily on posing. This is where working with an experienced model was a must for me - I love weird and unusual movement and exaggerated angles and not all models know how to move that way. I used my wide angle (24-70mm) lens a lot of this day to really exaggerate the model and capture how amazing our location was. I also had a separate filter with me that I had covered with a thin layer of chap-stick to give some of the images this pretty hazy feel. If i’m not using that I’m using my Sigma Art 50mm for the tighter shots.

On test shoots it is also my job to remember to not only shoot for myself, but to get shots focused on the styling and the hair/makeup so that every member of the team has usable images.

We were only able to shoot three looks that day because we ran out of light, and hair/makeup was changed after each look. If you’re hoping to submit for publication you probably want to have anywhere from 4-7 looks, although there are plenty of publications that accept way fewer looks. We also had a later call time than I prefer, but due to scheduling sometimes that is unavoidable. The earlier the better is my motto because there are usually problems to solve and if you start early you have time to solve them. 


Although I don’t always follow this rule, I TRY to import my images into Lightroom immediately after the shoot and back them up to a drive just in case. After that I go through all of the images and star my favorites, then I send those in contact sheets to the team so they can pick their selects. I don’t always know what to look for in hair and makeup shots so I value the opinions of my team. If working through an agency I also send the contact sheets their way so they can pick their choices to be retouched. I am notorious for spreading myself too thin and retouching way too many images but it is not uncommon to only receive a handful of photos from a test shoot - especially since time is money and no one was being paid. 

Here is a sample image from our shoot and a brief run-down of my retouching workflow:

-  First I do global adjustments in Lightroom. 
(adjusting highlights and shadows as well as color sometimes and enabling profile corrections.)

- Then, from Lightroom I open the image in Photoshop to do more detailed retouching.

- Once I am satisfied I save the images back into Lightroom and add any finishing touches. 99% of the time there is some grain. For this, I look to see that those changes are subtle. I try to keep my retouching as realistic as possible. 


Photographed by Bethany Reed

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Here are some rules I follow when shooting fashion:

- Usually I shoot the model BELOW eye level; this helps elongate them.

- I also Keep a close eye on wardrobe - it’s the little things that can turn a beautiful image into a messy one.

- If your model has their hands in their pockets, remember THUMBS OUT! Otherwise they have wrists with no hands attached.

- I often carry around reference poses on my phone for models who aren't as experienced or to make sure we get a similar shot.




By Lamya Cruz

VIM MOOD CHAT: Founder and Designer, Jen Zeano of jenzeanodesigns.com

How do you get the attention of a well-to-do celebrity, and have them wear your merchandise, you ask? Jen Zeano, 25, operates a fun and stylish lifestyle brand that has attracted the attention from several notable rising starts. Her designs empower women and Latina's. Zeano discusses embracing your passion, perseverance, and the real story behind--producer, entrepreneur and Golden Globe Award winning actress, Gina Rodriguez rocking one of Zeano's best-selling t-shirts. 


JEN ZEANO: I am married, I have been married to my wife, [Veronica] for a little over three years. I'm twenty-five and I have two fur babies; a bunny and a dog. I actually went to school for social work and psychology, which I know is completely different from what I am currently doing, but I tried being in the field and I just didn't like having a boss. (Laughs) So I just decided to do my own thing.


JEN ZEANO:When I was in high school I thought, 'I wanted to be a psychologist—that’s what I want to do. I want to be a marriage counselor--that's my calling in life. I have to do it!' So, I went four years in college, and I got an associate’s in social work, so that I could start working in the field. But, I couldn’t land a job. So I was like, ‘that’s okay, I’m gonna get my bachelors.’ I ended up getting my bachelors back in 2014 and I still couldn’t land a job... I live in a small town. I live in a border town, actually. So, Mexico is just a few minutes away. But because of that same reason, I think that’s why there wasn’t many job opportunities. I just couldn’t find a job that I felt I was going to love. So, I actually started working for the state of Texas and I did that for about a year and it was so draining—having to work eight to five, and it was just the same thing over and over again; I just hated it. I hated it. Then I started working for a foster care agency and I really actually enjoyed that, but I just didn’t like having a boss. I didn’t like having a schedule, and the routine was just so boring for me that I had to find something else to do with my life that was actually going to bring me happiness, and that I could be able to bring that happiness to other people. I quit my job and thought, ‘what can I do that was going to bring me happiness and either help other people out or bring them happiness as well.’ And that’s when I was like, I have to create something that is all about positivity and girl power! So I just did it, and it’s kind of just has been taking off and I can’t even believe where we are right now.


JEN ZEANO: Yes, I believe it was May of last year, so it’s been a little bit over a year… I was so determined to make this work. I said to myself, ‘this is what is going to make me happy and I have to make this work.’ So I have just been hustling, because I refuse for it not to work.  


JEN ZEANO: I can’t say that it was always something that I wanted to do. It was just something that caught my attention. But then once I started doing it, I just wanted to keep doing it! It’s like my favorite part of the job; having new designs and new ideas, that's my favorite part of owning my business. Everything is usually inspired by my culture. So, like I mentioned, I am on a border town. We have Montemorelos literally a few minutes away and my whole family is over there. My parents go all the time, so sometimes I’ll like tag along. That’s usually where most of my inspiration comes from, I mean music… just our entire culture. Even food sometimes.


JEN ZEANO: I think our ‘Latina Power’ shirt really made our business take off. That shirt has been our best seller for months. I think it is going to continue to be our best seller for a while.


JEN ZEANO: My whole mission behind having the clothing line is to empower women. Because I am Latina, I tend to gravitate to encouraging other Latinas. I love to support other women that are running their own businesses and other women who are just supporting us and all of their endeavors. There are so many girls sending me pictures taking off their cap and gown wearing their ‘Latina Power’ t-shirt underneath, and I am just so inspired by that. You know, it keeps me going—it drives me. My whole mission is to keep on spreading girl power and Latina power. I love, love, love when it’s a topic of conversation, when someone sees you wearing the shirt and it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m Latina too!’ Before you know it, you’re bonding over something that’s just so beautiful.


JEN ZEANO: Honestly, I had no idea when I first started. No idea. I just kind of dived right in. We actually started the business back in May with only three mugs and one shirt. We don’t even sell mugs anymore (laughs), because we just wanted to see how it would go and then we had that one shirt—and I think I only ordered about fifteen shirts. I was like, ‘let’s see if this works, let’s see if they sell, let’s see if I can get people to get on board’—and they did. Then, from one shirt we are currently at [I think] ten t-shirts that we have on our website right now. And we’ve added pins, stickers, caps, and it’s just been growing. Honestly, I had no clue what I was doing when I started. Sometimes, I still don’t know what I am doing (laughs), but it’s just been a learning process the whole time.


JEN ZEANO: Totally! It still happens sometimes. Sometimes I’m just so overwhelmed that I’m like, ‘What did I get myself into?’ But, even when I’m so overwhelmed and so stressed I’m still thinking about the next idea. And that’s when I’m like ‘there is no way you are ever going to stop doing this because you are already thinking about a month down the line of what product you are going to release. Especially in the beginning. There were so many times when I was thinking, ‘maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. Maybe I need to find something else.’ Because, I didn’t go to school for like coding or web design or anything like that. So the whole technical aspect was like a nightmare for me. I just did not know where to start or how to start a shop online or how to do taxes… But I love it so much. I just keep pushing and I keep researching and learning; it’s been pretty amazing. But, there is always at some point that doubt that crosses your mind, but I’ve kept at it.   


JEN ZEANO: I think the most empowering thing you can do for yourself is bet on yourself. Believe in yourself, and just whatever you want to do with your life, just go for it! Whether it’s opening up your own business or going to school to be a lawyer, a doctor, you know… You just have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it. If you set your mind to it—go for it. A lot of the time we feel we have to doubt [ourselves] and question if we’re worth it or not. I think the answer should always be, 'Yes! I’m worth it.' And, 'Yes, I can do this!' You know, it’s just knowing in the back of your head no matter what happens you can be successful. Once you believe in yourself or your mission—then other people will believe in you too.


JEN ZEANO: Oh my God, it was so surreal! I have no other word for it. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that even happened. How did I make that happen?!


JEN ZEANO: I’m gonna tell the whole story and I don’t even think I’ve ever told the whole story. I actually tweeted her and I said something along the lines of, ‘What do I have to do to get you to wear one of my shirts?’ And she tweeted me back, and she was like, ‘I would love to rock this! Send it to me.’ And you know, I had a major panic attack. The fun part was afterwards because she told me to send it to her, but didn’t tell me where to… So, I was like, ‘Okay’—after I did my happy dance, running around the house, calling everyone [including my mom], I was like, ‘How do I get it to her?’ I mean it wasn’t like I had her home address. So, I did some major stalking (laughs) and I am sure when she hears this she’s going to laugh, because I googled and googled and spent hours trying to figure out where to send the shirt to, and I finally found somebody that was friends with her manager. I contacted her and I shipped the shirt to her and she gave it to her manager and her manager gave it to Gina... Not at all glamorous—it took a while. (Laughs)  You know, once she got it, I kid you not, it must have been probably like three or four days after that and she had posted a picture of it. So I was on cloud nine, because she obviously must have remembered that I was going to send her the shirt and she wore it and I was like over the moon excited!


JEN ZEANO: Yeah! I mean obviously she has such a huge following and she has such a big message of Latina empowerment and she has been amazing and now she just had that Latina luncheon and all that kind of stuff... It’s just so amazing to see her do well and to share this message of spreading empowerment for Latinas. I wish that I could sit down with her and have some coffee, you know after fan girling (laughs).   


JEN ZEANO: I like to spend time with my family, go to the park with my dog, Netflix—I tend to be obsessed with Netflix and Hulu. I am obsessed with Stranger Things and it is so good! I love to watch The Mindy Project, which is over. But, it was so good! Jane the Virgin on Netflix too (gotta support Gina!). There are just so many good things to watch. I could literally spend all day watching Netflix, if I had the time.


JEN ZEANO: I think that I have learned how determined I can be. A lot of times when I was younger I felt like I wasn’t good at sticking to something, like a job—I would quit my jobs. So I would think that I was a quitter, because I didn’t like my job and I would leave. But, I have learned that it’s not that I was being a quitter; I had to just find something that was going to make me happy. Once I found that, I realized how determined I could be. There’s a lot of times when this business gets really hard and I’m like, ‘Is this worth it; to keep going?’ Then I am like, ‘Of course it is because it’s making you happy and other people happy.’ We really need to be heard, especially right now. So I have learned that determination is key and I like to think that I have that. I will literally do everything in my power to make it happen. I had to find my calling and something that was really going to make it okay to spend all day at a desk designing stuff, or all day packaging orders—it makes me happy. And I love sending out packages, and I always write a personalized thank you card on every order, because I want them to feel like I really care about them and the message I’m trying to spread.

Follow Jen Zeano on Twitter and Instagram @jenzeanodesigns also don't forget to shop at www.jenzeanodesigns.com 




By, Amanda Neves

This summer I had the opportunity to spend 4 weeks in Rwanda, a country in East Africa. Most people hear Rwanda and think about the movie Hotel Rwanda, automatically assuming Rwanda is a war zone. When I started telling people where I was spending half of my summer, they thought I was crazy. So many people tried to convince me to not go and spend my summer somewhere else, anywhere else but Rwanda. However, when people question or doubt my decision, it gives me the affirmation I need to know that I need to go on this trip to prove everyone’s stereotypes and doubts wrong.

The program I was going through is called Books and Beyond. Books and Beyond is a program that connects elementary school kids in Bloomington, Indiana with elementary students in Rwanda. The students in both places create, write, and illustrate stories that get published into a book. Every year a team of students from Indiana University travel to Rwanda for four weeks to lead an English literacy camp that helps the students in Rwanda write their stories. So, when I learned I was going to be able to give back AND get out of Indiana for four weeks, I was locked in.

The journey to get to Rwanda was a very long one, a 40-hour journey to be exact. The first week there was spent doing tourist things such as a safari, visiting museums, eating at different restaurants, and just touring the city. The second week, we moved into our house that we were going to be staying at and started training to teach the next week. We were all paired with a Rwandan teacher and given a subject to teach. I was paired with Julienne, who was absolutely amazing, and I was teaching Kinesthetic. Basically, I was using games, songs, and hands on activities to teach common English. I was so ready to begin teaching but my spirits started to become low. I was really missing home and felt like I was missing out on all the fun everyone else was having during their summer, and it did not help that I was coming down with a cold.

So, the day came for us to go to the school, every possible feeling that you could imagine, I was going through. We had to walk up this hill to get there; mind you we’re in the mountains, so everyone is having a hard time breathing—and we’re all already tired climbing up this hill. Then we hear it. Hundreds of kids screaming and yelling while running down to come meet us. I have never in my life felt that my presence was as important as it was that day for those kids. We handed out the book they wrote the year before to every student and then we were introduced to our classes. The next two weeks, we were teaching in the morning and helped to build a playground in the afternoon. (Fun fact, the playground we helped build was the first one to ever be built in that city.) Our last day at the school, the students put on a performance where they sang the song I taught them, performed a play, and read the stories they wrote, for everyone in the town. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing to do. Some of my students cried, which made me cry, and honestly I never thought I could impact anybody the way they allowed me to impact them.

I left that school that day with my student’s confidence at an all-time high. At the beginning of the literacy camp, no one ever wanted to volunteer or raise the hand but by the end, everyone was willing to answer questions. Not only did my student’s confidence grow, but mine did as well. Coming back to school this year, I’ve been more open to trying new things and just being a more well-rounded and outgoing person overall. If I could go back and relive my experience, I would in a heartbeat. I miss my students, my friends, and everything else about Rwanda.