I Moved to London! One Month Update

I’ve tried to write this blog a few times now, but I keep getting carried away in the details, and then it gets unmanageable-level long… so, this is what I have to say after officially reaching one month in the UK, all in bullet form to try to keep it as short as humanly possible for me:

  • The Brits are some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered. I can’t utter a single complaint about my time here, because basically everywhere I’ve been I’ve found a nice person to help me with what I needed. Whether it was my countless bank visits to try setting up my bank account, my apartment search, the people I encounter on a daily basis, etc. I feel truly welcome here. Thank you England! (writing this as an American expat on 4th of July just… the irony writes itself).
  • Everyone that finds out I moved here from Miami asks “why?!” followed up by “how are you dealing with the weather?” and it’s hilarious to me. I HATE being hot, I hate sweating, I hate the heat, and I’m just not made for warm climates. I am living my best life in this British summer that took its sweet time to appear, where there’s lots of sun but a chill breeze. It’s my perfect, ideal climate. We’ll see how I feel in January/February when #WinterIsHere, but I think I’ll be fine.
  • I’m so beyond proud of myself. I knew it was ballsy to move alone, but I just kept thinking of all the people that leave Venezuela or conflict areas, with no guarantees, no money, nothing. Yes, I left the comfort of my home, but to go to a place where I already had a job, knew the language, and would just have to settle in. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it also doesn’t qualify as unimaginable as what others have had to endure. But going through the motions of settling in quicker than most is not what I’m most proud of. I have gone out of my comfort zone and gone beyond the standard needs to not only get settled but try and build a life here. I’ve tried to make friends, I’ve gone to festivals, concerts, movies, plays, fitness groups, bars, etc. all alone. That hasn’t been easy, and it’s what gives me the most pride. I’m an introverted homebody with *some* extroverted party girl tendencies, but the former is stronger within, so it’s taken a LOT for me to keep doing it.
  • I thought I knew more about London, but honestly I’m basically surprised on a daily basis with new areas I hadn’t heard of, places to see, phrases to learn, etc. I am learning so much about London, and I’m learning almost as much about myself. It’s been a really great learning experience so far, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.
  • I’m not as homesick as I thought I would be. I miss my family, I miss my friends, but technology is a blessing that has helped me stay connected to all the people I love, managing the distance as well as could be. I can’t imagine how people moved decades ago when the best way to communicate was snail mail that took months to arrive. I love FaceTiming my family and receiving calls, texts, comments, even packages from my friends, all of which has kept me strong. The one thing I miss the most are hugs. I’m a huge touchy-feely person, and nothing feels like a good, genuine, heartfelt hug like so many of the ones I received when I left. My friends and family really filled up my hug-tank before leaving, so I’m thankful because truly it’s what I feel like I’m lacking in most here. Looking forward to building those friendships here that can feel like a hug from home soon enough.
  • Support comes from where you least expect it. People have reached out to me upon seeing my posts on social media that I haven’t spoken to in years to encourage me and cheer me on, many of whom have also moved themselves. It’s been very eye-opening to see everyone who cares, and I appreciate it beyond what I can say with words ❤

And I think that’s about where I should end this. I’m so thankful to all of you who have reached out and stayed in touch and checked up on me throughout these past weeks. It’s meant the world. I’m so thankful for my job and my colleagues who have been so understanding with the move. I’m so fulfilled by all I’ve experienced, and excited for all that is to come. I’ll do another post with a summary of all the things I’ve done so far, what I’ve liked, what I haven’t, etc. just to keep things digestible. Love you all!

I’m Moving! Welcome to my own personal #Brexit

You want the tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea, so help you gawd? (*tea* has never been more appropriate, haha, UK I’m READY for ya!)

Hello friends! A Facebook status wasn’t enough to capture all of this, so here we are. First, let’s get the Q&A out of the way, based on FAQ I’ve received as I’ve told people about my move:

  1. Omg you’re moving to London? Why?
    • I’ve been thinking about moving away and having that experience of starting over for the past six years, and just didn’t get a concrete plan that made sense until now. I almost went to France to get a Master’s… until I remembered I didn’t like school.
  2. What are you going to do for work?
    • Just as I was looking into my move, Nytro Marketing (the company I work for) was looking for talent. It just so happens that my desire to move perfectly fit with the fact that all Nytronians work remotely so I could do my job from anywhere AND there was demand for support from customers in the UK, so it all fell into place seamlessly.
  3. Where are you going to live?
    • I don’t know. I have never been to London before, which makes this move all the more awesome/crazier. I have only acquaintances there, no one I feel comfortable reaching out to. Anyway, you can’t rent a place without a bank account. My plan is to get there, stay at an Air B&B type of place for a bit until I find an area I like and then get myself a *flat*. (ready I tell ya)
  4. How long are you going for?
    • I don’t know. I’m leaving, I have no concrete plans to return or stay within a set timeline. Depending on work and how I feel once I’ve been there for some time, I’ll decide.

Now that the basics are out of the way, I can share a little more about what it’s been like to make this happen. I made the decision to leave back in September of 2017. At the time, I didn’t know where I was going, all I knew is that I had the support and encouragement of my parents. My top choices were: Bogota (most of my family is in Colombia, I love the weather, and I felt it was enough of a move yet still close, so it wasn’t completely terrifying), Canada (love the healthcare, and I have been before so it seemed familiar and close geographically), Europe (the only two places I considered moving to in Europe were France and England. France is one of my favorite places in the world and I’ve dreamt of going back ever since I lived there in 2005, but my French is RUSTY AF, so I didn’t want to add a language barrier to the difficulty of the move. That made England the European top contender), and Australia. Australia was the most far-fetched, literally because it’s so far, but I genuinely thought about it because 1. English and 2. It seems like they have a great quality of life, so why not? My dad was keen on Europe from the beginning, but I didn’t want him to sway me. I forget sometimes parents know you better than you know yourself…

As the months went by, I went through a roller coaster of emotions, mind-changes, mood swings, and action plans. At one point, I actually found a company that had offices in a few countries including Colombia & England, I loved what they stood for. They had an opening in Bogota that perfectly encompassed my experience and strengths, and I thought this would be the ideal slingshot to get to London, kind of like a slow move towards what I wanted, but paced out and it made me feel less fearful of the prospect of moving. I interviewed with them and moved along in the process… and that’s when I realized I was cheating myself and extending the inevitable. I wanted to be in London, and I knew it deep down, but I resisted it. It took a looooot of talking through with the best sounding boards to ever be – my mom and dad – but I finally faced myself and withdrew from the candidate selection process for this company. I was honest about my why, and they told me to keep them in mind if I made it to London.

Why London? Well, there’s no specific answer. I have never been, but there are two places in the world that always called to me before visiting and for no particular reason: Chicago and London. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Chicago twice now, and I still don’t know what draws me to it, but it’s there. London I have a little bit more of a connection with. Though these are by no means qualifiers for a reason to move, I have always been mesmerized by UK artists. Ed Sheeran is my favorite singer. I have a very deep obsession with Amy Winehouse that I share with my dad, and of course Adele reigns supreme. JK Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. My favorite actor is James McAvoy, and don’t get me started on what Idris Elba does to my hormones. I worship Kate Beckinsale. Seems all my favorites come from the other side of the pond. But I digress…

Back to square one, I started looking at job postings in the UK, blogs about how moving there is so hard (so discouraging, I would read a blog, close my computer, get in the fetal position and wrap myself in my blankets and doubts of how I would make this happen). But life works in funny ways and sometimes what you want can work its way to you while you’re lost in the search. As I mentioned in the Q&A, Nytro had its needs and I had mine, and they just so happened to fit perfectly and we found each other in that intersection. We were both honest from the beginning, and it’s been a dream to work for and with these amazing professionals that encouraged me every step of the way, offered more help than I could’ve asked for, and constantly proved that things happen how and when they’re meant to.

So here we are. I’m writing this to help me process it all, because I don’t think I have. It’s been close to a year since I knew where I was going and how I would get there, to the point where some of my friends don’t believe that I’m leaving and said they’d stop asking until I booked my flight. Well, cha ching y’all. It’s booked.

Some things I’m excited about/I’ve focused on to reassure myself I’ll be fine:

  1. I truly hate being hot, so I’m happy about getting to experience a predominantly colder climate. I got an awesome winter-appropriate puffer jacket last Black Friday, part of the little by little move.
  2. I’ve heard that the lack of sunshine can trigger depression a bit and since I’m definitely a sensitive human, I’ve looked into SAD Lamps, especially for the winter time. Hopefully since I’m arriving in “summer,” I’ll have time to acclimate slowly.
  3. You know when you’re aware of something, you see it everywhere? Ever since I knew London was “it,” I feel like London is mentioned in every song/movie/show, it’s INSANE. Even when I was looking for the puffer jackets, the one I bought was from London Fog. I couldn’t avoid it if I tried. On my most recent trip as I was going through the security line, I ended up striking conversations with the people around me, they were all visiting or living in London and telling me how much I’d love it. It felt like the universe reassuring me.
  4. Zumba. You better believe I’ve been following London studios and instructors for months and one of the things I want to take into consideration when finding where to live is the proximity to gyms that offer classes. This plus my work will be the only familiar things I get to take with me, so I’m hyper aware of making that a central point to my search.
  5. UK TV! I am OBSESSED with all the content the BBC puts out, and I just can’t wait to be exposed to that programming 24/7.

I want to make a point that throughout this journey, one of the most important factors that contributed to it was honesty. I had to be honest with myself, with the companies I interviewed with, and with the people closest to me in order for things to fall into place. And I wouldn’t have made it this far without it.

I think this post is already long enough, so I’m ending this by saying: I’m ecstatic and terrified, all at once. It feels like I’m doing what I’m supposed to, and what matters is that I’m open to whatever this experience brings me, which I assume will be a lot of personal and professional growth. With that, I say cheerio to you all and will leave you with one request: I am TERRIBLE at reaching out to people and staying in touch. If you ever think of me, please say hi! I promise I probably have thought about it but won’t do it for some odd psychological reason…

If you’d like me to document big moments of my journey here, any challenges, setbacks, etc. beyond what one would normally share in social media, let me know!

My Makeup Journey

To many of you, it might seem odd to read me talking about makeup in my blog about crafting… but when you think about it, makeup is an art form designed to decorate your face/showcase your features in ways it doesn’t show naturally and thus, it’s something I thought I’d share with you guys! Also, if you let me get away with the “to travel well is a craft” idea to include my travel blogs here, then this is not that big of a stretch 😉

As the title of this blog entry indicates, makeup for me has been a journey, with many moments of really feeling the power of makeup to its full extent, to full-on “my bare face would’ve looked better” staring contests with the mirror. Having other people do my makeup helped me realize that my eye-shape is not something everyone can do well, and I need to know the credentials of the makeup artist (MUA) before booking as I had many experiences where I was unhappy with my final look, probably because the MUA lacked proper training – or frankly – talent.

When I was little, the makeup of the 90s was very easy to follow as it was very bold, no proper blending needed, and my mom’s makeup bag had everything I needed to make myself feel like a grown little woman. I went to an debutante academy where they taught modeling, dining etiquette, makeup, etc. and I “learned” to do my makeup there, which when looking at my pictures it’s a clear reflection of that 90s wild stamping technique…

It’s funny to think that at that time everyone was saying congratulations for doing such a great job, and it looks like a watercolor mess in my lids haha!

As I went into my teenage years, the makeup trend that took me over by storm was the use of heavy and thick black eyeliner. At this point, many people were getting their top eyelids tattooed, so it was kind of a movement. Looking back, it definitely was not the most flattering look for me, but I was not the only offender by a long shot, so I think I can get away with this particular crime. 

 

Then, as I hit the late high school, early college years, I came to realize something: I did not know how to properly put on eye shadow. Or rather, I couldn’t put it on symmetrically and if I went for a smokey eye, I’d end up looking like I got hit in the eyes. This drove me to a simple winged eyeliner look for every single activity ever, which ended up being my signature routine for years.

Around this time, I also was not aware that my arched eyebrows were criminally thin and not properly framing my face, and sometimes, you couldn’t even see them with the flash. To this day, I constantly berate my friends for being terrible friends for years and letting me out of the house looking like that. I know we all had arched over-plucked eyebrows, but I feel like mine were the WORST. I finally fixed the shape of my eyebrows in April of 2016, but I still didn’t understand the importance of filling them in until that December. And then, I filled them in a little TOO much… 

In late 2016 at 27 years old, I hit the lowest of low points with makeup; my older brother was getting married in Uruguay, which meant I couldn’t use a familiar MUA, but I also didn’t trust myself with a good beat so I wanted to book a professional. I went with a recommendation from the event planner to get my hair and makeup done at a salon my sister in law frequents, and I got taken care of by the owner, who upon hearing that I was the groom’s sister, decided to show off and take “extra special” care of me. She didn’t ask me what I wanted for makeup, but just decided to do a black smokey eye on me when she heard I was wearing a black dress. My hairdo (which was supposed to be a simple pony) was also massively butchered by her, but we’ll stick to the worst makeup experience known to men here. I can’t bring myself to post full pictures of my face here because the internet is forever and I truly looked the worst I have ever looked, but here’s a collage of different parts of my face so you can see the train-wreck that this lady did to me:

Look at my eyes. Both eyes are completely asymmetric in color and where they end. All the fallout under my eyes… Incomprehensible. Now my lips. I have one of the most defined cupid*s bow I have ever seen, and I have no idea how this lady could not follow it…. honorable mention to the bottom left smear. And that horrible horrible color.

No, of course I didn’t go to the wedding like that. I ran to another salon across town that my dad could vouch for because of other good work they had done, and they fixed me *just* in time to not miss the wedding shuttle to the venue.

This event completely subconsciously triggered something in me to want to learn to do makeup so that I’d never go through that feeling of helplessness again. I slowly began to creep on the YouTube makeup channels to see what they had to offer. I watched the gurus for their personalities, and I didn’t really think I was learning anything just from watching, but I was slowly taking in techniques, product recommendations, and more tips than I could realize. Nikkie Tutorials, Jaclyn Hill, Tati Westbrook, James Charles, and others were slowly teaching me the ropes as I built a “how-to” repertoire in the back of my head. In May of 2017, I tried applying fake lashes on for my little brother’s college graduation, and I failed. That was the third time I had attempted to wear them with no luck. Then, the timeline of my makeup confidence started to build as I practiced and didn’t feel like a complete troll each time:

  • July 2017
    I decided to do a themed makeup for a Clasico game between the Real Madrid and Barca teams when they came to play in Miami. As a Barca fan, I wanted something blue and red on my face. I took my time with it and kept it simple and *gasps* attempted to apply fake lashes and I DID IT! I felt like the prettiest girl in that whole stadium that day. I was super over made-up, but I felt so accomplished!

  • August:
    I showed up to one of my good friend’s bridal shower, and my best friend (who is a makeup artist and REALLY REALLY good at makeup) said to me “your makeup looks boss!” and that’s the day that my confidence went through the roof and felt like I was ready to work a Sephora counter lol.

     

  • September:
    My friend was getting married, and I wanted nothing to do with any MUA. So I went for it, and did my own hair and makeup. I practiced all week and went with a neutral look but I swear it took me hours. It’s still my Facebook profile picture, over a year later!

     


  • December
    :
    Another wedding, another makeup look, and this time I wanted to go full dark glam. It might have been a lot, but I felt SO accomplished. It took me about three hours total, with about half the time just on the eye shadow.

 


  • April 2018
    :
    Wedding in DR. Again, it may be hard to tell but between the face and the eyes, this took about two hours (and I messed it up because I blinked too fast while my eyeliner was still drying). I felt like a full-on pro and guru by now.

 

  • November 2018: James Charles X Morphe come out with an artistry palette to kill all palettes, and I decide I have to buy it, and I’ve used it more times in a month than I ever used my Jaclyn Hill palette, which I’ve owned for a year and a half!

On the left, I went for the full cover look of the JCXM palette and I’m in shock that it turned out as pretty as it did! In the middle – first of all, my bathroom lighting makes my hair look like the red of my dreams! – you can’t really see but I tried a cut-crease with a liquid shadow for the first time and it turned out really nice! On the right, I tried a crease shimmer liner based on a Pinterest picture I found and I loved it!

After showing you my journey and sharing all of this with you, I want to make sure to say that I’m still very much learning and evolving in my makeup skill set. Every single time I do my makeup I still doubt myself and whether it will turn out well, but I’m getting better at it and the result always makes me happy. I have learned that the following are musts for me:

  • I need to use tape for my eye shadow: this is a non-negotiable for me. If I’m doing more than a natural look, I need the tape to guide my strokes, otherwise I still look like I got punched. The tape is magic!
  • Good tools are life-changing: it’s no wonder I couldn’t create better looks with a limited 3-4 brush selection from eco-tools. Cheap ends up being expensive, always. I invested in Morphe brushes (which are still some of the most affordable in the industry) and my blend game is forever changed.
  • Good makeup is key too: this is obvious, but when you have the right paint for your canvas, it all works out beautifully. The right primers and bases, good pigments, etc. can all really help you along the journey.
  • Gurus still make mistakes: James, Nikkie, Tati, everyone I look up to can still have a bad makeup day, and so can I. Glitter, false lashes or a beauty blender can usually come to the rescue.

If you feel like there’s something you’d really like to learn, don’t let anything stop you. Practice until you feel comfortable, and make it your own. Learn what works for you, and stick to it. 2017 was a very tough year for me emotionally, but it will always go down as the year I learned the power of makeup and empowered myself through honing in my skills with it.

 

#TravelTuesdays: Five Tips To Traveling Light as a Feather

Ladies and gentlemen. It’s about to be 2019 and there is literally zero excuse to be lugging insane amounts of baggage. Traveling light is the way to go because:

  1. You don’t need three outfit changes and a full shoe selection abroad
  2. TSA and fellow passengers appreciate one less bag in the mix
  3. There’s no feeling like walking into the airport like you own the place because you checked in online and you’re only taking a carry-on so you can move straight through to security!

Trust me, I understand wanting to be stylish and having cute outfits for those pictures that will last you a lifetime, but seriously, if that’s what you’re investing the most time/thought into for your trip (and you’re not a stylist or influencer getting paid for your trip pictures), then, like Ron Weasley wisely said – you need to sort out your priorities.

I come from a family of hoarders that packs like we’re starting a new life over, every single trip. I don’t remember a single travel experience with my parents that didn’t require at least one gigantic suitcase per person, an airport cart to carry them, and sometimes even calling over the airport personnel to help with the load. UNNECESSARY! So please know that I understand the struggle, but I’m here on the other side of the fence, after a victorious nine-day trip to Europe with different daily outfits on a carry-on, to tell you: YOU CAN DO IT! And here are five tips to help you accomplish it:

  1. Plan to wear your bulkier items on you during the flight: if you’re traveling to or from winter, keep your coat on you. If you need boots during the trip, wear them to fly. If you have a bulky sweater or dress, put it in your purse or “personal item” if you can. Free up your carry-on space for what matters.
  2. Pick clothes that are timeless, easy to match, and that complement other pieces you’re bringing: whether you’re picking from your closet or shopping before the trip, make sure the clothes you’re choosing are easy to mix and match with other articles of clothing to make new outfits during the trip. For example, a pair of jeans goes with any type of top, and you only need one pair of jeans. If you stay away from specific patterns or prints, it will be easier to look like you didn’t repeat outfits during the trip.
  3. Plan your outfits ahead of time: this one was a huge help for me in the last trip. I didn’t plan what I’d wear each day, but I mapped out the possible outfit combinations so that I would be sure not to underpack…. (as if!). For example: for nine days in Europe during a cold and rainy fall, I packed: 4 pairs of bottoms (1 jean, 2 jeggings, 1 leggings), 7 knit sweaters, 4 tank tops (for layering), 3 dresses, 2 booties, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 PJs, 12 underwear, 2 bras, 10 pairs of socks, 4 scarves, 2 gloves, 2 hats + hygiene stuff and everything else I carried on me, like the coats. Yes, ALL of that fit in a carry-on bag and personal item! And because I mapped out what I could match with what, I had peace of mind and took less time making outfits each morning. The colors of the clothes were all easy to match and interchangeable and it felt kind of like a clothing line collection that felt cohesive – and chic! Here’s the proof of the outfit variety for the non-believers (and this isn’t even all of them!):

4. Go small (or even solid) with the toiletries: listen, I don’t like wasting time on styling my mane of hair when I travel, so you *know* I needed my dry shampoo, but I took two small canisters instead of one big one that 1. complied with TSA regulations and 2. allowed me to distribute the space better. Now, every airport security has different regulations when it comes to what can go on a carry-on, and even though most are on board with items that contain less than 3 fluid ounces, sometimes you need separate Ziploc bags, or they make you take it out of the plastic bag completely (which when you pack your bag like a game of Tetris can be a real bummer). So when you want to avoid those worries altogether, consider packing solid toiletries! I was shook when I read about these, but seriously – shampoo, lotion, bug repellent, almost anything you can think of has a solid presentation to make your life EASY PEASY at the airport!

5. ROLL, ROLL, ROLL!: I remember my very first attempt to travel on a carry-on like it was yesterday. My friend kept making fun of me for the amount of things I packed for a work trip that was less than a week long, so that fueled my desire to try and do better for my next travel adventure, which was a six-day trip to San Francisco and Napa. I bought a ton of new clothes, had my outfits pre-planned, and when I started packing my folded clothes I realized… they weren’t going to fit. Before the panic set in, I remembered seeing a video where someone rolled the clothes and OH MY GOD. Not only did everything fit, but I even had extra space now! It’s the best thing ever! Except you need to keep your destination/airline regulations in mind because they sometimes do have weight limits on carry-on bags, but when that’s not a concern, hooray!

You could very well say, this is how I roll ::badum tsssss::

Also, can you make out how there are socks coming out of my shoes? Let this be bonus tip #6: shoes make GREAT storage places so pack them to the brim and make their passage useful!

I’m telling you, as far as I’ve come, I still could massively improve on my light traveling skills. I have friends that travel 3-4 weeks on a carry-on + personal item, and one in particular that travels for months on a backpack, and though I worship them, I’m not sure I can get to that level of expertise.

The only downside to traveling light is that you probably don’t have space for many souvenirs, or if you’d like to bring back a bottle of wine or any other liquid, it’s not allowed on board; however, since airlines have gotten so strict and selfish with their space, many stores in touristic destinations have wonderful shipping options you can ask about!

Do you find it easy to pack light for your trips? Please share any and all tips below, I love to find new ways to make my travel as hassle-free and focused on the important stuff, so by all means, flood the comments below 🙂

Is Work-Life Balance a Myth For Entrepreneurs?

I think this is a subject I’ll explore in more detail in my upcoming LinkedIn series (more on that later!), but a few posts I’ve seen this week triggered this thought, so I wanted to write about it at least on a surface level.

The saying goes something like “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s a simple enough concept that implies that when you enjoy what you do for a living, it doesn’t feel like a chore and you do it happily. Many of us who decide to leave Corporate America and start something of our own (or work on our “passion” after hours) go into it with the mentality that we want to be our own bosses and be in charge of our destinies, but the illusion of freedom that comes with owning a business quickly devolves into the reality that we are now more than ever tied to work, it’s just OUR work.

Do What You Love

This Instagram post from @bymarieandrew was one of the things that triggered my stream of thought on this

Everyone wants to be a celebrity or a YouTuber, but when push comes to shove, many give up. Or as the Marines say “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” No one creates a successful business overnight, and I think we’ve all become obsessed with seeing the final packaged result that gets curated on social media or TV, because not many people show or talk about the actual journey that got them to that point.

At first, it’s exhilarating – you’re the captain now, you get the talking stick, you make all the decisions, and because it’s your passion, it’s all you think about. And then, reality sets in: you ARE the captain now. It’s ALL you think about. EVERY decision is ultimately up to you, no matter how many opinions you ask for, and depending on the scale of your small business, it’s your face/name/reputation on the line every.single.time.

Another post that I read this week that was very much in line with this idea was one from a college friend who is a trained pharmacist and is currently building a brand around his expertise. Inspired by Gary Vee (because who isn’t?), Richie decided that in order to turn his ambition into reality, he would dedicate the four hours after he gets home from his job until he goes to sleep (#10to2), and would invest them into working towards his brand and business. Again, simple concept, but one that requires a solid vision and some serious discipline. He admits to many lifestyle changes and sacrifices, but it’s something he’s happy to do in order to see his vision come to life – and it works for him. I’m really invested in seeing his journey, reading his articles, checking out his podcasts and videos, and I can’t wait to see the results that his dedication will yield!

At the end of the day, I really don’t need to look too far to see how entrepreneurship takes years of around-the-clock dedication before you can really sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. My parents started a business (and went into bankruptcy pretty quickly with it) the year I was born. It took them about seven years of constant work (weekends? holidays? what are those???) for us to go on a family vacation, and once their business really solidified, we were all able to reap the rewards of their tireless and admirable work ethic. But those work-work-work-work-work-work years are the key, and it’s wild because from the outside, people don’t see the struggle and just focus on the summit at the mountain, not the arduous journey to the top.

Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to work-life balance you can expect to have a lot more of the work, and a lot less of the life – at least for a few years. And that’s ok, because as my friend Gary likes to say “you have to love the process.”

Friends & Family: Karen – Brush Strokes & Chef Goals

KarenIn my never ending list of talented cousins, the next one at bat is Karen! And as you may have seen from my previous Friends and Family posts, I write the corresponding blogs around the subject’s birthday to kind of pay homage to them in some way. Karen’s birthday just passed this Friday, so happy birthday prima!

By now, you guys probably all know that I enjoy pretty much all areas of crafting and creation of things, and I’m versatile with my hands, but if there’s one specialty I haven’t been able to master is cooking. I can sometimes get baking right, since everything is measured to a T, but unless there’s a military grade recipe to follow, there’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll mess it up. This is one of the reasons I admire Karen so much, because she not only crafts her heart out and can do just about any craft there is, but she can also cook amazingly well, and actually graduated just last year with her degree in culinary arts!

Karen has always been able to paint and draw fairly well, but she found her niche in the kitchen, and this has actually become her business endeavor with her sister Lizeth (her feature will come around her birthday in September). PKL “Un Mundo de Detalles” (A World of Details by PKL, PKL being their roommate Paola, Karen and Lizeth) was born in the Spring of 2017 as these three crafty and business savvy women came together to execute a plan for a full-service party decoration and gift basket company. From the beginning, they have explored multiple revenue avenues with gift kits or special holiday themed baskets, party planning/decorating services, catering and desserts. On their feed, you will see all kinds of creative cakes decorated in fondant for customers with all sorts of interests, whether they’re doctors or sports fans, their cakes are a clear (and yummy) reflection of their personality. And Karen is behind all of that.

She is a great chef, an avid baker, and a jack of all trades for crafting. With limited resources and in a very hard market, they have managed to get off the ground and grow the business little by little, and are in high demand for their work all around the city, and even beyond.

Whether she’s using a brush on a canvas or on a marinade, Karen is a tireless worker and always delivers on her promises. Her work is detailed and her professionalism in such a hard industry and 100% customer-facing role is admirable.

Here are some of my favorite Karen pieces:

 

She imitates Britto, but with her own twist, incorporating the culture and folklore of her native Colombia. She uses all mediums fearlessly and creates one of a kind masterpieces, every single week. For this and many more reasons, Karen is my Friends & Family feature this week, and I hope you follow her on her journey as she continues to grow and succeed.

Felicidades prima ❤

#TravelTuesdays – 24 Hours With Kathy in Miami: My First Blog for Nytro!

As part of my introduction as a new Nytro team member, I was asked to write a blog-style guide to living in Miami, and I really like how it turned out! Please check it out and give it a like 🙂 Here’s an excerpt to get you excited:

Home of the three-oh-five (305) area code, the strongest coffee known to man, and millions of Latin-American expats, Miami has also been home to me for the past 15 years, so I think I can give you a good virtual tour of the city. I’d say “Shall we?” but this also happens to be the birthplace of Pitbull, so a more fitting “Dale!” is in order.

Want to read more? The full blog is here. Come check out Miami with me! This is how fun I am 😀

Kathy at PAMM