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.

 

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#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

Friends & Family: Francis – Little Jack of All Trades Who Packs a Punch!

FrancisFor today’s Friends & Family feature, I’ve selected my younger cousin Francis, whose birthday is coming up on the 29th so let’s wish her a happy early birthday from the WCB crew!

When I think of the Shakespearean line “and though she be but little, she is fierce,” it is literally personified by my cousin Francis. Short in stature but with the personality and strength of the Empire State building, this little tycoon has never had it easy, yet she manages to always have a smile on her face, and tackle any challenge that comes her way head on.

Francis, my other cousin Cindy and I hung out constantly through our childhood, and they probably influenced me more than they know. With the years and with the circumstances in Venezuela, we were far from each other geographically, but never in spirit. We always stayed in touch through the early stages of the technology boom of the 2000s, and every chance we got to reunite, we milked every second.

I won’t go into detail about her early life, but I will say that she was the most independent seven-year old you could’ve ever met, having lost her dad at a young age and fending for herself without any fear. A few years ago, Francis’s boyfriend moved from Venezuela to Minnesota to pursue a college baseball career, and asked her to come with him. She would study English, and depending on her visa permit, she’d work part time. By work, I mean she literally managed to cross every possible industry off the bingo card, doing the oddest, most physically demanding and out of her comfort zone jobs you can imagine. Upon her arrival, she started off as a server at a Mexican food restaurant. Can you imagine working as a server without speaking the native language? I remember being terrified for her. But she did it. From there, the road has been a roller coaster, to say the least. She worked at a corn factory canning corn, from 6:00pm until 6:00am. She worked in a car factory assembling parts. She worked at another factory building window frames, burning her hands constantly. She worked at an attorney’s office as a part-time assistant. She was a nanny. Any opportunity that came her way, she took.

Through all of that, there was one thing she took on that kept her sane and gave her an outlet for her creativity: she started making and selling jewelry.

 

This was probably one of the few things that kept her sane. She really enjoyed letting herself run with ideas, learn a new method every day, and proudly selling her work. And I SO commend her for that.

Today she’s going to school and working as a bank teller. When you look at the definition of uphill battle and the “American Dream,” this is it. I believe her dream is to be a dentist and I know if she sticks it out, she will get it done.

So Fanchi, I am SO proud of you for all you’ve gone through, all you’ve accomplished, and all you have yet to do. The sky is not the limit for you, but rather the beginning. Feliz cumple cosita ❤

A Corporate Meeting With a Taste of The World Cup

As you may remember from this post in the beginning of the year, I have the opportunity to be the Hannah Montana of Corporate America and crafting, because I work on corporate matters during the day, and I get to bring in my crafting life to corporate at night.

My old SAP colleagues love to reach out with out of the box and exciting requests for me (and for them) and this one even brought me a new experience in a new medium!

The last team I worked for at SAP was the Global Content Team – a group of seriously smart and out of the box thinkers who find new and innovative ways to tell the SAP story in written, video, infographic, or any other form they can come up with. Because most teams at SAP are comprised of employees from all over the world, they tend to meet in person at least once a year to evaluate their performance and decide on their strategy for the months to come. This year’s offsite meeting took place in Budapest, Hungary, during the World Cup. Because of that, my colleagues reached out to me asking to create some fun props and maybe a concept for a team-building exercise that incorporated the sporting event in some way. That was really all they asked for, which gave me carte blanche to run with the idea, but was also an extremely broad canvas that I wasn’t sure where I would take.

My thought process was the following: they would have a Welcome Dinner on the first night, followed by a day of team-builders, ending in a Closing Dinner. So I could make three sets of props, or something of the sort, one for each of the days. They also mentioned they were going to get the team members soccer jerseys of their corresponding nationalities, which made the idea light bulb go off for me to round out the concepts:

  • Day 1, Welcome Dinner: to start things off, I pictured a sort of Venn diagram situation, where on one circle I had World Cup related props, on the other one I had props that represented the roles of the team members, and in the middle I put the country flags of all the team members, which was also the common ground that connected the World Cup props with the team member roles. Here’s what I mean:

Welcome Evening

  • Day 2, The Team Building Exercise: with having such a global team, the number one issue is probably having everyone on the same page, when they’re not even remotely on the same time-zone. This was the light bulb that went on when I found out they were using shirts: even though the team is spread all over the world, they are still one team, and they have the same goals… “One Team, One Goal.” SCORE! So I designed a banner, using a soccer ball as the O for “goal”, with spaces for their pictures (laminated, like the ones that are used in the Panini albums), and the exercise would be for each team member to get up and grab someone else’s picture and describe how their strength matched a soccer team position.

Team Builder

  • Day 3, Farewell Dinner: for the last day, after a jam-packed agenda and I’m sure lots of serious talks, I figured this was the perfect time to encourage letting loose and having fun with some off-brand corporate sayings (and a few World Cup ones as well to keep the cohesiveness of the theme throughout). I was inspired from a few different sets of props online, and came up with this bunch:

Farewell Evening

I heard feedback that the team loved the props and really had their fun with it all, and that the One Team, One Goal exercise with the banner and position-matching was a breakthrough moment for the team, and it definitely accomplished the goal it set out to do, which made me incredibly happy! There was also an HR business partner on site, and they reached out to inquire about other ideas for possible work in the future – and so the double-life continues 😉

Here are the pictures of the final product come to life – isn’t it cool how similar it all looks in person versus the digital proofs? Also, check out the thickness of the props when they’re stacked? Hand-cutting those brought back a lot of memories

What do you guys think of the props and concept? I had a lot of fun doing this, and even though I never thought I’d do the sturdy props again, my hands were a lot less hurt this time around!