Falling into the Gap & Stepping up to the Plate


Last night Lexie invited me to an event at the Gap Flagship store in downtown SF. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was actually very, very fun! One thing that we noticed was that Gap is very much stepping up their retail game– a lot of their new fall items are super cute, obviously very affordable and on trend (eg. stripes, dots, neons, skinnies with zippers).  I took some photos of some of the styled looks that I found most adorable!

I’d have to say the best part of the event (aside from cute people and the champy) was the hot, amazing new online lookbook called LookMazing.

They had a photo shoot set up for their site, which I encourage you to register for.  We registered with a cute rep on their ipads, met with a Gap stylist to create a look (Lexie styled our looks) and then we jumped in line to get our photo taken. After all that, the LookMazing reps helped upload our look to the site.

It was so much fun to peep other party guests and their Gap outfits. Here is a photo of my friend Jason– Love the double layering of scarfs!

An amazing feature is that you can tag items of your look online so that they are easy to shop.  You can also easily pin the look to Pinterest! I love fashion and tech.

Here are our photos! Head-to-toe Gap.

by Nkechi Njaka

 

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Hello from SF!

Hey everyone! Lucie is in Houston this week for her NASA project so I am writing on her usual day.

As you know, I’ve relocated myself to San Francisco, California with every intention of sharing the ArielSimone love. I can say so far the things I love about being here the most include the exciting social life that SF provides, the ambition of multi-disciplinary professionals and the easy access to the beach (I am minutes away from the water and it is simply heaven!).

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Now that I’ve been here for a few days, I am finally starting to feel re-aquatinted with the city I once called home. Here are some photos I’ve taken strolling around. Jealous yet? Come visit  me during SF Fashion Week!

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But let’s not forget that I am in Cali to work, and I am happy to report that I had my first fashion-related meeting yesterday with Lexie Tiongson, who will be joining our team. I am very excited to be working with such a talented young women– a fashion writer, stylist and graphic designer are just a few of her many talents (check out her style blog)! Stay tuned for some future posts that we will incorporate into our blogroll. Lexie will be offering the ArielSimone community SF style tips and I can’t wait!

We peeped all the Hayes Valley boutiques and found a few contenders. We are working together to design a look book and line sheet of our collections to send to SF buyers. We will keep you posted!

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by Nkechi Njaka

ArielSimone Q2 Newsletter

As we enter into the second quarter, we want to share some of the things that have happened and are happening! 2012 has been an incredibly exciting few months so far.  We will be saying goodbye to our first full-term intern and keeping another on for the summer.  We have built a manufacturing team and while learning along the way can be challenging at times, we are pleased to have stream-lined  a process that works for us. With that news, we have added another boutique in Minneapolis. In addition to Cliche, we will soon be selling at Corset, which is now located on Mainstreet in Hopkins, but will eventually move to Edina. We have had the wonderful pleasure of expanding our networks both online and in person. We just reached 500 likes on facebook, which at a year ago, we were at just a little less than 200.  Our blog readership is increasing– which is really exciting! We have added some very talented guest bloggers this season and we hope to continually provide interesting and relevant content for all of you! We’ve also added a new online retail space– I Like What You’re Wearing (ILWYW), which gives us the perfect segway to introducing our amazing staff photographer Mirza Nizamuddin.


He has been with us at the majority of all our shows last quarter and has shot all our recent retail photoshoots. We can’t  thank him enough, his work and generosity is truly unmatched. We are happy to report that we have a solid team right now, and we feel unstoppable and excited for what’s next.

What IS next?

We have some bitter-sweet news. ArielSimone is expanding! And in our growth, we feel that we are ready to move and set up in California. For this to happen, we have to say goodbye to Nkechi Njaka, who will continue to direct and support the operation and communication efforts from afar. She also will be representing the brand to new boutiques and presenting our collections to a new fashion community. She is very excited about this move and we promise to keep you posted!

Of course we can’t forget the shows. Some of our favorite events so far this year were Cliché’s Avoid the Grey and Arena Dances  Arena Bikini Beach Baby!  We also took a trip to Chicago and we were able to show our pieces to Chicago fashionistas as well as make some great connections.

Upcoming

Here is an upcoming show to put on your calendar:

KTWIN Show: Thursday May 3rd, 2012 at The Brick (Downtown, Minneapolis)

Make sure to keep visiting our blog to hear about upcoming events, new garments, behind the scenes at photoshoots, fashion tips and more! Also, our Facebook fan page has a lot of really great daily updates to keep you in the loop about styling, events and inspirations. Thank you for your support–ArielSimone is not what we are without all of you. Wishing you a fresh, happy, and love-filled Spring 2012!

** If you would like to be on our email list and receive the newsletters each quarter, please drop us a line–we’d be happy to add you!

Adrienne and Nkechi Take Chicago!

Wouldn’t THAT be a great BRAVO TV show?!

Too bad its just us two (with our little flip camera) that are heading to Chicago this week for a fun little trip of fashion, food, and hopefully the beach! As we mentioned last week, we have an event this Thursday but we thought we would use a couple days to enjoy the city. On our list of things to do, we have scouting for Chicago boutiques to sell our line as well as checking out the Chicago fashion/ shopping scene (All Saints and Zara, here we come!).

Chicago is a city that I happen to have spent a lot of time in and absolutely adore. Allow me to get a little nostaligic for a moment…

One of my all time favorite designer boutiques in THE WORLD (but also in Chicago) is Gamma Player, which I discovered several years ago (2007) when I spent a summer in Chicago during a graduate school break. It was my informal introduction to the fashion industry– so many great things happened that summer. I walked into Gamma Player and was mezmerized by the collection, the store owners (legendary techno DJ and producer Jeff Mills and his beautiful wife) as well as their staff.


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Instantly making friends, I was invited to a fashion show in their space, where I met the amazing AggaB and tried on the most beautiful quilted dress. I’ll never forget the words she said to me when I stepped out of the dressing room: ‘This dress was made for you to wear.’

(It took me a minute but I was able to unearth this from iphoto…I think I put it on and cried, and then cried again when I couldn’t afford it had to take it off)

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That event lead to more fashion show invitations, more parties and more industry friends. It was the first time my photo was published  in a social magazine (Chicago Social), the first time I was invited to parties with celebrities, the first time I hung out with models, writers and stylists and had no idea that (as a neuroscientist) this was the universe’s way of revealing to me that this was my community and a place where I actually belonged professionally.

I am so excited to go back and revisit Gamma Player and some of my other favorite boutiques. I am even more excited at the prospect of selling ArielSimone in Chicago! It will be an incredibly proud moment to find a home for ArielSimone in Chicago. Wish us luck and stay updated on facebook and twitter!

by Nkechi Njaka

Friday Brideday! Gorgeous Gold and White Bridal Shoot

There are so many things that I absolutely love about this gorgeous photo shoot. I love the styling– everything from the head band to the antique typewriter. I love the high bun (one of my favorite hair styles of all time) as well as the intricate long side braid. Gold is one of my favorite colors this season and it works so wonderfully with white.
And did you see those amazing flat white fringed oxfords? So in love!!
Definitely, if you a have a second, take a look at the full gallery on Green Wedding Shoes.Brumley and Wells totally killed it with the styling for the shoot, the (love letter) concept and the amazing photography.
Romantic, sentimental and feminine with a hint of rustic warmth!!
Check out more bridal ideas, insights and inspirations on my blog Charcoal& Lace
by Nkechi Njaka

SnowGRADE Amazingness

Something I had been hugely anticipating last week was this winter’s SnowGRADE. Brought back by popular demand after the largely successful NorthernGRADE, this event new to NE Minneapolis is rumored to happen on a biannual basis moving forward. After finding success with the NorthernGRADE men’s market (which is held each September), the geniuses behind the pop-up market (the lovely Pierrepont Hicks duo and J.W. Hulme Co.) created the winter equivalent (perfectly timed with MSPFW). Each market features only American-made ‘heritage’ goods from a long list of local vendors; this year included martinpatrick3, BlackBlue, Faribault Woolen Mill Co., Greenwich Vintage, Askov Finlayson, and a slew of others.

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The reason why I fully embrace that Nothern/SnowGRADE is only menswear, is that the event feels very male and reminds me that men can be styled well in an effortless, casual outdoorsy way, when done right. In this instance, it is encouraged. There are so many reasons why I call this event my favorite of all time.

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Popular local stores like JW Hulme and Black Blue were there selling their amazing products (classic canvas and leather bags, button downs, plaids, dark high-end denim). As well as the quintessential RedWing Shoes was there with a beautiful collection of leather and suede boots and chukkas… I think it’s no secret that my love for menswear has A LOT to do with my love for men….


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But it wasn’t just about the clothing. The event lasted all day and there was plenty to do. There were all kinds of non-clothing/accessory vendors. Coupled with shopping, there was a whole host manly workshops, such as “Beginners Guide to Home Brewing,” or “Axe Restoration,” and I even heard that The Bachelor Farmer conducted a presentation titled “How to Butcher a Rabbit,” which I fortunately was not around for (I have been a vegetarian for 12 years). Greenwich Vintage’s very own barber–Mustache Mike— even a set-up shop and performed stylish cuts and shaves for patrons. Drinks from Phillips Distilling Co. and food from Clancey’s Meats & Fish were also there for sampling. And our friends from Wants vs. Needs had a booth selling cute t-shirts and promoting their fabulous party at the Kitty Cat Klub, which was later that night.

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I also happen to love the space they choose to host the event. If you have never been to Architectural Antiques, located on 1330 NE Quincy St., Mpls, I recommend paying them a visit. The antique furniture created the perfect environment and the interior of the warehouse created the perfect ambiance. The space borders on nostalgia and American dreaming. The combination of beautiful antique chandeliers, claw foot tubs, deer antlers with exposed brick and timber gives shabbychic and rustic glam and entirely new meaning.

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So what did I love about this event?! Let’s start with the fact that its MENSWEAR. And its my kind of menswear, too. All American-made, rustic, ironically blue-collar–lots of plaid and raw denim and Red Wing boots. Swooon. There is also a hint of old-time/vintage that complements my personal aesthetic.

Aside from boys in button downs and mustaches, I had a couple other favorite things of the evening…. They included but certainly were not limited to the handmade felt and leather ipad covers by Byrd & Belle. I also loved the hammered belt buckles that read F*ck off and Balls So Hard (So manly, right?!) by a vendor whose card I didn’t get but later found out is Cause and Effect….And I loved the local organic wine and drink recipes printed on plaid paper that were gifts from the sponsor. Oh, and I am forgetting the Moonshine Coffee (that was steeped in an old school chemistry beaker)! I never EVER drink coffee black but these cuties roast their own beans and the flavor was impeccable.

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But for me, I’m not going to lie, it was about the boys too. I happen to be one of those girls who admires a man who can dress himself and this event was a room full of those men.
by Nkechi Njaka

How Hugging Can Make You Healthy! by Nkechi Njaka

Happy Valentines Day! As many of you know, I have a background in neuroscience and my experience in fashion largely complements the Wellness & Lifestyle consultancy work that I do. Something that has always intrigued me, especially around the time of Valentine’s Day, is the powerful effect that love has on mood and subsequently, our wellbeing.

I mean, who doesn’t love love? Especially, on the day of Valentine’s Day? Even the most bitter of us, who lost sleep last night in anxious preparation of an anti-Valentine’s Day event, still at the heart of her heart loves love and knows with every fiber of her being that love and happiness are inextricably linked.

Well I am here to tell you that there is neuroscienctific evidence for this positive correlation.  And that joining the mainstream masses in an overly capitalized Hallmark Holiday could increase your mood, even if you love in a non-romantic way.


Scientists have long been working to show how and even prove that love gives us health benefits beyond the obvious advantageous security of always having a date for Valentine’s Day. Researchers are not yet able to determine that romance trumps close bestfriendships or an affectionate/adoring family when it comes to health and wellness. But researchers are finding that sex, partnership, intimacy and caring for another all seem to build a case for making us stronger with health benefits that range from improved healing and management over chronic illnesses (prevention). That means a longer life of love, laughter and shopping!

How can we practice this on the daily….or even today?

Doctors at the University of North Carolina have found that hugging may result in dramatically lower blood pressure as a result of boosting blood levels of oxytocin, the relaxing ‘cuddly’ hormone that plays a key role in orgasms. Oxytocin is linked attachment and is a factor in bonding and monogamous pairing.

In their fascinating study, researchers found that frequent daily hugging among couples had enormous effects on the release of oxytocin in women! The women with the highest oxytocin levels had systolic blood pressure that was 10 mm/Hg lower than women with low oxytocin levels—an improvement similar to the effect of many leading blood pressure medications, says Kathleen Light, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at UNC and one of the study’s authors. Wow. It’s amazing that something as simple as hugging can do that.

Since there is growing evidence that love improves long-term health and wellness, I would say that even if celebrating Valentines Day is merely a reminder to value love, it is worth celebrating!

{All Photography by Glass Jar Photography}

by Nkechi Njaka