Category Archives: New York

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Been Festive My Whole Life

During the spring, I went upstate to my parents and per usual, my mom let me know she had something special for me. She is the best.

She gave me a jacket of mine from when I was 10. Obviously, it’s not just any jacket and obviously, as I grew A LOT as a kid, so she bought everything oversized. Granted the jacket might be from the Limited Too, but I wore it during the evening of the Memorial Day rooftop cookout I hosted and I plan on packing it for my weekend upstate for Independence Day.

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Red denim and dare I call it… vintage. Without really dating myself, this jacket is 15+ years old and in incredible shape.

Free. From mom. Red, white and blue, for a road trip out of the city. Have a safe an amazing holiday. LET’S GET IT.

xo Rae

 

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I had lots of bites at Gran Morsi

It is very, very, very easy to fall into constantly eating in the same neighborhood(s) and spots. For example, I live in Brooklyn, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to get to LES and NoLita. Further, maybe two people that I associate with on daily basis live above Canal Street. Two people. Everyone is in Brooklyn or downtown. Guess where I eat?  I keep it within walking distance of my place or downtown within walking distance of my everyday peoples’ homes and with so many options there alone, why would I really leave convenience?

Because Sam Chin told me to, that’s why. Sam is a very young, hard-working publicist/event producer/babe. We initially met when she invited me to #HashbrownsAndHashtags and it’s been all heart-emoji exchanges ever since. Having worked together on some things since then, I quickly accepted her invite to check out Gran Morsi, still conveniently located to my life on the Tribeca/Financial District border at 22 Warren Street. They would be introducing their new summer menu. DSC00553DSC00555

We started off with a round of drinks. A definite stand out was the Limoncello Margarita (not pictured) and the Cedar Smoked Old-Fashioned that involved a torch.DSC00557DSC00558 I sat between a friend that’s Gluten-free, a vegetarian that  doesn’t drink, across from another vegetarian and Sam, who I split an order of meatballs with, naturally. Both the calamari and the zucchini chips were fried to perfection and although I attempt avoid fried anything they were not only more than worth it but very carefully done, as I spoke to one of the servers about. We also tried both the Buffala Burrata (served with an incredible pesto) and Sheepsmilk Ricotta topped with hazelnuts and honey, both with garlic crostini on the side.

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Obviously the pizza was a must and I had a slice of the Artichoke one, no bleu cheese or hot sauce so you know it’s real. Everything was light and delicious enough to convince myself (after a few glasses of Rosè, of course) to go all in with the Black Linguini served with shrimp, njuda, arugula, san marzano tomatoes and calabrian chiles.

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It was between the overwhelming amount of cheese and ordering my entree that Emeka the GM came out and broke down Gran Morsi for us. Translating to english as ‘a lot of bites’, Gran Morsi encourages diners to do it their way having a solid selection of appetizers, pasta dishes, entrees, pizzas and sides. Emeka also explained that coming from a fine dining background made him desire to being to share with more people and not such elitist clientele. Thus, fully embracing an italian attitude he explained Gran Morsi was made to be everyones “third place.” By “third place” he means, their go-to, the number one option but being called third only after home and work. Essentially it’s in the running to be my second place because home and work collide as one. I should ask if they have wifi. Regardless, most importantly he said, “If we don’t love it, it’s not on the menu,” and I VERY much identify with that. If I don’t love it, I damn sure don’t need it in my life.DSC00571 DSC00575

Finally, surprisingly, we managed to try a selection of the desserts and my favorite by far was the lemon cheesecake – goat cheese, macerated berries and strawberry coulis. When you come out of your virtual food coma, after you peep the pics, peruse their IG and follow their Twitter, head into Gran Morsi one-time, convenient or not, it’s worth a stop.

xo Rae

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First of all, I wanna thank my connect

New York called, summer is cancelled this year.

Last week, as I was in the depths of trolling Instagram, I came across a beautiful coat on the account of my favorite vintage spot in Brooklyn. Installation Brooklyn’s owner, Margot, had the most perfect, ankle length, camel, wrap coat on. After leaving a cat with heart eyes emoji on her gram, she let me know that the coat was in the shop.

I’m very partial to Installation Brooklyn for my own selfish reasons. Margot, is just a little bit shorter than me and has a very similar build. Subsequently, anything in the store the looks good on her translates pretty well for me. This is where I picked up last year’s ankle length, double breasted, red wool coat also.

I stopped through my old hood where the store is located, on Nostrand Ave in Bedstuy, to try on the coat. As I assumed from seeing it on Margot on Instagram, it fit perfectly.

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The cashmere wool blend, belted, wrap coat from Les Copians was made in Italy and I LOVE IT. Further at $165 its about $400-800 less than what this season’s Les Copians coats are available for. I’ll prob sleep it in until May, because summer isn’t coming.

xo Rae

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It might be too late for you

Last year I bought my ankle length, double breasted, red coat. With this, I learned, QUICKLY, during my first winter back and while getting VERY familiar with Polar Vortexes, that a coat (or two or three or whatever) comparable to a blanket is a necessity, especially with this storm NY is expecting. So this year, as I was a little more prepared, I took my time to look for new winter coats.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my red coat but it seems that after seeing similar ones on Net-a-porter and Refinery29, I needed to find something to mix it up.

Over Thanksgiving, while my Brooklyn and Manhattan based, Utica raised friends and I were home, we decided to spend a day thrifting together in anticipation of one-upping everyone exhausting the BK thrift and vintage shops.

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Obviously, when thrifting, it is detrimental to be selective and although everything is practically free, you must, must, must look for quality and cut. This ankle length, double breasted wool coat, looked like it had barely been worn. It has nice lines and is super heavy. I removed to excessive shoulder pads and spent less on this coat than most people spend on their lunch.

And this is one of three coats I picked up. So, although I plan on not leaving my apartment from tomorrow until Wednesday, should I need to step out, I think I’ll be ready.

xo Rae

 

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Can’t I do it all at the same time?

I am unfortunately inconsistent with accessories. Every single time I’m home for more than 24 hours, my mom individually asks about every piece of jewelry she’s ever bought me with the assumption that because I’m not wearing it, I lost it.

Granted, my younger self’s track record was less than stellar but I usually respond really maturely like,”COME ON MOM. I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE THEY ARE.”

This past of misplacing jewelry occasionally might be true but I know why. I can’t commit or if I can’t sleep with them on every night, I’m just not interested. Yea.

However, currently, I am doing pretty well. Although, I haven’t commited to any significant uniformity, right now, I’m consistently wearing a few things I picked up at one of SoHo’s newest stores on Broadway, and other stories.

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The earrings are matte black and one is wishbone shaped while the other is… not. The cuff ring is brushed gold and the gold on the bracelet and silver brand midi ring both have a flat finish. I still haven’t committed to one, but I like it better that way.

The earrings and the silver midi were $15 each, the ring was $22 and the bracelet was $6. And, everything was half off. The sale is still going on and you should consider going.

xo Rae

 

 

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Post Basel and Pre NYE: A New Yorker’s Guide to Miami

Miami, it’s like little Manhattan, select long weekends of the year. Specifically, the first weekend of December, during Art Basel and the 24 satellite fairs, the city’s gallerists, artists, art lovers, musicians, photographers, socialites and IG famous embark on the 3o5, jam-packed with openings, receptions, exhibits and guestlist only parties. If you’re unfamiliar, think SXSW but prettier and art rather than tech.

Now, contrary to popular belief, truthfully Miami is a small, big city and for whatever reason despite not having 8 million human, it is still rather inefficient especially for New Yorkers. So, after a fairly successful trip for Basel before some of you inevitably take your talents to South Beach for New Year’s Eve, prepare properly with these Miami hacks for New Yorkers.

Let’s start from the beginning, like prior to arrival. I HIGHLY recommend using AirBnb rather than a hotel. A lot of the hotels are run down and do not look like the photos online. If you have the money, stick to the newly renovated James Hotel, The W South Beach, The Fontainebleu (a bit off actual South Beach), The Raleigh, SLS and however tacky it is, the rooms at The Dream are in good shape. Miami has cockroaches, year round, HUGE ones, stay in a nice place. If you AirBnB, stay off Washington, Collins or Ocean Drive to cut on traffic. Anywhere South of Fifth Ave is pretty good and Alton Road will give you good access to leaving or staying on South Beach. Also, there’s a Whole Foods to eat healthy while on vacation and save on mediocre Lincoln Road, tourist trap restaurants.

Upon arrival, have cash and your Google Maps ready for your cab ride. Fortunately, taxis have set fares to different neighborhoods from the airport however, VERY few take cards, which is archaic but very real. Miami does finally have Uber but it was RARE to see cars available without a 2.2 or higher surge price during Basel. Similar to when searching for accommodations, while in cabs, vehemently demand to stay off Washington, Collins Ave and Ocean Drive as much as possible.

Check every tab at every bar you order a drink at. The majority of your orders will have an automatic gratuity charge thus unless you are interested in tipping upwards of 40 percent, stay aware.

Lastly, Miami Beach has free WiFi. Although I am unsure if it works well, it does exist. The signal is City_of_Miami_Beach_Wifi.

To less ATM fees and a Happy New Year – see you soon Miami.

xo Rae

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It’s genuine but it’s not everything

“100% genuine, handmade leather” – that’s always the draw, then tack a couple hundred on for whatever namely brand and you’ve got that real quality, right?

Let me be honest, it’s bordering a habit at this point. I’ll take one of everything in leather. However, while I was successfully Christmas shopping (as in hadn’t purchased anything for myself at that point) I stopped in the Holiday & Design Bazaar presented by NeueHouse. It was only one day and just a few blocks from the Pop-Up Flea (which if you missed, you regret it, check my friends at blindstch‘s faves). So, one of the very first booths I stop at belongs to Nest. I pick up THE SOFTEST black, pebbled leather clutch. My immediate thoughts as I start listening to the story behind Nest is if they make pillows. Quickly, I found out that Nest does not produce pillows, in fact they didn’t even produce this clutch I was practically snuggling with at this point.

Their mission:

Nest is partnering with the world’s most promising artisan’s to build sustainable businesses within the competitive landscape of today’s global economy. Simultaneously, Nest is helping artisans transform communities through the alleviation of poverty, empowerment of women and promotion of peace.

Heartwarming or nah? Obviously, I was 100 percent sold on purchasing anything at this point, be it the softest leather clutch I’d ever had in my hands or something else. The young woman explains to me the clutches are handmade in Colorado on a family ranch that clearly employs superior craftsmanship but realistically is part of an industry in duress. That’s where Nest comes in. See more details here.

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Finally, I’m like alright, how bad is this going to hurt my pocket? Because not only is it phenomenal, ethical and matches everything I own but I did just see a similar sized, handmade clutch for $198 at Pop-Up Flea earlier in the day. This clutch, which is still available on the site, was only $100. Granted, you probably won’t get it for Christmas because it is a non-profit not a full e-commerce operation but you should absolutely be aware of Nest and their projects. You can find information on their projects, partners, products and how to donate or get involved on their site, www.buildanest.org.

xo Rae

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Grow up and get a pair

Last week it was 25 degrees, Monday hit 65 and today it’s going to snow all damn day. Boots that last me 3 years in Miami (obviously, but still) were demolished last winter. And I’m STILL looking for office/dinner/transit friendly boots but I will say, I definitely picked up a crucial, functional pair of boots.

Granted, I 100 percent bit my roommate’s steez, it had to be shared with you. No longer must we submit to childlike, enormous rain boots or duck boots. Although, occasionally cute in ironic wait, duck boots aren’t always appropriate outside of Polar Vortex-esque conditions.

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These are actually perfect. They keep my feet dryer than any leather boot I’ve ever owned. From J. Crew, during one of their sales, I got them for $51 from $68 and, as I mentioned, my roommate previously picked up an identical pair from ASOS.

No wet socks on this side bb.

xo Rae

like it’s 1998…

Could there be a jacket more appropriate? An 80s baby to the fullest, I think I own the CD version of the majority of the album’s featured on Kinship’s, 90’s girl bomber.

Just a few weeks after attending the streetwear panel, my close friend expressed deciding to diversify his line and as next of kin, a music blogger and an R&B addict, I couldn’t be any more supportive. Kinship Shop owner, Reggie Thomas started with bomber jackets featuring The Diplomats and after having such a positive reaction, Bad Boy and Cash Money coats followed.

What about the girls though? And with that void needing to be filled, he carefully selected 35 albums that are basically the foundation of every modern day ‘sad girls’ catalog. From Brandy, to Aaliyah’s ‘Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number’, to Mariah’s ‘Honey’ to supreme 90s divas, Mary J and Whitney, Kinship’s latest is STRICTLY for the ladies.

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Although, right now they are available exclusively online, very soon New Yorkers can pick up theirs at VFILES, on Mercer in Soho.

So… I’m thinking I am going to revisit ‘Age Ain’t Nothin But a Number’ and ‘The Velvet Rope’ first.

xo Rae

Might crash ya internet

New projects, new industries, I tried to tell everyone, cuffing season for what – it’s hustle season. So after attending #HashbrownsAndHashtags the panel of women entrepreneurs from all different industries discussing how they utilize digital and social, it only seemed right to continue to see how other successful lifestyle brands are leveraging digital in different ways.

Digital DUMBO, who puts together live events and experiences to connect brands and businesses, held the first panel in their DGTL_CLTR (digital culture) series. Racks on Racks on Racks: Streetwear Goes Digital featured a panel discussion with Scott Sasso of 10Deep, Mikhail Bortnik of Mischka, Erik Marino of Rocksmith and moderated by Been Trill’s Heron Preston.

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For those of you that aren’t as familiar with the culture, answers to Preston’s first question will offer a little clarity. Sasso defined Streetwear as “outsiders fashion” while Bortnik elaborated comparing it to indie rock, in that similarly, you just kind of know it when you see it.

Everyone indicated that using social media indeed offers an avenue to keep a pulse on the culture but does not solely inspire new product. Bortnik says he finds the most inspo offline seeing people in the streets in NY and Toyko while Sasso says being in the scene and at parties influenced a lot of releases in the past.

Conversely, between big brands like H&M, Topman and Zara and social media offering immediate exposure to a larger audience, Bortnik brought up the adjustment from a 4 season cycle to a 12 month cycle. Everyone agreed it brings new challenges but at the same time Preston and the Been Trill boys seem to continue to find different avenues leveraging the immediacy of the cycle and social media through #Been Trill#x U allowing consumers to apply their graphics (and others) to t-shirts.

Marino brought up a very interesting point that really swayed him from traditional print to maintaining digital – the ability to watch views on YouTube. Print ad buys offer an arbitrary number and you really can’t track a conversion. As someone that LIVES on Google Analytics (I see you all checking my blog), I can see how it’s no question these brands would create their own content, connecting music/artists, and put it out to build their brand.

All of them strongly urged staying true to yourself and your brand, as did the women of #HasbrownsAndHashtags, as well as the panel at the Agenda Emerge event I wrote about last winter. Now, I’m sure you all think I’m going to take shots at the fellas but there was a lot of similarities among both the all women panel and the all men. The biggest difference I found between them was a lot more presence of ego in last night’s Racks on Racks discussion but honestly it wasn’t even the group as a whole. Further, as someone hugely interested in most of Kanye’s projects I often equate ego as a form of passion for what you do, it isn’t always a bad thing.

So, ego and the fact that I’ve confirmed that there are literal business conversations being held regarding the impressions or activity within a hashtag like #sus or #thot only further solidifies digital is king and if you are running a brand, not only do you need to get on board but you need to find your own lane and kill the game.

xo Rae