Serendipitous Success

During my college years, I explored many fleeting interests and changed my major at least 3 times before setting my sights on Communication. I dabbed in becoming a teacher my freshman year, before my ears encountered the shrill screams of children. I then decided that I wanted to pursue Business, before realizing my limits in comprehending mathematics. My last switch to majoring in Communication was spent exploring PR, filmmaking, and media studies before stumbling upon Journalism. I became very interested in the field of Journalism and as a result, took a few classes to enhance my knowledge in the subject. I wrote many articles whether it was for a class or for the school newspaper. I loved interviewing people and creating pieces of writing that could entertain, educate and most importantly, inform people. Here is an article I wrote as part of a Fashion Beat, mainly focusing on style in the Bay Area:

WILLOW GLEN, Calif.– Standing next to the counter, Ibi Oluwole is carefully arranging a new shipment of necklaces and bracelets she ordered into the store. Amethyst druzy cut stones and delicate gold owl pendants dangle from her hands, reflecting off a sliver of light, provided by three o’clock in the afternoon. Draped in a cobalt blue blouse, she greets me with a smile so genuine, it’s as if we are old friends meeting for coffee.

Five years out of college, Oluwole is exactly where she wants to be in life, and where she always knew she would be. She graduated from Santa Clara University with a major in Marketing in 2007. She initially wanted to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to study design.

“My parents really wanted me to go the traditional college route, so I ended up attending Santa Clara,” she shrugged.

Sticking to her guns, she continued to pursue her interests in fashion, learning the business side of the industry. While at Santa Clara, Professor Shelby McIntyre helped her narrow her focus from fashion design to fashion retailing. It was then when pieces of her future began to fall into place.

To gain experience, Oluwole worked as an intern at a mini chain of stores in San Francisco while working towards her degree at Santa Clara. There, she learned how smaller business retailing worked opposed to chain store retailing. Her experience only further solidified her interest in pursuing a future in fashion.

“I always knew I wanted to work in fashion,” she firmly stated, “but my internship showed me how smaller, non-corporate stores work.”

After graduating in 2007, Oluwole opened up her own boutique, located just a few blocks off the Santa Clara campus. Oluwole explains how the naming of her store came about.

“I wanted something that would not only be catchy, but also brand well,” she said. It was soon she decided on the name ‘Ibis’, but her mother’s suggestion of adding an extra ‘s’ on the end sealed the deal.

Oluwole’s dreams, ambitions, and hard work became what is now Ibiss Boutique. Ibiss Boutique quickly gained the attention of Santa Clara students and locals looking for affordable fashion. In 2010, Oluwole expanded Ibiss Boutique, delegating a spot in downtown Willow Glen. The venture was completely serendipitous, as she explains it.

Walking down Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen, Oluwole peered into an empty storefront, covered with For Lease signs.  She called the realtor who also happened to be near the store and as it turns out, the realtor (also a Santa Clara Alumni) was able to show her the space then and there. That space eventually became the additional location of Ibiss Boutique.

In commission for five years now, the boutique’s success is not only credited to the flock of shoppers, but also Oluwole’s dedication to her customers.

“She really knows what she is doing and wants to cater to all of her customers.” said Nora Hanafy, best friend and customer. Describing Oluwole’s process in choosing products, she not only takes into consideration her personal taste, but also the demographic for each store.

Among the factors in choosing pieces include price, quality, and look. From there, Oluwole considers which styles would fit best at each store, based on the type of customer in each area.

It is also her compassion for customers that she also has for her employees. Always armed with a smile and accessories, Oluwole is always there for her staff when they need her.

“Just the other day, I wasn’t feeling well and Ibi told me to immediately go home and rest,” said Ashley Smaldino, sales associate at Ibiss Boutique. And while Oluwole is always considerate, she also has a fountain of knowledge.

“Having a mentor [like Oluwole] is great in learning to have a concept and knowing what market to appeal to,” Smaldino added.

As she twirls her almond shaped necklace, Ibi’s demeanor does all the talking. Sitting back in a chair sipping on a soda from Subway, she talks about the future of Ibiss Boutique.

“Currently I don’t have any projects I’m working on, no expansions yet, but I’m always buying for the store,” said Oluwole. Putting her degree to use, she also spends her workdays marketing the store on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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An update on MY LIFE

I’m back in the hizzay, get excited. I know it has been forever since I have updated here about my life, meanderings, adventures in Oz, & alligator encounters. My apologies, I know my presence was missed (as if), but really, I get it. I am excited for this new direction ONE DIRECTION in my life and have decided to update up in here once again. Only this time, I’m going to explore more than just fashion which included my smoldering stare to the left, stare to the right, look at the pebble on the ground Katherine! technique of modeling. I have accepted the fact that I am not Gisele Bündchen, somehow I will survive, perhaps with a virgin Cosmo (since I don’t drink) in hand pretending I’m Carrie Bradshaw. I’d love to be a columnist living in New York City with a fancy obsession with Manolos with on cue dramatic music & instant rainfall with every deep-in-thought scene…maybe not. And that’s a lot of ‘withs’. I’m getting off topic here. What I mean to say is I am here, I am present, hear me roar. Or choose to see me roar, although that sight might be a little hard to swallow, tonsils flaring and all.

GradI graduated recently, woohoo!! As you can see, Class of 2013, proud to be a Bronco. Yes, we had our graduation in the morning at 8AM, an hour I am and was not familiar with. I had to wake up at 5:30AM to get all prettied up for the big day (sounds like my wedding day, I DO LEON PANETTA). Although I was sleep deprived and had gulped down gallons of coffee, it was such a great day.

P.S. Thanks mum & daddy, you guys are such supportive and loving parents, I’m so lucky to have you both.

grad 2Here I am with my wonderful friends before the ceremony, the ones that endured all my weird quirks. Not to get all sappy on y’all but they were the best friends that I could have asked for and gotten to know during my four years of sleep deprivation & running into streets. In a lot of ways, we are all really alike in personalities. This fact was so relieving & is still relieving to me because I am a complete dork-weirdo (like sharknado). That’s a terrifying thought. Sharks at a graduation, enticing or problematic? Love you galz.

Senior BallA few of us before senior ball, brings me back to high school prom days limos and all. Except this time we had buses. PARTAY BUS. It was dangerous, we went to the Mountain Winery in classy Saratoga and we made a U, up a hill, in this massive travel bus. I don’t quite remember but all I know is it was dark, terrifying, and exhilarating. I LIVE ON THE EDGE OK GUYS.

sr ball 2Photo op with this lovely girl. We became friends in a filmmaking class and have shared our love of coffee and shopping ever since. We were given one free boozy pass when we arrived. I got the champers, took a sip, winced, and handed it off. I know, I’m a buzz kill, but I make up for it with my zippy personality and tendency to express really random thoughts.

And with that update on my life, I leave you all with a picture of this puppy:

PUPPY

1/2 Hello Kitty 1/2 Cat, killin’ it. Fun fact // she sleeps 20 hours a day, essentially adopting the cat-arific lifestyle.

Ruff-meow, out.

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Lafayette 148 NY

Photos courtesy of Nordstrom Valley Fair

Setting // Nordstrom Valley Fair

Event // Lafayette 148 New York Fashion Preview

This event for the brand, Lafayette 148 New York, was spectacular and close to home (located at Nordstrom Valley Fair). The whole fashion preview was content filled and engaging, I had a blast!

Here are a few things I gathered from talking to the Northern California Representative for the brand, Adeline McDonagh:

This Fall 2012 line was designed by none other than Edward Wilkerson, designer for Lafayette for a few decades now. He has always gained inspiration for his designs through traveling to different parts of the world, including Morocco and India in the past. Although for this collection, Wilkerson stayed put in New York (where the label is based) and pulled inspiration from the New York skyline and city life. This season was based on architectural elements and focused on electric blues, jewel tones, and lots of aubergine. As shown in the photos above, dresses were modeled after the New York skyline, jackets were made in jewel tones such as the jade green, and metallic elements were intertwined in tweed suit-jackets and skirts.

As for background on the brand, as I said before, it is based in New York City. The designs are all done by Edward Wilkerson, but manufactured at their headquarters in Shanghai, China. The company is considered a “bridge-line”, meaning they are the brand between the Valentinos of the world and the cheaper counterpart, essentially a bridge for lush fabrics at an affordable price. The line also tailors to the average woman, offering a variety of sizes in every design.

McDonagh showcased thirteen looks, combining different elements to create astounding silhouettes. She also gave the audience a little insight into pairing items from Lafayette 148 New York. Near the end, the show was topped off with cocktails and shopping, a perfect end to an enlightening and fun fashion-filled day!

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I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Setting // San Francisco

Restaurant // The Rotunda in Neiman Marcus

Sweater // Tucker

Tank // Forever 21 Essential Ribbed Racerback Tank 

Jeans // J Brand 811 Ankle Skinny Jean (Similar here)

Flats // Sam Edelman ‘Carmen’ Flat (Sold Out)

This past weekend, my family and I went to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday. We made plans to dine at The Rotunda, a restaurant on the fourth floor of Neiman Marcus in Union Square. One of the main attractions of this particular restaurant is that it overlooks the actual square of Union Square, and the whole restaurant encircles an empty cylindrical area that houses the fragrance and makeup area on the first floor of the store. One of the best things about the restaurant is the beautiful painted glass ceiling. It’s placed in a dome-like setting, where the restaurant is constructed on the rim of the top floor. The columns surrounding the structure are just beautiful, painted an ivory base with gold accents. The windows of the floor also made the restaurant fill with natural light, which was extremely beautiful at noon time.

We also tried their famous puff pastry, which came with strawberry butter and was very very good. It reminded me of a cream puff, without all the extra calories from the cream. Since we did make reservations, we were given a window seat, which is one of the main points of dining at a place like this. The view was spectacular, overlooking the square and allowing us to observe the hustle and bustle of busy San Francisco, on a beautiful sunny day. Another great thing about this restaurant was that once you walked out, it leads you to the CUSP floor of Neiman Marcus, filled with contemporary designers such as 3.1 Phillip Lim, Parker, Rag and Bone, and Diane von Furstenberg, to name a few. Nonetheless, we did some shopping.

As for my outfit, I wanted something comfortable but interesting to wear. This sweater is so comfortable, but its print gives off a quirky vibe. It’s also set in a kimono shape, which changes it up a little. Inside, I wore a plain black tank, which worked great with the already attention-hogging sweater. I paired this with magenta jeans because I thought it would be fun and coincidentally, the colors all worked together. These Sam Edelman flats are ones that I’ve had forever and are their signature chain flat. I’ve looked everywhere for them recently, but couldn’t find the same style anymore. They’re also in a pretty modern print, bouncing off colors with the sweater.

Tony Bennett sang it right when he said he left his heart in San Francisco, and I’m pretty sure I have too.

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Let’s Get Gypsy With It

 Cardigan // Free People Kimono Striped Sweater

Dress // Anthropologie Desert Hills Slip Dress

Belt // Banana Republic

Watch // Nixon 40-20 Chrono

Clutch // Tory Burch

Booties // Chloé ‘Suzanne Studs’ Buckle Bootie

Part of my inspiration for dressing for Fall is mixing typical Summer pieces with expected Fall accessories. My strategy when pairing this outfit evolved from wanting to incorporate the nomadic, free-spirited attitude each one of these pieces exude. This dress is the perfect foundational factor, essentially acting as a neutral that goes with everything. The contrast of the pleats on top and the embroidered pockets gives it a soft Summer look, redefined. The cardigan acts as a wild card in this ensemble, paralleling with the dress and making it Fall weather appropriate. The colors also work nicely, bouncing off each other tones of blue, yellow, and pink. I purposely paired this with a clutch because I thought a full-on bag would be too overpowering. A simple but interesting clutch adds just enough to the blues of the outfit and reflects the unique patterns already displayed with the dress and the cardigan. We now come to the shoes, as I have previewed these amazing Chloé booties in my previous post. Adding to the outfit, these boots work their studded magic, mixing a girly edge with rocker chic style.

As for this mise-en-scène, we shot at one of my favorite parks. The afternoon light allowed us to play with contrasting darker shades with reflections from the sun. I was pretty nervous since this was my first time modeling in front of a camera, but I think it turned out pretty well!

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