I am so excited to be nominated by the lovely Kellie of Conscious Kitten for the Sunshine Blogger Awards! The Sunshine Blogger Awards focuses on bloggers who promote happy and creative lives.

Kellie’s chic minimalist style, her passion for conscious fashion (and animals, hence her blog’s name!), as well as her dedication are qualities we should all admire. Be sure to check out her Q & A here, and scroll through her IG (@kelliehayden) for some serious inspo (you’ll want to add her wedding photos to your Pinterest board immediately)!

Before I get into the Q & A portion of this post, I want to share with you my 11 nominees; bloggers who inspire me every day to be a more dedicated and creative version of myself.

And they are:

  1. Beauty By Kelsey
  2. NYC Bambi
  3. Amelia Says
  4. Pepperpout
  5. IMLVH
  6. Rohini Elyse
  7. Her Wearabouts
  8. Keller Rose
  9. Kind Of Luxe
  10. Damselflavored
  11. Simplest Of Things

My questions for you:

  1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
  2. What inspires you the most?
  3. What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Why is it your fav?
  4. What’s the blog post you’re most proud of?
  5. One beauty product you couldn’t live without?
  6. What makes you feel the most confident/like your best self?
  7. Describe your dream vacation.
  8. What are your hobbies besides blogging?
  9. What is a cause that’s close to your heart? Why?
  10. What is your favorite piece of clothing you own? Why?
  11. One piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?

My Q & A:

Huge thank-you to Kellie for these great questions! I had so much fun answering them.

Why did you decide to start blogging?

I decided to start blogging so I could have a platform to share my work (I studied journalism in college). But it quickly became a place for me to express my creativity, as well as my personal style and other interests.

What are your tips for promoting your blog?

  1. Be genuine! I listed this one first because it’s the most important in my opinion! And I think it comes from having respect for your readers, as well as other bloggers. It’s obviously really disrespectful to copy another blogger’s hard work, but a lot of bloggers (or aspiring bloggers) fail to realize being genuine is a form of respect towards your readers or potential readers, as well. Most readers are smart enough to realize when a blogger is promoting something just for money or for clout. So in that way it is pretty insulting for the blogger to be out there promoting things and expecting their readers to believe they genuinely love it. Don’t promote anything you don’t truly love. Be picky with the brands with whom you choose to work.
  2. Work hard & invest time in your blog! If blogging were easy, everyone who tried it would be successful! But, there are so many aspiring bloggers who gave up on their work when they found out firsthand how difficult and time-consuming it can be. I believe it’s worth the struggle and the time, so invest your effort in taking quality photos/videos, writing, proofreading and editing, as well as posting consistently. Don’t forget to promote your posts on social media once they go live, and take the time to support your fellow bloggers, too! Which brings me to my third point…
  3. Engage! Show your support for the bloggers and brands *you* love by commenting on their posts and telling them what you love about them! Remember that it’s so important to be genuine here, too; I can’t stand when someone–especially someone who doesn’t even follow me or engage with me regularly–comments a generic “great!” or “cool!” on my posts. It’s even worse when they add a “check out my blog” or “check out my page” to it. I delete those right away. Always, always, always be sure that by engaging with others, you’re adding something meaningful to the conversation. Don’t be selfish. Also, hashtags!

What is your favorite piece of clothing that you own/have owned? Why?

This one is so tough! I would have to say the old pair of Levi’s cut-offs that were my mom’s. They’re always the first pair of shorts I gravitate towards when spring comes around because they’re so comfortable and look great with everything.

What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is actually one I just finished called Startup. It’s relatable, funny and smart. Learn more by checking out my post here!

What is a cause that’s important to you?

I’ve always loved Feeding America, a non-profit that provides healthy groceries to those in need in the U.S. I also come from a strong military family; my grandpa was in the Navy and my great-grandpa was in the Army, so of course, supporting our troops and veterans is a cause close to my heart.

A cause that’s gotten my attention more recently is educating women and girls and preparing them for careers in STEM, business and law. I really love Girls Who Code, and wish something like that existed when I was growing up. Helping women find their places in the economy and find fulfillment through their work and their careers. 

What is something you’ve dreamed about doing, but have yet to do?

I would *loove* to spend a year in Australia, and while I’m on that side of the world, would also love to see other places like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

What do you like the most about yourself?

I like that I am a quiet person. I can’t stand being around people who are loud for no reason.

What are your hobbies, besides blogging?

Exercising (my favs are cycling, hiking, pilates and barre), cooking and trying new foods, reading and traveling!

What is the best thing that happened to you in the past week?

I can’t say what it is quite yet, but stay tuned!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Follow your heart, but take your head with you.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Originality!


The Sunshine Blogger guidelines:

Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.

Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

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Caution: This post contains Startup: A Novel spoilers.

My favorite blogger-turned-YouTuber Lauren Elizabeth is blogging again! I am so happy! Her videos are great, but I prefer written content and photos over YouTube when it comes to fashion, skincare and lifestyle (makeup is a different story).

One of the first posts on her new site outlines her so-called One Book A Month Club, and I was so intrigued that I thought it would be fun to do something similar on Haute Mess so my readers could follow along.

Lauren shared that it has been her New Year’s resolution for the past two years to read one book a month, and this year I unknowingly made myself the same promise. Like Lauren shares in her post, reading one book per month is so rewarding, and it’s a great way to escape reality.

For the past year I haven’t gotten much of a chance to read any literature of my own choosing because I’ve been in a grad school program that has a ton of required reading. Though everything I’ve been required to read has been rewarding, it can be dense at times, and I’ve definitely been missing more leisurely reads.

In the past I loved titles like the White Girl Problems series by Babe Walker, The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, The A-List series by Zoey Dean and various self-help books such Do Less: A Minimalist Guide To A Simplified, Organized And Happy Life by Rachel Jonat and The Trump Card by Ivanka Trump.

When it comes to fiction, I like fun and exciting books; I rarely go for extreme, gory thrillers or anything supernatural. But, I also enjoy self-help books from inspirational and successful women.

That being said, my first book of 2018 was a fiction piece called Startup: A Novel by Doree Shafrir. Currently, I’m reading another fiction piece titled Sex And Rage: A Novel by Eve Babitz for the month of February.

So, let’s get started on the Startup discussion, and I’ll have all the details on Sex And Rage in a few weeks. Spoilers ahead…

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that this is one of, if not, the best book I’ve ever read; I was hooked from the beginning. There are so many books that I’ve read half of (or more!) before I could actually get into them. (And there are quite a few I’ve finished but did not get into at all). Not Startup.

Similarly, there’s been a number of novels that weren’t bad, but after finishing them, they just left me thinking so what? That is not the case with Startup, either. But, maybe that’s because it hits close to home in both a literal and a figurative sense.

It takes place in New York City and focuses on three main protagonists: Mack McAllister (a 20-something, seemingly successful startup founder), Katya Pasternack (a young reporter at a digital publication) as well as her boss Dan, who’s slightly older, and Sabrina Choe Blum, (a mom-of-two who gave up life as a homemaker to become social media manager at Mack’s startup, and who so happens to be Dan’s wife).

Katya and Sabrina (as well as Katya’s (soon-to-be ex-)boyfriend Victor, the co-founder of a failed startup, and Sabrina’s boss Isabel, who is 10 years younger than Sabrina and had a secret fling with her boss Mack McAllister) cross paths at an exclusive dinner party hosted by Isabel’s new love interest.

When Isabel drunkenly leaves her iPhone on the coffee table around which Katya and Sabrina are chatting, it starts a chain of events that affect the entire New York City startup community.

According to Dan (Katya’s boss), there’s a possibility that her job is at stake, so at the time of the dinner party (which is supposedly off the record), she is on the hunt for a groundbreaking story that will impress the higher-ups at her publication.

And when she and Sabrina accidentally see the series of raunchy text messages Mack sends Isabel, she gets her first lede: the young founder of a multimillion-dollar NYC startup harassing one of his female employees via text message.

Katya takes a picture of Isabel’s phone screen with her phone, then goes into the kitchen to give her her phone back, acting as if nothing happened. She’s shocked when Isabel takes her phone and nonchalantly puts it in her pocket without looking at it, then puts her arm around her newest fling without a care in the world.

All the while, Sabrina and Dan’s relationship isn’t faring so well, either. She’s fed up with him working long hours and not doing his fair share of housework; he’s more interested in his work life than his home life–and even kisses Katya after she meets up with him one evening to vent about work.

At the same time, Katya and Victor’s relationship is also on the rocks. He’s been moody and needy ever since his startup failed, leaving him out of work; she’s been extremely stressed over the possibility of being cut from her job. In a way, she didn’t hate the kiss from Dan, but ends up avoiding him at work in the following days.

Mack hosts a going-away party for one of his best employees who’s leaving to pursue a career at another startup, and while giving a toast, Isabel loudly interrupts, calling Mack out on the bullshit (for lack of a better term) he’s put her through in recent weeks.

Soon after, a mysterious, anonymous Twitter count receives an audio recording of the event and reveals Mack’s actions to the entire NYC startup community. It is then, with Isabel’s approval, Katya decides to publish the story.

After the story is out and Katya is able to tweet it for all to see, she and Dan go outside for a smoke break (something they do regularly throughout the novel), and he reveals to her that he is the face behind the anonymous Twitter account. She is so upset by the news, Dan suggests she takes the rest of the day off and goes inside without her.

While still in front of the office building, which Katya’s publication shares with Mack’s startup, she bumps into Sabrina, who is on her way to Isabel’s to console her. Katya asks to tag along.

Though Isabel truly wanted to get her story out there in the hopes that it would help other young women in similar situations, she is still understandably upset. While at Isabel’s apartment with Sabrina, Katya reveals Dan runs the anonymous Twitter account. Sabrina is just as angered as Katya, and the novel ends–somewhat abruptly–right there in Isabel’s apartment.

This, in my opinion, leaves the reader thinking that Sabrina will be leaving Dan and (possibly!) Mack’s startup, too; because of all the turmoil, things are not looking so bright for Mack’s startup in general. And given their argument, work with Dan will be awkward-at-best for Katya.

I’m dying for a sequel. Startup is the perfect balance of satirical, entertaining, smart and meaningful. Plus, if you’re a millennial, it’s insanely relatable. Reading Startup was honestly the perfect way to escape reality, so I’m a little pissed at myself for getting through all 304 pages in four or five sittings. But I just couldn’t help it–it was that good. This novel is definitely going to be a tough act to follow.

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read Startup, or are you into other types of lit? If you’ve read it, let me know what you think! If not, I’d love to hear what your current reads are 🙂

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Lexi, the blogger behind Boho Chicken, inspired me to put together this guide for curating an efficient and chic bedside table with a post she did a few months back.

As she wrote, a bedside table is so much more important than most people realize! It truly is one of the most convenient places to keep the things you use (or should use) every day. And because it’s something you see every morning and night, you want the area to be aesthetically pleasing and a reminder of the things you love.

Getting organized is a common New Year’s resolution, so I thought, what better time to give you guys the tips and tricks I use for curating a neat and pretty space that fits just about everything I need.

You’ll need…

  1. A plain table: I like clean lines and neutral colors; to me this is the most relaxing. But for those of you who like a more decorative look, a simple table like this makes it easy to change up your space’s style whenever without having to buy new furniture. Check out local estate sales, antique stores and flea markets for unique and affordable pieces.
  2. Storage: Other than the table itself, the storage you choose is the most important aspect of curating your bedside! A small bin and a box or two really keep your table organized and optimize the small space.
  3. Light: Natural light and overhead lights are great, but I need all the light I can get to feel the most inspired and productive in my space. So, I like to keep a little lamp on my bedside table for reading and journaling.
  4. Candles & home fragrances: A good-smelling space is a must for me! I cannot fully relax unless I have a candle (or two!) lit (along with fresh sheets). My favs are Byredo’s Bohemia and Burning Rose, as well as Alex And Ani’s Scent 7. I also keep a ton of incense on hand at all times (I love, love, looove Dragon’s Blood).
  5. Beauty & wellness essentials: You definitely don’t need your entire contour kit or lipstick collection on hand, but there are a few things you can’t go without. For me that’s Glossier‘s Balm Dotcom, a trustworthy hand cream, as well as a small supply of sheet masks and/or eye patches. Every time I’m in L.A., I head to Make Asobi in Little Tokyo to stock up on a variety of authentic Asian sheet masks and other goodies. These guys are perfect because they don’t require any clean-up; you can go straight to sleep afterwards without making any mess at all. Dietary supplements, medication and any holistic remedies fit in this category, too.
  6. A small dish: Nothing makes me crazier than having a bunch of random jewelry cluttering up my bedside table; my favorite pieces can so easily get lost or damaged this way. So, I keep a small, pretty dish on my bedside table for the jewelry I take off before going to sleep.
  7. Reading material: This one is a no-brainer, or at least it should be! Whether you’re in school and have books to read as part of your coursework, or enjoy doing some reading on your own, it’s so important to do. There are so many benefits to reading before bed, and when the material is right in front of you day after day, I think you’re more likely to actually dive into it and stick with it. My current picks? Reading Sex And The City by Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, as well as Fashion-ology by Yuniya Kawamura.
  8. A journal: If journaling really isn’t your thing, you might be tempted to skip this one. But, a small notebook and a couple pens really help me feel organized, so I always like to have these supplies on hand. They’re especially useful when an idea comes to mind; it makes jotting it down before I forget a lot easier. I love, love, looove my personalized leather notebook from Pop & Suki; it makes me look forward to journaling nearly every day.
  9. Crystals: Not only are crystals gorgeous decorations, they provide your space with good vibes! These luxurious-looking natural wonders can help with everything from balance and focus to positivity to love. I keep rose quartz (love) and amethyst (relaxation) on my bedside table, and I also love having sage around for when I really need to cleanse my space’s aura.
  10. Inspo: Whatever inspires you, keep it front and center! For me this is my lifelong obsession with magazines and coffee table books. Right now I’ve got Literally Me by Julie Houts and the December 2017 edition of Vogue Paris (with Rihanna as guest editor).
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This year I celebrated New Year’s Eve in LA at Unici Casa. I attended a Day Of The Dead event at this venue in November, and was so happy to be invited back by the EC twins, two of my favorite DJs.

I’ve never done anything besides lie on my couch for NYE–after all, the East Coast is freezing this time of year, so I’m never really in the mood to go out. After an invite from the EC twins, I decided to book a flight to LA for a few days; I couldn’t resist getting out of the cold.

Unici Casa is a super glam spot, and it has a fun red carpet entrance, so I love playing up whatever theme the hosts pick.

Sunday night’s theme was Casino Royale (i.e., black ties and Bond girls). Like I said, I’ve never gone full-glam for NYE before, so I went all-out in a hot pink mini dress with sequins and a bronze smoky eye.

I accessorized with a faux fur coat, sheer black stockings and velvety black heels. My favorite thing about fall/winter dressing is getting to mix different prints and textures, and the sequin-faux fur combo felt extra luxe. For a little more sparkle, I wore my nameplate earrings from The M.

Because I can’t get enough of this hot pink glitter lipstick from MAC Cosmetics, I went for neutral eyeshadow. The bronze smoky look I created gave my eyes just the right amount of drama to balance the bold lip, and I’m so happy with how it came out.

What I wore:

Coat, Free People, similar here

Dress, Free People

Shoes, by the way., purchased from Revolve

Bag, Pop & Suki

Earrings, The M Jewelers

Of course I also had to do some exploring while in town. Thanks to a two-week free trial from Class Pass, I got to visit a few exercise studios in the LA area. My fav was a cycling class at FlyWheel’s Santa Monica location, but I also tried barre and pilates, which were great, too.

It’s not a trip to LaLa land without a hike! LA is home to some of the best hiking in the world, so I always try to squeeze one (or two!) in while I’m here. Thanks to the holiday, I had a little extra time, so I met up with a friend and we decided to take a trip to Malibu’s Point Dume for a sunset hike.

Because you access the trails directly from the beach, this spot combines the best of both worlds: bluffs with gorgeous views that are perfect for hiking, as well as miles of Malibu’s famous shoreline. The pictures hardly do Point Dume any justice; I can’t wait to visit during the spring and summer when it’s beach weather.

Before heading home, I hit up some new and old favs on Melrose. I stopped at Wasteland, one of LA’s best vintage retailers, for the first time, as well as Reformation Vintage and House Of Intuition.

And I had to stop by Little Tokyo in DTLA to stock up on some of my must-have beauty essentials at Make Asobi. I discovered this gem filled with sheet masks and other unique skincare items while visiting LA in June, so I always make it a priority to stop by and pick up some things not easily available on the East Coast. I leave plenty of extra room in my suitcase 😉

I hope 2018 is treating everyone well so far! I cannot thank my readers enough for your support throughout 2017 and into this new year. Although party season may be over, I very much look forward to continuing to create a ton of quality content for you guys in 2018. I also hope to interact with everyone more, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below, or get in touch with me on any of my social media platforms (links to the right if you’re on a desktop, or down below if you’re on a mobile device).

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I know it has been a minute since I’ve shared a monthly favorites with HM readers. But, I just can’t avoid it any longer; there are a *ton* of new things I have really been loving lately that I need to share with my readers.

Besides Prince Harry’s royal engagement (eep!), I put together a post on everything else I’ve been obsessing over this month (hint: there’s a ton from Sephora’s VIB sale). Now excuse me while I go scroll through Meghan Markle boards on Pinterest…

Fiorucci: By now everyone on here knows my obsession with Devon Carlson, one of the designers behind Wildflower Cases. Through her I’ve discovered some of my favorite people, places and things (like Girl At The White Horse, an L.A. bar). Arguably the coolest, though, is Fiorucci, an Italian label that mixes Dolce Vita luxury with British street style.

Back and better than ever, Fiorucci is one of the most unique labels on the market today–and it has such a rich history. As an Italian girl myself, I quickly fell in love with Fiorucci, but held out until Black Friday to order a few things from their site. To me, their pieces are casual, yet structured, with the perfect amount of sexy for everyday life.

Unlike a lot of other high-end labels, Fiorucci creates pieces I actually want to wear and that I can feel like myself in. I’ll most likely end up creating a lookbook (or two!) focusing on the pieces I bought, but for now I’ll link my favorites here, here and here.

Neisy Bra by Are You Am I: I picked this bra up at the AYAI showroom in Downtown Los Angeles last month, and I have barely taken it off since. Like everything from Are You Am I, this piece fits beautifully; it’s seriously like second skin.

And not only is it comfortable, it looks the part, too. Comfortable bras that are also pretty are super hard to come by–especially when you have a bigger chest. Its thick strips complement the thin rib detail on the cup portion (while providing a little extra support), and it has a gorgeous gold clasp detail on the back.

Unfortunately, this baby is out of stock. But, you can’t go wrong with anything from AYAI. I Promise 😉

Bali Body Shimmering Body Oil: You guys already know how much I love Bali Body’s skincare range; while I can’t make it through the summer months without their Watermelon Tanning Oil SPF 6, their BB Cream is my holy grail year-round.

Just in time for the holidays the Aussie cult-favorite brand debut their Shimmering Body Oil, and it definitely delivers. Unlike their tanning oils, though, Shimmering Body Oil is meant to be worn with *or without* the sun.

It instantly bronzes the skin while giving you a shimmering (duh!) golden glow. And because it’s from BB, it’s insanely nourishing, moisturizing and smells amazing–even better than their original coconut body oil in my opinion.

I love using it on top of–or sometimes instead of–BB’s Bronzing Lotion for that fresh-from-vacay look anytime, anywhere. Shimmering Body Oil, balibody.co

Too Faced Melted Liquified Lipstick in Chihuahua: Ever since I picked up MAC’s Persistence over the summer, I’ve been loving a bold nude lip. Too Faced’s Melted formula has been a favorite of mine for more than two years, so during Sephora’s VIB sale I picked up this shade.

Chihuahua is the perfect match for nearly any eye look, and this high-impact formula can’t be beat: it provides a glossy shine without sacrificing bold color payoff.

Unlike other liquid lipsticks, there’s no need to babysit this formula all day (or night!) long. And because it feels hydrating, lightweight and comfortable, has been my go-to lip color all month long–I even wore it on Thanksgiving! $21, sephora.com

MAC Cosmetics Frost Lipstick in Pink, You Think?: While Chihuahua has been my everyday lip, MAC’s Pink, You Think? has been my go-to for special occasions.

I ventured to L.A. twice in November, and I always love experimenting with fun colors when I’m out there (more so than when I am home on the East Coast). So, this lippie came along for the ride both times.

When I wore this hot neon pink lipstick (with blue pearlescent undertones) for the first time, I paired it with a gray cat-eye look. And the second time I went for a semi-coordinating pearlescent pink eye look. On both occasions, though, this lip color was a hit.

The neon pink hue is stunning, and it doesn’t look weird when it starts to disappear; on me it fades into a sun-kissed coral color. I never see this shade going out of style. $17.50, maccosmetics.com

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask: This was another Sephora VIB sale purchase. After hearing a ton of my fellow Glossier Reps gush about this product, I finally gave into the temptation (couldn’t resist that 20-percent off deal).

I was a little hesitant at first because my skin can be pretty sensitive, but figured with the discount and Sephora’s killer return policy, the risk was minimal.

Not only does it smell amazing, it actually gets the job done! As I’ve gotten older, I noticed my skin (which is normally on the oily side) gets a little dry and somewhat irritated during the colder months. So, I need something extra in my routine to keep my complexion hydrated this time of year.

Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer is great after cleansing, toning and serum-ing, but Watermelon Glow definitely gives my skin that boost it needs before bedtime. $45, sephora.com

Ouai Hair Oil: If you read one of my previous posts, you know I also *finally* tried a few products from the Ouai during Sephora’s VIB sale. While I love everything I picked up, Hair Oil is the stand-out product for me; I find myself reaching for this guy nearly every day.

The nourishing blend of ingredients protects hair from heat damage while mending split ends. And for me, one pump is enough to tame the fly-aways around my face–the best part? I no longer need heat tools to do that!

I’ll also apply Hair Oil to dry tresses before bed to help strengthen my hair overnight. $28, sephora.com

The Fashion Law (website): I’ve been super busy wrapping up my thesis proposal, so I haven’t had too much time to read for pure pleasure. Thankfully, I love my field of research, especially when it gives me the chance to catch up on The Fashion Law, one of my favorite sites for several years now.

TFL has always been my go-to for keeping up with the industry. But more importantly, it was a huge influence in selecting my research topic.

While big names like Vogue and Marie Claire focus heavily on celebrity and pop culture-related content, TFL provides meaningful, in-depth pieces on the industry’s law and business–and it’s still fun to read. The more I learn about the industry, the more I can appreciate that.

Because TFL has been such a big part of my life lately, I decided to include it in my favorites this month even though I’ve been keeping up with it since 2014.

Honorable mentions: Wowder in Light/Medium by Glossier, Daily Oil Wash by Glossier, Match Stix Matte Skinstick in Mocha by Fenty Beauty, Bronzing Lotion by Bali Body, kirakira+ (iPhone app), Sweatsuit in Camel Khaki by Danielle Guizio NY

What have you been loving this month?

What fashion and beauty items have you been reaching for the most? Are there any inspiring or informative books, magazine articles or blogs I should check out? Let me know your current lifestyle favorites in the comments down below! Xx

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