Thursday, August 27, 2015

Check In With Kendry Bird

Just went on a scouting trip to NYC to look for a room. Along the way, I also attended a rooftop party at Top the Standard, which was amazing... disco balls, dancing, delicious drinks, and a hot tub! So fun. I can't wait to move to NYC <3

Kendra L. Saunders
Kendra L. Saunders

Kendra L. Saunders

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lyn Vargas of House of Smart, Tough Advice on Business, Makeup and Marketing

It's not every day that you get to speak with a woman who is not only an artist, but also a business owner- and a marketing genius! Lyn Vargas has built her brand of colorful, highly-pigmented lipcolors from the ground up; she dreams the colors, creates them, sells them, and markets them to the fashion-savvy around the world. Instagram stars from England and Sweden post selfies wearing House of Beauty, right along with girls (and boys!) all over America, the company's country of origin.

House of Beauty is a joyful company that offers a riot of colors that will look beautiful on dark and light skintones alike, and all skintones in between. They even offer opaque gold lip colors, the likes of which you're seldom to see anywhere else!

Just as importantly, House of Beauty rejects the secretive business model of brands who separate themselves from their customers like royalty behind a castle moat. HoB not only allows all reviews, positive or negative, but they encourage them, and promise never to delete or hide any negative reviews. That's strong belief in a product!

Below is my interview with Lyn, where she talks some very in-depth suggestions for women considering opening their own business, how she creates her lip colors, and her relationship with beauty bloggers the world over...

Lyn Vargas, House of Beauty

1. Why did you decide to create such bright and memorable colors?

 I wanted to have a broad range of colors to cater to every personality and all walks of life. When I use to be a beauty blogger, one of my favorite  things to do was create lip art, but found that I could not really find lip colors to use for my art. So I would make my own mixtures using lip pencils, eyeshadows, NYX milk pencil, and clear gloss to create my own creamy paint. I also loved being able to create different looks and get into character, so as an artist, a lot of this is what inspires me now. I want to create colors that are your standard wearables, but I also really wanted to offer unique colors for artists that they can use so the possibilities would be endless. Like paint to a painter. My lip hybrids are so versatile and that's the beauty of it. I also love the idea that people are stepping out of the box, wearing colors that they wouldn't normally wear. 
I also must give credit to my ex manufacturer. Some of the colors that are bold and colorful that you see in my line have been reformulated from when I carried her line when we had a partnership. So in truth, colors such as Aquarius and Taboo for instance were colors she manufactured to me prior with her lip creams, but when I became an independent company, many of my customers asked for those colors to come back and I made a new and improved reformulation using my own recipe. 

2.When did you first decide you wanted to go into business for yourself?

I always wanted to but in March 2015, I was kind of forced into it. I started my business with a silent partner and before it was House of Beauty, my old line was called Premium Vanity. My ex manufacturer ended our business relationship abruptly. I had quit my full time job to focus on my business, so when she no longer wanted to do business with me, it was either sink or swim. I could not risk not being able to put food on the table or a roof over my kids' heads. So I worked hard. Through constant trial and error, I did not give up until I finally created a lip formula I was in love with. This was the birth of House of Beauty and (of me) being the sole owner and sole creator of my line. Everything started to fall into place. One door closed and three more opened. I was blessed with GOD guiding my hands and also the support and help I got from my husband, my company PR Kathryn, and the help of Courtney that created my website, even my promoters. Everything fell into place and led me to where I am now.

3.What is your advice to ladies who have a dream they want to turn into a business?

My advice is to motivate yourself to achieve your goal. I see a lot of girls that say I dream about this and I dream about that, yet they don't make any effort in trying to make their dream come true or they try a little and at the first sight of trouble, they give up. Unless you won the lottery or something, your dream is not just going to fall on your lap. You have to want it enough and actually do something about it to make it happen. Dedicate yourself and your time and take that step after step closer to your goal until it happens and if it does not do well, then at least you tried! So have that drive and be strong because the beginning is always the hardest part.
Secondly, based on past experience, it is best you work on your own. If not, then make sure you have contracts. If you're getting products from a private label or private manufacturer, make sure it is done in a professional manner. Even contact a business attorney or a business savvy friend who has a lot of knowledge on how to start your own business the right way. Educate yourself and believe in yourself. You won't know unless you try.

4. Bold eyes and bold lips at the same time... yes or no?
As a makeup artist, usually the answer is no. Usually, you would tone down your lip color when pairing with bold eyes and visa versa, but when doing editorial looks or you feel a bit dramatic why not? As long as it compliments each other. 

5. What is your personal favorite lip hybrid from House of Beauty?

That's like asking me what my favorite food is. I have so many. Really it just depends on my mood. I can't answer that, they're my babies I love them all.
House of Beauty, lipstick, lipcolor

6. How does it feel to see bloggers around the world wearing your products? Is it still exciting?

I love it!! Yes it is exciting to me. I'm still in awe when I see orders from all around the world! 

7. You create House of Beauty products by hand. Where do you draw inspiration from when you are creating a new color?

I am not really the type of person to stalk companies and be like, "Oh let me see if I can dupe that". No. To me it is like the art of cooking. Being a mixologist. I see ingredients in front me and I am like ohh I wonder what I would get if I mix this and that together? Or ideas will just pop up in my mind. Sometimes my own taste in colors inspire me, the season we are in or I may even have customers suggest a color and I try to satisfy that. Majority of the time, my imagination gets the best of me. 

8. In the past, there were not enough colors formulated to fit women of color, and many women were frustrated about the small amount of choices they had. Are your colors rich enough for women of color to wear confidently?

Absolutely!! They love my colors and leave amazing reviews on my review page @hob_reviews on Instagram. I carry a broad range of colors, almost 75 and growing! Many of them are so rich and pigmented that they will compliment darker skin tones.

9. That's amazing to hear! So... you feature pictures of fans wearing your products, via social media. How can fans get featured on Instagram?

They can simply use my hashtag #houseofbeautyco and/or tag me in the photo for a chance to be featured. Just a little hint, I love swatches, product shots and clear photos :)

10. What is the most memorable thing a woman has told you about life?

I must apologize, I honestly can't remember off hand anything memorable. Life itself has taught me about life. 

11. Who are your female heroes?

First and foremost, my mother. My grandmother and my aunt.

12. What do you do on days when you don't feel confident?

Sometimes, I fix myself up because it makes me feel better and puts a little pep in my step, or I speak to my close friends/family to help ease my insecurities. 

13. Fun questions:
If you could make up Heidi Klum or Jennifer Lopez, who would you choose and what House of Beauty products would you use on her?

Definitely Jennifer Lopez. I saw her rock a yellow color, so I would definitely use Kill Bill. Also Fusion, Seductive, Dragon, Spank My Pank, Nude Brulee, Kathryn and Chiffon.

14. If you could spend a day with Jon Snow (Game of Thrones) or Han Solo (Star Wars) which would you choose and why?

I would love to answer this but I do not know who they are because I have not watched either. So sorry! Maybe if you asked which out of the two brothers from Supernatural lol.

15.Finally, what is your current favorite:

Mascara: Maybelline Blackest Black Mega Plush Volume Express
Book: The Bible
Song: Energy by Drake
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Lyn's current favorite song:

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Girls Got It: Sexism in America's Next Top Model and Project Runway's Current Seasons

Reality TV presents a subjective eye on real humans doing semi-real things. And, despite the comments that Matt McGorry has dealt with about the choices of his very-much-fictional character on Orange is the New Black, most people watching reality TV know that they're seeing a filtered version of life.

Project Runway is a show that offers a lens into manic time schedules, difficult fabrics, and colorful designers. The show wheels between utter brilliance (the Ultimate Hard and Soft episode of Season 11) to downright silliness. We've seen 'heroes' and 'villains' on the show; we've seen triumph and heartbreak. We've seen artificial moments created entirely for sympathy or laughs, and we've seen some surprising glimpses into humanity.

With that understanding in mind, S14 of the show has brought us some classically wonderful Project Runway elements already: an unconventional challenge (greeting cards!), and some kickass women designers (Ashley! Candice! Laurie! Amanda!) It's also brought us the necessary evil of groan-or-giggle-worthy product placement, and the unnecessary evil of sexism on the part of the male designers.

Take a gander over at this season's America's Next Top Model, and you see the same thing on both accounts.

So what's up with this sudden strong trend?

Over on ANTM, we have a grungy greaseball of a beach bum pretending to help a woman he's super interested in banging, and then talking about her behind her back. We have a Fedora Guy suffering from a possibly terminal case of I'm a Nice Guy syndrome, making catty comments about a female contestant's fake boobs and how you can't trust women with fake boobs. Both of these wonderful examples of masculinity also repeatedly remind us that they are horny and not really that picky about which female will hurry up and relieve their condition.

Women should be pretty, but not too pretty. They should be around, but not win the competition. The second they put up any kind of fight, the once 'hot' women are suddenly unattractive, not all that talented, and need to go home. Having an opinion is abrasive, being quiet is vapid and empty headed.

Maybe I expect a bit more of this sexism from the boys over on ANTM, considering many of them are young and aggressively straight, but it's disappointing to see these comments and views carried over to Project Runway. Edited to add: I'm mainly speaking of Joseph's decision that his opinion is the only one that matters and that his female team-mate needs to do as he says, and nothing else, dampen her personality, and basically not speak when someone asks what they're doing, and Jake's temper tantrum about his female team-mate having ideas about their outfit.

Many of the Project Runway viewers are not upper class buyers. They are working class people who spend 8-10 hours a day working in a store or office, who watch the show with a glass of wine, and who vote in the polls, talk about the designers on social media, and turn up to events when the designers finally get a small show or clothing line. They are the people who hand over their hard earned money or credit card to buy a piece from their favorite PR designer. As such, many of them are choosy with their hard-earned money. And many of them are women. These women don't want to spend their money on a designer who clearly looks at women as lesser beings in this modern year of 2015.

Sometimes I hear gay men say something along the lines of, "But I'm gay! I'm not being sexist, I just don't like women!" This is absolutely not, in any way, a good excuse for acting as if your male parts give you better tools for solving problems or creating art, for controlling the 'wild females' in your midst, for cracking jokes about their menstrual cycles, for calling them false endearments with a snarled lip, for laughing at them for 'just being girls'.  This does not save you from one very important fact: You are still a sexist.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Upcoming Fun Stuff!

Hello everyone! Hope you've been enjoying your summer.

I have lots of great content coming for you soon, including an upcoming interview with Lyn, House of Beauty's awesome owner, and an interview with one of my favorite Instagram personalities, Martina of

Other upcoming topics for posts include tips for having 'fun' colored hair, and discussions on the relationship between weight and fashion, as well as consent in fiction.

Make sure to check back regularly!

Kendra L. Saunders

Kendra L. Saunders, Kendra Saunders

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Instagram's Makeup Queen Elina Liljeholm: Selfies, Lipliner, and Finding Success

I'm so excited to welcome one of my favorite makeup artists, who I first spotted on Instagram: Elina Liljeholm. Elina's work is absolutely gorgeous, and she posts snaps that will make you want to pick up your red/berry lipstick again!

Read below as we talk about tips for great selfies, how to achieve white-blonde hair, and Elina's advice for being a success on Instagram...

First of all, we have to talk about your amazing white-blonde hair. How do you maintain such a white blonde?

Actually, I don´t do much! I am very light blonde naturally (you can see it in the fact that I have been lazy lately and have like 5 cm outgrowth, haha) and all I do is bleach my outgrowth one time about every 3-4 months and use silver conditioner like every other shower. Mostly people talk about silver shampoo when it comes to white/grey hair, but I prefer conditioner (there´s so many in the stores nowadays) because it keeps your hair healthier! 

Oh, good to know! I'll have to get my hands on some of that conditioner. You are a makeup selfie queen. What is your advice to girls who want their makeup to look striking and beautiful in pictures?

Two things are the most important to get a nice makeup picture: Light and a good camera! The light is number one because most cameras (even phone cameras, not the selfie cam tho) are good enough to get ok pictures. I use as much light as I possibly can. I live in an apartment and I don´t feel comfy to go outside and take pictures (but it´s really the best!) so most often I take them on my balcony where it´s almost daylight. Or by the biggest window. Just a lamp or two in a dark room is not good enough. The picture will be hard to get sharp and all the colours just disappear. So yeah, good lighting! 
A good camera is the best to have for close ups. You need to be able to zoom properly to get these reeaaally close and sharp pictures. A nice camera is also more able to catch all the colours and shadows you want, and it just over all makes the pictures look prettier. In my opinion, haha!

You feature a lot of really strong lipcolors (red, purple, etc). Do you use lipliner? Do you have a favorite lipliner?

Actually I don´t! I have thought for SO long that I should buy one since I have a little bit of trouble getting the lipstick to stay through the whole day. But I don´t have a job right now and I feel that I can´t spend money on makeup, so I´ve never bought one. And I don´t even understand why. They´re not even that expensive, haha!

What is your opinion: Can a girl wear a dark eye AND a bold lip? If so, how should they pull it off?

YES. I live with the idea that there are no rules with makeup. Just wear what the hell you like, no matter what "rules" you break. Just go crazy with colours all over your face if that´s what you feel like! 
When I wear it I most often go for a matte smoky eye in some greyish brown shade and winged liner matched with berry lips. OR when I feel more edgy, or if it´s a boring day I go for red-pink-purple-orange-ish smoky eyes matched with really dark lips. Kind of grungy!

Ah yes, the grunge look is back in for sure! Love those tips. Who are some of your favorite models?

Oh damn, I have so many! 
Like Gina Harrison. Her body is like the most amazing shit I´ve seen (she looks like something from a superhero-magazine or something) and I love her style. Or Winnie Harlow. I´m just amazed by her skin. She looks so cool! Or Diandra Forrest. Her looks is so unique and she´s so beautiful. I also think about Charlotte Free or Audrey Kitching. They are both people who got into the modeling business with crazy coloured hair and a more edgy style. I really have this thing for people who look like something more than the ordinary. People with looks you don´t see every day. It just speaks to me!

Do you have plans for professional modeling in the future?

I´ve always thought it would be so FUN to model and I´ve always been really comfy in front of the camera. But I don´t know. I'm just 152 cm tall (5´0) and not super thin so I would have such a hard time to get into the business and it would be so much hard work and I just don´t want it that much. I love beauty and art and creativity so I think makeup artistry fits me better anyways. But if I had the chance in front of me some day, I think I would take it!

It's interesting that Tyra Banks recently allowed shorter models on America's Next Top Model. I hope we see more diversity in modeling, for sure. It's time! But next question... what would you like to say to your many fans (Over 17k and counting!)?

Thank you so much for supporting me the way you do!! It makes this instagram thing so much fun and sometimes I feel so guilty for not answering all of your super sweet comments. I promise that I read them all tho and I try to at least respond to every question I get. I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for inspiring me and supporting me and sharing my pictures and all these kind words you write on my pictures and all the ideas you have when I feel uninspired and all the collaborations you want me in on. Just thank you for all of that! :*

What is the best way for people to follow in your footsteps?

You mean to keep this Instagram thing going? I think you need to have a passion or at least an interest for what you are doing and post about. If it´s just something you do for popularity (or what the purpose might be), I imagine it soon gets boring and like something you force yourself to do instead of enjoying it. For example, these looks that I do, I did them before I used Instagram too. I just didn´t post it online the same way. If I just did it to post online or to please others, I would get sick and tired of it and hate it. So yeah, do something you love and document it. That´s the easiest way!

Fun questions:

Would you rather live in the world of Game of Thrones, or as a superhero in Avengers, and why?

As a superhero! I actually don´t know much about Avengers, but enough to know that I would rather save the world than fight for some throne, haha! And who doesn´t want superpowers and to wear some of these cool outfits? I sure do!

If you could spend a full day as any celebrity, which would you be?
Easy. Ivy Levan. I'm totally fangirling over her. She seems so down to earth and so intelligent, has a LOT of humor, look gorgeous in every way, has this amazing, deep voice and has the style of my dreams. She is all that I want to be, haha! 

Finally, what is your current favorite:

song? I´m stuck with Chlöe Howl - Paper Heart right now. It´s such a happy song and I love her accent. 
lipstick? Trust Issues from AnastasiaBeverlyHills. It´s the perfect dark purpleish red. Just what I love. 
online store? Wildfox. I use to sit there and just look through their lookbooks. Really inspiring!
piece of clothing? My black transparent long shirt-dress-thingy from H&M. I wear it with anything and you can wear it just on it´s own like a dress, like a kimono if you don´t close it, as a shirt if you put half of it in your pants or whatever. It´s the best!
website? I´m boring and say YouTube. And don´t even think I need to explain why. Everyone uses it and loves it, haha!
Thank you! 
Thank you too for this interview! It was a pleasure :)
Follow Elina on Instagram:
And here is Elina's current favorite song!

Monday, August 3, 2015

DIY Versace-esque Flower Crown

If you were anything like me, you were obsessed with those absolutely gorgeous flower crowns the ladies on the Versace runway were wearing this season. The dresses were heavenly, the styling perfect, but those flower crowns... gah.

(An actual gif of me looking at Instagram shots of the Versace show.)

Being the very DIY/crafty (cheapskate) fashionista that I am, I decided immediately I MUST have a beautiful flower crown of my own to wear to important events like shopping at the grocery store, going to the movie theater, and meeting with my book editor. So of course I sat down with supplies and got to work.

Six hours of painful wire-wrapping, swearing under my breath, and praying for a miracle later, I had something quite beautiful on my hands.


This baby is up for SALE! Feel free to comment on what you think of this recreation!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Spotlight On.... Smart Bomb Cosmetics

About half a year ago, I was first introduced to the lushly decorated, gorgeously stocked Glam356 in Columbus, OH. The shop is full of dresses, jewelry, accessories, old fashion magazines, enough sparkly things to excite a magpie, and stunningly beautiful ladies shopping or working. Quite frankly, you feel like a Kardashian just from stepping into the shop.

Laura, the beautiful brains behind the brand, owns not just Glam356, but two other stores, and her own cosmetics line, Smart Bomb. I talked with her recently about Smart Bomb, and about her shops. Continue reading for her advice for women who want to open a boutique, and lots of insider information about her good-for-you skincare and cosmetics...

First off--- Smart Bomb Cosmetics. We have to talk about Smart Bomb. The packaging! The delicious smells! The colors! How long ago did you launch Smart Bomb?

- I launched Smart Bomb cosmetics about 6 years ago. I wanted a line that was really great for the skin & really fun to look at when applying the products.

(Just look at those beauties! Gimme gimme gimme!)

If a woman could only order one product from Smart Bomb, what must she ABSOLUTELY have?

- - My absolute must have product is my Elixirs. They are a moisturizer & a makeup primer in one product. These elixirs transform the skin to be healthy, radiant looking & extends the wear of your makeup.

The logo and packaging are to die for. Seriously, I want a t-shirt of it or something. So so so chic. But what's inside is even better. Tell us a little about what makes Smart Bomb such a safe and special choice in skincare and cosmetics?

- I created Smart Bomb cosmetics because of dealing with my clients & myself that had skin conditions that needed extra care (such as acne, aging & problematic skin conditions.) I created a line that is TALC & Bismuth Oxychloride free. I found when I put my clients on Smart Bomb products and their own personalized regimen, the skin dramatically improved the way it looked and performed. Once they see & feel the difference they are hooked.

Your lipsticks are amazing. Do they work for women of all skin tones?

-My lipsticks are created to look amazing on all skin tones. I have everything from a light nude color to vibrant red & everything in between.
You are also, of course, a store owner with two locations. Why did you decide to open your shops, and what is the vibe you're going for at those shops?

- I now have 3 locations. I opened my first boutique about 15 yrs ago. I wanted to share my love of all things glamorous and posh. I filled my store with clothing, beauty, and accessories. Women loved the combination of these items in one location ( one stop boutique shopping ).
I wanted to create the vibe of a really glamorous, sincerely happy place for women to shop.

You definitely achieved that; I always feel like even the Kardashians would be proud of your shop, since it really does have EVERYTHING! But okay... I've mentioned this to you before; I'm obsessed with your glamorous Marilyn Monroe-esque blonde hair! How do you keep your hair so beautiful and sparkling blonde?

- Oh you are so sweet Ms. Kendra ! I was born a blonde and have had much help over the years to keep it that way (;
I have naturally wavy hair but prefer to wear it straight. I try to not use too much heat on it and allow it to air dry whenever possible. I use a really good leave in conditioner on my hair after washing it and I like to use baking soda& vinegar at least once a week on my hair to get rid of all the hair spray & product build up.

Oooh, I might have to try that then! What is your advice for women who are thinking of opening a shop?

- Make sure that having a boutique is truly your passion. There are many wonderful things about being your own boss but make sure that you have a well thought out game plan for success. My best piece of advice is to fill your boutique with items that you are truly in love with. Create your own vibe and atmosphere. Do not try to replicate someone else’s look. Stay true to your likes and individuality when it comes to creating your environment. Be passionate, be your authentic self and you will succeed.

How can people order Smart Bomb?

- Smart Bomb Cosmetics is available @
I have a special place on my website called “ The Smarty Hotline.” Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have. I am here to help you find your smart, glamorous self!

Finally, what is your current favorite:

Online store:- It is a website with the BEST boutiques from all over the world. Of course my boutique GLAM356 is found on this site at (;

Song:- Honey I’m Good -by Andy Grammer. This song is about being happy with your spouse and I LOVE my hubby <3

City for visiting/vacationing: -Miami

Summertime drink:- Grapefruit Shandy by Illusive Traveler

Saturday, August 1, 2015

No Joking, You Need to Run and Buy This Mascara NOW!!

Alright, so not long ago I told you about Roller Lash, the amazing mascara from Benefit that curls your lashes and stays put throughout the day. It's awesome stuff, and I <3 it.

Despite my powerful brand loyalty, though, yesterday I took a chance on a new product that I had heard good things about, picking up the Physician's Formula Eye Booster Instant Lash Extension Kit.

Oh. My. God.

This was totally my reaction:

My eyelashes went from little yellow-white-invisible strands of nonexistent hair-stuff to celebrity glam in seconds. I was so impressed that I ran to the nearest person in the vicinity (sister) and forced her to stare at my eyelashes for longer than is comfortably necessary. I did a happy dance. I thanked any deity that would listen. My sister was super impressed but also asked if she could stop staring at my lashes.

And this morning I decided to make a physical record of the before and after for your perusal.


(This is pre-Eye Booster me. Note the sad 'diet advertisement at 1:30am' lighting. Note the lack of eyelashes. Note the general sadness of my face. A tragedy, right?)
If you're like me, you may feel suspicious of how easy this miracle product is to use. Nothing this incredible can be made of mortal ingredients or applied with the hands of a mere human, right? But no, it's actually pretty foolproof. You apply the mascara first, just like you would with any boring old normal mascara. Even just by itself, the mascara base/top coat makes your lashes look pretty nice, but it's this next step that changes EVERYTHING.
There's a tiny bottle of faerie dust-- errr, fiber extensions. Basically you unscrew the top, shake the wand a little to get off the excess magic (which there is a LOT of, so don't skip this step like I did, or you'll look like there are millions of legs from newborn spiders just chilling on your cheekbones), and sweep the wand across your lashes like you do with mascara. Then, quickly, grab that mascara again and sweep it over top to set everything. If you want to go for broke like I did, repeat steps 2 and 3 again.
(This is me after the miracle formula has been applied. Note the beautiful sunlight haloing my head. Note the smirk of a woman who has badass lashes. Note the 'after a serious fad diet' pose. It's that good. I swear.)

Another awesome thing about this product? It doesn't smear off like a lot of other mascaras I've tried. I'll get back to you next time I wear it for a sad movie or while hugging a hottie, but for now I'll just declare it to be relatively resilient, and basically perfect in every way. (Mary Poppins would agree)

(An actual gif of me after using this product)

You can pick it up at your local drugstore or makeup store, or over here. I do warn you, though, you may find yourself getting stopped in public by people admiring your lashes, or being mistaken for Adele/Twiggy/that-mean-girl-in-high-school-who-had amazing-eyelashes, while you're just trying to pick up some Brussels sprouts. Use with caution. And stockpile.

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