My Spring DIY projects!

Spring is a beautiful time to the year.  In pagan beliefs, it is a time for rituals of cleaning, renewal and rebuilding.  With that sentiment, it has seemed to fuel my current DIYs, and this is a douzy of on article with 3 awesome projects for fashion and home that I’d like to share with you all!

#1 Distressed and broken t-shirts

I work at a high end fashion boutique, so when raggedy beat up shirts started showing up at the store and I also saw this look in movies and tv, I wanted to get it.  But I wanted to get it for free.  So of course I would DIY this look, it’s so easy to. Who doesn’t have a t shirt in the drawer that is not getting used these days and could benefit from a make-over?  I used an old graphic tee that I barely wore and after a few tutorials from youtube on how to compose a good distressed pattern, I went out on my own.. and I quite like it. Try it yourself, it is really easy, but I recommend you distress a trial t-shirt you can dispose of first before doing it on the one you want to keep.  It really helps you learn what kind of distressing works and where you want it on the shirt…

I really like what I did on the hip/edge part of the shirt, and the sleeves are pretty cool too. all I need is to fade the graphic a bit more somehow…

#2 Uneven Jean Hem

This trend is a bit more low key.  I have only seen it a few times, and it looks best with healed shoes or backless mule type slip ons or loafers. I like how it’s edgy, and adds just the right amount of street cred to a boring full length jean.  And it’s far from being the pedestrian looking cropped cuffed jean.  To get this look, you break apart the seams carefully with scissors on both sides of the jean leg bottom. Then cut straight across on the front panel, higher than the cut on the back panel.  I distressed the cut edges a bit too. And voila, you have an interesting looking jean hem that you will love to sport on errand days or for just getting out on the street…

Looks good with any kind of heels, chunky or stilettos. I think mules or slide on flats with it would be cool for the summer too.

 

#3 Bunnies from unwanted gloves:

Ever wanted to have a cute plush toy made from things you didn’t think could be cute?  Enter these old gloves I had lying around my house that were not pretty enough to be worn in the winter, or too mismatched from losing the other pair over various winters.  I decided to make stuffed bunnies out of them for Easter. I cut off the thumb, the pinky, and middle finger, leaving just two finger for ears.  Then I sewed up all the holes, and added some leg shapes by cutting a slit at the bottom of the glove for where they would be.  I stuffed the gloves, and added whiskers and a ball tail.  And now I have the cutest stuffed bunnies this side of the world!  I am selling these on Etsy, so if you want one, just make an enquiry!

So cute, and handmade looking. Their appeal is the simplicity of the bunnies and the idea to reuse gloves.

What do you think of my Spring DIYs?  Are they fun and easy enough to inspire your projects?  I love being creative and re-inventing materials to make clothes work better for oneself’s life…

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Ways to feel better on sad days…

When I was growing up as a teenager in the 90’s, a lot of the culture around me was sad, angry and depressed.  From Grunge music, to the death of my mother, to the uncertainty of generation X and being on the cusp of a new millenium–my youth was a depressing time.  I wrote a lot in journals, made poems, I also drew and sketched in my spare time.  I remember being sad and alone, but I didn’t suffer.  As an adult though, I find it gets harder and harder to handle negative emotions properly and healthily.  And since I’m all about natural ways of living, there are simple ways to deal with days where I feel crappy.  They take a bit of work…but are better than a day of crying in bed and not getting out.

Whether it’s about a job, a relationship, family…etc.  A lot of things can get us down…if it’s a chronic kind of thing, we may turn to drugs/medication, which is not the best.  And we sometimes even ignore our feelings until they implode on us and we get into even more trouble.  I physically have headaches when I ignore my sadness.

So let’s first understand that sadness stems from when we realize situations/problems are out of our control, and the despair grips the emotional core. But this is sort of a good thing, because once we recognize that whatever happened is not in our control we stop wasting energy fixing it or blaming ourselves.  We finally have time to heal, and not dwell.

Some ways I beat depression and avoid dwelling:

  • Take a hot bath and relax…this distraction not only de-stresses, but it cleanses and renews you, and reminds you that you need to take care of yourself.
  • Re-play all the sad songs that you know will help you.  I am a sap for Fiona Apple, since I grew up on her, and well, she made being pouty so cool! Sometimes skidding into sad emotions help more than avoiding feeling it.
  • Write a journal entry, expressing everything.  Be careful though, this is a double edged sword.  Sometimes purging helps, but it can also trigger past emotions of hurt that you also have to deal with.
  • Put on loads of make-up: after a night of crying, believe it or not, covering up and pretending nothing happened feels great! check out my article about make-up for puffy eyes! I wrote it for allergies, but it works in this case too!
  • Moisturize and pamper your skin.  When you are sad, and stressed, your skin seems to need extra moisture and pampering, so be sure to get a good lotion and slather generously
  • Work at a slower pace, take on less tasks: work is a great distraction, but if you take on too much, the stress will add to your already weakened state.
  • Understand sad days should be treated like a physical illness.  Allow yourself to feel sad, let it run its course and rest, have chicken soup!
  • Resist the urge to eat away emotions.  When I was sad a few years ago, I would go for sweets…they comforted me.  And I’d eat even when I wasn’t hungry.  Not only do you gain weight, but you’re using food to block emotions…and that’s unhealthy
  • Resist the urge to shop away emotions: I also used to buy things I didn’t need to cheer me up.  While the initial purchase lifts you, your credit card bill will not.
  • Hang out with a good girlfriend.  You don’t even have to talk about what’s got you down, just having someone around and going out for coffee is an amazing lift.
  • Sleep in and then some: make sure you get sleep.  For some reason, problems and conflicts look worse when you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep so do yourself a favour and put your alarm on snooze.

↑My sad girl icon Fiona Apple.  A lot of her music is about being tortured, sad and misunderstood…obligatory listening for the moody.

What things do you do when you are really sad, and in pain?  Are your thoughts sometimes too much to handle?  Is life dragging you down in various ways, and you feel like you can’t cope?  Do you feel freakishly alone during your sad days?  Believe it or not, you are not alone.  I think we have to understand our sad days and let them have free run, or else they creep into our happy days, and make living ever much so harder.

 

Why Working at L’Occitane (or any cosmetic giant) is the worst

I am not ever going to work for any corporate cosmetic giant again ever.  Why? That industry is just really, really fake.  From the fake smiles from management, to the fake unnatural ingredients and scents in products, I just never seem to like these corporate conglomerates that spew goo onto the masses and say that it’s skincare, that it’s beautifying.  What it is is actually taxing. To our minds, bodies and souls.  Not one of them is good. There is no difference between L’oreal, Body Shop, Bath and Body Works, and even the classy, upscale philanthropic L’Occitane En Provence. They are all about the bottom line, semi-decent products, and they don’t value their employees at all.  Most recently I gave L’Occitane a chance, and in the past I have also worked at Bath and Body Works, and you can hear about the gripes here in another article.

Okay, so I still have their sales apron...but I didn't snag it. It was actually because they were not clear when my last day would be, and I had optimistically taken it home thinking I'd be there again...
Okay, so I still have their sales apron…but I didn’t snag it. It was actually because they were not clear when my last day would be, and I had optimistically taken it home thinking I’d be there again…

When I got the seasonal position at the French cosmetic company L’Occitane last holiday season, I was optimistic about their business model.  I wanted to learn about the cosmetics industry on a corporate level, and compare it to what I did in my own cosmetic studios at dreamecosmetics, and well, my findings were just disillusioning.  Like I mentioned before, it doesn’t matter which corporation is running the show, but all of the cosmetics industry is about profit, and none of it is about self care, healing or learning. They all want to “seem” beautifying, but with a focus on profit, market shareholders, and too many corrupt people in management, it is impossible for them to fill that mission.

Things I learned at L’Occitane that is probably true of all Cosmetic Conglomerates:

  1. They only care about making sales, and it doesn’t matter how: When I was on the sales floor as a seasonal rep, management was always nervous about me helping customers.  Like I would negate a sale, and that their other permanent reps would do better.  Well, what about letting me learn, and earn my keep there?  No, they preferred that I defer customers to other staff rather than I learn how to sell their product. Short term gains over long term investment in educating me to be part of their team. Typical.
  2. The products were over priced, over hyped, and just idealized too much.  L’Occitane’s hair care, skin care, and perfumes were at least triple the price of most common name brands at the pharmacy, and they did little to justify the cost of them.  Instead we had to focus on the heritage of the company, how it was a beautiful region of France that it originated from, and how this magically meant that a hand cream could be $32 a tube.  Well, even if they were slightly better in quality, did we really have to believe that it was made of rainbows and centuries of heritage from the south of France?  No, obviously not.  But we had to pedal that image to customers, or face the wrath of being sent to the stock room. Which leads me to point 3…
  3. I got sent to the stockroom to do menial tasks more often than not. I was really good with customers and had knowledge about skincare and fashion, but instead of using this knowledge, they put me in the backroom to unload stock for most of the day, then sent me back to the sales floor, then sent me back to the stock.  I wasn’t treated like I was a valuable part of the team. Why hire seasonal sales staff if you are not willing to treat them well for the short time they are there? I cut my fingers deeply twice during the time that I worked there, because of the menial tasking they delegated to me…and I was not hired to be a backroom stock person, seasonal or not.
  4. Management fakery: This was the main reason of all my stress there.  Because head office only spoke with the managers and only looked at the bottom line, a crappy manager could get away with a lot, and even get a promotion (which she did during the time I was there to District Manager).  The manager for L’Occitane told me I had a good chance at getting a permanent position after serving my seasonal one, but also hired another seasonal staff that I felt I had to compete with.  Even though I felt I was the more qualified one (ie. years of retail experience) the other seasonal eventually became permanent.  In hindsight, I doubt that the manager ever wanted to put me as a permanent staff.  She just wanted to use me for the short period and then drop me the minute she could…which is what she did in the most unprofessional manner: She didn’t even tell me that they would not be renewing my contract.  I had to assume this when she sent me a staff schedule that didn’t have dates past my contract end.  That’s right…I was just supposed to shrivel away….and disappear.  As if!
  5. They had the laziest permanent staff: I never saw a more lazy sales team than that of the permanent staff at L’Occitane.  They complained about standing around with nothing to do.  They chatted and gossiped at large about nothing in particular, and the worst of their problems was who would get the early shift the next day.  Customers were annoying to them, and they often didn’t even like the products they sold and were dispassionate. They barely shared information with me about what they knew about the company, and often compensated for their professional distance with asking personal questions about my private life.  All in all, it was not cool, and I have never felt less useful as a worker in my life.  And this was at a posh store like L’Occitane.  It’s sad, really.
  6. Brand Image Hypocrisy: Because of the high prices/high end image L’Occitane held in the marketplace, they had to have a more “philanthropic” image to show to the public.  They often talked about how they donate to noble causes such as associations for the blind, and “Dress for Success”; an initiative that gave second hand clothes to marginalized women so that they can get jobs.  Now here is the irony: I’m sure L’occitane hires a lot of women in need during the holidays as seasonal sales.  And well, what would of been nice of them to do was not only to pay our temporary wages, but to instill management to treat the seasonal staff with more respect–it doesn’t cost the bottom line. If a company wants to support under-served women and community…why not start with their staff?  I am a working single mother, I could use a bit of respect on top of the meager wages any day.

After finding out the hard way that they didn’t renew my contract, I was obviously upset. The manager encouraged me to keep in contact with the company and the store, so that they can keep having a relationship with me as a worker.  But honestly, corporations that alienate the work force have little to no chance of a relationship with me. If I was a valuable member of their sales team last holiday, then ultimately it’s their loss, and not mine.