June 26, 2017

Celebrate Summer with St-Germain

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails
Is there anything more heartwarming than a summer afternoon with your favourite gals? I think not. In a life filled with busy schedules, running errands non stop, and always on the go with work, I made a commitment to myself to be more active this summer and organize more gatherings with my friends. It was obligatory that the first gathering would be on the first day of Summer, June 21st. The guests? My one and only sister Alexandra and my long time bestie, Meryem. All three of us have very different lives. My sister is a mama that is running around non stop with my niece from morning to night, my bestie is a teacher that is always dealing with non-stop adventures created by toddlers, while I wouldn't even know where to begin with how many things I am dealing with daily. But when it comes to our get togethers all three of us agree that yummy cocktails are a MUST! This time around I thought I would surprise them with the best flavour I have ever come across up to now. A pleasant surprise non the less, this year's St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur is what I would like to call luxury in a bottle. I am huge cocktail fan. Give me the sweetest cocktail of life and you will be my best friend. 
Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

I am not much of a liqueur connoisseur, but in my humble opinion this may be the highest quality of elderflower flavour I have tasted so far. As soon as we opened our St-Germain bottle we were taken aback by the aroma of  the liqueur. My grandparents had tons of liqueur bottles in their living room cabinet while I was growing up, and as vividly as I remember how lovely all the liqueurs smelt, I honestly don’t think I have smelt an aromatic scent like St-Germain.  A little of a fun history lesson for you which I find fascinating and surprising is that St-Germain is the first liqueur in the world created in an artisanal French manner.  Each spring, for only a few months, Elder Trees in Beaucaire, South of France produce creamy-white, fragrant blossoms. The peeps over at St-Germain then hand-pick these Elderflower blossoms for distillation (only the best quality ones). I have read that in order to achieve a high quality scent and flavor the elderflowers must be processed within 72 hours after they are picked. Most elderflower liqueurs that are out there actually freeze the blossoms before distillation, but St-Germain is made with 100% fresh blossoms giving you a true natural flavor. Another cool fact about this liqueur is that each bottle of St- Germain is individually numbered, reflecting the year in which the flowers were picked. I don’t know about you, but St-Germain just took my cocktail game to the next level. A total game changer for me.  

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails
  
I mean, the design of the bottle alone makes you want to have a bottle of St-Germain on your cocktail cart. It is the epitome of bottle elegance which for me is very art deco. With a beautiful pale golden colour and eye catching bold font, St-Germain is my kind of bottle. 
Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails
*Photo taken by moi

The other thing I loved about St-Germain is that there is an extensive portfolio of cocktail recipes on the brand's website. Even though I do enjoy mixing cocktails and coming up with my very own recipes I thought I would give a try to the cocktail recipes on the St-Germain website. I found the ingredients suggested by St-Germain to really complement the liqueur's subtle yet complex flavours of the elderflower, tropical fruits, and citrus.
Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails
*Recipe taken from St-Germain website with minor revisions

First up, I prepared the St-Germain Cocktail- Signature Serve. We found the Signature Serve to be so refreshing and perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot summer day. St-Germain seems to pair well with every base spirit, adding character and a je ne sais quoi to any cocktail. Even though the liqueur is sweet, St-Germain has exceedingly low sugar content relative to other liqueurs. The perfect excuse for us to eat more sweets. 
Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails 
As a second cocktail, I served the French Gimlet. Luscious and sweet, I like how the freshly squeezed lime adds a twist to the cocktail with its citrus notes. If you wish you may also add some blackberries. I added a couple just because I like my cocktails to have some additional textures with fruits. What I did is have the blackberries on a toothpick on the edge of the coupe glass, so that way it is up to your guest whether or not they drop the blackberries into their cocktail drink.  

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails

Celebrating the first day of summer with girlfriends and St-Germain cocktails
*Photography by Laura Clarke Photography 

I would have never thought of mixing liqueur with other spirits, but this is a total game changer for my cocktail game. I am looking forward to my next summer gathering at home and you better believe first guest on my list will be a bottle of St-Germain. My mantra this summer coincides with St-Germain's mantra; Vive L’Apéritif. To celebrate the importance of slowing down and actually taking the time to enjoy an evening with friends and family, or even enjoying a much needed solo time on the patio on a sunny afternoon.  Vive L’Apéritif! Enjoy responsibly! 

Even though this post is sponsored by St-Germain you know how much I love cocktails and get togethers. Opinions and thoughts are my own. 
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June 21, 2017

Floral Skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Good morning my beautiful flaneurs!  If you recall I ordered a custom made blazer from Sumissura last year and I absolutely loved it. This time, I customized a skirt suit from Sumissura so I thought I would share how the process went this time around. Since pant suits do not look so great on me, and they are also not my style, I thought this time around I would order a skirt suit from Sumissura instead. Looking through the pages of different designs I came across the cutest skirt suit that screams Spring and it is so me!

I have used other customizing sites in the past, but I like Sumissura because it has developed a system that is user friendly and the steps you follow actually make sense. Using the unique designer platform on the site, you can personalize details such as the collar style & colour, button threads colour, cuffs style & colour, as well as adding your own initials. First step is to choose your design. Do you want to customize a top? A blazer? A trenchcoat? I went with the skirt suit.

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

The Blazer

This Green floral polyester skirt suit is seriously out of this world. At first I was a bit unsure about the  petunia green fabric and was worried the print may be too out there, but I love it. It's unique and definitely stands out. I probably would not go with the skirt being the same fabric as well because it would make the outfit too busy, but if you like taking risks and don't mind making a statement then it the petunia fabric print skirt and blazer is the right choice for you. I like to stay on the classy-preppy side when it comes to my style, hence why I chose to go just with the floral blazer. 

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

The Skirt

I am still pretty notorious for not properly measuring myself when ordering things from Sumissura, I know! What is the point of customizing something when you don't measure yourself, but Sumissura seems to always get it right when I am choosing my body types with their cute little graphics. I didn't exactly properly measure my self for the skirt suit, but other than the skirt being a bit loose at the waist (easily fixed with a belt) the skirt suit fitted perfectly. So that's another plus when ordering from Sumissura for those that are a bit lazy like me. But you should probably take your measurements, so that you get the perfect fit. You don't need a tailor, just need a friend. Also, if you don't have a friend available there is a step-by-step on the website how to do it.

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

The Buttons

The gold buttons have become my favourite and I add them to my blazers all the time when I order from Sumissura. Instantly adds the chic factor to the blazer.You can also choose how many buttons you want to add. I went with three. Last time I only added two to my blazer, this time around I thought I'd go all out. 

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

The Fabric

Choose from over 500 different fabrics and colours. For shirts, Sumissura offers fabrics like Cotton, Fil Coupè, Linen, and Flannel. Suit fabrics range from Corduroy, Tweed, Wool, Cotton, Merino Wool, to name a few. The skirt suit that I chose already had selected the fabrics for me, but I actually changed the fabric colour of the skirt from beige to the baby blue shade. This colour combination made the floral blazer stand out more and also gave a fresher look. It is so fun looking through fabrics and selecting them to see what they would look like when you put them together. I am also really pleased with the quality of the fabric. The fabric of the blazer is actually unreal. I like how it feels almost as it is engraved and has different depths when you touch it.

Bijuleni | Floral Blazer and skirt Suit - Sumissura Review

I like Sumissura because their mantra is that everyone should have access to a unique wardrobe. Regardless of your size, Sumissura makes it possible for anyone to design a suit, a top, a blazer even a skirt to match your own personal style without limiting possibilities to size which other stores do.At an affordable price, I love customizing details of my clothing and making each article of clothing my own.
Have you guys ever ordered from Sumissura?



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June 19, 2017

How To Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul












Whether you are a new blogger or not, I hope this blog post helps you to blog for profit the right way or at least help you to define what your brand will be and what is the purpose of you blogging. Profit? Receiving free product? A hobby? Are you an Anything goes blogger? Are you more of a defined brand? Blogging for profit is something we all aim to accomplish as bloggers. Blogging may be challenging (if you recall my blog post about Things Bloggers Find Annoying), but as challenging as it is, it is also so rewarding in so many different levels that sometimes go beyond profit. But how do you blog for profit without selling your soul? We have all at some point fallen into the selling our soul trap and that is totally fine. It is completely part of the process. I think the important point here is to not keep selling your soul for profit, but to rather put your brand first even if you lose profit along the way. 

Charging a Fee

When I first started blogging I was accepting to do projects for free in exchange for product all the time. I was totally ok with this because I had not established my brand to the level I wanted. To me, it didn't make sense to charge a fee because my brand was not well founded yet. It wasn't until I hit 5k followers on Instagram that I felt I had accomplished a stable brand or even for that matter that I had finally figured out what blogging means to me and how I would like my brand to be perceived by others. I then started charging a fee that coincided with my following and engagement numbers plus what I considered to be a fair rate for my brand. It is up to you when you choose to charge a fee, and what fee you charge, but be reasonable. Don't ask a brand to pay you $600 for an Instagram Post when you only have 3k followers and your engagement is lower than 3%. It is one thing to undervalue your brand and it is another to overvalue. Both equally dangerous.

Know What Your Brand is Worth

I cannot stretch enough how important it is to evaluate the worth of your brand. Based on the quality of your work and how much time you devote to create your content, think about what your brand is worth to you within reason. When you are a freelancer and have bills to pay, it is hard to turn down brands that are not willing to pay your rate, but my personal preference is to stay true to my brand and turn down brands when I feel the compensation does not reflect the time and effort I am going to put into creating the content. As I said before, if you want to build a refined brand and make the profit that you deserve, you will have to lose some profit along the way. Also, when the expectations do not reflect the compensation that is being offered, it is important for you to think twice before saying yes. This is definitely a difficult element, but it is a principal I follow to ensure I am not selling my soul for profit, regardless of what that profit number is. Always evaluate what you say yes to especially when compensation is way lower than your rate or when a brand asks you to promote them without payment.

Ask Yourself These Questions

1.Do I like the product I have to promote?
2. Would I want to buy this product?
3. Is it a good fit with my brand?

If you answer no to most of these questions, then I suggest you turn the collaboration down. Again, it is hard to turn down a brand especially when payment is involved, but why are you promoting a product you don't even like? It makes no sense! 

Your Personal Brand Comes First

I have turned down many great opportunities with great brands that were not necessarily brands that matched my personal style or products I would normally use. I am very strict with the collaborations I do and do not accept. Thankfully, I have been very fortunate that brands recognize my style and me as a brand so I don't receive too many weird requests. I did once have one brand reach out to me with a budget that wanted me to promote men's underwear. Payment was going to be more than satisfactory, but it made no sense for me to accept. Men's underwear does not really have much to do with me or my brand. I do have posts here and there with Kamiran, but it still doesn't seem a good fit to be posting about the topic. Now, if I had said yes to the promotion this would have been a great example of how I am selling my soul. The brand I am promoting has nothing to do with my own brand, but I am saying yes because of the compensation.

For me, compensation does not come first, which is hard when you have bills to pay, but you also want to have a refined brand. Some bloggers do promotion after promotion, and maybe that is what they want for their brand, but for me it is more important to invest in quality over quantity. Collaborating with a brand shouldn't be just about getting paid, because that is when you are ending up selling your soul. Collaborating should be about loving a product and promoting to your audience.

If Compensation Isn't Offered, Is The Product Offered Worth My Time?

For example, say Louis Vuitton reached out to me and said they don't have a budget, but will give me an LV purse in exchange for a post. You better believe I am going to accept without payment. The product on its own is of a significant value so I am not loosing anything on my part. Creating content is time consuming, so when a brand reaches out to me to promote a pair of flip flops without any compensation, chances are I will turn this opportunity down. Why would I spend 1 hour or more creating content just for a pair of flip flops? The LV purse on the other hand is a great investment. In most cases the product being gifted for promotion is not equivalent to how much work and thought goes behind each post, so this is when a lot of debating will happen as to whether or not you should accept. 

Does Collaborating With This Brand Add Value To My Brand? 

Going back to the LV example. LV is a prestigious brand that will instantly add value and elevate the worth of your brand. Yes, it sucks they are not paying, but you are still gaining from this collaboration. Ask yourself if the brand you are collaborating with is going to add value to your own brand, especially if it is not a compensated post. This is crucial to not selling your soul. Don't say yes to brands just because you are going to receive a free product. Saying yes just for the sake of saying yes is a no no. Sometimes you may want to support a local small brand without compensation even if the product is a pair of flip flops, and that is totally ok in my books too. I have done unpaid posts for small local brands because it is important for me to also give back to my community. Also, I liked the product so I was ok with not being compensated for promoting it. In other cases too you were planning on buying the product anyways, so the fact you are receiving it for free is a bonus. So say yes to unpaid campaigns, but do it for the right reasons!

Ask The Brand

This is where the selling your soul happens the most. A brand will reach out to you telling you how much they love your work and are dying to work with you then they end their email by saying there is no budget for this campaign. Really? No budget? I always ask myself when brands tell me they have no budget Would they ask Julia Roberts to do this for free?  In most cases the answer is no, so why should you be promoting something without compensation? Ask the brand what their marketing budget is, and honestly don't be afraid to turn down something because compensation is not being offered.  Also, some brands will tell you they have no budget, then you promote their product for free and next thing you know you find out that another blogger did the same promotion and they got paid. How sketchy is that when you are pouring your heart and soul into the creation of content and brands are playing favourites? It has happened to me, and it was a major wake up call to start saying NO. Be fair to your brand because no one else will. 

Negotiate

Negotiate the deliverables, negotiate the compensation amount. Just because a brand is offering you $80 for an Instagram post it doesn't mean you have to accept just because that is what they are offering. Always give your rates before accepting a compensation that is way lower than your usual fees. Harsh reality is that even though you have a rate at times brands will not have the appropriate budget that reflects your rate. What do you do then? First step, is to think about how much you love the brand and what they are offering instead of the monetary compensation. Also, if the compensation you are being offered is not compatible with the deliverables, negotiate. For example, say you charge $120 per Instagram post, but a brand says they only have a budget of $200 and expect you to do 3 Instagram posts. Don't be shy or afraid to go back to them and ask to do 2 Instagram posts instead of 3. 

 Quality of Compensated Posts

When my posts are compensated, you better believe I spend hours trying to come up with the best fitting way to promote the brand, and come up with ideas that are new and unique to previous posts I have done. If you are getting paid for a post you better be pouring your heart and soul into the content you are creating. For me any post, but particularly sponsored posts should be your best work. Why would anyone want to pay you to create a post when it seems like you put no time and effort into it? You also sell your soul the moment you stop caring about your brand.  

Find a Balance When Building Relationships

Don't get me wrong it is of utmost importance to build a strong working relationship with a brand or a PR company, but you also have to think about yourself as a brand and how you can build a profitable brand. Do not sacrifice your principles or your values in order to build relationships. There has to be a fine balance between both sides. It is a give and take relationship. That has always been a core value for me while blogging and because I valued myself, but also valued the brands I worked with I have been able to build some amazing relationships along the way. No one wants to be the Katherine Heigl of the blogging world, but that doesn't mean you are going to let brands or PR companies mistreat you so that you can be on their good side. Build positive relationships, but know where to draw the line and stand up for yourself when something rubs you the wrong way. Although I may be a bad example just because I am a no bs person that tells it as it is, but I personally do not care if I burn bridges with brands or PR Companies. If someone doesn't respect me as a person or a brand, why would I want to be on their good side or work with them? Not everyone is going to like you or your brand and I am ok with that. Don't sell your soul and principles so that you can guarantee yourself future collabs. That is my core value when it comes to seeing my blog as a business. 

 In Conclusion: 

My number one advice so that you do not sell your soul for profit in the blogging world is to take a moment and think about what is being offered first before you jump the gun and reply YES. The land of  YES is a dangerous zone if you do not take your time to think. Because next thing you know, you have committed to a project that is not compensated and you end up spending hours of your life creating content that you hate and in some cases will add no value to your own personal brand. Blog in a way in which you are not selling your soul for profit, but rather you are building a refined brand. Blog with intention, blog with honesty and blog in a way where your collaborations nurture your brand with quality, substance, and in a way where your own personal self shines through it. 

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