Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some Thoughts on Goals as We Ring in the New Year

Happy New Years Eve! It's hard to believe, but we're on the brink of not only a new year, but a new decade. It's tradition to make resolutions that we (hopefully) will follow through on in the new year. I've set some solid goals for myself in 2010 that include redesigning this blog (same content, but with a new blog platform and fresh look) and continuing to take part in initiatives that better my community (like the dictionary project I'm helping with).

We're pressured to make wise resolutions, and we're also bombarded with predictions and suggestions on how to make 2010 the "best year ever". Don't worry, I'll spare you another "Top 10 Ways to Make 2010 Rock" post. I do want to share this CNN Health article, "10 ways to get motivated for change in 2010" because it's one of the better lists I came across.

Many people don't accomplish goals they set for the new year because those goals aren't realistic. According to the article, experts say it's important to be realistic, specific and accountable when determining what you plan to achieve in the future. This article struck a chord with me because it hones in on how to successfully make positive changes in the coming year.

The article covers this point, but to set actionable goals (for yourself in this instance, but this also applies to any clients you work with) you have to truly understand the source. Don't choose a goal that everyone else has on their list simply to follow suit. Set a goal that really aligns with your personality.

Perfect example: I was determined to love running this year. I forced myself to get in the mindset that hating running was a thing of the past, and I would embrace it as my new favorite form of cardio. I stuck with it for quite awhile this year, but finally I took a step back and accepted that running just isn't my thing. I tweaked my goal of doing some form of cardio on a regular basis by replacing running with two much more enjoyable cardio machines at my gym.

Whatever 2010 goals you choose, I sincerely hope you continue doing the things that you love and find ways to spread happiness to others!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Silly

I celebrated the holidays with my colleagues this week. Our holiday party was toned down compared to previous years, but we all collectively agreed this is what we wanted. It didn't feel right to spend lavishly on a holiday event during a time when many people can't even afford groceries. We had a happy hour in our board room instead of an elaborate event at a fancy restaurant or club. The party still included some of the same elements as previous years, like good food and a holiday trivia contest (prizes included!). The simplicity worked, and we all left happy.

Our holiday party reminded me that simple things can make a big impression, and I've been going over this topic in my head for a few days. Think of simplicity in terms of design. If an advertisement or Web site has too much going on (colors, words, objects, patterns, etc.), then the attention of the viewer is put at risk and that person may ignore the company/brand/product showcased. Chris Brogan recently wrote this post, "Simplicity Trumps Most Other Emotions", about how simplicity affects purchasing decisions.

I've learned the simplicity lesson with client events. Being creative with an event doesn't mean you have to make it over-the-top. Simple, well-executed events that appeal to your target crowd will be just as successful.

Same goes for writing. A creative and inspiring article or blog post doesn't need to include smarty pants words that the average person would never use in a normal conversation.

I learned a lesson of simplicity last Christmas, I decided to buy my dad a surround sound speaker system for his living room TV. I really wanted to get him a gift that would make him grin from ear-to-ear on Christmas morning. What I failed to think about before buying the gift was the size of my dad's living room. The surround sound system would have cluttered the room and it would have been very difficult to install. I was too focused on the "wow" factor of the gift, and it ended up going back to the store. My dad would have been perfectly happy with a simpler gift that didn't require a lot of legwork or effort.

I'm not saying going overboard and making something bigger than it needs to be will result in failure. My point is this: You can be creative and make others happy without doing something on a grandiose scale.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How You Can Help Metro Detroit Students Become Powerful Writers and Creative Thinkers

I'm taking part in a very cool and creative initiative that will help make a difference in the lives of metro Detroit children.

Female bloggers from the local Detroit area are joining, in collaboration with Operation: Kid Equip, to provide at least 25 percent of Oakland County Schools with dictionaries for third graders.

Erin Rose of Positive Detroit, Becks Davis of Detroit Moxie, Jennifer Wright of Looking Glass Lane, Lauren Weber of Staircase to Earth's Loveliness and I spend much of our time writing on our respective blogs. We want to help give the same opportunities to local students as we were given in our writing classes as children. We want to encourage local students to become better writers.

With the assistance of Operation: Kid Equip and its participation with The Dictionary Project, we will be distributing dictionaries specifically written for third graders who are at the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn.

Now through March 15, 2010, we are raising money to provide roughly 2,700 third graders in Oakland County with brand new dictionaries. To give you an idea of the impact you can make, for a $20 donation, you can supply at least eight third graders with dictionaries.

An anonymous donor has graciously offered to match donations, dictionary-for-
dictionary, up to the first 100 dictionaries. Just think - your donation today can double the amount of children who are being served tomorrow.

Reading and writing have always been an enormous part of my life. I started reading earlier than most children (basically as soon as I could form sensible sentences), and I was the speed reader who finished all the reading assignments first in elementary school. Knowing how to read goes hand-in-hand with knowing how to write. As a public relations professional who spends gobs of time writing, I understand that it's an art and a craft. Loving to read early on in life, coupled with constantly using a dictionary to build my vocabulary, helped me polish my writing skills. I wish every child in this world could learn how to become powerful writers. Together, we can play a part in shaping the futures of children who enjoy reading and writing by giving them dictionaries.

Here is how you can help:

1. Click here to make a PayPal donation for $100, $50, $20 or $10.

2. Mail a check payable to:

Operation: Kid Equip
PO Box 364
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0364

Be sure to write Dictionary Project in the memo line.

3. Contact to make a credit card or
other form of payment outside of PayPal.

4. If you would like to join the female bloggers collaboration
with your blog, contact Erin Rose at

About Operation: Kid Equip
As an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit community benefit organization, we realize that to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, we have to meet some very basic, yet overlooked needs. Operation: Kid Equip acts as a conduit for collecting and distributing tangible educational and school supplies to school-aged children. Operation: Kid Equip effects long term improvement in the community by providing at-risk kids with the core necessities they need to prosper in school and in life. Visit our website at

About The Dictionary Project
The Dictionary Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The goal of this program is to assist all students in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers by providing students with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come

**Photo credit: jovike

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lemonade: How a Job Loss Forced Creative Types to Find Their Passions

How many times has this thought crossed your mind: "I'd have so much more time to do (fill in the blank) if I didn't work so much." I've said this to myself on several occasions. I don't hate my job in the slightest bit, but I wish each day was about 10 hours longer so I could dedicate more time to things I love (playing tennis and reading books in Spanish, to name a few).

I learned about the Lemonade movie from Chris Brogan's post, "Have You Been Laid Off", and Valeria Maltoni's post, "50 Ways to Make Limoncello When You've Been Laid Off". Side note: If you are currently out of work or fear you may lose your job soon, READ VALERIA'S POST!

According to the the Lemonade movie Web site, more than 130,000 advertising professionals have recently lost their job. Lemonade showcases what happens when people who used to receive compensation to be creative in advertising are forced to be creative with their own lives. Rather than wallowing in their sorrows, the people featured in the video seized the opportunity to do something that really matters to them. The job loss was somewhat of a blessing in disguise because these creatives explored new paths and rediscovered a part of their lives that had been missing.

Do all job losses lead the person affected on a magical journey of self-exploration and creative freedom? Absolutely not. Trust me, I've witnessed how a job loss can completely demolish a person's life. But it's reassuring to watch this video and see how happy these people are because they are doing something they really love...all thanks to a job loss.

This video should also raise a few questions with anyone who watches it. Do you devote enough time to your passions? Do you need to do a better job at prioritizing what really matters in life?

We need jobs because we need to earn a living. We also need a will to live. Something deeper than living solely to climb the corporate ladder. I adamantly believe a person's success in any career derives from passion, but passion must exist in other forms in order to have a healthy and meaningful life.

Have you found a successful way to balance work and activities you love? Has the "lemonade" affect happened to you or someone you know?

Photo credit: cfwhitney

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What You Need to Remember This Thanksgiving...and Every Day

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I'm writing this post from my couch right now with a stuffed stomach, which means I took full advantage of the one day each year that we are expected to over-eat.

I love Thanksgiving because of the food (who doesn't?), but also because it's a holiday where we reflect on why we are thankful. I've been participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge this month (I won't lie, I've missed a few days). This post expands on what I touched on in that post when I introduced the gratitude project.

The daily themes have helped me dig deeper to reveal gratitude for things other than what's usually top-of-mind - family, shelter and health. This project has reinforced that expressing gratitude as often as possible is a must. I've discovered that while I'm grateful for countless reasons, I'm really, REALLY thankful for friends and family who show care and appreciation. These are people who care about others just as much (if not more) than they do for themselves.

It's important to be successful in life (I realize success is defined in various ways), but it's just as important to make others happy. The most minimal expressions of care and gratitude can go a very long way. Here are a few personal examples:
  • A client at my agency who I don't work with on a daily basis but who I have connected with on and off line mailed me a congratulations card after I got promoted. I would have more than appreciated a congratulatory message on Twitter because that's how we frequently communicate, so I really appreciated him taking the time to mail me a card.
  • I did something nice for a friend/neighbor recently that probably only took up a few minutes of my day. As with the above example, I would have been satisfied with a text, phone call or e-mail to say thank you. Instead, my neighbor gave me a card and small gift. He wrote in the card that what I did made his wife and kids so happy.
  • A friend who recently went to Europe sent me a postcard from Italy. I'm Italian, and she knows Italy is on my short list of cities I want to visit. I was really touched that she thought of me on her trip and made sure to send me a little piece of Italy.
The moral of the story: Find a way to express gratitude and show people that you care. This doesn't need to be in the form of a card or a gift. Words are powerful. And please, don't wait until next November when you're surrounded by reminders that Thanksgiving means it's time to show thanks. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yeah Baby! There's Lots to Love About Ernie's Market

There are countless fabulous restaurants close to where I live, but MAL had been telling me for awhile that I HAD to visit Ernie's Market in Oak Park. He promised me it would be an experience and never would I encounter another person who loves to make sandwiches as much as Ernie does.

MAL didn't lie. Happy employees can make or break a customer's experience, and I can't imagine one customer walking out of Ernie's Market unsatisfied. Ernie is a 60-something happy-go-lucky kind of guy. After welcoming us with a hello and a big smile, Ernie immediately pointed out that I hadn't been there before. He asked me to put an open palm on the counter, and he dropped three Hershey's kisses in my hand. Now, one thing you need to know about Ernie before you go there is he's loud...very loud! Not in an annoying or overwhelming way, but more in a "I'm so excited to see you I could scream!" kind of way. Ernie's signature phrase is "Yeah baby!", which he exclaims whenever he gets the chance. Letters spelling out that phrase and this sign are front and center on the counter:

While Ernie piled our sandwiches high with the toppings of our choice (yelling out each topping as he added it to the sandwich), he asked me to guess how long he's been running the market. I didn't believe he had been there more than 50 years, but Ernie said it's been close to 60 years. He also said he's been making sandwiches day after day for decades because it's what he loves to do.

Before we left, Ernie made sure to tell us there's a Facebook fan page for Ernie's Market. He doesn't use a computer, but two of the sweet ladies who work for him update the page. It's obvious from the comments and photos on the fan page that Ernie has made quite an impact on his customers.

Ernie drew a smiley-faced heart on my heavy sandwich (and I opted for the smaller size!) before sending us on our way with a "Yeah baby!" and a request that we return often.

Ernie's energy and passion for his business is inspiring. If you live in the Detroit area, take a trip to Ernie's Market the next time you're in the mood for a hearty sandwich and a few smiles. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Take the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge

Photo credit

Thanksgiving is traditionally known as the holiday for giving thanks and expressing gratitude for our fortunes. We should ideally act this way all year long, but unfortunately acts of thankfulness aren't always top-of-mind. So instead of waiting for Thanksgiving, why not express gratitude throughout the entire month of November?

I got an e-mail from a friend the other day encouraging me to take part in the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. According to the project's Web site, scientific research shows that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can increase your happiness and life satisfaction. The goal of this project is to bring people together to practice gratefulness during the month of November.

Sounds cool, right? To get started, register on the site and choose if you want to share what you're grateful for once a day or weekly (you'll receive an e-mail reminder to submit your gratitude daily or weekly, depending on which you choose). You can submit a gratitude of your choosing or one that goes along with the theme of the day. There are different ways to participate (as an individual, family, with someone who doesn't have access to a computer, etc.), so check out the Web site for the details.

The Hagopian family (I ALWAYS see commercials for the family's rug cleaning business) is the brains behind this creative project. According to the friend who sent me the e-mail, Edgar Hagopian is one of the most generous benefactors in the Michigan Armenian community. The family grew tired of all the gloom and doom in Michigan, so they decided to do something to bring people together to celebrate the positives rather than focusing on the negatives. They've reached out to people beyond Michigan, and now 29 states and 10 countries are participating in this project.

I know what you're thinking, because it was my initial reaction, too: I don't have time to do this. Seriously though, when you really think about it, it will take all of five minutes to do this daily. I'm confident I can think of 30 different reasons why I'm grateful. If practicing daily gratitude really helps elevate happiness, then imagine what 30 straight days of showing gratitude can do for your overall outlook on life.

I'm really looking forward to getting started on this tomorrow, and I'm interested to read what others submit. Leave a comment or ping me to let me know if you're sucking it up and doing the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coca-Cola's "Expedition 206" Will Share Stories of Happiness From All Across the World

Photo credit

Coca-Cola and crayon are working on a super creative campaign next year called "Expedition 206". In a nutshell, Coca-Cola is enlisting three happiness ambassadors to visit all 206 countries where the company sells its products. The expedition will last throughout 2010. The ambassadors' goal will be to "seek out what makes people happy and share their happiness and enthusiasm with the rest of the world."

Naturally, social media will play a huge role in sharing these happy stories. The happiness ambassadors will document their travels by using social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr. Fans will be encouraged to get involved by acting as "virtual travel agents" and giving the brand ambassadors suggestions on cool places to go and fun things to do in each country.

It seems as if the Coke folks may have taken a few notes from Ford's Fiesta Movement. However, I don't see anything wrong with taking a few ideas from an already successful campaign and adding in new elements to make it unique.

Check out this MediaPost article for more details: "Coke Ambassadors Taking Social Media Old School With Around The World Trip".

I'll admit that I'm more of a Pepsi aficionado (simply based on taste), but this campaign is intriguing and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out next year. What I like about this campaign is that real fans will be sharing stories of optimism and happiness...all related to this one brand. It's a much better idea than Coke doing the storytelling. If I had to make a choice right now, I'd say this campaign will be wildly successful.

What are your thoughts? Do you see this campaign failing or succeeding?

Monday, October 19, 2009

How Your Love Language Can Help You Be a Better Communicator

**Photo attribution

During my college days, a good friend introduced me to the book "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman uses real life examples from more than 30 years of marriage counseling to explain the five languages people use to express love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.

Now, I obviously wasn't married when I read this (I say obviously because I'm still not married), but it opened my eyes to not only the way I prefer to express and receive love, but also who I am as a communicator. I learned that my love language goes beyond communication with my significant other. It also applies to the way I communicate with everyone in my life.

I could relate to a few of the love languages throughout the course of the book, but the one I really identified with is Words of Affirmation. This means that aside from liking verbal compliments (c'mon, who doesn't like verbal compliments now and then!), I prefer to give and receive encouragement, call attention to progress, acknowledge successes and varying perspectives on any given topic and talk through problems to find a solution.

If we take the time to figure out how people prefer to communicate, we can build more substantial relationships. These five languages can also be applied to friends, family and clients. Physical touch could mean a friend/family member needs a hug to feel better when they are upset. A client may need quality time in person with you every week to feel like you truly value them as a partner and appreciate their business. A coworker may need you to vocalize how well he/she did on a project you worked on together in order to truly feel satisfied with the work.

Since I'm the type of person who prefers to receive words of affirmation, I also make a conscious effort to give this type of encouragement to others. Here are a few suggestions on how to impact this type of communicator:
  • Express gratitude and appreciation.
  • Be generous with compliments...but only if you mean them!
  • Talk through problems in person.
  • Highlight accomplishments and successes. However, be sensitive to personalities. If the person is easily embarrassed, shining the spotlight on that person in front of a large group is not the best idea.
  • Express how you feel about someone (in the appropriate setting of course). If you really admire someone, or think they are an awesome person who you love being around, tell them!
We'll all face communication challenges at various points in our life. Making an effort to accommodate to different communication preferences is an important part of the relationship-building process. A small effort can go a long way!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Personal Branding + Social Media = Brand Camp University

**Photo courtesy of Hajj Flemings

Did you know you're a brand? Each and every one of us has a personal brand, and that brand is amplified by the conversations and content we share online.

The concept of social media's affect on personal branding is the foundation of Brand Camp University, an event I attended over the weekend at Lawrence Tech University. Attendees ranged from entrepreneurs and communications professionals to business owners and students. The rockstar speaker lineup included the following:

Hajj Flemings - author of "The Brand YU Life" and found of Brand Camp U (Brandon Chesnutt was this year's co-organizer); Scott Monty, global and digital communications manager for Ford Motor Company; April L. Holmes, world's fastest amputee and 2008 paralympic gold medalist; Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image; Kenneth Brown, best selling author of "A Leap of Faith" and McDonald's franchisee; Rohit Bhargava, senior VP strategy and marketing at Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence; Valeria Maltoni, co-author of "The Age of Conversation" and blogger for Fast Company Magazine and Bob Fish, CEO and co-founder of Biggby Coffee.

The knowledge I gained from these speakers is invaluable. I can honestly say that each presentation was outstanding and very on-par with the type of info I was hoping to take away from this conference. I filled about five pages of notes, but here are details from each presentation related to the themes I focus on in this blog:

Hajj Flemings
  • Hustle is your passion, what you would love to do full time. Your passion needs to be a mesh of what you do on a daily basis and what you do on the side.
  • Genius equals intersections of passion, problem and process.
  • Read the book "Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity".
  • Passion can’t be taught, but everyone is passionate about something.
  • One of the great ways to meet your own needs is to help someone else.
  • Use social media tools to amplify who you are and what you do. Identify your own signature voice and separate yourself in the space you are in.
Mitch Joel – How You Connect in a Connected World
  • A brand is an emotional connection. Universally, we all connect to this same thing.
  • Establish your values, goals and beliefs – find the real you (internal conversation).
  • Really listen to learn problems others have, then relate to them and form a relationship (one-to-one conversation). The more you give the more you’ll receive.
  • The Free Hugs Campaign video on YouTube is an example of how one person can have a positive impact on many (one-to-many conversation). In a day and age when people are trying to separate everyone, Juan Mann brought people together.

  • Social media is not about technology. It's about being authentic and understanding your internal convo (personal brand).
  • Make friends, play nice, tell the truth, take a bath, do your homework (way to create a personal brand).

Rohit Bhargava – How Your Personal Brand Can Save the World

  • If you don’t have to spend 15 minutes explaining who you are, you have more time to build a relationship.
  • The idea that drawing, writing, acting, etc. is only for certain people is always out there. You define who you want to be and become. It’s all about creativity and innovation.
  • Keys to building a powerful personal brand: don’t limit yourself, stand for something, find your twist, rethink your packaging, take the right risks (life is like Jenga – pull the right blocks out at the right time), think visually (like how Target creatively changed the design of its prescription bottles) and create/do what you love.

Valeria Maltoni – Personal Brand in a Wired World

  • How do you come across in real life vs. online? If you’re nice in person, you come across as nice online. Online tools let you amplify who you are.
  • Take a step back and look at the way you portray yourself online – is it authentic?
  • Organizations can be more powerful online if you help build a team.
  • Do: participate, share, listen actively, give value, appreciate.
  • Valeria came to the U.S. barely able to speak English and knowing no one. But she came with the determination to connect and to be helpful (her story was very inspiring).
  • Fit your own personality into everything you do and accept who you are “because that rocks”.

Ken Brown

  • LIFE = live in freedom every day.
  • Your life is not about what happens to you, you can’t control it. But you can control your ability to respond.
  • Passion is when you set yourself on fire and people will pay to see you burn.
  • Powerful words can change someone’s life. Ken's parents told him - “God promised you as far as your eyes can see”.
  • To be truly great, you must first serve others.
  • Vision is the art of seeing the invisible. When you see the invisible you can do the impossible.
  • FAMILY = forget about me I love you.
  • Don’t get caught on the money because you are money – that’s personal branding.

Scott Monty – The Rise of the Brandividual

  • Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh describes his company as a customer service company. Everyone he hires has to go through CS training. He wraps the individual right into the company.
  • With great power there must also come great responsibility, especially when you’re also responsible for a company's brand.
  • It's our job to help others understand about brand responsibility and power.
  • Opening up your corporation/work with a corporation makes you more human.
  • Competing companies need to collaborate and learn from each other to help customers.

April Holmes – Creating Victory Through Branding

  • A gold medal is within your reach (April passed her gold medal around the room and told everyone to take a picture with it). Check out my gold medal moment.
  • Appreciate the journey, and don’t be so focused on the end result. Appreciate the people you meet along the way.
  • Are you fulfilling your dream or someone else’s? You will fall down and get bloody, but visualize your goal.
  • A goal in April’s life is to touch other people’s lives, especially those with disabilities.
  • You may need to take a step to the left or the right, but you’re the only one who knows if you’re traveling in the right direction.
  • April Holmes Foundation – April's passion, heart and soul.
  • Learn how to celebrate yourself and know what you want to get a gold medal.

Bob Fish

  • When Biggby Coffee first started (back then it was Beaners), there were 35 other coffee shops in the East Lansing area. Bob made his company unique/stand out to succeed.
  • Success depends on knowing who you are and communicating it.
  • Bob's goal is for every customer to leave the store in a better mood than when they arrived. He hits this goal 72 percent of the time (uses secret shoppers and asks this question).
  • Core values: you need energy, excitement and enthusiasm – no matter what business you’re in; always have faith, confidence and courage – the real definition of courage is doing something you’re afraid of anyway; dedication and dependability – steadfast tenacious responsibility
  • Biggby's culture: have fun, be happy, make friends, love people, make great coffee.
  • There have been three weddings at a Biggby and there are countless stories of people meeting others and forming a relationship at Biggby.
  • You have to show your personality/persona through social media if you're representing a brand.
A HUGE thank you to Hajj and Brandon for putting on such a kick a** conference! I'm sure the sweat and tears you poured into this conference was worth it.

If this wasn't enough Brand Camp U goodness for you, check out the Twitter stream and photos on Flickr for more.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Detroit Takes Off its “Motor City” Title and Tries on “Fashion City” During First Ever Fashion in Detroit Event

I love fashion, so I jumped at the opportunity to attend Fashion in Detroit last week as a guest contributor for Positive Detroit. You can read about my experience below. This post also appears on the Positive Detroit blog.

Milan, Paris, Los Angeles and New York City have one major thing in common: They’re fashion hubs. Detroit isn’t one of the first cities that come to mind when we think of fashion, and that’s exactly what the executive committee of Fashion in Detroit (FID) is trying to change. The very first FID event took place October 1 – 2 at the Detroit Zoo. According to its Web site, FID is a bi-annual two-day fashion event created by Project Runway’s Joe Faris to put a fashion spotlight on Detroit and create a venue that fills the needs of many locally based designers and the Detroit fashion community.

The executive committee’s goal of bringing this event to Detroit is to rival other Fashion Weeks across the country.

I had the opportunity to attend the October 2 runway shows as a
Positive Detroit contributor (it was weird to be on the other end of the spectrum wearing a press badge!). Now, I won’t claim that I live and breathe fashion, or that I’m a devout fashionista like Angela from Angela’s Eye, but I do invest a lot of thought into creating a wardrobe that reflects the fashion trends of the season. I was beyond excited to experience this first-ever fashion event and share my thoughts on the spring 2010 collections from various designers.

After trudging through the rain and doing my best to avoid splashing mud on my suede booties, I ended up missing Joe Faris’ show. Here’s a breakdown of the remainder of day two’s runway shows:

Kevin Christiana – contestant on Project Runway season 4, head designer and partner of the labels CHRISTIANA ZINN and MYNT 1792. Kevin’s show featured some of his MYNT 1792 collection.

MYNT 1792 is a lifestyle brand created by New Yorkers and inspired by Gotham City’s culture. It includes a combination of unique fashion and well-tailored designs for men and women. This collection featured a lot of skinny pants and 1980s inspiration, like leather, spandex, Michael Jackson inspired cropped jackets and studded vests and jackets.

Thanks to the lovely Stephanie Casola, I got to go backstage and chat with Kevin about being at FID. Kevin and Joe Faris hit it off immediately when they first met, and Joe told Kevin he should be a part of the first ever FID. Kevin said while Detroit is best known for its contribution to the music industry, music and fashion go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense for Detroit to rise up the ranks of the fashion industry. Shorts are Kevin’s favorite item to design and sell because they’re always adorable and easy to shop for online. While in Detroit, Kevin checked out Mon Jin Lau in Troy and Chen Chow in Birmingham.

Carhartt – 120 years in business, located in Dearborn, MI, designer of workwear and outerwear pieces that are known for durability, comfort and quality of construction.

Carhartt showed off some of its items that weren’t the traditional workwear and outerwear pieces. The new line featured a lot of plaid, leather jackets, studded belts, dark denim and cargo paints (spiced up with gladiator style shoes), cropped and tall boots and vests. The pieces were relatively plain without a lot of intricate detail or design. These outfits gave off a comfy chic, semi-grunge vibe.

Femilia Couture – established by designers Fotoula Lambros and Emily Thornhill in January 2007, leans toward using natural based fibers and sustainable materials, locations in Detroit, Ferndale and Milford, MI.

This was the first time I’ve seen Femilia Couture clothing, and I fell madly in love with this label! Sheer and flowing materials, floral designs and layering dominated this line. The designs were very feminine and romantic. Ruffles, bunched dresses, angled cuts, fringe, jumpsuits and off-the-shoulder tops were also prominent. Femilia Couture is perfect for those who love beautifully crafted pieces that make you feel pretty.

Betsey Johnson – world-renowned New York designer with a long-standing fashion career. If you’ve never heard the name Betsey Johnson, then don’t even try to claim you’re into fashion. Betsey is known for injecting creativity into her pieces and making up her own fashion rules. This line was neck-in-neck with Femilia Couture’s as my favorite of day two at FID. The essence of the style featured in this line was funky and flirty.

The models even strutted with more sass and pizzazz when they showed off Betsey’s pieces. This line included bright colors, mixed patterns (floral with cheetah print or stripes), sequins, plaid, cropped jackets, layered
necklaces and dresses and bold prints. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to sport most of the featured pieces, but if you want to make a statement at a party or event, then Betsey Johnson is your go-to designer.

Made in Detroit – the most recognized logo in Detroit fashion history, owned by Detroit’s favorite bad boy Kid Rock.

Made in Detroit wrapped up FID with a bang. Being that
Kid Rock owns the label, the show kicked off with his famous head banger, “Bawitdaba”. The colors black, white and red dominated this line. There was a NASCAR theme going on with a lot of stripes, checkers and patches.

Both the men and women’s clothing were tight fitting. Accessories like suspenders, hats and belts were prominent with the outfits. I started getting bored by the same three dark colors, but things perked up at the end with a few hues of blue and cute denim dresses with black cinch belts.

Combined with the high-end fashion shows were a $5,000 donation to Danialle Karmanos’
Work it Out program and a FID Lifetime Achievement Award presented to designer Linda Dresner.

I briefly spoke with Karen Buscemi,
StyleLine editor and FID executive committee member, who said that while they didn’t fill the 500 available seats, everyone viewed FID as a success. Regardless of the number of people who showed up, creating an event like this in Detroit is a success in itself.

Mark your calendars for March 2010 when FID returns to the D. It seems like FID is here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out During Detroit Restaurant Week

Cities like New York, Chicago and LA are known for their upscale restaurants. The number of swanky restaurants in Detroit may not compare to these cities, but many high-end eateries have popped up downtown in the past few years. The economy has hit some of these restaurants hard and forced owners to come up with innovative ways to bring in customers - like Andiamo Italia offering buy one get one free entrees.

The Greater Downtown Districts (including Downtown, Midtown, New Center, Corktown and Eastern Market) and Paxahau Promotions Group decided to take things one step further by bringing a novel idea implemented in other cities to Detroit - Detroit Restaurant Week. From September 18 - 27 (hurry, only two more days!), the city's top dining establishments are offering a minimum three-course dinner for $27 (excluding beverage, tax and gratuity). Some may complain about that price and claim it's not a discount, but most single entrees alone at upscale restaurants cost more than $27.

Many of the newer restaurants downtown have been on my need-to-try list for awhile. I couldn't resist the opportunity to get a three-course meal for what in my mind is a decent price.

MAL and I decided on Wolfgang Puck Grille at MGM Grand Detroit. Overall, I thought the decor was exquisite, the servers were attentive and welcoming and the food was delicious. I was surprised how well the walls blocked the noise from the casino, so that was an added bonus.

Side note: The dim lights made the photos from my camera phone turn out fuzzier than normal.

For our first course, I chose a creamy mushroom soup, while MAL opted for butternut squash ravioli. Both were smaller portions (which seems to be the trend at most nicer restaurants), but this didn't take away from the quality of the food. We gave both the ravioli and soup two thumbs up.

I was a bit disappointed with my main course, but I have no one to blame but myself. MAL chose the salmon with potatoes and a mustard sauce, a savory and perfectly-portioned dish.

We ate salmon the previous night, and for some odd reason I tend to avoid chicken at restaurants, so I opted for the ribeye and potatoes. In my excitement for more food, I failed to read the menu well and didn't realize french fries accompanied my meal. But these were the best darn french fries I've had in LONG time. They were the perfect blend of salty and crunchy. The ribeye wasn't cooked as well as I had asked, but the blue cheese topping was such a tasty addition that I forgave the cook.

Dessert was our favorite course. The only option was a 12 layer cake, but we weren't complaining. You would think 12 layers of chocolate would be overkill, but the sugary sweetness was subdued. We were definitely full after the cake, but we didn't have that "I'm so stuffed I could spew" feeling.

I'm more than happy with our meal at Wolfgang Puck Grille. Rumor has it we're in for at least two more Detroit Restaurant Weeks next year. People have been tweeting up a storm about Detroit Restaurant Week, so I'm anxious to see if the participating restaurants saw a boost in customers and sales. I hope this tradition continues for years to come. Any program/event/conference that generates excitement about Detroit, brings people to the city and creates positive buzz in our community is a win for everyone.