Every reason for a trip to Pars is a good one in my book. Even no reason at all :) I guess the growing size of that “Paris” tag on this blog’s sidebar (yes, feel free to have a look at that tag cloud to see what else has been on my blogger’s mind ;) ) is undeniable proof of my weak spot for this beautiful city. This weekend I had the pleasure of introducing someone to it for the very first time. Oh the joy of seeing the City of Lights through a newbie’s eyes… But also: dilemmas!  So little time, so much to see and share… It really made me consider what my all-time- Paris-must-sees are. I have a feeling a future blogpost might be in order here ;)

But anyway: since a first time visit inevitably entails some touristy activities, I thought I’d dress the part (no halfway measures for this girl!). Nothing screams tourist like a good tropical print (for me personally, the word tourist always invokes this image of a skinny, sun-burned Englishman with Hawai print shorts…), so this happy comfy palm tree number was a no-brainer. The fact that it’s by la petite française is just one of life’s perfect coincidences. Topped off with a sturdy pair of sneakers (yes, like so many before me – and half of Le Marais it seems – I caved for a pair of Stan Smiths. Not very original but what can I say: they were too pretty to resist…) and some light layers, and I was set to hit the town, tourist style.

Happy tourist tip: the Velolib bikes are a perfect (and budget friendly!) way to get around the city, especially if you want to hit several neighborhoods in a day, and admire the beautiful sights along the way. Biking through those pretty streets or along the Seine: <3 it!

Bisous! C.

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Kiomi shirt – H&M jacket – la petite française pants –Addidas Stan Smith sneakers – Suiteblanco Bag – Paul Frank glasses

Nothing like a good glass of wine to wind down after a hectic day, am I right? Are you a lover of the best grapes have to offer, cozy hangouts and most of all: beautiful projects by kick-ass #girlbosses? (Check, check and CHECK!) Then I have just the thing for you: meet Ona: the girl and the bar :)

The Girl

There are certain people in life you cannot help but instantly like, gravitate towards. This girl is definitely one of them. I guess it might be a charisma thing. But most likely it’s an Ona thing. A 26 year old lover of life, music and all things yummy, Ona radiates the kind of positive energy that can instantly boost anyone’s mood. Ona according to her friends? Warm, passionate and energetic (tx for the intel Lore Maene ;)  <3). Seems about right to me! Fun fact: she also has been playing basketball for over 15 years. A driver on the court as much as in life ;)

Graduated in the field of communications, Ona has always had a soft spot for the hospitality industry. After running a coffee bar for about a year, she tried her hand at a more “classic” office job, with the idea of putting her degree to use. But as much as she liked the people she worked with, she realized this was not her passion.

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The Story

“I started to think about what I really wanted: what do I like to do, what am I good at? I had all this energy and was looking for a challenge, somewhere to channel it into. It was pretty simple really: what I am most passionate about is enjoying food, wine and the good things life has to offer.” So why not share this passion with the world? And more specifically: our beautiful city of Ghent?

Granted: Ghent already has a lot of nice places to hang out and enjoy a drink. But I felt like there was still something missing. You either find those really hip “hotspots”, where everything feels almost too well thought out, too spick-and-span, or the classic, more rugged pub. I was missing a cozy middle ground here.”

Moreover, much like yours truly, Ona loves to enjoy a good glass of wine when going out. Sadly, a lot of the places we like to hang out at serve horrible wine. That’s how the first inkling of an idea took root. Ona enrolled in a sommelier course, to gain more insight into this drink she was so passionate about. “The more I learned about it, the more disappointed I was with the offer in a lot of bars. I really felt like there was something there. An opportunity. To offer a good glass of wine at a reasonable price, in a nice environment. I’ve been playing with the idea for over a year, developing the concept so once the right time, the right opportunity, came along, I would be ready to grasp it with both hands.”

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The Bar

And that time is very much now! This weekend, Ona is opening the doors of her very own wine bar ONA, which will be marked with her name as well as her distinctive personal touch. The main goal of ONA is to offer a good, affordable and honest glass of wine to anyone who feels like it. No matter whether you’re a connoisseur or an amateur, ONA invites you to discover and enjoy. “It’s important to me to offer a good range of wines by the glass: I’m starting off with 8 whites and 8 reds. Rather ambitious but I really hope I can keep it up, so people can come and try out different things.”  

Sustainability and proximity are a big part of what Ona wants to bring. She chose her assortment very carefully, only selecting sustainable growers from within Europe, preferably from small vineyards.  80% stems from bio production. Wines that each have their own identity, their own story. “I really want to go back to the roots of the product. To quality and the way good wine has been made for ages. There is so much heritage and quality close by, why look any further?”

This concept of proximity also extends to the rest of ONA’s offering. Because yes: even if you’re not into fermented grapes, you’ll be sure to find something to your liking ;) No big brand soft drinks around, even the mineral water originates from as close as the East of Flanders. In the afternoon, you can stop by for a yummy cup of coffee or tea. Or how about some home-made iced tea and lemonade or a glass of 100% chardonnay grapefruit juice? (the second best thing grapes have to offer ;) ) YUM!

Anyway: ONA is opening this Friday, and will be celebrating all weekend! Hope you’ll be sipping a glass during her opening weekend, I know I will :)

Cheers! C.

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Pictures: Yann Bertrand

Oh those soft and sunlit spring days! That much more precious in their scarcity than yet another sunny summer day (even though those can get quite scarce in our little country as well ;) #weatherobsessedbelgian). They do come with one dilemma though. At least for me. Which sunny favorite to wear first? Decisions, decisions… Choosing seems losing, because you’ll never know when the fickle spring weather will grant you another window of opportunity. Pressure = on! ;) This particular combo is one of my go-to looks at the moment, since it combines four of my spring wardrobe pets (not sure if that’s an actual thing, but feel like it should be :) ):

The cute and comfy flower print dress I got it as part of my Austin wardrobe (oh yes, conferences demand targeted shopping), a perfect “business casual” option in my opinion. I’ve been wearing it quite a lot lately! I really like the fit: loose enough to be gentle to your figure, but not so loose it hides your feminine forms. And the print is just so unapologetically girly! Instant good mood! What can I say: I just feel good wearing it. In the end that’s the ultimate sartorial goal now isn’t it?

The pretty pastel pink purse I got as a gift from major #girlboss and inspiration Trix (inspired by my love letter to pastels, how thoughtful is that!). Straight from one of her passion projects Eviva E, an online shop where she shares her love for Spain by offering a beautiful selection of genuine Spanish products, imported directly from her second home. Definitely worth a virtual visit ;)

To complete the pastel party: a little ice-cream colored wrist candy from my jewellery. Playful, delicate and a perfect match for this dress’ color scheme: <3

Finally: my super soft Vero Moda cardigan. It’s just SO soft and fluffy, how could I not ADORE it? (SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE) Random side note: on two separate occasions I had a total stranger coming up to me and asking me if they could touch it (once on an escalator in Austin and once in a coffee bar in Brussels). Sounds a bit creepy when I write it down like this, but it was quite the conversation starter ;)

Hope you’re out there enjoying spring days and cardigan inspired conversations too! ;)

Love, C.

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Dorothy Perkins Dress – Vero Moda cardigan – my jewellery bracelets c/o – Eviva E purse c/o – Converse sneakers

Pics by Mara

SxSW Tee20150405_89I can’t believe it’s been a month since I set out to Austin for my very first #SxSW. Accompanied by three of my favorite geniuses and armed with an open mind, the necessary geeky stuff and a solid set of sneakers, I threw myself into this Texan adventure. And what an inspiring adventure it has been! Beside tons of smart insights, mind boggling innovations and clever thought processes, what I will remember most of all are the inspiring people I got to witness on and off stage. Now some of the Texan dust has settled, here are some of their life lessons that seem to have stuck with me:

1. Embrace failure

In our results-oriented society, failure can be a difficult concept. We are hardwired with the desire to do well, win, be the best. But sometimes, you have to be willing and ready to fail, in order to come out on top. To trigger real change. Give yourself room to fail, and be smart about it: asses, learn and shift direction.

John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewiss: “It’s ok to fail. The trick is to take the right risk, fail the right way.

Google’s Astro Teller: “Failure drives progress. Fail often, hard and fast. It will give you the insights and mental push to get it right.

2. Stay curious

Innovation was never found on the beaten track. An average kid asks 100 questions a day, whereas an average adult only asks 4. Why not embrace that kid in you, daring to question what you do and how you do it? Be curious about the world around you and its endless possibilities. Who knows what you might discover…

Producer & author Brian Grazer: “Curiosity is a superpower. It’s a driving emotion that gives you courage to pursue those ideas you otherwise wouldn’t.

Nilofer Merchant: “If we only look for one particular set of ideas, we miss everything else. If we’re curious enough to look further we can find an entire new solution for an old problem.

3. Find your place of authenticity, and stick with it

In a maturing online sphere, it’s all about creating meaningful connections. People connect with people. So be human. Find your authentic voice and natural online personality. Don’t share what you think you should, but what you want to. Find your passion and share that story with the world. Your passion will be what sets you apart from the crowd.

Eva Chen: “What makes you different? Find what excites you and let that enthusiasm shine.

Michelle Phan: “People think they have to copy, but the beauty of the internet is that everyone can have their own niche market. If you’re being real – being yourself – people appreciate that.

4. Remember that your project is only as good as the people involved

No matter how motivated and brilliant you might be, you’re just one person. Cherish what other people bring to the table. It’s where the magic happens. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and bring value to your life. And be a team player, for heaven’s sake!

Spencer Griffin: “Nobody is so good they can afford to be a dick.

Gary Vaynerchuk: “I don’t give a fuck if you’re the best, learn to play with the other girls and boys or you’re out!

Decoded Fashion’s Liz Bacelar: “It’s like baking a cake: focus on the right ingredients, the right people, and you can create beautiful results.”

5. Celebrate uniqueness

There are many ways to be good in the world. You’re the only one with your particular blend of goodness. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Celebrate your uniqueness and that of those around you.

Nilofer Merchant: “How many of us have been told that we’re too wild or too weird to fit in? Each of us is standing in a place in the world only you are standing at. It’s in this place you create value. We have to celebrate that which each of us bring.

Princess Reema: “If you stand still, you’re letting them push you down. If you keep walking, they have to follow you.

Hope you’ve been soaking up some vitamin D from that first spring sun, sweeties! Nice weather just makes everything better, now doesn’t it ^^ (Weather obsession! I’m such a Belgian :) ) But that doesn’t mean a dreary day like this one cannot bring happy times. Why not channel some of the solar energy you’ve charged up on over the last few days in a cozy crafternoon? Doesn’t need to be crazy artsy, sometimes a little mindless collaging will do (<3 mindless collaging! I’m such a nerd :) ). Make yourself a cup of tea (yes, pouring yourself a glass of wine is totally acceptable too ;) ), grab a couple of magazines and tear/cut out whatever appeals to you. Make sure to get that pritt stick and washi tape ready!

Feel like sharing the creative vibes? Call your girls and make it a vision board party! I was recently invited to one of these babies by the lovely Femlee. Just a couple of girls chatting, cutting and pasting away. Girly good times! (Thanks again, sweetie! <3) I noticed the term “vision board” can be a bit overwhelming though. Don’t feel like you have to have a vision to create something meaningful. By just selecting images and quotes that speak to you on some level (even if you’re not sure why exactly), you’ll surely create something beautiful. And you know what? You don’t even have to. Such a cliché, but so true: it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Happy crafting! <3 C.

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Home is where the heart is! As much as I love to get out in the world, there is something about opening that door and stepping into my little part of it… #happyplace! I’ve only been living here for a few months (remember this one), and I was surprised how soon this little house felt like home. Plus I had SUCH fun decorating it. Big perk of living by yourself: no need to compromise! I know that’s totally selfish, but what the heck: NO SHAME. I got to do it exactly the way I liked and I LOVED every second of it! The best compliment I got from some of my friends seeing my new nest for the first time: Even if I wouldn’t know, I could immediately tell this is your place. You know how single men’s cribs tend to evolve into a bit of a men cave? I suspect a female version of that might be happening here. A girly attic, maybe? :) For those of you picturing hearts and bows at the sound of this: rather think soft pastels, vintage elements and the occasional romantic touch…

The star pieces in my girly abode: the minty green Smeg fridge (that came with the house, can you believe that!) which dominates the kitchen, the 50ties TV cupboard I got via Little Vintage Lovers and the cute vintage mini-dresser I found on Mr. Frisko ( last picture below – more on this lovely vintage web shop later!). But I’m guessing it’s the ever-growing collection of little trinkets, vintage treasures and home deco accessories that are what makes an interior you (or in this case me). One of my favorite places in the house has to be my little work space (complete with Flow-dominated inspiration wall), the perfect spot to get away, think, dream and create <3

But of course, the home of a deco addict like yours truly is an eternal work in progress. Next project: finding a nice way to expose a collection of hand painted (in one of my more crafty moods) vintage picture frames with B&W pictures of my loved ones. Bigger items still on the wish list? A new kitchen table and a beautiful floor lamp for the living room (this knitting geek needs adjusted lighting). Good things come to those who wait… and save up a bit first ;)

Love, C.

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Howdy y’all! Reporting life from Austin, Texas:)  Enjoying the brainy geek fest that is #SxSW, or, as the word wizard also known as my boss has beautifully put it: confronting heat, thirst, endless steaks, burning sun, lousy beer and rattlesnakes, to gather as much information as we can get during long days, and endless nights. As you might suspect: this girl is one happy camper :) And as every seasoned camper (strictly for this analogy’s sake that is, there’s no world in which I actually deserve that title), I came prepared.

The look

The challenge: running around all over Austin for five long days, while looking somewhat profesh (not toooo much though: this is Texas after all ;) ), while staying comfy. Approach: business casual girl geek. Let me break that down :) Since heels are really not an option if I want my poor feet to survive this adventure, sneakers where a no-brainer. But my girly girl side (she’s ever present) wouldn’t settle for comfy only, so I packed plenty of girly dresses (Summer dresses! Hurray for warm Texan weather!) with a dash of business casual. Which is actually super practical if you think about it, because like I said before: you’re always fully dressed with a dress! No combo puzzles on jetlag plagued mornings: throw on the dress and you’re done! More or less :) That leaves two conference must-haves: breathable cardigans (in love with this fluffy Vero Moda one!) or classy comfy jackets (Welcome to the land of crazy AC!) and a backpack to drag around all my girl geek necessities.

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The beauty routine

Long days, air conditioning and the dry Texan air: they take their toll on your skin and hair. This calls for an adapted beauty routine, with hydration at its core. Let me share a snapshot of what that includes for me (full disclosure: some of these products where given to me by the lovely P&G beauty team, of which I used to be a part, during their amazing “Beautiful Journey” – very appropriate, right? – event).

First up: the the Olaz Anti-Wrinkle (it’s never too early, girls :) ) Instant Hydration, which claims a 24h hydration boost (will keep you posted ;) ) because of its Ocean Botanical complex. I tend to combine my day cream with a handful of samples for a full skincare routine on the go. Because if you’re not using them when you are traveling – when will you?

If there is one thing I don’t like to compromise on, it’s my hair routine. Bad hair tends to affect my mood (shallow, I know, but there you have it). But we all know perfect hair tends to come with quite the amount of luggage space. That’s where Braun comes to your rescue, with its new Style & Go collection, for a perfect result on the go, thanks to its signature IONTEC-technology. The dryer’s power is a little less strong than a normal one (16000 watt), but it does the trick!

Another life-saver, for the mornings on which a whole hair-shebang is just not possible: the Pantene Pro-V dry shampoo. With its “oil absorber” based on tapioca it absorbs excess dirt and grease, leaving your locks soft & refreshed. My favorite is the instant refresh version: because… well because of the instant refreshment, duh! (Can you tell I’m not a beauty blogger?) Perfect for a quick touch-up, and I love the way it makes my hair smell :)

And lastly: you might have noted the dominance of skirts & dresses in my packed look. Nothing less than smooth legs will do :) What I brought to achieve this: Venus Snap, a tiny travel-sized razor, which comes in a cute little box you can easily slip into your handbag. It comes with a Venus Embrace razor, but is combinable with all Venus razors.

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All of this being said: let it be clear that he focus of this trip is not how I’ll look, but what I’ll learn. More geek than girl going on here :) If you want to know more on that front: feel free to have a look at mediabrands.pub and read all about it ;)

Happy International Women’s Day peeps! This year’s theme #MakeitHappen invites us to honor women’s  achievements  all around the world and encourages women everywhere to reach for their goals. As a way to celebrate, I’d thought I’d put the spotlight on some of the inspirational women whose stories I’ve shared here over the last year. Kick-ass ladies with passion and ambition, who took a chance and followed their dreams. Who made it happen.

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My beautiful cousin Kim who put her stamp on the DecoVervaet family business by starting Kim., a delightful “store-in-store” corner offering her personal selection of Scandinavian inspired design and gift items. Natural materials, a gorgeous selection and pretty pastels: check!

The lovely Liesbeth who always dreamed of having her own little boutique, with beautiful objects that inspire her. She took the first digital step towards that dream this summer by launching Wander & Co, a web shop filled with prettiness, on which Liesbeth gives a platform to those brands she feels deserve it.

My favorite Latina Maria José who wanted to find a way to bring her Peruvian heritage closer to her life in Europe and give back to her country. With her EllePaca brand, Maria José shares one of Perú’s  greatest treasures: Peruvian baby alpaca wool, the finest type of wool originating from the Andes. Every EllePaca piece is 100% Baby Alpaca wool, % handmade and 100% Peruvian.

The wonderfully vibrant Elfi, who wanted to dare people to dream and created Dreamdrop. Visualizing what you want to achieve is a first step to going out and make it happen and that’s exactly where Dreamdrop comes in. You just go to the website, write down your dream, assemble your moodboard and drop your dream in its virtual galaxy.

My favorite foodie Marta who recently published her first cookbook  Fourplay, in which she shares a collection of 80 playful recipes for the four seasons. Healthy, original and easy to make = perfect inspiration for food lovers with limited kitchen skills (yours truly!) and a proof that good food doesn’t need to be complicated.

Creative soul Hanne, who took her newfound passion for wood and carpentry to the next level and launched Hannemans. A fresh collection of unique handmade home accessories, custom made furniture and interior design, at reasonable prices. Original minimalistic creations, inspired by Scandinavian style, with a playful finishing touch.

Thank you for the inspiration Ladies! <3

Pic Liesbeth by Kelly Steenlandt 

Pic Maria José  by Nico D.

Picture Elfi by Lannoo

Picture Marta by Speaking Through Silence Photograpy

With International Women’s Day coming up (hope you’ll be celebrating, Ladies!) it got me musing about what an amazing thing it actually is to be a woman. Don’t get me wrong, I too curse this gift at times (once a month, at least), but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The marvelous complexity of femininity. Our secret weapon for playing the array of roles we take on in life. Kick-ass girlfriend and bad-ass #girlboss. Caring mother and passionate lover. Cheerleader and challenger.

We’re unapologetically complicated and contradictory. And stronger for it. Soft and sweet, but fearless and fierce at the same time. Head in the clouds but both feet on the ground. Strong enough to admit to our weaknesses. Not ashamed to ask for help opening a stubborn jar, but facing life’s toughest challenges head on (probably while wearing terribly impractical shoes). Hanging on the couch and knitting one night (result of such a night below!), dancing the night away (in killer heels!) the next. Obsessing about the little things, while seeing the big picture. Living with a fire that leads to impulsive decisions, but owning up to our blunders. The resilience to open up our big hearts, only to get them broken, pick ourselves up and live to love another day. Who run the world? You know it :)

So yes: I tend to sport a rather girly girl look. But don’t judge this girly book by its cover. People often do, and seem a little shocked to discover the determination (and hint of a wilder streak ;) ) underneath. I might be rocking handmade knits and pastel sequins, but you know what? I’m totally Wild at Heart. Hear me roar.

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 Essentiel sweater & skirt – Primark shirt – H&M parka – Lipsy booties – Hand-knit (by me! :) ) beanie

Pics by Lore Maene

 

Happy Tell a Fairy Tale Day, my darlings! I hear ya: there really is a day for everything nowadays, isn’t there? True that. But since I’m a total sucker for a good story, this is definitely one to celebrate in my book. So I’m hoping you’ve been telling your loved ones some sweet inspiring stories today…. Let your imagination run free, it might take you to beautiful bewitching places <3

In case you really want to embrace the beauty that is this most magical day of the year (remember: magic is something YOU make ;) ), I went on a little imaginary shopping expedition and selected some fabulous fairy tale fashion. Granted: my enchanted forest wardrobe might be a tad Disney-inspired, but I guess I’m just a child of my generation…

At the top of this whimsical wish list: the brand new Disney x Essentiel collab! Inspired by Snow White’s seven sweeties, it puts the spotlight on this happy band’s most shy member, Bashful. Prints of this blushing cutie + happy colors and sequins + lovely quotes such as ‘Don’t be Shy’ & ‘Begin thy magic spell’ = instant love for this fairy tale fan! The collection will be available in the Essentiel shops and on Essentiel.be starting the first week of March and I have this feeling one of those happy tops might magically find its way into this princess’ (‘I am a princess, all girls are!’ <3 Sara Crewe) online shopping basket…

Have a magical night! <3 C.

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 FLTR: Essentiel – Even & Odd – Eleven Paris – Iceberg – Eleven Paris – Essentiel

Available through  Zalando & Essentiel

Fairy dust source