Marriage Material

By Miranda Zsigmond

Right after Thanksgiving, I found myself sitting on my couch, trying to console my roommate whose boyfriend had decided to end the relationship that weekend. Yes, she’d been turkey-dumped.

As I attempted to tie back together the unraveled pieces of her life, my Facebook news feed was blowing up with news of new engagements.

The holidays do strange things to people.

Currently I am in a pretty committed relationship of almost two years.  Admittedly thoughts of marriage have crossed my mind — and then meandered away.  After all, if I’m apprehensive about graduating college in the spring, I’m clearly not ready for marriage, right?


My mother (left) on her wedding day with her bridesmaid

Even though I grew up with divorced parents, the idea of finding someone who I liked enough to spend every holiday with is something I’m still interested in. I remember looking at pictures of my mom on her wedding day, with bright eyes and a big smile, a hopeful 24-year-old, only three years my senior. In her gaudy, early ‘90s white mess of a wedding dress, with its long lace sleeves, my mom posed with my dad. I found out later that she hated the dress, but she was pregnant with me and didn’t have a lot of options.

My mom has taught me a lot. Some of the most important things I’ve learned were what I don’t want in life, in relationships and in a wedding. Thankfully wedding trends have evolved since the dark and satirical days of ‘90s fashion. Even in the past 10 years, weddings have persistently pulled away from tradition as couples have begun focusing more on each other and less on over-the-top opulence.

It’s an exciting time to be a modern bride. The modern or alternative bride is the result of the independent woman who makes her own happiness, writes her own story, and is able to take traditional storybook ideals and morph them to her preference.

Naked cake

Naked Cake courtesy of Pinterest

Cake Walk

Bridal trends – including everything from cakes to venues to dresses — have undergone a minimalist and unique make-under, as an earthy, deconstructed wedding with lux details is the current norm.

The lavishness of the wedding cake had dwindled as cakes have shed their white frosting coats to reveal a negligée of light florals layered in between buttercream.

“Naked cakes are stacked cakes with only filling and a crumb coat with no external frosting,” explains Chef Jeremy Peters of Cypress College in Cypress, Calif.. “It is a step away from the traditional white layered cake that our mothers and grandmothers had before us, and it has simply never been done before, similar to when impressionism became an art movement and upset the traditionalists.”

Though this spin on tradition has shaken up the pastry world, the naked cake fits into the trendy rustic vibe of so many weddings. It also is significantly cheaper as it cuts out approximately 70 percent of labor costs, allowing it to be produced more quickly. For once, nude isn’t rude.

Alternative Wedding Style

Alternative Wedding Style courtesy of LOHO Bride


(un)traditional style

While cakes are being dressed down, more brides are choosing to dress up and walk down the aisle in some color or an alternative design, incorporating their personal style and pulling away from traditional white.

“If I decide on a colored dress it would have to be very special,” said Kaitlyn Tice-Leco a newly engaged modern bride. “I’m all for a unique dress but something in me can’t stray from a white dress. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl.”

More designers are filling the gap between the bride who wants to hold on to some tradition and the more adventurous bride with a variety of unconventional styles.

LOHO, which stands for League of Her Own, is a bridal boutique aiming to fill that void. Located in San Francisco’s design district, LOHO goes beyond being just a shop to fulfill a very specific niche for women who don’t identify with the mainstream aesthetic. The boutique offers dresses from designers who specialize in organic, comfortable and free-flowing alternative dresses and features ready to wear brands like Stone Fox Bride and Callahan as well as custom-order dresses.

“I’ve always considered myself ‘fashion forward’ and trendy. I wear pantsuits,” jokes Tice-Lecou. “So I’ve been really thinking about a flowy and laced wedding ensemble. There is something edgy and daring . . . in a sweetly feminine way that I think really fits my personality.”

Unique Engagement Ring

Unique Engagement Ring courtesy of Digby and Iona

Things that Sparkle

Engagement rings are also having an evolutionary moment, or more like an apt resurgence of style. In the recent past, high jewelry design was not defined by color, and clean crisp platinum and white diamonds were the rage. Within the past five years, designers have been incorporating more colored stones into their creative designs, prefect for the unconventional bride who is looking for something timeless and extraordinary, but with a twist.

Jewelry designer Aaron Ruff is the creative force behind the increasingly popular Digby and Iona engagement rings. These designs are based in tradition but take subtle modifications and unexpected embellishments, turning the ring into a one-of-a-kind piece.  Digby and Iona creates whimsical rings that seemingly tell an individual story through the use of textured metals, raw and peppered diamonds, as well as other precious gemstones like sapphire and tourmaline.

“I feel like non-traditional rings are becoming more common among all brides,” said SMU grad and newlywed Samantha Landon. “Every couple feels like their love is the most powerful and unique, thus couples want to find a ring as crazy and one of-a-kind as possible . . . that fits their special story.”

Though it may be off in the distance, I feel some comfort knowing that when I do decide to get married I will have numerous options to choose from to fit my independent style as a bride.

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Photo courtesy of Lazy Oaf.

By Madeleine Kalb

Every season or at least every year, Lazy Oaf produces a line featuring a different nostalgia-inducing cartoon character. These eccentric collections include items like Garfield’s face on beanies, Casper patches on a sheer dress, Bugs Bunny’s face blown up on sweatshirts, a seemingly intoxicated Taz’ face on a T-shirt, and a “that’s all folks” Porky the Pig crop-top sweatshirt.

Lazy Oaf designs is out of London and appeared in early 2000. I discovered the brand a few years ago when I saw a Mickey Mouse-inspired dress on the Urban Outfitters website. I was overwhelmed with excitement — it was the most creative use of licensing I’ve ever seen. Instead of printing Mickey Mouse on cheap fabric, Gemma Oaf, the brand’s founder and designer, uses the character as an inspiration to create contemporary and hip garments.

The black dress I purchased from Lazy Oaf has a cutout around the waist that connects the top to the skirt with white fabric cut-outs of Mickey Mouse gloves. Whenever I wear this dress, half the people I see ask what the white cut-outs are.  The other half freak out and fanboy at the discrete Mickey Mouse reference. I continue to mend and keep this dress in great condition because it is truly a novelty item.

Popular alternative retailer Urban Outfitters briefly carried Lazy Oaf and would sell out online almost immediately after posting new products. Lazy Oaf pulled their business from Urban Outfitters in 2014 to retool the brand.  Since then, Lazy Oaf has collaborated with several Japanese fashion designers as well as denim label Ragged Priest and, most recently, Dirty Needle Embroidery.

Today you can find Lazy Oaf on web sites including Dolls Kill, Nasty Gal and ASOS as well more than 200 stores worldwide. Their flagship store is located on Ganton Street in London.

The 2015 fall collection featured Casper and I shamelessly spent my entire paycheck on two T-shirts, a button-down blouse, and a dress adorned with Casper and Casper-spiration. Secretly praying for a second Casper line!

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FIG 2.0

By Molly Ogden

For a clothes-hording fashionista, walking into FIG is like walking into Willy Wonka’s Factory for a sweet-toothed kid. Rows and rows of booths filled with delicious new fashions fill the halls.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

FIG has become a Dallas staple in the fashion industry due to the close relationships they keep with their costumers, but with a big move in the works Dallas is wondering how this will change things.

Not to be mistaken for the fruit

Fashion Industry Gallery, FIG for short, is a Dallas hot spot for all things fashion. FIG is a boutique wholesale marketplace exclusive to vendors and buyers. It features the best in women’s contemporary apparel, footwear and accessories. It is open five time a year for market, following the national standards for the seasonal fashion shows, and once a year to the public for what they call FIG finale. FIG is basically the checkpoint between the runway or sewing table and the clothing rack.


Booth at FIG courtesy of FIG website

Booth at FIG courtesy of FIG website

FIG is a giant warehouse-like space filled with booths. The booths are unlike any state fair or carnival booth that usually comes to mind. These booths are decked out with designs that can’t be found in stores. Designers like BCBG and Chan Luu have permanent showrooms in the downstairs space, but other booths, on the second floor, change season to season. The changing vendors bring new up-and-coming clothing designers like Mare Mare and well-known brands like Style Stalker.

Change is coming

FIG was initially founded by Brook Partners, Inc., and a group of agents. Starting with only a dozen permanent showrooms in 2004, they now house over 60 of the top contemporary showrooms. With a constantly growing clientele, the seemingly large amount of space, at 28,000 square feet, has gotten cramped. What they are calling FIG 2.0 is a plan to move into a building of their own that is much bigger.

Carman Thompson, operations coordinator at FIG, is on of the many employees excited about the big move.

“It will be a great move for us to our own building, a new and upcoming area in the Design District,” Thompson said. “We are busting at the seams currently, so this building will allow us to increase the number of showrooms and allow for more space in our juried tradeshow, SHOP.”

They are expected to move by the fall of 2016.


Previously located in downtown Dallas, FIG was not close to other fashion wholesale venues. But now, with the move to the Design District, they will be sharing a zip code with one of Dallas’ biggest wholesale venues.

Dallas Market Center is an enormous wholesale trade center measuring 5 million square feet. Not only does the DMC cover the fashion wholesale market, but it also sells lighting, home décor, floral and holiday. More than 200,000 buyers and sellers come through the doors for market.

This would worry some businesses, but Thompson explains how FIG sets itself apart from the competition.

“We specialize in collections with a higher price point, so most buyers and exhibitors choose to purchase or show at FIG,” Thompson said. “We do have buyers who visit our location as well as the Dallas Market Center. We consider it ‘sharing buyers’ rather than competition.”

The Dallas Market Center is not considered one of their competitors, but if they were to say they had a competitor it would be the markets in Los Angeles and New York.

New York and Los Angeles are always going to be the top competitors in the fashion industry. The 60 permanent show rooms FIG has have other showrooms in those fashion capitals. Most buyers choose to attend those markets.  Therefore, the vendors at FIG cannot always be in Dallas.

Maria Salcino, the designer for the Miami-based fashion line Mare Mare, is one of those vendors who cannot always be at FIG for market.

“We are always traveling to different markets. It is important for the designer to be there to showcase their work, but it is not always possible when most markets happen around the same time,” Salcino said.

Despite the conflicting market dates with big competitors, FIG is able to keep a reputation for being more involved with buyers because of the Dallas-based designers they feature.

Ten of FIG’s showrooms feature Dallas based designers. The people who work in these showrooms are there on a daily basis and can come in and out at a moment’s notice. These designers make the buyers feel that special “FIG hospitality” and customer service. There is a more customized and close experience when you can talk to the actual designers, says Taylor Lewis, a former employee of the WBC showroom who loved his experience working closely with buyers.

FIG show room courtesy of FIG website

FIG show room courtesy of FIG website

These permanent showrooms also have year-round employees and brand reps who are from the area and can offer the same experience for the buyers.

“ After working there for a while, you would start to recognize the regulars at every market,” Lewis said. “ I would know their store and their style and could pull pieces I knew they would be interested in so I could sell the brands rather than trying to have the brand sell itself. ”

FIG has created a close-knit network through customer care. They have created a Fashion community that you could not find in bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles.

Community love

Fig draws supporters when they open their doors once a year to the Dallas community during what they call FIG finale. It’s an opportunity, after market, for non-buyers to come and shop the newest trends at wholesale prices. This is an event Dallas always has its calendar marked for.

FIG also has close ties with students in Dallas.  Every market FIG offers students the opportunity to be what they call a “FIGlet.”

A FIGlet is basically an intern who works with the FIG team during market. Each day the FIGlets are outfitted and accessorized head to toe by featured designers. Calla Boeckman, a junior at Highland Park High School, has worked as a FIGlet and loved the perks.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 1.10.47 PM

FIGlets courtesy of FIG Instagram

“ My favorite part was that we got to keep the clothes. The clothes are always gorgeous and they are pieces no one else will have because they have not gotten to stores yet,” Boeckman said.

FIGlets go around during market and serve drinks, hors d’oeuvres and meals. In their off time they are able to mingle and get to know different vendors and designers.

Madison Marchetti, a junior as SMU, has worked as a FIGlet and keeps going back for more.

“ I love being in the environment, all the clothes are amazing,” Marchetti said. “ I have met so many designers that I want to work for and some I still keep in touch with. It’s a great way to network.”

This is a coveted opportunity FIG offers. It allows students who are interested in fashion to meet people who are in the business and explore the different aspects of it all.

According to Thompson, these students are also a huge part of FIGs success.

“We obviously couldn’t continue to be open without all our long-term FIG supporters and our amazing interns who help us at every market,” Thompson said. “They are what keep our business thriving every year.”

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By Brittany Angiuli

Mergers between designer brands and franchised retail stores are normal to every shopper, but the newest merger between H&M and Balmain, released in November, is more than just a clothing collaboration — it’s a “Balmain Army, featuring fashion’s hottest models.

Oliver Rousteing, Balmain’s head designer, alongside muses Kendall Jenner and Jourdan Dunn first announced the merger on May 17, by wearing token pieces from the collection on the red carpet at the Billboard Music Awards.

Soon after the brand began teasing the collection through multiple forms of “Balmination” propaganda – social media featuring top models in a series of urban “action” vignettes.

Press for the collaboration has been keeping shoppers interested and engaged ever since.  Following the unveiling of the merger at the Billboard Music Awards, Elle France gave shoppers another sneak peak at what was to come from the line. Soon after the brand campaign was released, which featured today’s hottest models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Finally a hot campaign video starring Jenner was released.

H&M x Balmain campaign advertisement. Photo courtesy of

H&M x Balmain campaign advertisement. Photo courtesy of

When H&M x Balmain finally released the line on Nov. 5, shoppers loved it. If you thought waking up for Black Friday deals was insane, then you will be appalled to know that shoppers started lining up at 4 a.m. for the H&M x Blamain collection.

“We started lining up at around 4 a.m. and then it started to drizzle. Even after all that though it was still worth it,” SMU senior Alex Wippler says.

The collection includes a mixture of edgy accessories, crisp-cut blazers, delicate trousers and detail-oriented dresses that range from $100 to $500. Shortly after the line launched on the H&M website at 8 a.m., the website crashed due to the number of shoppers, and the entire stock was sold out within the hour.

A shortened look of the H&M x Balmain collection. Photo courtesy of H&M. Photo collage courtesy of Brittany Angiuli.

A shortened look of the H&M x Balmain collection. Photo courtesy of H&M. Photo collage courtesy of Brittany Angiuli.

H&M isn’t new to designer collaborations.  For example, they launched Alexander Wang for H&M in fall 2014. So what makes this collaboration so special?

The Kardashian-Jenner clan has generated lots of attention for the brand.  In addition, model Kendall Jenner is the face of the H&M x Balamin collaboration. Likewise, current “it” girls Gigi Hadid, Alessandra Ambrosio, Karlie Kloss and more are the models who debuted the line in the runway show and are drawing more attention to the line than any other merger.

Hollywood’s hottest models join the “Balmain Army” for the H&M x Balmain Fashion Show. Photo courtesy of Photo collage courtesy of Brittany Angiuli.

Hollywood’s hottest models join the “Balmain Army” for the H&M x Balmain Fashion Show. Photo courtesy of Photo collage courtesy of Brittany Angiuli.

“The it models have helped. I don’t watch Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s, but I saw Kendall Jenner wearing that jacket and I knew I needed it,” SMU student and early morning H&M x Blamain shopper Chandler Helms says. “That also speaks to the quality of it that celebrities are wearing it.”

Some, however, were inspired by the designs done by Olivier Rousting and the ability to buy designer clothes they usually can’t afford.

“This collection was based off the previous runway collection so all the designs at one point were off the runway,” says Gianna Scorinto, who starting standing in line at 4 a.m. “A lot of people admired the brand, but most people can’t afford that so this was a way that it was reachable.”

Whether it be due to the publicity or the affordability, the H&M x Balmain collaboration is creating mass amounts of buzz among the fashion world. This highly exclusive line is what every girl dreams to have in her closet so that was she can dress like she is walking on the runway alongside the “Balmain Army.”

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Blog on Point

By Bridger Warlick

Blogging – what a funny-looking word. According to, blogging is defined as “a website containing a writer or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.”

Since computers have started taking over the world, so have blogs.  Today many well-known bloggers are being sponsored and paid by different brands and companies, some earning six figures for a single appearance.

There are several different types of blogs that cover a range of topics. These blogs include lifestyle, fashion, food, sports, how-to, photo, professional and blogs that are just for fun. Often writers come together to create a blog. For example, Southern Methodist University students like Conor Lane and Sara Mullaly use their skills to contribute to sport and fashion group blogs.  Other bloggers take on the task themselves.

Blogs encourage creative individuals to write, post and share their personal experience all around the world or in their own backyard. Dallas locals dominate the blog scene and keep their followers up to date on the latest styles, the current scores and the top lifestyle trends.

SMUStyle – Fashion Blog

Sara Mullaly, a junior at Southern Methodist University started writing for SMUStyle her freshman year. She and nine other students work to keep the blog up to date and always relevant.

Sara Mullaly. Image Courtesy of Instagram.

Sara Mullaly. Image Courtesy of Instagram.

Mullaly says the group meets about once a week, and they pitch ideas to each other for their stories. Their goal is to post about two items a week in order to keep all of their followers happy. Mullaly, a fashion-ista herself, had several blogs on her own when she was in high school. But with SMUStyle she hasn’t had time to keep up with them. Mullaly checks two blogs, The Everygirl and Who What Wear, every day as part of her morning routine.

The Hilltopics– Sports Blog

Journalism senior Conor Lane has been writing for SMU’s sports blog called Hilltopics for about six months.

Lane started blog writing after he took a sports journalism class with Jean-Jacques Taylor, the Dallas Morning New’s Dallas Cowboys beat writer. One of Lane’s classmates, Adam Grosbard, read some of his work and asked him if he would be interested in writing for Hilltopics. “I’ve always loved sports, and since I know what it’s like to be both a player and a spectator, I think I have an interesting perspective to offer a publication like Hilltopics,” says Lane.

Conor Lane. Image Courtesy of Instagram.

Conor Lane. Image Courtesy of Instagram.

Lane receives a list of players being recruited by SMU – they’ve either committed or have been offered – and he interviews a few of them each week to get a sense of where they’re at in their recruitment.

“My favorite part is getting the inside scoop on what’s going on with SMU sports. All the kids that I’ve interviewed have one thing in common — they love the school and the coaching staffs. Getting to hear these players speak so highly of my school is a very cool thing, and I cherish the opportunity Hilltopics has given me,” says Lane.

Donuts and Dior – Fashion and Photo Blog

“Donuts and Dior can (hopefully!) be a source of inspiration for fashion, lifestyle, design and fitness for you. I created this site as [a] place to catalogue the growth of my own personal style and taste but as it’s grown, I’ve loved seeing how others have used my content as inspiration.” – Shelly Knutson

 ”This site is a destination for natural, relatable, and quirky inspiration for girls around the world seeking a life full of fashion, fitness, and most importantly, fun.”

– Shelly Knutson

SMU senior and California girl Michelle Knutson started her blog Donuts and Dior her sophomore year of high school. She started her blog on Tumblr, a photo site, before domain sites such as BlogSpot and WordPress became so insanely popular.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Knutson was in for a temperature shock when she moved to Massachusetts for boarding school. She jokes that she started her blog because she didn’t want to venture outside into the cold.

“I did so honestly because I was bored and freezing my butt off in boarding school,” Knutson says, laughing, “and figured it would be a fun, inventive hobby I could pick up while staying indoors.”

Shelly Knutson. Image Courtest of Donuts and Dior.

Shelly Knutson. Image Courtest of Donuts and Dior.

Knutson says her favorite blogs include FashionToastCupcakes and CashmereWeWoreWhat and College Prepster.

As they’ve attracted followers, many bloggers have branched out to other platforms.  Knutson herself has dabbled in different social media, but she never stuck to one besides her blog.

“I find bloggers these days who are seeking profit constantly try to tackle the next big thing when it comes to social media, but my blog’s never been about that.”

Instead, Knutson updates her blog daily, in most cases,  with new content rather than  bombard her loyal followers with the same information on different social media platforms.

“The most rewarding part is when I get reminders from friends or even random people around campus to post more,” she say. “People get more excited and behind my content than I do myself sometimes, and it definitely encourages me to want to post more.”


 Sanford Standard – Fashion and Style Blog

“With a passion for fashion, my sources of inspiration are endless. I’m continuously influenced by architecture, interior design and my surroundings. I am a student at Southern Methodist University studying Fashion Media and Business and plan to pursue a career in fashion. This blog reveals my ever-changing personal style and the constant standards by which I live my life.”

– Mary Sanford McClure 

Mary Sanford McClure. Image Courtesy of Sanford Standard.

Mary Sanford McClure. Image Courtesy of Sanford Standard.

Memphis native Mary Sanford McClure has always been interested in fashion. A junior at SMU, she started her blog, Sanford Standard, about eight months ago. She was inspired by another blogger, Justine McGregor, who told her to just bite the bullet and make one.

McClure’s ultimate dream job would be styling, so she uses her blog not to show off her clothes but as a portfolio. She says that if she is one day applying for a job, she can use her blog to show her potential employer what she has done.

Friends and family were McClure’s initial following. However, one day she decided it was time to put herself out there and post on Facebook. Since that day her following base has continued to grow, and she noted that her largest post had about 1,000 people looking at it from all over the world.

“I like to be visual,” says McClure. “I don’t like to read a lot of mess, so I will write a couple sentences, but I try to keep the pictures as the main focus of the blog and each post.”

McClure notes she was very good about posting on her blog last year, but with her busy schedule this semester she hasn’t had as much time as she would like to post. She says being consistent is the hardest part.

“It’s hard to find time to devote to writing and taking pictures. People who write blogs professionally have people to take photos for them. But for me, I have to find friends to take photos, and I have to find time to set aside for myself to work on it as well.”

McClure says she enjoys exploring with her blog. She loves playing with the clothes that she has. “A lot of times you wear the same outfits and you need to mix and match,” says McClure. “It’s fun experimenting what would look good and working with what you have.”

She would love for her blog to become successful, but for now she will continue working toward her goal to become a stylist.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 9.41.48 AM

Sarah Fun – Lifestyle and Food Blog

 “I have found that if you love life, it will love you back”

–       Sarah Fun

Sarah Fun. Image Courtesy of Local Dreamer.

Sarah Fun. Image Courtesy of Local Dreamer.

Currently studying Art Therapy at SMU, Sarah Fun is a project-based artist for Susan Graham Designs and in-house photographer for Rachel Nash Gallery. Fun, who identifies herself as a “coffee drinker, picture taker, and life liver,” has had her blog Local Dreamer since February of 2015. She started her lifestyle and food blog because many of her friends wanted to see more of what she likes to do.

Being a photographer, Fun has filled her blog with colorful, bright and artsy photos that people love to look at. She has over 2,000 followers from multiple countries, and her base continues to grow every day.

Fun herself follows mainly fashion bloggers, but she decided to make her blog mostly lifestyle and food based. She explores restaurants all over Dallas and posts photos of the treats she enjoys.

Fun promotes her blog through her Instagram, HeySarahFun, and she also has her own personal website where she displays more of her photos.

“I like that it’s more personal and I can write the way I speak so my readers feel like we’re having a conversation,” she says about her blog.

“The Real- Life Serena Van Der Woodsen bringing stylish to a whole new level”

–     Town and Country

 “If you like ladylike looks with a touch of edge, this girl’s for you”

–   Who What Wear


Krystal Schlegel. Image Courtesy of  Krystal Schlegel.

Krystal Schlegel. Image Courtesy of Krystal Schlegel.

SMU graduate Krystal Schlegel started her fashion blog Krystal Schlegel in 2010 while still a student.  Today the site has over 400,000 unique viewers who visit it every day.

“My personal style is pretty simple.  Classic but modern.  Southern but edgy.  Comfortable and casual.  I keep my home decorated in all white and my closet full of neutrals,” says Schlegel.

Schlegel has remained up to date with ever changing social media. Instagram was not around when she started her blog, but now it is Schlegel’s main form of social media.

Like many other student bloggers, Schlegel started as a young woman with a dream.  Now she enjoys working at her ultimate job. “I have met so many amazing people and love being my own boss,” she says.  ”I am putting in more hours than when I had a 9 to 5 job, but I love what I do, so it is all very exciting and worth the hard work.”

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Calling all Girl Bosses

By Emily Ward

Create + Cultivate is a creative conference and online platform for female entrepreneurs in the digital space founded by Jaclyn Johnson in 2012.

Create + Cultivate is a creative conference and online platform for female entrepreneurs in the digital space founded by Jaclyn Johnson in 2012. Courtesy of Create + Cultivate.

Your “she-roes” are the women who launched Nasty Gal, Net-A-Porter and rewardStyle, and you hope someday to follow in their well-heeled footsteps.   Well, help is on the way.

Create + Cultivate’s tagline is “Not your average conference,” and this  statement could not be truer.

Started in 2012 by blogger-turned-CEO Jaclyn Johnson, Create + Cultivate is a creative conference and online platform for female entrepreneurs in the digital space. The imaginative workshop and speaking series has taken place in Portland, Brooklyn, Palm Springs and Los Angeles and, this January, will be visiting Dallas for the first time.

Johnson created No Subject, a digital and events agency, in 2010 and has since established it as one of the go-to agencies in Los Angeles, servicing clients such as Nasty Gal, Levi’s and Urban Decay. Two years later, it struck her that fashion and lifestyle brands were lacking environments where women in this field could come together to creatively entertain and inspire one another, both online and off.

Thus, Create + Cultivate, a 365-day conversation about entrepreneurship and being a woman in the modern digital world, was created. Its team strives to gather the next generation of curious thinkers, entrepreneurs and girl bosses to spark conversations around the topics they are passionate about – from influencer marketing and brand building to raising money.

The conference is held three times a year and past speakers include best-in-the-business names such as Whitney Port. Create + Cultivate has also been called a must-attend event for women in the digital industry by popular fashion sites such as refinery29, The Zoe Report and Who What Wear.

The first conference of 2016 will be held in Dallas on Saturday, Jan. 30, and is expected to include 60 speakers and more than 400 attendees. The keynote speakers are Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, the co-founders of Clique Media Group, as well as Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere. Prominent panelists Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam and Tina Craig of Bag Snob are also set to speak.

The first Create + Cultivate conference of 2016 will be held in Dallas on Saturday, Jan. 30, and is set to include 60 speakers. Courtesy of Create + Cultivate.

SMU professor Jake Batsell teaches courses in digital journalism and media entrepreneurship. He is quick to comment on the the barrierless relationship between famous bloggers and their fans.

“Certainly within the fashion world, and many other industries as well, what the Web has done is eliminate some of the hierarchies that traditionally governed these professions,” Batsell says. “No one is saying anymore that you have to pay your dues to gain admission to the club.”

Taylor Miller, founder and owner of Hazen Jewelry, is excited for the chance to attend Create + Cultivate in her home state next month. She knows the conference is highly recognized for bringing like-minded, creative and ambitious women together in one place.

“I am just thrilled that this event is in Dallas, and I look forward to meeting and networking with my neighbors,” Miller says. “I think something really unique happens when communities work together towards a common goal.”

Miller says she is most looking forward to hearing from Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rise of SoulCycle.

“They have clearly created an incredible brand, business and business model,” Miller says, “and I am curious to see what insight they have to add.”

Hazen Jewelry social media intern and student blogger Molly O’Connor is counting down the days until Create + Cultivate as well. She views the conference as an invaluable learning experience taught by successful woman who were once at the same starting point where she is now.

“As a recent creator of a blog, I would love to hear all the tricks and words of wisdom that all of these phenomenal women have to offer,” O’Connor says. “I hope to not only sharpen existing skills, but also learn to think about my craft from different, and much more advanced, perspectives.”

Tickets for the event may seem pricey at $285, but include workshops, mentor sessions, cocktails, food, pop-up shops, photo booths and gift bags. Create + Cultivate will be held in the popular event space, Lofty Spaces, on Montgomery Street starting at 8 a.m.

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Black Friday v. Cyber Monday

Shoppers line the aisles waiting to purchase their items. Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Shoppers line the aisles waiting to purchase their items. Photo courtesy of Business Insider

By Ashley Almquist

As I walk down the corridor of Wesfield Topanga in Los Angeles, swerving in and out of a sea of people, I glance to my left at store windows adorned with signs promoting major sales of the season. To my right, I see women testing their upper body strength by carrying at least five shopping bags, all stuffed to the brim, on each arm.

When I finally duck into the nearest store it is packed with people, leaving me no room to actually look at the items on the shelves.

This is the typical scene of any Black Friday.  And while I usually enjoy the experience, some people might ask: Are the crowds and hassle of leaving the house around the holiday really worth it?

Black Friday is a tradition that has been around since the 1960s.  Once a term used by the Philadelphia Police Department to describe the overwhelming crowds in the streets and stores, retailers took over the term in the 1980s.  Black was then referring to switching from red to black ink in retailer’s accounting books to indicate a profit.

Peter Noble, professor of practice at the SMU Temerlin Advertising Institute, says that Black Friday is based on loss leaders which are products that are majorly discounted to attract customers. “Retailers have a limited number of those items and once they are gone everything else is discounted [to] much less,” said Noble.

Retailers realize they can draw large crowds through these “door buster” deals on Black Friday.  Shoppers are looking to score great deals on Christmas gifts, so retailers start advertisements for the long-awaited day weeks in advance.

Shoppers wait to enter the Macy’s in New York City. Photo courtesy of the International Business Times

Shoppers wait to enter the Macy’s in New York City. Photo courtesy of the International Business Times

“We’ve ended up with a tradition and frenzy where people perceive there are must-have bargains,” said Noble. “The purpose is basically to bring people into the store to kick of the Christmas buying season.”

Some stores such as Macy’s or Walmart even start the sales early at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  And that’s not the earliest – stores like Target even offer Black Friday preview sales on Wednesday.

Shopper Christian Bender said she does not enjoy the crowds on Black Friday. “I would rather pay full price for anything than ever go to Black Friday.”

Many of these deals are available with the click of a mouse.  Cyber Monday, a term coined by, a division of the National Retail Federation, originated in 2005. The day of online shopping on the Monday following Black Friday reached record sales of over $2 billion in 2014, according to comscore.

Great deals are available online on Cyber Monday. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post

Great deals are available online on Cyber Monday. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post

Cyber Monday has deals just like Black Friday all from the comfort of your home.  While you do run the risk of items going out of stock, you can experience the same problems shopping in a mall on Black Friday.

The only catch – shipping can be free, but sometimes online shoppers do have to pay that extra fee to get the products they purchase. The fee may be worth not having to drive to your favorite stores and transport all of the items you want home.

Bender seems to think so. “Cyber Monday sounds less stressful unless it’s one of those websites that people stalk for hours and then crashes because so many people are buying stuff,” said Bender.

But not everyone spends the day shopping.

Mallory Paul, an employee at Equinox, spent her Cyber Monday on the seller’s side. “On Cyber Monday my company was offering two $100 gift cards for joining our club, so I spent the day selling memberships,” she said.

I personally enjoy tradition, and Black Friday is a long-standing one for my mom and me.  Although the parking is a challenge and the crowds can be overwhelming, I like being part of the crowd and making memories with her.  I also prefer going into the store and trying things on before making a purchase – something you can’t do online.

In my opinion, the very American experience of heading to any mall or retail store on Black Friday is something we should all try at least once.  That being said, I also shop on Cyber Monday because who can resist those amazing deals, all at your fingertips with just the click of a mouse?  Not me.

Black Friday or Cyber Monday? The choice depends on the type of shopper and her buying habits and needs.  Or you can be like me and choose both — because great deals are always nice when holiday shopping.

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Words — The New Accessory

By Izzy DeSantis

Cara showing off her slogan t-shirt style. [Courtesy of MyCelebrityFashion/Slogan-T-shirt]

Cara showing off her slogan t-shirt style. Courtesy of MyCelebrityFashion/Slogan-T-shirt.

Since the beginning of time, fashion has been an outlet to express oneself. As Marc Jacobs once said, “To me, clothing is a form of self-expression—there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”  Now, this idea has become a trend in and of itself.

Today everywhere we look, people  – from street style to fashion bloggers – are wearing their thoughts on their sleeve. Quite literally.

Items of clothing are now being covered with song lyrics, statements, memes and other sayings. This trend has been coined “the slogan T-shirt,” although these slogans appear on many other pieces of clothing, and is taking the fashion world by storm. It is now possible to make a statement without saying a word.

Wildfox model wearing a best selling sweater. [Courtesy of Wildfox]

Wildfox model wearing a best selling sweater. Courtesy of Wildfox.

The most popular brands that make these products are Wildfox and Private Party. The attire ultimately epitomizes your personality, revealing your likes as well as your dislikes. Some of the most popular styles usually portray the latest trending concept or quote within the media. The text you choose to wear can either be culturally relevant or completely pointless.

Wildfox launched in 2009, and has been popular ever since. It’s a vintage-inspired women’s knitwear brand based in Los Angeles. The label was co-created by two best friends who were inspired by a “love for vintage tee shirts,” according to the company’s website. The brand is rapidly expanding and can be found in many department stores as well as online.

Katherine O’Donnell, a student at SMU, is an avid Wildfox shopper and owns more than eight items from the brand. “I love how comfortable and cozy the pieces are. It is the epitome of fashionable loungewear.”

Wildfox is known for its iconic campaigns, dreamlike quality and clothes that tell a story. The brand stands out because of its cool designs, detailed graphics and personalized words.

Lauren Sarni, a Nordstrom’s sales associate, works in the department where Wildfox is sold. She says it’s one of the their best sellers. “The brand is so successful because it is relatable and is essentially a platform to make a statement. The brand is a different take on typical high-fashion.”

Model wearing the infamous “I Woke Up Like This” Shirt.     [Courtesy of DemelzaBuckley/Typography/Slogan]

Model wearing the infamous “I Woke Up Like This” Shirt.
Courtesy of DemelzaBuckley/Typography/Slogan.

Private Party, on the other hand, has just recently become prevalent, especially on SMU campus. The brand’s products provide a more “casual” take on the trend. The company’s inventory ranges from sweatshirts to one-piece swimsuits.

Private Party’s designs are simple, usually in black, white or gray with simple typography. Some of the brand’s best sellers include phrases like “BAE Watch” or “Netflix and Chill.”

These brands have been especially popular among young shoppers.  It allows the younger generation to have a voice, even when they feel their opinions mean little.

Kristie Ramirez, the editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Dallas and Dallas Brides, sees the trend as part of our culture’s obsession with social media.  “I think it’s an extension of texting emojis, social media and the new ways that we communicate with one another,” she says. “Now it’s enough to just send a smiley face or a thumbs-up to get your point across instead of having a real conversation. These shirts are like the wearable version of that.”

Wildfox models posing during a campaign photoshoot. [Courtesy of Molly + Wildfox/ TexasStylist]

Wildfox models posing during a campaign photoshoot. Courtesy of Molly + Wildfox/ TexasStylist.

We are able to easily identify with these products, and that is why they have rapidly become a trend.

Trends come and go, but words are forever. Words are always up for interpretation.  They inspire us to assign value, and that is why this new attire is, I admit, so appealing.

So now go on and start shopping, because I think this statement-making trend is here to stay.

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SMU Alum Takes New Look at Dallas Fashion Scene With Théorie Magazine

By Margaret Jones

Nicola Wali, founder and editor of independent magazine Théorie, glides into an SMU fashion journalism class like she knows exactly what she is doing. Her long dark hair and black structured jacket look effortless and chic. She sits at the end of the table and begins a conversation about her time at SMU, where she launched a fashion and lifestyle magazine and started a nonprofit.  She reels off names such as model Erin Wasson and British band Clean Bandit who have been featured in Théorie’s pages – and seems perfectly at ease  at the front of a classroom where she sat as a student just a few months ago.

Nicola Wali. Courtesy of Nicola Wali

Nicola Wali.
Courtesy of Nicola Wali

Growing up in Plano, Wali devoted most of her time to  soccer and dance. However, throughout these early years, her dearest hobbies were always reading and writing. In high school, she decided she wanted to pursue a career in fashion. At SMU, Wali realized it was possible to combine both her love for fashion and for writing by pursuing fashion journalism.

Wali double majored in fashion media with a concentration in journalism and finance while at SMU. Jayne Suhler, professor of practice in journalism, first met Wali when she enrolled in her Fashion, Media & Culture course in the then new Fashion Media program. This was the first time the course was offered so Wali was in the “guinea pig group,” Suhler explains. There were 75 students in the class, Suhler says, but Wali “was a standout even in that crowd.”

“She was one of a handful of students that I could depend on to add depth to the conversation,” Suhler says. “She would take the readings very seriously and would do background research on her own time to try to glean as much as she could out of them.”

In addition to Suhler’s course, Wali credits Dr. Nina Schwartz’s literature course, The American Heroine, as prompting her to create Théorie. The class, which looks at the evolving image of women in literature, encouraged Wali to portray women differently in fashion writing.

“[Schwartz] had a great point, as magazines are rife with stories that teach women how to look slimmer, or younger or more beautiful. This essentially implies that there is something wrong with the general female readership, and that is incredibly problematic,” Wali says. “Fashion writing is my passion, but perpetuating the portrait of female perfection is not.”

Wali took this interest for social activism and put it into action in another way while at SMU. As a freshman, Wali became an Engaged Learning fellow, which led to the creation of the Nari Project in 2012. Nari is a nonprofit that addresses needs of domestic abuse victims by providing them with crisis kits. As a student, Wali partnered with Genesis Women’s shelter and even traveled twice to Bangladesh for Nari. Today, the nonprofit has distributed 150 kits in Bangladesh and Dallas and is continuing to expanding throughout India.

Cover of third issue of Théorie Courtesy of Théorie

Cover of third issue of Théorie.
Courtesy of Théorie

Wali also wrote for several different publications, including FD magazine during her time as a student. These experiences along with her academic endeavors ultimately prompted her to create Théorie. She recognized a need for artistic, quality writing in fashion magazines and wanted to spark change within the fashion world.

“I haven’t missed the fact that there is a profusion of fashion publications out there, but I felt like something was missing—intelligent commentary that is untainted by mainstream fashion,” Wali says. “In the U.S., there is an untapped market for intellectualized commentary about fashion. So, I started Théorie.”

Wali explains that it took months to conceptualize the magazine’s content and develop the aesthetic. She first began by finding like-minded young creatives to help launch the magazine, including a creative director, art director and graphic designer. Since then, she has added a long list of stylists, writers and contributors. Wali and her team decided the content of the magazine would “celebrate fashion, film, music and art with a critical and creative eye,” she explains.

Cameron Lee Pham, current art director at Théorie, has been with Wali from the start. The two met, became close friends and produced a magazine together in just two years. The small team at Théorie has slowly expanded to create a company culture that is compatible and fluid, Pham explains.

Kevin Davidson, Nicola Wali and Cameron Lee Pham at release party. Courtesy of Nicola Wali

Kevin Davidson, Nicola Wali and Cameron Lee Pham at release party.
Courtesy of Nicola Wali

“We are adamant about encouraging one another, we challenge ourselves, and we respect every idea that is laid out on the table,” Pham says.

Pham credits Wali’s intellect and ambition for much of Théorie’s success. Though she is driven and professional, her respect for others breaks boundaries for the magazine, Pham says.

“Nicola is one of the most incredibly driven people that I have ever come to know, trust and respect for a variety of reasons,” he says. “She also has a way of bringing people together, and that is really what makes Théorie happen the way it does.”

Wali and her team’s hard work is visible in every issue of Théorie. Each issue is themed and addresses a current social topic. For example, the third issue, inspired by modern feminism, was themed “Girl Power” and featured model Erin Wasson who grew up in the Dallas suburb of Irving.

“The most daring concept for Théorie is its ability to blend the magnetic concepts of psychology, fashion and generational conditions,” Wali says. “Our goal is to intellectualize, theorize and verbalize the influence of fashion.”

Third issue release party on March 23, 2015. Courtesy of

Third issue release party on March 23, 2015.
Courtesy of

Théorie continues to push boundaries with provocative thoughts on fashion, film, music and art. The “Girl Power” issue included a womenswear editorial that was military-inspired and utilitarian. The feature was juxtaposed with an androgynous menswear editorial where the men were photographed cross-dressing. As Wali explains it: “Fashion is a discipline that has challenged conventional ideas of beauty and sexuality and celebrated gender equality and ambiguity, so it merits dialogue that is equally stimulating.”

Today, Nicola Wali is editor-in-chief of Théorie, director of the Nari Project and marketing director at Alliance International Corporation. Now, as she sits in an SMU classroom again, speaking to a room full of students, Wali is confident and hopeful for more success in the future.

“The fact that I started a magazine that I’m truly proud of at age 19 is amazing, and it’s truly fulfilling,” Wali said in an email. “My dream in fashion, however, is for Théorie to be a nationally (or even internationally) recognized publication. I am confident that that will happen one day.”

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By Sammie Oliva


Image Courtesy of Mountain Valley Fitness and Health

You turn to the right and see burly men bench-pressing weights that are heavier than you after a holiday dinner.  To your left a woman maxes out the treadmill at the highest incline, while her friend does a pull-up like it’s something natural. You on the other hand, fumble with a 2-pound dumbbell while hiding in the back corner of the gym.

Everyone has to start somewhere, but some people prefer to begin their journey with smaller boutique-style workouts.  Rather than bulking up at LA Fitness or Equinox, women especially are venturing into facilities that offer intimate workouts tailored to building lean muscle.

The workouts gaining the most attention are Pilates, spin, yoga and barre classes.  Some places, like Pure Barre, use a combination of these exercises to form one workout.  But what benefits do you really get during one of these sessions, which are no bargain at around $15 or more per session without a package?


Image Courtesy of FitReserve


Pilates offers a great alternative to the conventional gym workout.  Using a machine called a reformer, or just a mat, exercisers can target their core and improve their flexibility.  This workout is very structured and engages muscles that conventional movements miss.

“Pilates is a great workout because it combines the essential components of multiple exercise regimes, which improves full body strength and flexibility,” said Christie Navarre, a Pilates Barre instructor.  “The combination is great for injury prevention and improved overall health.”

Repetition of small, targeted movements creates the lean figure most women desire.  It’s a great workout to tone trouble areas and sculpt the body.  Unfortunately, this workout lacks an emphasis on cardio.  The best option is to alternate between Pilates and some sort of cardio exercise according to WebMD.



Image Courtesy of Alex Club


Speaking of cardio exercises, spin class will really get that heart pumping.  Indoor cycling involves a stationary exercise bicycle with adjustable resistance.  The goal of the instructor is to simulate different terrain, while challenging riders at whatever level they feel comfortable.

“The varying levels of speed, resistance and intensity raise and lower your heart rate throughout the workout, which is the most effective way to work out and burn calories,” said Margot Mejia-Johnston, a spin instructor at The Ride House.

Cycling studios commonly combine high- and low-intensity spinning with a portion of choreographed arm exercises to fulfill a full-body workout.  In 45 minutes, spinners generally burn around 500 calories.  This great burn all happens while pedaling away to exhilarating music.

Similar to Pilates, spinning works toward a leaner build to avoid bulking up the exerciser.  It’s also a great alternative to running because it’s a lot less impact on the legs.



Image Courtesy of Wellbridge


Barre classes base their workouts around the use of a ballet barre.  With small isometric movements, using the barre for balance or resistance, this workout targets the legs, arms, abs and hips.  Many of the exercises during a barre class are based on common ballet principles.  They tend to combine concepts of yoga, Pilates and resistance training to create a low impact, total-body workout.

A common barre class sweeping the country by storm is Pure Barre.  It’s 55 minutes of the techniques mentioned above combined with intermittent stretching to prevent bulking muscle.

“It fatigues your muscles and then stretches them right back out during certain sections of class,” said Mackenzie Harper, a Pure Barre instructor.  “This allows your body to look toned and strengthened by challenging yourself with your own muscles and body weight.”

These classes also work to elevate your heart rate while in a working zone and bring it back down during the stretching portion.  Harper went on to explain that this technique is more effective for burning those tough calories.



Image Courtesy of Mike Powell via Getty Images


Unlike the previous workouts, yoga focuses on reducing stress and alleviating health problems through specific physical postures.  Movements in a yoga class are more methodical and embrace a quiet environment.  In many ways, yoga is exercising the mind by connecting it to the body on a higher level.

“The greatest benefit of yoga is its ability to help you focus on the present,” said Heather Doan, a certified yoga instructor.  ”I find myself constantly worried and stressed and when I step into the studio, my mind is only on my practice, which is an amazing way to be in the moment and deal with things that are going on right then and there.”

Even if you aren’t huffing and puffing from a yoga class, it is a phenomenal way to strengthen your core and other areas of the body.  The balanced movements engage your whole body as you find your center.  Many people find yoga a perfect complement to their other fast-paced classes.



By now, it’s quite obvious these trending workouts are accomplishing a different look from the buff guy lifting weights at the gym.  They cater to clientele looking for a toned female figure rather than an excessively muscular physique.

There’s also less pressure in these class environments.  Instructors are telling the exercisers exactly what to do.  Exercisers aren’t left on their own, struggling with complex exercise equipment.

Alex Wippler, an SMU senior, swears by classes like Pilates and spin.  “I love boutique workouts because they give me the look I want without trying to figure out the equipment at the gym.”

And you can be certain you won’t find any huge burly men benching 300 at a boutique workout.  Namaste, indeed.

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