OPI

Spark Sessions 2014: My Experience

Spark Sessions 10

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Spark Sessions: Canada’s first fashion and beauty blogger conference.  In summary, the Toronto conference encompassed 2 full days of learning, networking with PR professionals, and mingling with (over 250) fellow fashion and beauty bloggers. I can’t say enough good things about this conference, and as promised, here is a review of my experience!

The Workshops and Speakers

Over the 2 day conference, there were approximately 7 sessions covering various blogging-related topics, as well as keynote speakers. You can check out the agenda, linked in my previous post.

Some of the speaker highlights for me include:

a) Vanessa Craft (Beauty Director at Elle Canada) was one of the keynote speakers on Day 1.  In her speech, she talked about the importance of being true to yourself, your vision, and your voice.  I felt compelled to pass this along, as I think it’s relevant whether you’re a blogger or not.  All too often we catch ourselves saying making excuses for who we are: I’m “just” an intern, I’m “just” a coordinator, I’m “just” the new girl.  Vanessa’s thoughts on this really resonated with me: “The only way to find your voice is by using it”.

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b) Lena Almeida (Lisentolena.com) ran a session on “The Business of Blogging”.  She talked about her journey as a blogger, and how she turned her hobby into a full-time business.  Lena started her blog, resigned from her full-time job in the corporate world, and was determined to make blogging her career within 5 years.  She did (and in less than 5 I might add!).  Lena’s story taught me the importance of trusting your heart, taking leaps of faith, but also, the need to work hard, and recognize your potential.

c) Cheryl Hickey (Host of Entertainment Tonight Canada) was the closing keynote speaker at Spark Sessions on Day 2.  I think we often assume that those in the spotlight have had their careers handed to them; that they were offered success on a silver platter.  Cheryl’s story is both real and inspiring.  She talked about all the challenges she’s faced, sacrifices she’s made, and chances she’s had to take to get where she is today.  She is incredibly humble and down-to-earth, and even took time after her speech to meet and greet with attendees.  She also spoke about her new natural skincare line, “Ours by Cheryl Hickey”, which you can check out here.

Spark Sessions 1

The Sponsors 

The conference had a wide variety of sponsors, ranging from clothing companies, to makeup and skincare brands, to a bakery that made the most delicious (and beautiful) sweets. Below are just some of the many awesome sponsors who’s kindness and generosity helped make the conference that much more amazing!

CrowdSocial was onsite  offering free Essie polishes, temporary hair dye (I chose pink!), and the best macarons I’ve ever tasted (no exaggeration).

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Nicole by OPI was displaying some of their gorgeous polishes (all of which I want!).

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Aside from fun bottles of branded water, Bench Canada brought with them some items from their Spring 2015 collection.  While they’ve taken a slight detour from the style you might be familiar with, the new pieces are modern, chic, and wearable: you’ll want them all!

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Vitabath offered conference-goers the opportunity to take a fun “sudsy selfie”; here’s mine below!

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 Vitamin Water provided water in every flavour and colour imaginable, which complimented meals and snacks perfectly (I unfortunately didn’t get pictures of the meals, but both days offered delicious spreads). Keurig Canada was also onsite, ensuring attendees had their morning and afternoon dose of caffeine.  Check out the rainbow of Vitamin Water below!

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Benefit Cosmetics was offering attendees an “Insta Eye Lift” using some of their highly-coveted (and super fun) products.  Funny enough, I was already wearing one of the products they were sampling that day (I blogged about it previously here).

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The Swag Bag

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this was one (of the many) highlights of the conference for me.  I mean, how amazing is this swag bag?!  Packed full with products from the very generous sponsors, I could not wait to get home and try out these awesome goodies.  Some additional sponsors, not already mentioned above, include: Nivea, Pretty Tea, Happy Plugs, Biore, John Frieda, Clarisonic, Jergens, Clear Scalp & Hair, and more!

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I am so grateful to have attended Spark Sessions this year, and am already looking forward to seeing what 2015’s conference has in store.  Whether you’re just starting out, or are already an established beauty and fashion blogger, Spark Sessions has a lot to offer.  Not only did I learn an entire notebook full of new things, I also built friendships that I look forward to growing in the months and years to come.

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets” ~Leonardo Da Vinci 

My Top 6 Nail Polishes for Fall

Fall Nail Polishes

While I’m definitely a Summer-weather kind of girl, there are many things I love about Fall: pumpkin pie, Bath and Body Works scented candles, and a richer, darker colour pallet when it comes to fashion.  This includes nail polish, which I try to switch up on a weekly basis.  Below are my top picks for the perfect Fall nail polish; which one will you be wearing while sipping your Pumpkin Spice Latte?

1. Julep “Jet”

I never seem to get tired of black nail polish.  This one by Julep is described as a “Jet black crème”, and is like a little black dress: it’s great for anytime, anywhere, and goes with anything.  Enough said.

2. O.P.I “Ice-Bergers and Fries”

This creamy, brown tone is from O.P.I’s new Nordic Collection.  Truthfully, this wouldn’t be a colour I would normally pick, however after discovering it was Cosmopolitan’s recent award winner for “The Best Nude”, I decided to give it a try (you can check out my Instagram post about this here).  It applies beautifully, keeping it’s rich colour and creamy texture.  It’s also long lasting, and removes easily.  Definitely give this polish a try!

3. Essie “Wicked”

Spotlighted on the Essie website for the month of October, this polish is described as a, “strident, striking and bold, blood red lacquer”.  The description alone makes it the perfect nail polish for the month of Halloween, but aside from that, it is also a gorgeous, deep, oxblood red colour that will take you all the way through to Spring.

4. Julep “Karmen”

The colour red is a given when it comes to the Fall and Winter months.  But what I love about this one in particular, is that it’s unique.  Julep describes it on their website as a “Golden crimson microglitter” polish.  The result?  A cross between Fall leaves and Dorothy’s red slippers.  Gorgeous!

5. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure “Jungle Gem”

I once read that this polish is a universal tone, in that it matches nearly every skin tone.  I decided to put it to the test, and it’s definitely become a top pick of mine.  It’s a rich, creamy, dark teal colour, that is long lasting and can work as either a blue or a green when pairing with outfits or accessories (though if I’m being honest, I barely ever worry about matching my nails to my outfit).  Try it out and let me know if it worked for you too!

6. Essie “Style Cartel”

Just like black nail polish, I also love a gorgeous rich blue, and this polish is definitely has that box checked off.  Described on the Essie website as an, “inky, cobalt blue”, it is blue enough to be a for-sure navy, but also dark enough that it can be a “neutral” and pair well with nearly anything.  It’s also a nice Fall switch-up from another one of my favourite Essie blues: “Butler Please“.

 

 

May/June Favourites

May June Favourites

Here we are, right in the middle of 2014 (can you believe it!?).  June is one of my favourite months: a) because it’s the month of my birthday, and b) because Summer beauty and fashion is in full swing.  Check out some of my favourites for the months of May and June, below!

1.  Bluenotes Short Sleeve Boyfriend Tunic-$8.00

I have been in constant search of a loose-fitting, plain t-shirt that is long enough to wear with leggings (I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe that leggings are pants).  So, when I discovered these (ridiculously affordable) tunics from Bluenotes, I grabbed them in nearly every colour.  They are lightweight, soft, and the perfect length (they look great with jeans too).  I also love the crew-neck, which is perfect for pairing with statement necklaces.

2.  Addition Elle Turquoise Stone Pendant Necklace-$15.00

I received a 40% off coupon for my birthday, and decided to go check out the jewelry at Addition Elle.  They were having a 2-for-$22.00 deal on some of their jewelry, and this was the 2nd piece I chose.  What drew me to this necklace was its extra long length, as well as its simplicity; I’ve been wearing it non-stop since I purchased it!

3. Julep Clean Slate Conditioning Nail Polish Remover & Pump-$14.00 ($11.20 for Mavens)

The thing I hate more than waiting for nail polish to dry, is the mess it can make (and the time it takes) when removing it.  This polish remover is my new favourite for a few reasons: 1. the pump makes it extra-easy to remove polish with one hand, 2. it prevents spills since you don’t tip the bottle, and 3. the remover is effective, so a little goes a really long way.  You can also purchase refills, so no need to buy a new pump every time (and you’ll get a 20% discount and free shipping as a monthly Maven).

4.  Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown-$27.00

Up until recently, I had been using Anastasia’s Brow Powder Duo to fill in my brows.  While I still really enjoy (and use) this product, I’ve been loving the Brow Wiz pencil, due to its precision application and all-in-one packaging (double ended applicator: one side is the pencil, the other is a brush).  The thin tip pencil doesn’t require sharpening, and allows you to easily create natural looking brows that last all day.

5. Eco Tools Skin Perfecting Brush-$7.99

I’ve been a long-time fan of Eco Tools brushes.  They are affordable, long-lasting, and most importantly, they don’t shed on your face.  It drives me crazy when I “invest” in some department store brushes, and then they leave bristles all over my face (is anyone with me on this one?!).  Eco Tools brushes are an impressive value for money, and I’m especially loving this Skin Perfecting Brush that is designed for the application of BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturizers.  It buffs product into the skin beautifully, and makes it easier to achieve even coverage.

6. O.P.I. Nail Lacquer in “Don’t Bossa Nova Me Around”-$9.95

While I love unique, fun nail polish colours (the brighter, the better), I’m also really fond of neutrals for Summer.  This gorgeous, creamy polish applies evenly with just 2 coats, and is also quite the chameleon: while it is described as a light pink crème, in some lights it looks purple,  and in others it even looks beige.  However, what I love most about it, is how great it looks with a tan!

“Every Summer has a story”