Shop Local

Shop Local: Alaina Marie

July 12, 2017

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The other week I introduced you to Alaina Marie and we took a tour of her studio space, and so today the two of us would like to welcome you into her storefront in downtown Portland, Maine.

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One key takeaway from my interview with Alaina was the notion that you may have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish ‘when you grow up’, but there’s no way of knowing the exact path you’ll take to get there. For Alaina, she always knew she wanted to be a designer, but when she was in the beginning stage of her career, she had no idea just how she would become one. In fact, she started her brand by merely making her handbags as gifts for friends, not knowing that so many others would desire one- let alone pay for her work.

That’s the beauty of dreaming and being so passion-driven, sooner or later if you’re meant to do something the Universe will conspire to make that a reality. What is it that you desire to create? Although there’s no way to secure your dream job, there are things you can do to set yourself up for major career success later.

Below are some tips we’d like to share with you:

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Set Intentions, Not Goals

Yes, we are both firm believers that setting goals can keep you focused, but all too often the goals that people set are narrow and somewhat unattainable. We set these goals based on what our peers are accomplishing and we forget that we don’t all have the same starting point. Instead, think about what it is you want to do more of? What’s the ultimate endgame? Instead of setting the goal of being CEO of a company by the age of thirty, think instead about what kind of leader you aspire to be. From there set your intention to be a quality leader and the reality of becoming a CEO will more likely of happening.

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Identify Your True Passion

Your twenties are the best time for career exploration. While it can feel counterintuitive to do so after you’ve invested time, energy, and even finances into pursuing a specific job, there’s really no better time to try something new than right now. Trying new things will allow for you to better understand what it is you like to do best. Ultimately spending your time doing something enjoy will bring you more happiness and will allow for you to excel more within your career.

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Grow Your Network

Network, network, network. The cliché “it’s not always what you know, but who you know” is almost always true and having a solid web of professional contacts will always help you in the end. No matter your industry, be sure to network with as many people as possible. Pass out business cards, send out personalized LinkedIn invitations, or send an email to someone who inspires you within your field. Whatever it is, the worst that someone can say is “No” and ultimately someone you reach out to will say “Yes.” So, don’t be shy. You never know what purpose the people put in your path will serve.

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Soak Up As Much Knowledge As You Can

Whether it is from schooling, internships, or job training- learn as much as you can about your specific field and the working world in general. One of the most useful tools is to have a mentor that you can trust and learn from. Ask questions. Do research and reading on your own time. Listen closely to feedback and constructive criticism so that you can use that input to continuously improve.

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Build Your Brand & Work the Side Hustle

When people think about you as a professional, what do you want to come to mind? Figure that out and then begin putting yourself out there to build a positive brand and reputation for yourself. If you have a job that you’re not satisfied with, but can’t quit, don’t fret, spend your weekends working on your craft and building your portfolio. Sooner or later your chance will come, almost always when you’re least expecting it. Without a doubt, hard work always pays off.

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Head over The Fashion Cookbook’s Instagram to enter our giveaway and have a chance to win your own bait bag! Giveaway ends 7/31 at 11:59 P.M. If you’re not local to Portland, you can order online or check out a list of boutiques that carry Alaina Marie, here.

DSC_0014Photography by Centered Images

LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

& Alaina

In The Studio With Alaina Marie

June 28, 2017

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

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Today I’d like to introduce you to an especially inspiring woman who proves that having dreams and putting in hard work really does pay off. Meet Maine-based designer, Alaina Marie, who in the past year alone has launched a collaboration with Keds and remodeled her flagship store in Portland’s Old Port. Alaina Marie is a small handbag design company – nautically influenced and made in southern Maine. She designs and manufactures handbags made from a marine-grade mesh – the same material that lobstermen and fishermen use in the commercial fishing industry to catch their prey. How cool is that?!

Late this Spring, Alaina graciously met up with me to discuss her incredible story and show me a closer look at the design process of her successful brand. Here is a closer look I’m eager to share with you all.

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Tell us a little about yourself? 

Born and raised in the state of Maine, I have always been inspired by the coast. At a young age, I had a passion for design and knew that would be my dream job. 
 

What inspired you to start the store?

I acquired my store kind of by accident! When I was starting my business, I rented a small studio space in South Portland so I would have a place to work outside of my home. When I moved in, people started coming in to buy my bags, and of course I couldn’t say no! I soon set up a small show area where I tried to build stock and I kept selling out. This is when I knew I could sell them in a store and so I made it happen! The retail store was not part of my original business plan but happened so naturally. 

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Where do you see yourself in five years

I honestly don’t know! Just like the store kind of just happened, I don’t like to stick to a plan. I love the excitement of knowing that any given day, an opportunity could rise and in an instant change everything. I will say though, I think we are just getting started with what we will do.

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What advice do you have for budding female entrepreneurs?

The advice I would pass along would be to never put limits on yourself. You can do anything you want as long as you’re willing to put the work into it. I often work 14 hour days but to me, the payoff is so worth it. Like I said earlier, I dreamed of becoming a designer when I was little. I had no idea how I would get there, I just knew someday it would happen. 

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Can you tell us about the design process? How do you incorporate your Maine inspiration?

The coast has always been my biggest source of inspiration behind my work. When I see something that makes me feel inspiration, I go with it. I am such a visual person so I love to tack inspirational images or items on my wall. I’ll look at that wall on a daily basis and all of a sudden one day I see the product or design I want to create and that is how it all comes together for me. 

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What do you hope people take away from their experience at shopping at your store?

I just did a remodel of my store on Fore Street and I am so proud of it. With that remodel, we moved our production out of the store and into a separate, larger production studio which is where we make all of our products. Each bag is made by hand from start to finish. So now that I don’t work in the store every day, I want that space to be the best reflection of myself so that when people to come in, they can get a sense of who I am without actually being able to meet them.  

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Photography by Centered Images

Thanks again Alaina!

Much love,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

Shop Local: Rustic Arrow

May 7, 2017

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Tucked away off of Main Street in Freeport, Rustic Arrow is one of our new favorite Maine-based stores. Their sleek, yet whimsical aesthetic pulled us in, and their adorable clothing and gifts kept us shopping for hours.  At The Fashion Cookbook, we value and strive to support local artisans. Rustic Arrow embodies everything we could ever want in a shopping experience. Also, both owners are inspirational #girlbosses that we look up to and we couldn’t help but share their incredible story with you… Enjoy!

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Tell us a little about yourself? Rustic Arrow is a free-spirited, contemporary boutique bringing you fashionable apparel, accessories, and home products.   We are located at 25 Bow Street in the heart of the Freeport Maine shopping village.  Rustic Arrow is locally owned and operated by co-owners Natalya and Sarah. We offer a full-size range of apparel from junior to plus.  Our mission is to always create a fun and inviting atmosphere where customers are inspired to look and feel amazing.  Our goal is to bring affordable, fun fashion to everyone while supporting local, emerging designers in Maine and throughout the USA.

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What inspired you to start the store? Our partnership was born out of the mutual desire to express ourselves in a new, creative and meaningful way.  We have different backgrounds – Natalya in NYC fashion and Sarah in business and finance.  We have structured our business model to play off of each other’s experience and strengths.  We both understand that owning a business is hard, especially in the early years.  We share a strong sense of commitment to our families and to our business and we know that we can rely on each other to keep both working well!  The sense of fulfillment in building something from the ground up – that can hopefully someday be passed down to our children is one of the many things that keep us going!

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Where do you see yourself in five years? In the next five years, we would like to move into a larger space which would allow us to expand our offerings and further develop the custom shopping experience.  We would like to bring in more emerging, independent designers as well as mix in some awesome vintage pieces!  We will continue to concentrate on building a brand that customers can rely on to help express their identity… not just through fashion but also through home decor and beauty and wellness.

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What advice do you have for budding female entrepreneurs? Our advice to any entrepreneur is to believe in yourself and never give up. If you give energy to your dreams, amazing things can happen.  Stay focused and patient and learn how to tap into local resources.  We started this business with a tiny budget and huge intentions and we were able to grow immensely throughout our first year!

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With Mother’s Day right around the corner, here are five great gift ideas:

Airplant in Box

Geode Natural Stone Necklace

Plantable Seed Paper Greeting Card

Rose Citron Bath Salt

Maine State Necklace

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After I was done shopping I attended a terrarium-making workshop put on by Natalya and Sarah. I’ve always wanted to own a terrarium and it was so exciting to make my own from scratch! For just $35 they provide the terrarium, soil, stones, moss, and a selection of plants. Oh, and did I mention they also provide wine and snacks? Honestly, it makes for such a fun Friday night. To sign up for the next one be sure to follow them on Instagram.

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Photography by Centered Images

LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

Girls Weekend at Northern Outdoors

April 12, 2017

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More often than not life has a knack of getting in the way. Between the demands of work and family life, it can often feel like you do not have enough time for yourself let alone cultivating valuable relationships. In our society, we tend to put a greater focus on the importance of romantic relationships and lose sight of all the wonderful other relationships life has to offer- like your relationship with oneself, or how loved and appreciated we can feel in the context of a friendship.

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A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to partake in a girls getaway weekend with my bestie Chelsea, and our new friend Lauren. We ventured up to Northern Maine to stay at Northern Outdoors, an all-season resort in The Forks that is home to snowmobiling, rafting, hiking, hunting, fishing, as well as a microbrewery and pub. We arrived mid morning on a Friday and upon unpacking we instantly found ourselves seated by the fireplace playing cards, chatting, and listening to good music.

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What was incredible was how within just a minute or two after meeting Lauren (Chelsea’s friend and fellow lifestyle photographer) I felt instantly close and felt an emotional connection to her. This is what is awesome about forming friendships! Great friends are basically soul mates- the connection runs deep and unlike romantic relationships, they are not fleeting. Instead, these kinds of relationships immediately allow you to feel supported and cared for without the pressure to complete the other person. They also allow you feel known, seen, heard and understood on a really profound level.

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Unlike romantic relationships, friendships aren’t typically dynamics where we “lose ourselves,” but rather where we find ourselves — through introspection, vulnerability, and emotional generosity. Friendships help you to become your best self. For me, friendships — especially with other women — have allowed me to explore who I am and where I want to go in life. This is why a weekend spent with two other extraordinary women was so good for our souls. It allowed for us each to not only regroup and recharge from the stress of daily life but also to grow on a spiritual level by challenging one another and supporting each other through our unique gifts and perspectives.

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What was especially wonderful was watching Chelsea and Lauren take turns taking photos over the weekend. As photographers they each have their own unique eye and vision, however, they both were open to learning from one another when it came to shooting this blog content. Lauren having had her photography business for longer constantly provided Chelsea with words of encouragement and offered her feedback into taking her dreams & passions into a viable career.

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This whole experience reminded me of how very important it is to surround yourself with friends who encourage you to succeed, rather than feel insecure and challenged by you rising ahead. It is so important to be friends with people who are deeply committed to not only their own personal evolution but who are also committed to seeing you thrive and want to be apart of your journey. Remember: you have control over who makes up your tribe- why not surround yourself powerful, accomplished, thoughtful individuals whom your greatly admire?

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That evening we went to the Kennebec River Brewery and Restaurant inside the main lodge for a delicious dinner of mouthwatering burgers, home-cut fries, and pasta. Lauren ordered the flight of their most popular beers and Chelsea made sure to try their “Netflix & Chill” mixed drink (definitely 10/10 would suggest). We ended up sitting in the restaurant for hours talking and laughing.

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When we got back to our cabin we were able to relax and laugh some more while watching Modern Family since the cabin we were staying in had a TV with DISH network. Speaking of amenities, I just have to take a moment and point out how incredible our cabin was. We stayed in Black Bear, which was fully furnished with a fully equipped kitchen. We packed premade meals from our favorite Tripp’s Farmhouse Café that we were able to heat up and enjoy all weekend long. Also, did we mention there was a Jacuzzi in the Master bedroom? This weekend was the definition of relaxation!

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Close to the resort is the well-known Moxie falls scenic area, which we were able to hike to. Even if it’s technically the spring season in Maine, the snow on the ground makes for a prolonged sense of winter. Instead of curse the copious amounts of snow that remained, we embraced the opportunity to snowmobile and see Moxie falls covered in a white frozen splendor. Also, the three of us girls found hiking in the snow to be a welcome challenge and throughout our walk through the woods enjoyed the sound of our L.L. Bean boots crunch through the snow.

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Weekend getaways don’t have to be a luxury. If you plan ahead, budget, and prioritize you can easily plan a weekend away. More and more I’m seeing how life has to be about balance. There is something to be said about the phrase “work hard, play hard.” As much as your career is important so are your relationships. Without proper nourishment, they will not blossom and grow. What better way to spend time with loved ones than during a weekend spent in nature? I’m of the belief that life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest and I’m blessed that my home state of Maine makes for the perfect playground. You better believe I’m already planning a getaway weekend to Northern Outdoors again for this summer. Plus then the outdoor pool will be open and I can plan on crossing off whitewater rafting from my bucket list!

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Photography by Lauren Hebert and Centered Images


Thank you, Northern Outdoors for collaborating with us on this post!


LOVE,

Blog Signature Hannah

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