“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
On a mild autumn Monday evening, a small group of women gathered at The Wing DC, a co-working space along a cobble stone street on a street lit nook in Georgetown, Washington D.C. to attend the Set Your Intentions Workshop. The event was hosted by Ann Shoket, author of The Big Life and former Editor- in- Chief of Seventeen Magazine. I had the opportunity to read her book a year ago, at a very pivotal point in my life and my career, and Ann coached me through the mire. The insights that she provided in her book really gave me a deeper understanding about the journalism and magazine industry that I had grown to love. With every chapter, it felt like someone had seen and heard me a bit more clearly. I had always wanted to thank her in person for her transparency and for sharing trade secrets with the reader about the field that many would not be privy to early on in their career; but never had the opportunity to, until Monday night.
In true workshop fashion, the group of women who came to participate, learn, and glean from Shoket, were invited to gather closely together and get to know the women sitting next to them. Throughout the session, the women were broken into small groups in which they were able to delve deeper into the topics that Shoket was discussing; questions that she had us to think about, she and the venue were kind enough to provide every guest with a soft leather-bound notebook and pen to more actively participate in the undertakings, which also doubled as a keepsake from the event.
The focus of the event was discovering what “The Big Life” means to you, what is standing in the way of achieving those goals, and what steps you ought to take to get there. The three main questions were:
1) When you were 16 years old, what did you imagine your life would look like now?
2) What does the Big Life mean to you?
3) What is the one thing that is standing between you and your Big Life?
Some of the women in attendance were brave enough to share their answers with the group, and like a good friend, Ann took the time to provide sage advice and imparted to them words of encouragement. Even though we all came from different places, we are working at different levels in our careers, lives, and relationships, for one very special night of fellowship, we were all a part of a sisterhood; and that is a testament to the type of community that Ann has created through her work. To have experienced it in real-time was a beautiful thing of which to have been apart.
Shoket had a lot of great points throughout the evening, but there were a few that stood out to me, these are my list of “Shoket-isms”:
1) “Though the road map to your Big Life may change, the seeds never do. Whatever is meaningful to you, is your dream.”
2) “Each “failure” [along the way] puts you in position to achieve the next step.”
3) As it relates to the idea of work/life balance, “[It is as just important that] You make room for your life when you work, because [so often] you work to make room for life.
4) “The rest of the world is not your timeframe.”
5) “You won’t know [what you’re capable of or how close you are to achieving your dream] until you get started.
The event, truly was an experience. It felt warm, and inviting, no gimmicks, just real, honest, organic fellowship and conversation, with an overarching sense of encouragement and support. That’s the type of event that makes a lasting impact on those who had the privilege of being in attendance.
As my mom, sister and I approached the new Tiffany and Co. building at City Center in the District of Columbia on Friday morning, I could almost hear Henry Mancini’s song, “Moon River” playing softly as the store’s attendants swung open the glass doors on either side of us, smiling and saying, “Hello and Welcome to Tiffany’s.” It was almost as if we were transported back in time, to the year 1961, and stepped into the shoes of the New York socialite, Holly Golightly. For two glorious hours we were made to feel welcome by the Tiffany staff, and in true “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” fashion, they offered event attendees fresh coffee and croissants to enjoy in celebration of the opening of the company’s new location at 960 New York Avenue, Northwest.
We participated in a self-guided tour of the space, where we leisurely explored the open-concept layout, admired the beautiful pieces encased in glass, and even adorned ourselves with select jewelry of our choice. The store was filled with quiet laughter, light music, conversation and the tinkling of crystal, as guests sipped champagne.
The knowledgeable and attentive staff created an atmosphere that made us all feel special. The experience as a whole was unforgettable and served as the kick-off to a day of celebration of my sister’s twenty-second birthday! Like the Audrey Hepburn character, Holly, we are “crazy about Tiffany’s!”
From us here at Simply Ari Media, Welcome to DC Tiffany & Co. We’re so happy you’re here!
Last year I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Europe. I lugged around a large suitcase in addition to my duffel bag from city to city on planes, trains, buses, Lyfts and on foot. I believe that I could have lightened my load a great deal and saved myself some discomfort had I traveled with a Muzmm Backpack which is the perfect travel accessory for a traveler like me. It combines the convenience and practicality that we love with the style we admire. The innovative 3 in 1 design is a shoulder bag, a duffel bag and a travel backpack. Muzmm backpacks come in a variety of patterns and two different sizes. They store 4-8 sets of clothes, shoes, have a padded compartment for a 15 to 15.6-inch laptop, a compartment for a water bottle and other traveling essentials (passport, wallet etc.). These bonded canvas bags run $55 to $60, but not to worry, I've got you covered. If you use my discount code simplyaritravel10 you will get 10% off of your purchase order.
Happy Travels Dreamers!
The season in which I find myself is currently undefined. While working on picking up the pieces of my life over the past year, I happened upon a phrase derived from a French proverb, "Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter" which translates to, "draw back in order to leap better; a strategic withdrawal." As I let that phrase marinate in the deepest parts of me, I began to realize that I needed a hard reset. I needed to clear my head, explore my creativity in a different place and regroup, so I booked a trip. Seven Days. Two Countries. One Unforgettable Time.
I couldn't wait for this trip. So much had transpired leading up to it, I knew I needed to leave. I wasn't running. For my own sanity I just knew that I required some much-needed time away. Though I did not rest much, I did have an opportunity to see how other people in the world live and operate on a daily basis. What I have come to understand is that there is a way to live a BALANCED, active, and productive life. It is not necessary to put all your eggs in one basket. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day as the next person. What we choose to do with them is completely up to our own discretion.
I used to have this piece of paper at my workstation that said, "Breathe Ari, Just Breathe." For so long I feel like I've held my breath because of fear. Fear of loss, fear of missing out, and sometimes fear of the unknown have caused me to remain stuck in my own complacency, afraid to move and erroneously calling it “faith.” Since being on this trip, that little wrinkled piece of paper has taken on an even greater meaning for me. It is finally time for me to exhale. I am learning to take each moment as it comes, accept the grace that the Lord provides for the moment, and allow the Holy Spirit to provide insight on how to manage all the rest.
My desire is to learn to breathe a little easier and to find a way to balance my God-sized dreams and my reality, and take the time to enjoy the precious moments in between. This trip was just the start.
"The Principles of True Art is not to Portray, but to Evoke."
At the top of the year, in collaboration with the Holy Spirit, "we" decided that the focus for 2018 should be the brand's most important pillar, "ministry." It is the framework for everything else that Simply Ari Media is and does.
I had a personal desire to find new ways to "brand the brand." I began by designing a new concept jacket, adding to my growing collection of "Simply Ari Swag." The next step was to get our logo created. I conceptualized and collaborated with a very talented visual artist, Constance Wilson, who has been sought after by other brands, companies, and the quintessence of all search engines (Google). Together we produced a beautiful design that we both love and of which we are very proud.
Most recently, I had the privilege of being photographed by Sierra Johnson, an #InstaFriend and a local photographer, whose work and visual aesthetic matched the vision I had in mind for Simply Ari Media’s 2018 photoshoot. The theme was, "90’s Grunge and Glam." As a woman born in the 90’s, I have an affinity for certain aspects of the era: hip hop culture, the music, the fashion, the art, and all the quirks and fads that made the 90’s so special. I wanted to dig deep within myself and pull from real places, real aspects that inspired me. The first thing that came to mind was the show, "A Different World." What I loved and appreciated about that sitcom was that it made it cool to be smart. The iconic styles of Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet), Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison), Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) Walter Oakes (Sinbad), Ron Johnson (Darryl M. Bell) and Freddie Brookes (Cree Summer) were memorable and classic 90’s. I wanted to give a nod to education and pay homage to a show that broke records and barriers in pop culture and inspired African-American men and women in the United States in a fun, colorful way.
As a writer and self-proclaimed magazine junkie, I also wanted to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw. (There is one outfit that I think she would have been particularly fond of. Take a look at the gallery. Can you guess which one?) She loved her city of New York as I love my hometown of Washington, District of Columbia. Even though I initially vacillated about where the photoshoot would be staged (NYC or DC), after speaking with a close friend who said, "Ari your audience is here. Keep it local,” I realized she was absolutely right. Sierra and I decided on the beautiful, charismatic and historic neighborhood of Georgetown, in northwest, Washington, DC.
The photoshoot was a play on hard and soft. I believe the 1990’s struck a nice balance between the two. The 90’s represented a cultural shift. It celebrated natural beauty. Music had meaning and depth. The art scene was bold, its colors vibrant and the artists' messages were made clear. Writers of the time, rappers, poets and spoken-word artists, shared their thoughts and ideas unapologetically, with conviction and transparency. The torch of social activists from the past was being carried by a new and passionate generation.
Throughout the photoshoot, you'll see materials like metal, stone, brick and wood juxtaposed with the softness of a smile, a laugh, or my apparel. The contrast was important for me to convey because it represented my life’s journey. I have often been called "a gentle soul" who wears her heart on her sleeve. Consequently, I have had to learn how to guard my heart (see Proverbs 4:23). At times, my attempts have resulted in building barriers that have made it difficult for people to feel like they really know me. As I am learning to strike a balance in my life, I wanted to bring an unaffected vulnerability and quiet passion to the shoot.
And speaking of passion...
...You may notice the choice of lipstick color as well, Color Statement "Red Label" red by Milani Cosmetics. The color red to me represents passion, immediacy, the heart and power. I often say that "red is my power color," a phrase typically used by my sister Rachel in reference to me. It makes me feel a little bit more confident when I go out into the world. All of those elements are what I hope this brand, Simply Ari Media, brings to its thriving community. When someone actively engages on our social media platforms, reads an article or post that I've written, or watches a video I've created, my greatest hope is that the viewer leaves enriched, motivated, inspired and informed, with a greater sense of hope and purpose. Most importantly, I pray for the person to be encouraged and empowered by the love, grace and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
This year, I wanted to grow in experiences. So far, I've had so much fun! It was around this time last year that I took my first photoshoot and I thought it was high time for another one. This year the backdrop was Cancun, Mexico. While on vacation with my family, my little sister chose a day to snap a few shots with my new Samsung Galaxy S8 HD camera for the website around this beautiful city. The vibrant greenery, the soft sand, the aquamarine water, the cumulus clouds, and the colorful vibes really come through. Leave it to my sister to have me laying in a hammock, chilling in a "nest" and staring into the abyss at random times...All for a good shot. The theme for the shoot coined by my sisters Moriah and Rachel is: Oh The Places We'll Go: Mermaid Edition [cute right?]
We beat the smoldering heat and I think Moriah captured the most authentic parts of me: the quirky, reserved, resilient, and focused green-eyed dreamer that I am.
What a wonderful weekend! I had a great first week of work at The Washington Post, and I kicked off the weekend with my family, as we helped celebrate my Godparents Pastor Charles and First Lady, Cheryl Whitaker on the grand opening of their new Church facility! It was truly a beautiful time of Christian fellowship, and a wonderful time of celebration for the Whitaker family and The River of Life congregation! Take a look at some of the highlights from Saturday's festivities:
I like to think of makeup as way to accentuate the beauty that we have already been blessed with. This post is my guide to beauty. I'll share my favorite products with you in hopes that it will help you achieve an effortless every day look.
First things first, you need to start with a good, gentle face cleanser. I really like Cetaphil. Use as directed with warm water and pat your face dry with a clean cloth.
Second, moisturize your face. I have found that Nivea Soft Moisturing Cream with Jajoba Oil and Vitamin E works exceptionally well.
The following steps, to me, are the most fun!
I start with a light concealer to go under my eye. I recently purchased a concealer from Milani Cosmetics that is working really well for me. It's called Conceal + Perfect 2-In-1 Foundation + Concealer (04 Medium Beige). It gives you good coverage and stays on all day! To blend this product in, I use a makeup sponge.
Next, I use L.A. Girl Pro Conceal HD concealer (GC978 Medium Beige) as my foundation and I blend this with my new favorite makeup brush from M.A.C. Cosmetics. The Synthetic Rounded Slant Brush will quickly become your best friend. It beautifully blends your makeup leaving no streaks! Perfect for a full coverage look.
Depending on the occasion, I also like to contour using a darker shade of the L.A. Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer (GC987 Beautiful Bronze) for a more defined cheek and nose bridge using the makeup sponge and the slant brush.
After the concealer and foundations have set, I coat my eyelashes lightly with L'Oréal Paris Telescopic Mascara.
I prep my lips for lipstick application by doing a lip scrub (olive oil and raw sugar mixture) and then proceed to apply one of my many Milani Color Statement Lipsticks. My favorites are Red Label (red) and Teddy Bare (nude).
My last step is to set the whole look with NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray. I have found that this spray really keeps my makeup in place all day, which is a blessing!
Here's the run down:
"Good friends are like the stars. You may not always see them, but you know they're always there."
After months of schedule rearranging, my friend Jasmine and I finally, had a chance to catch up and spill a pot full of tea. We have our regular food spots, but we thought it would be nice to switch things up a bit. We ventured out and went to Marcus in the beautiful MGM down at the National Harbor. Chef Marcus Samuelson is someone that I have admired for years. He, along with a few other Chefs have served as my inspirations for the recipes that whip up in my own kitchen. When I found out that he was going to have a restaurant in the National Harbor, I knew that I had to go and experience his menu for myself; but breaking bread is SO much better with friends! When we walked in, we were greeted almost simultaneously by the hostess and our two servers. The interior design of the restaurant was a harmonious balance of minimalism and rustic accents. The high ceilings, light fixtures, gold, rose gold, and black accents and matte finished, wooden floors worked so well together. Once Jasmine and I were seated, our water glasses were quickly filled and our orders were brought out piping hot and were delicious. We started with complimentary Aunt Maybel's Cornbread paired with honey butter and "Wild Go-Go Wings" which were drumettes coated with Marcus' "Uptown Sauce" and was paired with a light bleu cheese dressing. The star of this appetizer really is the sauce which gives a nod to the Washington DC staple Mambo Sauce that is loved by true Washingtonians everywhere! Our beverage of choice was a Shirley Temple, and what I appreciated in particular was that they gave us extra Maraschino cherries (no Shirley Temple is complete with out them). Then we placed our entrée orders. Jasmine selected the Sammy's Chicken and Waffles and I chose the Catfish Sandwich on Rye. The menu is on the pricy side, but the food is very good,
The flavors shine in each dish, and are for an adventurous, more sophisticated palate; don't let that scare you! Though the flavor combinations are unique, Chef Marcus does a beautiful job of complimenting each ingredient with another. Jasmine and I left Marcus with to-go containers, full and pleasantly satisfied with our experience there.
We ended our afternoon, stopping in to Sarah Jessica Parker's exclusive shoe store, SJP. The shoe boutique has walls of vibrant colored pumps and heels for literally every occasion. It was like walking through Carrie Bradshaw's closet on Sex in the City. The saleswomen told us that every shoe in the store was hand selected and designed by SJP herself and that she has been in the store three (3) times since opening! Good customer service makes all the difference; from start the start of our outing to the end of it, we were treated with kindness and courtesy.
Be sure to stop into the MGM to see all of the exciting stores and restaurants that it has to offer and please tell them that Simply Ari sent you!
101 MGM National Avenue,
Oxon Hill, Maryland 20745
SJP By Sarah Jessica Parker
7200 MGM National Ave,
Oxon Hill, MD 20745
Fact: Adulting can be difficult at times. I'd like to think however, that as we try to navigate through adulthood, the mistakes that we may make, the lessons that we are bound to learn, and the adventures along the way, make up a more scenic route to the destinies that we are all called to fulfill.
Sometimes I feel like I am still getting my footing and other days, I reflect on how far I've come in just a few short years. This week for instance, I had meetings in the District. On Wednesday (2/22/17),I drove in with my dad early in the morning, and got a Lyft from his office to Georgetown, where I happened upon the most adorable coffee shop on Grace St., Grace Street Coffee. The minimalistic look of the space was enticing. White walls, polished wood counters, ceiling to floor windows, matted black ceiling fixtures, a great music selection in the shop's rotation, kind baristas, and a bold, flavorful cup of coffee; what more could you possibly ask for? There's a little something for everyone there. I very much look forward to going back. I then prepared for my first of two meetings for the week, at The Washington Post. I got an exclusive tour of the new office space and then sat down with one in the newspaper's business department, Ms. Rizzo. She took the time to assist me in revising my resume, and after conversing with her about what I ultimately wanted to do, she arranged a meeting with two gentlemen from another department (which turned into an interview for a position at the Post!!! #OnlyGod!)
Now, I had been to the Post twice before this visit a few years ago, but so much has changed since then. The well acclaimed publication was purchased by Jeff Bezos whose background is in technology (Bezos is also the owner and founder of Amazon!). Some say that "print is dead", well, if that's the case, Mr. Bezos and his staff breathed life back into the Post! The technological advances that have been made are exciting and innovative, the climate of the newsroom is a bit more relaxed, but it is clear that the Post employees are about their business. I so enjoyed getting a chance to speak with people from the publication's various departments. I learned a lot and made some good connections, for which I am grateful.
On Thursday (2/23/17), I had a meeting up town at The Ford Agency. I had the privilege of speaking with the founder of the agency during the early part of last week, and she invited me to stop in and sit down with either her or someone from her team. When I arrived, I was greeted with a smile by the receptionist, I filled out some paperwork and waited for my meeting to start. Eventually, I had the opportunity to share with the person with whom I was meeting about what type of work I was looking for and she pulled up a position on her computer within a matter of minutes that she said, "I think you'd be perfect for" [based on my resume, our conversation, and skill set].
For the first time in a long time, I finally felt like the work that I've been putting in, was not in vain. I don't know where these opportunities will lead, but I am glad that I had them!
Grace Street Coffee
3210 Grace St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
When Ari isn't out covering events, she's working on bettering herself as a journalist, attending writer-related events, or enjoying spontaneous excursions in and around the Washington DC Metropolitan area.
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