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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Subscription Boxes are good for EVERYONE

I know some of you are shaking your head in disagreement with the title of this post but bear with me.  Over the past few years, subscription boxes have become uber popular.  Some even forming waitlists, selling out or closing new membership sign-ups.  We've all seen the hype surrounding these boxes and a new one is popping up daily.  Personally, I'm not a member of any of these Subscriptions but I still see the value in having them around.

Most of us who aren't members of these Subscriptions usually opt out because of the inconsistency in products we actually like that are given month to month.  Some of us opt out of joining because we don't see the value (financially) in the products offered in particular Boxes.  These are both really good reasons that I can relate to personally.  Please believe, those companies are not going to come crashing down because we don't subscribe LOL.  What many don't actually realize is that these Subscriptions are still providing their respective markets with a lot value (informational) whether you're a member or not.  I cannot even tell you how many products I purchased after seeing a review done on a product received in one of these Subscription Boxes.  On the flip side, I have also seen reviews on products that steered me in the direction NOT to purchase a product I had on my list.  When a new box is released each month, I always check what products were offered and then I slowly make my way through the hashtag to see how people are rating those products.  Now do you see what I'm talking about?!  Aren't you glad you checked your feelings at the door?! LMBO.  Our inner product junkie is really the one who's most appreciative for these Subscription Boxes.  For without them, we would be pissed about products we purchased MUCH more often.  A large number of reviews done these days are products that were given the spotlight by being in a Subscription Box.  I can tell you right now, I purchased my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE (yes, all caps was needed) Deep Conditioner after seeing it offered in CurlBox.  The Pantene 2-Minute Curl Masque was the best addition to my regimen ever (while it lasted *side eye* but that's another story...).  I don't find myself out purchasing products left and right but I can honestly say that a goooood amount of my purchases come from seeing a Curlfriend post about the products included in their Box. (*cough cough* @amberjanielle)

So before you turn up your nose at the Subscription Boxes, think about it's benefit to your wallet!  I actually encourage people to become members so that I can reap the benefits of knowing about new products to the market. And yes, there's plenty of dealers out there that don't use their own stuff so don't you judge me!  So, who out there is a member to one of these Subscriptions?  Don't be shy, tell us which box(es) you receive and why you chose that one in particular.  Later Shoppe Girls.
Monday, July 20, 2015

Return of the Curls Natural Hair Weekend 2015 RECAP ||Part 3|| The Blogger Branding Brunch

Photo Staging Courtesy of @eugeniasays

We are here to end this recap on a high note, and a VERY high one at that.  The Blogger Branding Brunch was the most anticipated event of the weekend for myself.  Sure I came to party, to network and shop a little at the expo but the Blogger Branding Brunch was the reason for my 3+ hour hike from Northern Virginia.  And, it was worth every minute of travel time, every penny of the money I budgeted towards this trip.

The morning of the Blogger Branding Brunch, I received an alert from Periscope that Shalleen from NaturalHairDoesCare was doing a Scope on '5 Tips for Attending an Event'.  The title may have been slightly different, you know those Periscope videos disappear after 24 hours so I wasn't able to verify the exact title but you get the drift.  From this Scope, I picked up 2 tips... Arriving on time to get the seat YOU want and Bringing tools to take notes.  Let's just say this was the first event I arrived to before the start time all weekend.  Yeah, Shalleen has a way with her words.

Myleik was the main speaker at this event and she seriously did an amazing job.  She found a way to professionally give the information we came for with a down to earth attitude that let us know we could trust her.  Yes, she came to  provide us with knowledge on 'Branding' but her words and advice could be applied to so many different areas of my life!  Once she was done dropping gems, the mic was passed on to the Bloggers on the panel.  This time the Blogger panel consisted of Vaughn (@msvaughntv), Jonna (@naturallyglam), Kim (@naturallyfashionable) and Adeea (@trendysocialite).  This panel turned out to be amazing as it was interactive with the audience and allowed up and coming Bloggers (like myself) to ask questions that we may not have normally had the opportunity to ask.

While the Blogger Panel flowed fluidly, we can't forget who was behind the mic making it all happen.  Shalleen (@naturalhairdoescare) was an amazing host/moderator and her eloquent speaking had me mesmerized every time she took the mic back.  She takes public speaking to a whole new level.  She listened well and knew how to bridge one conversation to the next.  Ugh, I need her speaking skills in ALL my YouTube videos.  Seriously.

Photo Courtesy of @naturalhairdoescare IG

The Brunch ended with more networking (obviously), photos with Myleik and the Blogger Panel (obviously) and Goodbyes since everyone was heading back home (unfortunately).  I left this event more confident in myself, my Blog and my decision to leave my full-time job.  It was just what I needed at just the right time.  On my drive home, I replayed my favorite moments from the weekend over and over again in my head while mapping out how I would maintain these newly formed relationships beyond these three days.  I absolutely cannot wait to the next event and hope see some of you there!  Until next time...

Return of the Curls Natural Hair Weekend 2015 RECAP ||Part 2|| Expo Day

Hopefully you are reading these recaps in order (you should) so that I don't have to start each part from the very beginning (I won't LOL).  Expo Day was the main event of the weekend for many of the attendees.  Hence, why there was a Pre-Party and After Party for it!  It was held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center directly adjacent to the host hotel (I was winning all weekend) and was pretty much an all day event, 10AM-5PM with a 2 hour hair show to follow.  I did not attend every single workshop and panel but rather picked options most suited to provide ME with valuable information.

Amber and I arrived at the Expo at about 10:30 AM and you would have thought it had been going for hours already.  The place was FILLED and the event was well on it's way to being successful just 30 minutes after opening its doors.  At arrival I noticed Dark & Lovely was already on stage presenting their L.O.C Method Workshop with their Director of Education, Mezei Jefferson.  If you haven't heard about their L.O.C product line yet, you're missing out.  You can find a FULL review over on my YouTube channel here.  I took this opportunity to make my first round through the Expo and see all the Vendors.  You know, take all my pictures and do my Blogger thang.  My first stop was the Frizz Free CURLS booth and they had a showstopper for sure.  The theme of their booth was "The Candy Shop"... COME ON!  I was way too hype for 'MyCandiShoppe' to be in the CURLS 'Candy Shop' booth.  Needless, to say I was obsessed and on top of that Mahisha herself was there!  This was one thing I really loved about the Expo, meeting the actual owners of these brands.

Next up was the Dark & Lovely booth since we all know how hard I ride for them! LOL. Their booth was large and in charge!  They not only had the largest Vending space but they had the largest crowd around their booth.  It wasn't a surprise to me at all.  They were they selling products for the low low while also conducting on site hair demonstrations with models.  Their booth was like an mini expo inside of the expo.  LOL.

Photo Courtesy of @officialdarkandlovely IG

After we left the Dark & Lovely booth, we sat in on the Blogger panel moderated by Imani Dawson from Tribe Called Curl.  The Bloggers/Personalities on this panel were all prominent and well known and included Vaughn (@msvaughntv), Nicole (@napturalnicole), Mildred (NaturalSilverSista), Courtney (@manechoice), and Deanna (@naturallycreole).  They discussed everything from Branding 101 to issues facing the Black Community and how they should be addressed from a Blogger standpoint.

From this panel, we ran over and stopped by a few of the workshops being held in smaller/separate spaces.  First up was Nicole's Workshop "How to start your Blog/Business with Ask a Lawyer" which gave some amazing insight on how to cover your as$ when starting any business.  Held in the same room following Nicole's workshop was a "Make-Up Demonstration" hosted by Stephanie (@beautybylee).  Of course, I stayed here for a minute to pick up some tricks on how to BEAT. THAT. FACE.  (I'm real dramatic when I say this)  My last workshop of the day was the Blogger Panel moderated by Nicole (@napturalnicole).  My boo, Amber (@amberjanielle) was on this panel so I was front and center.  Also she needed me to be her personal photographer and videographer.  LOL.  I found this workshop/panel to be the most insightful as a Blogger because the women were the most transparent.  Included on this panel was Stephanie (@beautybylee), Amber (@amberjanielle), Eugenia (@eugeniasays), Jonna (@naturallyglam), Adeea (@trendysocialite), Kim (@naturallyfashionable), and Tiana (@naturally_allure).  So, as you can see there were various Bloggers on various levels in this workshop but I took home valuable information from each and every one of them.
@napturalnicole and @thehubbin


@beautybylee, @amberjanielle, @eugeniasays, @naturally_allure, @naturallyfashionable, @naturallyglam

This concluded my day at the Expo which was followed by photos, networking and Chipotle (of course).  Oh wait, but not before running into Vincenzo (@vincenzo_stylist, @beautybelee's beau) doing an impromptu cut underneath the Convention Center stairs.  I mean, there was just fabulousness everywhere!!  Although, this was a super long day my spirit was high off of all the information I gained. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Event like this, I highly recommend taking advantage.  Even if your funds are low, budget to buy the ticket and just skip on purchasing products (as hard as that may be).  The workshops and panels alone will give you an amazing ROI for that $20 ticket.  Didn't mean to hold you hostage for this super long post but it was necessary for me to touch on the items that stood out to me.  Check back for the final recap, Part 3: The Blogger Branding Brunch...

Friday, July 17, 2015

Return of the Curls Natural Hair Weekend 2015 RECAP ||Part 1||

Now that I've fully recovered it's time I share my experience from the Return of the Curls Natural Hair Weekend with you.  Seeing as full recovery has taken me a week, you can only imagine how much there is to talk about.  I attended every single event held that weekend from the Pre-Party to the Blogger Branding Brunch so I've decided to break this recap down into three parts so as not to overwhelm you.  As you read this I want you feeling like, wow I need to be there next year!  Not, wow this is too much to handle in life! I've done all the legwork for you so just sit back, relax and recap with me.

The Koils by Nature Pre-Party was to set the tone of the weekend.  The event was held Friday evening at the Embassy Suites Hampton Hotel which was the host hotel for the entire ROTC event.  I intentionally booked my room at the host hotel because I wasn't familiar with the area or the event.  So, as to limit any confusion or mishaps I thought it would be best to stay close to the action.  This decision proved to be the right choice from the very first day!  Traffic from the Northern Virginia area was crazy and I didn't arrive at the hotel until nearly 7:15 PM.  Mind you, the Koils and Kocktails Pre-Party was scheduled to begin at 8:00 PM.  Needless to say, staying in the same hotel was quite beneficial since I didn't have far to go.  Now, lets talk more about the actual event!  It was held in an intimate space perfect for the number of people that attended.  Immediately upon arrival, you felt like you had ARRIVED.  Jeff (@photog4naturals) was there snapping pictures as we walked through the door.  Pam Booker from Koils by Nature ran over almost immediately to greet and take pictures.  This was my first event of it's kind for me, so I'm sure I was a deer in headlights.  No worries though, this deer was born ready and it only took a few minutes to feel settled in and at home!  In every corner I was able to spot a familiar face!  Constance from @TeamNatural_ over there, Mildred from @NaturalSilverSista back there, Vaughn from @MsVaughnTV with her girls chilling over there!  If I had any anxiety about meeting everyone, it left my body within the first 5 minutes of being at this event.  No one treated me like the "little" Blogger I felt like, being in the room with such prominent and successful Bloggers and Business Owners.  In fact, it felt like I already knew these people!  Let's not get it twisted though, I didn't pretend to "really" know them but I certainly didn't feel like a complete stranger.  The night was filled with lots of introductions, pictures, giveaways and of course, swag.  I dragged myself back to my room barely able to even walk in my heels once the event was over and stayed up another two hours just talking about the event with Amber!  That's definitely a good sign of a great party.

@TeamNatural_ @NaturalSilverSista
@AmberJanielle, @NaturalSilverSista 

@KoilsbyNature and @NaturalSilverSista
@StyledbyKami, @MsVaughnTV, @NaturallyCreole

Tribe Called Curl hosted Kinks and Drinks as the Official After Party for the Return of the Curls Natural Hair Expo.  Let me just say, 'Round of Applause' (in my Waka Flaka Flame voice)!  THEY. DID. THAT.  We're going to start with the Swag Bags because those were given at arrival this time and man did they have some weight.  Shea Moisture doesn't play when it comes to Sponsoring I see!  I'm talking 3-4 FULL size products ranging from hair to body products. Then we walked into this super sleek room filled with candles, more products as center pieces and an event space that was clearly for the grown and sexy.  As the room filled up, Imani Dawson from Tribe Called Curl took a moment to introduce herself and get the party started.  The games presented were strategically created to draw you away from your 'clique' and have you get to know some new people.  Just genius.  One of the games was an Instagram Challenge and I was determined to win (what's new?!).  Again, this was another brilliant idea as it was able to grab the attention of people on Instagram who were not able to attend and allowed them a glimpse into our night.  Not to mention, I don't know if I would have snapped a picture with Stephanie (@beautybylee) if it weren't for this game/challenge and that picture turned out to be one of my favorites from the entire weekend.  The time flew and before I knew it, the party was over but we literally had to be ushered out by the staff because we truly were all having such a great time.  If there's one thing I learned that weekend, it's that Tribe Called Curl knows how to throw a party.

Stephanie @BeautybyLee and myself

Constance @Teamnatural_ and Amber @AmberJanielle

Tribe Called Curl
The photos provided here are just a glimpse into both of these events.  For more fun photos try searching the designated party hashtags provided by the party hosts.  The Koils by Nature Koils and Kocktails Instagram hashtag is #KNKHampton.  The Tribe Called Curl Kinks and Drinks Instagram hashtag is #KinksandDrinks.  Have fun scrolling through the pictures and don't forget to come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my Return of the Curls Natural Hair Weekend 2015 Recap (Expo Day).
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Beauty Products: 2015 Edition

This summer (and every summer really) I have been keeping things very simple when it comes to makeup.  I have super oily skin that just goes buckwild come Summer so there is absolutely no point in piling a bunch of products on my face.  Regardless of the product, I find myself blotting maybe 2-3 times per day.  I'm not a huge fan of touching up midday or using powders because it's just adding more fuel to the fire.  At the beginning of the day my skin feels fresh and lightweight but by the end of the day it feels like I have 2 masks on and one is the mask that Michael wore while killing.  Yes, the life of an Oily Skin girl is not the business AT ALL.  So on to the products...

For my base, I started using First Aid Beauty's Oil-Free Mattifying Gel.  The day I picked this up, I was actually in the store to purchase the NARS Pro-Prime Pore Refining Primer.  Since First Aid Beauty has been faithful when it comes to skincare, I decided to try their product instead.  Also, when choosing a base I like to find one that has multiple purposes.  The less products I have to pile on my face, the better!  If I have to use a separate moisturizer, separate primer, separate oil control product... It's NOT happening.  The FAB Mattifying Gel states it will hydrate, remove excess oil and minimize the appearance of pores.  So, I definitely appreciated the multitasking promised.  When applied, it feels really lightweight on the skin and absorbs pretty fast leaving your skin feeling smooth and ready for foundation.

Finding the right foundation has not been easy for me this summer.  I started using the new NARS All Day Luminous Foundation back in March/April but it doesn't wear well on oily skin and with the heat it's a hot ass mess.  So, although I pushed through the beginning of the Summer wearing it, I wasn't happy and was vigorously looking for something new.  Well, up pops Make Up Forever's new Ultra HD Foundation and I fall head over heels.  It is not geared towards "oily skin" but I'm making it work by using base products that help with my oil.  One thing I like about this foundation is that it doesn't break down and separate as I become oily like the NARS foundation did.  I can easily pat off the excess oil and keep it moving.  It also provides the perfect amount of coverage, I would say Medium Buildable Coverage, and dries down to a very fine powder finish that looks airbrushed on the skin.

Trial Sizes received with order... SOOO cute!
Prior to finding the FAB Mattifying Gel, I placed an order for Skindinavia's Oil Controlling Primer Spray and Finishing Spray.  I watched a few videos on YouTube with people raving about these products, I mean going to bat for them.  So, of course I was sucked in and purchased them.  Well, they aren't as great as I expected!  I still get oily and I have not noticed a big difference.  In fact, I used it with the NARS foundation and it didn't do anything to help extend the staying power of that product at all.  I still use both sprays, the primer after the FAB Gel but before the foundation and the Finishing Spray at the very end of my routine.  I mean, I did pay for them so I might as well use them up but never again.  Stupid YouTube LMAO.

For Blush, I have been addicted to the Urban Decay Afterglow Blushes.  I purchased two in the shades Bang and BitterSweet.  Bang is vibrant red-orange perfect for sun kissed skin and BitterSweet is a bright purple shade.  But be careful because these blushes are very pigmented!  I start with a very light hand and build up to the intensity I desire.  Starting too heavy will have Bang looking clownish and BitterSweet looking dirty/muddy.  Out of these two, I have been wearing BitterSweet the most as I've just been lazy and reaching for the exact same products day after day.

On my lips, one product is currently playing the favorite and that is my YSL Glossy Stain in #108 Violine Out of Control.  I purchased this product months ago and it has remained my absolutely favorite shade to wear since!  It's sort of a bright lavender shade and looks soooo beautiful on the lips especially paired with the BitterSweet blush from Urban Decay.  UGH... I'm like obsessed with this pairing!

So these are the items I have been reaching for this Summer. Obviously there are other products I'm wearing daily but they aren't anything special to devote a section to.  For mascara, I've been switching between L'oreal's Voluminous Lashes in Carbon Black and L'oreal's Telescopic Mascara.  For Concealer, I've been reaching for either Urban Decay's Naked Concealer (on rough mornings) or Rimmel's Match Perfection Concealer in Medium.  The Rimmel is actually a decent lightweight concealer for under the eyes that deserves a lot more recognition than it gets!  That's it really.  I do contour my cheeks and forehead occasionally using a Bronzing Powder from Bobbi Brown but it's not something that I do regularly.

There's always something new coming out but truthfully my routine is so basic that once I find products that work well, I just stick with those products for a while.  If I am looking for something new, it's usually Foundation or Blush as the seasons change.  I've done Get Ready With Me videos on YouTube but since my regimen is so simple and I don't change products frequently, I find doing these types of videos over and over again redundant.  I'm not here to bore you, promise.  LOL.  But, if you do want to see a video using my Summer Beauty Products just let me know below.  XOXOMCS
Friday, July 3, 2015

Why I Buy My Own Products... (still)

It was about this time last year that I realized how influential my hair journey had become to so many women.  On Instagram, many people wanted to know what I was using in my hair or how exactly I styled my hair.  Before I knew it, my community was growing in numbers as my Curls were featured on various Natural Hair Accounts.  It wasn't too long after that the products were being sent to me for review from companies.  It was a dream come true and my husband was over the moon, LOL.  But, his happiness didn't last long once he saw that despite the boxes and boxes of products that kept arriving, I continued to purchase products using my own money.  Believe me, there's a method to the madness!

When a company sends products for review, it's real work.  Please don't mistake this as me complaining because this is definitely a job I love but nonetheless it requires work.  There are quality pictures that need to be taken, blog posts that need to be written and social media marketing that needs to be done.  Not to mention, it needs to be done in a timely fashion.  If you're given an assignment at work, it's usually expected that your assignment is completed within a reasonable amount of time... Not 6 months later!  LOL.  The same goes for Bloggers.  Sometimes the brand providing the product even has their own schedule on which they need things done by.  This is just a little insight behind all those free products.

Sometimes I just want to try a new brand or a new product without any pressure and in my own time.  I know I'm not the only one who purchases products and months later still has yet to use them.  That's me all day!  If it's something I've been eyeing and it goes on sale, it's getting bought.  Even if I can't fit it into my "Product Testing Schedule" for another few months.  I'm able to take my sweet ole' time and there is no stress or pressure.  Not to mention, I don't necessarily "need" to review the product either.  One of the reasons I began Blogging about my Natural Hair was because I enjoyed everything from shopping new products to discussing those products with fellow Curlies.  Seeing what worked for someone else or was considered trash was fun and insightful!  I still find enjoyment in this type of interaction. Having a good mix of products I purchase on my own and products sent to me for review is important.  I want my reviews to remain balanced, fair and genuine.  This is something that will never change unless I'm out on the streets and can't afford to buy anything.  LOL.  In which case, I wouldn't have an address to have products sent for review anyways.  Lastly (but most importantly), I want to support those brands who have amazing products!  There have been quite a few times where I was sent a product that I fell in love with.  Miss Jessie's Multicultural Curls, Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker, Lottabody 5-in-1 Miracle Creme and Amla Legend Rejuvenating Oil just to name a few.  Every single one of these products (plus more) I've purchased on my own once I ran out!

I am certainly one of the smaller Bloggers out there (watch out, that won't be the case for long!) so I have no idea where the major Bloggers even find the space to store all the products they receive.  It's super hard justifying spending money on items that you can get for free but I believe it's worth it.  Maintaining the integrity of MyCandiShoppe will always be a top priority for me!  How do you guys feel about all the product spotlights and reviews happening these days?  Do you find them helpful and resourceful in making product purchases?  Let's chat below.... XOXOMCS

Shoppe Owner


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