If you follow Made Woman Magazine on any of our social channels you know we <3 nails! Nail art allows you to show off your personality in your otherwise buttoned up work look. I know that when I look down at my fresh mani, I feel polished (pardon the pun) and like I have my sh%t together. Cuteness aside, we rarely think about the huge billion dollar industry around nail art and nail care. Beyond just polish there are nail artists, models, bloggers, and magazines that cover the hot trends in nail art. One such publication, NAILS Magazine, keeps up with all things nails and claims Beth Livesay as a Senior Editor.
Beth is a dear friend of mine, whom I’ve know since our freshman year of high school. I’ve watched as Beth has taken her talent as a writer and turned it into a very successful career. Aside from being a writer and editor for Made Woman Mag and NAILS, she has been published on the Huffington Post, Hello Giggles and was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times for her contributions to Apronology Magazine.
Now that we are grown women, I wanted to get Beth’s insight on what it takes to build a career in digital publishing and how she stays creative in such a deadline driven world.
Serena Watson: As a writer, how do you stay creative and get past writing blocks?
Beth Livesay: To be honest, I feel like I have blocks often. That's the main reason I started my personal blog (www.coutureovercoffee.blogspot.com), so that I could write about the things that interest me outside of nails. It's been a great outlet for me to find myself again creatively and to challenge myself to maintain the habit of blogging.
SW: What traits or skills help you be successful at what you do?
BL: Self-discipline is key. I work in a deadline driven environment, so there are days where I can't let myself take a break or leave if something's not done. You have to be able to self-motivate to succeed. Honesty is also vital. Communicate honestly with your colleagues and superiors so that you can manage the tasks at hand in a timely and professional manner. But also be honest with yourself. I've learned the hard way about biting off more than I can chew. There has to be a time where you are willing and able to say "no.”
SW: What is a typical day like as a Senior Editor for a beauty magazine?
BL: My day is jam-packed, which is why I really like my job (I hate being bored). I oversee social media, so I open up Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram right away. We have a daily nail art blog, which is where I start Pinning from, then I try to Tweet and post to FB immediately before reading through notifications we have received overnight. Once I am caught up on that I try to get in a daily dose of reading, if there is time. I love Women's Wear Daily, Buzzfeed, and Style.com (if it's Fashion Week). I have my editorial run-ups with the due dates right next to me, as well as my own personal to-do list. Almost everything on my to do list involves writing an article, creating web content such as blog posts or photo galleries, social media tasks, or putting together our digital magazine. If a cool product comes across my desk or something fun happens in the office like a photoshoot, then I will stop my work flow to Instagram it, but otherwise I am buckled down to my set list of deadlines and to-dos.
SW: As part of your job you get to attend fashion shows to check out the new trends in nails. You recently traveled to New York Fashion Week to see the Spring/Summer collections. What was that experience like?
BL: New York was overwhelming. I don't know if there's a way to really prepare yourself for Fashion Week. It's crazy because nail companies don't always have their schedules finalized until the last minute, and things change constantly, so I went with a loose schedule that ended up changing as I was in New York. Backstage at Fashion Week is insanity! Everyone is scrambling around frantically and the spaces are usually very tight. You have models having someone work on their hair, makeup, and nails at the same time. I saw Libertine, Opening Ceremony, Alice + Olivia, the Blonds, and Raul Penaranda, all amazing shows in their own right. There is nothing like being that close to exquisite clothing! I also was in the same room as women whose work I admire so much. I was too starstruck to talk to them. I just admired them from afar. [Laughs]
SW: It seems nail trends have gone global. We've seen influential designs from Europe and Japan but what do you think will be the next big thing in nail art?
BL: Nail competitor Chris Mans told me recently that he predicts Eastern Europe will be the next big place to look to. It makes sense to me, with so many influencers in fashion coming from places like Russia. When the rest of the industry craves something different, I think they're going to look at the shapes, lengths, and artistry from that part of the world and become very interested.
SW: You were a Creative Writing major at Pitzer College. How did that shape your writing career and prepare you to succeed in your field?
BL: Pitzer was my top choice for college because of their Creative Writing program. I loved my time at Pitzer; it was a top rate education. However, since I studied writing there, I don’t think I can say that my college career aptly prepared me for the particular job I have now. The business side of the Creative Writing major is to learn about publishing, agents, and continued education, because that’s what most writing students go on to pursue. The majority of my classes focused on writing, reading, and getting feedback, which is what I wanted and what I miss about my time in school. I work with a lot of people now who studied journalism, and that might be a better route to take if you know you want to be a magazine editor. I actually didn’t know that’s what I would end up becoming when I went to college. I just wanted to write, plain and simple. I knew it was a tough career choice, but there wasn’t any other option for me. I think if you love something, you have to have the mindset that it’s do or die. Anything else will fill you with regret. I am so blessed in that I stumbled upon this amazing career that encourages creativity, and where I get to use my love of language. No, it’s not the type of writing I was trained to execute in school, but I learned from my many experiences as a freelance writer how to editorialize and now I always have my training as a creative writer for when I write for myself. I work with artists on a daily basis, so my education has really helped me appreciate everyone’s artistic ability and empathize with the passion they have toward their craft, whether it’s making nail art or making magazines.
SW: What is the most challenging part of what you do?
BL: Unplugging. I am so used to being wrapped up in social media for work and for reading the news that it’s sometimes difficult to back away after work or on the weekends, but I believe that you have to step away for your sanity. Another challenge we face daily is not getting too caught up in competition. Sometimes it can be motivating to aim to do better than your opponent, but other times over-competitiveness can be your own downfall.
SW: What advice would you give to others who hope to turn their passion for writing into a career?
BL: Keep writing. It’s the cardinal rule. Not everything will be published and not everything you write will be good, but just keep working at it. If you love writing it won’t matter what job you have, because you can always write in your spare time. Don’t be afraid to share that writing via blogging or freelance work. Eventually clips add up. Build a portfolio and use that to get the position you want. I started out freelancing right after college while I held a tutoring job. Had I not had a substantial amount of freelance experience, I don’t know that I would have been offered my first editorial job. You have to start somewhere.
I love weddings -- in fact, I’ve actually become something of a wedding crasher. In the past three years I’ve attended maybe ten weddings. I was in the bridal party for three of them, two were destination weddings and one was on a boat. But in all of my wedding crashing, the reception of my dear friends Roderick Scott and Madia Hill was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Roderick, a publicist for Warner Bros. Records, and Madia, a powerhouse actress, producer and writer, are two creative forces who have always marched to their own beat. And when they planned their nuptials, it was no different. The adventure-seeking couple, who have been together for eight years, decided to elope to the southeast coast of Mexico. After a local send off with friends and family here in LA, they traveled to the tiny little city of Campeche, Mexico, with only a photographer and a videographer as their wedding guests.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love ~ Photos by Georgie
A World Heritage site, the city of Campeche is rich in color and history. Originally settled by the Mayans, the couple was drawn to Campeche because they wanted to see the lush jungles and the Mayan ruins. Roderick and Madia’s ceremony was officiated by a shaman, who blew a huge sea shell to the four corners of the earth to announce their union (so romantic!). The bride wore a breathtakingly beautiful, handmade gown that sparkled white and bright against the backdrop of the jungle. They wrote their own vows ahead of the ceremony and recited them to each other as the sun set. After a short stay in Campeche the couple honeymooned in Maroma Beach - 30 minutes south of Cancun.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love From Georgie
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A few months after their elopement, Rod and Madia hosted a reception at the art gallery Studio 11 for 300 of their closest friends and family -- myself included. Upon arrival, guests were treated to a glimpse of their wedding adventure with a gallery of photographs from their trip. Loved ones oohed and awed over the captivating images. Moving through the huge, open space, it immediately felt like a reunion of all the couple’s friends. We criss crossed the room giving hugs and taking a peek at the two outdoor gardens, lit only by twinkling lights.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love From Georgie
After a bit of mingling, the reception program began. The bride and groom arrived and a loud cheer went up. MC’ed by an aunt from each side of the family, the program included passionate and heartfelt performances by Smoke Season, Andra Day and Melody Thornton. Smoke Season sang an original song, “Opaque,” Adura Day sang a medley which concluded with “Rise” and Melody Thornton sang the Donny Hathaway classic, “A Song For You.” After the performances we were all primed for the next thing on the program, a special video which captured their romantic trip for all to see. Hauntingly beautiful, the video took us along for this crazy, sexy, cool love affair between two of our favorite people. I'm sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when it was over.
The evening continued with all the jams -- and the obligatory wedding classics -- being played by one of LA’s hottest DJ’s, DJ Ron. Guests were able to take photos in the photo booth, eat their choice of h'orderves or tacos from a quaint little taco cart, and drink from the open bar. Sure it was a party, but there were also some touching moments like when members of the bride and grooms family danced together to “Uptown Funk” (So cute!), or when the bride changed clothes and performed a sexy Samba dance for her new hubby accompanied by her team of backup dancers. I loved the open and inviting space of the venue. I liked how there was so much to see and do as guests we weren’t contained to assigned seats like most weddings.I also loved how Rod and Madia made their love and talent shine through all evening long -- Roderick works with both Audra and Melody and Madia produced their wedding video and choreographed both dances. All and all it was a night those in attendance will ever forget.
Letter from our Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson -- April 8, 2015
For all of us Made Women there may come a period of time in your career when you are afflicted with a serious case of the "In Betweens." Causes of this strange condition could entail being stuck at a job you hate, being unemployed and looking fervently for something new, or waiting on a promotion that will elevate your position to where you think you should be.
Symptoms of the "In Betweens" can range from an utter lack of giving a damn about your current unwanted job, fatigue and exhaustion from trying to stand out and win the next job or promotion, or even plain old burn out. You may feel lost, confused or inadequate if the next step isn't crystal clear. I know that this feeling affects many of my friends who are primed and ready for the next phase of their career but are restricted to the status quo for unknown reasons.
The best remedy for this condition? First, realize this period is only temporary. A little delay or detour away from the Great Plan For Your Life is ok. You've made it this far, who knows what you can accomplish when you rebound. Second, carpe the freakin diem -- meaning start today and make a list of ten things you can do to improve your situation, as well as your mood. Don't wait for permission! Make a plan for seizing your dreams right now. Third, don't be so hard on yourself. I promise you, a lot of the people you look up to don't have it all together and experience a little bit of the "In Betweens" in their own lives. Try this out and I'm sure your "In Betweens" will soon be a thing of the past.
Letter from our Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson -- March 4, 2015
From the time we are little girls, it seems like we are stripped of our power in a million tiny ways. Display your natural born leadership skills on the playground, and you are classified as “bossy.” Try out for a sports team and they tell you you “throw like a girl.” As adults these moments of disempowerment are different, but they still happen. Maybe you try to be straightforward at work and your no nonsense approach earns you the “b!#ch” label.
Day to day, it gets hard to hold on to that feeling of being powerful. The feeling of confidence that urges you to speak up, take no crap and go for your dreams. Fostering this feeling -- through getting a resume building certification, taking on your first employee or even something as simple as updating your power look -- can only take you further. And if we really reflect on and invest in what makes us feel powerful, there would be no stopping us.
As we wait for Spring to come through and heat things up, I’m focusing on living fully in my power each day. I’m spending no time on self defeating thoughts, labels others might apply or negativity of any kind. I’m doing my best to look good, feel good and do good work -- holding nothing back. I invite you to Power Up with me this spring and let the smart, talented and fly person you are shine through -- with no apologizes.
Letter from our Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson -- February 3, 2015
How many different screens do you look at each day? Let’s count. Your phone screen, your computer screen and your TV screen count for three already, right? Now let's estimate about how much time we spend staring at those screens. It's at least eight hours at work, then another two to three hours of TV at home and countless minutes on our cell phones -- so it's safe to say we're pretty consumed.
Whether we like it or not, staring at these screens gets in the way of what we really want to pay attention to, like the ocean on a sunny day, your friend’s faces over cocktails or maybe a new exhibit at a museum.
I recently got the chance to unplug – to turn off all the noise around me and look at the world without distractions. It was much needed and it felt so good! Turning it all off allowed me to really focus on the world around me. Conversations were better. Rest was better. Even food tasted better. Why? Because I was giving life my all. I wasn't half listening, half resting or half eating while also checking that new text or email.
Just like we throw ourselves into our projects and give 100% to our work, we have to remember to take some time for ourselves to give our all to life and the world around us. Try it. Turn it all off! Everything -- no email, no text and, dare I say it, no Instagram. I know that this isn’t possible all the time, but those times you can make it happen are so worth it. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
I’m one of those women who will empty out her wallet for a really good beauty product. I get caught up in the fancy packaging and the “new and improved” labels and end up with a medicine cabinet full of overpriced potions, all guaranteed to keep me cute. While I have my beauty staples, I do enjoy trying new products. My go-to trick used to be sampling things while on vacation with my girls. I’d test out their beauty picks from their suitcases and come home with some new ideas. Thanks friends. ;-)
But I admit, although I love the instant perks of today's beauty products, I'm guilty of not considering the long-term effects. There's so much information out there about the harmful effects of the toxins in some of these beauty lines and if we read it all we might consider giving up our beloved products all together. Just kidding, I need my beauty junk. But how do I even begin to figure out the best organic products for me?
The answer may very well be Bare Bliss Box, an online subscription service that lets you to sample some of the best organic, vegan and toxin free beauty products. Every month (or every 3 or 6 months if you prefer) they ship you a Bare Bliss Box straight to your front door. Each box has 4-6 products curated especially for you and designed to “change your body and enhance your life.” Each month the folks at Bare Bliss switch up their roster of featured brand partners and they kindly let me try it out this past January.
I had decided to go on a little getaway to Cabo for my birthday, so I threw the box into my suitcase and took it with me on my trip. When I arrived, I cracked it open and was surprised to find a little welcome note from the founder of Bare Bliss Box, Shelli Price. Along with the note, there was an array of goodies for me to try.
One of my faves was the crème deodorant by Pura Bella. I had been looking for a natural deodorant for a while – one that wouldn't leave me funky by lunchtime. Pura Bella has a unique application for its deodorant -- you rub it together between your fingers to warm and then apply under your arm. It kept me feeling fresh and dry all day and I loved the scent. Also in the box was Simplicity Cosmetics “Moth” Eye Shadow, which went on smoothly and stayed in place as I toured the city. Excessive makeup is a little unnecessary in the Cabo sun, so the only other makeup I wore during vacation was Southern Magnolia’s Sun Kiss Bronzer which helped to highlight my tan, but felt light.
Other fun items in the box were Yogi Cinnamon and Vanilla Healthy Skin and Skin De Tox tea and Adorn nail polish. I happily sipped my organic tea and painted my nails with my all-natural nail polish while on vacay. Weleda’s Pomegrante Regenerating Body Lotion was another big hit. I loved the fruity scent and my skin felt super moisturized after use. I wasn't a big fan of the Kosmatology’s Lotion Bar (and neither was my skin) but that’s the beauty of it! You get another set of products to try next month.
What was interesting to me about the Bare Bliss Box is that beyond a sampling service it serves as a platform for green beauty brands to promote their products. I had heard of brands like Weleda and Yogi before, but others were new to me. This is something I definitely would try again to see what other mix of items I get - sort of like a surprise gift to myself. If you're thinking of going green with your beauty products, stop by bareblissbox.com and subscribe to start getting your beauty by mail.
No matter how hard you try to ignore it, your thirtieth birthday will creep up on you like Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. And it may be just as scary. For me I felt like shouting at random people, “I’m not ready to be a real adult! I still wear an Elmo shirt to bed and I had ice cream for dinner last week!” But alas, thirty came for me whether I was ready or not. To avoid some of the panic of turning 30, I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can be ready too.
One of the first things I noticed about planning a party at this age was that it was hard to pin people down for a date to celebrate. Whereas before it was each to catch up and enjoy an evening out with friends, now people were scattered across the country or just super busy. It was interesting to see what everyone had going on in their lives and how that affected a simple Saturday night out. One friend had a baby on the way while others were working sixty-hour weeks; life had finally happened to my friends. It was so real, I actually had to send out a Save The Date for my get together as well as email invites (services like Evite and Paperless Post are great for invites). I realized that these moments of getting together and partying tip the lights come on were going to get more and more rare. This made the occasion all the more special for me.
I know this usually isn’t what you want to hear on your birthday and this may not apply to everyone but when deciding what to do for my big 3-0, I didn’t have an unlimited budget. I would have loved to fly all of my friends out for a mini vacay but that wasn’t in the cards. Instead I stayed within my budget and celebrated in town. I hosted a karaoke night at a local sushi restaurant, and served up cupcakes from Vanilla Bake Shop which is right around the corner from my house at the Century City mall. In the end it meant more to celebrate with friends and family than to have everyone shell out money for a trip.
I did manage to sneak in a last minute trip to Mexico but only because I scored a Living Social deal for a resort in Cabo. Travel deal sites like Living Social, Groupon and Travel Zoo are great tools if you just have to get away, but I highly recommend keeping all your financial goals (short-term and long-term) in mind while planning.
I had always wanted to go to this beautiful, coastal city and I was glad I could make it happen. While checking something of the bucket list for me meant a get-away to Cabo, for you it could be sky diving or driving a race car. But do something that you’ll never forget and make a memory that will last a lifetime.
Thirty is what you’d call a milestone birthday and it invites a lot of reflection. Beyond celebrating I really wanted to take inventory of my life and gear up for the rest of the year. Taking time to see friends and family and then sneaking in a little me time was the perfect way to do that. I feel refreshed and excited about what’s to come. But that’s just my b-day story. What’s yours? Tell us in the comments below.
Letter from our Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson -- January 12, 2015
The year is just twelve days old but I already know what’s going to happen to you over the course of the remaining 353 days. Yes, I, Serena Watson, can see into your future: 2015 is all about the ying and yang for you. You will have good days and you will have bad days. That’s it… It’s that simple.
The reality of the situation is that it doesn’t matter what happens to you day to day, during the ups and the downs. What matters is who you become as the pages of the calendar turn each day. Are you a good person, are you making real connections, are you living authentically? Instead of resolutions about working out more or keeping your closet clean, resolve to keep your character on track in 2015. Think about who you can help or ways you can grow on the personal level.
I know we Made Women have so many professional goals and it’s easy to get caught up in the grind and lose track of our personal compass. But here’s another prediction for you: the year is going to be over before you know it. And if you don’t take some time to be better, you’ll end the year older but not a moment the wiser.
Speaking of another year older -- tomorrow is my birthday! I’m so excited to spend another year sharing love and inspiration with the Made Woman community! Let’s give 2015 everything we’ve got!
Letter from our Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson -- December 31, 2014
The year is almost over! Whew -- 2014 did not play. So much happened in business and culture it was hard to keep up. Between career changes, keeping up with friends and family and trying to get off the couch and into the gym I'm sure I missed something. That's why I love all the recaps that come out at the end of the year and bring it all back. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenges, Donald Sterling... and who can forget the Carter's infamous elevator incident? Yeah, that was 2014.
We have our own recap for Made Woman Mag and we call it our Best Of 2014 issue. As we close out the year, look back at our top content, big moments and favorite interviews, then tell us what you think. Leave us a comment or take our short survey and let us know which articles were your favorite pieces on the site. We're all looking forward to a new year and new fresh slate, but a quick look back at all good stuff that happened is just good clean fun.
As always, we wish you much success and happiness in 2015! Stay focused and stay MADE.
Happy New Year!
Letter from our Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson -- December 1, 2014
I don’t know about you but I’m looking at this upcoming New Year like the light at the end of the tunnel. Talking to other Made Women this year, from all walks of life, proved I’m not alone: This was definitely the year of growing pains. It was like we all looked around and realized we finally had “big girl problems” and things were suddenly all too real. Wedding planning, starting a new business, job hunting, promotions, your best friends having babies, this season of How To Get Away With Murder… it was just all too much.
The ups and downs you and I had during 2014 all have one thing in common; they all will soon be HISTORY! Isn’t it liberating to look at 2015 as a fresh clean slate?
I know we all have holiday parties and vacations on the brain, but take a moment to think about a few things before the New Year arrives:
Have fun wrapping up 2014 and enjoy every bit of 2015. You deserve it!