I recently discovered Welly Merck and their beautiful mesh strap watches and knew I had to get my hands on one. I’ve seen other mesh straps however, what I love about the Classic New York watch is the straps are interchangeable. Everything about the brand is timeless and fashionable. Behind the company is a classic romance which we all know is my Achilles heel.
The name “Welly Merck” is the final two words in a fairy tale romance. It is based on the true story of an American boy, Merck, falling in love during an Italian vacation with a girl named Welly. The two overcame the challenges of a long-distance relationship and found a home together in Switzerland where they created the next chapter of their story. Here, their watch company was born. Their initial vision to create affordable luxury in watches continues to embody the brand’s reality today.
Beyond the Welly Merck’s exceptional story, my expectations were quickly surpassed. The watch arrived quickly after ordering it in a beautiful teal box and made me feel proud to own my first luxury mesh watch. I chose the rose gold watch because I wanted something summery, but I quickly realized it would become a year-long staple for me. It is simple and elegant. I have received so many compliments on this piece and honestly have never loved a watch more!
I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
P.S. If you are interested in purchasing your own piece feel free to use the code BARELYBLONDE20 at checkout for 20% off your purchase www.wellymerck.com.
If you’ve ever had the itch to step outside of your comfort zone in a creative endeavor, I cannot recommend working with Obsidian + Blush enough! Nico and Michi work endlessly to create a fairy tale photography experience. Their vision challenges the bounds of creativity from floral corsets to Cinderella themes and monochromatic sets. They create the entire set themselves handling everything from styling to hair to makeup to snapping the perfect angle.
I had the pleasure of joining them on a Victorian fashion shoot several months ago and was truly inspired by their work. They make being professional fun. They make you feel like a supermodel from encouraging you to play music, bring beverages and even bringing friends!
I jumped at the invite to shoot in their pink and white monochromatic sets for something unique. The pink set looks straight out of a movie. If you love pink, then this may finally satisfy that! I would never consider white a playful color, until I saw the balloons and tiles composing their second set. It was like swimming in a sea of childhood bliss tossing around dozens of balloons. They are by far my favorite creative duo and I can’t thank them enough for their unique photoshoots! Keep your eyes out for a winter/holiday theme coming soon!!!
Production: Obsidian + Blush
Photography: Nico Nordström Photography
Set Design/Construction: Nico Nordström and Michi Lafary
Hair/Styling: Michi Lafary
Sitting in a white chair, grasping an iced coffee she responded with a beaming smile, “I always would choose to be deaf. I wouldn’t be Emma without all the challenges and struggles everyday. “ Katie, Emma and I had been sitting in the quant Bird Bakery for nearly thirty minutes meeting for the first time and she felt like a friend I’d known my whole life. I had spent the past four weeks reading about Emma Faye anticipating our meeting but could never have expected how charming Miss San Antonio would be!
She sat there dressed in a white and floral maxi dress from a local Boerne boutique Ella Blu paired with clogs fit for a busy day. Her dress was the perfect transition piece from a coffee date to a photo-shoot. In the Texas heat, she not only looked amazing but stayed cool. I opted for a braided crop top and flowy white skirt from my latest trip to La Cantera. I can’t seem to make it out of my favorite outdoor mall without snagging a bag, or two, or three!
While chatting with Emma, it became clear nothing about her was surface level, through and through she was true beauty; sweeter than sugar. Over the past year, the 21 year-old had carefully created the first ever deaf music festival, Good Vibrations. The festival stemmed from her non-profit Aid the Silent. She had raised over $150k to support the event and had even implemented her detective skills to encourage companies to sponsor her event. With a couple giggles, Emma reminisced about finagling her way on a flight to a Las Vegas hotel where she knew a company’s Vice President was staying for a conference only to knock on his door and smile her way into a sponsorship, “my mom and I are crazy in the best way.”
While she makes her success look like a breeze, it was no easy journey. Growing up as a deaf child, Emma often felt isolated, frustrated and her dreams to create a non-profit for the deaf and to compete in the Miss America circuit overlooked. She commented, “no one knew me (the dream in me), they didn’t know I wanted to play music.” It wasn’t until she turned 14 that she realized it was her choice to choose joy. After attending a Young Life retreat, people said the Emma they used to consider a blank slate now wore joy on her face. While she continued to dream of pursuing music, a deaf non-profit and the Miss American crown, she thought the reality of these were too distant to chase. Even leading up to her high school graduation, Emma planned to attend Beaumont University in Nashville to pursue a degree in Graphic Design following in her mother’s footsteps. But the week leading up to receiving her diploma proved her path would diverge. She felt called to attend UTSA and focus her energy into Aid the Silent.
At this part in her story, Emma interrupted herself inquiring what Katie’s forearm tattoo said. Katie read the handwritten ink “life’s not fair.” Emma nodded with a smile, “so true!” She segways the conversation into her first year in college when she met another deaf person for the first time. She volunteered at a homeless shelter where she had the revelation that she would spend her life serving the deaf. She immediately went home and purchased the domain for Aid the Silent. The non-profit addresses four specific areas in the deaf community: ministry, research, resources and education. Among the many services Aid the Silent provides they offer scholarships for families to obtain hearing aids the government does not provide. The organization also provides classes for people to become bilingual in American Sign Language to encourage communication with deaf loved ones. They also send children to summer camps. The entire non-profit is a rubics cube of bridging the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.
A few years ago, Emma generated #showyouraids which was a movement to fundraise for young girls. The campaign to show off hearing aids spread across the country and eventually the world! Good Vibrations became an extension of her efforts to integrate the divided deaf and hearing communities. The event embraced the deaf as guests of honor. It welcomed everyone to experience music like never before. The event married the rhythm with visual depictions of sounds such as a light-up dance floor, pulsing LED beach balls and backpacks that vibrated with the beat. Everyone was able to roam freely and not be pushed off into the shadows typical of a hearing environment, isolated to the corner with an interpreter. Emma talked about how dreamy it was to see deaf children experience music for the first time and break out of the silence to dance.
She began to play music at 14 through the vibrations resonating off a piano. She describes the feeling of the notes dancing through her arm as her experiencing music. After learning to play the piano she then added the guitar to her repertoire of skills. When playing the piano she felt the music in her arms, but when she plays the guitar she feels it in her heart. Eventually she began to learn to sing. Instead of feeling the sound in her chest she was able to learn how to control her pitch based on the feeling she had in her head! While she joked about still asking for help to check her sound, she has the voice of an angel. To hear her singing check out “Love Hears: In the Silence.”
Finishing up our coffee we decided to begin our photo-shoot. We had the pleasure of meandering through the recently renovated Witte Museum in childlike wonder. We marveled at the Dinosaur exhibit, interacted with a multitude of technologies and twirled around the temporary whales display. The Witte gave us a chance to step away from the heat but still enjoy the sunny day in its floor to ceiling windows.
Today Emma is working as Miss San Antonio for her second time. She is the first deaf Miss San Antonio as well as the first one to have founded a true non-profit. Because of her job as a public figure, her non-profit has skyrocketed. She aims to advocate for members of the deaf community and act as a role model and lobbyist for others in a world void of deaf leaders. THIS WEEK, Emma will be traveling to Dallas to compete for the Miss Texas crown, taking a step closer to her dreams. The thing that stuck with me after my time with Emma was not just her shear kindness but that love is a language all can hear.
Thank you all for your love and support! And lets cheer our sweet Emma on this week at Miss Texas!
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of shooting a few of my favorite looks on South Congress in Austin, Texas with my sweet friend Monique Rodriguez and her assistant aka younger sister Samantha. The duo had me laughing the entire shoot with their banter and playful instructions for poses. Monique always has a smile behind the camera as she ponders new angles to properly reflect the moment, while Samantha opts for the honest truth making sure her subject looks their best. Between the two personalities I can hands-down say this was my most entertaining and attention-getting shoot I’ve had (all in the best way possible). It was a challenge to time shots between the crowd, adjust to the lighting and share a cup of Amy’s Ice Cream between three girls but that’s what made this whole adventure so memorable.
Since I hadn’t been to Austin in several months, driving up I-35 invited memories of my time in undergrad. I was excited to get back to the places and people I love so much and still consider a home-away-from-home. Austin definitely did not disappoint and provided a wonderful backdrop for my newfound fashion passion. We started out the shoot near the Turquoise Door on SoCo where we shot the Aurora Dress. This is currently one of my favorite summer dresses I own. I love the crossed neckline and the length of the dress makes it easy to go from day to night. It has quickly become one of my staple pieces for the hot weather in Texas!
While I changed into my new look Monique described plans she has to travel Europe later this summer. You won’t want to miss this out so follow her website and social accounts to keep up with her work! She has been published in a variety of mediums and always provides the highest quality photography. While she did an incredible job on my lifestyle shots, she has creativity pulsing through her veins which is clear in her other work too. Check out this link for more of her work.
The second look I styled was an OTS daisy embroidered blouse from Ann Taylor LOFT with a dark washed jean. I thought the floral details and a big bow in my hair embodied Spring. I am completely obsessed with the current off-the-shoulder-trend so this little number was right up my alley. Since it is a solid white piece I paired it with a bright blue bag for a pop of color!
My final look leans more towards the work wear style but I thought it would be cute when you get off work too. I chose these pleated bell sleeves because I thought they were a fashion forward take on the classic button-up. They just went on sale for $62 so you may want to snag one for your work wardrobe. The ribbons on the wrist gave them a feminine flair on top while I kept my bottom half simple with dark jeans. This top would just as easily pair with a pencil skirt for the office if you prefer.
Hope y’all enjoyed this variety of summer go-to looks!
Colorful shorts and maxi dress season is officially here! And I am beyond excited to style boho crochet tops, scarf print shorts and a wine colored dress for looks that you can wear all day. All three of these pieces are from Tobi, an international boutique offering a laid-back West Coast vibe to their customers.
I had the pleasure of shooting these three looks with my sweet friend and longhorn sister Kelly O’Connor before grabbing a lovely dinner at Ocho on the Riverwalk. It was amazing to have an evening to catch up on our lives and travels over the past two years! I couldn’t believe how quickly time had flown but it has helped us both grow into better, stronger women and for that I am happy. If you live in Austin and are looking for a photographer, give Kelly a shout at kellyoconnorphotography.com! She has an eye for perfection and keeps the session flowing with ease. I can honestly say the world looks more vibrant and beautiful through her lens. Beyond being an incredible photographer she is a dear friend and offers a variety of services. She’s always open to new ideas and a pleasure to work with!
Between Kelly’s talent and Tobi’s fashion, my job was easy! I started by pairing the Only Chance top with some gray trousers for a bohemian vibe. This top is lose fitting and light which was great in the Texas heat. I love the large knit details and the off-white color to mix up things a bit.
The Wanderlust Lace maxi is also very light and hugged in the right places. I thought the color was so rich and perfect for when I don’t feel like wearing something bright but still want color. I could easily see myself wearing this to a summer wedding or a night out.
The Gina Tunisian Scarf shorts also surprised me how comfortable they were. Kelly and I kept joking how they felt like wearing pjs! I love their pastel color scheme making them easy to pair with a bold t-shirt or white blouse. Here I went ahead and wore an embroidered tank for a beachy vibe. I was truly pleased with my online order not only because the pieces looked like the pictures but because they also were true to size.
So if you are looking for an online boutique with a huge variety of styles check out Tobi! Hope y’all have a great day and enjoyed the pieces I styled.
I’ve had long hair for the past five years, and I will be the first to admit it is more maintenance than it looks. While I love the long locks, it can be a challenge to find products that fit my budget and my expectations. I am always looking for better shampoos or leave-in products that will keep my hair healthy. I recently tried Pantene’s Pro-V Ultimate 10 Shampoo and thought it would be unfair not to share my experience!
People always told me not to wash my hair everyday because it strips your hair of its natural oils but that often left me with the challenge of timing the arrival of greasy hair. With Pantene, I don’t have to try and avoid cleaning my hair because the shampoo doesn’t take away the good stuff. Instead it leaves behind antioxidants and lipids that make it soft and easy to detangle, which is always a huge plus for me. I also experimented with using the shampoo as a hair mask, and it was a success!!! Trust me, I have tried a lot of Pinterest ideas (one ending with me cooking raw eggs in my hair under a hot shower) and this is by far my fave.
Pantene recently came out with a new shampoo formula that actually penetrates into the core of the hair to replenish lost moisture and protect hair from damage. So if you are looking to one-up your current shampoo and strengthen your hair, I advise you try the new products.
I rarely check the mail, but within this last week I found myself peaking in the mailbox on multiple occasions, anxiously awaiting a jewelry package. Yes, I do love jewelry but that’s not the only reason I was so excited for this particular parcel to arrive. And finally it did. Inside it contained the most lovely gold layering necklace next to a handwritten note that read, “Your purchase of Starfish Project jewelry provides for my housing fund.” Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
Starfish Project is a unique jewelry company that restores hope to exploited and sexually trafficked women through shelter, counseling, employment and education. It allows consumers to purchase handcrafted jewelry that encourages us to celebrate the gifts and opportunities of other women while allowing others to taste freedom. Not only does each purchase provide employment, but 100% of the price is reinvested in the company’s mission to strengthen the lives of women.
I received the London necklace which is absolutely stunning. This $54.99 necklace is equivalent to 1.5 weeks of vocational training for a woman to help establish her independence. Each item is priced differently depending on the material and the cause it will sponsor. While the meaning behind each piece alone is exquisite, the design itself rivals in beauty. I love how easy this layered necklace is to pair with everyday clothes and how naturally it acts as a conversation starter for discussing the meaning behind it.
I had the pleasure of asking Virginia Scharf (Chief Strategy Officer) a few more questions about the Starfish Project to share with you all.
1. Who, and what started the starfish project?
Jenny McGee founded Starfish Project eleven years ago when she began visiting the red light district and forming relationships with the women there. 2. Who designs the jewelry?
Jenny McGee, our amazing CEO! 3. what do you find most challenging about your mission?
Balancing the need to have good business practices and good outreach practices. We want to hire as many women as we can while maintaining an excellent standard of care, and that can be a tricky balance because we want to hire everyone! The more customers order, the more women we can hire. 4. How do women in need find you all?
We have outreach teams that go out into the shops once per week. They bring small gifts and interact and offer the women an alternative job. It can take months for a woman to trust us enough to join Starfish Project, so our outreach teams faithfully go out each week. 5. What might your audience be surprised to learn about you all?
That Jenny McGee, our designer and CEO, barely wore jewelry before she started Starfish Project a decade ago!
The final piece of advice Ms. Scharf left me with was, “use your gifts and resources to love other people well.” If you are looking for something special to give your mother for Mother’s Day, I cannot encourage you enough to order a piece of jewelry from these amazing women. Not only can you show your gratitude towards your loved one through a fair trade purchase, but you can help empower the women whose work and talent are embedded in each piece. And if you feel compelled to be more involved, check out their advocacy program.
Medal mania, paper picado, Mariachi music, nightly fireworks, and flower crowns, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the South Texas Tradition of Fiesta. For 10 days, city-wide revelry embodies San Antonio. Much like Texas wildflowers, events spring up all over town celebrating years of history and culture. This year the Alamo city is celebrating its 126th Fiesta which calls for lavish fashion that rivals the floral wreaths adorning entry-ways everywhere.
To share in the festivities I have styled a few outfits as a guide to looks I would wear to any Tejano event.
Flirty in Floral
My first look was created by finding a staple blouse, something that embodied the Fiesta spirit (in my opinion) and then pairing it with my favorite pair of jeans for all-day comfort. I found this flirty piece at Hemline in the Quarry for $88. The local boutique celebrated their first anniversary this past Saturday and provide great statement pieces to shop. Once you have your outfit done, throw on some printed heels and you’re all set for anything from Fiesta to siesta. I styled my look with tassel wedges for additional pizzazz.
Puebla Peasant Dress
If you are looking for a more traditional look, bold colors and floral embroidery are a safe start. Since yellow is not usually a color I parade, I decided to give it a try for Fiesta. The loose fitting style is perfect for Oyster Bake and NIOSA (Night in Old San Antonio) where food is as abundant as appetites. This style of dress is wonderful because not only is it Fiesta approved, but they can be dressed up or dressed down depending on your personal preference. Since I take advantage of any opportunity to boost my height, I paired the look with some neutral wedges and a Huipil Market clutch for major Spring vibes.
The final look I crafted is ideal when have your heart set on wearing a specific piece but aren’t sure how to tie it in with the Fiesta theme. Here, I purchased this Chambray off-shoulder dress and accessorized it with a floral stitched belt. If you haven’t found quite the outfit you’d like for the celebrations, accessories can be your best friend. I added these Elaine Turner earrings to complete my look.
Hope these ideas help you invite a little more Fiesta into your wardrobe!
If you’ve ever visited the Hill Country of Texas you were undoubtedly charmed by its scenic wineries, quaint architecture and delightful restaurants. While there are many towns to wine-and-dine you, Boerne is by far a personal favorite of mine. It exudes Lone Star pride while welcoming visitors far and wide.
In the heart of this small town is The Dienger Trading Co.; a Boerne legacy reminiscent of old general stores. Not only is it a fabulous restaurant and bookstore, but a unique boutique carrying tons of local treats. It is essentially your one stop shop for all things chic and comfort. I was lucky enough to partner with The Dienger to shoot a few favorite pieces from their shop. Not only did I love the quality of the fabrics used, but the unique patterns and accessories. Each outfit offered a twist to current Spring trends: a striped shift dress, banded long-sleeves, and a cut-out everyday tee. These vibrant Spring looks are available at the store now and are some great options if you are looking for a special piece for Fiesta! And even if you are not in the shopping mood, stop by their bakery and try a quiche or coffee!
In an era of evolving everything, we often must ponder whether we can stop time for a few seconds to savor the present before it too morphs into the past in front of our eyes. With Iphones at our disposal, I think we tend to snap images throughout our day hoping to reflect on the simple joys we have experienced like visiting the farmer’s market on Saturdays, or walking along the Riverwalk with a visiting friend.
But what we fail to capture in the hustle of our day-to-day activities, is the art of the image. The selfie with perfect lighting finally captured after dozens of failed attempts, scene changes, and make-up touch-ups may seem like a rewarding experience in and of itself, not to mention the warm muscle burn from the workout that comes with extending one’s arms a full length. But what if there was an option that allowed us to capture all that we want our image to convey of the essence of us in a manner that involved more creativity and enjoyment and less pain and one-man attempts at serving as our own photographer and model simultaneously? What if, just what if, there was an option that allowed us to project the inner essence of our being in an image that reflects our daydreams- the blushing princess, daring warrior, seductive femme fatal and mysterious mermaid in every woman.
Obsidian + Blush is an Austin based creative team that does just that. They “believe that everyone should have elegant portraits of themselves”, because no one wants their grandchildren to remember them by a 60-year-old selfie. I had the joy of working with this dream team as their model on a gorgeous Victorian Floral set. The set seeks to capture the image of a woman who is daring yet gentle by means of intricate corsets and floral backdrops. The images turned out more beautiful than I could have hoped for! I felt like a garden princess hidden away in time.
The team was made up of some of the most talented women I have had the pleasure of knowing. It was my first time wearing a corset and I can honestly say I loved it! Each one was carefully created by Louise Black (yes the LOUISE BLACK from Project Runway), who is truly a one-of-a-kind designer. Each corset was hand-made and composed of delicate details that made them each uniquely stunning. Wearing them was an unusual feeling but not the back-breaking pain I had always imagined. Instead they forced me to sit a bit straighter and gave an air of elegance. If you ever have the chance to wear a piece from Louise, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed! While wearing a corset was a wonderful experience it is not a requirement to work with Obsidian + Blush in creating a masterpiece. If you are interested in joining the revival of portraiture feel free to check out Obsidian + Blush!
So while the rest of the world takes #cellfies let’s keep Austin weird with classic portraits!
Lots of love,
Published in Scorpio Jin Magazine
Model: Christine Lozano
Production: Obsidian + Blush
Photography: Nico Nordström Photography
Set Design/Construction: Nico Nordström
Designer/Earrings: Louise Black
Hair/Styling: Michi Lafary
Makeup: Pepper Pastor
Assistance: Natasha Müller Heggestad + Brandon Gonzales