Why we Feel the Need to Share Our Story

Photos by Giselle Navarro

Photos by Giselle Navarro

Late last year, I published my first book — a dating book filled with all sorts of personal war stories that you should probably only share with your best friend. But I shared it with whoever is willing to listen. Am I crazy?

This tome was an idea that had been brewing in my head for many years. And although the topic really had nothing to do with the current work I was doing, I felt deeply that the story and the message needed to be told. I could not rest until that baby came out. So I buckled down for three months and wrote. When it came time to release it on Amazon, I thought, “Holy crap.”

The book is sprinkled with my shortcomings, bad habits, poor decisions, and embarrassing moments. (I once found myself cleaning a shirt stained with red wine while telling my date that it looked like ejaculation. Those kind of embarrassing moments.) Occasionally, I would worry what my husband, friends, or parents would think. Yet, I still wanted to write it. Why?

online writing class

The truth is: I really felt people could benefit from hearing my stories. I wanted other women to know, “Hey, me too. You’re not alone.” But, also, a part of me wanted to give meaning to my past pain. Dating was rough for me. I had fun, but I was a total hot mess, and what I thought about myself at the time wasn’t always the best. I learned. I survived. And I found love — love for myself, mainly (and, of course, my awesome husband).

One of our basic desires as humans is to relate. We want to reach out and feel understood — like we belong. We want give — especially after going through some suffering. We want to share and connect. Even if it’s in the introverted process of writing, the desire to reach out and touch someone is there. The process of sharing is how we create art.

writing class miami nikki novo

That desire is real. And I believe it needs to be honored in whatever form you feel fit. No struggle we experience is in vain. That time in your life was for a reason, and you can give it tribute by creating something with it. Share your story and your message. Reach out and help someone — and at the same time, heal yourself. Give meaning to your hardships.

We can all use the comfort your message will provide. And at the end of the day, we all want to be able to say, “Oh hey, you too? That makes me feel better.”

Want to share your message through writing? Drop your information below, and I'll make sure to keep you posted on my next writing course. 

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Clarity for the Career Confused

Photo by giselle navarro

Photo by giselle navarro

My husband calls me distracted. I like to refer to myself as multi-passionate.

Ok, so I’m a romantic. When I love…I love. I yearn for my passions. My enthusiasm for life is a blessing, but many times it feels like a curse. In the past, my tendency to constantly shift focus has left me exhausted and often times embarrassed.

In this digital era, where picking up a new skill and engrossing ourselves in a topic is as accessible and tempting as the dessert table at every shower I’ve attended in the last few years, how to do we contain ourselves? And more importantly, how do we know which path is the right one?

I’m a dabbler. I’m an igniter. I’m an experimenter. I think we all can be at times. But when we find ourselves surrounded by a bunch of mismatched, half-full mugs, we can begin to feel like a hoarder. At this stage, it’s easy to feel guilty, indulgent, and pretty confused.

My friend, listen, there is always a time for experimenting when you’re searching. I was a notorious job hopper until I found writing. My friends and family thought I was crazy, but really, I was searching.

My blog and career have taken twists and turns. I’ve worn several hats. But what I’ve been doing is exploring my passions and seeing what fits and feels right. We’re all allowed that time — no matter how long it takes.

And when you’re ready… when you’ve reach the point where you can determine the keepers from the one-night-stands, you’ll gather up all those interests and passions to create something really special. Maybe it’s a blog? Maybe it’s a business? Maybe it’s a message?

Don’t be afraid to experiment. And don’t be afraid to commit when the time is right. Listen for that timing. It will show itself to you.

And certainly don’t be afraid to combine what you love (twerking and poetry, anyone?) to make a creative baby. When you mix races, the product is always a beautiful, unique baby. Some people even call them “exotic.”

Do the same with your passions. Find them (explore). Mix them (commit). Make something out of them that only you can create. And that’s how you’ll find your unique blog/product/business — by simply allowing yourself the freedom to be you.

How to Properly Credit Photos on Your Blog So You Don’t Get Caught Stealing

I was an editor at MSN for a bit. (By the way… one of the nicest companies to work with). When it came to deciding what photos we would run with our stories, there was one very important requirement: Don’t steal.

That really beautiful photo on Pinterest inspires you, right? So now you want to plop it on your blog, because, after all, it tells the visual story perfectly. Not so fast, my friend. Who owns that photo?

In a world where we’re digitally sharing all the time, it’s easy to forget that those beautiful images actually belong to someone. And as an artist yourself, you always want to respect other people’s creations. As easy at it feels, you can’t just grab someone else’s photo and throw it on your blog or Instagram feed without asking for permission, at least. If you did… that would be stealing.

And listen, I know many of you don’t know this. So don’t worry! That’s what Momma Nikki is here for. While you might be a small operation today, you never know how big you’ll grow. And the day you get big, the lawsuits will come knocking on your door for something you may have posted years ago. No bueno.

No one’s perfect. God knows I’ve done it by accident or laziness, but if we can avoid lawsuit that would be great. Here’s how.

Photo by Nikki Novo

Photo by Nikki Novo

1.    Take an Original Photo When Possible

Not only are original photos a sure way of not getting in trouble with the law, but they’re also way more awesome. Challenge yourself and show us what you got!

I gave credit to the photographer, Natalie Atick and the creative director, Giselle Navarro.

I gave credit to the photographer, Natalie Atick and the creative director, Giselle Navarro.

2.   Credit

Even if it’s just your friend taking the photo for you, throw them some credit. If it’s your mother taking the photo and she’s not really looking for the cred, obviously don’t worry. This is for people who are fellow creatives and who would value the shout out. If you paid a photographer to take the photo, the credit is always appreciated, but not necessary because usually when you commission someone, you own the rights to the photo. You would credit the photo as follows, “Photo by Nikki Novo.”

Photo via ToryBurch.com

Photo via ToryBurch.com

3.    Source Images Properly

When you’re featuring a brand and giving it free press, it’s usually safe to borrow one of its photos, but always give credit. For example, if you’re writing a fashion piece on Tory Burch’s new collection, you can borrow a photo from the brand’s site and drop it into your post. Underneath you would caption the photo as follows, “Photo via ToryBurch.com.” If you happen to have a relationship with the brand and they supplied you an image, you’d caption the photo “Photo courtesy of Tory Burch.”

Check out how I credited photos when I interviewed Greta Eagan.

Check out how I credited photos when I interviewed Greta Eagan.

4.    Ask

When I feature someone, I like to reach out and let them know I’m doing so. At the same time, I’ll ask them for permission to use their photos. I do this mainly for smaller operations. If I feature Into The Gloss, I’m probably not going to reach out because they’re a large operation and chances are they won’t get back to me. I’ll credit them properly and Tweet at them once the story runs.

5.    Proper Lingo

As a recap, use:

“By Nikki Novo,” if the photographer has granted you permission to use her photo.

“Courtesy of Nikki Novo,” if the brand supplies you with the photo.

“Via NikkiNovo.com,” if you’re featuring the brand and want to give them proper credit.

Additional Q’s? Ask away in the comments below. 

When Life Feels Too Small

Nikki Novo Blog

I was engaged to my high school sweetheart at a really young age. Let’s put it this way: at my engagement party, legally, I wasn’t allowed to drink. I was on that path — the path that people who I wanted to impress told me I should be on. If a good, loyal boy loves you, you should love him back, get married, and blah, blah, blah.

Two months before my scheduled blowout wedding, I escaped for a weekend getaway to New York City to visit a friend who had just started grad school at NYU. God, I so wanted to be her. Most soon-to-be brides take advantage of every weekend counting down to the big day by scheduling dress fittings, cake tastings, and Pinterest sessions. But not me, I wanted to pretend shit wasn’t happening.

Ok, so I was miserable at this point in my life. I had always dreamt of big things. I really felt like I was made for more. Yet my life was so small. Tiny, disappointing, and oh-so boring.

nikki_novo_blog

And then I arrived at the freakin’ Big Apple. I grew up in New Jersey and regularly visited NYC, so it wasn’t like I was star struck. Somehow amidst all the noise in such a busy city, I heard the damn call — right there in Rockefeller Center. “You’re made for more.”

Honestly, we’re all made for big lives. If we dream it, it can be real. But what happens is we get caught up in our small selves. We get stuck in this narcissistic world of  “why me,” “how come she has that and I don’t,” “my life sucks.” Yes, life will suck if have such a narrow point of view.

In New York, I was able to open my eyes and see a world beyond my personal drama of getting married, pleasing my parents, and fulfilling the status quo. Life was boring because I was choosing to make it so. Life was small because I had decided that was my sentence. I was so caught up in my own bullshit. Every little boring choice I had made over the last few years had made one big boring life. Obviously!

nikki novo tea

I came back home a day late (after “accidently” missing my flight) from NYC, and decided to live big. Called off the wedding, moved to L.A., and started to work in film. Bam, Bam, Bam. There were tons of hurdles, but they felt so small compared to this big life I was creating. No money? F it. No job? F it. I was going big, and when you go big you don’t sweat the small stuff.

I was finally able to see beyond my own drama and see the endless possibilities. I mean, come on my friends, we are literally a little spec on this Earth that sits in a galaxy that is just one of many. Seriously, our drama ain’t no thang.

Let’s get out of these little balls so many of us live in. Sit up, stand up, pull back your shoulders, and start living big. Go beyond your personal challenges. I know they can seem so significant. God knows when my one-year-old is screaming in the car for 40 minutes straight, my life feels like it’s falling apart. But it’s not.

Live life beyond your surroundings. Go beyond what you see and have seen. There is a better way. You know that. Go get ‘em, tiger

Meet Greta Eagan: Blogger Turned Founder of the Startup that’s Changing the Way We Shop Designer Fashion

Photo via gretaeagan.com; Photo by Lindsay Linton

Photo via gretaeagan.com; Photo by Lindsay Linton

As a blogger, Greta Eagan has turned down the kind of opportunities most digital influencers would sell an ovary over. And many times, not because she wanted to, but because she had to.

While a student at the London College of Fashion, Greta was like all her peers: eager to learn, excited to work for the brands she respected growing up, and ready for a challenge. But then she took a little ‘ole class on the history of fashion. It was there she learned that at the beginning, people would dress in clothing passed down from generations prior, which had been mended and repaired many times over. “It was not this opulent, forever-turning thing like we see today,” says Greta.

Before she knew it, she found herself deeply intimate with the wasteful process so much of the fashion industry partakes in today. There was no turning back for Greta. She launched her blog Fashion Me Green, where she creatively styles sustainable pieces that are just as good looking as they are good for the planet, proving that there is a better way. She also serves as an eco ambassador for so many brands with eco initiatives.

She’s had to say no, but so many doors have said yes. Today, the digital pioneer has one book under her belt, “Wear No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe,” and she just launched StyleSociety.com, an online marketplace for swapping designer clothes with friends (new and old).

While in Miami for Art Basel, Greta was kind enough to share her journey with me. And now, I want to share it with you. There are some good tips in there. Look out!

Is this work something you always wanted to do?

No. In a weird way, I found my way. I truth is I think I just didn’t know it was what I wanted. The blog came first, because it was an outlet for me to share eco fashion brands while I was in school. I did have the desire to write a book earlier. And actually when I first started dating my boyfriend, I was in my second year of grad school at the time, and he asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated. I remember being a little vague and unsure. At this point, I had even spent a year studying Mandarin because I though I was going to work in Hong Kong. But I was still unsure. I did know it had something to do with sustainability and fashion.  During our conversation, I told him I had always wanted to write a book, and he said, “Have you ever thought of starting a blog?” And I said, “Well, I’m kind of a private person.” Famous last words, right? He told me I should consider blogging because it would be a great way to develop my voice as a writer and build an audience. I started a blog a week later. And my whole ethos was that I would only feature brands that were as stylish as they were eco. The style had to be the leading part and then there was this ethical story behind.

What’s your vision behind your blog?

Fashion Me Green is how I act as an eco ambassador for brands. I’m able to style their pieces in a really authentic way that works for me and shows other women how to be stylish and sustainable.

I went through years of feeling sad about having to say no to opportunities and watching my friends grow their blogs in a way that I couldn’t. That was frustrating.

But now I realize I do have something that sets me apart within the fashion blogging market, which is really saturated right now. You hear and read about this all the time. At the conferences and in articles, experts always say you need to have a niche. And mine was inherently born into what I was doing, because it was part of the reason I even did it.

At this point, I’m very grateful. You always know the truth will win. I was staying true to my truth. Now, all kinds of brands have eco initiatives, and I’m able to work with them. Plus, they know that I’m authentically aligned with that mission.

Photo via gretaeagan.com; Photo by Lindsay Linton

Photo via gretaeagan.com; Photo by Lindsay Linton

What did your fashion friends think about this move?

All my friends who I was going to school with were all in mainstream fashion and working for those designer luxury brands. We would go out to turn and they would look at I was wearing and ask, “Is that eco fashion?” I would say, “Yes!” Their jaws would drop and they would reply, “But it’s so cute.”

I used to think eco fashion was the stuff you saw in yoga stores that were made out of materials Rastafarians would wear, but that’s not a good representation of what the movement is really about, right?

Eco fashion doesn’t have to frumpy or beige. Eco fashion had such a bad rep in the past because the pieces were being designed by people who cared about the environment but who were not designers. So it fell short. Eventually, people like me, who where in school learning about the industry, decided that they didn’t accept the supply chain and the manufacturing. So these people started doing better and began to find ways to make an eco initiative as part of their production.

You recently wrote a book. Can you tell us about it how it all happened for you?

Yes, “Wear No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe.” Originally it was going to be a textbook, but two months into working on this book as a textbook, I just felt like I didn’t want it to be a book that only the people who were looking for it, would find it. Like students doing the research. I really wanted it to be for the masses. So I declined the original offer, and I started interviewing with different literary agents in New York. I found a really goon one, but not on the first try. She got it, and she said, “This is an important book and it needs to happen.” She wasn’t trying to change it. Other agents were. I worked with her for a year on the book proposal because I was such an academic writer, and there were times that I wondered if I was ever going to get it good enough. But she was diligent. She knew what it needed to look like. And she sold it in the first round. The rest is history. And now there’s a book out there! (Editor’s note: It came out March 2014.)

Photo via gretaeagan.com.

Photo via gretaeagan.com.

What is the book about?

Well, when I first started to research fashion, I hit a point where I knew too much and I just felt like I couldn’t support this. And I had to find a way to navigate the space. Because at first I didn’t buy anything and my style really suffered. It was awful. I then started to buy secondhand, which is a nice little entry into being for sustainable by buying stuff that is already in existence. But even that is still limiting, and I thought, “There has to be a better way.” Which is when I developed the Wear No Evil methodology, which is more flexible. It gives you 16 different ways to look at a piece of fashion that falls under the sustainable or eco umbrella, and then you as an individual get to decide which of those 16 things are most important to you. Is it vegan? Is it made locally? Instead of trying to fit in all these requirements in one piece, which doesn’t exist yet, it’s a flexible model where you can plug in your own requirements.

And now you’re working on a startup. Do tell.

I focused on the book for the last two years. In October I did a panel and a book signing at SXSW in Austin, I was like, “I think this is my last stop. I think I’m done doing the book tour.” The book is out there, and I’m always excited to promote it and talk about it, but I was ready for what’s next.

I had this idea about two years ago that was inspired by a trip to London. I went for a friend’s wedding and I didn’t have the right clothes. I was living in New York. London and New York are stylistically pretty different. I found out that I was very underdressed. I was living in Soho at the time, and I was not dressing up. When I got to London I realized I was really underdressed and really cold. It was a lot colder than I remembered. So I had to go buy a few pieces, and I had to invest in those pieces. As I was riding the train, I thought, What am I going to do with these posh clothes that only sorta work in London?” And then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to buy them but I had access to them for when I was in this situation?” That’s when I had the idea for Style Society, which was an expansion on what we now have as Rent the Runway, where you can rent clothes for occasions rather than invest in pieces. But I wanted to expand on that even further and not just do dresses.

As a fashion blogger all those resale sites where people can shop my closet, and I gladly went through my closet, pulled a bunch of pieces and they sold on about three different sites. A fourth company came my way and asked if I would sell on their site, but I looked at my closet and I realized I didn’t have anything left. I had reach a point where I sold everything I could sell, and some of it I regretted. I sold some things I wish I hadn’t. There was this gray area in my closet between things I was never going to sell and the consignment stuff. There was this middle area with pieces that were investments that I don’t wear all the time, but that I didn’t want to sell either.

The thought of lending it out, making money, and knowing that it’s still coming back to me felt really good. And I thought if I felt this way, there had to be many other women who felt the same way. So we launched StyleSociety.com. It’s like Air B&B for your wardrobe. And it’s a closed community, meaning everyone in community has been invited.

Do you want an invite to rent designer clothes? You can apply at StyleSociety.com. I have my eye on Greta’s Floral Printed Silk Gown and my pal Erin Newberg’s Stella McCartney Faux Fur Falabella oversized clutch.