Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fressure Foods Makes me say Holy Guacamole!

Since having developed an affinity for all things natural from skin care to food, I've been on the lookout for healthier snacks. Put me in the grocery store, and I'm as happy as a kid in a candy store. I just want to buy everything! Tell me who doesn't love grocery shopping? A recent sojourn to the NTUC Fairprice Finest near my place resulted in me finding this amazing spicy guacamole dip by Fressure Foods.

If you've had the pleasure of dining with me, you'll know I love my food spicy. So it should come as no surprise I picked Spicy Guacamole. There are other flavors you can pick depending on your taste, from good ol' plain guacamole, to guacamole with olives, or even a mix of hummus and guacamole. 

Fressure's Spicy Guacamole has a smooth, creamy, yet still chunky and fibrous texture with just the right crunch from the red onions. There is a tinge of spiciness, nothing too much that distracts you from the natural avocado flavor. This served as a dip for tortilla chips, my favorite Carr's Table Water Biscuits, and Meiji Plain Crackers. I believe it would taste just as good in a smoked salmon sandwich, the possibilities are endless. I'm almost salivating at the thought of it! This is everything I'm looking for in a good guacamole dip, and honestly good enough to eat on its own. Just one thing to remember, consume an opened packet within six hours to prevent browning. I learnt this the hard way. 

My only grouse? I wish there was more in one pack...

Check out the behind-the-scenes clip below to watch the manufacturing and packaging process these Kiwi avocados go through to retain their delicate taste and maximum shelf life without any icky preservatives. 

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Five Tips to Give Your Shoes More Mileage

I know of people who love a pair of shoes so much they'll buy two or three versions of the same pair for future use. While I can't argue with that logic, sometimes shoes are rare or expensive enough that shelling out money for more than one pair can be pretty crazy (I'm assuming you weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth, like me!).

As I grow my shoe collection, I've learnt a couple of tips along the way to help keep my shoes beautiful for longer. Some of them might seem like common sense, but it's something we don't think about until you've got worn out soles or a broken heel. I'm going to share with you how you can mitigate structural damage to your footgear to extend their lifespan. I mean, why pay more than a thousand bucks on shoes when you're not going to treat them with care? 

1) S.O.S: Slap on soles

The first thing I like to do once I get a new pair of shoes is to take them to the cobbler and get some protective soles. Ok, I lied. The first thing I really do is to put them on and parade around the house like I'm in a marching band. 

All jokes aside, getting your cobbler to put on protective soles not only prevents wear and tear. It also helps you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground in wet weather. Check out the picture below for the different soles I've gotten so far. My cobbler uses Vibram soles. You'll have to excuse all the dirt, soles are meant to get dirty no? 

2) Stuff & Store 

My current place is pretty 'wet', so when a couple of my bags started showing signs of mould, I got pretty paranoid about all of my leather items. No matter how tempted you are to just dump your shoes on the shelf or leave them on the floor after a long day, don't. I replace the stuffing, wrap them in paper, put them in the mini dust bags (these usually accompany a pair of shoes), and finally back into their boxes. 

Stuffing your shoes keeps their shape better, trust me. You can also use cutoff pool noodles to stuff knee-high boots, they'll fit perfectly. Storing them in paper and dust bags just means you'll prevent accidents like scratches or scuffs on the leather. If your shoe has studs or metal hardware, I strongly recommend you do this!

3) Clean & Polish

Without trying to sound like your dentist reminding you to come back six months later... I really want to emphasize how important this tip is to keep your shoes shiny. Again--because Singapore is so damn humid--mould is your greatest nemesis. I suggest gently wiping your shoes down after a couple of wears with an alcohol-free wet wipe, you can find these at your local pharmacy. This will prevent mould spores from lodging themselves in miniscule cracks and growing. A layer of mould on your shoes is not a pretty look. 

Polish just helps keep them looking nice and shiny, while conditioning the leather. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "a true gentleman doesn't feel properly dressed unless his shoes are freshly shined every morning". Honestly, who has the time for that?! Polish every week if you wear them often, a month will do at a stretch. Alternatively, you could just take your shoes to the cobbler for a thorough cleaning every three months. 

4) Break em' in!

I'm guilty of liking a pair of shoes so much, I buy it even if it's half a size smaller and pinches my toes. 10 minutes in and multiple blisters later, I'm swearing like a pirate and considering taking off my shoes to walk barefoot. Save yourself a world of pain by breaking them in first. I like to slip on some thick socks, and walk around the house, occasionally blasting my feet with a hair dryer. Works wonders. On a virgin trip out, make sure your armed with your trusty weapon, FootGlide (though body moisturizer will do in a pinch). Apply before you put your shoes on, and reapply as needed throughout the day. 

5) Walk properly

Last but not least, please learn how to walk properly. A ballerina since young, I sometimes walk with my feet slightly turned out. This has resulted in plenty of scuffs on my shoes, especially the shiny, patent ones, near the heels. I have to make a constant effort to put my feet down in straight lines. Imagining you're strutting your stuff down the catwalk should help. Just don't trip...

Please also never walk in your shoes especially when the heel has worn down to a spike. You're ruining your shoes! I've done this to my favorite Calvin Klein ankle booties with much regret. Please don't follow in my footsteps (no pun intended!). 

I hope this post has been helpful. Happy to answer any questions you might have. Also, would anyone be interested in reading a post about how I take care of my luxury bags? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fashion for a Cause: Angela&Roi Handbags

Image c/o Angela&Roi

Awhile back, I was approached by Angela&Roi--an online handbag brand combining fashion and philanthropy by color--to write about them. Having a weakness for bags, and very impressed with their mission to give back to society (a portion of each handbag sale is donated to non-profit health organizations), I agreed. 

My decision also stems from something more personal, as a very close aunt of mine was recently diagnosed with Lung Cancer. Lung Cancer awareness is represented by the color white, so for example, every time someone purchases a white bag, five dollars is donated to the Lung Cancer Alliance. Take a look at the picture below is a quick overview of what cause each color represents. 

Image c/o Angela&Roi

Classically designed, Angela&Roi handbags are all made of high quality vegan leather, and manufactured in Korea. Each bag is adorned with a similarly colored Angela&Roi Signature Ribbon Logo, an upside-down ribbon symbolizing innovation, creativity, and style. Their pragmatic web-based sales approach allows for competitive pricing, saving on investments needed for a brick and mortar shop. Brilliant marketing scheme!

Angela, the co-founder and Chief Fashion Officer of Angela&Roi very kindly agreed to answer some of my questions:

How was Angela&Roi born?
Roi and I fell in love before we combined our philanthropic ideologies into a powerful fashion brand. When we attended a fashion show that supported AIDS with the red ribbon, we got inspired and applied the concept to the Angela&Roi handbag brand. We believed we could create a sustainable model where fashion consumerism meets philanthropy. When Roi was 10, his father was diagnosed with diabetes and faced a serious cerebral hemorrhage. It was then he recognized the most significant factor in an individual's life is health; so we decided to focus on health issues. We realized there are so many people and families in the world who struggle with health problems and don’t get enough support.
Seeing that with my own eyes, I couldn't agree more with you. Has it been difficult being business partners? Did being in love help?

Image c/o Angela&Roi
We believe in ourselves; we are always telling ourselves we can do it together no matter how hard it gets. We extend this mantra to our team as well; it’s so important to be able to work together as a team and be productive, effective, and efficient. Self-improvement is key in life! Roi and I are proud to have built a structure that can successfully help people and purely do good. We believe over time, other people will understand why we are applying this 'do good' mission to our brand and join our movement. We are ambitious and enthusiastic about our work because we love Angela&Roi. 
That's very inspirational... What would you say has been your biggest business challenge?
Both Roi and I had no expertise in the fashion industry, since I was still in school and Roi had just graduated from college. We have a big dream and are trying to start a movement, but something that we cannot control is how other people perceive our company. This is a concern for us because there are many companies with a 'do good' concept in the U.S. market, and not all of them built a brand purely meant to help others. We try to communicate our core values (concept, mission, and movement), and be as transparent as possible to build a trustworthy relationship with our customers.
I'm pretty sure your customers appreciate that! Where do you see Angela&Roi in five years? Will you be expanding and shipping to other countries outside of the US?
Angela&Roi is a brand set out to create a movement. What is a movement—does anybody really know? We want to not only fulfill our mission, but to also make it thrive and inspire change for others. Through our local charity partner, The Ellie Fund, we plan to build personal relationships with the patients that we support through Angela&Roi donations. We want fashion to thrive in the hands of philanthropy, not only with Angela&Roi, but for the entire industry can indulge positive change. One cause close to our hearts is Autism; we would love to build an Angela&Roi community to support such a great cause! Currently, some of our retail partners ship internationally. To expand the business, we must first create a strong foundation here in the US. Slowly we will shift our movement to a more global level.
Be honest, do you have a favorite out of all the designs produced so far?
It’s like asking which child you love more, can you really answer such a question! I love each of the Angela&Roi handbags equally. Each has its own aesthetic bringing timeless beauty to women with classic design, a modern touch, and trendy colors. With Angela&Roi, looking classy does not have to be expensive. 
Can you describe the type of woman Angela&Roi embodies?
I believe every piece of clothing you wear tells a story, and every Angela&Roi handbag has a voice that brings a different kind of value to fashion as well as hope to those in need. In creating our movement, we want people who believe in Angela&Roi, and have strong core values like we do to carry our handbags. Whoever personifies the power women possess. Whoever believes what we believe. Whoever is beautiful from the inside out. Whoever is a leader and inspiration not only to fashionistas, but also to women looking for hope. Whoever would be delighted to join our movement and help other women everywhere recognize the power fashion carries.
Last but not least... Do you have any advice for fledging business start-ups? 
Make sure to set your own strong philosophy before you go into the industry. There are a number of things that will make you doubt your decisions, business model and other important values. However, if you have a strong philosophy and rules, it will lead you to the right direction. 

I'm a huge supporter of businesses who don't just focus on the bottom-line, but are sincere in helping others such as Angela&Roi. It has been such a honor to hear their story and write about the brand. If you're looking to refresh your bag collection, I strongly encourage you to consider buying an Angela&Roi handbag. You'll be getting a new bag, and quite possibly, helping to save a life in the process. I think that's reason enough! You can purchase Angela&Roi handbags from their website or via BlueFly.

I've fallen in love with their Palette Cross-body bag in White. It reminds me of a much more minimalist version of a Cambridge Satchel, and I can think of so many ways to style it. I'd love to hear which Angela&Roi bag catches your fancy, let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This is not an advertorial, I am not receiving any compensation from Angela&Roi to write this post. I merely want to share a worthwhile story/cause with my readers.