Mobile Madness

By: Katie Austin

Like so many people, I own a smartphone and find that I am becoming more attached with each passing day.  I love being able to read emails, interact with Facebook, catch up on my favorite blogs (Every Woman Blog is at the top of my list!) and browse the Internet for information at the time I need it.  But, as I have discovered, instant access to this technology comes at a cost that is climbing upward with no end in sight.

Excuse this brief interruption while I pull out and step onto my soapbox…. Feel free to take a bathroom break, grab something to drink or eat, or stretch if you want to take a turn on the soapbox 🙂

Is it common practice now for the mobile giants to have incredible phone offers available and then once they have you locked into a contract, increase their fees and/or make plan changes with little to no communication?!  Have they forgotten who it is that has helped them to achieve their success?? I will share with you our recent upgrade fiasco which you may be able to relate to.  For some, it will give you the information you need to ask questions of your own mobile provider to prevent the same happening to you.

Recently, my husband was eligible to upgrade his phone and what better time as we were going on vacation. He went online, placed an order for his new smartphone (aka toy), purchased the needed accessories, and then eagerly awaited the UPS truck to stop by our house.  He was like a kid on Christmas as he checked the front porch daily hoping Big Brown had stopped by!  Haha!  The accessories arrived a few days later with the phone to arrive soon after that.  Then it happened – a phone call telling him that due to a change with the cellular company policy, he would have to upgrade his plan to something new or pay retail for his new smartphone.

You see, we were told a few months earlier by the same company that as long as we upgraded to new/kept our existing smartphones, that we would be grandfathered into the unlimited data plan.  Obviously, the company quickly realized that this would not be good for their bottom line!  So, they changed their policy that you could keep the unlimited data plan, but that we would have to pay full retail for the phone.  I needed a bag to breathe into when I heard the retail price – which is approximately $799!!  Plus, we found out that the policy change occurred the day before the was upgrade eligible.  We did not receive any form of communication from our mobile provider explaining these changes and spent hours on the phone trying to understand our options.  In the end, he kept the old phone and now has accessories for a phone he didn’t receive.  It’s like getting the keys to a new car, but you have to wait for the car to be delivered and you don’t know when it will get there 😦

When did good customer service and keeping customers happy become a thing of the past?  We have been with the same company since phones became smart.  For the first time in several years, we are thinking about switching. If we do switch, I think I will write them a letter explaining why we left and ask “Can you hear me now?” 🙂

Have you had a similar experience?  What do you like/dislike about your mobile provider?  Feel free to share and if we get enough posts, we can send them a link to show them what their customers are thinking.

Stylish Swimsuit Alternatives Under $50.00

By: Staci Rutherford

My last post highlighted tips for buying swimsuits according to various body types.  I hope that it was helpful in providing a less stressful approach to shopping for a swimsuit. Let’s face it; some of us are a little reluctant (or dare I say self conscious) when it comes to showing our body, so this time around, I decided to feature stylish alternatives to swimsuits.

On vacation, I prefer to wear tunics, caftans, maxi dresses and rompers when I’m not in the pool or sunbathing on the beach.  They are perfect for a leisure day of lounging, shopping and/or sightseeing, and can easily go from day to evening.  Best of all, if you decide to hit the beach, a tunic, romper or maxi dress can also double as a cute swimsuit cover up!

I am always looking for a good deal, so I decided to focus on options that are priced under $50.00.  Bright colors, bold prints and lightweight fabrics were also a must!  Here’s what I found:

GB Printed Romper, original price: $54.00, now $32.40 at Dillards.com

Arizona Dolman-Sleeve Tunic Coverup, $18.00 at JC Penney

Old Navy Tie-Waist Tube Maxi Dress in orange print, original price: $29.94, now $27.50

LOFT Shadow Stripe Caftan in turquoise waters, $49.50

Sol & Mer Print Tunic Cover Up in amalfi blue, price: $48.00

Five Summer Dresses Under $100

By: Staci Rutherford

I currently have one maxi dress that I wear to death!  I challenged myself to style it differently each time I wear it so no one else recognizes that it’s the same dress.  It has a very distinct print so it’s relatively easy to remember.  I wore it once with a navy and white pin striped button down shirt, another time with an olive green short sleeve hooded top over it, and most recently, with a gray v-neck sweater.  The v-neck sweater received the most attention, because it accentuated the jeweled neckline on the dress.

It soon occurred to me that I never wear dresses, and for the life of me, I could not figure out why.  Summer after summer, I have been missing out on all of the pretty dresses because of reasons that add up to my own silly insecurities.  This time around, I am determined to wear more dresses because they are easy to shop for and extremely versatile.  If you want to update your summer wardrobe with a few new dresses, check out my top five favorites, all priced under $100!

V-back Dress, Price: $89.90 at Zara

T Tahari Samara Dress, Price: $88.00 at Bloomingdale’s

Evan Picone Sleeveless Paisley Printed Dress, Price: $99.00 at Macy’s

FELICITY & COCO Stripe Jersey Tank Dress, Price: $68.00 at Nordstrom

Donna Morgan Flame Print Blouson Dress, $64.99 (original price: $94.00)

The key to making a dress versatile is to experiment with how you wear it.  For a daytime look that is appropriate for work, throw on a cardigan or cotton blazer to cover up bare shoulders and arms.  For evening, add a bold statement necklace or metallic accessories.  Don’t be afraid to switch from your everyday tote to a clutch or from a flat sandal to a platform pump so your dress has a totally different personality.

Women In Philanthropy’s 9th Annual Power of the Purse

By: Staci Rutherford

Last year I was invited to join the planning committee of “Power of the Purse,” a fun event with fabulous bags, fantastic women and fundraising for a wonderful cause.  “Power of the Purse” is in its 9th year that includes a silent and live auction of purses to benefit local women and children charities.  It is the signature fundraiser of Women In Philanthropy, a diverse group of professional women dedicated to investing in helping disadvantaged women and children in the Midlands.

I was excited to help with “Power of the Purse,” and made it my mission to find unique, handmade, and designer bags for the auctions.  Since I spend a majority of my time researching and networking with handbag designers and companies, I decided to contact them, along with anyone else I could think of, to donate a bag.  The experience was far more rewarding than I anticipated.  Everyone who attended enjoyed an evening of guilt free shopping, a martini luge and mingling with other dynamic women.  In the end, every handbag sold!  Check out a few pictures from last year’s “Power of the Purse” below:

Women In Philanthropy’s goal is to make this year’s “Power of the Purse” bigger and better than the last. Wink Magazine is the official digital media sponsor, and has offered me the opportunity to feature the “best of the best” bags in a future issue.  Proceeds from “Power of the Purse” are invested in Women in Philanthropy’s grants that benefit women and children in the Midlands.  In addition to community philanthropy, Women in Philanthropy stimulates positive change in community leadership by increasing women’s involvement in the community, increasing women’s community networks and increasing the personal development of all women involved.

“Power of the Purse” is expected to sell out, so visit www.womeninphilantropy.com to register in advance.  If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or donating to the gift bags (there will be 250 women attending), there are opportunities to do both!  Grab your girlfriends and come out to shop while supporting a fantastic cause!

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone – Part 2

By: Staci Rutherford

“Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.” – Orison Swett Marden

I am beginning part two with a meaningful quote that sums up how I have been feeling since before stepping out of my comfort zone.  I spent the month of February on an emotional roller coaster.  At times, I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, however, my excitement and happiness outweighed those feelings and I came out on top.

The HandbagReport.com showroom officially opened its doors to the public on Thursday, March 1, 2012, which was also First Thursday at Tapp’s Art Center.  First Thursday is a big event that takes place every month at Tapp’s, where the work of different artists, photographers, and sculptors are featured.  It’s a fun, laid back atmosphere that is perfect for networking and connecting with kindred spirits.  I met some fantastic people and received positive feedback on the space that I worked so hard to make just right.

As I explained throughout the evening, the HandbagReport.com showroom is extension of the blog.  It’s a place to personally connect with my readers and customers, and to bring the blog from virtuality to reality.  I chose accessories from a local designer to feature in the showroom, Nana by Sally.  The collection is one-of-a-kind handmade clutches and handbags made from vintage, vintage-inspired and designer fabrics.  I also interviewed the designer of Nana by Sally, Sally Peek, which is currently posted on the blog.

The next few weeks will be spent continuing to decorate the space, and preparing for the official grand opening.  I look forward to sharing the showroom with my friends, family, and all of the women in town who love handbags.  I believe with all of my heart that I am doing what I am meant to do, which is an exciting and scary adventure!

Handbag Tips: How to Clean and Store Your Handbags

By:  Staci Rutherford

To Help Keep Your Handbags Clean, I’m Giving Away a Mia Cotone Dust Cover!

It should come as no surprise that I am writing another article about handbags.  While it’s fun to share my favorite picks of the season, this post is about cleaning and storing your bags.  It amazes me how many women spend hundreds of dollars on their handbags and don’t put forth any effort in taking care of them. Regardless of the amount of money spent on a bag, it’s good to know how to care for your bag properly to ensure that it has a long life and to keep them looking like new.

Tips on Cleaning Your Handbag

1.  Empty all the pockets of your handbag, and shake gently to remove dust, gum/candy wrappers, receipts and loose change.
2. Clean interior of bag by gently putting it inside out and using a lint roller.  If you can’t pull out the lining of your handbag, use the fabric brush attachment on your vacuum.
3.  Use alcohol free baby wipes to clean leather or leather-like bags.
4.  Keep your makeup in a separate cosmetic bag to prevent unexpected stains.

Tips on Storing Handbags

1.  Fill handbags loosely with tissue paper to help keep the original shape.
2. Keep your handbag in a dust cover.  If your bag didn’t come with a drawstring pouch, then consider purchasing a few that coordinate with your prized possessions or the bags you wear most often.
3. Most of us don’t have customized closets with a designated space for our bags. As an alternative, store them in baskets or bins made of plastic-coated wire. Stand bags upright or lay them down with a little space in between.  Your bags need to breathe, so avoid plastic bends with a tight-fitting lid.

If you are looking for a stylish storage solution for your handbags, I highly recommend Mia Cotone handbag dust covers.  They are thoughtfully designed to keep your handbags clean and organized.  By storing bags individually, it keeps leather soft and supple and prevents drying and fading.  There are 28 colors to choose from and they are available in several styles and sizes.  I hope my tips will save your bags from being thrown on the floor in your closet.

To show my appreciation to all of the readers of the Every Woman Blog, I am giving away one Mia Cotone zebra print Mia Clutch dust cover!  All you have to do is “like” Mia Cotone on Facebook and comment on this post with the following “I want a Mia Cotone dust cover!”  One lucky winner will be randomly selected on February 20th.

Style Tips for a Better You in 2012

By: Staci Rutherford

As I reflect on the past year and begin preparing for 2012, naturally, I want to improve myself – both inside and out.  I am ending 2011 with a short list of resolutions that I hope will be relatively easy to achieve – save more, spend less, exercise more, procrastinate less, eat healthier, etc.  Sound familiar?  It’s also the perfect time for a makeover, so I came up with a few style tips to share.

1.  Find Your Signature Look
To find your signature look, you must first identify your personal style.  Refer to your style icons (mine are Rachel Zoe, Nicole Richie and Zoe Saldana), images from fashion magazines, and blogs that inspire you (my daily reads include What’s Haute, Wendy’s Lookbook, Karla’s Closet and The Glamourai).  Start a wish list of clothing and accessories that catch your eye when browsing the Internet or shopping around town.  There is also a popular website called Pinterest, which lets you organize and share images you find on the web.  You can browse “pinboards” created by other people to get inspiration from others who share your style and interests.

Nicole Richie

Zoe Saldana

 2. Reorganize Your Closet
I previously shared tips on cleaning out your closet.  Get rid everything in your closet that doesn’t fit your style.  Anything worn only every once in a while should also be cut.  The goal is to build a wardrobe of flattering pieces that reflects your style.  Invest in non-slip skinny hangers in your favorite color.  I bought a few sets of hangers in my favorite shade of pink and it has totally changed how my closet looks.  Check out the picture below.  My clothes look much neater and it actually saves space.  I also coordinated all of my clothes by color, which makes it easier to see what I have and to determine what’s missing.

3. Make Sure Your Clothes Fit
One of the most important elements to having fabulous style is fit and proportion.  Always try to play up your best features whether you have sexy cleavage, great legs, or sculpted arms, use clothes to highlight what you love most about yourself.  Be sure to try clothes on (sometimes a size larger or a size smaller) before buying them because you can never tell how great something looks on a hanger.  Keep in mind that you can have clothes tailored to fit your body type.  It’s totally worth the extra money.

4. Incorporate Color
Everyone can wear color – you just have to find the right hues that complement your skin tone.  Have fun trying on new styles and silhouettes.  My signature look is mixing vibrant colors and prints, and layering accessories.  Once you color coordinate your closet, creating new outfits will be easy and fun.

5. Change Your Hairstyle
If you have been wearing the same style for more than three years, it’s time to change it up!  The right haircut and style can drastically improve your appearance.  It will instantly boost your self confidence.  If your hair stylist is partially to blame for your style rut, don’t be afraid to try someone new.  I recently switched stylist and am pleasantly surprised at how many people have complimented me in the last few weeks.

Ladies, 2012 is almost here, and it’s time we look and feel our absolute best!