Tu-esday OOTD: Japangeles

(L.A.) recently made a trip to Los Angeles for KCON 2017, and judging from all her stories and pictures she shared with me, it seemed like she had a ton of fun! Seeing her enjoy herself that much made me want to visit LA again. Hopefully for next year, I can go with her and meet all these cool people she talked about!

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On my own past trip to Los Angeles back in March, I really wanted to buy a jacket from Japangeles, a small business found in Little Tokyo. It was a windbreaker that was being sold at a small booth near the entrance. I told myself to wait until the last day to see if I really wanted it since it was $55. Not too expensive, but hey, I don’t want to regret purchasing anything. I’ve had my fair share of impulse purchases and later regretted them all.

On my last day in LA, I still wanted to buy it so I told myself to go back to Little Tokyo just to get it. I stayed at an AirbnB less than a block away so I didn’t have to travel too far. Unfortunately, the booth was closed by the time I went back, so I left LA empty-handed. I was pretty sad. I even checked their website but that was under construction. Luckily, L.A. was able to buy it for me when she was there! Bless friends that buy you things from across the country. Thanks, birb. ❤

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Here’s a picture of the windbreaker by Japangeles! I got this in the cameo design but there’s also a maroon one and black one! The orange font on the front and back of the jacket gives it a nice pop of color. I’ve been looking for a jacket like this for a very long time and I’m so glad I was finally able to get my hands on this. The design of the jacket gives off a street vibe, which fits my style completely. When I think of street styled clothing, I think of big, loose fitting clothes that make you feel and look cool! Every time I wear this jacket, I feel like a total bada** and I don’t know…I just feel like my cool levels went from a 2 to a solid 9. (The last few sentences just sounded super lame…I’m sorry. I don’t even know if I’ll include this.)

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The material of this jacket is very nice and definitely worth its price. The stitching around the fabric is very small, meaning that it’ll last a long time and won’t break anytime soon.

Here’s a pro-tip in purchasing clothes: if the stitches are big, do not buy it!

Small, multiple stitches are stronger and will have your clothes last longer. The fabric itself is very smooth and soft, so it’s comfortable to wear. It’s thin, but it will keep you warm when it gets chilly. When you touch the inside of the jacket, you can actually feel that there’s a soft layer inside that provides insulation. It’s the perfect time to whip out a jacket like this since autumn is slowly rolling in. If it gets too cold, there are buttons that you can use to bundle up. Compared to other similar jackets I own, this one has the nicest quality. I have a jacket from YesStyle that’s the same style but is very low in quality. The YesStyle jacket is just the outer layer of the Japangeles jacket. It doesn’t keep you warm at all and it feels like I’m wearing a plastic bag. Well, I guess that’s what $10 gives you, doesn’t it?

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I got this in a size small, but it’s quite big on me as you can tell. It’s the perfect item to layer with for cold days. I can see myself wearing a hoodie or a big sweater underneath this! For warmer days, I can see myself rocking a plain white tee with this jacket. Since this jacket is so loud on its own, I recommend wearing something simple underneath.

Overall, I am completely in love with this jacket! If I could, I would buy the maroon version just because the rest of my wardrobe is pretty monotone. I’m starting to use jackets as an accessory piece, and these windbreakers are right up my alley. I’d also check out the other merchandise Japangeles has to offer since the quality of this jacket is so nice. I’m sure that their sweaters and t-shirts are also high quality. I’ll definitely be purchasing more clothes from them once they have their website up and running! Japangeles staff, please open up your website soon so east coast dwellers like me can buy your clothing line!

For those residing in the LA area, please check them out and support them! They recently opened up a store in Little Tokyo, and I’m so happy that they’ve upgraded from the small little booth they once had when I last visited. I hope that this small, independent business expands in the new few years and I can’t wait to see them grow.

Keep hustling, Japangeles!

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JJANGIE TRENDS: Beauty People Flash Fix Pearl Pigment Pact

 

Three weeks ago, I came down to KCON LA 2017 as my sixth year attending this annual All Things Hallyu convention. Every year, M Countdown hosts one of the biggest kpop concerts to be held in the US, as well as its other expansions across the world, filled with the main attraction of Korean Pop music, captivating Korean culture, and popular K-beauty trends for people to enjoy.

As foreseen, a stop I’ve mostly made this year was the Beauty Block of the convention where an assortment of different korean makeup brands such as April Skin, Innisfree, and the FaceShop can be viewed and bought at alluring sales. Knowing myself, I am not quite familiar with how the world of cosmetics work but thanks to our other author (L.A.) who attended with me this year, she has given me some insight of the basics before we came. So, for this year, I took the chance to check out one booth that caught my attention.


Beauty Block can be found on Yesstyle, their products having a distinct symbol to recognize over the rest. The one product I purchased was the Flash Fix Pearl Pigment Pact, a 1.8g shimmering eyeshadow. (L.A.) introduced me to Stila’s product that was similar,  and I immediately fell in love with its glow. However, I knew I would probably not be able to find the same exact one as her’s. As seen, it is a a small round compact of a single eyeshadow pact which comes in eight different tones like Sugar Light (pictured above). This pact’s oil base allows for excellent skin adhesion; it’s almost impossible for the product to fall off easily, leaving a long-lasting effect and a nice shiny base.


In the main description, it explains to use a small brush with the eyeshadow to gently smooth over your eyelids as instructions. Unfortunately, the brush barely grabs any of the product unless I continuously rub the brush over the surface until I’m satisfied with how much I have.


When applying directly as a base, I would recommend using your finger as it melts the product, and it would be easier to evenly blend across your eyelids. Something worth noting is that the shimmer IS NOT glitter. In fact, it more like little bits of breakable, loose flakes. Using your finger instead of a brush allows the little bits of “thin foil”  to break and become smaller, resembling more of what actual glitter looks like on skin when using this compression pact.


Like the the title says, this is a pigment pact.

 

Let me repeat that, the eyeshadow is REALLY PIGMENTED!

 

Above, I did a side by side comparison of Beauty People’s Flash Fix Pearl Pigment Pearl Pact (in the middle) with two other shimmer eyeshadows from Wet n Wild’s Au Naturel palette, and the shine is definitely something to note! I am picky with products like this, but, because of the deep pigmentation and light tone, I grew to love it even more. The amount that I used in the picture is smaller than you would think; specifically, I only pressed enough into the soft creamy eyeshadow a few times, and already there’s a sufficient amount collected. This product that also we used as a highlighter, but one needs to be careful of how much to apply onto your cheek and to evenly blending it out.

 

One note to make when removing, the shimmer will spread if you use a makeup remover wipe, but after washing with soap and water all the product will be off.  

 

Overall, I’m really happy with this eyeshadow and really recommend any one of the pacts if you’re looking for a glossy and elegant look to add to your makeup routine!

LumiScope: @kodaslife_

With the number of fashion icons and bloggers growing with the help of social media, underdog users are taking us by surprise with new content for their followers to enjoy. In the west coast scene, where fashion and Instagram go hand in hand, Koda (@kodaslife_) has his image steadily landing in the spotlight with the help of his style and his music. LumiScript caught a glimpse of this young icon through KoreLimited LA’s Instagram, sporting their apparel. From there, we had the pleasure of interviewing, so that his followers – current and future – might have a new insight past Instagram.

There are a lot of fashion bloggers nowadays. What do you think is the biggest challenge in terms of boosting your audience when there’s a lot of rising competition?

I would have to say the hardest part or the biggest challenge when boosting your audience is the boosting part you have maintain a certain thing people like to keep your audience attention so they can show their friends about you.

Do you have a fashion icon celebrity and/or on Instagram?

Fashion icons: Victoria Loi (@victorialoi), @emilytheghoul, @ellenvlora, @flamcis, @marycake, @zachchoi, @kidkoji, @iamkareno, Jenn Im (@imjennim), Sophia Chang (@sophiachang)

Through your experience so far, what have been the most rewarding experiences you’ve had?

Through my experience being a fashion blogger, my biggest achievement is my supporters. I love them so much, and each and every little comment makes me happy. I’m very thankful for them (and also the free clothing, at times).

 

You’re also a musician. Is there a particular subject you find yourself writing about?

With music, I’ve always been into it since I was little, and I started writing songs since I was 13. I’m 19 now; a style that really fits me well is deep or about love because I feel I can put my passion and feelings into music.

Do you think that sound and image change with popularity over time?

Yes and no. I believe it changes because your audience changes, and most people are heavily influenced by the things that they hear or see and want to be like the next person because that’s what’s hot at the moment. I’ve changed my style many times.

For your music, who do you want your audience to be?

I would love to work towards a positive environment and just good vibes – mainly 16 and up.

 

 

What is your long term goal fashion and music wise?

My long term fashion goal is to just dress nice all the time and turn heads while walking down the street. I love compliments ❤

 

What do you think is the biggest misconception with online fashion icons?

I feel there is a lot of ego and arrogance in the fashion industry.

 

Is there a motto you live by?

My motto is pretty simple; it’s just to be yourself. That’s all you have in the end.

What is something you want your audience to know about you?

I want my audience to know they are very special to me, and I love them with all of my heart. #kobruhs look out for new music soon and follow my ig kodaslife_.

Please support Koda through his journey!

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@kodaslife_

 

To Explore is to Experience

Every time I leave a place, old or new, the part of me that I leave behind gets bigger and bigger until I find myself scattered across the world, trying to get back until I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen. That’s the thing with vacations – they will forever be a moment that passes, a temporary hiccup in your life when a blank slate is placed in front of you and you’re free to paint whatever you want. When I was in Korea, that part of me stayed at our small Airbnb in Hongdae, ready to run downstairs to the 7eleven for a midnight snack and banana milk.

Los Angeles is not what you expect. Coming from the east coast where monotony is either the norm or an anomaly, the only thing I had to compare was what I had seen in movies, pictures, or just by word of mouth. Buildings are spaced further apart than what I was used to, and I found myself using public transportation for nearly any place I needed to go to. People stare and speak as you walk by without a second thought, and it’s almost as if tourists are so expected that it’s just become part of the norm. There were too many things that I needed to try that I felt I needed to be there at least a month before I could truly experience everything I needed to.

I never considered Los Angeles a place that I wanted to stay. The traffic is terrible, and I always seem to lose my sense of direction. The streets are dirty, and it just doesn’t feel like a place I could call home.

So what made this time around so different than the last?

The people – the ones I’d come across by chance and found myself trusting after only moments.

The experience – the nights I’d spent thinking that another day had gone by yet there was nothing for me to worry about.

The way that I felt like – for the first time – that I belonged here. It felt like I was breathing familiar air. I had just been placed into a space that welcomed me, and I was ready to take on whatever came first.

Third time’s the charm, they say, and that may be the case – because here’s that feeling again. The feeling that I’m just in a period of wandering, waiting until I can stay and never grow tired of the things I see outside my window.

I was told once that, while soulmates exist, so do soul cities. Your soul city is where your soulmate is, but the fact that a soulmate isn’t always a lover seems to pass people by. Your soulmates are the ones who you are meant to come across, those who enter your life and change it for the better. I came across more members of my soul group during this trip, and that made my time there so much more rewarding.

From this I learned to make friends wherever you go.

Those who are the most unassuming can be the people who add a little piece of ink to the tattoo underneath your memories, spaces in your being that are reserved for certain people that will never fade.

I was all too lucky to come across the people who I’d love to keep with me until I get where I’m supposed to – no matter where that may be. The soundtrack of my life journey picked up in tempo until the background noise became a symphony, and it was an orchestra they made up around me. The laughter and the stories were the only evidence I needed of their existence, and the pictures were simply surplus.

You never truly intend to make friends, but when you do, you find it difficult to imagine how you used to live prior to their arrival. Making friends, while it is something you’re supposed to have picked up in elementary school becomes increasingly difficult as you get older. After friends coming and going, the amount of trust you can hand out dwindles. Stumbling upon others who don’t make you sacrifice any of your pride for the sake of creating trust are the ones who should say – and they are the ones who will stay.

I left LA knowing I’d be back.

From the east coast to the west with love.

Tu-esday Food Adventures: Maryland

Last week, I hung out with two of my close classmates from college. One of them is off to go to veterinary school, so we decided to have one last get together before she left. We decided to meet up at Montgomery Mall, located in Bethesda, Maryland. It was the perfect middle point between all three of us since I live in Northern Virginia (NoVA) and they live around Gaithersburg. According to them, Montgomery Mall is going to be the only mall left in Maryland – at least near where they live. Any other mall nearby is either a dead-zone or about to shut down completely.

It was a bit of a struggle for me to find where the food court was there since I’ve only been there once in my life. That mall is huge, too. Maybe not as big as Tyson’s Corner, but it’s still fairly large. My friends ended up coming to look for me because I was that lost….oops.

Anyway, we decided to grab a quick lunch at the food court. I wish I had a picture to show you guys how it looked. The food court was very modernized and contemporary – a lot nicer than the food court at Tyson’s. We all ordered waffles from a placed called “Wicked Waffle.” Not only did they sell your regular breakfast waffles, they also had interesting combos like Peking duck waffles and tiramisu waffles. I heard of this place before since they have a location in D.C., which received a lot of praise.

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My friends ordered the egg whites and grilled veggies, sweet potato fries, and the fried chicken and waffles. I got the mango and brie waffle. The waffles were pretty good. They were crunchy on the outside but airy and soft on the inside. I’m not a big fan of those super dense waffles, so this was perfect for me. The taste of them wasn’t overly sweet or salty, either. The egg whites and grilled veggie waffle wasn’t anything to really rave about, though. This plate came out like a sandwich. The amount of egg whites inside the sandwich probably filled up around half of the inside. There were probably only seven slivers of grilled bell peppers. Although the eggs whites and vegetables were flavored nicely, I wish that there was more! It was each of our first meal of the day, so we all wanted something to fill us up.

The chicken and waffles was pretty good. The fried chicken was a little spicy, so it had a nice kick to it. The meat wasn’t dry either. It was moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. They dusted powdered sugar over the plate so the chicken had a nice sweetness factor to it. Only thing I’d change about this is the saltiness. The chicken was flavorful, but it was way too salty! I noticed myself grabbing my water to drink every time I took a bite out of it.

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Next is the dish that I ordered: the mango and brie waffle. I’ve always been a fan of brie. It probably is one of my top five cheeses of all time. I just love how smooth and soft it is. The taste isn’t that overpowering either so it pairs well with fruits like strawberries and mangoes. This was the first item on the menu that caught my eye so I had to order it. You can never go wrong with a fruit and cheese combo. The mango was sweet and had a little bite to it which went well with the soft and savory brie. On top of that, there were a few slices of jalapenos which gave the entire dish a bit of a kick. I really enjoyed my dish just because it had both my favorite cheese AND fruit.

Last, but not least, are the sweet potato fries. For those who know me, I love fries. Sometimes I end up staying up late at night because I’m craving fries.

Yes, my love for fries is that bad.

My favorite type of fries is the thinly cut ones so it’s super crunch on the outside. These sweet potato fries really hit the spot for me. The fries were julienned, which means that they were cut into long, thin strips. Once they hit the oil, these fries crisp up beautifully, leaving the inside moist and tender.

YUM!!!

I personally really liked eating these fries by themselves. The cashier told us that a customer really enjoyed eating the fries with whipped cream, so he gave us a cup of it. I was a bit confused at first, but I gave it a try. Honestly, it wasn’t anything that special. Just whipped cream with potatoes. I usually like my fries with ketchup and mustard, so I wasn’t impressed. If I were to try it again, I would have to crave it or would want to consume all the deep fried, oily goodness that day.

Am I the only one who occasionally feels like eating my weight in food?

After lunch, we decided to stop by a new dessert store that sold cookie dough. My friends and I were excited to try this place since there’s been a lot of talk about a store in New York that sells this. The people in that video made it seem as if it was the best thing in the world, so we had high expectations.

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Shout out to my friend’s overgrown manicure!!!

Anyway, we ordered the Oreo cookie dough at “Cookie Dough & Co,” which came with a shot of milk.

It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever had.

I actually thought I shoved a spoonful of sugar into my mouth. It was soooooo sweet. Disgustingly sweet. The three of us could not finish such a tiny cone because we all thought that we were going to get diabetes after eating it. Seriously.

I don’t even know why anyone would crave cookie dough in the first place. I checked their website and so many people raved about it, and I’m not really sure what the hype was about. I would never come back here. I got my Instagram pic so I have no reason to come back haha.

Our last stop was a new boba joint called “Lab Café,” located in Rockville Towne Center.

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From left to right: taro milk tea, plum sparkling tea, and unique milk tea.

Taste: Eh. It tasted like Kung Fu Tea, which I’m not a very big fan of. The taro milk tea tasted like it was made from powder. The unique milk tea didn’t taste unique at all. All I tasted was the powdered creamer. It wasn’t even well-shaken so I felt the grittiness of the powder. The plum sparkling tea was probably the best even though it wasn’t that special either. It was literally the Chinese plum drink with soda. I could’ve made it at home.

Presentation: I’d give more points to their presentation than their taste just because I liked the mustache on the straws. Their logo is pretty cute too.

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I’d probably come back here just to hang out. Their drinks aren’t the best, but they’re not bad either. I would try something else since they have a lot on their menu. The overall design of the store is nice too. It has a cozy feel to it and I can see myself studying here or socializing with friends. There’s also nice wall art, as shown above, which is perfect for your daily Snapchat and Instagram.

Well, that concludes my second food review. Overall, everything I consumed was ok. I’m sure that over time each food place will improve, since they’re all fairly new. I hope that other people have better experiences in the future!

To end this post on a good note, here’s a picture of me with my friends. Our facial expressions really show each of our personalities. Bubbly, weird, and sassy. 😊

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JJANGIE TRENDS: Hibeko

Ordering online is probably one of the riskiest things to do – especially shopping for clothes. People tend to worry whether the sizing is right for them or if the colors suit their tones. Most importantly, is the quality in the material worth the money you pay for it?

Recently this year, I discovered a shop called Hibeko while sorting through various Instagram models.

As expected, it is an online store only, and their shipments are based in Los Angeles, California.

Usually when I come across potential stores to pick through, truthfully, I am a “picky eater” to the name of the brand at the start. In this case, the title itself gave its own charm.

Hibeko is a hand-made, street-styled clothing brand for both men and women to enjoy. For those who are not familiar with the term, street style is majorly associated with youth culture by the influence of popular music, trends, and major urban centers.

For the individuals who would love to rock a cool and unique brand while working a nice color aesthetic, this store is a GO!!

My first two purchases from the site were their very own Autograf Hoodie which I chose in the shade of sand, which is more of a light creme color, and a Showstopper Hoodie in jet black. In the end, I did pay a hefty price in the end for just two items ranging a little over $100. The products took about a little over a week in domestic shipping to arrive since I do live in the West Coast.

Prior to my first look, both came in the brand’s own custom black tag attached by a sleek black string and a small black safety pin. Now, some might think I am crazy.

“Who would pay that amount of money for such apparel?!” so here’s what to expect!


Hibeko’s Autograf Hoodie is somewhat similar to a basic-everyday kangaroo hoodie a person would wear to stay warm during the fall and winter seasons. This item was released in the site’s SS-17 Essentials Collection along with various of other shades and title-printed sweaters. However, what really gives the street-styled feel to the hoodie is the fact that it is a bit oversized when you match with your true size. With the over drop shoulders, the style gives a nice baggy aesthetic without overdoing it. Unlike other Instagram shops where sizing majorly comes from Chinese manufacturers and dealing with the difference in “Asian Size”, this is just right.

In addition, an autograph of “HBKO” is across on both sleeves and a small print on the left chest with its clean black strokes. Depending on the shade of the hoodie, the autographs can come in different colors to suit its base. As for the quality, the sweater is soft and has quite the strong material to last for quite a long time.


The “Showstopper Hoodie” places itself in its own spotlight in my heart! Out of the two products, this sweater is by far my favorite. Not only did I like the the color  but the thickness of the material is what really got me surprised. For this, I really recommend wearing this only in cold seasons. Like the previous, the sizing does come a bit oversized when matching with my true size – especially the hood. If you are a daring fashionista who would wear a full-on black outfit during warmer weathers, this item would definitely suit your taste. As for its features, there are three horizontal rose gold zipper slits: two on each sleeve (both can open) and one fake zipper across the chest.


Another unique aspect of this hoodie is the two invisible pockets on the sides that make an illusion of a simple pullover, and the thick hemming along the bottom makes the apparel seem longer in length. Curving it to the back left corner is a “HBKO” stamp officially sewn.

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As much as I really liked the brand name, I was really worried more of how the clothes would come out compared to the display on the site. Nonetheless, I worried for nothing! The materials are quite well made, and the light street-style fashion brings great satisfaction.

All in all, I was very content in terms of strong quality in the make of the products. In my eyes, I think many dancers would be very fond of this style. Though some would oppose by saying, “You’re mainly paying for the name,” but I beg to differ with this particular shop since the price really does represent this store’s individuality. I would surely buy from this shop again in the future but maybe not in bulk.

Next time let’s try piece by piece, so my wallet doesn’t cry in the end.

Since summer is here and the heat is on the rise, I suggest checking out the Summer 17 for their latest collections while staying cool!

Step 1: Honesty

Honesty is the best policy.

Or is it?

When I was in middle school, making friends depended on how I spoke and what I spoke about. I talked about things that I thought people liked, and I crumbled even if I didn’t think it was right. In other words, I had two personas – public and private. My public side was very into the current trends, things that the people around me liked. Public Me wanted to make friends everywhere even if that person’s ideas didn’t match my own. Public Me was loud – she wanted to be heard in anyway she could.

Private Me had all the thoughts, the ideas, and the potential but kept it stored away out of fear.

After my first friend purge, my first genuine best friend got me to stand up for myself – something I never actually considered doing. I was okay letting my friends walk all over me if it meant keeping them. Once I stood up for myself the first time, I couldn’t go back.

Why do we assume that people will only like one side of us?

Private Me was a different kind of loud – she was assertive, and she had all the thoughts that needed to be heard. But she saved those thoughts for the Internet or whatever other media outlet she could find. The private side of me stayed hidden within the confines of my computer screen. Then I suddenly had an epiphany –

How could I ever expect to make friends who I’d be willing to have for the rest of my life if I only ever show them one side? And what was the purpose of having both sides? Was I protecting myself? Who was I saving?

I wasn’t saving anyone. I was hurting myself. I kept these thoughts tucked away for the sake of having people around me.

So – honesty first.

Friends second.

It’s easy to talk to people, but what are you supposed to talk about? Do I talk about something I think you’ll like or do I talk about what’s on my mind? To whom do I cater this conversation to? And that’s where my lesson had finally been realized.

I needed to close the gap between Private and Public Me. As time went on, I made the decision to combine the two. The public persona brought the private to light, and the private kept the public from only focusing on what other people liked. There was definitely a result.

People started to tell me I was “real.” What does that mean? I’m being honest, how is that real? Is there such a shortage of honesty in the world that it has become an anomaly? Friends, friends, friends – they all said the same things, and I just let myself continue to be honest.

Honesty, however, does not always guarantee a common thought. I stayed honest, but when my words contradict your own thoughts, I became something else. I was no longer “real,” I was judgmental – I was insensitive, I was inconsiderate. All these things made me think I needed to change again.

But did I really? It wasn’t that I changed over time, but my thoughts no longer consistently aligned with the people around me. Suddenly I became the bad guy. I was no longer “real,” and there became a floating assumption that I’m hiding a part of myself from the world.

Trust me – I’m not.

If I’m hiding anything, it’s something I, myself, have not even discovered. There are no surplus thoughts underneath this image I’ve created for myself. I worked hard to make sure my visage matched my thoughts.

Believe it or not – I’m honest from day one. Until I find a legitimate reason to lie to you, I will not because there would be no purpose. I would be lying for the sake of lying.

Step 2:  Friends, but Step 3:  Consistency.

There’s a reason for this long explanation into why I act the way I do, and here it is.

If honesty comes first, what reason do I have to lie to get people to like me? And hand-in-hand with that, why should I have to fight when someone says otherwise?

Truthfully, there is no reason. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. I learned just yesterday that the ones who cherish their friends are the ones who stick to their convictions. Childish rumors and hasty actions will not change that. Anyone who has anything to say about the way I act can only know that speaking badly of me will only make the reaction to seeing the truth that much more satisfying for me. Say what you want – you’re still speaking of me.

In this day and age, young adults have all become truth-seekers. In the presence of malice, they pursue the side that makes the most sense, and the side that doesn’t is the one spattered with red in the end.

True or false:  the truth finds you.

False.

You need to find the truth on your own.

Working in Retail Fixed Me

There are certain aspects of one’s personality that need to be adjusted but go by unnoticed.

Today at work, I was asked to watch a video by a motivational speaker who told of his experience with one Starbucks partner at a Minnesota airport terminal. He said he’d never forget this encounter due to that partner’s genuine interest in her customers’ lives.

“I don’t want them to come back to Starbucks; I want them to come back to me.”

Such a recollection like this brought me back to one customer interaction I had over a year ago. Actually, I don’t really remember the first time I met this customer. It was during a holiday season, and, for retailers, you know that the holidays are when you meet and interact with the most people in one day.

It’s difficult to maintain a perfect customer experience when you need to balance these two concepts:

  1. Show a sense of urgency.
  2. (but) Be patient with your customer.

In other words, I need to help you in a reasonable amount of time without making you feel like I’m pressuring you because there are other people in the store. And in balancing these two principles, occasionally, that customer service ability might dwindle down as you go through your day.

Again, I don’t actually remember the first time I spoke to this customer.

However, she definitely remembered me.

The next time I heard of this particular woman, it was actually through her friend who wasn’t even my customer. As this woman was being helped by someone else, I threw in my two cents about a product, and she smiled.

“You helped my friend the first time she came here. She told me about you.”

This was the first time I’d heard this in my few years working at the same location. She then went into detail saying that her friend is now an avid shopper at the location by where she lived. She only visited them once a year, and it was always just after the Christmas rush. I was honest with her and said I couldn’t really remember, but I couldn’t hide the joy in my face at the thought that this one customer enjoyed her experience at the store to the point where she’d tell her friends and family.

Some weeks later, the same woman came back to the store – this time with the friend I had helped.

While I vaguely remembered her at first, the interaction came back to me. She spoke to me with such enthusiasm about how I showed her everything she needed to know and that she had to come back to see me. She was frank; she didn’t need to buy anything that day. She just wanted to see how I had been.

We then delved into how I got into this job, why I was still there, and why I enjoyed it so much.

I think every young adult who works retail says this at least once with a tired spirit –

“I hate this job.”

Sometimes you do; sometimes you don’t.

I’ve definitely said this before, more than once, in fact. At the end of the day though, I really don’t hate it. Granted, once I’ve finished this chapter of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever return to the world of retail, but I can genuinely say that without this job, my view on how people should treat one another as a whole has changed.

So what makes working at Teavana so rewarding and life-changing?

I’m not just selling a product that, at first glance, seems overpriced. I’m not here to take your money for my benefit, to have my name on a sheet of paper that says I’ve sold this much to you.

I’m here to help you improve your life in whatever way I can.

Tea helps people. It’s helped me, so I believe that it can help someone else, too. I will in no way whatsoever sell you bullshit – as some might say. If I don’t believe this product can help you, I’ll tell you. I want you to leave my store knowing that I’ve helped you take the first step to achieving a goal – the task you’ve shared with me. Think back to that scene in Miracle on 34th Street when Santa pointed a customer in the direction of another store, and suddenly it was seen as a revolutionary thing – putting the customer’s needs first.

I’ve had people tell me that I helped them cut sugar out of their diet which led to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve helped customers going through chemotherapy by showing them things that will keep them comfortable. I’ve shown parents ways they can bring the family together.

Mostly, I hope that I’ve shown my customers that I genuinely care. From the woman who’s allergic to apples to the man who knows that he’ll enjoy whatever drink I make for him – I care about them all. I want them all to know that I pay attention, and I will continue to do so until I’m done with this job.

My job does not stop when I clock out; it will stop when I no longer work here. And even then, the world of retail surpasses the job itself.

You learn other basic things that aren’t really seen as common sense nowadays. I’ve moved up in this job from a part-time salesperson to one of the managers, and while it put more pressure on me, I certainly learned a thing or two.

Taking constructive criticism is the number one thing – not from your peers, but from your customers. There are rude ones and there are polite ones, and generally, the polite ones are the people who want to see you succeed. It isn’t a hit to my pride to get feedback. Receiving this feedback also helped me gear it towards other customer service workers who aren’t displaying the kind of service I’d show to my customers.

Regardless of your position in this world, customer service can be interchangeable with simply being a good person. Do not be selfish, keep in mind the person’s background, and don’t let your bad day turn someone else’s day sour.

Another short story – something that was a sign to me that I had grown as an individual in a world of adults who still don’t know how to treat people.

It was on a ride, some ride – no need to go into specifics – and my mother began to exhibit signs of claustrophobia. Anyone with a phobia knows that you should treat the situation seriously and with consideration to the individual.

“Ma’am, if we let you off the ride it will take half an hour, we need to shut off the ride, take everyone out of the cart, and call an operator to do this. The ride is one minute, would you rather I inconvenience everyone to get you out?”

No need to fast forward – I was livid.

How could anyone think that was the proper way to treat this conversation? We were customers just like anyone else. God forbid, the claustrophobia was worse than it actually was. Needless to say, I kept a straight face; I did not argue, but I began to form a conversation in my head.

The moment we were off, I ushered my parents to the waiting area and walked up to the beginning of the line to the ride once more. I asked for the manager on duty which surprised the worker. She radioed the man in charge, and he met up with me in no time.

I spoke calmly and professionally. I look young, but I will not act adolescent. This is an adult conversation, and I will treat it as such.

“I just wanted to point out something, but first, I just want you to know I am not here to argue or put you or the rest of your staff in a position that would make things tense. I work in customer service, so I need to point out something that happened in case it happens in the future.”

He responded to my demeanor, did not argue, and acted with respect because I treated him with respect. I’ve handled customers in the past who have argued with me, but I still responded in accordance to how I should have. You can argue with me, but I will not argue with you. As long as you are my customer, I will treat you as such.

Lessons learned from retail surpass your own job; they help you in the real world when others might not even recognize your actions. People are people, and this job helped me learn how people need to be treated.

Take on a retail job once in your life. Trust me – it helps.

“I Am No Stranger to Strangers.”

(Old image featured – 2015)

I am no stranger to strangers.

Every time something shifts in my life, I momentarily forget past occurrences and only look forward. My memory gets foggy, and the concept that “this seems familiar” disappears for half a second.

Thinking back, this is not the first time I’ve heard these words, sunk into these feelings, or received these blows. However, I do know one thing for sure – I’ve finally learned to handle it the way I should.

When it comes to red flags, it may or may not be obvious. For some people I meet, I get this anxious feeling. This particular knot that says,

Be friendly, but do not trust.

And when I feel this, I am sure to be on my guard. Do not get too close, do not reveal too much, and do not let them in.

The second kind of red flag comes in stages. There is a series of yellow flags before the red, and only when the red appears is it too late. When I was younger, I disregarded yellow flags for the sake of giving the benefit of the doubt – something I realized I am more than notorious for giving blindly.

I can recall a memory from when I was 14.

I was visiting a church with a friend who I now call stranger. I sat, feeling out of place when a girl walks in. She walked with confidence, and she had a presence that I admired. She was much older, much more mature than us.

I don’t like her. She’s full of herself. The underside of her hair is blue, and it’s tacky. No one likes her.

As my friend said this, I took her words and applied it over the girl’s image. Yet even as I did, the other young girls my age flocked her and showered her with compliments. In the midst of her mini gathering of fans, she turned to me.

Oh, you’re new! What’s your name? Are you coming here regularly now? I haven’t been here in a while, so I’m sorry if I didn’t recognize you.

I wanted to think she had on a facade for the sake of making a good first impression, but to this day, I really don’t think she was. We talked about her hair, and later she introduced me to her friend with whom I kept in contact with for some time.

From that small experience, I should have known better that your friends’ impressions of people become your own impressions. But what if that wasn’t a real friend? Would that make their impressions invalid?

I am no stranger to strangers.

Once at 10, once at 14, and again once more at 22.

There is no age limit for lessons to be learned. Fate will make you experience the same situations over and over again – same circumstances, different people – same feeling, different words said – until you finally learn which way is the right way.

So what have I learned?

Those who have high standards for whom they trust but who are not trustworthy are not to be regarded, and their impressions of me will not change my impression of myself.

Memories, once invalid, lose all sentimental value. When you originate the initial problem to its start date, all fond and happy moments lose meaning. Now, they are merely occurrences experienced with a stranger. Do not give them weight.

The friend who is meant to stay in your life will never leave. True friends have a purpose in your life, and regardless of the amount of time spent, there is more to be done. They are the non-romantic soulmates who will keep aiding along your spiritual growth. You may not always agree with each other, but you always find your way back. Being annoyed with each other is a natural thing, but if you let that annoyance tear you two apart, then it’s time to say goodbye.

I will not try to save a sinking ship that keeps sabotaging itself whether its intentional or not. The life savers on that ship have been thrown to me, but I will not bend. A sabotaged ship can save no one.

There is a reason why I say I trust my friends blindly.

Do what you want, I am not your keeper.

Make your mistakes because it is your life to live.

I will turn a blind eye to the malice others see because I befriend your character – your being – not your actions.

I trust you with my eyes shut because the moment a line is crossed, I can open my eyes, see you for the person I let you be, and turn away. That blind trust is gone, and you are a stranger once more.

There is no magical place where all lost friendships go. They dissipate into thin air, and life goes on. I let it go, and I won’t hold on.

It isn’t worth saving.

Temporary friends add filter to your vision that you must remove once they depart.

The genuine friends are the ones who keep your sight clear.

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