What’s The Point?

What’s the point of starting a blog?

Everyone’s done it. The market is saturated. Blogging is outdated. No one will read it. My pictures aren’t good enough. I don’t know how to write or convey my thoughts. I just suck.

Those are the thoughts that ran through my head the first time I even considered starting my own blog. It was silly to me to even try, considering the amount of people who were already way ahead of me in the blogging sphere. To be honest, I LOVE to write and I always have had a sincere passion for it–but after reading countless others posts and seeing all of their beautiful photos that seemed effortless, I was afraid to even put myself out there to the world and TRY. It was fear that was holding me back–maybe because I cared so much about what other people thought of me, and what other people would say.

Growing up, I was teased a lot for my big nose, and I guess that was another reason I was partially afraid to put myself out there on the internet. As I got older, I learned to embrace myself a little more but still, it was tough to post pictures of my face. I also fluctuated with my weight a lot as a teen and into my college years, so I would go through phases where I felt really good and then periods of time where I felt like crap about myself. My last years of college, I started working out and going to the gym on a regular basis to build up my confidence and feel stronger mentally/physically, and that actually worked. I was amazed at how secure and happy I felt–running, lifting weights, drinking lots of water, eating right and just living life in a healthy and positive way. I would work out twice a day sometimes if I felt like it, and that really helped me clear my head and was a means of therapy for me for a very long time.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I think half of why people don’t want to start something new is because they think it’s too late to start, and the other half lies in insecurity and fear. At least these things are what made ME feel like I wasn’t capable of achieving my dreams–for years I felt this way and I was hesitant to do anything outside of the box, because people told me it wasn’t possible. That being a singer, an actor, a radio host, a model, a BLOGGER–as a full time job, was just plain unrealistic.

Maybe it is unrealistic. It’s unrealistic to someone who is constantly negative about their outlook on life. It’s unrealistic to someone who doesn’t believe in his or her self, and is projecting it out on the world. It’s not reasonable to dream big when you’re so trapped inside of a dark bubble of pessimism that you can’t ever see that there is never a goal that is too big. My motto: if someone else has achieved it, remember that it CAN BE DONE. It is possible if you work your ass off and stay focused, and positive, and strong throughout the entire journey. You will also need a lot of patience, dedication and preparation for failure along the way. No success comes with a smooth road–there will be lots of bumps and unexpected turns involved! 😉

Anyway, back to my first question. What’s the point of starting a blog? The point is that this is your outlet. No one owns it but you. You don’t rely on the power of a huge corporation like instagram or youtube to stay in tact. You own your blog, and that’s your outlet for creativity, content, expression and art. You can be whoever you want to be, post whatever you want to post, and use it without expectations of an algorithm affecting your work. A blog is an open opportunity to start your own online business without the fear that it could die out. It can only grow, get bigger, and better if you put your 150% into it every single day. It’s also just fun to upload tons of content without a necessary “limit” capping off your photos and text. You can write as many articles as you want, as many thoughts as you have, and it all sits in one organized place that you own the full rights to.

It’s never too late to start. Some people may say it is, but those people are always the ones who are too afraid to go for it 😉 And this goes for any dream job you want. Whether you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, write a best-selling novel, or own the world’s best cupcake shop, the sky is really the limit. We have SO much to live for and such limited time, so why not just do what you love, all day every day?

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My Best Tips for Clear and Healthy Skin

My Best Tips for Clear and Healthy Skin

 Hi everyone!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. Every day, I receive a lot of questions about my skincare routine and how I keep my skin so clear.

Over the years, I’ve experimented a ton with different skincare products and I’ve found things that really work for me and things that don’t. 

I also noticed that as I’ve gotten older, my skin has become way more sensitive to harsh chemicals found in skincare products that I never knew about before.

My skin triggers breakouts super easily, so I always know when a product’s formula doesn’t agree with me. 

With lots of trial and error, these are some of the best tips and products that have worked wonders for my skin.

In no way is this post sponsored by any of the brands mentioned. I genuinely have tried it all and these are what I’ve loved so far, and have found

to help keep my face super fresh, glowing and clean.

Note: my skin type is combination, a mix of oily and dry depending on the day. This is simply what works for me!

  1. Avoid oil-based foundations and other makeup products. Yes, your makeup could be the cause of your constant breakouts. When I was in LA a few months ago, I was testing out this new foundation that looked beautiful, but by the end of the day, my skin was caked with oil and looked super greasy. It took me several days to figure out that this makeup was primarily oil-based, and that it was completely clogging up my skin. By the end of the week, I was fully broken out — tons of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples all over my cheeks, chin, creases of my nose and forehead. I realized I had switched up my foundation, and so I immediately tossed it out and went on a 7 day makeup-free cleanse to relieve my skin. I opted for mascara and chapstick — and skipped the foundation and bronzers for a full week. Also — be sure to clean your makeup brushes with soap on a regular basis. I wash my brushes once a week.
  2. Wash your pillowcases and bedsheets once per week. I know this may sound like a total pain to do every single week (let’s be real) but, if it means preventing your skin from getting pimples, it’s worth it, right? I used to wash my pillowcases every 3-4 weeks. Since I usually shower before I go to sleep, I never thought much of it and having to wash them on a weekly basis. Turns out, your pillowcase and blankets rack up all the oil from your skin while you sleep, and your skin will often leave residue on your sheets. Not only will your face feel cleaner laying on a fresh pillowcase, but it actually prevents a buildup of dirt and oil that can rub off into your skin while you’re sleeping.
  3. Invest in a really good toner. Toner has been my lifesaver in my skincare routine. You can always find a toner at the drugstore to help strip away dirt and oil from your face, but a lot of them are super strong and contain way too much alcohol. I discovered these amazing toner pads from a brand called Arcona that are infused with cranberry, witch hazel and rice milk. The ingredients are minimal, and I can tell by using them there’s nothing harsh about them while I’m cleansing my face. The pads make it easy to swipe away dirt and oil buildup, and they feel SO refreshing. They’re also a perfect makeup residue remover. I use them right after I wash off my makeup and they wipe up any excess leftover foundation, mascara smudges, etc.
  4. AVOID DAIRY. This step is probably the hardest one for most people, but also the most IMPORTANT one. It took me a long time to fully cut out dairy, but it has been proven that there is a direct correlation between it and hormonal imbalances. Dairy is a known inflammatory, so it can really irritate and inflame your skin. Whenever I eat dairy products, my skin breaks out in crazy welts all over my chin and neck. I stopped eating it about a year ago and it completely changed my life. I cheated once and had pizza (I miss it so much haha), and because I hadn’t had it in a while, my skin was literally breaking out as I was eating it. 
  5. Exercise regularly and drink a ton of water. I think this one makes the most logical sense 🙂 Working out is a hormone stabilizer, and helps reduce inflammation in the body. There’s nothing better than a great workout and sweating out all of your toxins. While you work out, make sure you drink plenty of water to keep your sweat flowing and your body hydrated throughout the process. I feel so much better when I’m sweating and letting all the toxins from my body and my skin out. If you have access to a steam room, that also helps post workout to sweat out toxins from your skin. Then, I follow up with a cold shower and a gentle facial soap (non oil based!) to close my pores. One of my favorite oil-free facial washes is Tatcha the Deep Cleanse.

Most importantly, make sure you always wash your face before you go to bed at night so your skin can repair itself while you rest! Washing your face with a gentle cleanser is vital to healthy and happy skin. I always opt for oil-free products on my face, because the oil tends to clog my pores and make me break out frequently. If you have super dry skin naturally, oil might be a good option for you — but this is just what works best for me and my skin type. Also, when I wake up, I wipe my face down with a makeup remover pad just to swipe any dirt or oil build up I may have gotten in my sleep. My current go-to makeup remover wipes are the Clinique Take The Day Off ones. They’re gentle and don’t burn my eyes, unlike a bunch of other drugstore wipes I’ve tested out on my skin.

I hope these tips were helpful to you, if you have similar combination skin. Let me know if you decide to use these tips in your skincare routine 🙂

Also would love to hear your own personal skincare advice in the comments!

Xoxo,

Lyss <3

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Living with PCOS and Why I Went Vegan

Hi everyone! Bare with me since I’m currently in Dubai and it’s 2 AM here. I can’t sleep and this blog post may have a few typos or unnecessary words, haha.

So as (some) of you may know, I have completely transitioned into a vegan lifestyle, and I often get the same questions about it:

  1. Why are you a vegan?
  2. What differences have you noticed after being vegan?
  3. What made you transition?
  4. How long have you been a vegan for?
  5. What do you eat daily?
  6. Do you get enough protein?

After debating whether I should make this post or not, I decided I feel strongly enough about my lifestyle to fully discuss it and be open and honest with my followers. I know a lot of you may disagree or feel strongly about another lifestyle, which I respect. I honestly refrained from writing about becoming vegan simply because I feel that everyone is super quick to argue against it and attack others if they live a different type of way. I am not here to criticize other lifestyles, I am just here to share what mine is about. 🙂

The Short Version of my Story

  1. I’m vegan for a few reasons. I love animals and I have such an emotional connection with all of them and any kind, so I don’t wish to eat them anymore. I also love the health benefits it provides, as meat and dairy always made my stomach hurt and I was constantly bloated/sick after eating them. (more details later in this blog post)
  2. The differences I’ve noticed after being vegan are amazing! I used to have a ton of health issues and now I feel so much healthier. I never get bad stomaches, my skin is always clear and smooth, and my hair is much thicker and healthier. I feel more energetic and happier eating vegan foods.
  3. I had a lot of health complications and that was the ultimate reason I decided to try becoming vegan. After I tried it out, I started educating myself more on the benefits of it and more about the whole process of where meat and dairy comes from, and it made me realize this was the best choice for myself.
  4. I have been fully vegan for a year now.
  5. I eat SO many amazing and delicious foods. What people usually don’t realize is that you can make almost any food in a vegan version. And usually it will taste just the same if not better. Some of my go-to meals include acai bowls, avocado toast, rice with veggie stir fry, veggie cheese-less pizza, quinoa, salads, tofu, veggie burgers, baked sweet potatoes and baked fries, avocado / cucumber sushi rolls, pasta with tomato sauce, etc. The list goes on!!! There’s so many options when going vegan. I eat lots of delicious but healthy carbs.
  6. I definitely get enough protein being a vegan. Green veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli have protein, as long as you eat enough. I also get my protein from things like all-natural peanut butter, cashew butter, hummus (chickpeas have lots of protein!), and my faves for lunch/dinner: tofu, seitan, tempeh, mixed with veggies — all valuable and major sources of protein. Chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are also a great way to get some extra protein in as well.

 

My (Very Personal) Long Version Story – Living with PCOS

From my point of view, I grew up in an Italian household and my diet consisted of meat, fish and dairy foods daily. I couldn’t remember a day I didn’t eat chicken as a kid. Chicken parmigiana was one of my favorite homemade dinners that my mom used to make for me a few times a week. So to say I’ve “seen the other perspective” is an understatement. I also judged vegans and said it was “silly” to eliminate all meat, fish and dairy because there was no real way of getting enough protein from just plants. My doctors convinced me that my diet also had absolutely no factor in my growth and development as a child, which I will elaborate on in the next paragraph…

As a teenager, I experienced a TREMENDOUS amount of hormonal issues that doctors could never pinpoint or give me straight answers about. When I was 12, my skin started to form white patches all over my face that were dry and itchy, and looked very strange. I also developed cystic acne all over my back, which was painful and difficult to control. When I confronted my doctor about these ongoing issues, they assured me it had nothing to do with my diet and lifestyle habits, but they could never tell me what the root cause of my skin issues were. At this age, I knew nothing about hormones and how they control majority of skin issues, especially on your face. All I knew was that “doctors know best” and they would prescribe me the right medication to fix everything.

After those skin issues, came a ton of other hormonal problems. My doctor informed me I would probably get my period by the time I was 13, based on my body development. Flash forward to 3 years later, I was 16 when I got my first menstrual cycle (which is super late) and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. 2 weeks before I got my first period, I was sitting in my bed and I felt a sharp, knife-like pain stabbing at my ovary. I was doubled over in the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life and had no idea what was going on. My mom rushed in and I explained what I was feeling, and she immediately knew what it was because she had dealt with the same issue as a teenager. I had a huge cyst erupting on my ovary. The pain lasted about 30 minutes before it completely subsided.

After this incident, I visited the doctor who performed a pelvic sonogram and informed me that a cyst had burst on my ovary and had caused me that excruciating pain. “Will that happen again?” was the first question I had, and all he said was that some people’s “genetics” will cause cystic ovaries to occur, and since my mom had experienced them, I would most likely experience them often too. I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I was so scared to feel that type of pain again in just a few weeks when my next period would happen. The doctor suggested I go on birth control to control my hormones and eliminate the cyst issue as much as possible. Birth control sounded like a great plan at the time, considering the amount of pain I had went through.  I experienced at least 5 more cysts, one equally as painful as the next, before I officially decided to get on birth control to try to regulate my hormones.

After being on the pill for just a month, I already felt its side effects slowing down my body. My PCOS had worsened. I had less energy, I started putting on weight, I started developing more cystic acne on my face, and I looked and felt so unlike myself. I was so stressed out from taking the pills and dealing with how I felt, and balancing school and work on top of everything, that my hair started thinning and falling out. I was a total mess inside and out, but I kept taking it and hoping it would eventually balance everything out. 6 months later, I was about 30 pounds heavier and more drained than ever. The doctor said it was in my head and I was “doing” that to myself, but the hormones are artificial and played with my mood constantly. I was seriously depressed and felt horrible about myself. I decided to go off the pill after months of trying to make it work for me with no positive results.

After gaining a lot of weight and feeling lost, I googled more holistic approaches to treating hormonal imbalances and to suppress the PCOS symptoms. After countless articles recommending me birth control (no thanks), I found a case study from a university on the 4th or 5th search page. It was buried in between dozens of other links recommending medication to treat patients with hormonal problems. The study said that people who engaged in a healthy diet and cut out refined sugars and processed carbs, and exercised regularly, saw dramatic improvements in their PCOS symptoms. By cutting out sugar, and training their muscles daily, insulin levels were improved, estrogen levels were improved, and the symptoms of PCOS were reduced drastically.

I decided I would do whatever it takes to heal my body without medication. I started working out every day, eating wholesome nourishing foods, and I stopped eating sugar (my weakness). I also started eating lower glycemic carbs (carbs that spike sugar super high can alter your hormone levels and affect PCOS so they’re not the best!) I kept up this consistent routine every day for 6 months. Slowly but surely, things started to change. I was less tired, I had shed off the excess weight I had put on during birth control, my skin cleared up, my hair was growing thicker, and I felt just BETTER. Still, my period didn’t come for those 6 months, and I thought maybe I would have to go on birth control again or try a new medication in order to get it. I kept pushing back the idea of the medication because I was so against it – I knew it wasn’t the “answer” for me, somehow. I kept believing I was going to heal my body naturally.

After another month or so, I suddenly felt nauseous during class. I left class early because I was feeling so sick, and I ended up going to sleep as soon as I got home. The next morning, I woke up and I had gotten my period – naturally. For the first time ever in my life, my body just worked all on its own. I was in total shock and disbelief. How could this happen?! I thought, but I knew exactly how it happened. I had taken control of my health and with time, my body had healed itself through a healthy diet and a consistent exercise program. I was ecstatic.

To make a very long story short, after I got my period, my body continued to get it at the same time every month from that point forward. My symptoms of my hormone imbalance were gone– no more  fatigue, no more cystic acne, no more weight gain, and I most importantly felt more and more like myself. My cysts on my ovaries disappeared. I continued to work out daily and maintain a healthy diet and with that, I felt stronger and more powerful. I felt like for the first time in years that I was normal.

Every time I get my period now, it still makes me grateful and appreciative to know that I’m healthy, my uterus is functioning, my hormones are stable and, I’m going to be able to have children someday. Through this entire rollercoaster of my health, I decided going vegan and maintaining a vegan lifestyle is the best way to stick to a clean, balanced diet filled with lots of nutritious vegetables and protein. It works for me and it makes me feel amazing, so I enjoy it and I’m proud of it.

Needless to say, I don’t have anything against others’ lifestyles. I feel that although it is my job to share my story to the people who follow me, I don’t judge or look down upon others for choosing other lifestyles or habits. This was not a post to tell others what they should or shouldn’t do. All I can do on my end is inform and share my personal experience, and for those who want to take something from it, that’s great! Even if this story about my health and my journey transitioning into this lifestyle can inspire or help one person, I know writing this very personal post was worth it. 🙂

Xo,

Lyss <3

 

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Buying Followers, Likes, And Comments

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing a ton of people posting about a new wave of influencers and social media creators that are buying their followers and also their engagement (likes, comments, etc.) on instagram. You may have also seen tons of instagram influencers and celebrities promoting “giveaways” and creating these loops on instagram to gain followers.

I’m going to address the whole “buying” followers thing first, simply because I think it’s one of the most painful things to watch as a creator who has been on the instagram platform for nearly 8 years. I started instagram as a way to document my lifestyle and it was my outlet to genuinely express myself and my thoughts. Over the years, it has become not only a great outlet to connect with millions of people from all over the world, but it has also become a full-time business and job for thousands of people including myself.

For the last 8 years, I have invested my entire life into producing content, interacting with my followers, marketing myself, shooting new projects, working with brands, building business relationships, and most importantly, turning my brand into a full-time career that has allowed me to do what I do. To see other people who just started their brands trying to cheat their way through the system is not only disheartening, but it’s also dishonest and morally just wrong. I don’t think anyone who buys their followers could be proud of something like that. That’s not hard work and dedication day in and day out – that’s just laziness and ultimately, a short-term plan that will get them nowhere in the long-term.

There’s no feeling of great success and achievement that comes with faking your audience. I wake up everyday with a feeling of such gratitude and pride to have come so far and to have been so patient through the process of so many years. While I believe that brands are becoming much smarter and educated when it comes to marketing using influencers, there are still a lot of brands that are learning how to work with influencers on instagram and many of them are scouting out influencers that have fake followers, likes, and comments. This ultimately will lead to a zero return on investment for those brands, which loses them hundreds or thousands of dollars. It’s downright scamming people if you are buying your engagement and then charging brands money to promote their products.

The other scam I would like to address are the current giveaway loops happening on instagram. When I initially saw them happening, I thought “what a cool idea – a great way to give back to my followers, and also expand my audience”. It turns out that this “cool idea” is actually just another way of essentially scamming people to follow you, and really has nothing to do with giving gifts to them. I made the mistake of joining a few of these a while ago, and I will never participate again. Sure, there may be a winner who receives some awesome prizes, but the truth is, in the long-run this is extremely damaging to your brand. People are smarter now and know that for the most part, these things are tricks to boost engagement, growth, and much less about the benefit of the audience. If you’ve participated in the giveaway loops before, you’ll notice that 50% the people who followed you will unfollow you because they didn’t win – and chances are, they won’t participate in the next one. Things I also noticed after participating in a few giveaways and experiencing this firsthand, is that my followers would get greatly discouraged and many of them would lose interest in me and my content. They also would find it as a great reason to unfollow my page because I was disrupting my professional content with tacky, unattractive “GIVEAWAY” images. For about a month after I stopped doing these giveaway loops, my engagement had cut in half and I had lost the value of my brand in not only my eyes, but in many of my followers eyes too.

One thing that HAS seemed to work in my favor is to just be genuine and stop caring so much about growing your brand, and start putting more into the people that already do follow you. Investing in my content daily, focusing on interacting with my audience daily, replying to comments and direct messages, liking and commenting on my follower’s own instagram pages just to put a smile on their faces…THOSE are the steps you can take to ensure you will grow your brand into something that’s long-term. If your content is superb and you’re a good, hard-working person, you will grow your brand, I can guarantee you that. You can NOT fake the grind. There are no “shortcuts” to real success. Remember that.

-Lyss

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A Few Of My Favorite Things

So I know this post is totally late after the holidays but I’ve been getting a lot of messages regarding what products I love and use. I decided to make a quick list of all my favorites things I think are worth the buy! 🙂

UNDER $150

Clarisonic Brush – I LOVE my Clarisonic and I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those of you who love wearing makeup on a daily basis like me. I’m a makeup junkie, but foundation tends to clog my pores if I don’t wash my face really well, so I bought a Clarisonic a few months ago. The brush’s bristles gently remove all dirt, oil, and makeup residue from your skin. I use a makeup remover pad to wipe away the top layer of my makeup, and then I use the Clarisonic brush paired with a facial cleanser to scrub away the excess dirt and oil still stuck in my pores.

Click here to check out the Clarisonic.

 

Chunky Knit Blanket – Fun fact about me, I LOVE my throw blankets and I think they make any apartment or home extra cozy. I own about 10 of them, and drape my couch and bed with them. They add such a comfy feeling to any room, and this brand is one of my favorites.

Click here to check out the blanket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy Hilfger Boots– I recently bought myself a pair of these and I’m in LOVE. They are super comfortable, warm, and so cute. I’ve been wearing them a lot with black sweaters and leggings and they add just a pop of color. They’re also really good to style in fall or winter season, which is important living in NYC 🙂

Click here to check out the boots.

 

 

 

 

UNDER $100

Sephora Perfume Sampler – I personally love switching up my perfume every week and I don’t want to spend hundreds on individual fragrance bottles, so this set is perfect. It gives you a great range of “test” perfumes that each last about a week, and they’re so cute and tiny that you can fit them into your purse easily. My fave scent from this collection is the one by Elizabeth & James Nirvana. It smells bold but not too sweet.

Click here to check out the perfume set.

 

 

FujiFilm Instax Mini Camera – I carried this camera around with me this year and took the most adorable, spontaneous shots! This is the perfect camera for those of you who love printed “vintage” photos in an instant. I love being able to just snap a photo and have it print a second later. I pinned all of the little pictures to my bedroom wall and I made a collage out of them. This also makes a great gift for anyone who loves photography and doesn’t have an “instant” camera yet 🙂

Click here to check out the camera.

 

 

 

Let It Glow Beauty Box – This box is filled with amazing high-quality goodies. It is worth the splurge in my opinion. I love beauty boxes that honest bloggers have curated because it makes it that much easier to know what’s good out there! I love Marianna’s choices and this box makes a perfect gift for yourself or for a friend.

Click here to check out the beauty box.

 

Ale by Alessandra Bodysuit –

I am in love with cute bodysuits because they can go with so many different outfits! I also think they are super comfortable. Typically, I’d wear a black or white bodysuit with denim jeans, or with a mini skirt. I just ordered this one from Revolve, I think it’s adorable and I’ll wear it with a lot of different things. It’s still available in all sizes so get it while you can! 🙂

Click here to check out the bodysuit.

 

 

 

 

 

UNDER $75

 

 

Anthropologie Candle Set – If you didn’t know this about me, I am OBSESSED with candles. I own about 20 different brands from Anthropologie and I love making my apartment smell like a cozy heaven. That’s why these candles are amazing! They come in 4 different scents and smell so so good.

Click here to check out the candles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation – I have a ton of you asking me about my skin and what I use for my foundation. I love medium coverage (not too light, not too heavy) and I have been loving this foundation recently to do just that. It’s a soft matte foundation that covers up everything super well and it has a really nice finish.

Click here to check out the foundation.

 

Classic Denim Shorts – I own about 30 pairs of different jean shorts. They go with everything!!! These are perfect for everyday basics if you are lucky enough to live somewhere warm. I typically pair my jean shorts with a cute bodysuit and high-top sneakers or comfy wedges.

Click here to check out the shorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNDER $50 things I LOVE

Constellation Layered Necklace – soooo cute and a subtle statement piece.

Click here.

 

Cute Plaid Scarf – perfect to compliment any basic outfit and it’s on sale!

Click here.

 

Mini Chain Backpack – perfect for carrying the essentials (phone, wallet, makeup). I bought this on sale a week ago and I LOVE it! It’s adorable and good quality for the price.

Click here.

 

Elizabeth & James Dry Shampoo – this dry shampoo is my FAVORITE and I can’t buy any other brand after using this. It smells like delicious floral perfume so I don’t even need to wear actual perfume.

Click here.

 

I hope you all enjoyed this post! These are just a few of MANY things I love. I also love the ability to support other brands, bloggers and companies. Let me know what other “things” you’d love to see – more fashion, beauty, fitness, etc. in the comments! 🙂

Xo,

Lyss

 

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All Of Your Questions Answered

Hey everyone!

So I decided it would be easiest to have a permanent blog post thoroughly answering all of the repetitive questions I get asked. That way, you can bookmark this and come back whenever you have a question that someone may have asked me before 🙂 I try to respond to as many of you as my fingers will allow me to over instagram but it gets super overwhelming, messy, and often glitchy within the app itself.

I hope you enjoy this and feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments if you have any!

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

  1. What filter and applications do you use for your pictures on instagram?

I use Lightroom to edit all of my photos, and then I add small touches with the in-app instagram photo editing tools. I use my own custom filter I created with Lightroom for my photos. When I first began posting on instagram, I used apps like AfterLight and VSCO, which are amazing apps to start out with. VSCO is free and you can purchase all of their filters in the app, and AfterLight is $1.99. If you are on a tight budget and just starting out, I recommend using one of these apps to gain experience working with editing tools and filters. If you are looking for a more advanced way of editing to match my exact type of feed aesthetic, Lightroom would be the best choice for you. It costs about $120 to purchase for your computer so it’s definitely an investment if you want to become a blogger, photographer, content creator or just to improve your work significantly. You can learn how to use it through Youtube, which is probably the quickest way to pick up on it and start editing with it.

2. What camera do you use to take your pictures?

My first camera was a Canon 70D. I know a lot of you are just starting out, and so I always tell people I use this camera because I still do! It’s my backup, but it’s still an amazing camera and it’s fairly lighter than the one we shoot with now. A year ago I upgraded to the Canon 1DX which is quite large, heavy and intense. I love it, but it’s best if you’re a pro looking to do more video content. I think the Canon 70D is perfect for starting out!

3. How do you grow your instagram following?

My 10 best tips to grow your instagram following can be found here on this blog post.

4. How do I reach out to brands?

Reaching out to brands has become easier than ever nowadays, especially because most brands have their own instagram pages. I simply send them a direct message and ask for their email so we can discuss collaborating. A lot of pages feature a contact button that you can directly email the brands as well. If you are writing an introductory email to a brand, be sure to link your page in the email you are sending and always offer them something of value. For example, if you are just starting your page and would love to try a product for free, offer them an instagram post in exchange.

5. How many followers do I need to work with brands and get paid?

This all depends on who you are, what your content is like, your engagement, and your type of audience. The amazing thing is, brands want to work with influencers of all sizes, big and small. Some brands actually prefer smaller influencers (5,000 followers-50k followers) because they often have a higher engagement and connection to their audience, and they also charge less for a post! Don’t be afraid to reach out and make an effort to work with brands just because you are not as “big” as other people are.

Also – I would focus on creating good content before reaching out to brands. Brands like to see that you are putting in a little effort into your page to make it look pretty and to make your audience active. Once you have built up a solid foundation of content, start reaching out to brands for free products. The key is to give a little before you get paid for anything. I didn’t get paid for the first 2 years I was working on my instagram.

6. Where do you live?

I live in New York City. I was born on Long Island which is about an hour train ride outside of the city.

7. Is it expensive to live in New York? Why did you choose to live there?

It is very expensive to live here, but it helps if you have roommates of course. You are paying for the location and the experience. It is amazing to have restaurants and little bodegas on every corner open 24 hours. There are hundreds of coffee shops, cute boutiques, markets, and parks to hang on every few blocks you walk. The city just feels so vibrant and energetic at all times and I feel like it has helped shape who I am a lot. You have to get used to it for sure, but I love it!

8. Where are your favorite places to take pictures in NYC?

Some of my favorite places to take photos are:

  1. St. Cloud Rooftop in the Knickerbocker hotel
  2. The Press Lounge at ink48 hotel
  3. The Roof at Public Hotel
  4. FlatIron and Madison Square Park area
  5. Times Square at night (the lights are amazing)
  6. Grand Central
  7. Jimmy at the James hotel rooftop
  8. Nomo Soho and surrounding area
  9. Top of the Rock and Bar 365
  10. Bryant Park

9. What are you passionate about other than being an influencer?

I love to sing. It’s been something I’ve doing since I’m 5 years old. I love performing and even though I get nervous in front of crowds, I’ve gotten a lot better at speaking and showing who I am in front of people as I’ve gotten older. I also love to write. I think writing and expressing yourself is such a powerful, beautiful thing.

10. What is your job? What do you do, how do you make money, etc.?

You can read all about my job and what I do on this blog post here.

11. Did you go to college? What did you study?

I graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with an English degree and minor in Global Studies.

12. Did you know you were going to become an influencer?

I honestly had no idea what was in store for me when I began my social media career. I used instagram as an outlet during college. I didn’t go out too much, and I liked to do my own thing. I was always low key and simple, so when I started my account, the only people who knew about it were a few of my closest friends. Then, as it grew, my college wrote an article about me in their newspaper and suddenly everyone knew me on campus as the instagram girl. It was pretty crazy, and strange because people started to make fun of me. Back then, instagram wasn’t as popular yet and everyone was just like, what is this girl all about?

13. How do you stay on track to achieve your goals without giving up?

I wouldn’t want to look back in 30 years and regret not pursuing my dreams. I know in order to be happy with my life, I need to at least try to pursue what I love. Failure isn’t an option anymore in my head. Anything is possible with the right skills, mindset and attitude. If you remind this to yourself daily, you’ll realize that it’s the truth! This is the truth I live by and it helps me push forward even when I fail.

14. What’s the worst failure you’ve ever experienced and how did you learn from it?

I lost a lot of money at a time in my life when I was careless. I felt like a failure. I had gotten scammed essentially, from someone that I don’t know online, and I felt so pathetic in that moment. I cried a lot that day to say the least. It’s okay to feel upset or disappointed, but don’t let those feelings stop you from bouncing back and starting over. Take a lesson learned out of your failures and use those failures to teach you how to succeed. I see everything as an important lesson, whether it’s a big or small mistake, it always helps to view it from that perspective.

15. What are the best places to eat in New York?

Some of my favorite spots include:

  1. Joe’s Pizza for pizza
  2. Cafeteria for lunch and American eats
  3. The Smith for continental food
  4. Momoya for sushi
  5. La Pecora Bianca for coffee and small breakfast bites
  6. Two Hands for brunch
  7. By Chloe for vegan eats

16. Where is your favorite destination spot?

My top favorite is Greece (Mykonos and Santorini)! I went this year for the first time and it was so insanely beautiful. I can’t wait to go back.

17. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an influencer?

The top 3 tips I always give to people who want to become an influencer is:

  1. Understand what you want to be known for. This was something I had a lot of trouble figuring out throughout my career as a social media personality. I started out with fitness, and then transitioned over time into more travel, lifestyle and just being myself. I think if you stick to what you’re good at, you’ll succeed.
  2. Invest your time into your content. Content is key to growing a fan base and making people want to keep following your journey. I used to wonder why my engagement was so “low” and no one would comment on my photos. It was honestly because they sucked and I had no idea, hahaha. I had to dig through people’s accounts and research what worked for them. I had to research how to improve my photography skills and how to edit properly. It takes time.
  3. Be active and engaged with other influencers. There’s no better way to start than by being active in the community you want to be a part of. Instagram makes this easy. Leave unique and supportive comments on your favorite influencer’s photos. Send a hundred DM’s until you get a reply. Some influencers will read, respond, and even message you back. I know that I do! 😉

18. How old are you?

I am 24 years old, and my birthday is in less than a month! I always thought 25 was SO old, and now I’m like, wait…I’m just getting started with my life! It’s okay to set your own timing and path. A few of my friends are getting married already, and my brother’s both have kids! I know those things will come for me at a later time, but for now, I just want to feel free, and pursue my dreams. I’m much more career focused than relationship & “settling down” focused right now, which is not a bad thing. I think 25 is YOUNG. With social media, I can relate to the younger generation, and I can be a role model for them. It’s all about perspective 🙂

19. What are your goals for the future?

My future goals is to be an even more successful influencer by reaching more people and connecting with them, and showing people that it’s possible to achieve any dream you set your mind to. I also want to be a successful singer and go to the Grammys. I have a feeling 2019 will be the year. 19 is truly my lucky number! <3

I’m going to end this post on number 19. If you have any other questions for me, feel free to write them in the comments!

Xo,

Alyssa

 

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When I Was Bullied…

If this story can resonate with at least one person today, I know it was worth writing. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I’ve been reflecting on the past year and how drastically my life has changed. I have never felt more loved and connected to you, my audience, the people that follow along on my adventures and make everything possible for me day by day. If you knew how thankful I was that you’re even taking the time to read this right now…just seriously. It means so much to me.

This blog post is going to be about my story growing up and how I was never the “cool kid”. I was never in a clique, I never was the “popular” girl, or had tons of “cool” friends to hang out with. I was never invited to the cool parties, either. In my heart, even at a young age, I knew I was going to be someone special. I remember telling my mom at 10 years old that I was going to be someone extraordinary. Looking back, I realize I had a ton of confidence for a girl who wasn’t accepted by the popular crowd. But…needless to say, it wasn’t a smooth and easy ride through my school years. It was freaking HARD. I’ll never forget how it made me feel.

In high school…

I was bullied a lot through my teenage years. Some comments were about me being too skinny, some were about my nose and how big it was because it didn’t fit my face, other comments were about the way I dressed because I wasn’t the most stylish, and others were just people finding a reason to bully. It was the little things people would say to you as a kid that hurt the most even though now I can laugh about it…those little things seemed so big at the time. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to just keep shining bright and keep doing exactly what I’m doing–being myself and owning it.

There were times when I would come home in tears because everyone got invited to a party and I didn’t. Or there was the time when I hosted a birthday party and 70 people RSVP’ed, and then not one single person showed up. I had set up an entire floor of my house filled with snacks, drinks, decorations, everything. And I waited for 2 hours…not one person came. I later found out someone who was considered cooler than me decided to throw a party over mine, and everyone chose theirs. I know these instances may sound ridiculously silly to some of you reading this right now (I’m smiling and laughing as I’m writing this), but trust me – when you’re 14 years old, these things hurt man.

In college…

College was a bit intimidating for me, but going into it, I was still super excited to start an entirely new chapter of my life. My university heavily focused on Greek life, and if you weren’t in a sorority as a girl, I thought it would be impossible to make friends. My heart was telling me not to join one, even though I had a ton of pressure to do so. I have nothing against Greek life and I believe for some girls it’s such a great way to connect and make friendships! But for me, I just felt it wasn’t my thing. It was hard for me to really dive into that world, and I ended up choosing to join a singing group instead. That group was the best decision I could have made for myself because I loved to sing, and the people were such amazing friends that I’ll always love for the rest of my life.

Needless to say, not joining a sorority came with a bit of a price. I was friends with a lot of the guys in fraternities (I’ve always gotten along better with guys. I grew up with two older brothers and it’s just my nature). Some of these girls in sororities at my college would talk so badly about me behind my back, and their words would always somehow find a way back to me through my guy friends. I knew about it, but I ignored it because I never liked to get involved in drama. I’m not a confrontational person. But the worst part was when these girls made a thread in Yik Yak about me. Yik Yak is a mobile app that connects people in a close area (it’s popular on college campuses), and it allows anyone to write in a forum anonymously. They would write things about me, blasting it to everyone on my campus, about how ugly and pathetic I was. They would also write the harshest things about my instagram. I immediately deleted the app after reading some of it, and I never downloaded it again.

A photo of me from college, and one of the first instagram “mirror selfies” I’d ever posted. Hahaha my leggings were awesome.

I think the way I’ve learned to get over bullying is to just tune it out and tell myself that I am making a positive and important difference in the world by being true to myself. It doesn’t matter if other people accept me, it matters if I accept me. Kindness will always overpower everything, and I know that by being loving, open-hearted and forgiving, I will ultimately have a better and more successful (and happier!!) life. I refused to let the words and actions of other people tear apart my worth, because I knew my worth and that was all that mattered to me. It’s still all that matters to me – and at the core of my foundation, there lies indestructible confidence and strength that I’ll always carry with me.

Over these past holidays, I was sitting with my parents at dinner and we were talking about my childhood. My mom looked up at me from her plate and said, “Alyssa, you were always very different, from as early as I can remember. You always did your own thing and beat to your own drum.” What she said made me smile because it suddenly reminded me of how I got to where I am today in the first place. I had overcome all of the bullying, the days where I felt lost, confused and like I’d never have friends or fit in with anyone. I pushed past the days where I felt alone, because deep in my heart, I guess I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. That I’d find my peace, and the right people to walk into my life, at some point and time. It was just a matter of patience and staying strong, but more importantly, staying TRUE to myself…however “nerdy” that may be 🙂

Xo,

Lyss

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