color me pretty / how color shapes your brand


color me pretty / how color shapes your brand

Color is huge when it comes to your branding. I am not a professional designer, but I'm sharing my personal experience as I've navigated this whole brand game.

Remember that in inspiration board you created? (if you missed this post, you can read about it here) We are going to put it to use in creating your brand. And the first way we’re going to do that is by evaluating what color(s) are used most prominently on your board.

how many?

How many colors are acceptable? REALLY. Most designers will tell you to choose up to three main colors and no more than three secondary colors. For example, Belong’s main colors are black and white and our secondary colors are bright pink, bright green and bright yellow. (that's a lot of "bright"--maybe I should come up with something a little more creative like flamingo, kelly and sunshine?!)

Some other examples of this are… (all from pinterest).

color theory /

Take those colors and look up (ie google) their meaning—for example, yellow is happy—and ask yourself if that is what you want your business to reflect. If not, you may want to go back and do some revisions on your inspiration board. Keep in mind that colors can mean different things depending on the culture, situation and industry.

color me pretty / how color shapes your brand - a little about color theory for female entrepreneurs, lady bosses, women in business and creatives

Can you feel it?

Here are some examples of brands that are using color to shape their customer's experience. What do you think? 

color and logos - how color shapes your brand for female entrepreneurs, women in business, lady bosses and creatives on the belong magazine blog

let's get technical /

You've chosen your colors, you know what they mean and how they make people feel. Now, how do you make them a reality--AND CONSISTENT--in all forms of your communication. There are several types of color systems you'll want to know about--for print and on-screen.  

CMYK / 4-Color Process Printing: this is referring to the four colors that are combined to make up your chosen color. C=cyan, M=magenta, Y=yellow and K=black.  (Files you can use with this process are .eps, .pdf and .tif.)

SPOT COLOR / Pre-Mixed Inks: The Pantone Matching System is a color numbering and swatch system that allows you to match colors exactly while insuring consistency. (Files you can use with this process are .eps and .pdf.)

RGB / Additive Color Mix: these colors are made by mixing various different amounts of Red, Green and Blue light on a screen. Some will not convert accurately to CMYK or Spot Color and literally cannot be printed. (Files you can use with this process are .png, .jpg, .gif, .svg.)

If this sounds like another language to you, don't worry. If you have colors that really stick out to you that you just love and want to replicate, use the Pantone Studio app to help you determine the exact colors for you instead of having to do it yourself. It might even be fun! Or, if you don't want to buy the BIG (expensive!) swatch book(s), you can find some fun alternatives below.

I love seeing the different color schemes that new brands come up with--not only the schemes, but the ways in which they use them to evoke certain emotions or connotations. What are some of your favorite combinations?

Next up on the non-designers guide to branding is all about fonts! Click below to stay in the loop so you don't miss a post!

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6 tips to throwing a party on a budget


6 tips to throwing a party on a budget


We all want our kids (or anyone!) to feel special and celebrated on their birthday. It reminds us of our childhood, all the different birthday cakes we had and the excitement of our friends and family coming to our house to celebrate. Then, we snap back to the present and compare our birthday party vision for our child’s party to our budget, and the record screeches to a stop.

How in the world did our parents afford to have all those birthday parties for us?!

6 tips to throwing a party on a budget by Christa from @sweetoliviacelebrations for female entrepreneurs, lady bosses, women in business and the busy creative on the Belong Magazine blog

I ask a group of women, “What is the hardest part of party planning for you?” Time and time again, one of the most popular answers is: budgeting. There is never enough money to do all the things you envision for your child’s birthday party. I don’t care if your budget is $200 or $2000, there is going to be something you want to do, but can’t afford.


know where to shop /

I very rarely shop at a party store for party supplies. Why? Because they know that busy parents will take advantage of that one-stop- shop benefit they offer, so their prices are higher. It might be convenient, but when you’re working with a budget, you might have to sacrifice a little more time shopping. My favorite stores to stretch a party budget are dollar stores, craft stores, and big box stores.

Here is an idea of the things you can buy at each place:

DOLLAR STORES: crafting supplies for games and decor, games, party favors, party plates, utensils, ready-made decorations, wrapping paper, plastic tablecloths, serving trays

CRAFT STORES: crafting supplies for games and décor, home décor items that can be used for party theming, cake making supplies and decorations, candy molds for easy party favors, scrapbook paper for easy décor DIY projects, fabric

BIG BOX STORES (think Walmart or Target): on-trend party décor, party favors, craft supplies, cake from the bakery department, and groceries

rent supplies /

If you don’t have room in your budget to buy the extra tables, chairs, or any extravagant decorations that will be perfect for the party…but you will likely never use again… consider renting these items. You should be able to find a party supply rental company near you with a quick google search. You can rent tables in all shapes and sizes, chairs, arches, centerpieces, linens, plates, etc. You can really customize your supplies to fit your party theme and save up to 75% versus buying the supplies.

simplify /

You can have an amazing party without decorating your front yard, your porch, the entryway, the living room, and the dining room. Your whole house does not need to be party central! You will get more bang for your buck if you concentrate your party decorations in just one room of the house. I suggest choosing the dining room, so when cake is served and “Happy Birthday” is sung, all the photos of the happy birthday child will include your decorations.

Similarly, don’t go crazy with your party menu. Offer one main dish and a couple snack options. Choose something that is easy to prepare, yet can feed a crowd inexpensively. Some good options include spaghetti, chili, or hotdogs with all the fixings. If you’d rather outsource the cooking, call your local pizzeria or sub restaurant and ask about special pricing for large orders.

limit the guest list /

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to invite your child’s entire classroom to the party. I know…I know…I feel bad when I don’t, too. I never want a child to feel left out. If your child has one or two good friends at school, try to get the parent’s phone numbers so you can invite them without sending invitations to school with your child. You can always reserve the birthday party for family only, but then send cupcakes to school to share with the classroom. (Just remember to coordinate with the teacher on this!)

diy /

Those three little letters could be a nightmare for you to think about, but give it a try! If you have a friend that is particularly crafty, invite her over for lunch (and maybe wine) and have a DIY-decoration-making session. Searching Pinterest will give you all the ideas you need for centerpieces, photo frames, dessert tables, and party games.

recoup some funds after the party /

After the party, recoup some of your money spent by selling your party décor. These are just some of the places you can sell them:

 Facebook garage sale group for your city

 Buy-Sell-Trade apps like OfferUp

 Another mom in a local play group

 The school PTA

 Craigslist

 Consignment Stores

Someone is planning a party and would love to have all their decorations already made for them!

At the end of the day, your child isn’t going to remember how extravagant the party was. He may not even remember what decorations hung on the walls. What he will remember is the way he felt on his birthday—the same feeling we have thinking back and reminiscing on our childhood parties.

Christa has always been a creative in her personal life, but it took her almost 20 years to realize her work should reflect that, also. Through her event planning company, she helps brides-to-be make their wedding unique by infusing their own relationship into the wedding details. And through Sweet Olivia Celebrations, she empowers busy moms to celebrate their loved ones through parties.

Website | Facebook | Instagram @sweetoliviacelebrations
Free one-page party planning printable:

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the time is now / why you need to just start your business


the time is now / why you need to just start your business


I’ve never been told outright that I’m too young to start my own business, but the message was there. I always got the sense that people didn't really take me seriously— that my ideas were “cute” like a child’s art project, not valid like an adult’s career.

Okay, I’m not saying that parents need to invest in every business idea their twelve-year-old throws out there. But in all seriousness, when I started my first blog in junior high, I think I was on to something.

the time is now: why you need to just start your business already! with guest radiance  @doyourradiance - female entrepreneurs, lady bosses, women in business, creatives at heart

I’m now a freshman in college, and I must have started and abandoned at least a dozen projects since that first blogging business venture. This try-fail-try again process was the theme of my high school career, but I never quite felt that anything I was doing was actually going to be successful. It’s not that I wasn’t able or equipped to make it happen— rather, it’s that I held myself back. I was too afraid to put myself out there, too afraid of criticism, and so used to not being taken seriously. I would get a brilliant idea, plan it out so perfectly, buy all the materials and make all the things... and then never tell anyone about it.

I failed before I even started.

I followed the social media accounts and subscribed to the email lists of all the best female entrepreneurs out there, but I didn’t think that I could actually be like them. For starters, they had 200k+ followers, which is 200k+ more followers than I had. I wanted to get serious about running a business like they were, but I started to fall into the “maybe you should just wait” trap.

Wait until you’re older.

Wait until you’re smarter.

Wait until you have more followers.

Wait until you know what you’re doing.

I was tired of my projects failing and I thought that maybe I just wasn’t ready to be an entrepreneur. After all, I was only 18. All those successful people must have just learned something from some part of their life that I haven’t gotten to yet, right? It was probably better to wait until I was older. I’d have both the age and college credentials under my belt for people to finally take me seriously. Right?


All of those “reasons” for waiting are just excuses. You should never doubt yourself (or let others look down on you) because of your age or Instagram following. Most entrepreneurs will even tell you that you’ll never be “ready”, that you’ll never really know what you’re doing, so there’s no use in waiting.

The truth is that wisdom comes with trial and error and success comes with improvement of skills... things you cannot begin to develop if you won’t even let yourself start your business.

I knew this in my heart, that I could only learn by doing, so I soon abandoned my period of waiting. Like most creatives, I couldn’t stay away from the creative scene for long anyways before my restless heart drug me back in. At the start of 2017, I came back to that first passion I started and let die not too many years ago: my blog.

I must have thought for months before actually letting anything go public. Believe it or not, I was still waiting! Despite my self-promise to just go ahead and go for it, the “waiting” mentality was so pervasive it kept me from being all-in. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t release my blog to the public until it was perfect, or until I had a noticeable style and my skills were up to par with the other blogs out there. That maybe if I released a perfect blog, I’d immediately get the followers and subscribers I needed to make this thing, well, a thing. I went on like this for weeks.

But then I just decided to throw all caution to the wind. I published my blog, and I told everyone about it.

This is what I learned:


I was never really interested in the idea of an office job or a corporate ladder. I was much more attracted to the creative world— I dreamed of developing content and being a social influencer— but that was never presented to me as a valid life path. It was reserved for “those few” who had made it big in the internet world, and it was not okay for me to pursue such an impractical goal. Young people are being convinced that it’s better to go to school for a “real” career and then maybe do that other thing on the side.

Randy Komisar describes this as the most dangerous risk of all, “The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

We know the risk, but we take it anyway because we’re afraid of what will happen to us if we end up not being successful on the “impractical” route. I hear stories every day of women who are dissatisfied with their corporate jobs, yet too afraid to leave them behind.

It’s fear that lets us rationalize this decision to hold ourselves back, and fear that drives this kind of need for security or people-pleasing.

I know that I don’t want that and that you don’t either.

Good news is that we can overcome— first, we have to believe that we are worthy of our dreams and able to achieve them.

Then, it’s absolutely essential that we let go of our fear and step into our potential.


Don’t give in to the waiting lie. There is never a day that you will be more “ready” than you are now, and there is never a time that will be more “acceptable” for you to start pursuing your dreams (no matter if you are 12, 22, or 82).

Even if you really feel like you have no idea how to run a business, there is no better way to learn than by doing. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there before you have all the SEO and social media algorithms figured out, or graduate to the status of a professional photographer, or own all the best equipment in your field, etc. But eventually, you have to learn to value the learning process and realize that the only way to build something that your audience responds to is to actually to let them respond as you build. Believe it or not, it has been such a blessing to let my blog grow with my viewers, even if it's not the most put together website out there (yet).

Stop postponing your dreams for a future, “better” situation, and just be present in your journey today.

I promise you, your photography/SEO/marketing/ you name it skills will get better with each and every client, post, or sale.


I know it’s discouraging to see startups with what seems like an infinity larger following than you, but you have to stop chasing those numbers. Instead, focus on your brand: create valuable content for your viewers and build your know/like/trust factor by being authentic from the very beginning.

If you’re genuine and providing value, the right people will come to you!

This kind of slow, organic growth often seems like the opposite of “success” thanks to the overnight billionaires of our day, but you should never underestimate the power of a small base of crazy dedicated fans. The Technium’s 1000 True Fans theory tells us that you don’t need millions, but rather 1000 people that know, like, and trust you so much that they’d buy anything you’re selling. Focusing on finding and attending to these true blue followers is worth much more of your energy than collecting “potential” or “one-time” customers. When we lose sight of this, we start bending over backward trying to bring in anybody and everybody that will click our little blue follow button! Current stats tell us that only 0.02% of followers gained like this will actually be fans that buy our product.

0.02%! So why dedicate your time and energy on expanding your social reach to the ends of the world, collecting people that may never buy your product, when you can focus on just finding and engaging with that 0.02 % from the get go?

Stop treating your fans as mere numbers and start treating them as people that you’re truly thankful for— respond to their comments, go like their pictures and support their projects if they have any. Forget about the big numbers and learn to value (and invest in) your loyal few!

Let go of your fear, give yourself permission to start right now wherever you are, and don’t discount yourself by playing the number game.

You’ve got what it takes, babe, no matter your age or experience level. Don’t let these little stumbling blocks stop you from creating something great! 

Radiance is the health and wellness enthusiast behind Rainmaking, a conscious living community. She adores all things yoga, food, self-love, and travel.

Instagram: @doyourraindance | Website

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board it up! / how to inspire your brand


board it up! / how to inspire your brand

Among the most enjoyable tasks of establishing a brand is the creation of the inspiration board. Remember, you're getting the non-designer's advice here, but sometimes that's all you need, right?!

board it up! how an inspiration board can inspire your brand - perfect for female entrepreneurs, creatives, women in business on the Belong Magazine blog

what is an inspiration board? /

Not to be mistaken with a brand board, an inspiration board is a central space where you collect images or items that you might want to incorporate into your brand. A space where you can see “the big picture” visually. This board should include things that inspire you. Things that evoke a feeling that you are attempting to create with your brand.

Think about things that will bring your brand to life in a real, tangible way.

An inspiration board is a place where you’re able to put all of the pretty things that you like and want your business to look and feel like. It’s documenting in pictures. (BONUS: this will help immensely if you are going to work with a designer or strategist or anyone really. It’s like a peek inside your head.)

types of inspiration boards /

Now that you know what one is, you need to figure out what type of inspiration board you are going to create. There are so many ways to go about this task—the more creative and inventive you are, the more ideas you’ll have. I have a whole pinterest board dedicated solely to inspiration boards which is sort of funny as pinterest boards can actually serve as a way to create an inspiration board all in itself. (You can find my pinterest board on inspiration boards here.)


  • Pinterest board
  • Bulletin board
  • Magnet board
  • A wall
  • The inside of a cabinet door
  • Poster board (foam board or presentation board)
  • Pegboard panel
  • Use your imagination

what do you put on an inspiration board? /

Once you’ve selected what kind of board you are going to create, here are thing to consider including on your board. Keep in mind that some boards allow you to actually include objects and not just images, which is kind of fun (are there a pair of scissors that you love or maybe a fabric swatch that has the right texture?)

  • examples font styles
  • colors
  • style (romantic, bold, edgy, casual)
  • design and layout
  • textures
  • logos
  • real life items (fabric swatches and other items that you want to shape your brand)

Don’t be shy! There is no limit to what can go on your board. Let your creative juices run wild and go with your gut. You may be surprised at what you find emerge at the end.

edit your board /

Now that you’ve got it all together in front of you, you can start to see your brand being formed. You’ll see trends in your color choices, font selections, design preferences and more. This is when you can go back and edit the things that don’t quite fit anymore or maybe you don’t like as much as you originally thought you did.

But there is no end to an inspiration board—you can add and subtract from it at any time.


We’re going to splash into color next, so don’t out! Stay in the loop to keep updated when new posts are live.

I’d love to see your inspiration board! Comment with a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.

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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Home Office


5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Home Office


Working from home is the most rewarding and equally isolating experience.

When you're in the corporate world, a day or two of remote working is a nice change of pace. Once I left the that world to open The Study Room, working from home became the norm and the experience completely changed. 

How you use your office space can have a huge impact on how you work.

Setting up your desk and turning on your computer does not mean that you are at your most productive.  

5 ways to make the most of your home office with Lucinda Batchelor of The Study Room London on the Belong Magazine Blog - a must read for female entrepreneurs, women in business and creatives

I have found a few simple, quick wins that can have a huge impact on your productivity. They have made the difference to me, and so many others I have helped in my work as a productivity consultant.

Have a read, make a list (if that’s your preference) and start making your working days count!

1. Think about how you work, then plan and design your space.

Do you know how you work? Look at your desk right now, is everything an "organized mess" or is everything filed and in sections? Finding out how you work is the key to creating your space. If you are an organized mess type of worker, you need a large space to help carve through your workload, one "organized mess" at a time. If you work with piles and piles of paper and files, you need a space that is large enough to contain your system, with lots of storage solutions. Make sure you have room for your computer, a notebook, pen and possibly (definitely) a coffee.

2.Create a Filing System that works for you

Once you have figured out how you like to work, the next issue becomes where to put all the papers, receipts and everything you need to run a business. (Seriously, no one ever mentioned to me how much paperwork you accumulate when you work for yourself!) Storage bins will become your newest and best friend!

The bane of my existence is receipts. Receipts for coffee, stock traveling, and well, everything. Sometimes, (well, all the time) sorting them to get them ready for the accountant is the last thing I want to do. To tackle this, I use a receipt dump bin which has saved my life. I'll throw the contents of my overladen purse into it at the end of each workday. Not only does this make my purse lighter and my mind less cluttered, it allows me to segment my "work" life from my "civilian" life.

Other ways of filing could include a segmented “In/In Progress/Out” tray. Allowing you to see not just all the work that you’ve to do, but all the work you have completed are and in the middle of. 

Assign a day to go through your calendar, file your receipts and have a general check-up of all things admin for the business. This will help you feel less overwhelmed and will help your productivity. Being clear about the tasks ahead will always take the pressure off; giving you the opportunity to breathe, take stock of your progress and move forward with new ideas. 

3. Set the Mood

The mood in your office will influence your productivity too. If you are working in a dark and morose room, your mood and productivity will reflect that; nothing will get done! The science behind it is called colour theory and explains why yellow can make you feel both happy and hungry (think McDonalds) or why blue can instantly make you feel calm.

This website explains the effects of each colour in detail.

Colour combinations I have found to help with productivity are:

  • White & Green –The white reflects light and makes a room brighter. The green promotes balanced thinking and creativity.
  • White, Blue & Orange –Against a base colour of white, orange and blue accents promote calm, comfort and motivation; creating the perfect environment to have your best ideas.

Quick wins to utilize colour theory while working on the move is to have dedicated stationery. I carry a Rhodia Pad and my trusty pen, filled with green ink. The green ink really does help me to think creatively, even when I am not at my desk.

Your computer and how your sit can also affect your productivity; if you are hunched over or straining to see or type that will, of course, affect the length of time you can work. Invest in a laptop stand and foot rest, or prop your desktop up with a riser. This will help you to sit up straight, get thinking and be your most productive!  

4. You need greenery!

Never underestimate the power of plants! Not only are they pretty and incredible to Instagram, they are perfect tools to make you your most productive.

A 2010 Study highlighted that having plants in an office can reduce tension and anxiety by up to 37%! The cleaner air generated from plants in your office can assist with your concentration, help you make fewer mistakes and provides much needed humidity to keep you at your healthiest.

Are you most creative when you are out in nature? Bring the outside, in and let your creative streak shine through!


  • Aloe –not only great for your skin and body, this low maintenance plant is a master at cleaning toxins from the air, creating a purified and productive office space. You could even snap a piece off and add it to your glass of water. Who doesn’t love a multi-tasker?

  • Rubber Plants –Next to the succulent (the most instgrammed... ever) the rubber plant is a perfect addition to an office. Like the Aloe plant, the leaves absorb chemicals and microbes from the air and pump out much needed oxygen.

  • English Ivy –Helps reduce mold spores in the air as well as being one of the easier (and slightly wilder looking houseplants) to have in your home. This does the job of all the others with even less effort!

5. Embrace it!

One of the easiest things that can boost your productivity is to remember why you started in the first place. The leap of faith it takes to start a business is huge and it takes a certain character to do so.

Working from your home office can provide a level of flexibility not seen in a traditional working environment. If you feel stagnant in your own space, you can go to a coffee shop and spend an hour or two working to get your rhythm back, you can reflect by taking a walk or simply doing something else for an hour.

Do what you need to do to get your productivity mojo back! These are simple quick wins to help jumpstart your working day. There are so many more to think about and so many more I haven’t yet discovered, but that’s the fun of forging your own way and that is the reason why we all go into business for ourselves right?

Lucinda Batchelor is the Founder & Director of The Study Room London and a productivity consultant, who works from her productive home office in London. Having opened her luxury, productive stationery store online she found that her clients and customers felt isolated when working so created an exclusive collective for creative freelancers and small businesses to commune and find their voice.

Facebook & Instagram: @thestudyroomlondon | Twitter: @studyroomlondon | Website

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learning an important, creative business skill through dance


learning an important, creative business skill through dance


When I was back in college, my favorite dance professor was teaching a course in how to create original choreography (think of it as content creation with a human body) and on the first day, she told us something that I still have scribbled in the corner of a cherished notebook. She said, “Good choreography is observing the problem in front of you, figuring out as many ways as possible that it can be solved, then choosing the most original or authentic resolution.” As if the statement didn’t make enough of an impact, the entire time this tiny 60-something year old woman spoke, she simultaneously contorted herself into bizarre positions on the floor as examples of the unlimited number of possibilities that exist to solve a problem.

how one woman learned an important, creative business skill through dance with Ruby Smith on Belong Magazine Blog

This simple gem of wisdom inspired me in creating choreography for future performances and projects, but I really began to see how far it could reach once I started blogging and designing a website. It hit me that this advice is directly applicable to business as well.

How exactly, one may ask, can a dance improvisation technique be used to improve our creative problem-solving skills in the workplace and in our lives?

1.      Observation.

The first step in applying my professor’s advice is to practice the art of objectively observing a problem, which is often easier said than done. I know I tend to be quick to immerse myself in an issue, sucked into the panic and anxiety of it all. We get stuck inside of a tiny knot of tangled limbs (as a dancer it happens literally) and finding release can be difficult. The best thing to do is breathe, step backwards and just look. Observe. Take a couple leisurely laps around the problem. What are you dealing with?

2. Record all Possible Solutions.

Once we have formed a complete picture, we can start mapping out as many possible ways of solving this problem as our brains can handle. Write them down, sketch them out, whatever we need to do to visualize the fact that this problem is actually solvable in multiple, creative ways. Some of these ideas might be just plain idiotic. That’s okay, write them down too and shake them out of your system. Take note of absolutely everything that comes to mind. Even “bad” ideas are part of the process, as much as our own personal inner critics would like to squelch them. In collaborative business endeavors, every team member is usually given a chance to voice their opinion and in that same way, every voice in your head needs to get out and be heard in order to move on to the next part of the process.

3. Choose any and all possibilities that feel authentic.

Once it is all recorded, look at all of the ideas of how this problem can be resolved and circle (mentally or physically) any or all possibilities that feel particularly original and just true to yourself. In the case of choreography, this may mean that if somehow my arms are twisted awkwardly behind my back (odd things happen in contemporary improvisation), then instead of just releasing them and moving on the the next movement, transition through that twist and find an interesting way out- maybe one arm, then the other. Maybe the arms move quickly, maybe painfully slow, maybe even the legs get involved. You get the picture.

I realized that even without analysis, I was already using this technique when solving business-related issues as a choreographer and director. In one of my very first projects, I ran into more unexpected problems than I could count at the time, including dancers getting sick and dropping out, strict space limitations in where we were performing, and having to stretch the budget more than I had originally imagined. However, instead of freaking out and curling into a tiny ball on the floor, I remembered my professor’s words.

With each challenge, I took some deep breaths, observed where the problem was coming from, figured out all of the possible resolutions, and chose the way through that was both creative and comfortable for me.

These days, I apply this to blogging when I come down with a case of writers block or get bombarded with too many articles telling me what I should be doing as a blogger/freelancer. I have found that generally following these steps is what brings me back around to that creative spark that can get buried in the noise of everything else going on in life.

These steps help to eliminate any “easy-way-outs,” because let’s be honest, at the end of a long day or when we have reached mental or physical exhaustion, sometimes that is all we want. However, we have to remind ourselves that we are better than that. We are creative business owners/artists/dancers/thinkers/makers. Therefore, we have to acknowledge that the first solution we come up with to solve a problem may not always be the best.

It is true that our abilities have natural limits, but that shouldn’t stop us from reaching around and stretching very boundary.

My work is limited to the possibilities of my own body or those of my dancers- how far I can push without injury. Other limits may be budget, time-frame, resources, etc. Whatever your boundary may be, creativity is endlessly generous, bountiful and can thrive even in limited environments.

The way we respond to challenges within our limits is a test of that bountiful creativity, so let’s put it to good use. If we always choose the most authentic resolution, the way we dance around problems will be unique, interesting and all the more beautiful.

Ruby Josephine is an international choreographer, writer, blogger and baker who was born and raised in the midwest and has landed in Tangier, Morocco where she has been living and dancing for the past 3 years. She believes in stretching comfort zones and the power of generous creativity.  

Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

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treat yourself on a budget / indulge in an at-home, mini facial


treat yourself on a budget / indulge in an at-home, mini facial

If you’re reading Belong Magazine, you’re likely either a blogger, entrepreneur, or multi-passionate woman. You’ve got a lot on your plate. Maybe you’re balancing a day job with a side hustle like I am, or you’re just starting up your small business, or you’re a mom with a blog.

Whatever the case may be, time and money for self-care is probably hard to come by.

As much as I’d love to spend full days or weekends relaxing at a spa, it’s just not in my budget! But that doesn’t mean I don’t treat myself. Once a month, I set aside 30-45 minutes and indulge in an at-home mini facial, and you can too!

treat yourself (on a budget) / indulge in an at-home, mini facial with Sami of Florapothecarie on the Belong Magazine Blog - this is for you, female entrepreneur, lady boss, woman in business or creative.

Here’s my routine:

  1. WASH YOUR FACE /  I use Rose + Willow Facial Cleanser. Remember to always pat your skin dry after washing or rinsing it. We don’t want to tug on our delicate skin!

  2. EXFOLIATE / Any of the body scrubs can be used on your face except the Green Tea Salt Scrubs, whose grains are a bit too big for our gentle facial skin. My preference is either the Coffee Sugar Scrub (which also reduces puffiness), Orange Sugar Scrub (it’s so uplifting!) or Rose Himalayan Salt Scrubs (which mineralizes and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles).

  3. APPLY A FACIAL MASK / I use one of my just-add-water clay masks: Charcoal (detox - for oily/acneic skin), Chocolate (hydrate - for all skin types), or Rose (mineralize - for all skin types). For added benefits, you can mix in lots of things besides water — honey, yogurt, and green tea are a few of my go-to’s. Once applied, leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. You can also try a make-it-yourself mask like those you can find in this ebook DIY Natural Beauty on a Budget. The Tropical Brightening & Exfoliating Enzyme Mask with Papaya + Pineapple is my absolute favorite. Plus, the leftover ingredients make a delicious smoothie!

  4. CUCUMBER SLICES ON YOUR EYES / There’s a reason they do this at spas. Those cool cucumber slices reduce puffiness and redness. If you don’t have a cucumber handy, you can use cooled, used green tea bags. (Make yourself some tea first for even more relaxation!) Place these on your eyes while you’re waiting for your mask to dry.

  5. USE A TONER /  The most overlooked step in every skincare ritual is the toner, but it’s the one that could make the most difference in your skin. It did for me. When we wash our face with a soap-based cleanser, the pH level of our skin becomes slightly alkaline. A toner brings it back to balance by adding a little acidity. Balancing your pH level is important because it keeps your oil production in check. Plus, the Rose + Tea Facial Toner contains Aloe Vera, Green Tea Extract, and Rosewater, which hydrate, diminish puffiness, and encourage cell turnover. Use a toner every day after washing your face.

  6. END WITH A FACIAL SERUM / Oil-based facial serums are so much more luxurious and nutrient-rich than water-based moisturizers. Plus, because they don’t contain water, they don’t require toxic chemical preservatives. The Rejuvenating Facial Serum revives lackluster skin, regulates oil production (so it’s great for dry, oily, combination or normal skin), smooths fine lines and wrinkles, and so much more because it’s packed with Vitamins A & E, plus omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It’s the cherry on top of your DIY home facial.

Bonus points if you do this while sipping on a cup of green tea and soaking in the tub. Of course, Florapothecarie makes bathing salts for that too.

Sami Jo Jensen is the founder + natural skincare maker behind florapothecarie, a line of 100% natural + vegan handmade beauty products. Sami has been studying herbalism and creating her own cosmetic concoctions since the age of 11. She’s on a mission to help women embrace their natural beauty, educate them on the toxins in cosmetics, and help them find natural alternatives.

social media / @florapothecarie  //  facebook / instagram / pinterest / twitter

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the entrepreneur life / hustle, self-care and the myth of balance


the entrepreneur life / hustle, self-care and the myth of balance


There’s a very interesting dynamic happening right now in the entrepreneurial world, caused by the opposing forces of hustle and self-care. Depending on who you read, listen to, follow, you’ll see these two concepts tossed around constantly.

Some entrepreneurs are all about the hustle and give very little time to rest.

Others will preach about balance, routine, meditation, and saying no. Me? I’ve got my feet in both pools. You should know: I’m a Gemini.

the entrepreneur life / hustle, self-care and the myth of self balance with guest sami jenson of florapothecaire featured on the belong magazine blog - for female entpreneur, women in business, lady bosses and the creative at heart

Regardless of your astrological sign, the only way to get things done as an solopreneur / blogger / small business owner is to work hard, over-commit yourself, make lists, cross things off, go to bed a little later, get up a little earlier — in short, hustle. As someone with a fairly demanding 9-5 job and a side business that I’m growing into what will (hopefully) one day be full-time gig, I have to live the hustle. I get up early to fulfill florapothecarie orders, I go to work at my 9-5, I get home and answer emails from customers or wholesale buyers, then I eat dinner with my wonderful boyfriend who cooks most of the meals so that I can focus on florapothecarie. After dinner, I schedule social media posts, or write articles for other blogs (like this one), or create emails, or make products.

But I only have so much steam, and it eventually runs out. Then begins the self-care cycle. I’ll go two whole days without reading or responding to emails, checking social media, or fulfilling orders. I’ll take nice long soaks in the bathtub with my bathing salts, I’ll binge on Netflix with my boyfriend and eat too much popcorn and chocolate. (Who am I kidding? There’s no such thing as too much popcorn and chocolate!)

And then my hustle side kicks back in again. I know what you’re thinking: why not incorporate self-care into your daily routine so you’re not doing too much hustle or too much self-care? Why not create balance?



I think if we keep chasing this mythical balance, we’ll drive ourselves crazy with the pressure to appear perfect and to have it all figured out and feel totally calm and at peace. This just isn’t the reality for many entrepreneurs. Some days, we’re working our asses off, and then once that’s done, we reward ourselves by chilling the eff out.

I’m telling you all of this because I think you’re probably like me, and you’re freaking out trying to figure out how to balance all of the work you need to do as the sole person running your business while also trying to find time to be calm, be present, and be with the people you love. I know, I’m figuring it out too. As I said on the Being Boss podcast recently, there will always be one thing that rises to the top. Sometimes it’s your side hustle, sometimes it’s your full-time job, sometimes it’s your partner or your kids if you have them, sometimes it’s your friends, and sometimes it’s yourself. Just make sure to switch up those things so your loved ones and your business aren’t being totally neglected.


Be present.

Try not to think about business when you’re having dinner with your family. And don’t feel bad about letting your partner know that you need a few hours to take care of business stuff. If they love you and support you, they’ll understand. Besides, the next day, you’re going to focus on them. Right? Right.

When you’re ready to focus on you, I recommend taking a nice long soak in the bathtub with one of florapothacarie's bathing salts, and following up with one the brand-new body oils. All of the products are 100% natural, vegan, and handmade by me with so much love because you deserve it after all that hustle.

headshot by

headshot by

Sami Jo Jensen is the founder + natural skincare maker behind florapothecarie, a line of 100% natural + vegan handmade beauty products. Sami has been studying herbalism and creating her own cosmetic concoctions since the age of 11. She’s on a mission to help women embrace their natural beauty, educate them on the toxins in cosmetics, and help them find natural alternatives.

social media / @florapothecarie  //  facebook / instagram / pinterest / twitter

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what is a brand?


what is a brand?

We hear this word tossed around all the time in the creative and entrepreneurial realm. What is branding anyways? And how does one accomplish creating a brand?

Much to the dismay many entrepreneurs, your logo is not your brand. Your logo is the foundation and representation of your brand. Everything about it—the color of the font, the shape, etc…But it is not your brand.

So what is branding?

brand, branding, brand design--whatever you want to call it--we're talking all about. What is it? How do you establish it for your business? Female entrepreneurs. This is for you!

Don’t get me wrong, establishing your brand is a really fun process for most—think about the possibilities! The rainbow of colors you have to choose from, the libraries of fonts to select from and even the inspiration boards that will get your creative juices going. It can be exciting and motivating and invigorating.

According to Entrepreneur, branding is: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. Your brand tells your customers what they can expect from you and sets you apart. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.


You must—I repeat, MUST—take this seriously. I recommend you take some time on this process even though it seems super exciting that you’ve determined that your biz idea has potential, you’ve named it and you’ve got all your legal and money ducks in a row. You’ve been cruising along, and now I’m going to tell you to STOP! But it is for a fun project that you’ll be so glad you took the time for when all is said and done.

You do not define your brand. Your brand is defined by your customer’s perception of your business.

Did you create your imaginary biz BFF? If not, this is an important thing to do BEFORE you try to establish your brand. You can read all about this process and get a worksheet to create this bestie you never knew you needed until now HERE. Many of the aspects of defining your brand come directly out of this exercise. Once you’ve done that, you can move onto using this amazing new resource that some of my favorite, entrepreneur friends just released called the Brand Launch Workbook. Get it here.

“Brand is where image meets experience.” – Brand Launch Co.

Don’t miss the best part—the inspiration boards, colors and fonts—posts on these topics are coming soon. Don’t want to miss them? Click below to stay in the loop!

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How to Care for Your Clients by Caring for Yourself


How to Care for Your Clients by Caring for Yourself


Have you heard the saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup?” It’s true - in life and in business. You cannot give your best when you have nothing left to give. So, how do you ensure that you are putting your best foot forward and providing the support you desire for your clients? 

Sometimes, the demands of life can be too much. We don’t know how to handle it all on our own, but we also don’t know how to ask for help. As women, as entrepreneurs, we can set the bar incredibly high for ourselves. At times, we are still trying to be all things to all people. This will eventually cause burnout. Do you know how to recognize the signs? If you do, how do you react to them? Do you know that you have the answer to address this oncoming burnout - or that you can avoid it completely? 

what’s the secret?

How to care for your clients and customers by caring for yourself. The value of self care for the female creative or entrepreneur. 15 Tips to take care of yourself so you can be your best for your business.

How to care for your clients and customers by caring for yourself. The value of self care for the female creative or entrepreneur. 15 Tips to take care of yourself so you can be your best for your business.

It sounds simple, yet, so many of us take it for granted. Self-care. We must practice self-care. These are intentional actions we take to better our situations, our mental, physical and emotional well-being.

This can take form in multiple ways, but here are some examples:

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Take a walk and get fresh air
  3. Get regular exercise
  4. Indulge in a spa day
  5. Engage in activities or hobbies that you enjoy
  6. Say no to things
  7. Meditate 
  8. Order groceries or pre-cooked meals
  9. Celebrate your loved ones
  10. Treat yourself
  11. Ask for help
  12. Take time off
  13. Go on a dinner date
  14. Schedule time just for yourself
  15. Spend time with your family

how will self-care help you?

Think back on those times where you were just exhausted. What did you do? Did you take the time you needed to recover or did you push through it, further depleting your energy? Let me guess, those days were also some of the hardest days to take client calls or complete projects. Am I right? You have to recognize your own limits, what you can and cannot do. Beyond that, you must respect them. 

how do you respect your limits?

By setting boundaries. You set them for your clients, but have you set them for yourself? Once you’ve identified your limits, put boundaries in place to protect yourself and to keep from pushing towards burnout. Don’t think of these boundaries as restraining. They are there to support you, to keep you focused and at the top of your game.

Are you incorporating self-care into your weekly schedule? What about daily? If you aren’t, you should. Imagine if you made yourself your #1 client or top priority. How would you feel? Energized? Respected? Appreciated? Celebrated? Special? Deserving?

By practicing self-care regularly you are continually filling your cup, making sure that you can give your all. 

There is another habit that will contribute greatly to your self-care practice. And this one might be the most important of them all. Remember that you, just as you are, are enough. Write this down every day. Say it out loud. Remind yourself that you are enough. This is one of the most powerful things you can do to protect your energy, to recognize your worth and to understand your value. You are human and no human is perfect. All you can hope to be is the best possible version of yourself. This might mean taking a step back at times. But, if it ultimately helps you to move forward, isn’t it worth it?

Remember, taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite. By ensuring that you are well-cared for, you are ensuring that your clients get the best support you can provide.

When you are at your best, everyone benefits. 

Nicole Ramano is a international coach and mentor who helps women create businesses and lives that they love. Nicole enables her clients to move past their fears and leave their make on the world. She believes you deserve to be happy, every day.

Follow her adventures on instagram, facebook and her website.

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How an Imaginary BFF Could Transform Your Business

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How an Imaginary BFF Could Transform Your Business

I knew from the very beginning that this was going to drive my business, so I immediately honed in on my new BFF: Elizabeth.

Some people call them avatars, some call them ideal clients.

I call her Elizabeth.

Create entrepreneur, female business woman, avatar, ideal client, perfect customer, women in business. 

Elizabeth is my imaginary friend that helps me make business decisions. She’s the best and most loyal friend I’ve ever had. She is always around! Which is why I created her—so I would always have a reference point for who my ideal customer/client/audience is.

Would you like to meet Elizabeth?

WELL.....OKAY..... (wink wink)

She is the typical Belong Magazine reader. Between 18-45, she is a mom, friend, fashionista, entrepreneur, homemaker, wife, student, volunteer, crafter, cook, career woman and much much more. She is a creative soul (or wants to be), always multi-tasking. Her workspace is overrun with different projects she is managing, but usually displays a fresh bouquet—preferably peonies. She is interested in design and fashion and she likes to stay current. This philosophy applies to music as well. She believes in getting dressed every morning which usually includes makeup (at least some lipstick--though pants are optional), not because she feels pressured or cares what other people think, but because she cares how she feels about herself. It’s not uncommon to find her in heels when she’s working at home or wearing a dress to the grocery store. Though time is limited, she loves to read (the classics, but secretly loves chick lit too) and a plethora of magazines, and is addicted to netflix and hulu. She is smart, savvy and also knows the value of high quality–such as a great bag with provenance that will last. She is health conscious but not consumed; she exercises regularly, but her treats are a must (ice cream anyone?). Family and friends, with whom she adores laughing, call her “Elle”. She also enjoys meaningful connections with like-minded women. She considers herself a hospitable homebody, doesn’t dream of exotic vacations, but would rather go on a date to dinner and a movie (though, she admits, the buzz of NYC does appeal to her). It’s not uncommon to find her online, shopping or scouring pinterest for style tips, chic decor finds, business advice and pretty, everyday solutions to managing it all. She carries a beverage with her everywhere—coffee, water, soda, tea, etc…because it keeps her hands busy when it’s inappropriate to be on her phone, which Elizabeth doesn’t go anywhere without. How else would she stay current on instagram?!  Or anything else for that matter! Because of her many interests and responsibilities, she often feels lost in the traditional stereotypes and just wants to find place where she belongs.

Of course, she has her own pinterest board if you'd like to get to know her a little better. 

Okay, so I know that in reality not every customer is going to fit into this elaborate persona that I’ve created. I know that not every point of interest (or contention) will be applicable to every reader of Belong. However, I do know that most of you reading this can relate to Elizabeth in some way. Am I right?

Just like a brand board can help you with your visual presence, having an “imaginary business BFF” can help you with your decision making on a day-to-day basis. What would she like? What would she do? What does she need to hear or read or see?

Are you ready to make friends with your new imaginary biz BFF? Use this worksheet to help you hone in on who she is.

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Flat Lay Props


Flat Lay Props

If you are a female creative and/or entrepreneur, you know the importance of good images. And not just any kind of image, flat lay photos have become a staple for many women running their own businesses--for instagram, for blog posts, for pinterest and product shots. So where do you get your hands on some of these adorable props that you see around the web? I'm going to share a few of my fave sources and props with you here.

favorite flat lay prop sources


The Dollar Spot does it every single time. There are so many fun props from stationary to party supplies to seasonal goodies. And, bonus, everything is $5 or under.


There are so many fun and colorful items to be found at The Ink Road. You'll find the items pictured above (skeleton clips, teardrop clips and those sweet travel scissors), washi tape and unique, colorful paper that could add a pop to any photo.

flat lay props for female creatives and entrepreneurs perfect for blog posts, instagram posts, pinterest pins, and more.


I think this may be my absolute favorite source for props (and many other things) because the prices are amazing and I don't have actually have to leave the house. And, if you have prime, you get free 2-day shipping on most items (try prime for free for 30 days HERE). You can even grab office supplies like paper which is a pain to haul home. It's like heaven! 

washi tape  /  marble bowl  /  scissors set  /  tassel  /  polka dot notebook  /  brass number set  /  green moleskine notebooks  /  clip set  /  colored pencils  /  faux air plants  /  folding tape measure  /  black + white pencils  /  hand-held stapler  /  twine  /  black ruler  /  sharpies  / green marble notebook  /  black + white striped ribbon  /  pantone postcards  /  gold scissors  /  gold stapler  /  keyboard  /  faux succulents  /  foam board  /  presentation board

marbled notebooks  /  pencils  /  pencil holder


Modcloth has some of the most unique and fun items around, such as the ones pictured above:  marbled notebooks  /  pencils  /  pencil holder  / unicorn pencil holder. They also have some pretty fun clothing and jewelry items too, while you're there.

There are tons of other great sources, but I'd love to hear where you get your favorite flat lay props. Leave your source in the comments. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

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The Business of Business / 5 Things You Don't Want to Think About But Must Do For Your Business


The Business of Business / 5 Things You Don't Want to Think About But Must Do For Your Business

The business of business can be a bit overwhelming—especially for the creative entrepreneur.

I don’t know about you, but my mind does not have auto pop-up windows when there are legal or accounting issues to consider. (I wish!)  I write this as a fellow, female creative entrepreneur who is by no means an expert at any of this, but I have gone through it from the position of UTTER CLUELESSNESS. So this list is just to get you started—think of these items as pop-up windows. Look into the resources mentioned or do some google digging and find the info you need to do things right because you’ll be so glad you did.

The business of business - 5 things that female entrepreneurs don't want to think about but must do for their businesses before they get in too deep - on the Belong Magazine blog

I heard it over and over again—do it right at the beginning, get a lawyer to help you—you’ll be glad you spent the money, keep it separate, etc… But I did not heed that advice. I tried to do it my way. And here is what I learned:

you don't know what you don't know.

And sometimes, the stuff you don’t know is the stuff you NEED to know so that you don’t find yourself in a pickle because, trust me, I’ve been there and it is not a comfy place to be.

You do not have to hire a full-time staff member, but rather reach out for a one-time consultation with an attorney and/or accountant just to be sure that you’re structuring things properly and protecting yourself. They will be able to look at things from a fresh, professional and trained perspective to advise you how to move forward with your biz the RIGHT way.

Things you need to do before you get too deep:

1 / ESTABLISH AND REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS – STATE + FEDERAL (and sometimes county and city)

This is where an attorney is a life-saver. They can help you choose whether you should incorporate, what form of corporation, etc… AND they can help with the paperwork. It’s an investment well spent.

Read the article by Annette Stepanian in ISSUE 04 available in digital and print format and look at our Resource Guide to find an individual who can help you.


This should be pretty straightforward, but it does mean that you have to physically go to the bank and open up a new account. Call first to see what information you are required to have so that you don’t’ have to make more than one trip. Let’s be honest, we’re busy and don’t have time to mess around.


Hello, accountant! This is where they come in. An accountant can help you determine the ins and outs of taxes for your business. From sales tax to income tax to deductions and all the stuff in between. There are also most likely resources in your state—just google it.

Read these posts here and here by Amy Northard, CPA and look in our Resource Guide for accountants ideal for female entrepreneurs.


There are many software platforms out there, but at the end of the day, it’s really up to you. If you prefer spreadsheets, that is fine. Just be sure you’re using them and keeping track of things properly and timely. As small business owners, we often serve as our own “bookkeeper” so that means we need to be sure to schedule time after month-end to gather the info from the previous month and input it into our chosen system to see where we stand. Whether you use an accountant or not, you need to be tracking your income and expenses.


Though certainly not at the top of anyone’s list, insurance is a consideration as well. Depending on the type of business you are establishing, insurance may just be a must have on the list. Don’t forget to at least check on it and ask the question.

Are you overwhelmed with tasks? Me too. Which is why we are going to tackle goal setting and task management soon. Click below to stay in the loop so you don't miss a post!

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beautiful mess


My hands were absolutely drenched in paint. Eyes were filling with tears. My legs were numb from sitting in the same position for eight hours. My eyes were tired of critiquing the same spots over and over again. Head was calculating how much money and time I had wasted.

My heart was questioning if I even had the right to call myself an artist.

%22Super Nova%22 - Hand Close Up.jpg

The pressure and emotion continued to mount, until I spontaneously grabbed the paper towel and started removing countless layers of paint. As soon as the paper towel hit the canvas, I felt my stomach plummet and immediately regretted this impulsive decision. I remember thinking to myself, “Look at this mess! How in the world did you think this was going to make it better?!”

This inner conflict only seemed to magnify as I continued to hear the paper towel pull across the canvas. It was my dreadful version of nails across a chalkboard. At this point my body had almost totally given up, both mentally and physically. However, my hands somehow managed to continue to work on the painting. It was as if they were the only part of my body that believed there was something lovely in this mess. They took complete control, and I let them. They continued to guide and nurture the paint in a way that I had never experienced before.

My impatience and emotions had simply reached their limit. Out of pure frustration and anger I threw numerous paper towels filled with paint at the large canvas. Each towel bounced off and landed on the floor of my studio.

As I wiped the pools of tears from my eyes, I realized I was finally on to something.

Not just anything, something that I loved.

This occurrence created a stunning masterpiece, but I believe it happened for a deeper and more meaningful reason. It was a lesson in the simplest and most beautiful form. This shed light on the fact that most of the creations we love, don’t always come from a planned agenda, strategic blueprint, and even logical decisions.

As creatives, we must try to come to terms with the fact that some of our designs or parts of our journey unfortunately aren’t going to be how we first imagined them.

We must own our own genius by relishing in the mess.

We must let the particles land where they may, step back and stand in awe of our “SuperNova”.

Hi! I’m Kaitlin Noverr, the abstract artist behind elysian market. The meaning behind elysian is complex, yet meaningful: beautiful or creative, divinely inspired, peaceful or perfect. This word embodies the connection and sentiment I strive to give to others through my painting. Most days you can find me in my home studio in Cincinnati, Ohio, wearing paint clothes, getting lost in my painting, and smiling from ear to ear!

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empowered women, empower women.


When you work for a company, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, you often find yourself lusting over the lives of people you follow on social media. People who seem to have their ducks in a row, manage their own workload and do what they want when they want. It’s quite the envious lifestyle.

But how did these people get to that point? Everyone has their own journey.

Empowered women, empower women - care, collaboration and sustainable fashion - belong magazine blog

Back in March 2015, I was made redundant from my full time job. The next few weeks following the redundancy I took some time out to think about what I really wanted to do, what did I care about, what am I passionate about and how do I make that my job? Now, I run a small online store dedicated to selling stylish sustainable fashion that doesn’t hurt people or the planet.

Our online store started as a fashion blog, back when I was naive about what happens behind the scenes of fashion. Whilst researching article topics, I saw how the negative effects of fast fashion directly impacts the environment and garments workers throughout the supply chain. It was then that I decided to watch The True Cost, a feature length documentary film that explores the impact of fashion. This documentary not only changed the direction of the fashion blog but forever changed the way I thought about the clothes I buy and wear.

Approximately three quarters of