IVN YEAR TWO, THE TERRIBLE TWOS

The Crew
Crew Love

What’s life without a little click-bait?! Now that I have your attention I’m thrilled to announce IVN is officially two years old!!! That’s right we’re officially in year two of our journey to fashion icon domination…lol. The last two years have been nothing short of amazing, far from terrible. It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns that’s for sure. If I’m being completely honest I seriously considered abandoning the blog, especially when the pandemic hit. Earlier in the year I felt like I wasn’t growing fast enough, by all standards (standards I created in my head) I was creating meaningful and visually stunning content, right?! So why am I still in the same place, seemingly. I wasn’t where I thought I should be and that is an army of followers on IG and too many subscribers to count.

But I heard my dad’s voice in my head saying ‘Bonehead’ nothing worth it, comes easy. Don’t misunderstand me I don’t want the easy way in, I thrive on progress. If the needle doesn’t move fast enough, I’m low-key freaking out. The fact is people have access to massive amounts of content, printed and digital and I’m just getting started. While most people see the pretty pictures, the business of influencing is an ACTUAL business. There’s still so much to learn. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and patience is key. I also had to realize there are so many variables that I can’t control, conversely there are so many I can. However as soon as I came to that realization the pandemic hits!

I said to myself, whelp there goes my big influencer dream. Honestly, who cares about fashion, travel, and beauty when they just want to keep their families healthy and safe, right?! But I realized a life worth living isn’t merely surviving, it’s thriving. The world can always use a little pretty. I hit the pause button at the beginning of the pandemic but I’ve re-evaluated my WHY- if your WHY doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough. The little humans you see in the pictures below are my WHY. I want them to know anything’s possible if you do the work and stay focused.

I also had to remind myself why I started this journey. I wanted to help people feel confident in their own skin through fashion. Ultimately I wanted to be a trusted resource to as many people as possible. Those may not seem like very lofty goals to some folks, but it’s my WHY.  Every time someone DM’s me on Instagram, asking for advice, i.e. can I really trust that brand, how did this work out for you, it makes me so happy! There’s nothing like that “YES I NAILED IT” feeling, it’s so gratifying. I makes all the hard work worth it. And that’s happening a lot these days, like I said, worth it.

Essentially I had to remember who I was and the God I serve. As long as I put HIM first everything else will fall into place or it won’t. Listening to a little (or a lot) of Beyoncé, the queen of women empowerment, didn’t hurt either. My favorite Bey line, “Imma keep running cause a WINNER don’t quit on themselves” -Freedom, Lemonade the album, do yourselves a favor, give it a listen. And I’m a WINNER BABE!!!

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ANDREA IYAMAH SWIMWEAR

ANDREA IYAMAH SWIM

The Yomi Bikini ANDREA IYAMAH SWIMWEAR
Poolside

I’m not sure if you noticed all the black girl magic on my timeline but here’s a little bit more if you’ve been under a rock for the last few weeks. You’re looking at the designer Andrea Iyamah (AI) swimwear from her Butterfly Collection. Swimwear is just a small part of this stylish, chic and so on trend, ready to wear brand. However the Butterfly collection in particular is giving me LIIIIIIIIFE. To be clear this isn’t sponsored post, I purchased every piece with my own coins. I’m infatuated with her swimwear line so expect to see me in one of her ready to wear pieces soon.

ANDREA IYAMAH SWIMWEAR

ANDREA IYAMAH SWIMWEAR The Malika Robe
Gone with the wind

Funny story, you’re looking at an active golf course, ladies and gents. We decided to shoot this look while visiting my mother and my aunt; they live on a golf course. My aunt suggested we take advantage of the picturesque fairway that’s literally her backyard. The lesson here is listen to your elders. We had to keep our heads on a swivel for stray golf balls and carts. Yes I commandeered the fairway for a photo shoot, anything for the shot right?!

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Summer Looks- The Midi Skirt

***This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase via my links I will be compensated***

This post is long over due but I wanted to get this one out to you all because some of favorite brands are having huge sales. If you’ve been paying attention (of course you have) I posted most of these pictures on Instagram over a month ago but I failed to give the IVN family the deets. I know I’m terrible. Quite a few brands are in trouble financially, so it’s not a huge surprise we’re seeing steep discounts. We’re taking full advantage over here at IVN. The way I see it, if the world goes back to normal we’ll be the best dressed group around…lol If not we’ll be well dressed for the apocalypse either way I’m not seeing a downside…lol

Summer Midi Skirt Looks

Big surprise one of my favorite silhouettes is the midi-skirt, specifically the pleated midi-skirt. I love the midi-skirt because it’s flattering on just about any body type and more often than not you can dress them up or down depending on your mood.

The summer midi skirt featured below is from J. Crew . Nobody does the midi-skirt better than J. Crew. The shoes are an also J. Crew. J. Crew is one of those brands going through tough financial times, which translates to big savings for us. They’re currently running a 40% off  sale on your entire purchase; as of today, I can’t guarantee what tomorrow will bring. This skirt is so much fun because it features a peekaboo stripe, one side of the pleat is pink the other side is white. This skirt can be dressed up or down. I decided on a dressier look. But it can easily be paired with sneakers and a white tee for dressed down look. The color contrast makes twirling in this skirt so much fun. One of friends suggested I wear this look to Whole Foods. While more a Giant/Trader Joe’s kinda gal, I’m strongly considering it.

summer midi skirt

summer midi skirt

Pleated Peekaboo Skirt

We had a lot of fun with this next look.

It was a total  Mommy and Me moment. We dressed these skirts up with heels and brought them back down with some platform Converse. Sanaa and I are both 5′ 3″ aka fun-sized, so a little height is always nice where we’re concerned.

The Midi Skirt Dressed Up

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IVN x OCESSORIES- THE WARRIOR COLLECTION

We are thrilled to be a part of Ocessories summer 2020 launch of its newest collection-  The Warrior. This collection features some of my favorite designs to date. Each collection is also near and dear to designer Omneisia Evans heart but this line speaks to the warrior spirit inside of every women- the power, strength, beauty and drive. At a time where we could all use a little “pretty” in our worlds this line does that for me. Each set also tells a story and speaks to the very nature of what it means to be a woman; soft yet strong, powerful but gentle, fierce but calm. Oh the duality of being a woman. Women are multi-faceted and this line highlights that in each set.

This launch also features a new addition to the brand, anklets. I had the pleasure of chatting with Omneisia about the line, check out interview below. We talk about the brand, the collection and where Ocessories is headed. In addition, Omneisia is more transparent and intentional about her vision for the brand than ever before. You can view the entire collection below as well as commentary on my favorites. I also have a treat for you guys. Ocessories has created an exclusive discount code for the IVN family. So use the discount code IVNWARRIOR to save some coins at checkout!!!

Ocessories The Warrior Collection Interview

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The Palm Print by Janie and Jack

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

THE PALM PRINT BY JANIE AND JACK

Summer is officially here gang! Nothing says summer like palm prints. You know I had to style little miss Laila in Janie and Jack’s Ruffle Strap Palm Print dress. This dress is giving all kinds of sassy fun in the sun. This dress is 100% cotton, which means little ones with sensitive skin don’t have to worry about the “itches”. Laila is one of those children and this dress has received the Laila Beale stamp of approval. This print has matching family styles, meaning if you have an infant, boy, or girl there’s a style in this print for them as well. For all the coordinating mamas this makes life a lot easier.

We decided to shoot at the U.S. National Arboretum. It’s a beautiful little oasis on the edge of D.C. Sadly the arboretum and this dress is probably the closest we’ll get to any kind of a tropical setting this summer.

We paired this dress with the Metallic Strap Sandal .

The sandals complimented the dress quite nicely. These sandals are easy to get on and off. They feature a traditional hole-strap with several notches for growth. I hope we get another summer out of these sandals but the way she keeps growing it’s highly unlikely. They’ll be a very nice hand-me-down to a cousin or friend.

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BLACK FATHERS EXIST

Hey gang, I hope you all are hanging in there. Quarantine continues to be a rollercoaster of emotions for me and quite frankly I’m ready to get off. Like sir can we please stop the ride I changed my mind. One day everything is “open” the next day, the virus is surging. I don’t even want to get into the non-stop fire works in my neighborhood as soon as the sun sets. Enough already guys. People are just bored, BORED.

On a lighter note, my company has been closed all week for summer break and I can’t express the complete and indescribable joy I’m experiencing right now. I have not been on a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call all week and it feels good. I honestly didn’t want to touch a computer this week but I couldn’t let the week pass without dropping a little bit of this black boy joy in your laps.

BLACK FATHERS EXIST

Black Fathers Exist
The Essential Dad Tee and The Papa Bear by Black Fathers Exist

Say hello to Raoul (my dear friend and husband to my bff Amanda) and Ricardo (my husband, you’ve seen him before)! Neither one of these men are even close to being Hispanic but their names are. We laugh about this all the time because people always assume they are Hispanic. But boy are they surprised when they first meet either of them…lol  What’s important about these two aren’t their names. It’s what they do and who they are. Aside from my father, these guys are two of the hardest working, loving, caring, and dependable fathers I know. Bubba (Raoul’s nickname) is a police officer in D.C. and Ricardo is a field tech with Century Link (a tele-com company).

BLACK FATHERS EXIST

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Fashionable Face Mask

MASK ON

Hey gang. I hope everyone is doing well. I’m at the beach, kid-less and husband-less, yassssss. I felt a tiny morsel of guilt and I do mean tiny, leaving them behind but this trip was very necessary (pun intended) if we’re going to make it through the summer. I think it’s fair to say we all need a break from each other. In fact, the next trip will be something fun for them. With most of the fun places closed it should be interesting what we come up with, especially because almost every where you would want to go, requires you wear a mask. But if you’re going to wear a mask, make it fashion!! Smooth transition right?!

Fashionable Face Mask

fashionable face mask

Let me just say I wear a verified K-95 mask whenever I’m in highly populated areas, so yes I’m referring to the grocery store, otherwise I opt for something a little more stylish. I found exactly what I was looking for in CandyCreationsBling. The mask featured is a custom CandyCreationsBling piece; Candace Chesnut on Facebook. Candace is actually a family friend. Short story, my sister Shana was on the hunt for a fashionable face mask for an up coming celebration. She reached out to a few designers and soon learned of Candace’s amazing pieces. She had a pearl mask made, similar to the photos below.

The finished product was stunning, so you know I had to have one made also. I opted for the all black crystal mask. My mask features two crystal hearts as well, cause I’m all about the love. These mask are handmade, to-order, and can be customized to your liking. The mask also includes a mesh insert that you can remove and wash as needed. Candace can embellish just about anything you can think of, not just face mask. Sooooooo, I say all that to say, get yourself one or pick up one for your fashionable friend. A million things have been canceled this year, but cute has not been cancelled.

Stay tuned for some mommy and me fun. Sanaa and I are going to give you some super cute midi skirt looks for the summer.

HALOGEN X ATLANTIC PACIFIC

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to my Amazon store. If you use my links to shop (please do) I will receive a commission.

Janie and Jack Girl Orchid Pink Think Pink Feather Fringe Dress

Hey gang! The mini-me and I snuck out of the house for a little social-distancing photo shoot so we could debut our prettiest Mommy & Me look yet. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Blair Eadie. She speaks to my soul with her bright, cheerful, yet ultra chic style. If high fashion and a rainbow had a baby, that’s Blair. I’m sporting a dress from her latest collaboration with Halogen X Atlantic- Pacific. Halogen is one of Nordstrom’s top selling ready to wear brands. It’s also become one of my favorite brands outside of it’s collaborations with Ms. Blair.

HALOGEN X ATLANTIC PACIFIC

It’s all about the strips for me. Do I look like a summer day walking or nah?! I think so. About the dress, it’s sheer and light-weight. The dress comes with a removeable slip, a sign of a pretty well thought out garment. I wore undergarments that were very close in color to the slip so it blended seamlessly. I’d advise you to wear nude undergarments with this one; better safe than sorry. This garment definitely has some room for growth; it’s very forgiving. The only con in my opinion is that the dress get a case of the wrinkles earlier on; which is true of most pieces made with organza. Not a real deterrent for me as they are hardly noticeable but if you are a neat freak it may bother you. Either way you’ve been advised.

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HEAT FREE HAIR

HEAT FREE HAIR

Hey gang! I hope everyone is hanging in there! I know this quarantine is wearing us all out. But rest assured this will all come to an end, one way or another. Take solace in knowing everything that has a beginning, has an end. During all of this I’ve tried to maintain some sense of normalcy. One of the things I’ve had to figure out is my HAIR. Natural girl hair (no chemical processes on hair, i.e. chemical relaxers or straightening agents) requires a bit of work. To be honest most days I don’t even bother but there is an occasional Zoom happy hour I try to look decent for. My newest go to look and protective style (styles that promote growth, low stress on hair shaft) is my drawstring ponytail extension from Heat Free Hair.

HEAT FREE HAIR

Heat Free Hair has been on my radar for a while. They were a featured vendor at a panel discussion organized by the black professional network at my firm. The discussion was about women of color and their hair journey in the professional setting; we dubbed it “My Hair Story”. Various women at the firm shared their “hair stories” with the audience via pre-recorded interviews. We then opened it up to the audience for a Q&A. It was a riveting, open, and refreshingly transparent conversation. Women of color have had to contend with a considerable amount of frustration and anxiety in the corporate world when it comes to the their hair.

I was so proud of my firm for supporting this event from creation to execution. It’s a very delicate subject but we were able to be authentic, vulnerable, and informative; we kinda nailed it if I do say so myself.

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OUR LOVE STORY

It’s been a challenging few weeks. We’ve lost some dear friends and family but we still have so much to be grateful for. Ricardo and I celebrated nine years of marriage this past Thursday (May 14, 2020). I know right I can hardly believe it, time sure does fly. Before I get into that I’m going to share a little about our wedding story. We were married on the beautiful island of St. Thomas, May 14, 2011.

I picked the location, the idea grew on Ricardo as the plans started to come together. Honestly, I felt like it was the most diplomatic thing we could do as far as our families were concerned. I’m originally from NY and his people are from the south (MD, NC, TX), so someone one was going to have to travel. So I picked a neutral territory, St. Thomas. Yes of course I could have picked a state side location, but how much fun would that really have been?!

OUR LOVE STORY

Our wedding day. OUR LOVE STORY
Man, was I skinny geesh…

In all seriousness we met a number of objectives with that location- neutral ground as far as family travel was concerned, built-in honeymoon, and an amazing location for our guest to wine down after the wedding; it was at an all-inclusive resort. What I didn’t anticipate was just how inept the US Postal Service is/was. Let me explain. I’m a planner and in my planning I thought I could offset some of the shipping cost (which start to add up with a destination wedding) by shipping a few key items for the wedding in advance. Proactive, forward-thinking right, hold your applause I’m not finished.

One of the key items I shipped was my wedding dress and my daughters flower girl dresses. Before you question my intellect regarding not holding on to one THEE most important dress I’d ever wear, let me explain. I’ll be doing a lot of explaining. My dress was very heavy and long. I didn’t want to risk it getting damaged in anyway, not in anyone’s’ overhead bin, captain’s closet, nada. I didn’t have time for anyone mistakenly ripping it or TSA saying something stupid like I couldn’t carry it on, so I decided to ship it, well in advance.

Also, I had a one-year-old at the time.

So flying with her a huge dress, baby bag and some more stuff wasn’t my idea of a good time. Of course Ricardo was with me but traveling with a toddler is just stressful for everybody. Peace of mind was priceless to me at that point, so off the dress went. I did not ship the dress a week or two ahead of the wedding I shipped it off at the end of February, let’s say the beginning of March just to be fair. Several ahead weeks should get anything within the US and it’s respective territories to it’s respective destination in time right?! Wrong!!

My dress arrived at the resort 3 weeks after my wedding. I learned it would not arrive after talking to my wedding planner the day before we were suppose to fly out. No she  didn’t advise me not to ship anything in bulk (I shipped a large box) to the island because it takes a minimum of 12 weeks to arrive no matter what the post office advertises or claims.

She was great in every other respect, she pivoted when the rain begin to fall, upgraded us to better location, found flowers at the last minute, but never mentioned don’t ship anything important down especially bulk items. No one ever mentioned, suggested, implied, inferred, or insinuated the dress would not arrive in a timely fashion contrary. I looked into suing the post office I was so upset. Suing the US postal service is a futile endeavor, many have tried, many have failed.

Why did I use the post office you ask?!

I was balling on a budget and they were the most cost-effective. I asked the obvious question(s), will this get there in time? Are you sure? I was assured it would arrive in time by the post office staff and when I called the customer service line. I did my due diligence. However, it did not arrive in time. Nothing I researched indicated my parcel wouldn’t arrive in time. I was in tears, completely inconsolable, for the entire flight down and most of the day before the wedding.

But as I said I’m a planner. During the early stages of wedding planning, I ordered a dupe (aka knock-off) of my actual dress hoping it would look like the real thing but it didn’t quite measure up to my standards. We purchased the authentic version but I still kept the dupe.

In my grief and anguish I forgot all about the back-up dress. I was a mess when I realized my dress wasn’t going to be there; an absolute mess!!! I just knew I had to get there so I packed everything else we had to bring with us and we flew out. So what did I get married in? The back-up dress. But how? My dear sweet, bestie, Amanda brought the back-up dress and the dresses for my girls (their dress were also in the box).

She flew down later than us and thank God she did, otherwise it would have been a true disaster.

Hind insight is always 20/20 when you look back at it, but of all the things that went wrong and quite a few things went wrong the day of the wedding as well, the one thing I got right was me marrying my very best friend on a beautiful island, in front of my family and friends. My granny even made it. At the end of the day that’s all that really mattered. Not the dress, not the flowers, not the cake. All that mattered was us.

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