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To thine own self be true ~ in order to stop trying to please everyone else, here’s the one question you need to ask yourself.

To thine own self be true ~ in order to stop trying to please everyone else, here’s the one question you need to ask yourself.

Years ago I ran an online vintage shop called onefortynine vintage, maybe you’ve even heard of it?  It grew quickly, scored some influencer/celeb clients and made me enough money to buy a modest house and stop living paycheck to paycheck.  My shop was born at a time when very few people were selling vintage online and so it became a big (or at least a medium sized) fish in a small sea.  But as more and more vintage shops opened around me, mine slowly dissolved into obscurity, and looking back now I can see exactly why.  I had tried to make my shop something for everyone else and that was my downfall.

When out picking, I would grab whatever I thought someone else would like. My collections would look like a rummage sale pile; leopard pants, gunne sax dress, 50s gown, silver lame’ shirt, 90s space boots, it was a crazy beautiful mess, and could have been amazing if that was actually my aesthetic, but it wasn’t.  My basement was filled with inventory that I would never even wear and my sales began to slow to a trickle.

I would post outfits to IG and immediately get unfollows.  It was a constant sinking feeling of what was I doing wrong? In fear, I stopped using ‘the gram’ altogether and missed out on some of the best years of organic growth.  Looking back its clear that the people who had followed me for my 50s dresses weren’t there for my 80s pantsuits, and people shopping for 90s athletic gear wanted no part of the boho pieces I would drop.  Rather than unapologetically just showing up as who I was and offering clothes that I loved regardless of the follows, I was constantly chasing my tail.  My brand had no identity and stood for nothing. 

Today, as consumers, we are blessed with so much choice.  (Almost) anything we want can be ours at the click of a button.  So naturally we’re becoming pickier about the brands we chose to buy from.  Not only do we want a clear aesthetic, we want our brands to stand for something.  This is why big name retailers seem to be loosing their footing while small fashion labels are rising up out of no where and becoming giants in their own right.

Can you imagine if a gluten free bakery chose to occasionally sell cakes made with conventional flour? Not only would they lose a whole lot of celiac customers, the people who eat wheat would probably not even go there to begin with.  They are at the bakery down the road specializing in chocolate, or LGBT baking, or cakes shaped like celebrity faces.  There is so much choice for the modern consumer that trying to be something to everyone will just make you nothing to no one.  The riches truly are in the niches. 

Now, I unapologetically stock my shop with lots of earth tones and neutrals, there is very rarely a print to be found, and I choose natural fabrics as much as possible.  I’ll often pass on great pieces if the fabric is bad because synthetic fabrics are terrible for the environment and being eco-friendly is something I stand for both as a consumer, and as a brand.

My growth has been slow but steady and completely authentic.  Many of my customers come back to order more and I’m building lasting relationships with those beautiful humans.  I completely refuse to play the follow/unfollow game as I can’t imagine a less authentic use of my time.  If people want to stay updated on my offerings, amazing, if not, buh-bye!  I now view every unfollow as a blessing, one less person in my space who doesn’t want to be there is a good thing and it helps me show up even more authentically for those who do.

I know my shop is not for everyone and I’m ok with that.  Its actually way less pressure on me and I loooove what I do because it is so authentically me. 

How about you? Have you ever struggled to grow or found your growth stalling? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by trying to capture too wide of an audience or are you trying to create a product with everyone in mind? Do you feel like you’re trying to do too many things so that you can provide an offering to everyone?  If you are struggling to niche down your own business I suggest first and foremost asking yourself this question:

Who are YOU as a person?

Deep down in the very fibers of your being, what makes you tick? Who is inside of that skin suit working the controls? A lot of people will tell you to design your ideal avatar (shes a mom, with three kids, and a parrot and she takes salsa lessons etc.) This can be a useful exercise for established entrepreneurs, but I think it can be too broad for someone just starting out or stalling out.  The most authentic way to design your avatar is to use yourself as a mood board.  You know yourself better than anyone, you can dig really deep and understand the way you think, the way you feel and the way you spend your hard earned cash.

Dig deep…

What turns you on and what turns you off?

What are your favorite colors?

What are the last 5 things you have bought for yourself?

What is your dream house and where?

What are your values, at your very core?

What are your hopes, dreams and goals?

How do you want to show up for the world?

What are your ultimate deal breakers?

What makes you smile?

Imagine yourself as your ideal customer and you will find the ability to be so empathic that it would be impossible not to build a brand that has an authentic voice.  Be true to yourself first and let the chips fall as they may.  Your brand may be small but it will be mighty.  You will serve the people you were designed to serve and you will be able to do so with such impact and authenticity that you will not easily be forgotten.

http://www.instagram.com/shop.lesage

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Life is to short not to follow your passion, DO IT with everything you have and START NOW. Time will pass regardless – spend your days in the sun.

Life is to short not to follow your passion, DO IT with everything you have and START NOW. Time will pass regardless – spend your days in the sun.

Own your thing, if it feels right in your heart, pursue it with every ounce of strength, don’t let anyone dissuade you, show up for you so you in ten years can look back and say “thank you” to yourself.

I remember starting my first online shop years ago.  It was a hustle born out of necessity.  Planted firmly on the poverty line with two babies and an unsupportive partner, I felt at times like I was swimming upstream, and just one strong current away from drowning.

There was no bank of mom and dad to draw from, but my kids needed to eat, and I would do what it took to feed them.  I considered going back to school but was still carrying a student loan and the thought of taking on more debt terrified me.  Getting a part time job seemed insane given the fact that childcare would eat up any money I would earn, and I really didn’t want to be that mom who missed out on all the milestones.   

The one thing I knew was clothes.  As a kid, I always chose clothes over toys.  At 14 I got my first job at a drugstore so I could constantly update my wardrobe.  As a youth with tight means, you learn quickly how far your money can stretch at a thrift store.  I started thrifting because I was poor, but it quickly became something I enjoyed.  People would stop me on the street to ask where I got my outfits.  The thrill of the hunt was intoxicating.  And so, at 24 with two babes on my hips I decided to use the $125 left in my bank account to go thrifting with a plan to sell my finds on a new little online marketplace called Etsy. 

I remember those early days pushing my kids in a stroller, the oldest trying to grab every shiny fabric we passed the other wailing miserably.  I was that mom.  People would side eye and mutter under their breath, but it didn’t phase me, I was there on business… and business it was.  In those days there wasn’t a lot of competition. I hadn’t heard of anyone else selling vintage online, so it was usually just me and my shrieking kids rolling through the shops scooping up amazing finds.  Seventies lace up Frye boots, a pink 50s alpaca coat, more tooled bags than I could carry, every time I set out, I struck gold.  And that first $125? I turned it into $600 within the week.

As time rolled on, I sold more and more.  The postal workers would shudder when I walked in, arms laden with parcels that I could barely carry.  I no longer had to worry about feeding my kids, and keeping the lights on, but I came to understand that in some peoples eyes, my little hustle would never measure up.  Old friends all around me were getting degrees and cooperate jobs and when we talked work I remember feeling embarrassed about the path I had taken. 

One day I had dinner with a friend who had married wealthy and scored a corporate position through her husbands connections. I told her about my Etsy shop and remember her flat out saying “well you can’t expect to actually make a real living doing that.”   After that dinner she ghosted me.  It was clear the path I had chosen made me a loser in the eyes of some, and while I continued selling vintage, I always did so with one foot on the gas and the other on the breaks.  Even though I loved it, even though it fired me up and gave me life, I never went all in.  I told myself it was just a hobby – a side hustle, so I wouldn’t feel dejected when that’s all it ever became. 

As time passed something funny happened, I watched as shops that has started as my peers and competition skyrocketed ahead of me.  I observed these people who started just like I had, go on to open their own stores, launch clothing lines and build empires.  Most of them are still in business earning full corporate level salaries or more, doing what they love solely because they gave themselves permission to do so.  They didn’t let shame or self doubt direct them.  They didn’t play small so they would have a softer landing if they failed.  These girl bosses owned their thing, and now they are being paid handsomely for doing so.

Something amazing happens when you hit 30. You stop caring what other people think.   It was a milestone that once terrified me, and now being here I feel like I’ve fully arrived at me. I am a girl who loves clothes, when I picture my dream life, it’s me running a beautifully curated shop filled with vintage and the work of artisan makers, my arms covered with tattoos, my hair long and unkempt, and lines on my face formed by laughter and not the stress of a soul sucking corporate job. 

I am now year two in my second Etsy shop and have both feet on the gas.  This is what I love to do and with life as short as it is why wouldn’t I spend it pursuing my life’s passion?  We are lucky if we get 80s summers out of life and yet we live in perpetual winter to one day have the freedom to feel warmth on our skin.  You can feel the warmth now. You can feel it every day.  If people don’t believe in your path they are not your people, let them go their own way.

The best time to start something is 10 years ago, the second best time is now.  Do it now, do it shamelessly, relentlessly and fearlessly and enjoy every single day in the sun. 

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Easy herb and garlic cashew ricotta

Easy herb and garlic cashew ricotta

I’m just going to cut to the chase on this one.  No backstory of my entire life leading up to the discovery of this amazing ricotta.  Because this one is too good to skip over.

This ricotta knocked my socks off.  I whipped it up for a zucchini lasagna and it barely made it into the recipe because I couldn’t stop dipping apple slices and paleo crackers into the stuff.  It also came together in a flash.  I have made vegan cheeses in the past that are a multi-day event.  Not this.  This took 15 minutes start to finish. 

Follow my ratios exactly for the perfect fluffy creamy ricotta texture and then go ahead and tweak the herbs and garlic to your taste, or leave them out entirely if you are needing ricotta for a dessert.

This one is sure to please!

Ingredients:

2 cups cashews

¼ cup water

½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh parsley (or other herbs of choice)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil raw cashews for 5-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the herbs to a food processor.

Process until ricotta-like in texture.

Add herbs and pulse a few more times to incorporate.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Use in any dish that calls for traditional ricotta.

Paleo saskatoon berry pancakes

Paleo saskatoon berry pancakes

Last year we moved into a 70s split level with weird laminate floors, original oak kitchen and every room painted a different color.  Sounds like a dream right? Truly, it was not the finishing’s that won us over but the magical, enchanted, fairy garden that came with the house.  Seriously guys, this garden is zen af.    Sometimes I just sit out there and feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to live here every day.  There are fruit trees, foot bridges, streams and cobble stone paths running through it.  Every time I walk in the garden I discover something new, but it literally took me until august of this year to discover a saskatoon tree hidden in a corner, dripping with ripe purple berries.  I had no idea it was even there and then, bam, berry heaven. 

For me saskatoons evoke nostalgic memories. They grow abundantly in the prairies where I grew up and have been staining my fingertips purple since the earliest summers in my memory.  They are also a nutritional power house.  Saskatoons contain 2 times more fibre, potassium and iron and 4 times more magnesium than blueberries.  They are also an excellent source of calcium and rich in antioxidants.   

My little tree is a berry making maven.  Since it’s discovery I have enjoyed fresh saskatoons almost daily yet have barely made a dent in the total berry count.  Sadly, last week I noticed a few berries were starting to look wrinkled and spoiled, a tell tale sign of autumns fast approach.  So now I have begun to harvest the fruit with greater urgency and have been trying out different saskatoon recipes, (tip: don’t put them in a smoothie unless you like drinking gel!)

My favorite way to enjoy saskatoon is just plucked straight from the tree, my second favorite are in these delish paleo pancakes.

Of course you don’t neeeeed saskatoons to make these pancakes.  They are great with blueberries, chocolate chips or all on their own, but the sweet tartness of saskatoons do just take them to the next level.  These pancakes are light and fluffy with a cake like flavor, they aren’t quite as thick as traditional flour pancakes, and strangely kind of remind me of the pancakes from a certain fast food chain that serves breakfast until 10.

The dry components of this batter can be premixed and stored so all you need to do is add the wet ingredients when your pancake craving strikes.  These store well in the fridge or freezer and can even replace the bread in a breakfast sandwich.  If you have been looking for a fast, delicious paleo breakfast here you go.  

Dry ingredients:

2 cups paleo flour blend – I highly suggest following my recipe to make your own but if you would rather just order one thing and be done with it, this is the only premixed paleo flour blend I have used with success.

1 tsp paleo baking powder – traditional baking flour is not paleo, I suggest making your own or with the magic of the internet you can conveniently purchase it here.

1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs

¾ cup almond milk

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp melted coconut oil or ghee

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix your dry and wet ingredients into a smooth batter stirring until just combined with no lumps.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat, add a bit of oil just to glaze the pan.

Pour a scant quarter cup of batter for each pancake.

Sprinkle the pancake with fresh saskatoons.

Wait until bubbles form in the batter, flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. 

These bad boys are ready to flip

Enjoy them hot and store any extras in the fridge for future snacking.   

These will last in the fridge about a week or can be frozen for months.

Please note, this post contains amazon affiliate links, if you make a purchase through one of these links I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Ten helpful tweaks to cope with hair loss and rock the hair you have

Ten helpful tweaks to cope with hair loss and rock the hair you have

This post contains affiliate links, more info below.

This is a tough one to write but I’m giving you some realness today.  Of all the PCOS and hashimotos symptoms I have dealt with, the hair thinning has been the hardest for me by far.  It was the canary in the coal mine showing up in my early 20s as the very first indicator that something was out of balance in my body. 

I grew up hiding behind a long, thick, wavy mane of shiny auburn locks.  My hair became such an integral part of my identity that losing it felt like losing a dear friend.  I grieved my hair.  I denied it.  I wore strange hairstyles and ugly bandanas.  And no matter how good the rest of me felt, it was there in the background softly hissing in my ear that I was ugly, worthless and damaged. 

I had naively thought that doctors would be able to quickly identify the cause and send me on my way with a simple solution. But my blind faith in doctors turned to despair after years of hopping from doc to doc that led to no conclusion and very little hair on my head.

It may sound so shallow to someone with good hair, but those with hair problems understand, hair loss can put you on a psychological roller coaster and make you rethink your entire life.  Hair loss sparked my interest in nutrition, and it eventually led to both my pcos and hashimotos diagnoses, albeit a decade later.

Perhaps the most frustrating part has been my unique situation as a hairstylist.  Seeing and touching beautiful, normal manes every day and knowing I’m still so far from that has sent me reeling into episodes of deep depression and crushing anxiety on multiple occasions.  But being a hairstylist has also given me a unique advantage, as I’ve learned a handful of tips and tricks for rocking thinning hair that I use on myself and my clients daily.  Most of my clients don’t believe me when I tell them I have experienced excessive hair loss “your hair looks super full?” they always say with a puzzled look.  And it’s true, I’ve found a combination of dietary adjustments and styling tricks to help me rock the hair I do have, stop shedding excessively and even wake up sleeping follicles for some fresh fuzzy regrowth. 

So please, don’t lose hope. Thanks to my new healthy lifestyle and a few hair tweaks I can actually say I am in a much better place hair wise and am ready to dish my tips in order to help anyone else who needs a boost in the follicular department.

As I write this I am sitting at a pool with my hair down.  Not slicked back into a teeny weeny ponytail thinner than a sharpie. Nope.  My hair is down and looking cute. No one is giving me the side eye or staring awkwardly at my scalp during conversation. And while I’m not going to be cast in a Pantene commercial anytime soon, I can honestly say this is one of the few times in over a decade that my hair is not an all consuming issue in my life.  I also have lots of fine frizzy regrowth, that most people would find irritating but is a very welcome addition to my particular head.   

As a student of holistic nutrition one of my favorite quotes is ‘what we eat can either be the safest most powerful medicine, or the slowest poison.’  This speaks volumes about the state of modern health and how important a healthy diet is to stave off disease and reverse existing health issues.  Heathy eating should be a combination of adding the right things into our diets while simultaneously removing the wrong things.  Finding a diet that works for you and your own health objectives can be a long process and I highly recommend working with a health professional such as a holistic nutritionist, health coach, or naturopath on your journey.  Foods that are harming your body may be perfectly healthy for other individuals.

I have spent years of trial and error trying to fix my hair probs and know how confusing all the conflicting information out there can be so I’ve complied my very best advice anyone can apply to get combat their hair issues asap.

Take it slow, celebrate even the small victories and remember, we are all so much more than our hair. 

  1. Limit your intake of foods that cause inflammation.  If you are dealing with unexplained hair loss, gluten and dairy should be the first things to go.   This is so hard for so many people, it’ like asking them to quit TV or break up with their boyfriend.  People get offended, but it must be done.  Inflammation is the enemy of your hair and some foods cause inflammation. Period. Sometimes even healthy foods can cause inflammation in people with intolerances, so it is wise to be tested for allergies. You can do your own testing by completing an elimination diet, and carefully observing your reaction to foods during the reintroduction phase.  I completed a whole 30 diet to identify some of my intolerances. I have ditched all gluten, most dairy, and greatly reduced my grain consumption. I know giving up these three ingredients may seem super limiting, but trust me, it’s not.  That’s why I’m here writing this blog.  Cooking without these things has opened a whole new realm of food possibilities and my food horizons are expanding everyday.
  2. Heal your gut. So much modern disease starts in the gut and healing your gut lining is a super important step when it comes to healing chronic inflammation. A healthy gut is better able to absorb nutrients form your food.  You can eat all the salad in the world but if your gut is compromised you are probably only absorbing a fraction of the nutrients.  Heal and seal that gut lining!  Make BONE BROTH, PROBIOTICS, and FERMENTED FOODS a part of your daily diet.  I almost always have a slow cooker simmering away with some grass fed bones and fragrant veggies.  I straight up ladle it into my mug and sip it throughout the day like tea. I also consume kraut and kombucha on a regular basis. Take a good quality probiotic, I love this one from renew life, yes it’s pricey, but you will feel a difference within a few weeks.   
  3. Improve your bodies acid alkaline balance. Your blood maintains it’s own PH of between 7.35 and 7.45 but this doesn’t mean eating all the acid forming foods will have no effect on your body. An overly acidic body can leach vitamins and minerals from organs and bones as well as lead to all kinds of issues including unhealthy hair.  One of the easiest ways to obtain PH balance is to squeeze lemon into hot water and drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and throughout the day.  This also increases stomach acid which will help you better absorb the nutrients in foods.  Be sure to sip it through a straw so you don’t destroy your tooth enamel. 
  4. Get lots of protein. Our hair is made of protein so if we aren’t consuming enough in our diet, our hair will suffer.  To better assimilate protein, avoid eating foods that require different digestive juices at the same time.  Focus on eating simply and look into food combining.  One easy way to get readily usable aminos into your body is by drinking collagen peptides daily.  I rotate between marine collagen and grass fed bovine collagen.  I mix it into my coffee or tea every morning and stir it into my bone broth or tea throughout the day.  It tastes a bit weird but not terrible and I notice a difference in not just my hair but also nails and skin when I am consistent with it.  It is super important to eat only organic, pastured proteins when consuming animal products.
  5. Take the proper supplements. It is important to get most of our nutrition from the foods we eat, but people experiencing unexplained hair loss likely need a bit of help.  Modern agriculture has depleted the nutrients in our foods while genetic modification, pesticides and herbicide use has wreaked havoc on our guts so we struggle to absorb the limited nutrients we are ingesting.  Being overweight and simultaneously malnourished is becoming more and more common in developed nations and this can lead to a wide range of ailments, including hair loss.  Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for women experiencing hair loss are; Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B vitamins (especially biotin) Iodine, Silica, Selenium and Zinc.  It is wise to get tested for deficiencies prior to supplementation but when in doubt, adding a high quality, organic multivitamin is a great place to start. In my case I have been chronically deficient in Iron for years.  With over a year of consistent daily supplement my shedding has slowed tremendously but my functional doctor recommends I aim for a ferratin of at least 70 for optimal regrowth (I still have a way to go).  I have found it helpful to remove my copper IUD to lessen my monthly menstrual flow as Iron is lost with blood.  Addressing deficiencies can take time so the sooner you identify them the better.  Supplements are not regulated, and you could be doing yourself no favors or even harm by choosing the lowest priced option.  Make sure your supplements are of a high quality, choose organic whenever possible and pay attention any fillers and additives. My personal supplement routine includes a natural multivitamin, a hair vitamin, a thyroid support vitamin, liquid iron floradix and biosil.
  6. Work up a sweat.  Not all exercise will be beneficial for all people, (kind of like diet) But that is not a free pass to forgo consistent exercise.  Try a few different things and listen to your body’s cues.  If you feel like absolute garbage after a HIIT class maybe give yoga a try. A good exercise routine should make you feel energized rather than depleted.  It should also be something that you genuinely enjoy so that you keep up with it.  I love soccer, hot yoga biking and weight lifting so that’s what I stick with. 
  7. Get your mind right.  Spend some time every day in meditation and visualize the hair you want.  When you see a beautiful head of hair, do not feel jealousy or resentment (been there) instead give them a mental, or verbal compliment and be grateful for the hair you do have.  The things we focus on are the things we attract to us. As Mother Theresa said, people should be pro peace rather than anti- war.  I know it’s hard but try to stop fixating on how thin your hair is.  Learn to rock the hair you do have, have fun with it, try out extensions, wigs, and color. Allow yourself to learn from the hair loss and embrace the chance you’ve been given to transform yourself both internally and externally. 
  8. Get the right shampoo and styling products. No, those drugstore shampoos are not just as good as the salon quality ones. Trust me, I look up close at peoples scalps all day. You want something free of harmful sulfates and chemicals but also effective and nourishing. Both Neuma and Kevin murphy are high quality salon grade products that wont tax your body with added toxins. I personally use the Kevin Murphy plumping line and LOVE it!
  9. Try hair fibers.  Truly this is a game changer. I have had some hair fiber disasters in my day, and have settled comfortably into dermatch and toppik.  Dermatch is applied wet and blow dried into hair. I find it looks really natural and is also water resistant so I can surf or swim without having my scalp on display.  Toppik fills things in as needed for day two touch ups. Make sure you apply fibres so you still have a parting, otherwise it just looks like you’re using hair in a can. Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing buying product intended for middle aged men, but they work and have given me back my confidence in a major way. So worth it. 
  10. Wear some hair.  Just do it.  I was so afraid to wear hair for so long and honestly wasted so much time feeling insecure and ashamed that I could have spent rocking killer hair.  I thought everyone would notice but it turns out most people are too caught up in their own problems to really pay much attention to us at all.  I love tape in extensions to add volume and a bit of length.  They are virtually undetectable and don’t cause traction by pulling on my delicate bio hair.  Fusion is also an excellent light weight option for fine thin hair. Toppers and wigs can be fun to play around with and are the easiest way to change up your style and color with zero commitment or damage. Silk tops give you an a completely natural looking scalp and are perfect if you will be wearing bangs with your unit.  Lace fronts are a must if you are not opting for bangs. If you are going for a topper be sure to get a large base, it will lay much flatter and look more natural even if you don’t need all that coverage.  Wearing hair is a fun adventure. You can have wavy blonde balayage one day and be a brunette with curtain bangs the next.  I recommend checking out uniwigs for some great entry level units that won’t break the bank and I plan to post some hair review videos here in the near future…so stay tuned.    

It has been over a year since I have implemented all of the above in my own life and I have seen obvious improvements.  That being said, my hair is still not what it used to be in my teens (my hair started falling out at 20!)   Hair grows in cycles and it can take a long time to see tangible changes, so I am treating it as a journey rather than a destination and am enjoying all the many health benefits along the way.

If you have been using anything not listed for your hair loss and seeing results, please share in the comments and feel free to reach out to me if you have any direct questions about your own hair struggles.

This post contains amazon links. I may earn a small commission when readers purchase through these links. I will only ever post links to products I use and benefit from. They are recommended for their quality, performance and reputation regardless of any affiliate relationship.