Top 5 things I like about carrying a purse.

  1. Define a certain style.  Just by changing your purse, it can change the whole look of your outfit.  I really love handbags, and I don't discriminate against size, shape, color, or brand.  If a purse is good, then its good, you know.  It can shape your whole wardrobe package.  Don't believe me, google images of Kate Middleton.
  2. You can have snacks at any given time.  I love that my purse can become a vehicle for snacks.  I usually have some sort of yummy goodie in my purse.  Part of the intrigue of carrying around a snack is, you just never know when it will come in handy.  Sometimes I can help someone else out by offering them a snack, and you can tell, it kind of makes their day.
  3. Emergency Preparedness.  I am a firm believer in being as prepared for shit to hit the fan, at any given moment.  Seriously, can you predict when you are going to get a headache, going to need a bandaid, or perhaps a tampon?  How about chapstick, do you know precisely when your lips are going to become chapped? I didn't think so, and you know what, I bet if you are around me, I will have what you need. I am like a pusher.  Not a drug pusher, and thing(s) you need pusher.  You will thank me one day.
  4. Conceal and Carry, no worry.  Now, I don't personally have my conceal and carry license.  I don't even own a gun, but it is something that has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Nothing is more awesome than a woman who is ready and knows how to protect herself, if she needs to.
  5. Makeup Transport.  Let's be honest, my purse is just a fashionable way to carry around my favorite makeup.

Makeout Monday: Things I love this week

// This is my muffin Abernathy Littles.  She is a yorkie and has a sweet face //

// I follow this dog on Instagram.  Norbert kills me //

// Oh lana //

// I need to find this shirt //

// Mom, why did you let me grow up.  It's not that great //

Sweet Taste of Freedom: Brookeside Betty's

 Brookside Betty's

Twitter: BrooksideBetty
Instagram: brooksidebetty

When did your business launch? 

May 28th, 2014, so we're still relatively new in town.

What is your business about?  

Dresses, dresses and more dresses. Beautiful retro inspired fashion for all women.

What is it that you do/sell? 
Brookside Betty's is a retro inspired dress shop. Our goal is to provide an intimate boutique atmosphere where all women can find dresses they love. To that we offer dresses in sizes XS-3X, and occasionally 4x, whenever possible. Our price point is between $55-$165, so we do work hard to find beautiful dresses that are affordable. We also have accessories such as purses, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, stockings and more.

What gave your the inspiration or motivation for your business? 

Where to begin? I've wanted to do this for years. I was a history teacher for 8 years, and have always loved the elegance and femininity found in 40s and 50s fashion. I also wanted a dress shop in my neighborhood. I'm not a petite flower, so I wanted to open a dress shop that had a lot to offer both slim and curvy girls. 

Do you do this full time/part time? 

This is a full time gig. I took a leap, and left teaching. I am so glad I made the change.

How has your life changed since starting your business? 

Compared to teaching, I actually have more free time. More importantly I meet so many great people on a daily basis. I love my regulars.

What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered? 
Finances. We opened the last weekend of May, and have been steadily growing, but I still have concerns that we were underfunded, and that it's not growing as fast as it could. With the holidays coming I'd like to bring in significantly more inventory, but I have to use a little restraint, because we are new, the shop is relatively small, and having worked retail in the past I know January and February are slow. It's a tricky balance.

What is something you thought was going to be hard, but turned out to be simple, in regards to your business? 
Opening the store itself seemed like a huge task. We got in the space the end of April and opened May 28th. I was still working full time, and the bulk of the work was being done by myself and my husband. There was inventory to be ordered, steamed and displayed, a store to be painted, fixtures to build, choosing a pos system and so much more. I finished grading finals the week before the shop opened, but everything fell into place. It seemed like almost an impossible task, but friends and strangers stepped in and helped at just the right times.

What has been your biggest success to date? 

Seeing people out and about wearing Brookside Betty's dresses.

Do you have any big plans/ideas/launches planned for 2015? 
We are looking to bring cosmetics to Brookside Betty's. Right now we are looking into Besame and Bomber Betty.

What would you like to share with COAST readers about your company/business? 

I'd just like to invite them to shop our store.

Lastly, what is the advice you would give to someone looking to start a company or business similar to yours?

Do it. You can spend your whole life waiting for the perfect time, but if you have the drive, you can make it happen now. A close friend once referred to me as a force, half teasing becauI will work hard, problem solve, and do whatever it takes to achieve my goals. I think when you are building a business from the bottom up you have to have that kind of drive.

Top 10 things I miss about my childhood.

  1. Summer Break, Winter Break, Spring Break.  Really a break of any kind.   I think that there is something to be said about only getting a tiny slice of time off from work when you are an adult.  I have been working since I was 16 years old, and really have only taken one true vacation.  I am not sure why our country has such an uptight view on vacation, or time off.  I mean even when I am not clocked in to my "day" job, I am working on my other 10 jobs.  I don't ever really stop working.  Now, I realize that because of my work ethic, I am achieving goals that I set, but I really miss just being able to have zero plans, waking up with the sunlight, and just hours of total freedom ahead of me.
  2. Playing Games. No, not relationship games.  I used to spend so much time with my siblings, or friends playing games.  Actual games.  Scrabble, Life, Candy Land, etc.  I really miss just bugging my brother to play the game of life with me.  I haven't played an actual board game, or really a card game, in too long to remember, and to me, that is sad.  I spend too much time with my phone in my hand.  I really need to put it away.
  3. Growing up without electronic everything.  Since I was born on the cusp of really needing/wanting the internet for daily use, my family didn't have a lot of electronics.  I was born in 1982, and I don't think we had a nintendo until I was around 12 or 13.  It wasn't even mine, it was my brothers.  I didn't get a computer until I was in college, and I only got it because at that point, I needed it for papers and such.  I was on Facebook when you had to have a "school email address" to get on it, and really no one in the midwest was that interesting.  I am glad that I got to make mistakes in my childhood, that are not forever documented on the internet.  It does make me sad, in a few instances, that I don't have as much to pull from, in terms of memories.  I mean, our cameras still used film, and no one's cell phone had a camera.  If you were even lucky enough to have a cell phone.
  4. Playing sports.  I was always involved in some sort of athletic activity, for as long as I can remember.  I played volleyball, basketball, softball, track, cheerleading, and gymnastics for many years.  Once I got into high school, I had to narrow my scope, so I just did cheerleading, gymnastics and softball.  My senior year I injured my knee really badly, and pretty much had to give up sports for awhile.  I have stayed active as an adult.  I played roller derby for 5 years, until my knees blew apart and I just couldn't do it anymore.  Now I take pole fitness classes, so my taste for athleticism is a little different, but I just miss playing a sport.  I miss having 4 hours to just practice, or run, or just be.
  5. Riding my bike.  My brother and I would ride our bikes for hours. HOURS.  I think when you are young, you just don't realize the amount of energy you are expending, but just love the moment.  My family lived out in the country, so we would just ride our bikes everywhere and never thought anything about it.  I don't even own a bike now.
  6. Hanging out with my cousins.  I have a lot of cousins, on both sides of my family.  I was so lucky to have good relationships with them, and spent many a weekend being the best of friends.  As adults, that live far apart, it is hard to see them as much as I would like.  I am glad I can keep track of them on social media, but its not the same.
  7. Not Driving.  This one is probably silly to you all, but I hate driving.  I mean, hate it.  I hate it so much, that when I think about being 16 and just not being able to wait to drive, it makes me roll my eyes, and laugh.  In fact a lot about being 16 is wishing you were older.  Wishing you were 18 and graduating.  Wishing you were 21 and drinking (legally).  I wasted so much time wishing I were older.  But really, 
  8. Talking on the phone.  Ok, with this one, I mean talking on the phone to your girlfriends late at night, or talking to the boy you are crushing on.  Take away all of the emoji's and all of the mixed messages that texting send.  Its just you, the other person, and what you and they say is exactly what you mean.  I miss hearing someone on the other end of the phone.  I am an avid text-er and I am horrible about actually answering my phone when people call me.  I hate that I have evolved into this.  I was really good about calling my mom once a week, and just talking to her.  Perhaps I need to call her.....
  9. Small things that were big accomplishments.  Do you remember learning how to read? Or the day you learned to tie your shoes?  I mean, in the grand scheme of things tying your shoes is not the biggest day of your life, but when you are 4 or 5, that is a BIG thing.  Don't get me wrong, I am still learning things each day, but nothing as exciting as learning those very small things that make my life so much easier today.  Or perhaps I am just not taking as much stock in the things I learn as an adult.  I mean yes, I know how to solve for "x", I know how to read biblical hebrew, etc.  I just think it is amazing to see a child do something for the first time, and relish in the achievement.
  10. Getting something in the mail.  It is rare that I get something in the mail that is not a bill.  Do you remember the excitement of actually getting something, addressed to you, in the mail?  It is the best feeling in the world.  I miss that.

Daily Candy with Steady Clothing

Check out this new blog post with the Diva Dress from Steady Clothing

Makeout Monday: Things I like this week

// McQueen can do no wrong // 

// This neutral kitchen pantry //

// These tights // 

// Seasonal Eating.  It' s more than just a  good idea //

// Planter Pallet Wall.  I love it //

// This chunky, knit blanket.  I WANT //

// Balenciaga and Vogue //


Doing: Today I got to spend time with my bestie, Devyn.  She did some hair, I did some makeup and then we just got to eat lunch and hang out at our local Ulta.  Whenever I am with her I usually just laugh and laugh, and today was no different.   I find that whenever life is getting hard, or when I find myself getting really down on myself, I just need a little laughter to feel better.  Devyn cracks me up, just in general, but together we are pretty ridiculous, so laughter always ensues.  Do you have a friend that will make you instantly feel better?  I love that dimension in a relationship.  

Thinking about: Right now, I have been thinking about a restructure in the blog.  I love writing and I write in my journal all the time.  For me it is just soothing, and theraputic, and I find that open up my soul and mind is just something I have to do to survive.  With that in mind, I am going to be writing a lot more.  Hopefully readers will like it, and if they don't I apologize.  I am so much more that just my hair or eyes or smile, and I want the people that want to know more about me to get that.  There are a few blogs in my blogroll that I really enjoy reading about them, their prompts, their life, etc.  Now, I promise I won't get all writer crazy on you, there is still going to be stuff to read, punctuated with superficial fashion and makeup and loveliness.  I promise!

Watching: I started watching a few new shows last week.  The first one is The Red Band Society.  Ugh, it is good.  If you haven't watched it, it is about a nursing/medical staff and their interactions with a group of young adults in a hospital.  All of the teenagers have something medically wrong with them, that keeps them confined to the hospital, but you can see that the story twists and turns from there.  It's really good!  Also from A to Z.  It is basically like watching the TV version of 500 days of Summer.  If you liked that movie, then I bet you will like this show.  It is cute, doesn't have storylines that you have to think about.  It is just one of those shows you can sit down, watch, and enjoy yourself.

Looking forward to: Thanksgiving.  This year has been a really odd year for me.  I have had two surgeries, been diagnosed with cancer, got to travel, and have big, big things happening for me.  With all that being said, I feel like I have been floating through this year.  I don't feel tied to it at all, as though 2014 has given me no roots in which to grow.  I haven't felt in the spirit for an holiday activities.  I didn't get crazy for halloween, like I normally do, I haven't thought about Christmas at all.  I don't even think I am going to decorate for it.  I am not a Bah-humbug, but I think I am ready for the beginning a new year can bring, and ready to see what awaits me around the corner.

Reading: I have load about 10 books on my kindle, and just haven't started reading them yet.  I have been more in a reflective mood, and when that hits me, I write until I can't think.  Reading doesn't even serve me during that time.  Hopefully reading season will return soon.

Loving: I have been really simplifying my life recently with the idea, and suggestion by my friend Devyn, to learn to say no.  But, not just saying no, really saying no with authority.  I don't want to simply say no, and then feel really bad about it. I want to say no and mean no, close the door, and move on.  This applies to everything in my life.  The small things such as "can you do me a favor" to the big things like "Can you..........".  I have a huge problem telling people no, because I want people to like me.  I have always had this problem, and then I get too many things on my plate, and end up having a small melt down in the privacy of my own home.  Not anymore.  Well, at least, not a much.  It is still a struggle, but I am getting better at it.

Sweet Taste of Freedom: Tara O' Photos

Tara O Photos

instagram- @taraophotos
When did your business launch?
I started taking photos when I was really young of my little sister in our bedroom. I'd use a bed sheet or towel as a backdrop and dress her up and give her props. Then I got more into photography in high school. I always loved taking photos of people, I've never been too interested in photographing much else. Then after about a year of college classes for education I decided I would pursue what I actually loved, even though I knew the money wouldn't ever flow freely. In 2007, while attending ASU, I decided to make a myspace page and start promoting myself to attempt to book shoots. I came up with the business name Tara O. Photos as I was creating the page on a quick whim. I never thought that I would do photography as a full time job, but I did just that in 2012 when I quit my "day job" and became Tara O. full time!
What is your business about? What is it that you do/sell?
I am a custom portrait photographer who specializes in retro and pinup style images. I sell not only a finished set of photographs, but an experience that is all about feeling beautiful. I have tons of vintage clothing, props and accessories for girls to use. After getting hair and makeup done (and maybe sipping some wine if you chose to indulge!) my clients get to play a big game of a dress up where I help pose and coach them to help them get some awesome images of themselves. Often girls use a need for a gift for a significant other as an excuse, but also a lot of ladies do it just to treat themselves!

What gave your the inspiration or motivation for your business?
My biggest inspiration is the need to prove to myself that I don't have to be a cog in the corporate machine. After only about 10 years in the work force I was already sick of having to be at an office when I was told to, fight traffic coming and going and dread my work every morning. Working for myself and being the boss babe that I am is so rewarding and exciting (and downright scary!). It's a beautiful thing to have my days not always the same and to be able to do other errands in the day and then work at night if I decide to.

Do you do this full time/part time?
I recently found a meme that said "I don't have a 9 to 5; I have a from when my eyes open to when I fall asleep" and it's soooo true! Working for yourself can be very challenging because if you are like me, you love your job and you don't mind "always" working. There's always a set to edit or an email to answer or a shoot to promote (usually all three and then some) so it makes it hard to ever turn it off and not work. I try to keep set work hours but find that I am always kind of working and sometimes I am "not really" working, which means I am still daydreaming about a set for a shoot or answering emails on my phone.

How has your life changed since starting your business?
The biggest would be my confidence and my overall attitude. I have a lot of social nervousness, but meeting so many people and having so many different conversations with everyone I run into has lessened my anxiety a lot. I am much better at talking to people (though still very awkward sometimes) and much more positive about life in general. 

What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered?
Trying to balance everything when working from home can be very difficult. If I am working on my business, I feel like I should be cleaning my house. If I am working on stuff around the house, I feel like I should be editing in Photoshop. It's a struggle to be in the moment and focus on what I am working on right then and not be thinking of what I need to do next.

What is something you thought was going to be hard, but turned out to be simple, in regards to your business?
I don't know if anything is harder than I thought it would be, but it's all very different. I had these grand day dreams of waking up early, being super motivated and getting done in one day what takes about 3 weeks for me to actually do. I thought just because I didn't have a day job I would have all the time in the world, but that's not the case! 

What has been your biggest success to date?
I feel very proud of all my shoots! When I show a girl how beautiful she is and see her smile from ear to ear it's very exciting and makes me feel like a million bucks! I feel like so much of our country's media is focused on putting women down in order to sell them something. Being able to try to reverse that, even just a little bit, is so awesome and thrilling. I do have to say that being in Retro Lovely three times is a huge honor and also being published in Phoenix magazine with the only two page photo in the issue was very rad.

Do you have any big plans/ideas/launches planned for 2015?
I was just writing the other day some ideas for my themed shoots and places to do shoots at for next year! Nothing is set in stone yet, except that I just know it's going to be amazingly epic! I feel like I was just gearing up for 2014. Time flies when you are having fun!

What would you like to share with COAST readers about your company/business?
If you are in the Phoenix area, traveling to Phoenix or know anyone that is, tell them to check me out! Right now I don't travel much except for Vegas and Southern California, but I really hope that I get to do some sort of tour in the future. That's for sure a goal of mine! 

Lastly, what is the advice you would give to someone looking to start a company or business similar to yours?
The pinup community is very small and it can be very hard to get clients in such a niche market, especially since you can't really "ship" your product to other places like you can with some other types of businesses. But with anything in life, if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen!

Tara O.

Sweet Taste of Freedom: Heart of Haute with Mandi Bee


Heart of Haute

When did your business launch? Unofficially in 2004 when I was a little college student doing what I could to make extra money here and here. I was a home sewer. 
More officially Doing Business As  Heartbreaker Fashion in January of 2006. We had to change our name at the beginning of 2014 because of a legal dispute with another apparel company who trade marked the name, Heartbreaker, back in 1992. They waited a long time to defend their trademark, but in the eyes of the law, they have full rights to it, so we had to change.

What is your business about? What is it that you do/sell?  Heart of Haute is a vintage inspired apparel company with an eye on the mid-century. We sell mostly ladie's dresses, blouses, and skirts  with a few accessories and shoes from other companies. We design and manufacture our garments locally and ethically in California and swear we will never take our production outside of the US. It's that important to us!

What gave your the inspiration or motivation for your business?Fashion. Like many 19 year old girls, I liked clothes. I wanted to be stylin' everyday.  I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit since I was young. I remember being 10 years old and planning out a coffee shop/venue type of business. I was the kid that ran the lemonade stand in the neighborhood and put the other kids to work. I decided from early on I wanted to be my own boss, so I use my creative talents as my building tools. 

Do you do this full time/part time?This is my full-time job.  I also started teaching Yoga in the evenings and I play in a band a few times a month. 

How has your life changed since starting your business? 
When I started making Heartbreaker dresses, I was working at Mervyn's as a cashier part-time and going to school. I started my company when I was a sophomore in College, I was about 20 years old. By the time I was 21, I was able to leave my sales job because we were generating enough money for me to get by and there was promise for growth in our business. And it did grow! Bigger than I ever imagined. I was studying music in College and I didn't have a lot of direction at the time. I was assuming I would make a living in performance and education like most Music majors do. Starting this fashion business took me down a much different, but direct path of success in my 20's.  

What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered?
Balancing my passions with my duties. 

What is something you thought was going to be hard, but turned out to be simple, in regards to your business?
There's a few things. The first I challenge I remember having was finding professional models to work with us for cheap or for free. At the time, Bernie Dexter was incredibly popular and helping a few other companies in our niche market. I thought "She would never model for us" or "I'm sure she charges a ton". I was really worried, but I decided to just send her an e-mail to inquire. In our first e-mail exchange, she offered to model for trade. I was seriously THRILLED. The months and years after that, we had a great relationship with Bernie and her celebrity helped boost our company.  The lesson I learned from this was that it never hurts to ask.  The worst anything someone can say is "no", but I found more often than not, most people want to collaborate and help one another.
The next challenge recently had to do with our name change. The people demanding we change were not very friendly or kind about it, so it was upsetting to deal with. It at first affected our business greatly because the majority of our work is done online. Changing our name lost some accounts and customers and our web analytics dropped drastically. We thought it was going to kill our business completely. Luckily, that's not what happened. We just kept on doing what we do best. I kept my logo and just changed the name. Some people hardly noticed. Some people still call us by our old name and others are embracing the new one.  In the end, it's just a name. I really believe the product and the service we provide is more outstanding than the name itself. I think my customers appreciate the personal responses from my staff and I- yes, I do customer service, too!!! 
Lesson from this story? Just be positive and D.L.T.B.G.Y.D. 

What has been your biggest success to date?
I think about the history of this company often. I remember my sleepless nights of sewing and cursing at my crooked zippers. I look at old photos of myself wearing our dresses and thinking how far we've come. The zippers are no longer crooked- don't worry.   There was one year at Viva Las Vegas a girl was wearing one of my first designs that I made and sold on eBay back in 2004 and I freaked out!!! I mean- no one else could possibly have a dress like this and I had to ask her about it. She said she had been following me and my blog from the start and was always shopping out our new site. That was endearing. Seeing girls actually wear our garments out to events. That's the biggest success, I think.
It's seriously my favorite thing when I actually meet our customers. We're not such a large company that I don't notice repeat customer names on invoices (I know who you are, ladies!!!)  Some of our customers even become friends of mine and hang out at my Halloween parties ;)

Our biggest success in terms of business, though was Tripling our business in 2010 - 2011. We grew to 24 employees in the course of a year and took on great accounts including  We sell to specialty boutiques all over the world, including TONS in Australia, Canada and in Europe. 

Do you have any big plans/ideas/launches planned for 2015?
Yes, but for now it is a secret! <3

What would you like to share with COAST readers about your company/business?
If you want to save 10% on your next order with us, use coupon code: 

Lastly, what is the advice you would give to someone looking to start a company or business similar to yours?
Don't do it!!! (I'm kidding.)
The first thing I find important is believing in your product. Make something of quality that your customer can appreciate. After all, your product is what makes your money, which pays for you to live. You get what you put out. If you make items that are sub-par, you'll be paid accordingly.  

Always be kind to the people you work and collaborate with. There's a lot of drama, cliques, and gossip in fashion. It's best to keep to yourself and focus on your work than participate in the drama- even if you're the subject of the gossip.
If you don't break even or make a profit in your first year, statistics prove that you'll fail. I don't mean to be a downer, but it's typically true. Unless you have some crazy rich uncle that wants to pour money into your dreams, my best advice is to start small and slow. If you have a good product and market it well, it will sell.  

Networking!!!! Especially in this niche market place, it's good to trade products, photos, fans, etc...  because it will get your product in the eyes of other potential customers that are already into that style and you'll grow your friend-base, too. 

I also think Etsy is a great place to incubate any new project. Listings are only 15 cents and they take a small percentage when your item sells, so the risk of losing money is very, very low. You can build an audience with social media and direct your customers to your Etsy page.