A STL Night Out: The Grand Experience

If you've followed my blog for a bit, or you know me personally, you know that I really do love my city. Saint Louis has been my home since birth, and although I've been tempted to move away, I never have. This city just always has more to discover, and I'm forever grateful for opportunities that come my way to explore it more deeply!

Saint Louis is home to a thriving, diverse arts scene. One of the driving forces behind our artists is the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. I recently had the privilege of visiting several of the Foundation's locations throughout Saint Louis's city center, such as the Kranzberg Arts Center, the .ZACK, the Grandel Theater, and The Dark Room at The Grandel. A group of influencers and their guests were invited by Socially Jen to explore, taste, and enjoy a few our way through a lovely summer evening - and I've been dreaming of the night since! Follow along with us below! 

My darling friend Ellie joined me for the evening, and you can find her blogging over at Eudaimonia. We began the evening meeting up with the other influencers at .ZACK, where we sipped cocktails at Sophie's Lounge and learned the Foundation's mission. From programs that give proceeds directly back to artists (Sophie's, for example, puts any profits from its bar directly back into the artist scene), to maintaining multiple venues and galleries, and supporting emerging creators, the Foundation has its hands in just about every aspect of the arts community. 

After we sipped cocktails on Sophie's rooftop patio, we were treated to a tour of .ZACK, which houses Music Record Shop, the .ZACK Theatre, a wedding venue, small business offices, and more. I had a little too much fun climbing into the tub featured in the wedding venue's suite. 

Photo courtesy of  We Eat Stuff STL .

Photo courtesy of We Eat Stuff STL.

After peeping .ZACK, we took a stroll through Grand Center over to the Grandel Theater. This gorgeous theater is inside an old church, and we were invited to not only view the theater's seating area (which I've seen productions within when the space used to house the St. Louis Black Repertory Co.), but also climb all the way up into the bell tower. I was already fairly hungry, but we all certainly worked up an appetite on a 90+ degree day traipsing around in the belly of a church - luckily, dinner was next. I'd heard some pretty stellar reviews of the Dark Room, but this was my first time eating there. I have to say I was delightfully surprised with the quality and flavor of everything! Add in an expansive wine menu and a stunning charcuterie board, and you know I'll be back soon.

After filling up on some phenomenal food, we walked a little further south to the Kranzberg Arts Center. The group checked out the "Variations and Adaptations" exhibition, which is brought to the Center by Artists First - a non-profit that nurtures and cultivates the talents of artists with disabilities. We then sat down in the Center's cozy black box theater for a production of "Tangled," a feisty tale of three women vying for power, money, and attempting to maintain a friendship in the face of their struggles. With the perfect amount of drama and comedy, and perfect pop culture references, "Tangled" kept me engaged and was a perfect end to a fun evening. I have to admit that prior to this Friday night, I didn't even know there was a theater inside the Center! I'll be keeping their show calendar in mind for future entertainment. 

Thanks again to Socially Jen for the invitation to such a art-ful evening, and to the Kranzberg Arts Foundation for being wonderful hosts!

Photos (unless otherwise attributed) courtesy of Socially Jen

Find Kranzberg Online: 

Love Your Mother (Earth) at May's Place

Hi, friends! If you're in the Saint Louis area and are looking for weekend plan ideas, I've got something for you to do! You might remember me posting about May's Place before on the blog (here) because I'm a huge fan of its mission and lovely, curated vintage finds. In collaboration with Hex STL and May's Place, I'm hosting an afternoon of shopping, socializing, and supporting charity this coming Sunday, May 7th. We will have tea to sip from local favorite Big Heart Tea Co., and we're inviting everyone to bring in an item to donate to Support the Girls as well. Read on below!

With Mother's Day right around the corner, and Earth Day just passing us by, we knew we wanted to tie these two elements to our event. May's Place's slogan is "Be Green, Buy Vintage," and you're probably familiar with my goal to live a sustainable lifestyle. Think of our original mother, Earth, when shopping for your mamas! Buying vintage is the ultimate green option. Supporting local pours funds back into our own communities. Change your mindset, change the world. 

May's Place not only offers a hand-selected variety of vintage goods and clothing, but also carries local items. Lonesome Traveler (pictured above) has built a huge following in our city with their darling hand-crafted accessories for both men and women. Also found in-shop are candles poured just for May's Place. I suggest you sniff the Egyptian Amber because it's absolutely heavenly. If you're looking for a sweet, easy way to liven up your home, you can snatch up an embroidered hoop by local maker, The Wind and the Sun, like the one below!

We're looking forward to hanging out with you this Sunday! We're even more excited to offer you 10% off your purchase with a donation of gently used bras or new feminine hygiene items like tampons, pads, and other menstrual hygiene products to benefit Support the Girls - a local charity that distributes these items to homeless women in the St. Louis community. See you soon!

Love Your Mother (Earth)
When: Sunday, May 7th, 12 - 4pm
Where: May's Place, 3249 Ivanhoe Ave

RSVP on Facebook Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1760429714286395/

Saint Louis' Shark Tank Fashion Venture

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Everyone loves a friendly competition, right? Bright lights, cameras, judges. Big money prizes! What makes it all even better is if the talent is home-grown. Saint Louis Fashion Week has extended its season this year, stretching out across several weeks of haute happenings, shows, and events. The 2016 season's biggest bang is the Caleres Fashion Entrepreneur Competition, which gives five local makers the opportunity to compete to win the grand prize of $10,000, second prize of $5,000, and a People's Choice award. Intrigued? Learn more below, and enter to win two tickets for the event on November 10th!

Not only will you find five of Saint Louis' most talented and up-and-coming names showcasing their work, you'll also be treated to interactive fashion and video presentations, designs inspired by Caleres' shoes, and in true Shark Tank-style, live pitches from the competitors. Something I always yearn for when peeping a fashion show is more insight into what makes the designer tick, and here's my (and yours!) chance to hear from creators first-hand about their processes. The panel of "judges" for this event even includes Eric Johnson, Executive Director of Saint Louis Fashion Fund - you might have heard that the Fashion Fund had its official launch this week! 

I'm excited to not only be there in support of our city's talented folk and learn more about how the Fashion Fund is supporting funding, mentorship, education and professional development to fashion design entrepreneurs in St. Louis, but also in a music capacity - I'll be DJing for the cocktail hour and party aspect. Every gig is a chance to learn more about an industry, and this is already one I love! 

It should come as no surprise that the finalist that might immediately pique my interest would have a strong focus on footwear! Claire Flowers is named directly after its designer, who resides here in Saint Louis. Intent on having shoe that fused fashion and function, she opted to design her own. Feminine silhouettes with a heel that flares out at the base have helped the brand of Claire Flowers excel - you can snap up a pair of these beauties in several local shops, like 10Denza & Ivy Hill, as well as a few national stores in states such as New York, Kentucky, and Illinois. One of my favorite little features about Claire Flowers' new approach to crafting a comfortable shoe is the material used in the heel cap: TPU, the same material roller skates are made out of! I grew up roller blading and always thought the wheels were pretty neat - sturdy, yet with some give in order to take force. Sounds like the perfect heel cap to me! I can't wait to hear more from Ms. Flowers herself at the event, and see more of her work in person.

Get acquainted before the event! The five finalists for the Competition are:
Beltshazzar Jewels  |  Qristyl Frazier Designs, Inc.  |  Claire Flowers  |  Rafael Adón  |  Fauxgerty

If you're interested in joining me on November 10th at the fabulous Majorette on Manchester Avenue, you have two options!
1) Get Lucky! Head on over to my Instagram profile for a chance to win 2 tickets! 
2) Head on over HERE and use code CALERESFECSOSM in the referral box - that way we can know how you heard about the event!  

Follow along on social!
Facebook for the event

Catching Up With Craft Alliance Downtown

I'm a huge champion for Saint Louis and all that it has to offer both residents and tourists alike. There are so many opportunities for creative types like myself, and the art scene is really booming. I had the opportunity to explore the insides of a current art fixture in Saint Louis recently - Craft Alliance's downtown location! I met with current Artist-in-Residence, Megan Singleton, and Michael Powell, the marketing manager of Craft Alliance, to talk further about the non-profit organization and its influence on our community. 

Yasmin of local blog Bangles & Bungalows also attended the meet-up, and we had a blast learning more about Megan's work. She is a fiber artist of sorts, and not the kind of fiber you find in clothes! Through a paper-making process, she creates her work from plant fibers that she collects. The image below shows a piece (that I apparently found amusing for a reason I can't recall) that is inspired by the yucca plant, which is native to Missouri. It grows in the most unlikely of places - from graveyards to deep urban areas. Megan explains that her work often focuses on "reinterpreting the plant's form" rather than creating sculptural recreations of the original plant. We asked how she best chooses plants to create from, and she explained her "twist test," which involved taking a part of the plant and twisting it over on itself. The farther it can go, the sturdier the fibers are, which make for better paper! We chatted further about where she finds her plants, what rules apply to the plants she works with (some invasive species cannot even be removed from their state, even if they're in the way and need to be killed off!), and how she'll never run into a shortage of materials in her process. 


Some of the work I liked best in Megan's studio were pieces based on how the paper she makes dried around shapes. She sells wearable art and creates pieces that have a skeleton of varying thicknesses of wire. She applies the wet paper product to the wires, shapes it, and as the paper dries, it contracts and pulls the wire into different shapes. Fascinating! She also works with dying fabrics, silk, and more. 

She explained that she was invited by Craft Alliance to become a part of their artist-in-residence program, which I think is super cool! As a former art student, I remember how competitive residency programs can be! Craft Alliance is specifically aiming to help make STL a more art-pedestrian friendly zone, especially with their downtown location and its artists in residence there. Megan says that being with Craft Alliance has allowed her to "branch out (a cute plant pun!)" in her work, and Michael quipped that it's helped her to explore an "ambassadorship for the plants" with her art. Megan and Michael also spoke about the mentoring program called Crafting A Future, which brings high school students into a learning environment regarding various kinds of crafting. I was intrigued by this, because I think it is so very important for aspiring art kiddos to have practice with presenting their work, accepting critiques, and exploring the business side of the art world before they are tossed into the fray of college!

Each year, Craft Alliance throws a huge party called the Makers Ball to help support their organization, invite the public to meet local makers, celebrate the artistry of makers and craft, and bring the art community closer together. The fundraiser supports the exhibitions and community education programs at Craft Alliance Center of Art and Design It's coming up this Saturday, and if you don't have plans, I highly encourage you to check out joining the fun! It's your chance to shine in a locally-made outfit, accessory, or wearable art. For my meeting with Megan and Michael, I wore jewelry crafted by two of my favorite local makers: 

My lil' brass ball locket is one of my favorite necklaces! Check out Fable & Lore on Etsy to shop her incredible handmade pieces!

Elle of Sahgol Jewelry created a pair of custom earrings for me, and I lost one by accident. Now I love an asymmetrical look!

I dressed casually for our day at Craft Alliance because I will not be attending the ball due to a previously-scheduled DJ gig. I really, really hope I can attend next year because I have never, ever, not once, been to a big gala, and I feel like I'm missing out!

So you should go in my stead!
Find tickets here: http://registeratca.org/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&id=2268

If you can't attend, there are other ways to be keep the arts community in Saint Louis thriving and growing! Support is always needed, so if you're interested in becoming further involved, you can enjoy great benefits by becoming a member of Craft Alliance! From classes and camps to exhibition and community programs, your support will play in a vital role in the organization. For more information, please visit this page.

You can also help by donating here: http://www.craftalliance.org/support/donate.htm

Thanks to Craft Alliance for inviting me to hang out with them on a Saturday, and to Michael and Megan for being such fun, enlightening hosts on our tour of the studios!

Major props go to photographer Brandon Halley for these amazing images!

Outfit Details:
Sweater: Madewell   |   Jeans: Urban Outfitters   |   Necklace: Fable & Lore
Large Earring: Sahgol Jewelry   |   Glasses: SEE Eyewear   |   Boots: Thrifted

MDMC16: A Chat With Raashi of Pinterest

2016 marks the fourth year that the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, or MDMC, has been held in our fair city of Saint Louis. The conference features speakers, workshops, and information regarding the marketing world and its innovations. This month, the conference returns on April 21st at Union Station, and I'm super stoked to be able to have the chance to attend! With three keynote presentations and 35 total sessions for marketers to attend, the learning experience will in-depth and full of resource. Find the day's schedule HERE.

One of the speakers during the day is Raashi Bhalla of Pinterest, where her primary duties include; partners organization, creative strategy, helping brands understand how to use Pinterest, and working hands-on with clients. Pinterest is one of those social media sites that so many of us are on, but isn't quite talked about as much as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I know that for a long time, I have used it on a mostly personal level, even though the entire platform is designed to be a social, public sharing process.  I was excited to have the chance to ask Raashi some questions about one of the unsung heroes of keeping us all connected digitally. Follow along with highlights from our interview below! 

SOSM: Does Pinterest have any secrets or tools that go unused by most?
Raashi: "Enrich the everyday moment! Creating a board with a friend or partner for a future trip together." 
. . . Because I haven't used Pinterest as much as is possible, I had never thought of that! I love this idea for future trips, especially NYFW in the fall! Raashi also suggested even using a group board as a way to share brunch spot ideas, and you can remove them from the board as your friends finish visiting each suggested spot!

SOSM: I see that your speaking segment is called "The Art and Science of Using Pinterest." What do you consider the science side of Pinterest to be? 
Raashi: There are certain details that make a pin perform really well. We view engagement as metrics - different than across other social networks. Pinners are not broadcasting their own work, so engagement = repins, close-ups, and click-throughs. Especially with follow-throughs that lead to sales.
. . . That makes so much sense! Especially when pins are advertising sites, brands could really track their ROIs through metrics! 

SOSM: What is something you think sets Pinterest apart from other social media?
Raashi: Using Pinterest feels more personal, but it’s not really meant to be as everyone can find your Pins.

SOSM: Is there anything new in store for Pinterest soon?
Raashi: We've actually recently updated the mobile app so that recent pins are at the top. This allows users to discover new things, save them, and follow through!

I can't wait to learn more from Raashi at the conference next week! 
Please follow her on Pinterest HERE and on Twitter @RaashiBhalla. 

Learn a little more about the conference day by peeping this video: 

Intrigued? The conference is so popular that it has sold out, but a wait list is available! Throw your name in the running to join me and Raashi HERE.

Follow along throughout the week and the day of through these avenues:
- Twitter: @UMSLDigital
- Instagram: @UMSLDigital
- Hashtags:  #MDMC16

Perfect Night Out - the OTSTL Opera Tastings

Saint Louis is a city that is full of the arts, and people who sleep on all the opportunities we have to be immersed in them are just silly. Over the last few years, I have become more familiar and interested in opera through the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and this spring marked the return of their incredibly popular Opera Tastings events. Over the course of several nights, you are able to tantalize not only your palette, but also your ears! For only $20, you are serenaded by some of the OTSTL's best performers while trying delicious food and drink pairings sure to delight. 

I was invited to attend and tweet up a storm while there - which you know is totally me in my element! I have previously attended the OTSTL's Tweet Seat nights, and it is so much fun to share the opera experience live with the world. Before last night's event, I spoke with tenor singer Geoffrey Agpalo, who you see in the above photo on the far left. He helped create the Opera Tastings last year, and I asked him what prompted him to begin a series like this. He says: 

I absolutely love the artistic aspect of food and how a single bite or sip can trigger an emotion. That's why I think the idea of pairing food with opera is so effective. Some of my favorite restaurants and cocktail lounges don't just make great food, but create experiences by treating customers almost as if they were audience members. I think pairing these two things together is a no brainer. It offers such a unique experience both as a performer and as an audience member.

Outside of opera, Geoffrey listens to much of the same music I do - even Sia and Bruno Mars! His wife is also a singer, and he mentioned that they may record and album together one day (fingers crossed!), and I think it would be so neat to hear chemistry like that in opera. I'm already planning which of the shows this year I will attend based on Geoffrey's roles. Wanna be my date? The OTSTL offers a Young Friends program that allows broke folks like me to afford tickets!

As attendees of the Opera Tastings, we were treated to something very special: a sneak peek from the still-to-be-premiered brand new opera based on the 2005 novel of the same title, Shalimar the Clown. Geoffrey sang a love song based on the character Shalimar's love for the beautiful Boonyi. We were informed that Geoffrey had just been invited to sing the part a handful of days before this weekend, and yet he did not look at the sheet music even once. Now that is talent! I think Shalimar the Clown will be one I'll check out this season - Shalimar is a tightrope walker, and if you know me personally, you'll know I have a soft spot for circus arts!

Pork belly atop watermelon? Yes, please! 

These Angelic Teardrops were sinfully tasty!

My father was my date for the evening, and I was so glad I could treat him on his birthday! We both had a lot of fun, and we don't have nearly enough father-daughter time on the regular. Attending events like this with family is one of the best ways to create great memories, I think. Food, drink, and music are some of my favorite things to share with those I love. I was able to catch up with some of my favorite ladies from the blogging scene last night as well: 

R-L: Laura of Weird Cult(ure), Psyche of Economy of Style, and Elena of Cheetah Talk Y Mas.

You have two more chances to enjoy an Opera Tasting event! Find tickets here.

To follow along with all things OTSTL: 
: opera-stl.org
Facebook: facebook.com/OperaTheatre
Twitter: twitter.com/OTSL | @OTSL
Instagram: instagram.com/operatheatrestl | @operatheatrestl
Hashtags: #OTSL #OperaTastings #StLouisGram

All photographs courtesy of Elizabeth Wiseman

Tune Tuesday: Le1f at The Luminary in STL

Even if you haven't heard of Le1f's recent work, he's been around since he produced Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." If you're not familiar with the song, it was a massive viral hit while I was in college, and you'd fine drunk kids on campus shouting its lyrics every weekend. Who doesn't feel the vibe of being able to order both tacos AND pizza in one location? 

About the release of his recent Riot Boi album, Le1f says, "It's a very pro-trans, pro–clean water, Black Lives Matter record." He's not messing around when it comes to busting down boundaries, thrilling fans, and dropping visually delicious videos. In a world where rap music is generally expected and accepted as overtly masculine, drug-favoring, and violence-centered, Le1f comes around throwing down nerd references ("Wut's" Pokemon masks), shout outs to 90s television shows ("BOOM's" Good Burger knock-off), and throwing around LGBTQ slang I've never heard before. He's clever, catchy, and educational. What more can I ask for in rap? He has also studied dance since his early teens, which means his show tonight will be full-blown performance fun.

I've had his video for "Koi" on repeat all week. Check it out:

If you're down to get dancing with me tonight, head to The Luminary on Cherokee Street!

Le1f + Junglepussy
Doors: 8pm  |  Show: 9pm
Tickets: $17
[Event Link]

What2DoWeds: Saint Rita Parlor Trunk Show

St. Louis natives that go off and do their own successful thang make me smile, especially because we Midwesterners often return to show love to the homeland. Neil Bardon is no exception, and he'll be in town this weekend to debut The Florissant Collection from his Los Angeles-based brand, Saint Rita Parlor. If you've been reading along with me since the inception of this lil' blog, you might recognize these names! Bardon was last in town for a trunk show almost exactly two years ago! You can find my recap of the last trunk show here. 

In the above left photo, you not only get to see a great flashback of me with long hair, but also me attempting to wear the top-selling frame "1072." I have a tiny face - look how oversized they are on me! This frame is currently only available in black on the website, but never fear! if you're attending the trunk show this Saturday, you'll be able to peep three brand new colors of the "1072." They go on sale for the first time publicly at the trunk show, so you better hurry your fashionable four-eyed self to the show. 

I know I'm excited to see the new collection, and throw my name into the contest to possibly win my own pair of Saint Rita Parlor frames! With free 4Hands beer from 7-9m, and a peach-infused bourbon cocktail for just $6, you know I'm about to turn out and turn up. See you there!

Saturday March 26, 2016  |  7pm - 1:30am
The Night Owl by Tree House  |  3177 S. Grand Blvd (2nd FL)
DJ sets: Aaron Stovall (So Many Dynamos) & Mikey Wehling
More Info:
Facebook Event
Saint Rita Parlor's Website
First Image c/o Sequoia Ziff


What To Do Wednesday: Gent! Showcase


Who doesn't love swanky settings, sexy cars, and suave men? Tomorrow night marks the return of Gent!: STL Men's Designer Showcase. Last year's event had me oohing and ahhing over menswear from local and regional designers. Many, if not most, of the runway shows I have attended over the past few years have all been womenswear, so I was stoked to attend one solely focused on the dudes! Check out a few of my favorite looks below (images courtesy of ALIVE Magazine) and find more info about tomorrow's event!

From the Gent! Facebook Page (RSVP here!)
Gent! showcases local and regional independent menswear designers on the runway. 

Presented by Mungenast Lexus of St. Louis & Vital Voice

Event Details:
February 4, 2016
Doors open at 7pm
Runway show at 8:30pm

Featured Designers:
Paulie Gibson
Christian Michael
Mister Guy Men's Store 
SKIF International
Isaiah Jenkins III

Also featuring designs from Project Runway All-Star, Casanova

Advanced VIP - $50
Advanced GA Seating - $35
Advanced General Admission - $20

Produced by Brainchild Events
Special thanks to St. Louis MagazineMoonrise HotelHollywood Casino St. LouisClayton Jewelers and Mister Guy Men's Store for additional support. 

To purchase tickets, visit www.gentstl.eventbrite.com

Happy Hour Game Watching at Ruth's Chris

Last week, I was invited to pop into Ruth's Chris downtown for an evening of happy hour hullabaloo, snacking, and Blues game watching. I went to my first Blues game last year as a young adult, and boy, do they get exciting! I never realized they actually allow the players to pummel on each other. So what better way to watch men be brutes and shoot around on an ice rink while sipping amazing wine, trying hand-crafted cocktails, and indulging in delicious snacks at a swanky bar? Welcome to Ruth's Chris downtown! 

I was able to bring along my darling friend Marisa, and we both sipped on some of the wine offerings. I believe the wine I had a glass of was a red blend from Robert Mondavi, and it was just the right amount of smooth. It was easy to drink, and paired well with all the items I tasted. We sample lobster bites with creamy Sriracha sauce (pictured above), seared tuna, house-made potato chips, and more. I was really in love the the lobster bites, and would love to go back and indulge in some more. Luckily for me, the downtown Ruth's Chris location is just a short walk away from my current job! I have been here before for happy hour, but never with the intention of watching any kind of sport. Now that I know that Ruth's Chris has a number of TVs (but not in intrusive places with loud, obnoxious sound!), I can bet you I'll be back soon! I like feeling like a classy lady sometimes, and the gorgeous interior of Ruth's Chris catered to that. It's perfect for watching a very unladylike sport such as hockey while cheers-ing with your wine - you won't have to be around the noisy, bumbling crowds, getting tangled in jerseys and such!

I truthfully almost included a photo that our lovely event organizer, Alyse, snapped of me and Marisa, but... even though I champion sharing photos that don't show you at your loveliest, I really did not agree with how I Iook in the photo! Sometimes you style your hair weird, you forget to put your contacts in, and you are feeling self-conscious about your extra winter weight, so you just decide to not share the icky with your readers. And that's okay, too! But now I know next time I'm at Ruth's Chris, I'll make sure to be more on point so I can selfie away! 

Thank you to Ruth's Chris for hosting our little party, and introducing me to a new spot to watch games around town! You can still get the downtown vibe without any of the crazy crowds!

Be a doll and follow Ruth's Chris along through these avenues:
Instagram: @ruths_chris_stlouis
Twitter: @stlruthschris
Facebook: STLRuthsChris
Hashtags: #hotspotstl #ruthschrisstl