Just Me aghan

Saturday, November 22, 2014

5 Tips for a Successful Black Friday

Whether you are going out for the sales after Thanksgiving dinner, waiting for the early morning sales, or have plans to save at both there are a few things every shopper needs to do to make the most of the insanity that is Black Friday.

5 Tips for a Successful Black Friday

1. Planning:
Read the sale ads and figure out what you want and from where before heading out to the stores. If you are looking for a big ticket item that is on a major sale- know that a lot of people are going to want the same deal and plan accordingly. Know that you will need to get there super early to post up in line if you think you are going to get one of the limited quantity TV's that are half off.

If you are looking to get the discounts on clothes and accessories consider shopping the store ahead of time to find what you want. This will be easier than trying to get in to the dressing room with the line of 20+ other people. Again go early though in case they run out of your size.

2. Caffeine:
If you are hunting for deals early morning have your caffeine of choice on hand. After all that turkey and pie the night before you will probably need it. Same goes for the night of Thanksgiving shoppers.  Set up your Keurig early and have your to go cup ready, the lines at Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks around this time are bound to be just as insane as the stores.

3. Patience:
Expect to wait in lines, long ones. Last year I waited in a J.Crew line with hubs for over 40 minutes. We were starting to get really impatient (with the screaming 5 year old behind us) but the deals were worth it so we stuck it out. Children do not belong in stores on Black Friday, sorry leave them with Grandma or someone else if at all possible. They won't be happy and neither will you or the other shoppers.

4. Sustenance:
Bringing your own snacks along might not be a bad idea. Skip the dollar menu fries and pack some healthy nuts, granola bars or something else you can snack on easily while waiting online. Don't forget water!

5. Support:
Bring a friend along. They can help keep you in your right mind and talk you out of that $300 TV that wasn't on your list, and you'll have someone else to talk to and complain about the lines with.

My 2013 Black Friday morning support, Kelsey.

If you can't handle the droves of people, long lines, and digging through messy piles to find the right color or size you might just want to stay home and shop online. A lot of retailers offer online Black Friday sales now and Cyber Monday is next week.

Let's shop tip we drop people!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Georgia Trip- Part 3, Savannah's Candy Kitchen

On our trip to Georgia in September for Lundyn's wedding we stopped in Savannah on the way home. I can't believe I haven't visited Savannah before, it's under three hours away from St. Augustine and such a beautiful place to visit.

We were only there one night but with recommendations from locals and the help of Yelp we found some great restaurants and fun stores to shop for Christmas gifts.

One of the last places we visited before leaving was Savannah's Candy Kitchen on the historic waterfront. We walked through the sweet smelling store on what was more of a tour watching the various treats being made.

We must have watched the taffy puller for 10 minutes as the machine pulled, cut and packaged the pieces of taffy it slides onto a trolley system then drops onto the stand. Or into the hands of someone eagerly waiting for the next fresh piece to fall. :)

  I'll take four of these please. Chocolate jimmies galore!

The smells flared up both of our sweet tooth's so we got a Coca Cola float for the road!

I can't wait to get back to Savannah and check out some more spots.
Do you have any favorite places you like to stop at in Savannah?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thriving Under Thirty: Ana Mari Ortega

Oh I just love handmade don't you? Knowing that someone meticulously made something by hand adds more value and in my opinion, is often a higher quality. When I heard about Ana Mari Ortega and her hand crafted pieces I was in awe over her dedication and success. Her Paoloa Clutch in Royal Blue is just gorgeous! Read on to hear about Ana, the newest Thriving Under Thirty respondent.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Miami to Cuban parents (the norm around here). I am a current affairs junkie, which led me to study international relations at George Washington University. I began creating jewelry in my spare time in D.C., and after a very successful trunk show over spring break my senior year I decided to move back home and pursue it full time!

What is the most difficult part of your job?
Sometimes I get the designer’s version of “writer’s block” - there are days that the creative juices are not flowing and it can be very frustrating. Luckily, those are few and far between. The most difficult part of my job is day to day sales. I am an incredibly outgoing and talkative person, but I become very shy when it comes to selling and promoting myself and my brand! I have been making an effort to be a better ambassador for my own brand.

What part of your job do you have the most fun with: designing, the process of putting the items together, or sales?
Designing and creating the items are definitely the most fun. Making jewelry is like therapy! Unfortunately it is a double edged sword because the more my business grows, the more I give up creating the items myself. However, I try to carve out time to make things at least once a week. Working with numbers and sales are not my strong suit, but are just as important at the fun stuff!

Where do you get inspiration for new designs from?
A lot of the pieces in my collection, in both jewelry and handbags, are simple and timeless items that I think would be staples in any woman’s closet. I try to always create things that a woman could wear 5 years from now.  Much of my inspiration also comes from my clients themselves. I have gotten to know many of them throughout the last 6 years of doing this, so I think of them often when I am designing. Certain details, like the length of necklaces, the weight of earrings, the placement of clasps, etc, are determined by feedback that I have received from the women I have worked with.

What advice do you have for individuals looking to break into fashion design?
1) Learn every aspect of the business: When I told my parents I wanted to pursue this full time, they encouraged me to learn the very basics of jewelry fabrication and work my way up from there. In any business, you need to know the ins and outs so that when you grow no one can give you the runaround as you begin to outsource production. I spent a year studying under a German master jewelry who has a school here in Miami, and then I obtained a degree in accessory design from the art school in Miami.
2) Become organized before you sell: Research the proper licenses and permits you need to operate and register to collect sales tax in your state. Meet with an accountant to learn how to maintain your books. It is a lot easier to start off on the right foot than having to learn everything retroactively.
3) Don’t be easily disappointed: This is a very difficult and competitive business. No matter how hard you work, sometimes things won’t go your way, so don’t get discouraged. Someone shared this little graph on Facebook (see attached) that sums up how many small business owners feel. I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way.

Do you have any events in North Florida you will be selling at in the near future? Do you have any other events coming up you would like me to mention?
I have a client in Jacksonville that will order items that she sees and likes on Instagram, but I have never been up there for a trunk show. Maybe its time! I partner with many charitable organizations and do trunk shows throughout the year. In the new year, I will be a featured vendor at a wonderful event called “Wine, Women & Shoes” (doesn’t it sounds amazing?) which benefits Miami Children’s Hospital.

What has your bestselling item been?
My bestselling jewelry item is a single baroque pearl necklace on a delicate gold chain. I have been making it for years and it is beautiful, easy to wear and very affordable!

My best selling handbag is the “Karina” clutch. It is a slim, envelope clutch that holds the basics for a night out. I have one in black and I wear it every weekend.

In addition to Free shipping Ana is offering 15% off your entire order with the coupon code "thriving15." Get some Christmas shopping done for your sister, your mom, or drop a hint to your significant other and use her coupon. ;)

I will continue to bring you interviews with successful women under  
(I'm getting old) around the age of thirty. If you or someone you know might 
be interested in being featured please email meaghanmae@gmail.com. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life Lately

A couple months ago I signed up for a 10K, was all gung ho, and even went out and bought a heart rate monitor for my training. Three weeks from the race I downgraded to a 5K. Here's why- LIFE! I know excuses, excuses... new opportunities came up though and my time had to be redistributed. If you are a regular reader you know I have a full time job in addition to my blogging which sometimes makes it difficult to find real free time, and waking up at 5 AM to go run is not something I'm willing to do. I applaud those of you that do.

I still feel like I'm letting myself down, but then again at least I'm running a race at all. I could just bail out entirely and not even run the 5K... don't worry though I'm doing it even if I only have an eleven minute mile average. Oh well, I'm not on the couch and I'm doing something. Right?

A photo posted by Meaghan A. (@justmeaghan) on

Onto the business that is life. St. Augustine Social gave me three full blown articles to write for their first print magazine over the last few weeks. {Insert excitement here} So cool! I got to interview a few people around town and had fun weaving everything together into the articles. I can't wait to hold the magazine that my first print pieces are in next month. :)

A photo posted by Meaghan A. (@justmeaghan) on

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Fashion Friday: Feeling Studly

With my shorter hair I'm paying more attention to my earrings again. I like the longer dangle ones, but statement studs are my thing right now. Here are a few classic studs, and some quirkier fun ones I have my eyes on right now.

All priced under $50 it will be hard to decide on just one pair. All of these would be perfect to brighten up your holiday looks.

What is the one piece of jewelry you cannot leave the house without?

Linking up with Fab Favorites.