Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Yesterday was a very fun day to remember. I had the opportunity to meet the creator behind the LA based clothing brand, Poprageous. Poprageous came into my life in the beginning of the year and was introduced by my friend Patricia. She told me about a girl who liked Black Milk Clothing, but decided to make her own leggings. There was a secret release coming out for a special pair of leggings that I knew I had to get. I bought them and immediately fell in love with them. The waistband was comfortable, the fabric was shiny and stretchy, I loved the design, and it wasn't too long around the ankles. I didn't feel like I was suffocating with these leggings as I did with other pairs. I ended up ordering two more pairs and I was quite content with what I received. Even though I was happy, I still wanted to know the person behind the company... so I reached out to her. Surprisingly, she gave me her hand.
Cher Park is fun, down to earth, and very upbeat. She's a Korean American who resides in Los Angeles, CA and holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University. She worked in finance for three years in NYC before returning to LA to do what she loved to do - fashion. She worked in both Shoe Dazzle and Forever 21's headquarters before realizing she could create her own clothing brand and run it as her own. She bought some fabric and attempted to make her own leggings by cutting out a pattern and sewing it properly. Once she was done, she ended up posting it to the Black Milk California group to show her finished product to the other girls. They all started giving her positive reviews by commenting, "Make me one too!" She decided to find a way to make the ideas swirling around her head into reality. Cher ultimately quit her job and started working to create clothing full-time, roughly about 7 months ago. Upon doing so, she's created a fan base of up to 15,000+ people on facebook and over 31,000+ followers on Instagram. Not bad, if I don't say so myself. Throughout it all, she's gotten quite a few haters claiming she's been stealing ideas off of Black Milk since she was also a Sharkie, but after having a few conversations with her, that is obviously not, and ever will be, the case.
It started one night while I was having insomnia and I couldn't fall asleep. I decided to message Cher about wanting to buy a pair of leggings that were out of stock and I was interested in finding out when she'd restock them in my size. She was nice enough to message me back quickly to tell me she'd be getting them in soon. We somehow got into the conversation about where her ideas for her work came from and what she was interested in doing with Poprageous. She told me she wanted to create a balance between craziness and normal, so her clothing line would attract all people - not just one group in particular. She wanted to see her fans and people all over the world wear her leggings because she thought of them as little works of art. Each article of clothing had a story behind it. She gave me the stories of how and why she chose those prints in particular... and I was very excited to see that she wasn't just doing it for the sole aspect of making money.
Cher has an artistic way of thinking - she doesn't just say, "This pair of leggings will be $75 and it will make me a profit," but instead says, "This legging pattern was inspired by Banksy's work with a boy holding flowers and a girl who couldn't trust him, which is why she holds a bat behind her back. My rendition of it wanted to give the illusion of what happened next. I wanted the boy to save the girl floating away from him, grasping on to show he cared about her." I told a lot of respect for someone who thinks out of the box and who could tell a story through her work. As a fellow artist, I know the cut-throat views of the art world and I know what it feels like to have people criticize you because they don't understand what you see. Someone who owns a clothing company may just see future dollar signs after they've created their work, but she sees something more and that's the beauty of her fashion. It isn't just something to wear; it's art. This is a girl I saw a lot of myself in and I knew I wanted to be friends with her. We almost think and act alike, and I love that about her.
Last weekend, she called me to let me know she was coming to NYC to visit some friends and she wanted to know if I wanted to have lunch. I agreed and I invited some of the Black Milk girls from the East Coast to come along because they too were also fans of Poprageous, but most of them couldn't get out of work. One girl, Jonna, was able to come down and meet with us, so the more the merrier. The three of us finally met up and we had lunch over at Freeman's, which was this small "hole in the wall" place that had some pretty good food (the burgers were a bit rare and salty though). We discussed what were the next steps of Poprageous and what were her plans for the upcoming seasons. We talked about how we hated customs fees and how we could avoid the problems of shipping costs and how she wanted to see Poprageous grow. Jonna talked about her home country, Germany, and how different it was from the states. We were like old friends catching up. It was nice. Once we were done, Cher STOLE the bill from us and paid for lunch, even though we tried to argue. We then took some pictures outside on a graffiti wall and walked to Wafels & Dinges for some dessert. After dessert, Jonna had to go back home, so Cher and I took the train back uptown to find some fabric she could use. She got a few more ideas in her head and is planning on getting ready for the fall season.
I can say with confidence that Cher is a fantastic person and I think Poprageous is in amazing hands. She knows what she is doing and has a good head on her shoulders. She will be able to carry her team and take them to the top of the fashion world. I'll be around to help her every step of the way. All the haters can just shove a sock in their mouths because she really isn't trying to copy anyone. She's trying to get things done her way and she plans on doing anything she can to get it right. If anyone complains about her pieces looking "similar" or "identical" to Black Milk, they shouldn't complain because Black Milk's "original" patterns were actually just designs from iStock or fabrics from stores in the city like Spandex House. Cher's artist series is also coming along nicely, where she collaborates with many artists and puts their work on her leggings. I can't wait to see what she'll be coming out with within the upcoming months. You might see some of my work up there too (**wink wink**). I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of a few things, so some exciting things are coming up along the way! Get ready for it! Keep a look out for this lovely lady! She'll be popping up all over the place soon enough.
Visit Poprageous' website here.
Add Poprageous to your facebook likes here.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
As some of you may know, I am a big fan of a certain clothing brand called Black Milk. They have been around for at least the past 5 years and I was acquainted to them by a friend last year. When I found the world of Black Milk, everything changed. I wanted to be the girl with the cool shiny nylon leggings. I wanted to have all the different styles and colors, especially since it brought edginess and color to my otherwise normal wardrobe. My friend showed me what it was like to become a "Sharkie," or the term used for girls who wore Black Milk. My legging and dress collection grew very quickly over the past 6 months, which brought me from one piece to 50. I don't know what came over me, but I wanted everything. I was dubbed the "Frankensharkie" by my friends because of my need to have all the leggings. As fads go in fashion, I thought having printed leggings was the "in thing." If you saw a girl in the city walking around with Black Milk leggings, you'd usually call them out and compliment them because that's just the way it was.
Black Milk created an atmosphere where girls all around the world who enjoyed their clothing spoke and interacted with each other. They created many groups where each country could interact with their fellow Sharkies, and even other ones to help motivate each other to do certain things (ex: Black Milk Get Fit and Healthy Exercise Motivation Group). The United States has a few groups and I'm in some of them. The girls are quite lovely there and I've been blessed to meet some of them in person. When James Lillis (dubbed jL - the creator and owner of BM) came to NYC to visit, an impromptu meet up was formed and I found out about it through the East Coast BM page. I was so excited to meet him and my other fellow Sharkies. It was a great night. He was very attentive to what the girls wanted and he listened to each of our thoughts. After I met him, I knew BM was special and I wanted to know more. It was quite a different atmosphere.
I will explain the normal process of how BM operates to better understand the Black Milk World. Black Milk is an online-based company who works and operates out of Australia. They ONLY do online business and they have created a giant clientele of ladies to buy their clothing. Once a month, they come out with a release of 10-20 specific items that can either be related to each other (ex: Star Wars) or may just look cool. There are regular pieces that will be in-store for a while and they also come out with limited pieces, where these pieces are only made with a certain quantity due to the limited amount of fabric they have, if they believe the product will sell, and the amount of girls interested in it. Once they are sold out of the store, you can not get that particular pair of leggings anymore. Black Milk usually has a release date and time scheduled through Brisbane, Australia, so if it's 9AM there, I'd have to be on a computer at exactly 7PM to catch the release. This also goes for the ladies around the rest of the world. No matter what time it is in their country, they will still have to be on the computer at 9AM Brisbane time. When you buy your clothing, you also have to watch the cost because if you make it over $200, you get free shipping... BUT the government makes you pay customs fees, which can range from $40-150. That isn't fun either. If you only buy one pair of leggings, shipping costs $12 for regular international flat rate and takes about two weeks to get to you, or you can FedEx it for a higher cost.
A friend of mine told me to join the Black Milk Buy, Sell and Swap page, which was a page dedicated to girls selling off their unwanted Black Milk leggings, rather than putting them up on eBay. They have a very strict policy on how they run the page, so all the girls are screened and are obliged to abide by the rules. I asked to join the group and after a few weeks, I was let in. I mostly bought leggings from other girls that were either slightly cheaper or discontinued from the Black Milk page. One pair of leggings originally costed me $75AUD, or $80.76USD from the Black Milk site. A dress would cost $99AUD, which was equivalent to $106.61... so to find a place where I can get some designer clothes a little cheaper was great. I bought clothes here and there, mainly from Black Milk's mainland, Australia. The girls were really nice and I never had a problem... and when we had to give feedback, they would always give me positive ones so other Sharkies knew who to deal with. The admins are based in Australia, and they helped Black Milk maintain "order" by making sure the girls were all following the rules. Black Milk wanted to put their groups in good hands, so these girls made sure they knew what they were doing. I know Black Milk didn't get any money out of this, but it was nice for them to have a place where girls can still enjoy what they don't sell anymore.
After 52 pieces and blasting at least $1500 of my paychecks on Black Milk, I realized it was time to sell some items. I would post the items I didn't want or need anymore and sell them for $70USD, which was a bit lower than the RRP (recommended retail price). I sold them a bit cheaper because I only wore them once or twice for the most part. The buyer usually asks for pictures and covers the price of shipping, and I'd mail it out later that day or the next one. I'd send them the tracking number and make sure to add a little something extra as a small thanks for buying my leggings. I am happy because I get my money back and the buyer is happy they have something new to wear. I've always taken great care of my stuff, and I make sure to let anyone know if there are any defects. This has gone on for quite some time and I've never had any problems selling on the BSS page. It made my life so much easier because I didn't have to deal with listings, bidding, eBay problems, etc. Plus, I got my money right away and used it to pay my bills off. Over the course of time, I stopped buying a lot of Black Milk products because of the weather change to summer, the cost, and because I was always short on cash to pay my bills. I used the BSS page to help me gain my money back since my job was currently lacking hours.
This is what an average swap post looks like:
"My collection is way too big for its own good. Going through some of these and doing some summer cleaning...
All prices are in USD. Shipping is $6.00 for USA, Int'l at your own expense.
"SELL/SWAP USA (pref)/INT'L://
- M Zen Leggings (worn once PC) - $70
- M Leg Bones 2.0 Leggings (BNWT) - $75
- M Phoenix Leggings (a fuzzy patch by the left thigh, worn a few times) - $65
- M Chill Out Leggings (worn once) - $70
- M Great Wave Dress (BNWOT never worn/old cut) - $90
- M Shark Girl Dress (BNWOT - never worn, just ripped the tags off to try on) - $90
- M Le Cafe Leggings (worn twice PC) - $70
- M Glass Lorikeet Leggings (worn twice PC) - $70
- M Junkfood Blue Leggings (worn once PC) - $70
PM me if you're looking to buy anything. Thanks!"
Everything has been going smoothly up until recently. A few weeks ago, I had one girl post on my page, "Prices have to be under RRP." I asked her how I should do that if I'm posting under what I paid for and she told me to get a currency converter. I took a look at the currency change and it turns out that a pair of $75AUD leggings now costs $67.27USD. I was annoyed so I stopped posting on the BSS page and sought advice from some of the BM girls on the east coast. Apparently, I'm not the only one who got annoyed. Some of the other ladies were complaining about the currency exchange and saying it wasn't fair for us to change and lower our costs because the economy changed. I don't believe it's my fault to have to lower the price of something that is literally almost brand new, or even something NEW with tags still attached because of "the economy." I paid at least $80USD per item and I intend on getting my money back out of them. My reasonable asking prices didn't even include the original cost of shipping and extra fees for packaging. The international girls were also having problems with their items because they always have to pay customs fee if they get international packages. Some of the ladies gave me advice to contact an admin if there was really a big problem, but I don't see how there could have ever been a problem if I'd been doing the same thing since I'd joined the page... so I let it go and I forgot about it for a week or two.
I started back up again last night and this time, I decided to write a little disclaimer at the top in case something were to happen again. I wrote:
"All prices are in USD, and these prices are lower than the original RRP I got them for. They are all discontinued items and I am keeping the costs as is. Shipping is $6.00 for USA, Int'l at your own expense."
As usual, ladies were asking to buy some of my items and were willing to swap their stuff... until THE SAME GIRL commented on my post once again, telling me I was breaking the rules. I was so aggravated because I've been following the rules all along and she had the nerve to do this to me once again, making other ladies think I was trying to rip them off because my prices claim to be "higher" than RRP. So... this is how it went...
My response was cordial and polite, but I wanted her to know that I KNEW what the rules were and that I've been following them. She responded by telling me she was "reporting me to an admin" and she gave me a copy of the "rules." At this point, I'm beyond aggravated and I'd beat her to the punch about reporting her. A ton of US Sharkies came to support me because they didn't believe in the Australian monarchy within the BSS page either. They all complained about how unfair it was for us to lose money over the currency exchange and how we aren't asking for anything more than what we paid for. It took over an hour of arguing until an admin finally addressed the situation... and she wasn't really much help.
The Australian girls started getting in on arguing with me about how they have to pay "so much more money" when the USD is stronger. Are we international Sharkies supposed to feel bad over their slight overpayment? I think not. There should be no double standard. AT ALL. What's worse about all of this is that the United States has absolutely NO representation in the Black Milk BSS community... and neither does any other country, for that matter. European Sharkies have to sell their items a certain way to at least get their customs fees back. All the admins on the page are Australian, so they only cater to the Australian demographic, screwing the rest of the world over. I've noticed in recent months that many US girls have been upset over the way the admins carry out their "duties." On top of that, jL and Cam give them special treatment and privileges because of the way they run the page. I can understand that, but that doesn't mean the admins can completely ignore everyone else and cater to their own. If everyone else had some form of representation, it would make things a little easier on us all... but alas, we aren't Australian, so we don't get a say in the Black Milk Monarchy.
At the end of all the ranting, my question was never answered on if I would be able to use my post the way I had it. Just because Shakirra posted an excerpt from "the rules" doesn't mean my questions were entirely answered... and many other girls had unanswered questions as well. I'm fed up with the petty nonsense from the Black Milk Community and I'm petitioning to create a NEW BSS page strictly for the United States. If that isn't possible, then I want Cam and jL to listen to me and realize what they're doing is really destroying the community. It wasn't fair that I got harassed for sticking up for myself on the BSS page. I am not going to allow myself to be a victim of libel just because people THINK I'm doing the wrong thing, and they aren't even admins. Chances are, I've probably been on the page longer than some of the other newbies there and if I hadn't been messaged by an admin, it probably means I'm not doing anything wrong. I don't know where these girls get off thinking they are administration and they can go about by bullying everyone else because things don't cater to their likings.
I'm writing for every single girl that's either been bullied or harassed on any of the Black Milk pages, especially the BSS one. Black Milk Clothing needs to do something about this and they need to listen to the international ladies around the world. It's ridiculous for us to have to follow a set of rules that only pertain to one continent. It isn't fair that we have to pay so much money for something girls can get for a cheaper price... and don't even get me started on the "AUSTRALIA ONLY SAMPLE SALES." We can save that rant for another day... but Black Milk has really lost their magical touch. I'm so upset about this that I'm not planning on buying anything from them until they address this situation... and chances are, I'm not the only one who's mad. I can and will speak up - that is my right for free speech... and if the BSS girls don't like it, then that's tough cookies because here in America, we say what we want. That's the beauty of the internet... you can get all your information from here for free and find out the TRUTH behind all the sweet, sugar-coated lies.
If you would like to help and sign my petition, you can do so HERE.
If you'd also like to be heard, leave a comment below and we'll make sure we get our representation. If I get kicked out of the BSS page or any other Black Milk page, then so be it... but I'm not going down without a fight.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Hi everyone... I'm sorry I've been MIA lately... I've been studying for my board exam for my major and I recently went back to the gym to train once again, so I haven't had much time to blog. It's almost 2AM now and I figured I'd update on a nice post for you all.
I remember being a flabby person back in 2007 because of the Freshman 15 which carried on through Sophomore year, having a toxic relationship which led me to constantly eat, and having a low self-esteem. I was fat, heavy, and very upset I let myself go. Stress was eating me away, as well as a horrible ex-boyfriend who made me feel insignificant. I guess you can say it was a rough patch in my life. I had a great friend who tried so hard to motivate me to move past the hurt and pain, but I couldn't wrap my head around feeling good about myself. After two years of feeling overweight, I finally took the initiative to join a gym. Weighing at 145 lbs. with no muscle tone, I was ready to find some peace of mind. I didn't know anyone and I didn't have any friends who came with me, so this new place would be my sanctuary, known as XSport Fitness. I worked out for a week and a half, trying to run on the treadmill and use the machines, but I could tell you I was a real "noobie" who didn't know the first thing about getting fit. It didn't matter if I was a health science major... I didn't understand what to do and why to do it. I then decided to seek professional help.
The person who initially signed me up for a gym was a personal trainer (who I am still good friends with to this very day). He told me to try a training session out to see if I would enjoy it or not and I knew it was an easy sales pitch to get me to buy a package, but it worked. The first session was grueling. It consisted of planks, plyometric push ups, and crunches. I was winded by the time the first 5 minutes were over. It was at that time I knew I was out of shape, so I bought a package of 26 sessions, ranging from $45 a piece per hour. I paid for every two sessions and I worked out with him once a week, while trying to do my own thing on the side. The sessions consisted of circuit training, running, plyometrics, core, and whatever else he could conjure... oh, and I forgot - BURPEES. I have never heard of a burpee in my life... but I was acquainted and we had a love/hate relationship for quite some time, up until recently. I've learned to embrace the pain and how much they suck because they also bring me strength and muscle tone. I went from doing 10 a day to about 40. Big change, right?
I began to feel better after working out because it made such a difference in my stamina, my self-esteem, and my well-being. I told myself my $35 would be worth it because I would force myself to go to the gym at least 4-5 days a week, so I wouldn't be losing my money. The gradual body change became a constant once because I started taking classes on top of the training. The different classes ranged from Zumba, kickboxing (which easily became a favorite), muscle max, ball conditioning, pilates, etc... you name it. If I wanted it, my gym had it. I got to know the instructors and I met a few other members who became close friends. After a few months, I realized I really loved exercise. From then, I trained hard and worked for what was most important - my body. I lost 20 lbs. that month and I got rid of all the insecurities about myself, as well as the toxic people around me. It was the best cleanse of my life!
After improving myself, I wanted to learn how I can improve others. I dedicated half my time to schoolwork and the other half to the gym and everything paid off. I made the decision to become a personal trainer, took the AFAA licensing exam, and passed. I made sure I knew the muscle groups and how they worked and operated. I took the time to learn each exercise in order to help my clients exercise effectively and safely, under my supervision. I got a job working through the Fit Fem as an in home personal trainer, owned by my friend and fellow trainer Sylvia Nasser. She and a few other amazing trainers taught me everything I know today. I teach my clients the way I've been taught and I always give them positive energy so they can succeed and feel empowered after a training session. I've learned to love training and seeing how each person I help progresses. It's motivating to both my client and myself.
In recent days, I switched to a new gym and started working out every night after a three month long hiatus. My old gym wasn't giving me the motivation I needed anymore, so it was time for something new. As a plus, my boyfriend and a few other friends joined us as well to add to the motivation of the new place. I actually love the place and my clients give me an incentive to work out and better myself. I'm happier when I go to the gym and I'd like to continue on pursuing my goals to become a great trainer. So... as they say, you have to train differently to get where you want to go!