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Spotlight x Karen McCormick!

What happens when your passion for music + beautiful vocals perfectly collide? An undeniable artist full of creativity, talent + energy sprouts up on the scene named Karen McCormick! Her captivating voice + inviting guitar creates musical magic for her audience + listeners to enjoy while being inspired.

Homegrown country pop artist Karen McCormick is a Washington based singer and songwriter. Raised on the contemporary country sounds of Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and more, Karen began honing her guitar and songwriting skills at the young age of 13. After posting videos of her performances to YouTube, Karen caught the attention of many new fans, including NBC The Voice’s Terry McDermott who invited her be the opening act at his show. She has amassed over 830,000 views worldwide and continues to interact with her growing fan base who is eager to hear the release of her highly anticipated debut single “Just A Song“ on March 16, and her debut EP due later this year.

Let’s get to know Karen a little better…

You first picked up a guitar and began your musical journey at the young age of 13! Why was it important for you to express yourself through song + music?
Up until I turned 13, we had moved around quite a bit. Music had been something that remained constant for me. I had joined the church choir, then joined the school choir, and it was evident that I loved singing. But when I started to play guitar and write my own songs, I found it was the easiest way for me to express myself and I didn’t want to stop!

You have created an amazing following with over 800,000 views on YouTube! How has social media played a role in building a community + sharing your gifts? And why is it important to be proactive in going for your dreams by creating your opportunities + not just waiting?
Social media is an amazing tool and platform — especially for independent artists like myself. Artists have the ability to reach international audiences without a record label! That’s incredible. I would feel like I was doing myself and potential listeners a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that social media platforms can provide. More importantly, we only have one life and nothing is guaranteed — why not go all out for your dreams?

At the age of 22, you already have your debut single, “Just a Song” releasing on March 16th! Is it tough to tap into your emotions and pour your thoughts + vulnerabilities in your music?
I’ve actually found that music is the easiest place for me to be vulnerable and share my emotions. For me, if I write a song about a situation, then perform that song for an audience, every time it gets easier and easier — because I’ve processed the event and I’ve moved on. At that point, the song is for the audience. It’s for them to listen to and connect with and hopefully relate to.

You’ve opened for Terry McDermott of NBC’s The Voice + performed for countless festivals + concerts​, how does performing live inspire you in the music you write to connect with your listeners?
What I love about music is that it can bring together a group of people with completely different upbringing, ages, or beliefs. Music has no boundaries, no rules. When it comes to performing, if I’ve connected with just one person in the audience, I feel I’ve done my job. And I’m proud. As a songwriter, singer, entertainer, I feel my job is to help listeners forget about what is going on in their everyday lives and just have a good time during those two hours of my set.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
For me, empowerment is taking control of your life. I’ve wanted to sing since I was 16 years old, but along the way I’ve lacked confidence in myself and my ability to go after those aspirations. Now I’m 22, and I feel like I can accomplish my goals as long as I believe in myself and work hard. It’s realizing that you have the ability to create your own path and the only thing that can stop you, is you holding yourself back. So don’t! 😉

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
It’s scary! I completely understand and 100% relate to being apprehensive to following your dreams. But think about it this way — what’s stopping you? In my case, it’s always been me holding myself back. No one else. You have the ability to make your dreams and passions come true, all you have to do, is do it. This year, I created a vision board for myself so I could have a visual representation of my goals and see them every day. It’s helped me so much! I wake up, see my goals, and ask myself, “What am I going to do today that will help me get one step closer to accomplishing these goals?”

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Celeb Crush: Nick Jonas! Ugh, I’ve been waiting for him to realize I exist since I was like, 13!
Artist: Carrie Underwood. She has mastered the balance of having an incredible career and a family. I love that about her.
Food: Pizza, pizza, and still pizza. Though I’m boring…my favorite flavor is cheese!
Movie: I don’t have a favorite movie, because I have several favorites! But one that I can never get tired of is 10 Things I Hate About You!

Make sure to download her DEBUT single “Just A Song” on iTunes on March 16th!






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Pricey Prom? False!

Between obsessing over PROMposals + trying to pull your brain back from functioning after spring break, when do you have time to save up for having the ultimate prom night? Well, we’re here to bring good news for your stress level and maybe your dwindling bank account. Rule of life: You never have to break the bank to look unforgettable + feel like a star! The major key is creativity. So, let’s dive into the ultimate prom hacks!


Swap + Switch-Have you ever heard a remix to a song and thought “this is completely better than the original song?” Well, it can be the same with your prom dresses and accessories. Call your girls (especially if you’re senior) and have an ultimate swap out between you + your crew. Now, it feels like a new dress to you. Plus, you have killer personal style so once you add your your special touch with hair + accessories it will be one-of-a-kind.


Spa Squad! – Let’s skip the expensive + excessive spa treatment of manis/pedis and just create your own spa squad. Instead of a stuffy spa that plays nothing but the ‘Best of Bach’ ,  create your own vibe. Get your playlist, snacks + most important you can now prep in your pjs while giving yourself an even better spa treatment.

Student Strands – Okay,  who knows the hottest trends other than someone who is actually part of our generation? Instead of throwing tons of money to someone who thinks finger waves are making a comeback, head to a cosmetology school where students know what’s hot or not. There’s always atleast one style student who is known to slaying strands. So cut down costs + look flawless!

You’ll thank us later!





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Beauty Diary x Joanna Sarah!

Scroll through the beauty diary of  New Jersey based beauty teen blogger, Joanna Sarah!
What city do you live in?
I live in Ocean, which is a town right next to the Jersey Shore.

Beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin + having fun! What are 2 beauty trends you’re loving this year?

I’m loving the bare minimal look that everyone is into now, where it’s just your eyebrows and a lipstick.

If you had only 15 seconds to grab 3 beauty products, what would they be?

That’s hard. I would grab my Maybelline eyebrow powder, a nude lipstick, and a gold highlight.

Beauty inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate beauty icon + why?

I actually have two ultimate beauty icons – Zendaya and Yara Shahidi. I love them as people and everything they stand for. They always rock their natural hair and their natural beauty, which I love. I believe that natural beauty is the best beauty and they represent that in an amazing way.

Getting ready for class can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s one beauty must-have that lives in your book bag?

Vaseline without a doubt. Vaseline is my substitute for chapstick. Plus you can honestly use Vaseline for anything.
What’s your number 1 beauty rule?

Do what you like. It is so important for girls to ignore the comments and opinions of others and just do what makes them happy. If you like to wear a full face everyday, then go for it. If you’re more of a do your makeup for special occasions only, then that’s completely fine. If you want to wear wigs because you don’t feel like doing your hair, then go ahead. Society shouldn’t determine how we take care of ourselves.

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Weekend Fresh!

Love Yourself IRL x Shelby Bentil

Scroll, double tap, scroll. Repeat. This describes our daily habit as we operate without even thinking while subconsciously comparing ourselves to glimpses + fake images of both friends and strangers. With social media acting as the number one addiction, learning to love yourself in real life can seem almost like an impossible task. Young + thriving author Shelby Bentil shares an impactful story of a teen girl struggling to discover herself + dreams in her first book, Diminished Dreams. Get to know how Shelby was inspired to create this story and how it represents numerous girls learning to love themselves while going after their dreams!

Your new book Diminished Dreams is a fiction story that shares the journey of a teen girl + her struggles after she finds out about her pregnancy. What inspired the story line of your book?

My inspiration behind Diminished Dreams is actually pretty complicated. I created the story at the age of 16 and at that time my focus was making the character this deranged teenager who became fed up with everyone hurting her and turning their back on her. This was actually an issue I was dealing with at the time. During my teenage years I experienced so much hurt that I channeled all of it into the character Castel. Now over the years, as I developed emotionally, mentally and spiritually, Castel’s story evolved and I used the character to express only that small part of me. If you notice in the book, Castel is constantly trying to be the positive one and give people chances regardless of how they betray her. In the first draft this was not the case. Castel was actually out to destroy everyone.

How important is it for young females to be proactive when it comes to attacking their goals rather than simply reacting from what their environment gives them? 

For me being proactive and focusing on your goals should always be number one on your to do list. Now don’t get me wrong I know it can become very difficult to not react to what happens in your environment, I myself had to learn the hard way. It took me years to realize I couldn’t fight the world and I am still working on what to give my energy to. What I’ve learned is the more I focus on who I see myself becoming the more I tune out the negativity in my environment.

Getting a grip of who you are as a girl is tough due to a collage of media, school, life’s pressure, & the list goes on. How did you relate to the main character in your book when it came to understanding true self-love?

Castel is me. Well part of me. As I became a woman and learned self-love I transformed her story to reflect that. This is why in the book she grows the way she does. She goes from this girl who is so wrapped up in pleasing others and living how she is told to putting more focus on doing what is best for her and cutting the strings of control.

As a girl do you feel like it’s pressure in high school + college  to conform to be accepted in different areas of your life? For example do you believe you have to be a completely different person with your boyfriend than you are with your parents or friends?

Oh, absolutely there is pressure to conform if you want to be “accepted.” Ironically, as I got older I found myself conforming in different ways than when I was a teenager or a child. For example when I was a child and a teen my main struggle with conformity was the pressure to be “tough.” Growing up in an urban environment, if you were not tough or getting into fights then you were an easy target for bullying. This resulted in me actually turning into a bully and being a very angry and mean child just to have a voice among my peers. As a young adult the levels of conformity transformed into what I looked like, who I dated, what I believed and more. It wasn’t until about several years ago that I really started to embrace me just the way I am. This started with my big chop. Cutting my hair during the “long hair don’t care” movement was a very significant moment for me because I was finally breaking away from labels and other people’s opinions.

(Beautiful comparison photo of legendary author + poet Maya Angelou to young + thriving author Shelby Bentil)

What’s one way girls can block out the noise of distractions early on and embrace their insecurities instead of trying to bury them?

As a young girl what I found most helpful to avoid distractions was getting lost in a hobby connected to my passion, which was writing. Going back to one of the previous questions, your reactions to your environment can really make you or brake you, so for me taking out a pen and my journal to write down what would have gotten me in trouble, allowed me to express myself, move on from an issue and keep pushing forward to my goals. Girls need to find outlets that are not friends, boyfriends or social media but hobbies that will help them discover their seed of greatness. From baking to sports, anything positive and productive will help them keep their head afloat. In terms of insecurities, I understand that is a lot more difficult to deal with because it has to deal with loving yourself. Self-love is easier said than done especially with this wave of social media that pretty much every female you look at appear to be exactly the same. What I believe is most helpful is to always keep positive sayings around to read and tell yourself something positive everyday. When we speak to ourselves positively we feel and live a positive life.

How does writing allow you to go deeper into yourself and grow as a person?

Writing allows me to awaken my creativity. When I write there are no boundaries, no rules. I can create a whole world based on my thoughts and events in my own life. The more I think, the deeper I dig into myself and it amazes me the where my mind wonders off to when I glide my pen on paper. Writing opens this door to an unknown place that only I have access to and from there I begin to challenge what I know and who I am until I reach the next door to the next unknown place, which will lead me to another path of understanding.

Check out more of Shelby here!




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6 Campus-Ready Hairstyles!

Spring is about to say ‘hello’ to the world (even though it’s not feeling like it). Well, it’s always better to be prepared in the meantime! Check out 6 fresh hairstyles that will keep your tresses on point + can take you from class to the quad.

Fresh Faux Locs – Protective styles are easy + great for hair growth. Try faux locs to spice up your look this spring break.

Braided To The Back– Don’t be afraid of length + showing off your beautiful face. So opting for braided back styles are a must.

 Crochet Twists– Easy to install + dope style to rock from the dorm room into to the weekend.

Blow Out Double Buns– Get versatile with your tresses. Blow out your curls + add some volume to your styles.

Tribal Braids- Timeless braids that represent culture + style! You can never go wrong with tribal braids.

Hair Cuffs/Jewelry– Need a super quick makeover? Hair cuffs + jewelry will transform your look in seconds!

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Meet Alysia Johnson!

INSPIRE. MOVE. MOTIVATE! Dance is an infectious form of creativity that allows you to free your mind, body + spirit. Dancer Alysia Johnson bottles up inspiration from the world around her as she showcases her gift  of dance +  reflects the story of her generation. She is carving out her voice through her impactful moves + leaving a trail of inspiration and open doors behind her.

Alysia Johnson is a dancer, writer, choreographer, arts education advocate and a soon to be graduate from The Juilliard School in the Spring of 2018. Hailing from Dallas, Texas is where she attended Dallas Black Dance Theater and Booker T. Washington HSPVA before moving to New York. She has had the pleasure of performing works by Robert Battle, Dwight Rhoden, Kyle Abraham, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and many other admirable choreographers. Her choreography was recognized by the National Foundation of the Arts, and she holds a passion for arts education near to her heart.

In June of 2015, Alysia founded Emerging Dancers of Dallas, a program catering to young artists in the DFW area and in her companies third year they launched their very first summer intensive August 2017.

Let’s get to know Alysia a little better!

Photo by Mikaela Kelly

Dance is powerful beyond belief + can enrich your life in numerous ways! What first attracted you to the world of dance? When did you know you wanted to pursue your passion?
I agree 100%! Dance is everywhere so it was almost impossible for me to not be attracted to it. It’s so hard for me to pinpoint when I first fell in love with dance because I’ve done it everyday for the past 8 years intensely and I am so lucky to get to do what I love. I remember one moment when I was certain that I wanted do perform and dance everyday. There was a long period of time where I was injured and doctors were telling me I shouldn’t dance and looking back I didn’t even give that kind of rhetoric a second chance. I remember just searching to find doctors who believed in me and the art form just as much as I did because I knew that I HAD to be a dancer.

Soon to be a graduate from The Juilliard School this upcoming spring, what was your proudest moment? Was the transition to NYC a difficult jump to make while perfecting your craft?
I’ve recently been working very hard on developing a consistent and confident voice and speaking up about things I am passionate about is something I am very proud of. My proudest moment to date was probably when the Dean asked me and a few other students to join the Student Committee search for the next president of the school. I hadn’t been much of a talker but I had shown my interest in arts education and the school took me seriously.

The transition was actually super easy, I adapt and accept change pretty well and I was fortunate to have my high school best friends not too far away from in the city to help with any hardships.

You founded Emerging Dancers of Dallas, a program catering to young artists in the DFW area. Why was it important to create a space + opportunity for young artists to flourish in the Dallas area?
Creating EDD is one of my proudest accomplishments. I am a direct product of the Dallas Arts community and I wouldn’t be where I am without their constant support. Leaving home and moving to NYC taught me a lot about the importance of having a stable and nurturing environment that will see you through trials, process and all the way to an end product if that’s what the artist chooses. Dallas has produces incredible artists and EDD is a reminder of how the youth has and will continually contributes to that. Young artists have a sense of fearlessness and if I can help cultivate that for as long as possible through art and education, then I’m doing a small part for the bigger picture.

Photo by Eddie Eng

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
I like to say I’m pretty good at staying calm and collected even when things can seem a little overwhelming, but the truth is there have been times especially as a working student where I’ve felt in over my head about future projects and new pieces I’m working on. There’s a few things I do when I feel like I’m getting into an unproductive or negative headspace. I stop completely and take a break from what I’m doing because at that point you’ll on fluster yourself more. When I’m feeling defeated I use a lot of self-talk and positive affirmation reminding myself that the moments where I feel discouraged or defeated do not make up my DNA. I try to nip those feelings in the bud as soon as I can and maybe talk it out with a friend, it’s best to not let those temporary moments fester and keep you down longer than they have too.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you?
Oh my goodness you can draw inspiration from so many people and places. Living in NYC has inspired me to be a little bit more adventurous and risk-taking for sure. My mother has an incredible amount of perseverance and an A+ work ethic and I’m grateful that it has rubbed off on me. Once you start noticing and appreciating the strengths in the differences amongst people, you can get inspiration in people that can carry you through your tough days and weeks.

Photo by Omar Zobles

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
When I hear the word ’empowerment’ I automatically associate education and inclusion with it. There’s so much information available now with social media and the internet it’s a great way to connect and find people who you can identify with. There’s nothing more powerful than a person or group of people who remains a vessel to all of the information out there. It’s such an artsy thing to say, but empowerment and success don’t come from degrading other people and their ideas, it comes from growing through understanding and empathy.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
If you are nervous or intimidated by failure, try looking at it as an opportunity to grow and learn from the process/outcome. Don’t anticipate failure, give yourself a chance. You have to be the biggest advocate for yourself!

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Ooh my celeb crush differs by the week but the most consistent is Beyoncé. How could I not say that? My favorite artist is a recent writer I came across Nayyirah Waheed, she finds ways to say things I’ve been thinking and makes it poetry. I am a huge fan of French fries, actually almost all things potato involved haha. My favorite movie has been Colombiana for sometime now. Zoe Saldana plays the main character and I love the plot!!

Check out more of Alysia here:

Alysia Johnson


Emerging Dancers of Dallas


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Make Your Love Come Down!

So it’s the day of love + a lot of cheesiness, right? BUT  there’s nothing cheesy about spoiling yourself or atleast treating yourself for the small or big accomplishments you’ve started to knock out at the beginning of 2018, right? Well, no matter if you have a secret admirer or not, your love is all ya need to celebrate. Remember, loving yourself is a must + any others adjust a plus!


Doll up!– Okay, yes so if you’re in college you can sneak in between classes to get a mani or pedi. And even if you’re barely able to focus after 8 hours of walking the halls of your high school, make it a point to unwind after studying. That’s what study breaks are meant for! So pull out your go-to nail polish colors and knock out your home spa!

Bestie status! Valentine’s Day weekend couldn’t land on a better weekend, right? Forget the sappy love stories + grab your bestie to see Black Panther! Not only can you get caught up with the melanin magic on screen but you can just and enjoy + relax with your homegirls after conquering another week!


Trade off! Okay, I know that we just ended holiday season but this one isn’t going to cost any coins. Okay, so hearing sweet things about yourself never gets old but we oftentimes take it for granted when we’re always with the people we love! So, trade off compliments! Whether it’s you + bff or you and your bf, each of you should say atleast 2 traits you appreciaite about the other. You would be amazed how people will never forget sweet truths about themselves!

Happy Valentine’s Day, loves!

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Weekend Fresh!



Happy weekends, loves!

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Style Diary x Samara Marshall!

Scroll through the style diary of college student + fashion blogger, Samara Marshall:

Style is showing who you are with out having to speak! Name your top 3 trends you’re feeling this season?
Okay, three trends that I am currently loving is velvet, florals and my favorite has to be denim on denim. Velvet really caught my attention last year as I saw theses pieces everywhere from Macy’s, Old Navy and even Ross. What I really like about this trend is that when I look for clothing I typically look at the print and that print usually is the focal point of my outfit so having the focal be a texture had been different yet fun. Next would have to be florals. I don’t know what it is but I just love floral print probably because it seems to bring a bright and cheery look to my outfit. Last but not least is denim on denim. I swear everytime I wear denim on denim I feel like I am in the streets of New York because that’s wear I first saw this type of style. It’s just so chic and daring and it has become one of my go to looks.

If you had 30 seconds to grab your 3 favorite style pieces, what would they be?
Oh gosh, that’s hard! One would have to be my denim jacket from Forever 21. What I like about it is well, it’s denim so I can pair it with anything and second it has photos sewn on to the back so it adds a unique touch! Second, would have to be my black booties from Charlotte Russe. I have had theses booties for almost four years now and they have really made a more simple outfit of mines evolve into something more. Lastly, I have to say is just plain black jeans. I know that sounds rather boring but black jeans are my favorite because I can pair anything with them.

Style inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate fashion icon + why?
When I look for style inspiration I just look on Pintrest at random peoples posts. I guess you can say any and everybody is my style inspiration because we all have different and unique styles. Sometimes I might see a particular piece of clothing that someone is wearing and I might say “Hmm, let me try that”. Now, if I was going to a really big event I might have to take a few notes from Zendaya. Her style is everything and she truly stands out when she is on the red carpet. I literally have a whole board on Pintrest board dedicated to her looks because in all seriousness she just had to have her own board because she just stands out!

Getting ready for class can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s your go-to look if you’re in a rush?
I am litterally in a time crunch everyday going to class so I usually result to a pair of jeans, a top and a cardigan or jacket. This morning actually I got up rather late and had a few minutes to get out the door so I ended up getting a dark pair of jeans, a white turtleneck top and a maroon cardigan. Typically, this is my usually look and the cardigan or jacket is added to help better complete the outfit. As for shoes I just go with boots because it’s still cold where I am.

What’s your number 1 rule when it comes to style?
Wear whatever you want and don’t be afraid to venture out and try new things! My style cannot be summed up in one word, I like to venture out and wear different pieces. If I want to wear something with a boho feel I will wear it or if I buy something that is more girly then you best believe I will rock it. I know that kind of sounds like my outfit choices are all over the place but it’s fun to experiment. I fell in love with fashion because it is fun and that’s what I really want others to kind of see that fashion is not boring but can really bring joy or bring you confidence.

Check out more of Samara Marshall’s fresh style:

The Marshall Wardrobe


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