5 Tips for a Creative Career & Life

by Kena Paranjape on April 3, 2012

in Your Life

Amanada Cherie: http://www.etsy.com/shop/hellocherie

Amanada Cherie: http://www.etsy.com/shop/hellocherie

Last night I sat on a panel for the Business Design Club at Rotman Business School along with Helen Pak, EVP and Co-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Mary Jane Braide, a former Boston Consulting Group consultant who is now an independent Brand Strategist.  Helen and Mary-Jane are impressive, out-of-the box thinkers and do-ers (I was lucky to be included in this group!).

We were asked to think about some of the lessons we had learned around pursuing creativity in our own lives and careers and share them with the audience, who were all MBA students on the brink of re-entering the work place with newfound aspirations and a little trepidation.  Some common themes emerged and I left feeling inspired:

1.  Creativity is about taking risks. Most creativity involves some kind of risk - risk that you will be laughed at, criticized, judged or even fired.  But there is also no great reward without great risk.  So in order to innovate, taking risks is absolutely necessary.  Helen called this blind bravery - the idea that sometimes you have to jump without a net and have faith that one will appear if you need it!

2. It is all about the hustle. I heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak at Rotman a few years ago - he is all about hustling in order to create.  For those of us seeking more creative career paths, hustling is a pre-requisite to success.  It means reading, researching, cold-calling, cold-emailing, meeting with hundreds of people to get the introduction or information you need.  Mary-Jane added that as you become more focused you will learn to be more strategic...strategic hustling, if you will?

3.  Develop your personal brand. Know who you are, what you're great at, what you love and what you believe in.  Weave all that into a fascinating story about yourself and carry it around with you.  People want to work and connect with you, not your resume.

4. Seek out like-minded people. It is hard to follow your heart when all you hear around you is "that's crazy - why would you want to do that", "it's not stable", "what if it doesn't work" etc.  You spend all your time shielding your resolve from everyone else's point of view.  Since I've decided to take the entrepreneurial route I have been in touch with so many entrepreneurs and the support and like-minded thinking has been incredibly invigorating!  Make a point to find people who think about life and work like you do.

5.  Look at your career and life like an adventure. There is no set path so nobody can tell you exactly what, when and how to do something.  Leverage your passion, listen to your gut and have a vision and you will have quite a ride!

If you liked this post, please do share it with a friend, on facebook or twitter using the buttons below.  Thanks! :)

Technorati Tags: career, creativity, innovation, inspiration


Spring Beauty: 8 Tips to Try Now

by Kena Paranjape on March 29, 2012

in Beauty

Eva Mendes does coral so beautifully

Eva Mendes does coral so beautifully

Thanks to my sister, a couple of weeks ago I had the fun experience of a make-up lesson at Gee Beauty in Toronto with beauty legend Miriam Gee herself.  Let me say that I am OK with make-up....not a total disaster, but definitely not an expert and I clearly have a lot to learn.

Here are 8 tips I learned during my lesson that might help you to revitalize your spring beauty routine:

1. Choose coral. I love the colour coral and lucky for me, it is IN this spring.  My mom has a beautiful gold and coral beaded necklace that I managed to sneak away from her jewellery box and hang on to for a few years. (speaking of which, Mom, can I take it back now?)  Wear it on your lips, eyes, cheeks and nails (just not all at the same time!).  I love it on Eva above.

2. Use concealer to cover ANY dark shadows on your face. Miriam drilled this into me and I can't believe the difference it has made in a brighter, even toned complexion prior to putting any make-up on your face.  Don't forget your eyelids and the very corner of your eyes.

3. It all starts with your skin. Take the very best care of your skin.  Not only because it will serve you well in the long run, but also because great skin is the foundation for a beautiful look with make-up.  I was told that my skin is dry and that I need a facial.  Um, ok will get on that asap!

4. Use eyeshadow to bring out your eyes. I'll admit that eyeshadow scares me a little.  I have no idea how to choose the right colours to suit me and struggle with how to apply it.  I would recommend asking for a professional's help with choosing the right colours for your eye colour and skin tone and a quick lesson on how to layer different shades to really make your eyes pop!

5. Add eyebrow grooming to your daily routine. Your eyebrows frame and add definition and personality to your face and if well groomed, can give you an extremely polished look.   Make brushing them and filling them in with a brow powder a part of your daily routine.

6. You can line your eyes with colours other than black and brown. Miriam lined my eyes with navy shadow and filled in the lower rim with a purple liner.  The effect was mysterious and exotic.

7.  Sometimes more is more. I tend to take the "less is more" phrase to the extreme.  As in, I spend 5 minutes applying make-up and it doesn't look like I've done much at all.  Sometimes, like when you're heading to the grocery store, that's no big deal.  But if you're heading out to a meeting or an event, you want your efforts to show.  Miriam had me apply a few layers of eyeshadow until the depth of colour was just right.

8. Always curl your lashes. I agree Miriam!  My basic running errands face includes: concealer, eyelash curl, blush....and go! Curled eyelashes make you look more awake than you feel and younger than you are.

Thanks to Miriam at Gee Beauty for a fun and educational make-up lesson!

If you're looking for more fabulous beauty tips, check out two of my favourite beauty blogs: Beauty Editor and Beauty Geeks.

If you like this post, please share it on facebook, tweet it or send to a friend with the links below.  Thanks!

Technorati Tags: beauty tips, Gee Beauty, Miriam Gee


Spring Style: What to Buy Now Part II

by Kena Paranjape on March 21, 2012

in Fashion and Style


Last week, I shared my favourite spring picks from Madewell.  Today, I've pulled together my shopping list from Anthropologie.  When it comes to Anthropologie, my secret dream is to win one of those contests where you race through the store with a shopping cart and 10 minutes to fill it!  But sadly, I don't believe they've ever held such a contest (Anthro are you listening?) and I almost never win contests anyway (!) so I am limiting myself to 5 beautiful picks!

Clockwise starting from center:

Gathered Column Dress:  I used to have a black knit summer dress with ruching along the sides and it was SO flattering. I wore it all around Europe as it was light and I could dress it up or down.  This navy version will be my update to that dress.

Serpentine Cuff:  Bracelets take a backseat to necklaces in winter but as sleeves get shorter, bracelets have a chance to shine!  This cuff is the perfect accessory to freshly bared arms.

Peacock Tote:  Why not choose a colourful, playful printed tote for spring instead of the serious buttoned-up structed leather ones we carry around all winter?

Bettye Mueller Wedges:  Another versatile shoe picks!  These wedges will look sweet with shorts, denim and all your summer dresses.

Multi-strand Braided Belt:  This sparkly woven belt is the perfect complement to flowy summer dresses that need some shape.  Because is it stretchy, it is also more comfortable than traditional leather belts.

What do you think?  What are some of your picks?

If you liked this post, please do forward to a friend, share it on facebook, or tweet it!  Thanks :)

Technorati Tags: Anthropologie, Sprint style

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Spring Style: What to Buy Now Part I

by Kena Paranjape on March 13, 2012

in Fashion and Style


It was a BEAUTIFUL day today in Toronto.  I went for a walk in the neighbourhood around our condo and stood, staring slack-jawed for a full five minutes at the sight of crocuses pushing their way through the dry earth in front of my eyes.  As I went about finishing my errands and enjoying the warm weather I felt a little pinch and realized....I'd just been bitten by the fashion bug!

Yes, that fever that hits you twice a year, first when you start to feel a little nip in the air in September and then again when you find yourself unzipping your jacket a little come Spring.  So I headed straight to some of my favourite sites to check out what's new for spring.  Starting with Madewell, here is what I have my eye on!

Clockwise starting from top left:

Navy Short Trench:  I personally prefer the colour navy for spring jackets...it is more interesting and seasonally appropriate than black and less blah than traditional khaki...and it goes with absolutely everything you own!

Blue Ink Sweater:  I love the "effortless cool" factor of this denim-inspired sweater.  So perfect with white denim!

Striped Hoodie:  Stripes+Hoodie+Slub Cotton= Casual, comfortable and cute!  This must be worn with shorts....too soon??

White Skinny Jeans:  A must-have! You will wear these all spring and summer long....

Two-toned Wedges:  I'm not a closet-full-of-shoes kind of girl.  I prefer a couple of really great pairs per season that I can reach for again and again.  These wedges fit the bill - they are modern and versatile.

Leather Skirt:  Ok, I admit it.  This pick was inspired by Gwyneth (see her most recent style post).  This is definitely a "piece"  but the silhouette is classic enough to go the distance while still making your outfit!

What are you itching to add to your spring wardobe?

Technorati Tags: Fashion, Madewell, Spring, Style


A Birthday Wish

by Kena Paranjape on February 21, 2012

in Your Life

Source: Uploaded by user via James on Pinterest

Yesterday was my birthday.  When I woke up in the morning and opened my eyes, I thought, wow, 36.  But my feelings contradicted the thoughts in my head, because what I really felt was grateful. Not so much for what I have, or for what I've accomplished, but for being able to wake up each day, put my feet on the ground (or in my case, on the floor, 21  floors above the ground) and go into an unlimited, exciting world with my best friend, me.  That is what feels different to me this year.

Over the years, I have established trust in myself to make good decisions based on analytical thought and a stiff dose of intuition.  And, I have learned to have faith that along with challenges, good things are always coming. I can cheer myself up, calm myself down, and always see more than just a light at the end of a tunnel. Of course I don't have it all figured out, and I still get scared as heck and worry, and I will always need and cherish my wonderful husband, friends and family.  But there is something so comforting in knowing that there is someone who always, always has my back.  And that's me. :)

This, my friends, is my birthday wish for you!


Kena xo

PS.  Looking for fun ways to celebrate your birthday? Read: 9 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday with Style

Technorati Tags: Birthday


Share the Love

by Kena Paranjape on February 13, 2012

in Your Life

Source: befickle.blogspot.com via craftyagentmom on Pinterest

Happy Valentine's Day friends! Today I'm sharing a list of lovely posts from around the blogosphere (including some In Life and In Fashion oldies!) on how to share the love tomorrow and every day!

Sweetheart Sundaes from Oh Joy!

6 DIY Valentine's Day Cards from Inhabit

A legally binding Valentine - Read this hilarious "legal" agreement

3 Perfect playlists for Valentine's Day from Refinery 29

Allergy-friendly flowers from Beauty Geeks

Love-ly Fragrances from Beauty Editor

And a few oldies and goodies from In Life & In Fashion:

Say I Love (In a non-cheesy way!)

Make these delicious walnut-rosemary heart-shaped shortbread cookies.

More ways to say I love you!

Won't you love (or like?) me on facebook?  Thank you!

Technorati Tags: Valentine's Day


Handmade Valentine

by Kena Paranjape on February 9, 2012

in Fashion and Style


Although I do love a good handmade card (pink construction paper anyone?), if you are in a grown up relationship, you might want to complement the sentiment with a beautiful handmade gift.  Before you pull out your glue gun and glitter, my suggestion is to leave it to the experts!

The beautiful jewellery above is all expertly handcrafted by Canadian designers. (You might want to share this link with your significant other!)

Clockwise starting from top-left corner:

1.  Toronto-based Biko calls this a Modern Friendship Bracelet.  I would wear this every single day. To encourage sharing with a friend, designer Corinne Anestopoulos offers a discount when you buy 2.

2.  These 14K gold rings designed by Laura Serrafero for Eles Designs in Toronto are luxurious but have a beautiful organic sensibility.  I particularly love the colourful gemstone rings on the right.

3.  Last Christmas I bought my sister-in-law a lovely little silver pendant necklace at Matsu's little boutique/workshop near Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto.  I will go back for pieces like this beautiful ring that is elegant but with a bit of an edge. Designed by the very talented Jennifer Shigetomi.

4. Designer Anat Basanta calls this gorgeous, unique piece the Neverending necklace because it is literally a full circle made of machine knitted sterling silver mesh and pearls.  I am definitely adding this to my coveted list!

5. The world has gone cupcake crazy!  This lovely little necklace is perfect for the cupcake-monster (of all ages!) in your life.  Hancrafted with sterling silver in Vancouver by Filou Designs.

Technorati Tags: Gifts, Handmade, jewellery, Local, Valentine's Day

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3 Life Lessons from Jay-Z

by Kena Paranjape on February 1, 2012

in Your Life


Can you tell I've been reading a lot of books lately?  And this was pre e-reader in my life!  A couple of weeks ago I highlighted some life lessons I took away from Steve Jobs' bio.  Well, I recently also finished Jay-Z's Decoded.  Ah-mazing.  I've written about Jay-Z before (one of the most popular posts!) and if anything, I am an even bigger fan now.  I know I am just one of gazillions of people who are inspired by his passion and his music.

Here are three life lessons I took away from Jay-Z's inspiring book, Decoded:

1.  "Before I learned the Law of Attraction I was aware of the power of my thoughts, staying focused, weeding out thoughts that sabotage" Even Jay-Z believes in some way in the law of attraction and the importance of disciplined and focused thinking.  The more I read and experience, the more I understand that learning to focus your thoughts is truly a competitive advantage in business and in life.

2. "There's unquestionable magic involved in great music, songwriting, and performances - like those nights when a star athlete is totally in the zone and can't miss.  But there's also work.  Without the work, the magic won't come." It is magic to make something look easy and effortless...but behind all of that is hours and hours of committed work.  Work that is worth it.

3.  "I've always believed in motion and action, in following connections wherever they take me, and in not getting entrenched.  My life has been more poetry than prose, more about unpredictable leaps and links than simple steady movement or worse, stagnation." I am so inspired by this quote.  So many of us are trying to control every moment, experience, and outcome in our lives.  But if we pay attention to what is happening around us, we might just see connections and links that lead us to something unexpected but amazing.

If you liked this post, please share it.  Thank you! :)

Click here to read:  What we can learn from Jay-Z

Technorati Tags: Decoded, Jay-Z, life lessons


Tote it! 5 Stylish & Sturdy Handcrafted Totes

by Kena Paranjape on January 19, 2012

in Fashion and Style


Now that I'm no longer chained to my desk, and am an entrepreneur on-the-go (like how I made that sound so carefree? ha!), I am looking for a sturdy, stylish tote I can slip my laptop into and tote (!) around as I work in coffee shops around the city.  I want something utilitarian but refined and carefully crafted.

Here are five fabulous finds....Now which should I choose?

Clockwise starting from top-left corner:

1. This versatile and sturdy leather carryall by Bexar Goods can be shared with the man in your life (if he is the sort of wonderful man who would carry a bag!).  Handmade in Bexar County, Texas.

2. I love the bohemian feel of this slouchy brown leather bag made from recycled upholstery leather.  Handmade by Stitch and Tickle in Boston, Massachusettes.

3.  This beautiful waxed cotton tote is stylish AND easy to keep clean!  The bottom half of the bag is made from 72 triangles stuffed to create a geometric pattern.  Excited to report that this handmade beauty is made by Genevieve Savard in Montreal.

4. Speaking of versatile, this bag is actually a combination backpack/tote/shoulder bag/rucksack!  I like that the red zipper and strap add a sporty feel.  Handmade in in Portland, Oregan with waxed cotton and leather by XO Bruno.

5. This super rugged tote is actually made from a recycled army tent and pieces of salvaged upholstery leather.  I can picture it just getting better with age.  Handmade in New Orleans, LA by Uptown Redesigns.

Technorati Tags: etsy, totes


5 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs

by Kena Paranjape on January 16, 2012

in Your Life


Anyone who has read Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson knows that it is filled with as many lessons on how NOT to behave as it is with insights on how to be successful in business and in life.   That is what makes Steve Jobs so fascinating and compelling.  He wasn't perfect at all.  But he was truly authentic.  He didn't make excuses for who he was to anybody, he acted on instinct, and he had unwavering faith in his vision.  For those reasons, I am a huge fan.  His bio is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn from a business leader, artist and game-changer.

Here are five inspiring life lessons I learned from Steve Jobs:

1. "People form  an opinion about a company or product (or person) based on the signals it conveys." This really applies to everything in life to a certain extent doesn't it?  How you dress, keep your home, your desk at work, all convey something about you...sometimes whether you want it to or not.  If we are aware of this fact, we can make choices that help to send the best possible signals.

2. "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." I love this quote as a way to approach life.  Yes, there are many things we can't control, however, there is much that is in our power and we can create our future by inventing it day by day.

3. "The goal was never to beat the competition or to make a lot of money.  It was to do the greatest thing possible." Steve Job's lived by this principle.  Sometimes his perfectionism led to strange eccentricities like not furnishing his mansion because he couldn't find just the right furniture (weird!), but there is something to be said for striving for the absolute best in everything we do.

4. "You always have to keep pushing to innovate.  That's what I've always tried to do - keep moving.  Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you're not busy being born, you're busy dying." Innovating doesn't just apply to work...are you growing in all areas of your life - mentally, creatively, socially, physically?

5. "What drove me?  I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that's been done by others before us.  We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow.  That's what has driven me." Even Jobs, who has been described as a narcissist, understood what it means do be grateful. Be grateful for what you have, appreciate those that that have helped you in any way and express that appreciation by creating something amazing of your own.  That is the ultimate compliment!

Have you read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson?  What life lessons did you take away?

Technorati Tags: life lessons, Steve Jobs