Wednesday, 26 July 2017

From The Cotton Dress to Bold Swimwear | A Zaful Wishlist

Having watched a load of Zaful hauls lately on YouTube and endlessly browsing their website, I have put together a quick key essentials wishlist for summer of some of the items I'm loving on their site including the short cotton dress & dress long dress, bold swimwear & a bunch of tops perfect for everyone.

Living in London I'm not going to act like we actually have a summer here but that shouldn't stop anyone from investing in their summer/holiday wardrobe anyway. Zaful is an affordable Asian website, based in Hong Kong, that sells various styles of clothing for decent prices, trust me I love a good Asian clothing site.

Summer Dresses

Nothing is better than a nice dress when the weather decides to not act up. Easy to throw on with a pair on sandals or converse and off you go. Only recently I've started to venture away from wearing trousers & jeans and buying cute dresses to add something different to my wardrobe. Especially on the hotter days cotton dresses like these are perfect for a day spent shopping or hanging out with friends. If you're looking for cute summer dresses then check out Zaful for sure!

Bell Sleeves & Frilly Tops

I can't stress how essential nice tops are in your wardrobe. Being someone who loves to wear jeans or trousers on a night out I was forever having to wear the same tops. It wasn't until recently I started investing more into tops so I was happy to see such a variety of tops for all occasions on their site. I picked out three of my favs to add to the wishlist but there were plenty others I loved here. I've been getting into this off the shoulder trend & have been wanting to get more kimono sleeved tops so these two are definitely my favourites/ The first one is actually advertised as a dress but it looks quite short so there's nothing wrong with throwing some jeans underneath and making it more versatile.

Bold Swimwear

Gone are the days of basic swimwear! Nowadays it's all about the cut outs, scalloped edges & bold colours. If you don't know by now citrus colours like yellows & oranges are key to every black girls wardrobe this summer. Pick colours that contrast well with your skintone to make your swimwear stand out. If like me you're not 100% for the two pieces, opt for a cute one piece with a nice design that will still give you a nice shape like the one above. All these swim pieces are under £15, shop others

What are your wardrobe staples this summer?
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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Depop: Out With The Old!

Depop is one the best apps when it comes to selling your stuff. People regularly ask me about how to use it & the best ways to get your stuff sold. So I thought I'd share a few tips & tricks..

1. Take Good Photos; Angles & Close ups.
The key to a good Depop first & foremost is visuals. I can't stress this enough. The amount of times someone will ask you 'what does this look like on?', 'Do you have more pictures?' will drive you crazy so beat them to it. I treat Depop like my own shop so I make sure majority of my pictures are clear and taken properly. I usually take mine using my 70D camera & a tripod in my room but you can take them anywhere, even on your phone, just make sure the lighting is GOOD, the background is CLEAR and the FOCUS is all on the item.  Take multiple pictures from different angles & close ups of branding. Try to steer from online product photos unless you really can't take photos or want to show actual colours.

2. Describe to the fullest.
Another important thing that people tend to not put effort into is the description. Let's be honest, 'black long dress, size 10, topshop' is not going to sell as well as 'Topshop ribbed 90s style midi bodycon black dress, UK size 10 will also fit size 12, Brand new'. Every little thing you can think of put it on there because people search for different things & the more description the more people will find it.

3. List the Defects. Honesty is key.
If they're worn say they're worn. Please. If there's a small hole, take a photo, show it and mention it. Buyers/Sellers are able to leave each other feedback after the transaction, you don't want 2 stars saying you never mentioned the small stain on the back, even if it seemed minor to you. I mention every little thing I can see. Cover your back!

4. Like & Follow
Just because you're here to sell doesn't mean you can't find something you like. Like a few items, the seller might check your page out. When someone follows you, you'll appear in the activity feed and that can lead someone else to follow your page or like one of your items.

5. Edit posts frequently to refresh them on the feed.
Not sure if a lot of people know this but if you edit your posts it sends them back to the top of your Depop page and any feed they come up in. Before Depop's 'move sold items down' on desktop, I used to slightly edit all my depop posts after I sold something to send the sold one to the bottom of my page and refresh the other items. It brings in new people to your page who haven't yet seen the item. This is good to do when you're bored, for example, change Size 10 to Size UK 10, save and that's an update.

Also a few heads up:
  • Pay within the app to save your back unless you know someone is that much of a trusted seller but even then it's safer to just buy within.
  • Unlike eBay, Depop fees come out instantly, so no fees later on in the month.
  • Don't upload what you wouldn't buy from a store. It's cheeky to try & sell your overworn dirty trainers you've had for 5 years, you wouldn't accept that condition from a high street store.
  • Be nice. Reply to your messages. Interact with your followers.

& last but not least check out & follow me on Depop: tiaao19 where I sell the clothes I never wore & will never wear again.

You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
 Zig Ziglar

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Adulting: The Real World

Few years into official adulting (22) & life's just coming at me left, right and centre.

How many times did I hear 'When you get out in the real world...' when I was younger. The real world back then was some sort of fantasy world that you just assumed was this thing adults used to scare you into doing everything for yourself. Lowe & behold, when I finally left the safety net of education, which guaranteed me a constant focus, free or discounted travel & a reason to be busy, the real world really did appear.

You see what they don't tell you about the real world is that when you start working full time, days off can equal unproductive days spent in bed because what is going out when you can watch endless movies & eat your body weight in snacks. What they don't tell you about the real world is your dream car might mean many many years of saving, the gym will cost an arm & a leg membership fee and food shopping doesn't last as long as you think it will. Oh and the tax man, nobody warned me about the tax man!

It's funny because at one point you couldn't wait to be an adult. Shout out to younger me thinking I was going to be a parent by now, me who still sometimes eats a big packet of crisps for dinner. Wow! It's crazy how the unknown clouds your vision when you're younger lol. Fast forward to now and I couldn't be anywhere further from that stage of life.

I don't think I've ever not had my life together more than now. This is the part of my life I never planned out. I saw everything else happening up until this point. Where I went to college & uni, where I wanted to work. Now here I am at an incredible standstill, hoping that a sign is sent my way to lead to my next destination. Word to my younger self, the vision isn't always what you thought it would be. You pretty much hate everything you thought you'd love & everything you love seems to not be as easy to achieve as you thought. Also anxiety creeps up on your ass along the way of life, that oh so joyful companion. Still, life goes on & everything that goes wrong is a valuable life lesson because God is good and I have faith that I am destined for success even if I have to take the incredibly longer route.

So if anyone else is struggling like myself, I'd like to share a few things I've learnt along the way. The grass isn't always greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it. Don't be afraid to fail. Take the jump. Don't let people use you & most importantly don't let your dreams go because you can't see the outcome.

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”
― Robert Frost

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

More Money? No Problem!

Everybody loves having money & nice things. Don't we all love a new product to try out or something for free every now and then. So I've decided to put together a post of easy ways to save money & get a few freebies along the way...

1. Get paid for your feedback...ValuedOpinion Surveys, Google Opinion Rewards & Crowdology
Being paid to fill out surveys. How much easier can it get. I know regularly we see YouTubers advertising Opinion Outpost which gets annoying but honestly these things do exist. I use ValuedOpinions & Crowdology website where you answer surveys on anything from travel to food to products and you are rewarded for each one you complete. When you make a certain amount you can start redeeming rewards; vouchers from Topshop, Boots, Amazon, John Lewis etc.. or on Crowdology you can cash out to Paypal for as little as £4. The more you participate the more surveys they'll send. 
Google Opinion Rewards in the same way rewards you when you answer surveys which take less than a minute and gives you credit on your Google Play Account.

2. Open a savings account....& do it right!
I feel like saving money is a skill, a skill I have become very good at. Ever since I was in uni I learnt how to save & have been quite successful. I have nothing to save for but you never know when you might need some spare cash.
Tip 1: Open a savings account , especially in uni instead of getting a student account. You don't NEED an overdraft. Unless money is really that scarce but even then the bank is not the place to get money from unless it's your own.
Tip 2: Pay yourself first. I read this line in the 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' book and it's so true. When I got my student loan or now my wages I pay what I'm saving into my savings account before I deduct bills. I usually half my income (if possible) and then budget from what I have left.
Tip 3: DO NOT get a savings card. Nowadays most banks have apps so you can view & transfer money to your savings account without having to go into a bank. A savings card may only entice you to draw money out and use it when you don't need to.

3. Get free/cheap cinema/theatre/show tickets...ShowFilmFirst
This site is great for film lovers or people who like to be spontaneous and try new things. ShowFilmFirst is basically a site that gives members free tickets or special offers to see movies,shows, events sometimes before they've been released. It's mainly for the film makers/ show creators to get a bit of feedback beforehand and you get to enjoy it without having to spend a penny...apart from on the snacks you'll be diving into. I used this site to go and see the Nelson Mandela movie 'Long Walk To Freedom' & Mary J Blige/Maxwell concert. Membership is free, they usually send a pin to your email that you enter on the site to get your tickets. Locations vary.

4. Sign up to freebie sites
There are tons of freebie sites online, not all you can trust, but the ones you can offer great samples. Free makeup, food & perfume samples etc. The ones I normally follow are MagicFreebies, LatestFreeStuff & WowFreeStuff. I'm the biggest fan of freebies so these sites are my fav!

5. Buy (and sell) on eBay & Depop!!
Last but not least....the plug! eBay or eBae even. I swear this site is soooo underrated. I get so much from here; La Girl Pro Concealers, Chokers, Phone/Camera accessories, Rings, name it I've bought it from there probably. You can save so much money checking eBay before you go online or instore on the high street. Depop is just as good for second hand or brand new buys but also is great for selling things really easily, think of Instagram meeting eBay. Super easy & a great way to make money on the side. Check out my Depop page: tiaao19

That leaves more money for you to spend on fun things & experiences. How about that!

“A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned”
― Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Solo City breaks in Paris: Photo Diary

Picture of Hotel Carina Tour Eiffel

Picture of Hotel Carina Tour Eiffel

They say 'Time waits for no one' & that sure is true. I learnt a long time ago that waiting on people to do things with, sometimes means you'll miss out on a lot of experiences. I think as people we have to learn to enjoy our own company before we can fully embrace the presence of others around us.

In my last post here, I talked about "Getting out the way of yourself" and doing things outside your comfort zone. So what better way to kick start the year than travelling to Paris...alone! A lot of people questioned me on this but where is the rulebook that I have to explore the world with someone by my side at all times. I did this for the experience of something different & to be honest just because one of my goals was to travel somewhere alone. I haven't travelled outside the UK in a very long time , so it was a big deal for me & as I said 'Time waits for no one'. So I took the jump & went for it. I chose to stay at Hotel Carina Tour Eiffel in the Beaugrenelle/Charles Michel area. The hotel was only 3 stars but a lovely place nonetheless with welcoming, friendly staff, a comfy bed & a bathroom with the most amazing lighting! Situated on a quiet side road, a short walk from the Eiffel Tower, it really made my stay very comforting.

Picture of Eiffel Tower View, Paris
Picture of Eiffel Tower View, Paris

My first day was spent visiting the Eiffel Tower, typical touristy stuff. Thankfully this was only down the road from me so I was able to walk and explore a little on my journey. It was so cold! London was actually mild compared to how cold it was in Paris that day. Nonetheless I braved waiting ages to go up the Eiffel Tower (all 3 floors) and it was worth every minute. The views of Paris from the top were incredible & I could see every other monument. By the time I got up there it was very dark but being the city of lights, I could see the whole city lit up including the wheel at Place de la Concorde & Arc de Triomphe. Such a great view of a beautiful city. 

Picture of Arc de Triomphe, Paris

It was so weird to be a tourist for once. To every international person who has struggled with English here, I feel your pain now. My French was so poor that the only words I could mutter correctly were "Bonjour" and "Merci". I do wish I would have learnt more before going. Seeing the monuments that I hear people talk about so much; Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower etc.. really gave me a sense of fulfilment, to see things you've only seen in pictures in reality is exciting but it made me want to explore the world more. The world is such an incredible thing, how can I possibly go through life without seeing what it has to offer.

The boots I had chosen to wear on my second day, turned out to not be for walking so I decided to reside my shopping trip on Champ Elysees in Vapianos for a much loved pizza, which had the most amazing plant wall that I had to snap before I left. Honestly the small greenhouse in Vapianos Oxford Circus is minor compared to that.

I spent the last couple of days around the Concorde area. A walking tour showed me more landmark places such as The Love Lock Bridge, The Louvre, Notre Dame etc.. it also brought me to Rue de Rivoli where I was able to visit Colette, a store I had heard a lot about. That place is so cool, if I ever decided to move to Paris, that is where I would want to work for sure! I love how chic the French make everything look, even right down to their Stone Island boutique, that looked like it would have a nice feature at fashion week.

Picture of Place de la Concorde ParisPicture of Palais Garnier, Paris
Picture of Rue de Rivoli, Paris

As strange as it was for me to be in another country & city on my own, Paris is so intriguing and calm that I did not feel out of place or bored. The people are very kind & it's so easy to get around especially by walking or the Metro, I highly recommend anyone to go there for a solo trip if you are considering one. I hope this year brings me many more great experiences outside my comfort zone, I really want to invest in experiences this year. I took this trip not only to have some me time but to get back into taking photos & I'm pretty sure my motivation is back.

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow"

Saturday, 28 January 2017

New Year. Same Vision.

I plan to go into this new year with a positive mindset & focus on my visions & goals. With a new blog name, Tia Aaliyah, and a more lifestyle with a hint of fashion based approach I hope that I will slide back into it.

I want to share some of the things I will be & have been doing that I believe are the keys to making the year a successful one.

Seeing is believing. If you write them down, it becomes more of a to do list that you can tick off over time. Write down everything you want to achieve for the year. It could be as small as finishing a project to travelling somewhere you've always wanted to go. If the same goal comes to your mind, write it down again.

Vision boards. Think pinterest but on paper. What are your long term goals? Gather all your end goal visions into images and make them into a vision board. One huge one or separate ones for different areas e.g. health/fitness, career, travel etc. Place it somewhere you will see it everyday, you are more likely to stay motivated if you can see what you are working towards.

It is not always about cutting people off. Meet new people. Spend more time with those who uplift you & encourage you to achieve your goals. Watch people who inspire you. Listen to their journeys. Steve Harvey has become such a great mentor for me lately, in terms of success this man has come far from nothing and I highly recommend watching his motivational videos or reading one of his books.

I'm going to do a separate post on how I save money. Last year I saved nearly £3k and believe me it really makes a difference when you save effectively. It enabled me to do things like treat myself here & there but also I am able to plan ahead knowing I am capable of saving enough & still not having to miss out on anything along the way.

I learnt this one from watching Steve Harvey's talk show & it's honestly one of the biggest habits of my own. It's the same as stepping out of your comfort zone. We hold ourselves back from so many things we are capable of because of fear & doubt. Steve says "If you do not jump, you will never soar....If you don't jump, you will never know" So this year I will do just that!