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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Beauty Blogger saga

5/23/2018 0 Comments
Hello loves!

I would like to start this post with a really funny story. A couple of months ago when I was staying at my parents' house, I had this panda face mask on that I had picked up from Thailand. All of a sudden, my brother walks in and he is in splits. He had no idea why I had something that looked like a panda's face on my face! That also reminds me of another incident when my mum jumped in shock this one fine day she saw an activated charcoal mask on my face. I mean, anyone would freak out if they saw someone with some black stuff all over their face. I've had so many weird instances where either my cook or my maid or my roommate has had to see me in a scary looking mask and wonder what happened to me. Maybe next time I should hand over a disclaimer well in advance? Hehe! Welcome to my world! That's just the way things work when you're a beauty blogger.

Promotions for one of the brands I endorsed
Who's a beauty blogger? What's the difference between fashion blogging and beauty blogging?  Well, fashion bloggers promote outfits, looks and basically, just clothes whereas a beauty blogger tries different skin care, hair care, makeup products and services and kinda tests them out and promotes them. It's a great forum to get access to some fabulous products, but it definitely does not pay your bills. But if you are looking at this as a hobby or a fun thing to do, then there's nothing wrong in branching out a bit. There are a lot of things you need to factor in before you get started and as always, I'm here to share my experiences and learnings.

  • First and foremost, do write to brands you wanna try out on yourself and make sure you know why you want to try it. For instance, I know that I want to try as many organic products as I can because I'm a real supporter of all things natural. So you need to know your reason to contact a specific brand and then reach out to them.
  • Once you've received the products you need to promote, don't forget to start with a patch test. Do remember that these may or may not be fully tested and if you have skin that reacts to just about anything badly, then a patch test is a must!
  • Get to know your skin better! It's always good to know what kind of skin you have, whether it's oily or dry, the climatic conditions of the place you're in that might affect your skin etc. so that the products sent to you are in sync with your skin type and surroundings.
  • Promoting beauty products really tests your skills as a photographer. For me, it has always been fun creating pretty flatlays and placing the products in an innovative way.
  • Follow the instructions on the product while you're using it. It's a brand new product and you don't wanna break the rules and mess up your skin.
  • If you experience breakouts or rashes, it's time to stop. You're not meant for this!
  • Drink loads and loads and LOADS of water when you're testing new products on your skin.
  • If something goes wrong the first time you apply a certain product on your face or hair, there's no need to give it a second chance. You can either discard it and write a neutral review or just give it away to someone who could use it.
  • You have this massive responsibility of being an influencer and your advise means a lot to your readers. Make sure you don't mislead or misguide them just because a product is willing to pay you for it!
  • You need to always be on top of your Instagram game. Most brands ask for Instagram promotions and hence you need to know how to shoot Instagram friendly pictures, write short reviews and basically, just promote them on your Insta page.
  • You need to know how to work on multiple platforms. While some brands might be okay with an Insta post, some others might ask you to shoot a video. 
Some of the Insta stories showcasing how I use all the beauty products I receive
Some of the pictures I took for brands I collaborated with
Over the years, I've developed an interest to promote beauty products and have completely enjoyed the whole process. But there are pros and cons to everything and I would like to address them in this post.

Pros

  • We get a chance to try cool, new products for zero charges or like 99% off. I love how all of my face washes and moisturizers have been absolutely free.
  • Some of the products may not have been even launched yet and it's amazing how get the first few samples of these products.
  • We get an opportunity to learn about different ingredients that are used to make beauty products and learn what suits you best. I had no idea hemp seeds or activate charcoal were used in skin care products.
  • We are exposed to a whole new world with different types of products and brands and is a great learning experience. I've been introduced to some really cool brands like Savar, Arbonne, Herb Island etc. that are not easily available in the market yet.
  • The best part of being a beauty blogger is the complimentary services you get form certain spas and beauty parlors. It's just the best! 
  • Organic skin and hair care products are becoming quite a thing lately. I have always wanted to try them out, but being a beauty blogger has helped me promote these products and go the non-chemical way. I like that I am indirectly helping the environment.
  • You can be adventurous with your makeup and bring out the Picasso in you and no one's going to object =D

Cons

  • We are constantly testing new products and that could cause a lot of harm to our skin or hair. If you have sensitive skin, this is just not the path you should tread on.
  • 99.9% of the brands that a beauty blogger collaborates with do not pay and only send free samples, unless of course, you're a well-established super-blogger. So if you're thinking of making this your career, forget it!
  • Sometimes it gets really challenging when a product sent to you is absolutely crappy and you don't know how you can say no to promoting the brand after using the product.
  • Putting out an honest review for your readers can be quite hard because you don't know how the product might work for others since each person has different skin or hair type. You don't wanna be responsible for someone developing an allergy or something.
  • People who live with you think you're absolutely nuts as you have weird colored products on your face almost every other day.
  • Being a beauty blogger by default makes you a beauty products addict and sometimes, more often than required, we end up going on a shopping spree at Sephora or Nykaa and end up promoting products for free.

I hope you now know whether you want to start beauty blogging or not. All in all, I really enjoy having the opportunity to experiment with new products and services. Pampering yourselves for free and expressing your views to the world - now who wouldn't like that, right?

Have a lovely day!

Love,
Hand On The Hip

Saturday, 19 May 2018

How to look divalicious on a budget

5/19/2018 0 Comments
Hello!

My roommates have always complained that I have way too many clothes! While that is one hundred percent true, I also don't spend too much money on myself, especially not for clothing. I like a good bargain and when I can get a $300 outfit in $3, why the heck not? My blog is all about affordable fashion. You should not be sacrificing your style just because you have only $10 in your pocket. You can make that work. Fashion is not always about Gucci or Prada. So for all you students who are always broke, fashionably challenged and don't wanna waste too much money on clothes and stingy buggers out there, here are some things I have learnt over the years about shopping on a budget.


And while we are on the subject, let me first talk about what I've tried to create here. Recently, I happened to hear about Fashion Revolution and I fully support the movement. One of the things that I usually do to work towards a sustainable wardrobe is to wear the same piece in a trillion different ways. I found this really old, tie-neck satin top I picked up from Tibet Plaza in Brigade Road in 2008 and wore it as a one shoulder top with a high-low skirt from Vero Moda. In my next post, I will show you how I used the same skirt as a tube top and paired it with leggings I got from H&M. I wore these gorgeous earrings from Pipa Bella and some black pumps and was ready to hit the dance floor!

Re-style existing pieces and create new looks

When I was a teenager, I barely got any pocket money. My mum would take me shopping every once or twice a year where she'd buy me Indian clothes in the hope that I'd become a sanskaari beti. But I was sick of it (I still love you mom! Hehe!) and always hoped I could find a way to buy what I wanted. My older cousins always passed on heaps and heaps of clothes they had used and didn't need them anymore and I'd always re-design those clothes. I'd make the sleeves shorter or use sand paper to give my denims that faded effect. I learnt how to sew and I have even transformed a dupatta into a chic skirt. Sometimes even a teeny tiny embroidered flower on the pockets would make a huge difference. You should definitely try DIY-ing your clothes and transform it. For more inspiration, check out this series on Netflix called Girlboss. That girl defines my teen years!


Always hunt for thrift shops or export/import shops

When sewing got a little too tiring, I found my way to Commercial Street and Brigade Road. These streets are full of small stores that sell rejected factory clothes for less than 5-10% of the actual price of the product. I have literally bought skirts for 50 INR! One big tip I could give you in this area is to always buy branded products off the streets. For instance, I have picked up so many pieces from H & M, Top Shop and Atmosphere in Commercial Street. Of course, they're not fake, they may not be as perfect as they seem. They might have a minuscule flower out of place or a button missing. Don't worry about the defects, they may not always be visible to the naked eye. But do wash the clothes before you try them on.


Re-use the same pieces in different ways

After decades of buying cheap clothes and collecting gifts from my massive family, I have encountered a whole new problem - STORAGE! Since I have been constantly on the move from the age of 18, it's super challenging to take me 393864 clothes with me wherever I go. After a lot of thinking and trying to buy some storage boxes, I realized that they best way to go about this is to give some clothes away. Now I think twice before I buy something, even if it's a good deal. Instead, I re-use my clothes in different ways and no one can actually tell it's the same piece I wore last week! Instead of buying clothes, I have started investing in junk jewelry, embellishments, chunky belts, funky scarves and anything that could give my outfit a whole new look.


Hoard on basics

Almost every skirt I own tends to go perfectly well with a black or a white top. I have spaghetti tops, tank tops and tees in almost all basic colors. I have literally worn the same black tankini, two days in a row, with printed palazzos on the first and under a flannel shirt jacket on the second. This will not only help you save space, but also save you the time you'd be wasting deciding what top goes with what skirt, because let's face it, black goes with everything! You could also get some basic bottoms that would go with any printed tops or shirts you buy.


SALE!

That word is my fave word. Thankfully everything in Sydney is always on sale. I am always on the lookout for some great deals. If you absolutely love the feel of going to a proper store and buying your clothes, then do wait for the sale. Every time there's a big festival coming up, the clothing industry seems to take full advantage of it and putting up huge banners with the words "Upto 70% off" flashing on your faces. I have often found some great pieces during a sale and have hardly paid any money for it.


Online shopping

I don't know about you, but I have always noticed that clothes or shoes or just about anything is at least 10-20% cheaper online than in an actual store. That's probably because online stores don't have to pay heavy rents for the store space. I've heard a lot of people complain about how they are not comfortable shopping online because they have to try it on, not sure of the size etc. But there's always an "exchange" or "return" option, so don't worry about it. You just need to be patient enough and over a period of time, you'll be more comfortable shopping in your PJs from your bedroom than actually walking into a store.


Beg, borrow, steal

I have borrowed clothes from my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, my husband, my friends - practically everyone I know! I am absolutely comfortable wearing clothes of any size, as long as it does not end up in a wardrobe malfunction. I urge you guys to do that too, that is if the lender is comfortable with it. You can style them the way you want and don't have to spend a single penny on buying new clothes.



Fashion is not always expensive unless you want it to be. It's all about creating a whole new look with old clothes. I have been working towards contributing to sustainable fashion. Millions of clothes are being thrown away for no logical reason causing a lot of harm to the environment. I know we all love to be in sync with the trends, but how about creating your own? How about creating an off shoulder top from an old kurti instead of buying a new one? Trust me, we'd be doing Mother Earth a huge favor! I know I am still a bit of a shopaholic, but just like everyone else, I try to do my bit too.

Love,
Hand On The Hip

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Furniture Assembly for Dummies

5/16/2018 0 Comments
Hello lovelies!

Moving to a new country comes with its own challenges and when you move to a country where labor charges are indispensably high, you gotta up your game in every way possible. I have always been interested in arts and crafts, I've done exceedingly well in mechanical workshop during my engineering and I knew that it would come in handy some day. My husband and I spent hours together researching, buying and assembling furniture for our new home and this only paves way to a new blog post to show you guys how we achieved what we did, how we screwed up a few things here and there, but eventually learnt a great deal of things that we never would have had we not got this opportunity.


If you've read my previous post (One month in a foreign land), you'll know that I've had some time for myself and I'm still waiting on my work visa. You'd think I'm bored out of my mind, but I've had to run around quite a bit for furniture and since we need to fix it ourselves, I've had my hands full! Although things are much easier in India, this definitely was a learning experience for me. In this post, I have decided to showcase some before, during and after pictures of all the furniture we bought (please don't mind the mess and low quality images :p) along with the price (1 Aussie Dollar is approx. 50 INR) and dealers we purchased it from. Let's get started?

Bedroom


Bed with 2 storage drawers from Ikea (Price: $418)


Side table from Ikea (Price: $10)

Living Room


Sofa set from Ikea (Price: $500)


Dining set from Ikea (Price: $139)


TV Stand from Fantastic Furniture (Price: $99)


Armchair from Kmart (Price: $45)


Coffee Table from Kmart (Price: $30) and Carpet from Ikea (Price: $200)


Stand from Ikea (Price: $20)


Book Shelf from Kmart (Price: $45)

Guest Room


Bed from Ikea (Price: $200)


Chest of Drawers from Ikea (Price: $149)


Study Table from Ikea (Price: $69) and Office Chair from Ikea (Price: $59)

Kitchen


Bar Stools from Target (Price: $30 each)

Patio


Shoe Cabinet from Amazon (Price: $93)



And as always, I am going to share some tips with you guys so that you can be more prepared than I was. Better safe that sorry, right? :D
  • Research is key. You definitely should read up about where you can get furniture in your city for the best price and shortlist your options. The internet is your best friend. Ask around and find out where your friends or colleagues got their stuff from. In our case, things we got from Ikea had super clear instructions and nothing could possibly go wrong, but when we tried to build stuff from Amazon and Catch it was frustrating because the instructions were gibberish. 
  • Prepare a budget plan for your furniture. In a place like Sydney, it's super easy to blow money. Since I am not earning yet and my husband is the only breadwinner of the family, we had to be careful with our money. Although buying cheap stuff from random websites is a call for disaster, there's no harm looking for something reasonable in a reputed store or website. 
  • Read reviews on the internet before you make a purchase. We found a really inexpensive sofa on Catch which was from VidaXL and we purchased it without thinking twice. We received it super late, there were missing screws and worst of all, the sofa was too small to be true. We then discovered that the sofa had terrible reviews. Had we done our homework before, we'd have saved a lot of time.
  • Do pay a visit to hypermarkets in your city. You will be surprised to find some amazing stuff for really reasonable prices. Kmart was our savior at all times! We also picked up some pre-assembled bar stools from Target that proved to be pretty useful.
  • Be prepared, well in advance, with your toolbox. Hammers, screw drivers and power tools are must-buys if you are doing some carpentry with zero experience. If you don't have the budget for it, you can always borrow from friends or neighbors. 
  • Read the measurements of the product before buying it. We ended up getting a teeny tiny TV stand that would not hold even 1/4th of our television. It's a fantastic idea to read the measurements on the product specs of your product before you make a purchase. We also ended up buying a $40 rug hoping that it would be big enough for the living room, but it turned out to be as small as a doormat! :(
  • Don't hesitate to use hacks. You don't necessarily have to use one piece of furniture for what it's meant to be used as. For instance, we did not throw away the TV stand that wasn't big enough for the TV. Since the stand was multi-purpose and we ended up using it like a side table. If you don't wanna spend a lot on fancy armchairs or sofas, you can always buy a basic one and decorate it with cushions of vibrant colors.
  • Read the instruction manual carefully. If you screw up even one step and don't realize it, you'll have a lot of re-work to do and it can get really annoying. The instruction manual is your Bible. Read the manual inside out even before you start building.
  • If you screw up with a screw or two, do not worry. You can always undo what you did wrong and then re-build your furniture. If you don't know how to fix your mistakes, you can always Google it. I messed up with a weird screw and thanks to some videos on YouTube, we could figure our way out of the mess.
  • Return and get a refund if you don't like what you see. If you think the products sent to you are damaged or have missing parts, do not hesitate to return them. I am so glad that I could return that horrible sofa we purchased despite assembling it. People are usually nice enough to give you a full refund.
  • Try saving up on delivery fee by getting your friends to help you out. We made the mistake of spending nearly $500 on delivery because we didn't think this through. However, if you have no choice, try ordering everything you need in one go, because usually it doesn't matter how many things you order, the delivery fee remains the same.
  • Get a strong husband :D Or even a friend who can help you. I am not even joking! It not only helps you get things done faster, but your chairs and tables would end up being tightly held together and won't come off easily.
  • Ask your friends to help out! If you and your husband are both absolutely useless, then reach out to your friends or colleagues who can come over on a weekend and help you pick up or set up furniture which is also a great excuse for you to throw a beer and pizza party :D

We must have spent approximately $2500 (a little more than one lakh rupees) for all of the furniture, related items and delivery. Not bad, huh? But more importantly, I really had oodles of fun building furniture. I had even more fun taking pictures, videos and documenting the whole process. For someone who's been homebound for the past couple of months, this feels like a great accomplishment and I definitely have made good use of my free time. I would recommend this to all newly weds because it also gave me and the hubster a platform to work together as a team and I must say, it was a fabulous team building exercise!

Thank you for all the love you guys showered me with for all my furniture assembly stories on Instagram. If you have missed it, don't worry, I have all the stories on my highlights. I am glad that the whole series was a grand success and stay tuned for a complete house tour on my Instagram page.

Cheers!

Love,
Hand On The Hip

P.S. It would be a horrid thing to do if I did not give credit to Meghna Badami from allthatsfancy.in who actually suggested that I record every little detail of how I set up my home. You're the best, woman!