(30Fresh) Aces: Anisa Ghadrshenas

Oh you thought it was over?!?

The interview series I started last month during 30Fresh has resonated so well with readers that I've decided to extend the series indefinitely! You met my best friends last month, but from now on you'll hear from people I admire who are doing amazing things for their community and world. To see all of these interviews, look for the Aces tag.

Today's interview is actually one that should have gone live during 30Fresh but alas, working internationally and life got in the way. Meet another one of my bests, Anisa Ghadrshenas!

Being ridiculous 

How we met (her version):

So I think the very first time we met was at GirlsNFootball - but I would say you and I really got to know each other through our time at Banyan Branch - when you guys sponsored the Mona Foundation project, and through various other social and community events/projects that we did together, or supported each other on (THAW fashion show, etc.) I'd also say that just in general, one of the things that attracted me to you was your community orientation - you've always made a point to support the people and causes that matter to you, and in my own way, this has been the cornerstone of everything I've ever wanted to do with my life, so I think that's why we became friends. Each time we struggled, one of us would get the other person back on track. There are so many conversations that I have had with you that I am grateful for, and that put things into perspective for me. But I digress :)

I'd like to add:

We met at a random girls' get together but what really brought us together was finding our sense of purpose, in community service and a shared admiration for some of the world's best leaders. Anisa's got the biggest heart and warmest energy of anyone I know. Talk to anyone who knows her and they wouldn't hesitate to say the same thing. While I know working in Africa is your dream job and an incredible opportunity, there's definitely an unfillable void back here in the States. I cherish our conversations and time we do get to spend together greatly. Your intelligence and ambition paired with your deep-seeded passion for giving back to the world are truly unmatched.

What's on your playlist right now?

My playlist right now is full of everything that reminds me of Seattle:

  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

  • Kris Orlowski

  • Other Lives

  • Blue Scholars

  • Mumford and Sons

  • Arcade Fire

  • Allen Stone

  • Matt Costa

  • Jack Johnson :)

Describe your style.

I surround myself with ladies who have a fierce and bold aptitude for fashion, and I love the ideas I get from each of them. However, I would say that my style tends to be pretty classic, and while I will occasionally get out of my comfort zone with the bright cardigan, or the bold-colored heels, I usually stick with the classic, famine lines that I'm most comfortable in. While I've been known to splurge on the occasional dress or handbag, most of my most treasured pieces are ones that I have found at consignment shops, thrift shops, or have been gifted to me by my girlfriends - one of a kind, simple, classic.



Anisa made Coachella an unforgettable experience

Who inspires you?

I feel very fortunate that in all my circles, I am surrounded by some of the greatest people on this planet. I sometimes stop and think to myself, how did I get so lucky? I have friends who are entrepreneurs, designers, teachers, writers, philanthropists, scientists, filmmakers, homemakers - no one doing the same thing, but all following their the beat of their own drum. I find constant inspiration in watching them take intelligent and bold risks to accomplish something great in the world. I am so grateful for their example, their encouragement and in what I believe is a collection action that will make this world a better place. This is what keeps me on my path. This is what I live for.

What are you reading? 

Since moving to Kenya, I've been reading a lot about the history of many of the countries I travel through. Some of my favorites have been: "It's our turn to eat" about Kenya, "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families" about Rwanda, and " The teeth may smile but the heart does not forget" about Uganda. My daily reads include: Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post Women's Page, and Co.Exist.

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

The coming months are a little uncertain for me right now. I've been living in Kenya for almost a year and half working with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and I love my work. But I'm starting to think about what the next steps are for me, both professionally and personally, and while I'm not entirely sure what that looks like, I feel like there are infinite possibilities, and I trust that with hard work, faith, and love, all will unfold as it's meant to.

Thank you!

Read all of my Aces interviews here.

30Fresh Aces: Paula Aio

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

On this last day of 30Fresh, it's my pleasure to introduce you to my best friend of 16+ years, Paula Aio!

Paula and I met in 8th grade P.E. class back in good old Kent. We figured out right away it was more fun talking to each other and dancing to songs like Bell Biv Devoe's 'Poison' while standing in line waiting to play soccer and running a mile than it was to deal with the awkwardness of junior high alone. We were talking just the other day about how the group of friends we rolled with in junior and high school were so much fun and yet somehow we stayed away from career-ending poor decisions youngsters sometimes get into. LOL!

Paula's stuck by me throughout college, our shared time working at Niketown with the coolest coworkers in the world, and this crazy career of mine. We have a lot in common, but music is by far our strongest bond. To be honest, I'm not sure why she hangs out with me because her music tastes are way more diverse and classy than mine. I mean, I can never have enough Gucci Mane. But this isn't about me. I can say with full certainty that Paula is one of the nicest people walking this fine planet, with the biggest heart to boot. In high school, she won Best Dancer senior year. That's why it's no surprise she's now a Zumba teacher whose classes are rich with salsa, merengue, cumbia, hula, hip-hop and maybe even a little bit of twerkin' too. Whenever I take one of Paula's Zumba classes, my heart swells with pride because it's clear she's in her element - and her students totally respond to her amazing energy. They are diehards for her class, dressing up in tutus and all! I feel like the world is just seeing what Paula is capable of, including Paula herself. I'm excited and a little scared for y'all now that Romy and Michele (one of our favorite movies next to The Count of Monte Cristo & Lilo & Stitch) have approached their 30s! Now that we have a better grip on ourselves, this decade's 'bout to ROCK.


Paula decided a video was the best way to answer her interview questions. Enjoy :)

Thank you! 30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Aces: Jacob Boysen

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

I have a very strict rule against talking much about him on the interwebz, but in the spirit of 30Fresh, it's only right to finish the month with an introduction to my boyfriend, fellow hustler, mentor, sounding board, sometimes antagonist and always my very best friend. Meet Jacob Boysen!

If you ask him, the story of how we met will be very different from my account. He stalked me, alright? I was minding my own business walking home from UW one fine spring day. I'd just bought the latest issue of YM because Brandon Boyd of Incubus was on the cover (LOL) and was on the phone with Paula telling her all about the issue. I noticed this business school-lookin dude creepin' me from about 20 feet ahead. He slowed down to wait for me and I was like, "Paula, there's a dude over here creepin' me but he's cute so I'll call you back." (LOL) He told me it wasn't nice to stalk people on their way home from school, I gave him the Nicki Minaj eye roll and we had a wonderful conversation the rest of the way home. When we got to my corner, I said, "So are you gonna give me your number so we can have coffee or what?" I'm not sure where I found my sassy pants that day but I'm sure glad I did! Over ten crazy years later, we are still going on those coffee dates.

While Jacob and I have a lot in common, we couldn't be more different in many other ways. He's into Swedish House Mafia & Macklemore, and I can't live without my trap mixtapes. Somehow we make it work. I appreciate that he's so different from me, because I've learned worlds from his perspective on the world. In the over ten years we've known each other, I've seen him take on the role of college student, magazine founder and editor, nightclub promoter, overseas (Baghdad!) contractor and now Gates Foundation analyst darling moonlighting as a professional MMA fighter. In turn, he's dealt with a reserved college student who somehow found her way as an events director, social media agency face and now a blogger-turned-entrepreneur. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have a partner in life who is as ambitious and motivated as I am in pursuing his dreams. A lot of times, you'll find us at a coffee shop on a Friday or Saturday night working on blog posts and watching jiu-jitsu videos. 10,000 hours, alright? He doesn't give me grief if I go to a few events for my blog or have to work all night on something, because he trains MMA or jiu-jitsu every night anyway. With our ridiculous schedules, we still come home every night and talk about our day, and there is no shortage of time to talk about our next moves or just relax with our bulldog Spike. We are not perfect, but we make it work. It's been amazing growing and evolving next to this handsome face, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us in this next decade.

What's on your playlist right now?

  • Get Lucky – Daft Punk, Pharell Williams

  • F**ckin Problems – A$AP Rocky

  • Punching In A Dream – The Naked and Famous

  • Love Train – The O’Jays

  • Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

  • Jah No Partial – Major Lazer

  • Get Away – Snoop Lion

  • Ten Thousand Hours – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

  • Wild for the Night - A$AP Rocky

Describe your style.

The Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle! Hahahaha, for real, I spend a lot of time in the gym or on the mat, and it’s all about being comfortable without looking sloppy. I love fresh kicks, nice shirts, and shorts. If I could wear shorts 365 days a year I would. My favorite brands include RVCA, Shoyoroll, Alive & Well, Quiksilver, Artlete, Nike, Ben Sherman, Uniqlo, and Brooklyn Industries.

Doing what we do best. Look at my hair though!

With Jacob's future boss

Who inspires you?

Oh man, that’s such a loaded question. I would say that I’m inspired those that dream and have the balls and fortitude to chase those dreams with reckless abandonment in spite of all the crap life throws at you. If I had to say it more eloquently, I would say I’m inspired by those that innovate, those hat think outside the box and are willing to put in the necessary work to make those ideas come to life. Real change, real innovation, real disruption isn’t easy and those that “do” inspire me.

What are you reading?

Just finished Interventions by Kofi Annan and Renegades Write the Rules by Amy Jo Martin. Both are must reads!

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

My goal is to get four more professional MMA fights in 2013 – it looks like my next fight will be June 8th.

Thank you!

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Aces: Byron Gronseth

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to my next Ace and creative director behind Fresh Jess -Byron Gronseth!

Byron and my friendship is another one that blossomed via Twitter. A transplant from all over the place, Byron used Twitter to find a few fun people to talk to in Seattle and we've been friends ever since. We've got a shared love for scathing sarcasm, the color black and all things Harry Potter. Seriously, if we could be in a movie, we call the parts of Sirius Black & Bellatrix LeStrange! He's the only one I trust in helping me carry out the visual design behind the Fresh Jess brand. He's responsible for the background and header you see on FJ today, as well as the 30 Fresh banner. It's always awesome to see your friends hit a good stride, and Byron's been on one for the last couple of years, landing his dream girl and an amazing job at a design agency. Read on for more:

What's on your playlist right now?

  • How to Destroy Angels - Welcome Oblivion

  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

  • Talib Kweli's Attack the Block mixtape

  • Some random shit with violins and yelling.

  • I heard there was a "Trent Reznor Aggressively Touching Things In An Antique Store" EP—i'm on that.

Describe your style.

Villainous, usually. Heavy, textured blacks, leather, slates and greys, dull, muted patterns and rugged edges. However, at some point in 2012 I bought some brightly colored v-necks. It sounds cheesy as hell but I guess my fiancée brought color into my life. My dreams of being Sirius Black when I grow up were officially dashed with heavy doses of gingham & orange accessories.

Who inspires you?

I'm extremely critical of my own work and everyday I worry that I'm a fraud. So naturally, my heroes come in two flavors: creative peers (industry folk from all disciplines) & appreciators (family & friends with real jobs.) Sometimes I need hard-hitting peer review and critique to remind me how much better I need to be. Other times, I need someone to be there for me, whether I rise or fall. I need someone to share my process and inspire me, beyond my peers and mentors. to watch the transformation. ...and to remind me what is most important. (Tacos & hugs #RealTalk)

What are you reading?

Great Gatsby, the last few books of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, just rolled through Lord of the Rings and now finishing up Stardust also by Gaiman. You could say that my hobbit, sword & whiskey-based inspiration is at an all-time high.

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

Duh, marrying my damn soul mate, my voyager, my dancer, my sun chaser, my most enthusiastic cheerleader, my philosopher, my scientist, my queen.

Also, by the way, i'm producing the absolute best work of my life at an agency that challenges me every day to not suck.

Thank you!

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30 Is Here!!!

30 is here, and what can I say? I've been looking forward to this since…well, since I got over the fact I couldn't say mid-twenties anymore. I am feeling as confident, (physically/mentally/spiritually) fit, healthy, sexy and successful as ever. Of course, none of this came without a hitch or three million. It's been a journey full of ups, downs, trials, tribulations, small steps leading to big steps and so much more. I am relishing time with myself on this day, but I also wanted to share with you a few of my favorite reflections and lessons learned up to this point.

It's a beautiful beat.

I'm talking about the beat of your own drum. March to it. Stick to it. It resonates just for you, and only you can make it. It's taken a long time to understand that I thrive the most when I stick to my guns. It's tough to do that in an environment like high school or college, or a workplace, or a clique-y group of friends. Trust me, it's okay if people don't get you. Not everyone will. It's worth it to stay true to yourself. As a blogger, my content and style have only been that much stronger and resonated that much more with my readers when I keep it real, not when I write about, wear or do things just because everyone else is doing it.

Quality control

At first, I only thought of this in terms of fashion. I've recently started to wean out the fast fashion and cheap clothes in favor of high-quality pieces that fit my body and style well. It's really depressing to see a girl in her early twenties wearing the same dress you bought at Forever 21 or H&M. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Zara, but I'm making a very real effort to stay away from bringing a lot of fast fashion into my closet.

Quality control also applies in lots of other things in life too. The people you spend time with. The stuff you read. The things you eat. The way you decide to spend your time. Quality is everything. Tell the people who matter most to you that you love them, and tell them often. Stay curious. Take control of what goes in your body and on your schedule.

Fear fuels your fire

I used to get so nervous about everything. Public speaking. Going to the gym. Performance reviews. What my coworkers or fellow students thought of me. Asking. Saying the wrong thing. Over time, and especially when I realized I'd started my own business and was completely responsible for everything, all of those fears became fuel. I always want to be the best, and I can't let anything paralyze me from getting there. Don't let fear paralyze you. Even if you're scared, act as if. I learned that from my internship boss and informal mentor years ago, and it's stuck with me since.

Never stop learning.

I know this should go without saying, but never let your curiosity fade. Read. A lot. Read a lot of different things. Stay open-minded. Greet new people with a warm smile and a good handshake, because you never know if you can help one another somewhere down the road. Chalk up 'bad days' as lessons learned. Challenge yourself to do better every day.

Let's get it, 30. I am just getting started.

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Aces: TigerBeat

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

Say what you will, but I am proud to call this next Ace my friend. Meet TigerBeat!

Josh, better known to you as TigerBeat, is a DJ who absolutely knows how to throw a party. I met him at his HollyHood weekly Friday dance party, and through Twitter, sarcasm and Atlanta hip-hop, became great friends. I admire Josh for his unfiltered honesty and opinion. He's the epitome of "keeping it real." He's a constant reminder to stick to my guns, even when it's not the popular thing to do.

He lives in NYC now and is getting his name out there as a solid DJ, building his production and DJ skills every day. If you're in the Big Apple, make sure you find him and check out one of his sets. Find him on SoundCloud & Twitter to see where he'll be spinning next.

After the interview, peep his latest mixtape, a birthday present to me and all of you!

What's on your playlist right now?

Hella YouTube and World Star videos. A bunch of stuff really. Random music. I have been focusing on production a lot lately so I have been listening to producers, like:

  • Willy Joy

  • Cobra Krames

  • Mike Will

  • Salva

  • Proper Villains

and music like Donnis & Kendrick Lamar. Diplo's killing as per usual...you know, club shit.

Describe your style.

My style.. as to...DJing or how I dress? I know this is for a fashion blog. How I dress? I'd say I have a pretty basic style. A.P.C. jeans all day, tank tops and hoodies, v-necks, Vans. Gold chain,  gold teeth. Sunglasses. I put a button-up on if I'm feeling ethnic. I also haven't combed or cut my hair in 4 months. I don't know whats going on with that. My DJ style: Heavy rap influence on top of everything else. I love rap chants and 808s.

Who inspires you?

Inspiration. That's a big feeling to have. People that get up and go out and work hard for what they want or believe. Not falling into line because its the easy thing or trendy thing to do. Standing up for who and what you love. But mostly, just cats.

What are you reading?

I am currently immersed in musical theory, production books, the internet and friends all on the subject of music production and turntablism. I don't have time for much else right now with networking full time in anticipation for the summer here in NYC. I'm very excited!

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

NYC!!! Making a network of colleagues and friends. Practicing, learning and honing my craft. the parties where I can play unabashed rap anthems.

A real mixtape from a real DJ for my birthday! Enjoy!

Thank you!

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Style: Birthday Balloons

I had the vision for my final 30Fresh look before I even knew if it existed. This editorial was all about getting girly & frolicking in front of a Seattle's new home for the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI.) I didn't know if a long walk way was actually there, but it worked out! MOHAI sits on the tip of South Lake Union, which is basically the neighborhood I live in. I brought a couple of props with me to play up the birthday theme and my Prabal Gurung for Target dress. Shouts to Red Balloon Company for their beautiful balloon umbrella bouquet and to Bella Umbrella for one of their beautiful vintage pieces. Gene Juarez brought some serious volume and waves to my hair, and a natural look that played up my cheeks and lips.

If Seattle was warmer more often, I might don beautiful frocks like these all the time. This is a side of me that rarely comes out to play, but I love this silhouette! I'm a big fan of the tea dresses with the fitted bodice and full skirt - vintage and vintage-inspired. This dress was by far my favorite piece in the Prabal for Target lookbook, and I wanted to enhance the beautiful colors as much as possible.

Super special thanks to Sarah Lovrien for working her photographer magic on me for this and my other 30Fresh shoots. Can't wait to work with you again!

Prabal Gurung for Target dress / necklace gifted by my aunt, from a market in the Philippines! Similar here / Report Shoes strappy platform heels (similar)

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

Spicing Up My Workouts (Sponsored)

Last week I gave you a peek into my fitness life, and how I struggle with incorporating it into my nutty schedule. I am the classic case of "too busy/tired/cold/lazy to work out." Lately, the phrase "If you're too busy/tired/cold/lazy to work out, that's when you need it the most." My body craves it and I know it!

This year, I've made it a top priority to not only work out on a regular basis, but to switch things up and add some spice and variety too. These are just a few of the zesty ways I've been working on physical fitness:

Zumba is my new favorite workout by far. I might be biased, because my best friend Paula teaches and hers are the only classes I go to. I was a little skeptical at first, and she'd spent months suggesting I check out her class sometime. When I did, Paula's music selection, variety of dance styles (salsa, reggae, hula, hip-hop, bachata & merengue just to name a few) and choreography totally won me over. It's basically like a night out dancing with my best friend, except in a gym during the day. I never thought I'd enjoy Zumba as much as I do. Instead of 'checking it out once,' I'm working my way to regular status quickly!

AlixRose, Paula and I after Alix & my first-ever Zumba class!

I'm not really a marathon person (yet? You never know!) so I have to really be down for the cause to participate in one.

The Big Climb last month was one whose cause I absolutely support (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and was a terrifying yet exciting physical challenge. Climbing 69 flights of stairs in the name of fighting cancer? I can do it. It is nothing compared to my cousin's fight against cancer. Being my first year, I did the untimed climb but still ended up reaching the summit in about 20 minutes. I was cool for the first, maybe, 15 flights, then all of a sudden my legs turned to bags of bricks and it became a lot harder to breathe with each flight. By the 50th flight, my mind was in a dark place and the only thing keeping me going was my cousin's face and the number of the next flight up. Then just as quickly as I'd started, it was over. It was a wonderful bonding experience with my family and I can't wait to do it again next year.

I hate running.

There I said it. It sucks but it's a necessity, and sometimes what your body craves is some alone time amongst the beauty of Mother Nature. We are incredibly lucky in Seattle to have no shortage of natural beauty, but I like to be near the water when I'm going for a run. Now that it's a little nicer out, I've been lacing my Nike Frees up and taking to a couple of my favorite places - Alki Beach and Greenlake. Just me, my music and some terrific scenery on a little run.

Looking east towards downtown Seattle from Alki Beach. Can you spot the Space Needle?

Serenity at Greenlake

I have a running list of different activities going and am adding your suggestions, comments and tweets to it. If you have a workout you really enjoy, let me know! I'd love to try it.

Kraft Italian Dressing only has one goal in mind... tantalizing your tastebuds. And we're always looking for new ways to help you amp up your zest appeal. Like what you see? Let our Zesty Guy show you even more ways to spread a little zest at getmezesty.com.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kraft via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kraft.

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

An Uber 30Fresh Giveaway!

It's my birthday month but YOU are getting presents!


In the spirit of 30Fresh, the kind folks at Uber have graciously given me ten $30 Uber credits to give away. According to my texts, FourSquare check-ins and bank statements, Uber is a very big part of my life. For the past year and a half or so, they've been responsible for getting me and many of my fellow Seattleites to meetings, events, flights, nights out and everything else in our busy schedules.

So much Uber swag in my life. Next up, polar fleece pajama pants

Haven't used Uber yet? It's easy. Download the app, request a private driver (in a black car, SUV or as of this month, UberX hybrid car) to your exact location & tell 'em where to go. You can follow the driver's route to you and while you're in the car on your phone, and all of the money transaction takes place in the app, so no need to get cash or search for your card.

'Sup UberX

Living downtown means there are a lot of places where it doesn't quite make sense to drive, but the weather is too crappy to walk (unless you want to show up to your next meeting lookin' a hot mess.) The cabs here are grossly unreliable with even more unsavory customer service all around. I gladly pay a little bit extra to know I'm getting somewhere safe, dry and on time by a nice, friendly driver.  Showing up in a towncar is a nice little perk too :)

Flexin' in an Uber SUV on the way to the airport

Enjoy these perks too! Enter to win one of these ten $30 credits by: (each action equals one entry)

  1. Tweet me:  Tweet #30Fresh!
  2. Liking Fresh Jess and Uber on Facebook
  3. Following me on Pinterest
  4. Leave me a comment below

I'll draw a winner this Friday, April 26th (my actual bday) at 5:00p.m. PST.

Good luck!

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

About That Life: One Year as an Entrepreneur

A year ago today, I began my life as an independent business owner. It's been a wild ride, and I can't believe a year has passed already! I wasn't completely sure what I wanted to do after parting ways with my last employer, and it took a couple of months for me to find the confidence to move forth on life as an independent. I knew more than anything that now was the time to focus on my blog, and to enjoy a life not centered around working for someone else. I may not have had all the answers (definitely still don't!) but I have the faith, will and determination to forge a path all my own.

After taking a couple of months to explore all of my options, I applied for my business license and became an independent contractor, freelancing as a consultant.  I thought about everything I'd done since leaving college, and created a menu of services that included: marketing, event production, public relations, personal styling, personal branding workshops and social media strategy. So many things! Too many things, probably.

I love love notes! Via StrikingTruths.com

Since then, I've taken on various clients in different capacities. I've learned more about myself and my capabilities in this past year than I had in all of my previous jobs combined, which is crazy since I learned a ton at each role I played. Everything is a lesson. These are some of the bigger lessons I've gone through in the past year:

Time is money.

When you're responsible for your professional...everything, the way you look at your time changes. I am more organized about how I spend my time than I've ever been before. If I'm not, I can easily get distracted by social media or bulldog cuddles, or wind up spending way too much time working and not enough on other things I should do, like working out. I let myself get lazy and ended up gaining weight because I was so afraid of not working hard enough, or bringing in enough work. I shined too much of a spotlight on getting my business running, that actual running fell off of my schedule! My time is everything. I am working on only spending it on the things (and people) that truly matter to me. See also: No, You Can't Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much.

Refine. Refine. Refine.

I am always analyzing and tweaking everything now. I'm feeling out the services I provide, figuring out which ones I truly enjoy working on, the types of clients I prefer to work with, and adjusting my budget and schedule. I want to work hard, but I also want to enjoy life and focus as much creative energy as I can on my blog. It's amazing how much less I'm shopping or doing frivolous things, because I want to go to that conference or devote more time planning out a strategy for my client. I'm a big believer that we are always learning, and if you're not - you've stopped living!

Find the right team.

Now more than ever, I have to have a strong support team around me. People who inspire me. People who can help me with parts of my business that I'm not good at, like an accountant or lawyer. People who can enhance my business, like my new Fresh Jess contributors. People to tell me like it is, or who can just listen when I need to talk myself through new ideas or frustrations I'm facing. Naysayers, people with negative energy or people who want to waste my time? Ain't got time fo' dat!

Take control.

When you work for someone else, your focus (whether you like it or not) is on meeting someone else's goals, standards, and often, perceptions of you. When you work for yourself, everything is in your hands. Goals, mission statement, vision, finances, insurance, schedule - that is all on you. That might be intimidating for some, but I was absolutely up to the challenge. Still am, every single day.

Gratuitous excuse to include a pic of Nicki Minaj. Photo via ELLE Magazine.

Nicki Minaj said in this month's ELLE Magazine: "I deserve to know what's going on. It's my brand and my life." That's the way I look at things. I've been using the word 'entrepreneur' a lot more lately, in place of the term 'freelance consultant.' It feels like a better description encompassing all of the things I've been working on in the last year, in consulting but also in the many projects I've done here on Fresh Jess. Sponsored posts, better ads, better outfit posts, more and better content. Every day I'm evolving and the different arms of my business are getting stronger and stronger.

And I'm just getting started, y'all.

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Aces: Sara Seumae

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

I don't even know where to start with my next Ace, the incomparable Sara Seumae!

I know a lot of my Aces stories start with "I met them on Twitter..." - but back in the day (2009), Sara was a Twitter celebrity and I was both excited and scared to meet her in real life. Sara is hilarious and outgoing but actually very reserved, and I could tell she was feeling me out the first few times I hung out with her. Over time, the rides home after our girl dates ended with conversations that lasted longer and longer. We helped each other make some sense of this weird thing called social media that was changing our lives every single day, and became sounding boards for the many ideas she had for her clothing line, and mine for my blog. To this day, I don't know that Sara and I will ever run out of things to talk about with each other. She's a loving mother, wife, daughter, doting aunt, loyal friend and ambitious fashion designer/entrepreneur. Though she has an amazing little sister already (seriously. Watch them talk to each other sometime. It's like one person talking to their perfect reflection in the mirror.) she's one of my best friends and like the older sister I never had.

I believe everyone should have at least one friend who tells them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. There are enough 'yes' people out there, but who you really want in your life are the ones who tell it like it is. I am forever grateful that Sara is one of those friends. She doesn't hesitate to tell me when I am actin' a fool. Even if I don't want to hear it in the moment, I know she's right. We don't get to see each other as often as I'd like, but that's the reality of go-getter power ladies. I go to sleep every night knowing for absolute sure that Sara is one of the biggest supporters I could ever have on my team. I cherish our aimless driving and long conversations about everything from our pasts and futures to Monica and Queen Rania. Though she doesn't spend as much time on the Twittahz these days, I feel extremely lucky that I got in with Sara when she was! :) I love you Sara joon.

What's on your playlist right now?

Sadly, my "playlist" consists of Disney movies and child-friendly music for the most part. And not to keep the boring going, but I listen to NPR, This American Life and Adam Carolla podcasts. I just love learning and listening to these helps me think in a whole new way.

Describe your style.

I hate to admit it but I am currently living in a Mr. Rogers sweater which I pair with cozy tops, skinny jeans or stretchy pants. It's one of those pieces that my husband detests but I get compliments on all the time by women. I worry that I'm going to wake up one day and it's going to be "missing." Is "comfortable" a style?

Who inspires you?

I assume you mean aside from you. In which case, I have to say my daughters, family and friends. I'm at a stage in my life where I just don't have the energy for toxic friends (you know, the negative nancys who just sponge off your soul).

My time is limited and I make it a point to be around those I can learn from and who help me live my best life.

If I consider you a friend then know that you inspire the crap out of me!

What are you reading?

I just picked up two great books which I'm dying to dive into! First is Think Like Zuck by Ekaterina Walter and the other is Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, I recognize that there is a theme here with both of these (the theme is Facebook. Not that you're not smart but just in case). I'm fascinated by Sheryl Sandberg and her views on juggling parent/work life.

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

The new SPUN website launch along with new style releases are top of mind right now for sure. I'm also pumped as hell for our girls trip in May! I haven't been able to get away in a long time and especially without the family in tow. I'm also excited for all the things that are coming up for my friends this year. From weddings and babies to just watching my friends succeed in their businesses. I'm so happy and proud of everyone!

Thank you!

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

Please Help Gumbo the Frenchie & Bulldog Haven NW!

'Sup FJ readers! Sharing another bulldog in need - you know I can't resist those bully faces!

Gumbo is an 11 month old French Bulldog who was hit by a car and ended up at a local shelter needing extensive surgical repair. The shelter's vet said it is the worst broken pelvis they have ever seen! Broken in multiple places, Gumbo needed emergency surgery and is now in the care of Bulldog Haven NW.

Help Gumbo the Frenchie!
Help Gumbo the Frenchie!
Help Gumbo the Frenchie!
Help Gumbo the Frenchie!

He underwent a successful surgery yesterday, and Bulldog Haven NW is looking to raise funds to cover his emergency expenses plus the care of 22 dogs currently being fostered. Can you help?


Every bit counts! Thank you!

Help Gumbo the Frenchie!
Help Gumbo the Frenchie!
Gumbo at Bulldog Haven NW
Gumbo at Bulldog Haven NW

Thank you bulldog/BHNW/Gumbo fans & rescue supporters. You make this happen!

Watch the Bulldog Haven NW Facebook page for more Gumbo updates and photos!

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

How I'm Bringing Zesty (Workouts) Back - Sponsored Post

When I signed on for this sponsored post, I was drawn by the words used to highlight the theme.

Zesty. Sizzling. Sultry. Sexy.

These are all words I'm uncomfortable using, yet I absolutely see them in my life. While it's not a surprise to regular Fresh Jess readers, I have been on a mission to be much healthier this year. One reason is because I want to feel like I’m all of those words, all the time. My life is zesty. My body is sizzling. My hair & style are sultry. I am sexy.

I've blogged a lot about the changes in food and diet that I've been making, but I haven’t gone into much detail about fitness, which is the other major piece to health. Today I’m doing exactly that.

I have such a love/hate relationship with working out. I’d gotten by on my Filipina-American genes for the first 23 years of my life, but once real (post-college) life started to set in, the need to work out showed itself QUICKLY. I got into a habit of going to the gym 4-5 times a week, and really enjoyed it. Then agency – and later, freelance – life happened, and working out became less of a fun hobby and more of a low-priority necessity. I’d skip a workout if I didn’t have time, and soon enough, I never made time for it any more.

This was my first time stand-up paddleboarding a couple of years ago. I was scared of the lake water so I put on a vest LOL

I really want to be more active in general, and I am absolutely up for trying new things*. I’m grateful to have access to a bank of at-home video workouts, but I’m also looking to try or dive more into:

  • Hiking
  • Stand-up paddleboarding
  • Flywheel
  • Barre
  • Marathons
  • CrossFit (eep!)
  • Zumba
  • Biking
  • Hot yoga

What are your new or favorite ways to stay fit? I’d love to add to this list!

*It's a doubleheader! Stay tuned next week to see how I’m incorporating some of these new workouts into my life.

Kraft Italian Dressing only has one goal in mind... tantalizing your tastebuds. And we're always looking for new ways to help you amp up your zest appeal. Like what you see? Let our Zesty Guy show you even more ways to spread a little zest at getmezesty.com.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kraft via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kraft.

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Style: HollyHood Marilyn

With these 30Fresh outfit posts, I put more thought in making like editorials you'd see in your favorite fashion magazine. The fun part is playing up different pieces of my personality. The fulfilling part is showing you the things in my life and places around Seattle that are meaningful to me. Last week in my Alive & Well post, you saw tough leather & chains paired with girly blush pink delicacy as well as my love for sneakers and independent boutiques. This week, we're taking a walk on the 'sassy & sexy, with a little bit of grit' side.

Some of you may recognize HollyHood Marilyn. She's the face of TigerBeat's famous Seattle dance parties, which I had the honor of helping promote over the last four years. In my opinion, HollyHood Marilyn is one of the most brilliant branding I've seen. I have a very soft spot in my heart for HH Marilyn as she represents so much to me. A neighborhood blog once tried to use her to help depict a story he wrote about the unsavoriness of some of Seattle's club nights, but HollyHood to me was always about dancing and having fun with good people. That's what life should be like, right? Full of good people, dancing and shit that makes you happy. While HollyHood is on indefinite hiatus and TigerBeat's recently moved to NYC, Marilyn and the HH spirit always have a place in my life.

All photos by Sarah Lovrien Photo & Video.

Prabal Gurung for Target black shirt w/lace overlay & faux leather collar / coral high-waisted shorts via Poshmark (similar) / Anthropologie belt (similar) & Aldo wedges (old)

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

The Renaissance Man (Contributor Post!)

*Once a week, you'll hear from one of my amazing team of contributors. This week, I'm delighted to introduce you to Titus Kimbowa! Peep Titus' bio at the end of this post. Looking forward to Titus' perspective on entrepreneurism, business, music and life in general. Enjoy!


Last week, I read somewhere on Twitter that Jay-Z was selling his stake in the Brooklyn Nets to become a sports agent. I was surprised, to say the least. Where does opportunity lay within the sports agency arena? For the next few days I pondered on why he’d make such an unconventional move.

Looking at all of Jay-Z’s past moves, from starting Roc-A-Fella to selling Roc-A-Wear, there’s something they all have in common: he actually never “leaves.” He’s still reaping benefits on every deal he’s made since leaving the drug game. He only uses each milestone to build onto another.

Diversifying the hustle per se.

Image via Book of Hov

Let’s look at the current move and see how much opportunity lies ahead. Jay-Z has created a brand in which everything he touches turns gold. He has a reach that is respected at every level. He was able to create a lot of buzz and support for the Brooklyn Nets - this is how he was able to get an ownership stake in the Nets at a discount rate. Being part-owner made it easier for the Nets to not only move to Brooklyn, but also gain New York’s support of the team. This is Jay-Z’s main role. He’s the face of an organization in midst of transition.

Selling his stake in the Brooklyn Nets and becoming a sports agent gives Jay-Z a new opportunity to use his brand in the sports arena. Using his ownership of the Brooklyn Nets as a stepping stone, Jay-Z’s out to challenge the likes of David Falk and Bill Duffy. Jay’s popularity and brand puts pressure on David and Bill’s business strategy. I’m interested to see how they’ll react to the new competition.

Growing up, many sports figures listened to Jay-Z’s music and many can connect to his story. Having him as their agent will give them access to him at a clock’s tick. I can already see a lot of young, up-and-coming athletes signing on to Jay-Z’s agency. You could look at Jay-Z’s relationship with Lebron James (among other professional athletes) as a catalyst for this move as well. Lebron is one of the top paid athletes in the NBA. If he is able to have Jay-Z represent him, this will keep the money within the clique (cue Jay-Z’s verse on“Clique”)

There’s a lot that Jay can do with the new venture and I’m particularly interested to see how this pans out. You never know, he’s known to move in silence.


Titus Kimbowa is a young entrepreneur living in Seattle, WA. He was born in Kampala, Uganda & moved to the States when he was 12. He’s currently a senior at the University of Washington and serves as vice-president of the UW American Marketing Association, and he's interning as the product marketing analyst for stealthy start-up Webtuner. He’s got past experience as part of the Zagat team at Google, Crown Social, TEDxYouth Seattle, and starting up an enterprise travel company. In his spare time (which he rarely gets) he likes to play basketball, read, and hang out around Seattle.

Find Titus on Twitter.

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Aces: AlixRose

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

Meet AlixRose!

AlixRose is a regular here on Fresh Jess, and for good reason! We've both been in the blogging game for around five years, and met on Twitter shortly after we started our blogs. 

I really admire Alix's constant positivity and upbeat nature. She is literally a ray of walking, talking, pop culture loving, MexiCoke drinking, probably singing or laughing sunshine! 

What's on your playlist right now?

I am pretty much obsessed with 8tracks right now. I haven’t changed around my Spotify playlists in forever and I got tired of listening to the same loop of music. So, instead of creating new playlists, I just listen to other mixes people have made. Here are a few of my current favorites.

Describe your style.

I like to think that I embrace it all. I wear neon like it will never go out of style. I am currently obsessing over a pair of metallic booties. I always have a red lipstick in my purse. I usually wear statement jewelry in the form of a pair of earrings or large ring. I’ve had a leopard print phase that has been going strong for the past two years. You will rarely find me in flats. You can also say, I have a healthy relationship with blazers. So, in short. I like to have fun with my style. I don’t say “I would never wear that!” I said that about fringe, fanny packs and cowboyesque booties and I’ve worn all of them this year and loved it.

Who inspires you?

I am so lucky to have so many people in my life that inspire me. My mom, in the way she connects with people, my father and his work ethic, my brother and the way he can find humor in everything. I have a plethora of friends who inspire me in many different ways all the time. They all push me to be the best that I am and I feel blessed to be so rich.

What are you reading?

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg I haven’t started to read it yet. If I could only pull myself away from Oh No They Didn’t. But I’m really an article hoarder. I can’t help but read a few a day.

What are you most excited about in the coming months? 

There are a few things up my sleeve, but I never like to count my chickens before they hatch. So, all I can say right now is stay tuned.

Thank you!

30Fresh. 30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

30Fresh Aces: Jen Joyce

Each week during 30Fresh, I'll introduce you to a couple of incredible people whose soul, energy, humor, talent, intellect and dreams light up my life. I think the world of them and hope you do too!

Next up in the Aces series - Jen Joyce!

If you live in Seattle, are on Twitter and enjoy Hotel Max, Uber, Capitol Hill, music or all of the above, most likely you know who Jen Joyce is. Back in 2009, the Seattle Twitter scene was new and fresh. Jen reached out to me for some advice on hosting her first Tweetup for then-employer Hotel Max. A friendship laced with hashtags and fun was forged and has remained strong ever since!

I adore Jen Joyce. She is one of the nicest people on the planet with a big heart and an even more wonderful laugh. She will make you smile no matter how blue. I've had the honor of Jen's friendship for a few years now, and it's been so great to see her grow into one of the most recognizable community managers in the game. Meet my boo:

What's on your playlist right now?

Uber Seattle Office Playlist is what fuels my work day. I am constantly adding new stuff. It just keeps me going. :) If I were to pick a few specific bands I am listening to on repeat it would be:

  • Grizzled Mighty

  • Hey Marseilles (THE NEW ALBUM IS SO GOOD. Check it out, kids.)

  • Pony Time

  • Father John Misty

Describe your style.

Well, I was asked this in an interview for Poshy Magazine. I really had no idea so I asked my boyfriend. His answer was Grandma Chic. I guess I do wear a lot of cardigans and knitted items. ;)

Who inspires you?

This is going to sound super cheese but my friends! I know the most hard-working people in the world. When I feel like I need a boost I just grab a happy hour or check their social media to see what they have been up to. It's always something that pushes me to do my best.

What are you reading?

Reading? Who has time for reading? Does Twitter count?

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

SO MUCH. Working for Uber has been the most amazing experience ever. We have taken an industry that is old and outdated and made it new, fresh...and well, Uber! My work family is full of the smartest, most creative, funnest people in the whole world. I so am proud to be a part of it and can't wait to see what we are going to do next! ;)

Thank you!

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!

Family Rules Everything Around Me

30Fresh wouldn't be right without a little ditty on my family. I must've done something amazing in some previous lives, because I struck the family lottery in this one. Remember the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" If not, imagine a group of roughly 50 people who always have your back, love you and try to feed you every time they see you, no matter what. My family is kinda like that, and I am the luckiest girl in the world.

I don't talk much about my family. Most of them are fairly private people who don't spend a lot of time on social media, and I want to be respectful of that. But in the spirit of 30Fresh, I'd be remiss to not give you a glimpse into a very, very big piece of my world.

This is my immediate family. Spike is on that IDGAF tip.

I'm the oldest of five, and the eldest on this side of the family. I think this is where the biggest well of inspiration to hustle resides. I was always told that I was setting the example for the family, and if I really was, then I wanted to be the best damn example I could be. I can't really bear the thought of disappointing my family, so I just try my best not to!

Yeah, that's my sister. Yeah, we're related.

My mom is the greatest. I see more of her in me as I get older. She's a free spirit who's devoted her life to being happy and making sure her kids are happy and safe. My sister is one of my best friends. I especially don't ever want to disappoint her! My brothers are so hilarious, smart, witty and curious. They don't really know it, but they keep me on my toes to stay on their level.

Enjoying a beautiful lunch with mama and two of my siblings

This is my Auntie Penny. She's 11 years older than me, so naturally I followed her around everywhere when I was little. I looked up to her and wanted to do and be everything she was! Now she's one of my best friends and probably the most supportive of all of my endeavors (after mama of course.)

My beautiful Auntie Penny

Most of my family lives in the Seattle metro area, so I see them often. Family parties are a regular occurrence on my calendar, and absolutely nothing takes priority over them. That's another reason why I went freelance - to be able to spend more time with my family. I never get tired of eating and hanging out with them! 


I can say with 100% honesty that I wouldn't be where I am today if not for my grandparents. They were my biggest supporters after my mom while I was in college, making sure I had everything I needed and was always safe. When I worked my first college job, downtown at Old Navy, they'd pick me up after my closing shift so I wouldn't have to take the creepy bus home from the creepy bus stop on 3rd & Pike. Grandma would always have chicken adobo and rice for me to have for dinner. They're retired and live the life in the Philippines now, but they light up my life when they come back to the states twice a year.

Whether it's a family birthday, a workout like The Big Climb, or just drinks at the Ram, we can't get enough of each other. It's not lost on me that this is a unique situation - not everyone has or gets along with family, let alone one this big. Just makes me that much more grateful to have them in my life. In this case, blood is indeed thicker than everything.

Love you family!!!

30Fresh30 days of posts celebrating 30 years - and 5 of Fresh Jess!