What is Big Data? (by Titus Kimbowa)

Photo from Start Work Now

When at meet ups, there are plenty founders and entrepreneurs alike that talk a big game when it comes to big data. They tell you how they plan on using big data to get customers and design the best app ever. But how are you getting this big data and how are you using it to accomplish these goals?

*Awkward silence*

What’s big data to me? Here’s my short version:

Social graph of any given user:


  • How many likes? 
  • What do these likes mean? 
  • What can you say about that person’s interests? 
  • What’s their state of mind?
  • Track and group likes in same vertical 
  • Find influencers, etc.


  • What’s the occasion?
  • Who’s in it?
  • Location?
  • Date and time 
  • Find influencers, etc.

Status updates, tweets, etc etc.

This can be done across all social and business graphs to find ways to target groups and communities at the deepest level.

Think: Zuck’s experiment

Analyzing and understanding what all these mean is the big challenge for many marketers. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you understand and use big data.


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, and view all of his posts here.

Strength, Gratitude & Kanye

Today's the 10th anniversary of Kanye West's breakout album, The College Dropout. I can't remember where along the line I became such a big Kanye fan. I knew Kanye was behind a lot of tracks I loved by Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and other artists, and I appreciated his hustle and determination right out the gate. I'm still impressed his first single, 'Through the Wire' was recorded after his fateful car accident that left him with a bloated face and wired jaw. I loved TCD (it's that album that reminds me of my college days. No dropout ;P) and every album he's put out after that, no matter how 'weird' or 'different' it is. 

Kanye's tweets on the 10th anniversary of The College Dropout. You have to read them backwards because Twitter.

His outspokenness and non-music-related ambitions have made him an easy target for backlash and negativity on the interwebz, and so somewhere along the line, this Kanye fan also became a Kanye defender. For the record, I know a lot of people automatically wrote him off after that whole Taylor Swift debacle. I also have zero interest in Taylor Swift and if I had the opportunity, I'd tell the world Beyonce deserved Best Video too.

Kanye wears his heart and mind on his sleeve. He also happens to be under that Hollywood microscope, whether he likes it or not. That's what happens when you fall in love with fashion and with a Kardashian. I hate that people judge him for what happens outside of the studio, not for what he creates inside of it. I hate that people judge him so freely for the things we're all looking to express ourselves. Passion. Love. Success. Family. Pride. Strength. Confidence. And yes, humility. 

What I see in Kanye is a dude from Chicago who has never wavered from his hustle and his passion for music. Who loves his mom and carries her like an illuminating torch everywhere he goes. Who's found love and is starting a family with the family he never got to have growing up - amidst all of his hard work and personal growth. He's like that one outspoken friend who gets mad riled when the topic of conversation turns to something he feels strongly about - and who'll let you know exactly how he feels. Sometimes you can't stand listening to his opinions, but you are supremely grateful there's someone in your life who's confident, strong and vulnerable enough to put himself and his craft out there. He remains an inspiration for me. It's not easy to put your face, name and everything into a blog and social media presence with grace, class and persistence despite the naysayers. It's not for everyone, and yet everyone will always have an opinion on those bold enough to pursue it. 

It's real easy for people to hide behind a computer and lay it out on a celebrity like Kanye - but you won't ever see them being anywhere near as real as Kanye's kept it all his life. People are too scared to put their true selves out there, and so it's easy to make fun or bash someone who is. Every time Kanye is in the media nowadays, I'm reminded of how quickly people can spew out negativity about someone they don't know - and how much I hate them for it. I always gotta step back and remember gratitude. 

Instead of focusing on people I'd never want to be in a car listening to the same song with - I'm thankful Kanye stays on his grind and produces music I want to hear. I'm grateful Kanye's setting an example to always speak your mind and put your heart out there, even if it seems the entire world can't stand it. Don't ever let the haters get to you. The more you find success, and love, and the things you make you happy - the more people will have an opinion about it. Misery loves company, but that doesn't mean you have to accept their invitation to join them. 

Kanye, keep doing your thing and I will keep being thankful someone like you is out there, and grateful you're in my life in some way.

"I've played the underdog my whole career."

Aces Interview: Tac Anderson

Twitter was a different world back in 2009. It hadn't reached its tipping point yet, and it felt like a small, manageable community. I found myself making tons of friends and admiring not-yet-friends in many circles - Seattle, blogging, social media, fashion blogging, fashion, hip-hop music, MMA/UFC. You could tweet at anyone and would likely get a response, because we were all trying to figure out what the hell all of this social media hype was and how it'd fit into our lives. Those glory days are gone, but I'm thankful to have people like Tac Anderson still active and awesome in my Twittersphere.

Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson

I think I first learned about Tac through my dear friend and his former colleague, Jordana Bruner. I can't remember if I'd met Tac in real life before, but we did for sure very recently at a local marketing event. I've been following Tac's tweets, Instagrams and blog posts for years, from his own adventures navigating PR and social media in Seattle, then out in London, then back again. Though organization and productivity are never-ending lessons for me, I am a big fan of Tac's Getting Things Done (GTD, as in the David Allen productivity system) Moleskine hack and revisit it often when my to-do list needs a serious shape-up. Tac's like a quiet force in social media nowadays, in that he doesn't post as much but everything he says is good stuff.

Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson

What's on your playlist right now?

  • Cumulus (new local Seattle band)

  • Phantogram

  • White Lies

  • Tokyo Police Club

  • Bloc Party

  • Pixies (always)

  • We Were Promised Jetpacks

Describe your style.

Monochromatic NW Geek meets London.

Really all I need is Doc Martens, 501s, a black (or gray) shirt with the occasional flat cap, scarf and/or cardigan.

I try and keep it simple and everything matches black and gray, especially more black and gray. I grew up in the NW but living in London for a year left its mark.

Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson

Who inspires you?

Everyone and no one. I don't have role models. I don't get inspired by people, but by actions. The everyday decisions to strive to make oneself better is what matters. The things people do, even ordinary people, are what I find inspiring.

Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson

What are you reading?

I love reading. I just launched a new blog, the Book Punk where I review cyberpunk and steampunk books. I also contribute book reviews to the I Hear of Sherlock blog. I just finished Nexus by Seattle author and technologist, Ramez Naam and The Will of the Dead written by steampunk author George Mann. But I'm also really excited about S, a new book by JJ Abrams, which is a book within a book.

Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

2014. I think it's going to be an amazing year.

Thanks Tac! Find him at Fear My Blog and on Twitter.

Read all of my Aces interviews here.

Moves & News from Fresh Jess

Hey everyone!

I had a good cadence of daily posts going for awhile but have been st-st-stuttering lately. What's up with that?!? Just working on a few fun projects that I want to share with you!

I'm delighted to be a contributor to the Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB)'s site once a week. Every Wednesday afternoon, you'll see an article from me waxing poetic on social media as it pertains to bloggers. My first post went up last week, on Balancing Your Social Media Plate.

Holy shh! Props from a (legitimate) social media guru, Mari Smith!

I was INCREDIBLY nervous to put this post out there. I'm not sure where all the nerves came from, but I haven't really written about social media since I left my job at a social media agency last year. I wrote about social all the time on their blog, and for some reason, never really picked it up on Fresh Jess although it's something I live, breathe, and have built a career on. I have a lot to say and I'm glad to have IFB as the forum to share that. If there's a topic you want to see, leave me a comment & let me know!

One of the cornerstones of Fresh Jess is being able to share with you all of my favorite people, places and things in Seattle. I've partnered with Gilt City for the next couple of weeks to highlight some of my favorite 206 businesses. Check out Grim's and Sugar Plum Spa in today's email, and enjoy a sweet deal from them too!

Shop my closet! This Thursday night, I'm hosting a virtual Posh Party with AlixRose. We'll be sharing our favorite Poshmark finds in our Fresh Fashion Party. Peep our closets here and here - and if you haven't signed up for Poshmark yet, use my code HUWKM for a $5 shopping credit!

As for this little blog, Fresh Jess is almost five years old (!) To celebrate this and my 30th birthday, I'm cooking up 30 Fresh, a whole month of extra-special posts for you. Every day in April will feature the people, places and things that are nearest and dearest to my heart. In addition to that, I'll be introducing five fresh new voices who'll be contributing to Fresh Jess at least once a month. They are five of the coolest young Seattleites I know, and I can't wait for you to meet them!

Fresh Jess is (mostly) a labor of love, and I've loved sharing events, music, style and other things with you that light up my life. I'm eternally grateful for your readership, and if you've got anything you'd like to see or ask me on Fresh Jess, leave me a comment or email me at jess(at)freshjess(dot)com. I'd love to hear from you!

Fresh Jess in NYC: Microsoft Store Launch & Surface Tablet

Last week, I flew out to NYC for a last-minute trip to help Microsoft celebrate the launch of the Surface tablet alongside Windows 8 & the grand opening of the Microsoft Store holiday pop-up in Times Square.  I was accompanied by my best friend Paula, three other invited guests from Nashville, Chicago & L.A. and their friends.  It was a whirlwind of fun, learning, exploring and luck! (We got out of there early Sunday morning and avoided any Hurricane Sandy chaos. Phew!)

You can see shots from my trip on the Fresh Jess Facebook page, including the big Microsoft Store opening, Windows 8 installations in the middle of Times Square, and more playing around with the Surface Tablet in the store. Microsoft was kind enough to equip us with photographers and a video crew who recorded our time in the store. 

So what were my initial thoughts? Watch the video below:

So what are my thoughts on the Surface tablet?

Before I share them with you, I just want to stress that I am not a gadget geek at all. I don't need the latest and greatest, I want something reliable that does most of the things I need it to. I own all Mac products, but do not own an iPad. These are the opinions of a casual tech consumer who spends a ton of time on a computer working and on social media.

That being said, I think the Surface tablet is a great lifestyle computer. The resolution is great, the screen's glare-resistant and is really responsive to touch & swipe. There are touch covers in several colors, but I found the keyboard on these touch covers not as responsive as the tablet screen or the Type Pad cover (I got one of those.) It's got a built-in kickstand, USB and memory card ports.

I'm a big fan of the Start screen. It's colorful and customizable to the apps, sites and settings of your liking. There are a ton of apps in the Microsoft Store, but small in comparison to the Apple or Android store. I'm hoping developers will warm up to making more sweet apps for the Surface soon! I'd love to see native apps for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. One big feature of the Surface is the "Charms" sidebar, which appears with a short swipe of the right side of the screen and allows you to share links and updates from your Surface among other things. Until I see native apps for those social media sites, though, I don't know that I'll use Charms often. A swipe of the bottom of the screen will bring up more settings controls.

What are my other favorite features?

I love that Microsoft Office 2013 is included in the Surface tablet. I bought MS Office for my MacBook Air, and it's nice to be able to work on documents, spreadsheets & PowerPoint presentations on either one. 

The camera is amazing. The screen sits at an angle when it's in kickstand mode, but the camera corrects itself and captures a lot. You can fit at least four people in on a conference call on it. 

Resolution for movies and music videos is clear too. Battery life will get you through a whole day of use, so if you're only using it sparingly, should keep for a few days.

I've had a lot of people ask me how it compares to the iPad, or if they should trade out their iPad for a Surface tablet. I think it's like comparing apples and oranges. If you've got an iPad and you love it, why would you want to make a switch? It'd be hard to switch between operating systems, but if you're only using the Surface for some light work and mostly entertainment purposes, it's a good choice. More than anything, think about your needs & budget for your tablet, then go from there.

I'm honored to be among the first to play with it, and look forward to seeing what Microsoft does to improve it in the months and years to come.

All photos above credit Edelman & Microsoft

I'll finish this post with some of my own behind-the-scenes photos:

In action!

Getting prepped

Interviewing Microsoft Store manager Melinda

Thank you Microsoft for my new toy!

The outfit: Stones jacket from Piperlime / Zara sweater, booties & bag / Old Navy Rockstar jeans / Gifted bib necklace (similar)

Check out the Surface tablet with Windows RT at MicrosoftStore.com. Thanks again!

Fresh Friends: Zach Huntting & Crown Social

I've had so much fun interviewing the likes of Rachel RoyStacy London & Kasey Kahne lately that I've decided to keep the momentum going. I'm reviving my Fresh Friendsseries, highlighting some of the best and brightest talents that I've encountered here in Seattle and beyond. In a few brief questions, you'll find out a little more about what makes these fabulous people tick - what lights the fire that inspires them to pursue their passions.

First at bat: Zach Huntting & Crown Social! Specifically, Crown's got a celebration happening TONIGHT in partnership with Diesel & Picnic Magazine at the Diesel store in downtown Seattle. Read on for a glimpse into Zach's life at Crown & details on the party.

What will this party accomplish?

Put simply, you will get drunk. Drunk on finely-crafted cocktails from pro David Nelson and handsome sidekick Marty. You will have fun.

What inspired this party?

Illegal squats in Paris, luxurious penthouse bars in Tokyo, and the hillviews of Seattle. The desire to do something that has never been done. And then just knowing cool people at Diesel and Picnic who share the same vision that we do. And we want to celebrate the fact that we're one-year-old in style.

What are you going to hear at this party?

-- Music that will sooth you into deep conversations with strangers and then grab your ankles and spin you on your head. First, DJ Frankie Stallone is going to prepare you with some Italo-disco, his specialty. Next, you'll get hip-hop mash-ups and some trill-trap-crunk by none other than DJ TigerBeat.  Last, DJ Z will do one of those extra long rave breakdowns before making you take off your clothes (because you're too sweaty?)

What do you do when you're not partying?

Research and incubate ideas to inspire people.

Where can we usually find you?

At Crown Social during the day, and Queen Anne or Capitol Hill at night. (I still love you Belltown and Pioneer Square.)

Thanks Zach! See you Thursday for Crown Social's shindig. RSVP on Facebook.

3 Rules for Social Media & a Happy Birthday

Everyone has their own reasons for being present and active in social media. For many, it's a source of entertainment. For others, it's also a distraction from their everyday routine. For me, social media has been an integral force in my life for almost five years. I took what I learned in high school & college, plus my internships & service jobs, and combined it with the quickly-evolving world of social media marketing. Thanks to this blog and Twitter, I have had countless opportunities come my way. I've met amazing people I'd never have the chance to meet in real life, gone to places and events I'd never know about otherwise, and had exposure in front of brands in a way I'd never be able to before. I have been extremely fortunate to forge the next steps in my career from social media, and I'm finding a lot of gratification in helping neighborhoods, small businesses and big brands alike realize their potential.

All that said, I operate with only three rules when it comes to social media (for myself, on my personal accounts.) These are the things I tell people when they ask me about best practices or how to be active on social. Though they're simple to understand, these rules can be some of the hardest to stick to. But just like anything else that's worth it, sticking to these rules takes focus, determination and hard work. I am far from perfect, but staying true to these rules has helped me pursue the opportunities and connections that've come my way.

#1: Don't be negative.

Open up Twitter or Facebook and scroll through your friends' latest updates. More than likely, there is a fair amount of complaining and criticism about something or someone in their life. Yes, it's easy and can be comforting to air your frustrations out on social media. Remember that anyone in the entire world can see that post and that's what they use to paint a first impression of you. Nobody wants to associate with the Negative Nancys out there. Would you want to be friends with you if you read through your last week's worth of status updates?

#2: Stay positive

Think of this as the flip side of my first rule. With this rule, I mean to focus on talking about the stuff you like. What makes you happy? What are you grateful for right now? Who's done something nice for you lately? Is there a new book/movie/song/etc. you're into? For some reason, people are more likely to tell you what they don't like or aren't into. It feels like a lot more work to stay positive, but it sure beats whining and complaining all the time. Oh, and do this without ulterior motives or in an ingenuine way. What you think might be positive may come across as a backhanded compliment, fake or even offensive.

#3: Keep your relationships to yourself

In conversation, I say this rule as "Never indulge about your close friends, dating/relationships & family." This might be more of a personal preference for me, but I just don't like to share too much about those closest to me. Most of my loved ones are barely on social media as it is! If you care about someone, it's good to respect their attitudes and perspective about social media. If my boyfriend and I have an argument, fine. Y'all don't need to be part of it. If there's conflict with a friend or family member, that's to be resolved offline. Hardly anything is sacred anymore, and it's nice to have those parts of my life kept private.

Why am I sharing these with you? I hope you find these useful if you're wondering how to create your personal brand and reputation through social media. Another reason is because I don't normally talk about my boyfriend, but today is his birthday and I want to wish him a happy day!

Thank you for always telling it like it is, for saying things I don't want to hear but need to, and for always challenging me to be better. I might have done some cool things in life, but I'm just trying to keep up with you :) Love you. Happy birthday!

Fresh Jess the Freelancer

It's true. I left my job a few weeks ago and am freelancing full-time. I thought about keeping low-key, but I've realized I don't owe anyone anything. Except myself, of course, and I owe everything to the opportunities that have come my way thanks to blogging and social media. I have wanted to do my own thing for so long and for me to not put myself out there is doing myself a severe disservice.

I am extremely thankful for my friends and family who've told me I should've been doing my own thing all along. It's humbling and encouraging to hear things like "I'm so excited to see what you'll do!" and "It was only a matter of time!" I am grateful to the agencies and brands who've reached out to me about full-time gigs, but I know this is the best thing for me right now. I've taken the last few weeks for some personal time, the Lucky FABB conference, and organizing my thoughts.

So what is it that I'm doing? Quite simply, stuff I've already been doing. Blogging mostly, because what I've wanted more than anything is to grow FreshJess.com to the amazing blog I know it will be. I am also writing, strategizing, creating, speaking, mentoring...doing. In short, helping tell amazing stories, launch awesome campaigns and bring fantastic ideas to life through words, networking and media.

One of my favorite Russell Simmons quotes is "Only do shit you believe in. Period." I can't tell you how excited I am to create a work life that weaves seamlessly with my blog and personal life, and most of all, to work on things I truly believe in.

Source: thewellnesswarrior.com.au via Jess on Pinterest

For a full run-down of my services, you can take a look at my new Freelance Services page and contact me at jess@freshjess.com for more information.

Lucky FABB: Conference Day Recap

After a jam-packed Sunday of networking, mimosas & sun, I was eagerly anticipating Lucky FABB conference day. Though the skies were grey for most of the conference, the beachside venue made for a perfect day full of awesome photo opps in the midst of learning from some inspiring speakers.

I was really impressed with the diversity in talent, industry and experience that Lucky brought together for this conference. I was actually drawn more to the tech mavens like Brit Morin, Randi Zuckerberg and Soleil Moon Frye. It was also super cool to learn about the great things Jessica Alba is doing with The Honest Company; Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant's various ventures; and Elizabeth Banks' lifestyle website. All of the speakers and panelists had such unique insight from brand, personality and blogger experience that I left with a ton of wisdom and to-do list items.

If you'd like to take a look at my notes (they're messy!), check them out on my Evernote.

The view from the Annenburg Community Beach House. A perfect place for a conference!

Credentials in hand. Ready to roll!

Conversation wtih Zac Posen

Stay True to Your Voice

Sophia Rossi, HelloGiggles.com / Kristin Ess, The Beauty Department / Jane Marie, The Hairpin / Bri Emery, DesignLoveFest / Brit Morin, HelloBrit.com

Just one of the many beautiful installs in The House of Zappos

A Conversation with Jessica Alba & Christopher Gavigan of The Honest Company

What Hollywood Can Teach Fashion

Christin Trogan, Funny or Die / Will Gluck, Film Director, Screenwriter & Producer (Easy A) / Ashley Madekwe, Actress & Blogger, Ring My Bell / Hillary Kerr, WhoWhatWear / Jeannie Mai, television host & digital correspondent, NBC Fashion Star

A Conversation with Mad Men's Janie Bryant & Kiernan Shipka

My outfit via Value Village Fashion Ambassador: thrifted yellow wool blazer / Banana Republic silk sleeveless top / H&M high-waisted skirt / With Deena & Ozzy nude booties

How I Became An Entrepreneur

Soleil Moon Frye / Alli Webb, DryBar / Wende Zomnir, Urban Decay / Jenni Radosevich, I Spy DIY / Kate Sommerville, Kate Sommerville Skincare / E.J. Johnston, co-creator, NBC Fashion Star

How Brands Work with Blogs

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI / Quinn Donnelly, Benefit Cosmetics / Geri Hirsch, Because I'm Addicted / Gabrielle de Papp, Neiman Marcus / Aimee Song, Song of Style

A Conversation with Elizabeth Banks

A Conversation with Randi Zuckerberg (My absolute favorite part of the day!)

After all of these fabulous panels and fun times in the sponsor gifting suites, it was time for the closing  party. I got to say thank you to Lucky's editor-in-chief,

Brandon Holley


After the party, we were sent home with LeSportsac duffle bags FILLED with countless beauty, skincare, fashion & fitness goodies. This is the most serious swag bag I've ever seen in my entire life. So much amazing stuff:

Lucky FABB was without question my favorite conference to attend. Lucky took such great care of us for the short time we were together. I made countless connections with brands, other industry professionals and fellow bloggers. I'm really looking forward to the next!

Lucky FABB Recap: Day 1

The Lucky Magazine Fashion & Beauty Blogger (FABB) conference flew by earlier this week! I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in sunny Santa Monica with some of the most stylish ladies, coveted brands and inspiring speakers in the country.

Lucky FABB was created just under two years ago as a means for the fashion mag to connect with some of its most influential readers. At its first West Coast venture, Lucky FABB hosted over 150 bloggers and a slew of the hottest brands & style sites in the land. Lucky was awesome enough to pack the day before the conference with events for all of us to meet each other and get a taste of California style. I flew down Sunday morning (it's just a two-hour flight from Seattle to L.A.) and made it just in time for the Lucky FABB Brunch, hosted by RewardStyle at the beautiful Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica.

Lucky FABB Brunch hosted by RewardStyle. So many beautiful outfits!

Lucky FABB was a great excuse to catch up with my girl Jammie, who recently moved to L.A. from Seattle. We'd only met in person a couple of times in Seattle, but have kept in touch on Twitter. She's one of the nicest, most giving & motivated people I've met in a long time, and she was the first to tell me about Lucky FABB! She's a FABB veteran, having attended all three so far.

After brunch, we hopped on a sweet double-decker bus for a Lucky FABB Shopping Safari hosted by HaveToHave. Lucky's West Coast Editor, Marlien Rentmeester & HaveToHave swooped us down to Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach for shopping and sun at Marlien's favorite AK boutiques. I hadn't spent a lot of time in Venice prior to this trip, so for me it was a lot of fun seeing the sights while networking with some amazing bloggers!

During our safari, we Instagrammed & tweeted out our most-wanted pieces in each of the boutiques. You can peep and vote for your favorite safari finds on HaveToHave.com right now.

Lucky FABB Shopping Safari hosted by HaveToHave. 

Marlien talking about one of her favorite finds at Heist, for HaveToHave

Sweet beachwear at Undrest by the Sea

Dog bone bracelet & sick nails on Kelci of Two Point Oh L.A.

We closed this fabulous day at the Kelly Wearstler boutique in West Hollywood for the Lucky FABB opening cocktail party. The beautiful Ms. Wearstler herself was in the building to greet all of us for FABB, in addition to an army of Lucky editors and staff. Not only is she a master fashion and interior designer, she is absolutely stunning in! She was super sweet and chatted up everyone at the party. We even went home with a sweet neon distressed muscle tee which I may or may not have worn a few times already :)

With the amazingly sweet Caroline Waxler, Lucky's digital content director and executive producer of the Lucky FABB conference!

Finally met Erin of Apartment 34, a fellow but former Seattleite who's now in the Bay! Love her

So naturally, after a busy and productive day, I'm starving. Jammie was kind enough to take me to one of L.A.'s finest - the original Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles! It was my first time at Roscoe's, and now my tastebuds will know nothing that compares to a good old Roscoe's meal. Can't wait to come back here!

All in all, day 1 of the Lucky FABB conference was packed full of networking and fun with some serious fashion mixed in. I had a fabulous day and went to bed excited for the conference day to come.

See all of my Lucky FABB photo adventures on the Fresh Jess Facebook page!

Do You Really Need to 'Check In'?

Jolie O'Dell posted the article "Why You & Your Girlfriends Should Stop Checking In" last week on VentureBeat. As an avid user of FourSquare & Facebook Places check-in (with many girlfriends who are just as geeky as I am), this article was long-overdue wake-up call.

Why the hell do we use LBS (location-based services) like FourSquare & Facebook Places so freely? Why am I using it?

My friends and I checking in while waiting for dinner. Typical

I started "checking in" a few months after FourSquare's launch at SXSW just over three years ago, drawn by the appeal of learning about places in the city and competing with my friends for points, badges and mayorships. The game factor is fun, and for a long while it's kept all of my friends and I checking in wherever and whenever we can. I've left a lot of tips at various venues, held my share of mayorships, and collected my fair share of badges.

Over time, though, I've cut my check-ins down significantly by stopping to ask myself what I'm gaining out of sharing my location with others. I'm not sure how much longer it'll be before I lose interest in FourSquare altogether. More than anything, I just try to be smart about how I'm checking in. I am thankful nothing has threatened my livelihood, although I've had my share of creepy "I saw you check in here on FourSquare" introductions.

I know this doesn't even apply to most of you since just over a tenth of the U.S. population even uses location-based services. Jolie's article sheds light on creeper apps like Girls Around Me (though FourSquare has since pulled that app's API access.) We are incredibly lucky to live in a country and culture where we have the freedom to say and go where we want, but maybe we take our safety and security for granted.

If you're 'checking in' constantly (especially you, lovely ladies!), I offer a couple of tips to keep in mind: 

Choose your friends wisely.

Like any other social media network, you approve friend requests and have the option of adding them or not. Do you know who you're friending? Take a look at who your mutual friends are, where the person is located and why you'd want to share check-in information with that person. If any of that makes you feel unsure - it's best not to friend them at all.

Never check in alone!

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it has to be said. I only check in at events where I'm with a bunch of people I know, or with my boyfriend.

Hide your check-in location.

FourSquare has the option of making your location public or not. If you absolutely must check in everywhere, use that option when you are checking in places alone.

Think twice.

Ask yourself if checking in is worth the awkward or even scary encounter. Because it's really not.

Do you check in on FourSquare, Facebook or Yelp? What are your thoughts?

IFB Conference Feb 2012 - Recap

The February 2012  IFB conference was the perfect way to kick off New York Fashion Week! This was my third time attending and my first as a speaker, moderating the "Media Goes Mobile" panel.

The audience was full of fresh faces and judging by the #IFBcon tweets, they had a great time and learned a lot from all of the speakers!

I hadn't really considered myself a "veteran" blogger - in fact, I still don't since I have a lot to learn and do! However, it was really fulfilling to be onstage sharing information and advice on social media and blogging.

Milk Studios was absolutely PACKED to the walls for each panel, so my pictures are mostly backstage. Enjoy!

Vintage plaid cape, bib necklace, belt & clutch from Sustalux; bracelets from Moksha, Sustalux & Urban Xchange

The panel! Karen Moon (StyleMusee), Macala Wright (Fashionably Marketing Me), Tom & Lorenzo, Bryan Boy & Aliza Licht (DKNY PR Girl)

H&M sleeveless top w/back cutout; vintage belt from Sustalux

With Jennine Jacob, founder of IFB

With Karen Moon & Bryan Boy

With Aliza Licht in our capes

With Macala & Aliza before our panel

Tom & Lorenzo

Met one of my favorite bloggers, Vintage Vandalizm!

Another fabulous panel


Guest of a Guest has their conference photos up already. Check them out!

I am in town for the rest of the week catching a few shows and catching up with some great friends. Tweet at me if you're around! @JessEstrada

Pottermore & The Deathly Hallows pt. 2 trailer 2

Can we talk about this right now? Actually, let's not. Let's just watch this trailer and SQUEEZE EACH OTHER WITH EXCITEMENT

I can't believe this is the last trailer. I'm sad but at the same time Daniel Radcliffe & Emma Watson are like mid-twenties right now. I'm sure they're ready to put this project to bed and move onto different things. In any case, July 15th can't come soon enough. In related news, sometimes I hate that I'm so busy. You know why? Because then a sista misses out on opening night tickets at the IMAX and has to wait til opening weekend to see it! Booooo

J.K. Rowling upped the frenzy tenfold last week with the release of this teaser video for Pottermore. What the hell is Pottermore? I'm not sure either but it promises to be amazing, with unreleased content and crowdsourced ideas for making the Potter universe even more multi-dimensional than it already is. Whatever form this happens to take - social network, e-books, what have you - Pottermore will definitely keep the mania alive for quite some time after this last movie. So sorry to all of you who have never had the sheer joy of reading the series. Us Potter freaks aren't going anywhere!

Recap: Nordstrom Downtown Seattle Flagship Cosmetic Trend Show

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the Nordstrom Flagship store's annual cosmetic Trend Show. Much like a fashion show or presentation, Nordstrom's Trend Shows preview the hot colors, new products and latest trends to look for in the coming months. This was my first Trend Show, and also the first show hosted on the flagship sales floor rather than in Nordstrom's corporate space upstairs. The Seattle-based retail giant featured some of the latest spring fashions along with the beauty products headlining the event.

Antica Farmacista home fragrance

Gorgeous Marchesa dress & Estee Lauder bold lips

Dior Cosmetics


Celebrity nail stylist Deborah Lippman

Also a first was the inclusion of a wedding-focused beauty outlook, which allowed Nordy's to showcase its brand-new Wedding Boutique.

I was part of the social media cheerleaders section, tweeting and Facebooking during the event. Here are some of my fellow cheerleaders :)

Thanks Nordstrom for allowing me to cover the event!

Built For Man Fall/Winter '11-'12 Fashion Show

New York-bred and Seattle-based designer Francisco Hernandez debuted his Built for Man Fall/Winter '11-'12 collection last night at Ferrari & Maserati of Seattle.

Crafted from natural materials such as high quality pima cotton and baby alpaca yarn, pieces in this year’s collection include hand knit scarves, knits, unku, T-shirts, accessories, and dress shirts. New to this collection are a 3/4 coat jacket and pant in luxurious, suri alpaca, as well as an unku tunic made, yarn up, entirely by human energy and 100 percent sustainable.

I had a blast at the show. I'd never been to the Ferrari/Maserati dealership before and felt super baller :) Check out the final walk and a couple of pics!

We totes covered the car :/ with Jeff, Stephen, Nicole, Matthew, Alix & Jaymee

Enjoying a michelada after the show!

Forever 21 white brocade one-shoulder dress

Betsey Johnson pearl & bow earrings

Not pictured:

Vintage white ruched sheer gloves

Jeffrey Campbell wingtip suede shoes

IFB Evolving Influence Part II: What I Learned

If there's anything I learned at the IFB conference, it's that not all bloggers are created equal. I am of the camp that still blogs for leisure. It's fun for me and I like sharing about some cool things I'm in to. At the conference, I was in the company of bloggers who do it for a living, whether falling into it for the love of fashion or a natural evolution from a lifetime of writing. I think Evolving Influence did a great job appealing to bloggers like myself as well as to those who are looking to make (or are currently making) a career out of it.

One session in particular stuck out to me.

Moderated by Kristina Medhus (Pretty Shiny Sparkly) and featuring: Sasha Wilkins (Liberty London Girl), Rebecca Stice (Clothes Horse), Kristin Knox (The Clothes Whisperer), Lindsey Calla (Saucy Glossie) and Rachna Shah (KCD),

"Working with Brands Gracefully" gave some really great insight into how brands and fashion bloggers can work together successfully. The panel addressed the sensitive subjects of gifting and brand ambassadorship while maintaining credibility and keeping your personal brand true and intact. Here are some of my favorite points shared during the talk:

  • Be honest with your readers. Be clear about paid posts ("This is an advertorial" or include mention of working with the brand organically in your post)
  • Maintain creative and editorial control. The brand will have some input on what they want you to say, but remember to stay in line with your personal brand and your blog's purpose. Would you write about a free facial when your blog is focused on outfits and styling?
  • Be smart about how you deal with gifting. Accepting offers and product from brands shouldn't be about "getting free stuff." It's a chance for you as a blogger - an influencer - to share knowledge with your readers that stretches across various boundaries (geographical, financial, etc.) It's rarely about displaying a brand in a positive light just because they give you something. They want honest feedback, and as a blogger, you should feel like you can share your truthful opinion about a product or service. Successful partnerships between brands and bloggers build over useful reviews and feedback.
  • Be ready! Brands will sometimes offer bloggers brand ambassadorship, essentially creating a long-term relationship with that blogger to help promote the brand. For bloggers, that means your readers have access to events and insight into things they wouldn't otherwise have. If you want your favorite brands to reach out to your blog, get your press kit ready so you can show them the value of working with you.
  • Earn your brand ambassador status! Prove to brands that you're passionate about what they're doing. They'll respond when you bring ideas to the table.
  • Protect yourself. If you do work with brands, you'll be sharing ideas and thoughts all your own. Make sure to get a non-disclosure agreement drafted and signed by both parties.
  • So...what metrics are important to brands? Ahh, the age-old question asked by bloggers, brands and social media agencies alike :) There's no true answer for that, but the two things to remember are: analyze what you can, and remember that numbers aren't the only thing that matters. Be able to speak intelligently about your audience and traffic.

Hope these gems of advice can help you! For more from the Evolving Influence conference, check out the live blogs on IFB.

NYFW: Rebecca Minkoff Afterparty Hosted by Smirnoff

After a whirlwind week in NYC for Fashion Week and Social Media Week, I'm back in Seattle and ready to unleash some awesome blogs for you!

One of our stops on the Fashion Week party circuit was Griffin, for the Rebecca Minkoff afterparty hosted by Smirnoff.

"The World's #1 Vodka" even invited bloggers to try The Smirnoff Challenge, where three vodkas were up for a taste test. Now I am never one to turn down a taste test - and I ended up choosing Smirnoff!


I had a blast meeting the Smirnoff & Rebecca Minkoff teams, as well as hanging with some of my favorite digital/lifestyle/fashion blogger friends.

Thanks Smirnoff & Rebecca Minkoff for such a fun night!

Ever the social media maven...

Find Smirnoff on TwitterFacebook and online

Find Rebecca Minkoff on TwitterFacebook and online