Any other younger siblings out there? I know I am! I am one of four children in my family. I’m number two in the order. I am almost 2 years younger than my older sister (Rina), 9 years older than my younger sister (Shelly), and 12 years older than my brother (Jay). Naturally given the age difference with my younger siblings, I have always had a different kind of relationship with my older sister.
Sonia’s Ring Purse is lined here | Rina’s Zac Posen Bag is linked here |
Sonia’s Strappy Sage Block Heels are linked here | Rina Favorite Summer Block Heel is here
Our Matching Tops are $12.99 and lined here (size down) | Wear With A Bralette like the one here
Growing up, we fought like cats and dogs. Both being girls, there was a lot of competition. Sadly, being the younger one, I usually lost each fistfight and each debate. After all, isn’t it the job of an older sibling to be bossy and convince the parents that they should get the new clothes so that the younger sibling can wear the old ones?
But like all things, getting older comes with getting wiser. It didn’t take us long to realize that we actually were more similar that we were different. Well into our college careers, we would often talk of starting a business together. Our original business idea was to start a daycare called “Sisters,” but life took us in different directions. My older sister got married and moved to Georgia and I got married and stayed put in Chicago. Trying to start a daycare business from two different places seemed nearly impossible, especially after having kids of our own.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that my sister started Chicks And Salsa that we realized we had an opportunity to bring our strengths together and create a platform to and empower women. Chicks And,Salsa has been our reminder of how well we work together, what our differences are, and what unites us together despite our distance from each other.
Growing up with many female influences in my personal life has generally made me gravitate towards smart, creative, and interesting women as a whole. Joining the Style Collective was one of those no brainer decisions I made after watching founder, Annie Spano, week after week hustle as hard to achieve her dream as I was to achieve mine. I knew that being around her energy would rub off on me. She not only recruited me, but many like me. These women were like minded motivated females all trying to change their story.
When the Style Collective announced that it would be having its first conference I dare say I was the first to register. I was thrilled at the prospect of being around other women, mothers, and bloggers that were all trying to navigate a new industry that allows women to authentically share themselves with the world.
Last month we all met up in the beautiful Cannon Room in the heart of Raleigh. NC! A beautiful space that inspired and enthused us. The agenda was filled with women that I wanted to hear and learn from and best of all, they were willing to share! Among many highlights from the conference, here are my top three.
The Cannon Room was named after the first female Mayor of Raleigh, Isabell Cannon. With that as a backdrop it was just the perfect vibe and space, intimate yet spacious and generously lit with its large windows. It made for an inviting space that made us want to network in. Lucky for us, this room has already been booked for next years conference!
The Influencer Panel
With our blog, we try to be open and honest about our journey as women and as mothers. At the conference, we were lucky enough to hear from mother to be Holly of @MakeTodayAHollyDay, Courtney of @CourtEInk, and Keke of @StyleYourSelfie and they were wonderful! Each shared their story, journey, and ideas generously with all of us. I recall chatting with Holly and discussing giveaway ideas! I really appreciated that!
Generally we had a lot of information that we needed to cover during sessions, so by Sunday afternoon we were tired. The agenda, however, anticipated that we would need creative breaks. We had the chance to play in a live photo booth and network in a beautiful corner space. The agenda also included a cocktail hour on Saturday night and a trolley ride surprise on Sunday! Everything had been thought out and considered. The team at Style Collective did an amazing job putting it all together (Thank You!).
I, along with my fellow chicks, am truly grateful for the camaraderie and the learning and I am looking forward to next year. Here is a peek at all the fun!
When you take a trip with your sister for Spring Break it is a Chick Trip and Family Trip all mixed into one! This year, we set our sights on some southern charm and headed to Charleston, South Carolina. We loaded up our mini’s (all four of them) and pulled off a fun and memorable trip complete with loads of laughs!
What to do:
A great way to get your bearings for this quaint city is to take a carriage tour. We hopped over to Palmetto Carriage Works for a ride through Charleston‘s historical district. We absolutely loved our guide, Jim. He was knowledgeable, relevant, and funny! We would highly recommend starting your trip to Charleston with this tour to understand fun spots to visit. As women and as bloggers, we found the story about the Grimke sisters who were early advocates for abolition and women’s rights to be pertinent and interesting. It was a refreshing reminder of women in history and a great teachable moment for our young children! The streets of Charleston are lined with historical homes that make the city truly a place to visit! We got lucky with a morning ride so it wasn’t too hot or too cold.
When we arrived at our hotel, our rooms weren’t ready. In an attempt to kill some time we drove over to Patriots Point and BOY are we glad we did (literally a 12 minute drive from the historic downtown area)! We walked over to the USS Yorktown and toured the ship. Tickets were $22 for adults and $14 for kids. Definitely worth it! The boat was easy to navigate with tours that are clearly marked (audio tours are also available)! We were traveling with 4 young kids who all found the ship’s many rooms fascinating. Aboard the ship you see where crew ate, slept and lived life while on board. The top of the ship was lined with fighter jets from both the navy and marines!
This is an awesome stop for both kids and adults! We went on a simulator that showed what it would be like as a pilot of a fighter jet, this helped jump start the kids imagination when we made our way to see the jets in real life (tickets were $6 per person). I would allow about 3-4 hours to check out the ship. Next door is Fort Sumter, of you plan to do both you would be looking at a full day outing depending on the ages in your group.
Sullivan Island : Lighthouse and Beach
We had planned to stop at Sullivan Island during our planning for the trip. I should warn that we went in the month of April for Spring break and the weather didn’t quite hold up for the beach. We made a stop over at the lighthouse which we could only see as we walked past it. Not the most picturesque lighthouse, but something to see nonetheless. Just past the lighthouse was a boardwalk to the beach. The kids loved collecting shells while we basked in the spring sun. It wasn’t quite warm enough to get in the water, so keep that in mind when planning a visit in the Spring months. A quick mention, if you have young kids and your hopes of spending a day at the beach get ruined, there is a park with playgrounds just up the road that was a savior for us!
What to eat:
Situated right off King Street in Charleston Basil is a Thai restaurant that has absolutely delicious food! With a blend of vegetarians and non-vegetarians in our group this was a sure bet for dinner. Most dishes can be substituted for tofu. In general we are regulars to Thai food, but I must say the food here stood out! Their Pad Ke Mow is a must try! My kids love Panang curry…unfortunately Basil didn’t offer this but had Massuman curry which was a perfect substitution! If you like Thai, you’ll love Basil.
While shopping with the kids, we were looking for a lunch spot. Upon a recommendation we ended up at Basic Kitchen. This place was gorgeous! It had a light and airy feel and was clean and well staffed. They offered a good selection for the kids menu which made the kids…and us happy! We tried the bbq tempeh, cauliflower wings and avocado toast…all three were so good! This is a must stop for good clean and vegetarian eats!
What a fun Mexican restaurant! You can’t miss it off the main road once you get onto Sullivan Island. This place offered both indoor and outdoor seating, we sat indoor since it was a tad on the chilly side the day we went. They offer an extensive menu of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. It wasn’t like most Mexican restaurants with the standard quesadillas and burritos. They had an array of salads and bowl options as well! Come on, as people who love spicy food, they even had a hot sauce bar…my favorite was the blue agave sriracha..made in Austin, of course! Over lunch we noshed on guacamole and chips, and even sipped on some Paloma’s….we even spotted a celebrity from the show Southern Charm…Austen! I would definitely recommend this place. Of course, you know the chicks at ChicksAndSalsa can’t pass up a food spot for some “chips” and salsa!
Where to stay (or not):
We waited until the last minute to book our trip so we had very few options for hotels. We ended up at the Hyatt Place which we didn’t love. When we pulled up they were not very helpful. There was no one to help with our bags or even greet us. We helped ourselves to unloading our luggage onto the cart and then again upstairs…. this made for a terrible first impression! The room easily fit 6 of us, we had two double beds and a pull out sofa bed. The pool was indoor and decently kept, the kids liked that the water was heated so they enjoyed their time! Our room stay included breakfast…we thought this would be a good perk, but the food was just OK and the dining area was very crowded.
We were grateful to have something to start to the day, but truthfully we preferred to have breakfast out of the hotel. Overall, we are grateful to have had a place to stay, but would not recommend the Hyatt place, especially if you are big on service!
All in all, the city is so unique and distinct from the Chicago and Atlanta landscape that we are used to! We loved driving on the beautiful bridges, being by the water, shopping on King Street, and of course eating in Charleston!
Another one for the books, check out our other travel posts here!
Wow, it has been a roller coaster since launching Chicks And Salsa and, besides the time I have spent with my family, this has been one of the most gratifying year and a half of my life. Doing something that is centered on the betterment and understanding of myself was a hard transition to make but has felt amazing. The blog has also had some unexpected benefits such as making my relationships with my parents, siblings, spouse, and children better since I had found an outlet for myself. It has served as an avenue to work through my thoughts and ideas in in a more organized fashion that my brain previously couldn’t. I am also truly grateful to Sonia, Avani, Komal, and Neema who have found a home on the blog for their voices and ideas. Compiling our passions, motivations, and insecurities has allowed each of us to grow beyond what we could have imagined. In reflecting on this past year, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the top five things I have learned since “becoming a blogger.”
Bloggers Are Awesome People
I was surprisingly met with good energy, positive vibes and smiling faces when I timidly introduced Chicks And Salsa to the blog-sphere. I was worried about encountering intimidation and skepticism; but other bloggers were generous with their ideas and enthusiasm. After all, we are unique and have a different messages to share with the universe. We have worked with many bloggers in developing our brand and truly credit them for the support that they have provided. These women rock! They are hard working, creative, and smart and open to questions. DM your favorite bloggers and see what they say! Pro tip: to really shortcut the process, join Style Collective. They have all the secrets, resources, and community support to justify what they offer for $10/month. I wish I had found them much sooner than I did. I use their calendars and templates for emails and contracts regularly. I have also met new networks that have streamlined my outreach.
Deciding to Start is The Hardest Part
My sister and I talked ourselves out of starting Chicks And Salsa for months. We kept thinking we were too old, too boring, too ‘whatever’ to have a blog. And although that still may be true, doing it for ourselves has been the greatest gift. The fact that so many of our readers check in is the bow on top. Sharing a piece of oneself with the universe can come with a host of insecurities, doubt, changes, attempts, failures, laughter, and tears. It’s the constant pursuit of developing and defining your brand that really reflects who you are as a person. It forces you to reflect on your values and desires, an exercise that fuels motivation to try harder and learn more. Then there is the challenge of incorporating all this sharing into your day-to-day life without it totally taking over (which it totally has the potential to do, see number 3.)
Blogging is ALL Encompassing
With blogging, I find myself managing many media platforms. In order to succeed, you do need to be everywhere all the time. Having my cameras always charged and planning out my content helps — that way I am not aimlessly taking pictures all the time. I make my time count by being goal-oriented and then I either write the piece, get the picture, or make a list and move on. A bias towards action is important and acting with intention will help limit the blogging… keeping it from taking over your life!
Blogging is actually SO MUCH FUN!
Yes, it’s true. Deciding to do this was the exact kick I needed to get out of the funk I was in. For the first time in five years, I was home alone because my kids went to school full time and I had been working part time from home. The blog has taken my ‘me time’ to another level. I have developed as a writer, photographer, digital content creator, and friend. Not to mention, I have discovered a whole world of new social media supporters and friendships – some I have met, some I have not (yet!). It has been a rewarding journey that I am excited to continue experiencing. You, our readers, are a huge part of the motivation that drives me forward. Thank you!
It Is Easier To Work Backwards
In the beginning, I decided to start a blog but I didn’t have a specific objective or purpose in mind. Helpful questions to start with are ‘why do you want to blog?’,‘what is the end goal?’, and ‘are you seeking free stuff, money, to network, or travel?’. I know it seems obvious, but if you want free travel, talk about travel; if you want free products, talk about products, etc. Genuinely I think I started because I wanted to learn about blogging and I wanted to be informed. I know now that Chicks And Salsa is truly a lifestyle blog that we have built to speak to all the layers of women, in particular mothers. Women tend to be the demographic who have limited time for themselves and cherish the time they get with their friends. Therefore, we found our mission after we decided to pursue the genesis of Chicks and Salsa. This important nuance helped us grow from the ground up into a purposeful blog.
Phew, what a round up! I hope you found this helpful. In the new digital age, the creative content that one can make and the audience that they can have is truly limitless. Use that indefinite space to find a corner that is yours. I hope that with Chicks And Salsa, you have not only found that you are part of our tribe but also that you are the origin of your own movement.