Savings aside, there’s just something so exhilarating about thrift shopping. Finding that “fits like a glove” vintage dress which no one else at the party will have, or the exact blouse that sold out months ago at the mall, thrift shops hold countless opportunities to save money and score major style. Lately I've been finding really current pieces hiding amongst the racks of Savers. See the sweater in the pic above? This practically brand new Topshop sweater was only $6!

Finding the Right Place:

Since thrifting is about 80% luck of the draw, finding the right location is vital. A quick Google search can help you uncover some local spots, but don’t stop there. Savers and Goodwill can be great places to start but consider some smaller off-the-radar shops like nonprofit thrift shops run by churches or different charities. 

If you can, find a thrift shop that functions as a buy/sell clothing exchange. Buffalo Exchange is a great one. Since these stores aren’t donation-based their merchandise is typically of an overall better quality. It may be a little pricier but it’s still cheap and you can bring a load of clothes to sell for store credit to get the price down.

Most importantly, don’t judge a thrift shop too quickly. None of them look like much at first glance but some of the most rundown thrift shops house the greatest treasures. You just have to search. (Did I mention? Patience is KEY.) 

What to Look For:

The whole fun of thrifting is the fact that you can stumble across just about anything. However there are some particular items that thrift shopping is especially great for. Take denim, for instance. Denim seems to be one of those magical fabrics that only gets better with time. You really can’t replicate the cozy worn in vibe of a Levi’s denim jacket or the perfect naturally distressed pair of boyfriend jeans, although brands nowadays sure do try. Also, if you buy your jeans at the thrift shop you never have to wonder how they’ll fit once you take them home and wash them. What you see is what you get.

Leathers are also great pieces to thrift for. Most thrift shops are filled with vintage leather skirts, moto jackets, and purses galore. They won’t cost you a fortune and nice leathers should also wear well with time. Even if the leather you find isn’t in the greatest condition, a quick leather conditioner or shine will usually bring it right back to life in no time.

Expert Tips:

Do some research. Brush up on your knowledge of fabrics and begin to pay attention to the construction of certain garments. Not only can this help you to date vintage pieces back to a certain era, but it will also help you steer clear of knockoffs when buying designer goods secondhand. Here are some tell-tale signs of quality:

-Metal (usually YKK) zipper

-Clean but intricate stitching and straight seams

-Fabric (Is it 100%? What does it feel like to the touch? Is it thick?)

-Patterns aligned at seams

-Silk lining

-Details, details, details!

What's your favorite thrift shop find? Comment below or tweet me @avestyles! Photos by Rennai Hoefer

How to Visually Brand Your Pinterest Profile


As a Pinterest influencer with almost one million followers and being a Pinterest ambassador, I've had the chance to teach a lot of classes about how to use Pinterest as an effective marketing tool. I've also done quite a bit of account management for brands, and one problem that I immediately identify with most of my clients is that their Pinterest profile doesn't embody the feeling and essence of the brand itself. So, I thought I share some key things that can remedy that. Before you even open your browser do these things:

1. Identify your brand colors (ex: pastel blue, pastel pink and pastel green)

2. State your brand's purpose (ex: to provide a beautiful, fun and enjoyable bath time experience for kids and parents)

3. Identify the overall feeling and emotion tied to your brand's image (ex: clean, warm, playful)

Now, open up Pinterest on your desktop computer, and follow these steps:

1. Ask yourself, what cover images currently embody the feeling, brand message and palette of your business?

2. If you identify some that don't, open up each board, click "edit," click change "cover image", and then scroll through until you find a cover image that resonates with those three things.

3.  If you're not finding an image that you feel satisfied with start searching within Pinterest for your criteria within your board category (fashion, home decor, food, etc.). For example, when working with Be Good, a kid's bath and body line, I had a hard time finding content within their boards that was clean, soft, pastel and warm - all of the qualities they want to be know for. So, for the women's fashion board I searched within Pinterest to find "pastel fashion," and then found some images that met the brand requirements and pinned them to the board. I then went back and set the cover image.


Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.06.13 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.06.13 AM


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Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.14.12 AM
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Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.59.34 AM


Extra things to double check:

1.  Do all of your titles fit or are they cut off? You want them to fit within the board pixel width and be 23 characters or less

2. Do you have too many or too few boards? The magic range I try to tell brands to aim for is between 15 and 30 boards.

3. Do your boards reflect the lifestyle of your brand? Share what the persona of your brand would eat, what spaces they would live in, where they would travel to, what they would wear, etc.

For more Pinterest tips and advice, click here. If you're in need of help setting up your Pinterest profile or strategizing your company's voice on Pinterest, you can always email me for consulting pricing.

Potty Training Tips & Giveaway


Potty training is one of the most patience-testing tasks I have ever done as a mom. I don't really write about motherhood too often on this blog, but given the amount of poop and pee I have been cleaning up I thought sharing my experience could help some other moms out there. Fashion can wait for the good of motherhood. My daughter is two and a half, and we really wanted to wait until she was "ready." Given that she is our first child, we were reading all of these articles on waiting for her to meet all the checkmarks before trying. But with preschool enrollment starting now and seeing sentences like, "Child MUST be fully potty trained to enroll," definitely put a rush on things.

I read several different resources and talked to a lot of moms. I bought the tiny potty that you have to empty when they tinkle AND I bought a potty seat for the 'big potty.' I downloaded different apps on my iPhone to tell me when to take her to the bathroom, I bought a tarp for her to sit on for the first couples days...All sorts of things...and here is what I really needed:


1. The potty seat. She liked the feeling of being like a grown up and sitting on the "big girl" potty, so we bought a seat from Target. The seat keeps her from falling in, and I just tote it around with us everywhere now so she can go potty. It's a lot easier than bringing a mini potty and putting it in the back of the car. I also bring anti-bacterial wipes to sanitize the seat after use in a public place, as well as sticky notes to cover up the automatic flush sensors. Let's be real, falling in the toilet and automatic flushers scare small children. Keep the potty experience positive!


2. iRulu BabyPad - Once you have a place that your kiddo enjoys sitting, the trick is getting them to stay there long enough to go to the bathroom. Two years olds are busy, but one thing mine always has time for is watching shows or plays games on her tablet. We use an iRulu for Elle because it's a tablet that is just hers. Everything on it is educational and kid friendly. I don't have to worry about her messing up my iPad or using apps that I don't want her on. She likes that she has her own personal device like mommy and daddy, and it's perfect for long stints on the toilet. They are way more affordable than an iPad ($68 vs. hundreds), and can do anything that an android device can do. You can learn more about it here, and check it out on the latest episode of The Balancing Act. And, we're giving one iRulu away to one lucky reader.

iRULU GIVEAWAY: To win an iRulu tablet for your little be sure to do the following two things below:

1| Comment below sharing one of your favorite attribute of your child.

2| Follow me on Instagram and tag two friends that you think would benefit from these tips.

The giveaway is only open for 24 hours, and the winner will be notified via email. The winner will be chosen using

alex-9 (1)web
alex-9 (1)web

3. Pull-Ups - For the first two days we stayed home and kept Elle from wearing any bottoms so she could feel if she had an accident. On the third day she was pretty much pee trained, but we are still working on number two. I tried having her wear underwear, but going out in public made it especially difficult when she would go number 2 in her pants. Let's just say there were many moments of poop on the floor, stepping in it as we tried to get her bottoms off without getting poo on her legs, etc. I was worried that if I put the pull-up back on she would revert to her old ways, but she hasn't. We put a fresh pull up on her every day, and we're no longer using 5-6 diapers in a day. Plus, we're not ruining a ton of underwear. Until we can get her completely number 2 trained pull-ups are where it's at.

3. Wipes - Don't forget the wipes either! You'll still need them from time to time. Sometimes toilet paper just doesn't do the trick when you're really trying to get them clean.


4. Potty Time App - Download Potty Time on your iPhone or on your iRulu. Elle really enjoyed the positive reinforcement of the digital sticker chart. Elle also likes that she could call her friend "Rachel" when she went potty or when she had an accident, and Rachel encouraged her to keep trying. Though it's just a video that's preloaded into the app the kids think it's a real phone conversation. So cute!

5. Fruit Snacks - The reward system really does motivate kids. It did for Elle. In two days time she was pee trained, and I really think fruit snacks did the trick. She will do anything for those tasty treats.


Those are my tips that have worked for us so far. As for #2 we have learned that putting a tiny bit of Miralax in her water helps her stay regular and avoid painful bowel movements for now. It's a journey and every kid is different. Don't feel frustrated if your kiddo isn't potty trained in three days. Just go into the process with an open and positive mind. Celebrate the wins as much as you can too!

*This post is sponsored by iRulu and The Balancing Act.

Photos by Amy Frances Photography

Pinterest Tips

In the past month I have been asked quite a bit how I've grown my following on Pinterest, so I thought I would write a post sharing some simple tips based on my experience. First, I can honestly say I don't have a strategy in place other than I really focus on pinning things that ONLY fall in line with my personal brand. What do I mean by that? I only pin things that I REALLY love - that I would actually make or buy or own or say or do. I don't pin stuff that just sounds cool or that I think would get a lot of repins. That is the golden rule.

Some other simple tips are...

1. Pin every day. It's just like blogging. You have to keep your content fresh and use the tool every day to interact with your followers and get new ones.

2. Content is king. Again, it's just like a blog. New and original content is more likely going to catch someone's eye than the same image that has been repinned a bagillion times by people. 80% of the content on pinterest is made up on repins. Try to be the 20%.

3. Vertical images are more noticeable than horizontal.

4. People LOVE recipes and home decor!

5. Don't use silly phrases to label your boards. Just say exactly what the board is about.

6. When putting in a description don't write an essay. Just write exactly what it is, how much it costs and where it is from. It's more searchable that way. SO many people use Pinterest as an image search tool, so make your pins easier to find and you could end up with more followers.

7. Take time to edit your board covers. Make sure they are great representations of what your board is about and eye-catching images.

Continue to enjoy Pinterest as for what it is intended - a way to catalog things you love. Don't focus on numbers. Just have fun and enjoy it!

5 Tips When Working With A Stylist

Truth: Anyone can pick out clothes and put together an outfit. Everyone does it every day unless you live in a nudist colony.

  • Can everyone style a beautiful up-do for a wedding shoot? No.
  • Can everyone apply makeup for an editorial campaign? No.
  • Can everyone pick up a camera and snap magazine worthy photos? No.
  • Can everyone stand in front of a camera and look amazing? DEFINITELY no.

Being a self-employed stylist, I'm continually having to create demand and value for my profession and services. Styling is definitely seen as a luxury more so than hair or makeup artistry because of the simple fact that every person has personal style and dresses themselves daily. But if you decide that you want to bring a wardrobe expert to the table when doing a creative photo shoot, WHICH I HIGHLY recommend obviously, here are some tips:

1. Give them inspiration and a direction for the project, and then just let them run with it. Don't ask to go to the store with them. Don't ask to check their work. Think about if the wardrobe stylist said that to you? "Can I check your photos before you move onto the next look?" OUCH! There has to be mutual trust.

2. Model selection is KEY for a shoot. It's the face of your work. If you can, let the stylist have an opinion on who the subject is, especially if it's a pro-bono project. Clothes fit differently on different body shapes, so if the stylist has certain looks and/or a color palette  in mind it would be good to let him or her at least have an opinion on who you select.

3. At the minimum, give a stylist 2-3 weeks to get wardrobe together for a project. As much as I WISH I could waltz into a store and pull clothes, it just doesn't work that way. Stylists have to pitch the projects to store owners or sometimes corporate PR companies to get the thumbs up. Many times if the project is not guaranteed publication stores DO NOT let you pull. So, it takes a long time to find a clothing sponsor for a shoot. The more time the better.

4. Make sure the stylist is always on set when photos are being taken. Clothes move when the body moves, and sometimes they don't land in the most flattering spots. It's not only the stylist's job to pull wardrobe, but to make sure it's photo worthy at ALL times. That means steamed, pressed...picture perfect. If they put clamps on the back of an outfit - WORK WITH IT. At the end of the day, the stylist doesn't just need to make a great photo for their portfolio, they need to SELL the heck out of the clothes to the viewer. They are representing the clothing sponsor. That's the ONLY reason that the clothing company gave the stylist clothes in the first place. And if you don't use a stylist and you pull the clothes from a boutique yourself, PLEASE keep the store owner in mind!

5. Location, location, location. Make sure to tell your stylist your shooting location. For example, if you selected Sedona for an engagement shoot, I automatically think of red rocks. Therefore, I'm NOT going to have my client wear clothing that is mostly made up of orange, coral or red. It would look terrible. BUT, maybe you were thinking the woodsy Oak Creek and not the red rock, but it just happened to be in Sedona. Well, then those colors would look beautiful against the green leaves. Sadly, the stylist has already nixed those colors because all they know is Sedona.

More tips to come, but keep those in mind. Most importantly, just value a stylist's expertise and trust them completely. If they fail to meet your expectations work with someone else or maybe try wearing that hat too.