8 Simple, Yet Totally Instagrammable Halloween Costumes

Saying that I am a huge fan of Halloween would be an understatement. For as long as I can remember, I've always loved putting together my costumes, and especially since starting Crafted two years ago, I've definitely felt the pressure to step up my game. 

My theory is that you don't need to spend a lot of money to have a show-stopping costume. Above is my DIY PIZZA and PAPERDOLL costume that I created purely out of cardboard and foamboard. Not only did I love the process, but the outcome was definitely a hit! While you're in the middle of brainstorming your costume for this year, I've put together a list of some easy and creative DIY Halloween Costumes to get you started.. 

A Fun & Festive Birthday Cake

Fashionable Loofahs

Via A Song of Style

Via A Song of Style

A Box of Donuts

via @themerrythought

via @themerrythought

A Jar of Sprinkles

Via @ohhappyday

Via @ohhappyday

Sparkly Jellyfish

Via Style Me Pretty

Via Style Me Pretty

Crafted by: Stacy Schwartz

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As a fitness enthusiast myself, I'm always looking for new and diverse ways to meet like-minded people and work up a sweat. Ketanga fitness does just that - combining fitness, social events, and adventure travel all in one. When my friend told me about the excursion she went on with KF in Costa Rica, I had to connect with the founder and learn more about this awesome business and the woman behind it.

Crafted by: Stacy Schwartz of Ketanga Fitness Retreats

Blog/Website: www.KetangaFitness.com

Instagram Handle: @ketanga_fitness

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What inspired you to start your own venture? I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and explored different business ventures since I was a kid. I remember charging admission to my parents to watch a play that I wrote in my bedroom; launching a magazine in 5th grade; and building a music website when I was about 13 that catapulted me into an early career in the music business to try to achieve my -then- dream of opening a record label. I guess I always liked to see how things worked and to try to fill in the blanks where it seemed ideas were missing. So when I think about launching Ketanga Fitness Retreats, it comes down to the same idea of filling a blank space. I have always enjoyed being active, and when I was looking to book a trip that I could take alone to see a new part of the world while being active and taking part in workouts like boxing and boot camp, I couldn't find anything. I realized there must be other people like me who would enjoy traveling while focusing on fitness, and the rest is history!

When did you know that this job/career was for you or realized a past job wasn’t working for you? My career was always my top priority, and I always took work extremely seriously. I loved what I was doing before Ketanga - marketing/sales for publishing companies in NYC - but I was never good at balancing my personal life with my professional life, and I got burnt out pretty quickly. I decided to make a big move and quit my job to travel for three months - thinking I would come back to the same career path with a fresh perspective. On that trip, I saw 11 countries while being extremely active. I went on bike tours of cities, went horseback riding everywhere I could, and I dropped into local fitness studios. I had thought about the idea of fitness retreats in the past, particularly when I had looked into booking trips for myself leading up to this point, but it was on this trip that I realized I could combine my passions for travel and fitness into something tangible, and that's when I realized I wasn't going back to my old industry.

Word of advice for anyone looking to pursue a similar career:  Use your time wisely! Time flies by so quickly, and it is your most valuable asset. So make sure that you are spending the majority of time on the most important part of your business. You can even create a calendar for your workday if it is helpful!

The best piece of advice you have ever received:  Learn to be okay with saying no. This could apply to turning down an irrelevant meeting or a piece of business that doesn't align with my values. When you first start out, you think you should open every door and say yes to every opportunity, but you can't lose yourself or your mission in all this noise. It's important to say no sometimes.

In the rare moments where you're not being a total #girlboss what are some things you love to do in your spare time?  The idea for Ketanga Fitness Retreats came out of my personal love for travel and fitness. While those things are now associated with work for me, I try to still find ways to enjoy them like going to my family's house in the Poconos for a relaxing weekend or signing up for a race with a friend! I also love a good margarita and horseback riding (but not in that order!).

Crafted by: Sherry Lee-Huang

In the past few years I have been inspired by so many women who are seriously crushing it in life. Whether it's their full-time job, a side-hustle, or a passion project, these women are following their passions and crafting their life on their terms. I can totally stand behind that. To honor those women, and because I think we can all learn a little bit from one another, I've launched the "Crafted by" series. Each week I will interview and highlight a woman whose stories I find inspiring.

The first woman in our series is girlboss, Sherry Lee-Huang of the modern tabletop decor company, Esselle. I first connected with Sherry last year when I was looking for some fun pieces to spice up my workshop spread. Modern, sleek, and functional her pieces are the perfect addition to any home. Learn more about her story...

Crafted by: Sherry Lee-Huang

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What inspired you to start your own venture?

I realize I have never explored my creative side quite as much until I really HAD to for my wedding- to save money!  It was through crafting and countless visits to antique markets sourcing vintage tabletop décor that really got me to where I am today.  I found myself enjoying that miserable process of curating and creating! I use the word miserable is because at times I really am. It’s truly a love-hate relationship but it’s one that I know I can’t live without. 

After the wedding, I wanted to keep but I knew I didn’t want to be a wedding planner so the option was simple for me- sells stuff.

I was in graduate school for UX design when I started esselle with a friend who had a full time job. esselle was a creative outlet where we got to play “entrepreneur” minus all the pressure of actually being one – like making money. We created a fun concept, “The Hostess Box” where we’d curate ready-to-use tabletop décor for people to host dinner parties. It was a brilliant concept but the idea didn’t fly given the amount of time and resources we put into it. 

Nonetheless, I’ve learned so much along the way while running our little online shop. We began noticing among all the types of tabletop décor sourced, a well designed place card holders were always the hardest to find!  We wanted something modern and chic but it was none existent. That’s when we saw an opportunity to design and manufacture our own! Since then, esselle became a brand, not just an online shop.  

When did you know that this job/career was for you or realized a past job wasn’t working for you?

I realized this path was for me because I really do love every moment of the journey regardless of how challenging it may be at times. I especially love the creative freedom and the community that I am in.  The creative community truly is the best – everyone that I’ve met along the way has been genuinely kind and supportive.  We are all going through the same struggles so it’s extra comforting to be around people who just gets it.

What's your unofficial business motto/a quote or saying that you live by?

I have a few!  

"While I breathe, I hope." | "Fake it till you make it." | "Teamwork makes the dream work."

Word of advice for anyone looking to pursue a similar career:

It might not sound like an advice but I always say the same things to people that talks about wanting to pursue a creative career.  Just do it. Because chances are, if you are always talking about it to all your family and friends, you’ve probably also been planning it in your head for a long time. You owe it to yourself to explore the possibility that it may be your calling. 

The best piece of advice you have ever received:

The best piece of advice I ever got was from my sweet friend, Kristen Ley of Thimblepress! It turns out, it’s the same advice I give to people but delivered differently. While I tell people that wants to start their own business to “just do it”- Kristen tells me to apply that same philosophy to all areas of my business. This year I am trying to focus on growing wholesale but I didn’t feel confident enough to blind pitch to stores. Kristen encourages me to put myself out there because what’s the worst that can happen? Shops saying no? A simple no might not mean no forever, it might just not be a fit for now.  

In the rare moments where you're not being a total #girlboss what are some things you love to do in your spare time?

When I am not working or thinking about business, I really just like to watch Netflix/movies and veg at home and with my husband and dogs or make an effort to visit girlfriends who I haven’t seen in weeks. I am so basic!


August Recap: Brush Lettering at the Arlo Hotel

...and another class is in the books! I had an incredible time hosting my second brush lettering workshop at the Arlo Hotel in New York City. After a recommendation from a friend, I reached out to the Arlo about bringing my classes to their venue. Anticipating only a one time deal, instead they invited me to be their "resident lettering artist," hosting monthly classes open to the public and their guests! Do you have FOMO yet? (Fear of missing out) Well, check out my website for all future lettering classes at the Arlo. Connecticut and New Jersey friends, don't worry, I've got you covered too! Follow me on Instagram for all of the latest updates and for info on all the new classes. In the meantime, below are a few snapshots from last night's class. 

5 Books Every Girlboss Should Read

Behind every successful Girlboss is a giant bookshelf of life-changing books. Don't get me wrong, I love a good trashy romance novel or thriller as much as the next girl, but my most favorite type of books are those that inspire me to dream bigger and live my best life. Below is a list of my favorites - a few I've read, some I'm reading now, and others that are on deck for later this year.

1. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso - Because, obviously. Sophia Amoruso shares her story about how she built her online empire, and does it with a touch of humor. Her tone is real and she tells it like it is offering advice on how you can make a living doing what you love.  It's a really easy, fun read, but it will definitely get your wheels turning. Buy it now

2. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein - I just started reading this, but it already has me hooked! As a busy entrepreneur, I've been finding peace in Yoga and am working on establishing more mindfulness in my life. In reading the reviews, this book hits all the right notes. From the author - "This book is about helping people find safety in the midst of uncertainty, power when they feel powerless, and love in a fearful world." I'll update you once I finish it, or just pick it up and try it out yourself! Buy it now

3. Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert - The Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, talks readers through the creative process in a playful, yet very real way. While she primarily speaks from a writer's perspective, anyone can apply her words and lessons to their own life. This was a great read and really inspired me to reexamine myself and truly start embracing my creativity. Get it here

4. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life - I'm pretty sure the title speaks for itself. This is on my list of reads, but according to the reviews, this book will teach and inspire you to create a life that you absolutely love and how to create that life NOW. This book doesn't mess around and it definitely gets my vote. Get it here

5. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey - Now this is the O.G. of inspirational books. Inspiring people for over 25 years, it's one of those books that gives you practical advice that you can apply to your own life and tells you how you can follow through. If you read only one of these books, I suggest you start here. Get it here

CRAFTED Brand Relaunch

"I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next." - Steve Jobs

The past year has been an incredible whirlwind and there are still days where I pinch myself and wonder how I got so lucky to be able to live this life doing what I love. Because I just can't manage to sit still, I'm constantly teaching myself new techniques and skills, pushing myself outside the box. That being said, Crafted is getting a bit of a refresh if you will. Think of it as a revitalizing face mask, removing all the impurities and revealing the better and brighter version of it!

One of my favorite aspects of this business has been continuing to stay innovative and crafting my brand to reflect my personal style. Crafted by Anamarie will now have several different avenues - Brand Styling, Social Media Consulting, and Calligraphy. Through my brand styling service I will work with clients to develop custom logos and branding packages including web graphics, business cards, and stationary. Both digital designs and hand lettered designs will be available. Through my social media consulting platform, I will be offering one-on-one coaching and platform management for a limited number of clients. And as always, calligraphy will continue to be my rock, and I will still continue to take on orders at a limited basis - so get those orders in! 

Below is a snapshot of my new brand style guide with custom hand-lettered logo designed by me. Did anyone else notice before that my initials were actually in crAFted?! With this design I stayed true to me - minimalist yet edgy, blacks, whites, and neutrals with a tiny pop of metals. I hope you love it too!

I look forward to working with new clients who are ready for a brand refresh or who are interested in build their business or personal brand from the ground up. Let's chat!

5 Essentials For Every Girlboss On-the-go

You can tell a lot about a woman by what’s in her bag.  For all my Girlbosses out there, I’ve curated my top 5 essentials to keep on hand for your daily grind.

1)   Business Cards – I love to network every chance I get, and I wouldn’t be able to do that properly without a stack of business cards in my purse! You should always have a few cards on hand at all times, so if you don’t have them already, take the time to get some really nice professional cards printed.  Moo is a great resource for that! And while you’re at it, invest in a really cute business card holder!

2)   Portable Charger – Long days of meetings and errands call for a portable charger for your phone.  This little device is so great to have on hand, especially for those of us who spend so much time on social media (yes, I’m guilty too!). Urban Outfitters makes a really slim, yet fashionable one that I love.

3)   Dry Shampoo – Woke up late? Dry shampoo. Heading from yoga to lunch? Dry shampoo.  Rainy day? Dry Shampoo. I think you get the idea. Dry shampoo is the ultimate quick fix for any bad hair day! I love the one from R+CO.

4)   Water Bottle – Good for your mind and body, I always take my Swell Bottle with me wherever I go. As you probably already know, drinking water helps you to stay hydrated, alert, and ready to take on the day!

5)   A Notebook – Sure, I love using the notepad on my phone, but sometimes the day just calls for a good notebook to jot down your ideas. It’s also much more handy to use when taking quick notes in a meeting.  Moleskin makes some great ones in so many different sizes and colors.

Using Social Media For Building Relationships

If I can tell you the one thing that has been most beneficial for my business it’s connecting and collaborating with other brands and companies. Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people through the power of social media. I’ve collaborated with some dream businesses, had a feature in a local television segment, CT Style, and shared my story with a local newspaper, Greenwich Time. Because I do believe in good karma, I am passing on three of my favorite tips for using social media to boost your brand:

1)   Use Instagram direct message – This is a feature that I think is often highly overlooked, but it’s one of my top go-to tools on social media. Is there a business you’ve been wanting to work with? A blogger you’ve been dying to collaborate with? Send them a brief direct message explaining why you’d like to chat further. It’s more likely that they’ll get the chance to read your Instagram message versus seeing your email in their likely cluttered inbox. For me, whether good or bad, I’ve gotten a response 8 out of 10 times and I’ll take that any day!

2)   Build relationships with the media – Do a little research and find reporters that cover stories in your industry and make sure your work is relevant to them in some way. Read their stories, follow them on social media, and continue to stay engaged with them – liking and sharing their posts. If you’re feeling brave, send them a brief message – by putting yourself out there you’re already making things happen. It’s just a matter of time.

3)   Network! – OK, so this sounds like a no-brainer, right?! Well, not everyone masters this skill right away. The first step to good networking is finding relevant groups in your area. While MeetUp.com and a quick google search can do the trick, I’d say taking a step further and sourcing groups on Instagram or Facebook is the way to go. Search relevant hashtags like #nycnetworking to find the events in your area. I promise you, they are out there, you just have to start thinking outside the box!

Crafted by Anamarie is expanding services to include social media consulting – Looking to step up your social media game?  Need a social media management team? Let’s chat!

A Boho-Luxe Lettering Workshop at Lovely Bride

When I approached Lovely Bride about hosting my brush lettering workshop at their NYC boutique, I knew it would be the perfect collaboration. With my modern and laid-back lettering style, coupled with the “cool girl” vibes Lovely Bride was known for, I was confident we could really take this event to another level.  I decided to approach it as more than just a lettering class, but as a party that could very well inspire someone’s bridal shower, brunch, or a just fun get together with your girlfriends.

For this event, I was inspired by the store's beautiful color palette filled with blush tones, grays, and rose gold. The beautiful dusty rose couch, rose gold-wired chairs, and faux fur white throws were decadent and elevated the atmosphere, while the white brick walls added both a modern and industrial element. With such a beautiful set-up as my canvas, the small details I brought in only helped to enrich the space even more.

I have to add that it really takes a village, and I am so lucky to have been able to work with a team of fabulous women entreprenuers on this beautiful event. Again, Instagram for the win as I used the platform to connect with my vendors: Cassie Castellaw Photography, Doe & Jay, Esselle SF, and Macaron Cafe

Thank you to my students for making my very first class a special one! This will forever go down in the books as one of my most memorable events, and I look forward to hosting many more!

My next Brush Lettering Workshop will take place at West Elm in Red Bank, NJ on May 21st. Sign up here. Private workshops are also available for groups of 4+ upon request.

photography: Cassie Castellaw Photography // styling + calligraphy: Crafted by Anamarie // venue: Lovely Bride // florals: Doe & Jay // place card holders: EsselleSF // macarons: Macaron Cafe

PANDORA Event in New York City

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of working the PANDORA Spring Launch Event in New York City. Their new campaign, #DOPandora, encourages women to celebrate and be true to who they are -- a strong message that I could really relate to. Held in an empty event space at the SOHO Lofts, they transformed the venue into a beautiful springtime atmosphere. I led the interactive part of the event, creating special custom mantras for each guest to serve as daily reminders to take action, be fearless, and just DO. It was really inspiring to hear the quotes that guests chose to have created, and the stories behind their drive and passion. Knowing that my handwritten message continues to inspire them each day as it hangs in their office, bedroom, or house is a humbling feeling, and I am so happy to have been part of it.

All Photography courtesy of Noam Galai, Getty Images

All Photography courtesy of Noam Galai, Getty Images