Start Me Up | Networking: The Art of the Coffee Date

by Gloria Cavallaro in

A photo posted by @the_blvd on

Networking events are a mainstay of any industry. Affairs that bring together professionals for a talk, panel, or presentation to learn something and meet people in their field are invaluable. I've found, with every networking event I go to, I leave with at least one promising contact and I've maintained a habit of attending a few a month.

But how do you progress the initial meeting you've had with those promising contacts? What happens after the event? What about networking outside of events? How do you establish good footing with a contact you met maybe through a friend? That, my freelancing friend, is when you add caffeine (or tea, or a green juice, or a scone... whatever you feel like ordering). 

The professional coffee date. It's the simple colliding of two hardworking souls (and their phones) over a brewed drink. Both parties should come ready to talk and ready to listen. Here are the steps to planning and practicing a great coffee date.


1. Get It on the Calendar.

You have the email of someone you would like to get to know better professionally. Now what do you do? Reach out, dang it! Send that first it-was-great-to-meet-you email and ask what dates in the next two weeks they are available to grab coffee. If they are busy (and we all are), nail down the earliest date you are both free. Many potential meetings never occur because both people do not follow-up with a specific day and time. Moral: nail down a date, time, and place.

2. Research and Prepare.

Research this professional. What did they study in school? Is it very different from where they are now? Look at their Instagram. What are their interests? What does the company they work for do? And, most importantly, how can you help them? Think of ways that you two can collaborate or connect and come prepared with ideas. During the coffee date, as you get to know the person more, you can come up with ideas together.

3. Attend Coffee Date.

Obviously show up.

4. Learn, Learn, Learn.

The nice thing about coffee dates is they are more informal and therefore encourage more personal conversation than, say, the professional lunch or pre-conference cocktail hour. You can really get to know someone over a cup of coffee. Ask a lot of questions and feel free to take notes. I love picking the brains of other professionals. From the apps that increase their productivity to how they handled a recent tricky situation in their business, some of the best advice I've been given has been offhand over some java.

5. Leave with Takeaways.

Yes, this was a casual meeting of professionals at a cafe but it should be productive (that's the point, guysss). I try to approach my coffee dates with an intention to give and collaborate. Once you two have shared your current projects, struggles, and epiphanies, ask the question: "How can I help you?" This is where you can share the ideas you prepared or present the new ones you came up with over the course of the conversation. Is there someone you can connect them to that would move along their side hustle, can you two collaborate on a project because you have the skills they need to complete it, is there a book or program you can recommend that they would learn a lot from, or a service you can share that would save them time or expedite their work processes? Leave with a little to-do list of things you are going to do after the coffee date, an article you're going to share, a person you're going to introduce them to, or a project you want to flesh out together. At the end, you should leave with a list of reasons why the two of you will connect again.

So why come with the intention to give? Focusing on giving helps to move the relationship along past the-two-strangers-with-business-cards point and, once you do provide them with the connections, contributions, and recommendations that grow and influence their work, they will become a contact that trusts and values you, and they will seek to positively influence and grow your work.




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Quick and Easy: Better Breakfast Hacks

by Lauren Durden in , , ,

I am decidedly not a morning person. Hence why this post about breakfast hacks is going up in the afternoon... 

Breakfast is one of those meals that I usually fit in if I've thought about it ahead of time. Sure, it's touted as the 'most important meal of the day,' but most mornings I'm frantically trying to find an outfit I like and a pair of shoes that won't kill me on the walk to the subway. In the midst of that mayhem, breakfast usually gets a lost in the shuffle. My best bet for eating a healthy, filling breakfast is make it ahead of time and make it portable. That way, I can eat it on the walk to the train or, more likely, take it with me to wherever I'll be working that day. As a freelancer, I'm often working from shared workspaces and cafes. I've found that eating breakfast and lunch out of my home office can really rack up the charges, and honestly I don't think I should have to pay $10 for a chia seed bowl. So, I've figured out some hacks for those of us who'd rather hit the snooze button and like something a little more flavorful and on-the-go in the AM. 


Oatmeal I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm going to tell you to make overnight oats the night before you have work or that big meeting, but I'm not. Mostly because after experimenting with overnight oats on many-a-morning I've found that, even without having to cook anything, they can still be a be too involved for me. The night before an early morning I'm usually finishing up a proposal, sending out a million pitches or queueing up posts for the next day. Modern Oats is my sweet answer to early morning breakfast woes. The little cups of oats and superfood ingredients do all of the prep work for me and are super portable - perfect for eating while running to catch the subway train in the morning. All you have to do is boil water (PRAISE kettles for making this a super quick step), pour the hot water over the oats and additional non-GMO goodies, then wait three minutes. Served hot, my favorites are the Goji Blueberry and Mango Blackberry. If I'm feeling a little more awake, I'll open a cup of the Cherry and Chocolate oats, throw it over a cup of Greek yogurt and head out the door. On weekends, when I get to sleep in a bit, I'll even tackle some of their more involved recipes.

$$$ Breakdown: Best part, at $3.50 a pop they're cheap and healthy.

Boiled Eggs  Hear me out! These guys are super versatile and the one of the easiest breakfasts to make. I'm not talking about your over cooked, grey-yolk boiled eggs, either. I love a great, six minute egg. The whites are completely set and the yolk is mostly cooked and only a little runny. I'll make a big batch early on in the week, peel them right away and pop them in the fridge to take a few with me each morning. As someone who can wake up craving salty foods, my favorite way to eat them is with a splash of sweet or mushroom soy, cilantro and crispy shallots, a play on the Thai-style fried eggs my mom used to make for breakfast.

$$$ Breakdown: Eggs are as cheap as they come, and herbs aren't pricey either. This is a protein packed breakfast for seriously small change. 


Green Smoothie Pops I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love my green smoothies. But when it's a sweltering 95 degrees by 8:30 AM, I need a green smoothie that won't be lukewarm by the time I'm one block away from my apartment. Green smoothie popsicles can be made the weekend before a busy week and kept frozen in my freezer pretty much forever. And they're the epitome of grab and go. Get the full recipe for my green smoothie pops here.

$$$ Breakdown: About $1.00 a pop. 

Now go forth, and breakfast - but still get your beauty sleep. 

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The Lust List | Bralet Fever

by Gloria Cavallaro in ,

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday in style, i.e. bowling with friends during Family Saturday at Brooklyn Bowl to the mixings of a man calling himself DJ Uncle Mike (obviously appropriate for a 25th). To this shindig, I was determined to debut one of the three bralets I had picked up for summer but had yet to wear. The winner? A creme Ronny Kobo knit number with cutouts.

In case you're wondering; yes, technically bralets are crop tops but, no, not all crop tops are bralets. Bralets are structured, designed to give support, and, while crop tops are mainly tops... just cropped, bralets look more like, well, bras.

Ahhhh, you might be thinking, I can't leave the house in a glorified undergarment! Yes, you can missy and YOU WILL. Bralets are widely flattering, giving the girls extra oomph (lift and separate!) and tapering in at the waist, highlighting the smallest part of your body.

For the love of Susan B. Anthony, don't be a lily-liver and just try one.



To tone down the sexiness of a lingerie-inspired piece, pair your bralet with a high-waisted skirt and flats. This will up the casual/cool factor and lend an effortless air to an otherwise body-conscious item.

I wore mine with a sporty, high-waisted mini and nude oxfords. The look was standout enough to befit the birthday girl at her party (no heels necessary) and kept its interest even when my funky oxfords were swapped out for the most loathed clothing item of all time... the bowling shoe. 

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Start Me Up | Determining Rates for Freelance Work

by Gloria Cavallaro in

On a recent project where I did the hair, makeup, and photographed website images for a fellow entrepreneur.

On a recent project where I did the hair, makeup, and photographed website images for a fellow entrepreneur.

Everything is almost set for your first freelance job. You found a client (or a client found you), they like your work, they like your ideas. Now, they want to know, "What's your rate?"


Don't know what you're worth? Not sure how to measure how much your work per project and off-salary should cost? Fear not, I got your back fellow #entrepreneur (yes, the hashtag IS necessary).

A freelance project can look like just about anything. It could be in-office, remote, it could take a few hours, it could take a few months. Therefore, say goodbye to the simple days of a bi-monthly check with a reliable figure on it. In the freelance world, pay is ever changing.

How long will the project take? Hours, like a short article? Or months, like a social media marketing makeover? Will you be in-office for a pre-determined length of time or working solely from home? These things all matter when figuring out how to charge for your work. Below are the most common ways to breakdown freelance work rates.



In my work, I charge hourly for projects that will take an easily calculable amount of time, like photography. Shooting and photo editing are included in those hours. Similarly, I charge hourly for copy. I sum up the time spent researching the topic, the actual time spent writing, and edits into my rate. For hourly projects, I present the client with a quote for the number of hours I think the project will take me with a ceiling on the figure the project cannot exceed so the client is never surprised with my invoice.

Remember to cushion every rate to include time that is spent getting and organizing the work with that client. That means everything from email communication, in-person/phone meetings, and any other time spent on the project. Your time is money and, being an off-salary employee, all the time you would typically be paid for in an office (like communicating with clients), you should still be paid for. 


Some freelance work has a very clear beginning and end, days that will be dedicated exclusively to that project. For that kind of work, I charge a day rate. For example, when I'm styling look books, the photo shoot will take up the whole day wherein I will be on location or on a set. I charge a day rate for the shoot days and a day rate for prep days. The project has a defined schedule. Generally, day rates, when divided by hour, tend to yield a smaller per hour figure but the commitment of full days of work for longer periods of time is reliable and, in the end, will pay you more than a short per hour gig.  

For comparison, if I were, say, styling a personal client and met them in-store or at their home, I would charge a higher hourly rate for the time I was with them because it is a short burst of work.


A per project rate can be tough to navigate. It is a set rate that is agreed upon at the start so you must consider that when naming your rate. If the project requires much more of your time than expected, have you included a cushion in your quote so that it will still end up being worth your time?  Per project rates are good for work that will be amorphous in its execution. For a social media management project, I charged a project based rate because figuring out the amount of time I spent on the work (when all of it was done remotely, including researching, composing content, posting daily, and being included on many emails chains/phone meetings) was going to be too difficult. A project rate made sure all my work was well compensated and I could divide my time in any way I wanted in order to make sure the project was completed successfully.

Another way to determine a project rate is to find out how much money your client has to play with. Do they have a budget for how much they want to spend redecorating their home or putting on an event? Calculate your rate based on a percentage of that budget (obviously a reasonable one).



Above all else, do your due diligence. Search online for what other professionals with your level of experience are charging. Check out forums and boards where freelancers discuss fees. Ask those more established in your line of work what they charged at your stage in their careers (adjusted for inflation). 


I've spoken about this before but I'm going to repeat myself because this is very important. Sometimes, especially when you're starting out, freelance work doesn't pay so impressively in dollars. Don't immediately turn down an opportunity to show your stuff just because that big opportunity comes with a tiny budget. Consider taking the project anyway, you could likely be compensated in things that are more important than dollars, like experience, contacts, and portfolio material. Just be sure to weigh the benefits so you don't end up simply working for free.


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Lust List | 4 Items Under $30 to Light You Up

by Lauren Durden in , , ,

Today's date, April 20th, also known as 4/20, is pretty infamous. And while others may be lighting up a certain semi-legalized herb, over on the BLVD we're showing you four ways to light up your home and beauty routine - literally. 

The items above will help bring a warm glow, or perfect highlights to your apartment and your cheekbones. The Diptyque candle is one of my favorite scents, and the Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter is perfect under eyebrows, in your cupid's bow and across the tops of your cheekbones.

The Lilly Pulitzer string lights just came out yesterday at Target stores across the US, but you may be hard pressed to find them, since almost everything has sold out. eBay is probably your best bet for finding a string of 'em. And if you can't, the Firefly Lights from Urban Outfitters cast the prettiest, warmest glow I've seen from string lights, and are attached to pretty copper wire that can be wrapped around almost anything. 

So go on - get your glow on. 


Just a note: it seems that Polyvore is reporting the wrong pricing for most of the items above. To see correct pricing, click on the links in the paragraph above and shop away! 

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the BLVD beauty | 3 Products for Longwearing Music Festival Makeup

by Gloria Cavallaro in ,

Music festival season is upon us. That means fringe bags, oversized glasses, temporary tattoos (or permanent ones), and swimsuits as daywear.

What is also means is long days in the sun, close quarters with sticky bodies, and boob sweat. My first question is: how do you make sure your boho-mystic-faerie queen beauty look doesn’t budge from sun-up to inebriated sundown?  The answer: primer, powder, and waterproof errthang.


For stay-put beauty, these three products will keep you Instagram ready all day.


1.    Powder foundation

Yes, we know primer is king, but a longwearing powder foundation is top notch on a sweaty day. The powder absorbs moisture to keep you matte for longer than a liquid formula. When you’re feeling especially “dewy,” pat your face with a rice paper blotter to wick away excess oils and shine.

Stila’s Illuminating Powder Foundation is a dream. Compact, with impressive coverage and SPF 12, it’s a great option for humid days.

2.    Waterproof eye crayon

This multi-purpose product will be your go-to item during the day when you have a tiny bag and only so many things you can stuff into it. A jumbo crayon with some metallic hints will cover all your eye-makeup needs when running around a festival. Subtly line your eyes for an eye-enhancing day look and cover the lid, smudging with your finger, for a smoky nighttime look. Apply some waterproof mascara and you can dance all day and still look like a normal human afterwards.

Makeup Forever’s waterproof eye shadow crayons live up to their name, they stay on forever. If you’re serious about longwearing products that can keep up with your active lifestyle, pick up a few shades to take with you on all your warm weather adventures.

3.    Lip stain

A statement pink lip for spring is lovely but looks overdone in a field (amiright or amiright?). For a pretty kisser without the upkeep of gloss or the precision of liner, go for a stain that delivers a perfectly pink pout.

The Balm’s Stainiac is a cult item for good reason. It stays on through everything, can be layered for a more opaque look, and creates the most natural looking, flushed lip look I’ve seen. It’s the “my lips but better” look every time, all the time.

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The Lust List | Festival-Approved, Round, Retro Spring Sunnies

by Lauren Durden in , , ,

This past weekend our feeds and front pages were flooded with images of our friends and celebs hanging out at Coachella. Sadly, while we weren't gifted with all access passes (we should work on that for next year...) we got some major style inspiration from the looks we were scrolling past all weekend. One takeaway - necessary accessory numero uno was a nice pair of sunnies. 

This spring season it's all about throwing it back to the 1970's, with flared pants on Chanel's S/S RTW runway, long flowing dress strutting down Chloe's runways and Canadian tuxedos all over the place, it's no wonder the Woodstock-esque, round sunglasses of the 70's are also back en vouge. Seen on everyone at Coachella from Jourdan Dunn to Behati Prinsloo, the rounded, retro shades are an easy, low cost way to incorporate the 70's trends from the runway to your closet, without looking like you've stepped out of a time machine. 

If you don't feel like going full-on throwback, you can change up the basic round sunnies with a camo edge, embellishments, some violet polarized lens or a chunky, modern frame.  These riffs on a classic make them an easy choice for your everyday wardrobe, whether you're channeling music festivals of the past, or just catching up with friends over #bottomelessbrunch. 

Click on the sunglasses above to learn more about their pricing and where you can snag a pair. 

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START ME UP | Income Taxes as a Freelancer

by Gloria Cavallaro in

An accountant and a freelancer walk into a bar…

And immediately the freelancer begins berating the accountant with questions about her taxes. (Anticlimactic, I know).

You never knew an accountant was so intriguing until income tax season rolls around.

If you’re interested in doing freelance work, your taxes are going to be bit more complicated than the average person’s because your clients will most likely not be taking taxes out of your checks. That part is up to YOU at the end of the year and, believe me, you do not want to leave all the work of organizing your taxes and figuring out how much you owe for the days leading up to April 15th.

Instead, organize yourself throughout the year and when tax season comes, you’ll be sitting pretty because all your 1099 ducks are in a row. How can you do this? Follow these simple tips that will help you keep track of your income, your write-offs, and keep you aware of what you owe the government so you don’t forget that they get cut of all your lovely checks.

1.    Keep spreadsheets, lots of them.

Google Drive is my best friend. I keep in there a sheet for everything I need to keep my work in order. Here are some spreadsheets you should be making:

-       A spreadsheet for each client documenting your hours AS YOU COMPLETE THEM. 
Does a client send you a quick project to look over during the day that takes you 2 hrs? When you’re done, immediately input that into that client’s sheet. You want to know all the hours you’ve worked for a client and on what project.

Include in the spreadsheet the date the work was done, the hours it took you to complete (including edits, email correspondence, and phone/Skype meetings), and a short description of what work those hours correspond to. Now, if a client forgets all the assignments they had you complete, you can accurately remind them (and get your money!).

-       A spreadsheet of income and invoices.
Invoices, oooohhh, invoices. As a freelancer it’s on YOU to make sure you get paid for your work. That means sending invoices to your clients in a timely manner. Keep a spreadsheet that documents all the invoices you sent out, including columns for the invoice number, the client’s name, description of what work the invoice is for, the date the work was completed, the amount due, whether the invoice was sent, whether it was received, and then the check number when they do send you your pay.

Not only is this a great way to keep track of all the money you have coming in and the invoices you are waiting on or need to follow-up with, but it is also a great way to track your growth. How does this month’s income compare to last month’s? How does this month’s income compare to what you made this month last year? What are you doing differently that could account for this? These are all good things for you to know so you can track your growth and improve your business.

-       A spreadsheet for business expenses.
As a freelancer, errrthang’s a write-off (as long as it pertains to your work). You purchased a new office chair? Write-off. You took a cab to a client meeting? Write-off. You had lunch at a fancy restaurant to impress that client? Write-off.

Keep track of all of your business expenses and KEEP ALL OF THE RECEIPTS. I’m all about saving paper but I like having the physical receipt in case I need to verify something with my records. I keep an envelope dedicated to storing the receipts of all my business expenses for that year. If you want to be even MORE organized, get a credit card that is exclusively for your business use, therefore you know all charges on that card are a write-off. I do a lot of online shopping for equipment or other things for my business. Charging those items on my business card and charging my own personal shopping on my other credit card helps me to separate those bills and easily keep track of everything Uncle Same is going to learn about at the end of the year (and give you money back on!).

2.    Take your taxes out before Uncle Sam does.

To save myself the worry at the end of the year that I’ll be unpleasantly surprised by the amount of taxes I owe, I take 30% out of my checks and put it away in a separate account that I do not touch. That is tax money. Come tax time, I eFile my taxes and, boop, cut a check for the amount necessary which is already at-hand.

I put aside more than what I actually need to (after write-offs and what not), but then I just end up with extra savings. I learn to live on less, am not stressed about potentially not having enough to cover my income taxes, and usually end up with more than I need. Win-win-win.

3.    600 is your new lucky number,

Ideally, you’re doing projects that amount to greater than $600 for repeat clients because that’s just nice, steady money. But, if you work on something for a one-off client and the amount due does not exceed $600, there’s an upside. BOO DOESN’T HAVE TO DECLARE IT. That’s just money in your pocket. You don’t have to declare it, they don’t have to send you a 1099 Form, it’s all good.

Remember, this goes for $600 per employer, per year. If you did a $600 project for John Doe Productions and got paid December 30, 2014, and then another $600 project for them and got paid January 2, 2015 (and they never employ you again in 2015) you don’t have to declare either income because they were cashed in two different fiscal years. Boom. This system works in your favor.

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