Meet the girl bosses: Carmen of Little & Lively

It's been a while since I've introduced you to an amazing girlboss! I have been loving Carmen's beautiful children clothing for over a year and I am ecstatic to introduce you to her brand, Little & Lively. Read all about Carmen's journey below, and scroll down for a pretty sweet discount code & giveaway!

Could you please describe your business for our readers?

Little & Lively is a home-based baby and kids clothing company creating high-quality garments that are versatile, playful and on-trend! All of our products are designed & manufactured within our hometown of Abbotsford, BC. My name is Carmen West and I'm the designer behind Little & Lively. My husband, Jordan, and I are the dream team behind this business. I only say 'dream team' because Jordan's skills & strengths tend to be most of my weaknesses (and vise-versa) so, combined, we make a pretty complimentary team! We have two daughters, Daphne and Wynnie. We strive to keep our hustling and bustling business operations close to home as much as possible in order to maintain a balance between family time and managing a business.

When did you start your own business?

I started making some baby apparel back in 2014 and officially branded as Little & Lively in early 2015.

How did you decide to start? Were you inspired by your product and the need for it or did you want to start a business first and thought of the product second? Is it a full time job for you?

I decided to start making baby & kids clothing while I was expecting my first daughter, Daphne. I have my diploma in Fashion Design so it felt like a natural transition to start designing baby apparel that I wanted to put my own daughter in. It snowballed into a business when I put the designs on Etsy and realized there was a lot of interest in what I was putting out there. I used to make everything "to order" but after growing quite quickly, we have had to shift to carrying inventory. It is now a full-time job for me and then some! My husband and I are both involved and we have one full-time employee named Jojo.

Was it hard to get things started? Can you describe the process?

It wasn't very hard to start something. The hardest part of us has been, and continues to be, the growing pains. We have had to learn how to adapt, expand, invest and delegate to make sure we are able to keep up with the demand. Our little house sometimes feels like it is bursting at its seams and full of inventory, packages and projects - not to mention kids and toys!

How did your family react? Your husband?

My husband is extremely entrepreneurial and jumped right in, helping with all the financials and marketing for Little & Lively. He is such a talented digital marketer and I owe a lot of credit to him for our enormous growth over the last year and a bit. There are days when I'm completely overwhelmed and that's when I see the biggest strains on our family. I try so hard to be 100% mom and 100% business but often times I fall short. Luckily our two girls are so sweet and understanding, even when they don't get my undivided attention.

With social media, it is easy to fall in the comparison game. I believe women entrepreneurs should lift each other up - what has your experience with social media been like?

I have fallen into that game countless times, especially when I see what looks like an exclusive invite-only event that I wasn't a part of. But I try to remind myself that I don't need to feel bad... that I'm loved, appreciated and what I'm creating is still very good. Luckily, I find this local community of small businesses extremely supportive and not competitive at all. I'm a big believer in the fact that there is enough business out there for all of us. The demand for trendy baby & kids apparel is huge, and there's definitely room for each business to have a piece of the pie. Rather than compare, I prefer to challenge myself to be unique and make sure my designs stand out with my own special style.

What are your hopes for 2017?

We have a fabulous Spring/Summer collection just released with several exclusive-to-us fabric prints! We've just released a ladies dress (in response to so many requests!). Little & Lively turned two in January and I reached my 30th birthday! I'm already working on Fall/Winter concepts that I'm so excited about. With each collection we've been challenging ourselves to push ourselves to better than the last; creating new fabrics, branching into new apparel designs, and more! I'm already getting excited to share the next things we've been working on!

What advice to you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

1. If you make something that you love, chances are really good that other people will love it to. 2. Set up shop and show people. (Get on social media, share photos, make videos and market the heck out of it.)

Thank you so much for your honest answers & great advice Carmen! Check out Little & Lively here and get free shipping with code O_FREESHIPPING until April 15th.
You can also head over to my Instagram for a special giveaway!

Beauty: My Morning + Evening Skincare Routines

As a beauty blogger, or cosmetics junkie, I try a lot of products. But when it comes to my face, I do my best to not try it all at once, and not switch it up to often. It takes about 3 weeks for a product to show its full effects on your skin, and I usually like to use up the products I like before I move on to the next. I recently finished the last bit of my beloved Korres Wild Rose products and switched to a new routine that I've been loving. Here's what I use, mornings and nights (mind you, I'm showing you the very intense, not lazy routine. If I'm in a hurry, I'll cut it down to 2-3 products tops). 

I like to wake my skin up with a spritz of Vichy thermal water, then cleanse it gently with my beloved Bioderma Sensibio h20 micellar water. I've been using this for as long as I can remember and I will probably never change. 

I then use either L'Oreal Hydra Genius liquid care if I'm just going out the door,  Vichy Idéalia smoothing gel-cream as a primer if I'm going to wear makeup, or Reversa Radiance cream SPF30 if I'm going to be outside a lot. 

I finish off with Jouviance PlumpFX lip treatment - I love this stuff! 

If my morning routine seems somewhat simple, my evening routine is a different story. Again, I don't use every product every night, but definitely most of them. 

I start off by removing most of my makeup with a makeup remover. I use either Marcelle waterproof, oil-free makeup remover if I have stubborn eye makeup, or, more likely, my Bioderma micellar water on my whole face. 

I then hop in the shower and wash my face with whatever cleanser I'm using at the moment. Right now, my husband and I are using Nip+Fab glycolic cleansing face wash and I can't say I love it or hate it. I much prefer Reversa or Marcelle's gentle cleansers. 

Once my face is clean, I use a gentle toner. I only recently started using this Belif witch hazel toner but I like it so far. 

I have started using gentle peelings instead of regular exfoliants in order to clear up my skin, combat fine lines and brighten up my complexion. I like the Vichy Idéalia peeling lotion, but I try not to use it if I'm going to be outside a lot the next day because of the sun sensitivity.

I then use my new absolute favorite face products: Clarins Hydra-Essentiel serum and moisturizer. They act like a great big glass of water for my face, smell divine, don't feel heavy on my combination skin, but are still very hydrating. I follow up with Clarins Multi-Active Eye cream - I still love my Korres eye cream but I find tubes more practical, and I love the cooling tip of this one.

Once or twice a week, I apply Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Recovery Mask Oil to boost the efficiency of my serum. It is a bit heavy so I make sure not to overdo it. 

Last but not least, lips! I use a lip scrub when I remember - I love the Vanilla Bean lip scrub by Sara Happ. It is pricey but it smells divine. And I always use Jouviance PlumpFX lip treatment at night. It plumps my lips, moisturizes like no other and even makes them slightly more defined. The only downside is the stickiness, but it does look very glossy and pretty. 

I also use face masks once in a while, but that's a whole other article! Do you have a favorite skincare brand? 

Beauty: Essie Resort 2017 collection - Review + Swatches

Essie has been my favorite nail polish brand for many years now. I love their themes, their vibrant colors, their pretty nudes, their quality and their price. They truly excel at creamy, opaque shades and the 2017 Resort collection is just that. This collection was inspired by Essie's global color designer Rebecca Minkoff's travels to Italy's Amalfi coast and features 4 creamy, beautifully pigmented colors (I also happen to think these shades would make the prettiest purses!). 

Ciao Effect is a muted lavender with blue-tray undertones. It is very pigmented, easy to apply and opaque in 2 coats. Similar to > Essie Nice is Nice

Strike a pose-itano is a pale aqua blue with slightly grey undertones (you can't really tell from the picture). It's not as opaque or creamy as the other polishes in the collection, but still looks good after 2 coats. Similar to > Essie Mint Candy Apple

Resort Romanza is a candy watermelon with a hint of cream. Why yes, that sounds delicious (please excuse the less than pretty cuticle line - I was trying out a new base coat, and let's just say the results were less than convincing). Similar to > Essie Watermelon

Sorrento yourself is a perfect match for all the taupe-y brown nude lipsticks (think, Kylie Jenner) we've been seeing in the last year or so. It's a light milk chocolate color with a hint of red. Similar to > Essie In Stitches. 

In terms of favorite, I am oddly drawn to Sorrento yourself and think it would look good on anyone. Do you have a favorite?

The Resort collection is available in select retailers and on Amazon as of today!

Desktop Dress-Up #31

What embodies Spring more than tulips? There is still some snow on the ground here, but it is melting fast and in the meantime, I'm growing tulips on my MacBook desktop. Who's with me?

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Beauty: A Look at Quo Spring 2017 Makeup Collection

Quo recently released what may be their most beautiful makeup collection yet. Thought their Holiday collection was gorgeous? How about this stunning packaging & pretty shades?
The whole collection is about soft color and glowing skin - all easily achievable with these palettes. It includes two face palettes with blushes, bronzers and highlighters, two eyeshadow quads, a small eyebrow palette, three matte lip crayons in a nude, pink and red shades, and a gorgeous set of makeup brushes (not pictured). 

Quo Face Palette in Down to Earth - $20 (earthy, neutral based blushes, bronzers and highlighters)

Quo Face Palette in Heat it Up - $20 (glowy, pink based blushes, bronzers and highlighters)

Quo Eyeshadow Quad in Rock it - $18 (matte neutrals)

Quo Eyeshadow Quad in No Pressure - $18 (soft pastel / neutral shimmery shadows)

As usual with Quo, the quality is beautiful. Stay tuned for my impressions and makeup looks.
The collection is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Canada for a limited time.
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