Bright Lights on Monica of Smart Creative Women

Monica Bright Lights

About a million exciting things are happening in my dear friend Monica Lee’s life right now, not the least of which is that she celebrated her birthday yesterday. Happy birthday, Monica!

Monica is the host of Smart Creative Women, where she interviews the leading voices in today’s creative industries. I’ve learned so much from watching her in action! She’s also about to launch an online business course for savvy creatives called Smart Creative Style, which will cover everything from creating a personal brand that’s unique to you, to promoting yourself in an organic and genuine manner.

Usually Monica’s the one conducting interviews, but today I’m the one asking the questions!

What do you do for a living?: I am a professional illustrator and host of Smart Creative Women, which is a web TV show where I interview women who are in the business of creativity. I also teach an online course called Smart Creative Style. This is a 6 week interactive where you can discover your creative style and what sets you apart. It will also cover how to then apply it to your creative business and branding.

Where have you lived? I was born in Italy and from there…let’s see. Oklahoma, Hawaii, Texas, Georgia, Kansas, New York and California. I may have left somewhere out! I am a military brat who then became an international flight attendant. In essence, I’m a walking version of the Johnny Cash song lyrics: “I’ve been everywhere, man!”

Place you’d most like to visit: I haven’t been to France in a several years and I’ve never spent quality time in Italy. So probably, Italy! Although I do miss the UK.

Favorite indulgence: Books! Especially the big, pretty coffee table kind. I love sinking in to their beauty!

Best advice ever received: Hmmm, I am usually the one passing out advice (for business coaching) so this is hard. During a talk I once went to, the speaker said, “Your mind is the final frontier.” Meaning that if you can harness your thought life you’ll be unstoppable!

What’s the most stylish thing you own? Oh pleeeeease! I love this question. I’ve recently started upping the ante on my handbag purchases. One that I’ve carried for years is a calf hair leopard print bag. I also picked up a small vintage leopard clutch at an estate sale…it’s old and really nice. I use it all the time.

Bright Lights on Monica Lee of Smart Creative Women

My favorite things as of late…

I just picked this silk shirt up! I’m trying not to wear as many t-shirts.

My Old Gringo cowboy boots — thinking I need another pair soon!

I recently interviewed artist and textile designer Virginia Johnson and then grabbed one of her shawls. It’s the perfect weight!

I love that classic Wayfairs come in a petite size for those of us with small faces. I don’t have to look like a bug in my sunglasses anymore.

Lastly, I couldn’t live with out my black leather jacket(s).


Thank you, Monica!

Visit Smart Creative Women to get advice from some of the brightest creative minds out there, including Joy Cho, Annie Selke, and Whitney English. And take your business to the next level by signing up for the Smart Creative Style course, which starts next week. I’ll be one of Monica’s guest speakers, so I’ll see you there!

P.S. I’ll be headed to New York on business this week, so I’ll only be posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Be sure to come back next week to hear about my adventure!

Bright Lights on Kelly of Studio DIY

Bright Lights on Kelly of Studio DIY

Kelly Lanza runs Studio DIY, a blog about crafting your way to the happiest celebrations, and I’m thrilled that she’s here today sharing her favorite things. Not only is Kelly insanely talented, she’s also incredibly generous, funny, and kindhearted. Before you fall in love with her blog, a word of warning: Studio DIY may give you a sudden desire for a piñata of your own!

What do you do for a living? I’m the editor and founder of Studio DIY. (In other words, I’m a full time blogger who gets to craft and throw confetti around all day!)

Places you’ve lived: I was born and raised in New Jersey, spent a few years in Washington DC and then headed for the glorious weather of Los Angeles, where I currently live.

Place you’d most like to visit: I couldn’t just pick one! I’m dying to explore the Mediterranean region (Hello, Greek Isles!) and I’d love to venture to India, the Maldives and Morocco. Thanks to my endless Pinterest procrastinating, I’ve also had my eye on this little village. I’d travel halfway across the world to find a little piece of colorful patterned building heaven in a second!

Your favorite indulgence: Cake. My goodness do I love cake. I feel like all other desserts are more acceptable on a daily basis (Ehm..donuts.). But when you get your hands on that perfect slice of cake, it’s just special, no? The more layers the better. And always, always cream cheese frosting.

The best advice you’ve ever received: From my mom, “Everything has it’s pluses and minuses.” From my Dad, “Life isn’t fair.” And from too many people to count, “Dream big.” Now, those first two may sound a little cynical but boy are they true, especially when you’re self employed! Do I get a little jealous of the people who get to leave their work at the office door at 5pm every night? Sure, but then I remember the big ol’ “plus” of this crazy career… I’m doing what I love, and you better bet I’m dreaming big!

What ingredients do you think make for a perfect party? An excellent selection of sweets, a boatload of confetti and a group of great friends. A funky piñata and some schmancy party hats are also preferred. My biggest tip is to focus on a few special elements and make those awesome.

Bright Lights on Kelly of Studio DIY

I’m a total stationery freak and often use great cards as wall art in my home. Dear Hancock is a particular favorite because any card with a piñata on it has my name written all over it!

My motto is “When in doubt, spray paint it.” I’m embarrassed to say just how many items in my apartment have been gilded. My favorite brand is Montana Gold. Their colors are great and their gold chrome can’t be beat.

I never thought “photographer” would be a part of my job title, but my Canon Rebel is attached to my hip. I got it as a college graduation gift and it is probably my most used possession. (This lens is a great companion for it!)

I live in sunglasses (That’s LA for ya!) and recently bought some funky yellow heart ones just because they were too fun to pass up! A new wardrobe stable.

My hair bows have become my signature, and I don’t leave my house without one. I often feel like an overgrown five year old and a giant hair bow is a pretty good way to represent that, yes?

Every morning at 9:30am, I get a big ol’ craving for chocolate. Nothing like starting early huh? Trader Joe’s chocolate bars are always on hand to help me out.

When you’re photographing DIYs all day, your nails have to look schnazy! I repaint my nails about a hundred times a week and always go for not-so-average colors, like this yellow OPI beauty.

With piñatas always on the brain, I have a fully stocked crepe paper closet at all times.

Confetti!! It’s comical how my floor is always covered in the stuff. I often find pieces stuck to my little dog’s nose and hanging on to my boyfriends feet. Whoopsies!

Thanks, Kelly! Everyone, head on over to Studio DIY to get inspired by Kelly’s party ideas. And definitely follow her on Instagram for a sneak peek into her fab LA life, including her adorable pup and lots of — you guessed it — confetti!
Frock Files | More Bright Lights

Bright Lights on Sana of SBSK

Sana and I didn’t meet too long ago, but we hit it off instantly with a mutual appreciation for each other’s sense of style. I love the way Sana can combine cool, crisp style with a bohemian ambiance that’s all her own. It’s no wonder she’s such a great stylist! Her blog, SBSK (Styling by Sana Keefer), is all about living in balance — enjoying life while being conscious of balance.

Bright Lights on Sana of SBSK

What do you do for a living?:  I am an interior/prop stylist and creative director.

Places you’ve lived:  Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Manhattan, Brooklyn.

Place you’d most like to visit: Thailand; Ko Samui in particular.

Your favorite indulgence: As of a few weeks ago, acupuncture. I’m super into spa treatments but I knew spad days alone weren’t enough to keep my stress levels in check. I wanted something more closely tied to mind and body so I tried a acupuncturist in Los Feliz. Amazing. I’d highly recommend it if you’re comfortable with holistic healing.

The best advice you’ve ever received: “Don’t ride the highs so high and the lows so low.” It pretty much applies to everything in life and reminds me to center myself when I’m freaking out about something ridiculous. When I think about it, it’s all ridiculous. I have my life, health, loved ones and resources. What more is there, really?What’s your favorite healthy recipe? It’s definitely green juice. My concoction of green apples, celery, lime and spinach makes me want to jump into a full on juice diet like Kelly Wearstler but I love the variety in food too much to go to those lengths.


(use organic where possible)

2       limes
1        granny smith apple
1½   cups of spinach
½     bushel of kale
5        celery sticks


1.       Wash produce thoroughly
2.      Peel lime and remove apple core
3.      Cut any brown portions from produce
4.      Add to juicer on high with tougher ingredients like apples first
5.      Add remaining ingredients

Bright Lights on Sana of SBSK

A book largely about being an adult in years but not knowing what the heck you’re supposed to do: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I read it in one sitting. Granted, I was on an 11 hour flight, but still — I could have opted for Sky Mall. I think it’s a my favorite fictional read to date. Ernest Hemingway was something of an enigma for sure. Most of the way through, I drew parallels between his characteristics as an obsessive writer/artist and those of my literary friends. Life is intense for a writer.

Another book I’m excited about is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a great read on facing yourself; removing the obstacles that prevent us from achieving the things we want. It helped me realize that the obstacle is often me! We have to be humble enough to admit that, but really, it’s a weight lifted when you realize the power shifts to you… if you want it to.

Proud Type A personalities read on. I’m super into containers in general. I’m a little type A and like everything to have a place and be visually pleasing, so I use Le Parfait jars often. The French company makes well-designed jars of all sizes that are a dream for homemade jams, pickling, extras, and even serving!

I’m starting to get antsy about this one, you guys! I’ve worked on every space but my own. It’s coming along though. Slowly but surely. Initially we bought a sofa from Organic Modernism when we moved to LA from Brooklyn. In hindsight I don’t know what possessed me to buy an oatmeal colored sofa but I did and now I’m totally bored with it despite the many colorful throw pillows piled on top of it. So, we’re having the cushions re-upholstered in this crazy banana palm fabric that they have. They’re a smaller Brooklyn based company that has a lot of refined lodge-y, cabin cool pieces that work well for the canyon apartment we live in now. This style really compliments the landscape of the hills.

Not to make it all about Brooklyn but one of my new fave stationery designers happens to do her thing there. Her name is Emily of Hartland Brooklyn. So fun, a bit quirky and thoughtfully illustrated.

Do you ladies know about the Mophie? Seriously it has saved me so many times when traveling. It’s pretty much a charger that snaps onto the iPhone like a case so it does double duty. Admittedly, it isn’t as easy on the eyes but that’s where designer iphone cases come in. AphroChic’s new line of cases (Juju being my absolute fave) are based on the designer Jeanine’s wallpaper collection — phone party for home decor fanatics like myself.

Thoughts on…

Craft supplies: I’m going to have to say that Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellack is the brightest star in my craft closet. It’s non-toxic coat when dry to seal in painting. I use it on props and DIY projects around the home. If you’re striping or dip painting anything around the home, it’s a go-to.

And accessories: I’m visual directing and consulting for this new line of fashion accessories stores launching in malls throughout Los Angeles end of summer so it’s pretty accurate to say that I am completely obsessed with accessories right about now. Walking the aisles of their fashion district warehouse is like heaven for a girl — love it! There are times when I’m coordinating wallpaper and vintage props for one of the stores with accessories like baubles (obsessed) or scarves and I’m thinking, wow, this looks so good together, I need the home and the fashion accessories!

Thank you, Sana! Check out more of Sana’s thoughts, recipes, and photos at SBSK.
Frock Files | More Bright Lights

Bright Lights on Janae of Bring Joy

Welcome to June! This month’s theme, Feeling Good, is all about working on finding a balanced mind, body, and spirit, while having fun. So it’s perfect that Janae is stopping by today to share her favorite things. Her blog, Bring Joy, is all about finding a healthy lifestyle through gluten-free and vegan food, becoming debt-free, and loving yourself. I’m especially excited about all of Janae’s book recommendations, which I’ve already added to my summer reading list!

Frock Files | Bright Lights on Janae of Bring Joy

What do you do for a living? I have a bachelor’s in English, but I spent six years as a fitness professional teaching yoga, all kinds of aerobics, and Pilates for several educational institutions, including two universities. For the time being, I’m a full-time mom of four and Air Force wife, and write at my blog, Bring Joy, in my “spare” time.

Places you’ve lived: I grew up in Washington state, which I will always consider my home. I went to college and lived in Utah for 10 years, and now I’m living in San Antonio, TX.

Place you’d most like to visit: Though there are many places on my travel wish list, I’m an unabashed Anglophile and would love to re-visit England. I went there on a hiking tour 10 years ago and I’ve thought about returning ever since!

Your favorite indulgence: Massages. My husband hates them. (Can you believe it?) They are my ultimate indulgence. There are very few things I find as relaxing as a deep tissue massage. Though I admit, it’s a rare treat these days.

The best advice you’ve ever received: My dad didn’t so much say this, but he taught me and my siblings this through his words and by example: Treat people with respect and kindness, and don’t judge others. To this day, I’ve never heard my dad speak an ill word about anyone.

What’s your favorite healthy recipe? I love roasted any type of vegetable or tuber, like sweet potatoes or potatoes. The trick is to make sure the pieces aren’t too big (bite size or a bit bigger is about right) and to roast at 425 F. Placing the veggies on parchment paper, drizzling with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkling with kosher salt is also key.

Frock Files | Bright Lights on Janae of Bring Joy


Since moving to San Antonio, where it’s much more hot and humid than in Utah or Washington, I’ve begun to appreciate the value of the maxi dress, which allows for some breathing room and does not cling (two virtues in a hot climate). I only own a few, but this one by Mod Cloth is on my wish list.


I couldn’t live without my Blendtec blender and my rice cooker. The Blendtec is pricey, but worth every penny because it’s an appliance that will last. I’ve had mine for five years. Also, I’m a failure (and lazy) when it comes to making nice fluffy rice, so my rice cooker helps me in this area. No hassle and it makes perfect rice every time.


Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap. It’s amazing! I have really sensitive skin, but I can use this soap on my face and anywhere else on my body. The scent is invigorating.


One of the first “real” books I read was Roots by Alex Haley, when I was 12. That book opened my eyes to the history of slavery and how, despite extreme distress, humans find a way to rise above the inhumanity.

I’m partial to memoirs and personal essays, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean being one of the best. In this book, he combines fiction with memoir, and it’s his only piece of fiction (which makes me sad; I wish he had written more). He has a deadpan, forthright, & poetic narrative that I find beautiful & soothing to read. The story is about fly fishing, but the underlying allegory is about three men & their relationship with one another. It’s the kind of writing that makes me want to write. Emilie Carles’s, A Life of Her Own, and Jung Chang’s Wild Swans are two other must-read memoirs, in my opinion.

Nora Ephron is another of my favorite essayists. I just finished I Remember Nothing, and am entranced by her warm and candid style.

I like any of Willa Cather’s stuff, & sweeping period pieces like Tolstoy’s Anna Kareninaand Drieser’s An American Tragedy.  I also love Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth , John Knowles A Separate Peace, and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. Those are all books I’d read again and again.


I think a set of light and heavy hand weights, a good yoga mat, and a stability ball are all you need for a home gym. There are other gadgets  but those three things will get you where you need to go, fitness-wise.

Thank you, Janae!

For delicious gluten-free and vegan recipes, and more of Janae’s writing, visit Bring Joy.

Frock Files | More Bright Lights

Bright Lights on Lauren of Seventeenth + Irving

Lauren from Seventeenth & Irving has the best taste, which is just one of the reasons why her blog is so appealing (and popular!). Top that off with the fact that she’s gorgeous and super talented, and you might begin to feel a little bit of envy creeping in — if it weren’t also for the fact that Lauren is one of the most friendly and down-to-earth people you’ll ever encounter. I’m so excited that she’s giving us a glimpse into her beautiful world today by sharing her favorite things.

Frock Files | Bright Lights on Lauren of Seventeenth & Irving

What do you do for a living? I work in marketing for an e-commerce platform.

Places you’ve lived: I’m a Georgia peach! I grew up in a small town in Northeast Georgia, went to school at the University of Georgia, and moved to Atlanta after college. I met my boyfriend there and we packed everything up and moved to San Francisco two years ago. We love it here – I believe we’ll be on the west coast for a very long time.

Place you’d most like to visit: Since I took a lot of architecture history courses in college as part of my interior design training, I daydream about taking the “Grand European Tour” through Italy, France, and Greece to soak it all in.

Your favorite indulgence: Salted Caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery. I seriously have dreams about it.

The best advice you’ve ever received: My dad always told me to “measure twice, cut once.” Though it could be taken literally when I was in school, building to-scale models of blueprints, I apply it to other areas of my life. Think twice before you say something to someone that might be hurtful, weigh the pros and cons before making a tough decision, or double check everything before wrapping up a huge project.

If someone had just three hours in your city, where would you take them? Easy – if it’s a clear day, grab a bottle of champagne and a picnic and head straight to the top of Marin Headlands. From there, you get a birds-eye view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the bay, and the entire city skyline. I realize I’m 100% biased, but there is nothing more magical than that view.

Frock Files | Bright Lights on Lauren of Seventeenth & Irving

Chloé Eau de Parfum – My signature scent. It only takes a little, but it smells clean and feminine without being overpowering.

Staedtler Liquid Point 5 Pen – I am borderline neurotic about my pens. It must draw a super thin line, it can’t bleed through paper, it needs to be a certain weight. This is that pen. I buy them in bulk, always in black, and I will call you out if you try to walk away with my pen.

Poco Dolce Burnt Caramel Tiles – Another Bright Light, Mere from Not Merely Living, introduced me to these. They are my favorite salty + sweet treat, and the portioned tiles keep my indulgences under control.

Paddywax Mandarin & Lavender Candle – It not only smells incredibly clean and crisp, it’s poured into the bottom of a recycled wine bottle. I rapidly burn through them, but I keep the containers when I’m done and reuse them to contain makeup brushes, pens on my desk, or as vases.

C.Wonder Interchangeable Belts + Buckles (this buckle) (this belt in black) – I’ve focused on adding items that have maximum versatility to my closet this year, and the C.Wonder belt + buckle system is pure genius. Lots of bang for your buck – you buy the reversible belt straps that you like, you buy the buckles you like, and then you can mix and match them infinitely for new looks. Now my favorite elephant belt buckle can be paired with a black strap, brown strap, or gold. Sort of makes you wonder why more companies don’t do this, huh?

Restoration Hardware Vintage Washed Belgian Linen Bedding – A bit of a splurge for our home, but 100% worth it. I truly believe in purchasing the best you can afford when it comes to items you’ll use the most. I bought the “Fog” color because it feels both modern and warm, and the color name is just very appropriate for San Francisco.

Todoist – The one and only way I’m able to manage work, home, and blog tasks. If it doesn’t go into Todoist the second I think of it, it just doesn’t get done. The recurring task feature is my favorite, as it (gently) reminds me to be a grown up and take my vitamins every day.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore – I try to keep company with people that always have a great book recommendation. Jess at Curating Style is one of those people. She recommended this book to me and I finished it in a day. It’s light and fun, and quite the page turner.

Thanks for sharing all your fabulous picks, Lauren!

Have you fallen in love with Lauren yet? We haven’t met in real life yet, but I imagine that her world is filled with such thoughtful, practical, and lovely things. For more, head over to her blog, Seventeenth & Irving.

P.S. I love what Lauren says about being a grown-up. It made me think of this article, “How To Be a Grown Up in 10 Steps” — I’m still working on this.

Frock Files | More Bright Lights

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