Summer Styles with Zenni

This post is part of a partnership with Zenni Optical.

Y’all probably know by know how much I LOVE Zenni. When FEARLESS came out on LOCALISH in January, working with the Zenni team was so exciting and really inspired me to want to do more with the brand. Being an entrepreneur and a young one makes you realize how important it is to save your money in every way you can. Sometimes that means going out less, cooking more at home and skipping that $5 latte when you’re focusing on a project that costs more money than expected.

A brand like Zenni is incredible because they offer so many styles for under $50, with many of them even under $10, that fits into every budget. If you’re young and hustling, save your money, I beg you! You won’t regret it.

I’m biased, but my favorite part of Zenni glasses is this pair from the Coco & Breezy x Zenni line.

The style is FEARLESS and called FEARLESS, too!

 

Every style at Zenni is affordable and stylish, but the Coco & Breezy line donates a percentage of proceeds to the Child Mind Institute, which helps give money to kids in underprivileged communities that don’t have access to many mental health resources. Shopping isn’t hard when you can give back at the same time.

Alexa’s Guide To Austin

Austin has my heart. Not a boy named Austin, but the city of Austin. I’m making this list small because I could go on for hours but these are reliable, exciting and baller spots to hit up in town.

Moving to Austin from LA was the most unique experience I went through last year. I remember almost not signing the lease in Austin when I got too nervous about leaving my friends and the community I had built in LA, but something was pushing me to explore this city.

It’s been 1 year and some time since I came here and as a young entrepreneur, Austin is the best place you could possibly be. The community, the food, and the experiences are unlike any other city I’ve been in. I’ve lived in LA, NY, Boston and now Austin, and if you’re looking for a new place to live in and have any experience with the other cities I’ve lived in, Austin has everything that they have plus some.

Austin is so quaint that there are 100s of events, restaurants and stores to explore, so here is my list of where I spend most of my time. I have too many favorite spots so I’m choosing 1-2 in each category! Austin has become just as busy as any major city (I think Austin IS the major city right now?) so get a reservation if you’re coming to town.

THE EAST SIDE

If I could compare Austin to any city, I’d compare it to NY but way smaller. I live on the East Side.

The East Side is like the Williamsburg of Austin: filled with a ton of hipsters, cool coffee shops and an edgier vibe. You could spend a whole day exploring the East Side starting with breakfast, coffee, and shopping.

Coffee: if you just want good vibes

Greater Goods Coffee Roasters reminds me of Verve. The coffee is great, the space has outlets and an earthy, LA vibe.

Praxis Coffee Roasters: coffee truck outside of Austin that has phenomenal almond milk lattes

MERIT (multiple locations) is my FAVORITE coffee in ATX. I love tiny small ice cubes. They are so sexy. And their almond milk is so smooth and so overpriced. It’s a remarkable latte.

FOOD

PAPERBOY has really good food. Just solid food, good drinks, good vibe.

Food truck called Rolling Smoke that has unreal pork belly. I don’t eat BBQ food that often but if I’m craving it, I go there. I don’t do lines. I mentally cannot stand 1 hour in a line waiting for food. If you are desperate for a BBQ “experience” go to Franklin’s!

JUNIPER: date night spot, open kitchen vibe, AWESOME steak

Launderette birthday cake dessert thing is so yummy. I love their brunch and dinner. Great sexy bar too.

ABA: My homie Connor is the manager if you ever need a res: say Alexa sent you. Fun, outdoorsy vibe with solid food. Their pita and whipped feta is 30% of my body I’ve had it so many times.

Aside from the East Side,

my girls and I love brunch at June’s.

Espresso martinis (with tequila!) at Hestia + Codependent are other spots we always go to.

Clark’s Oyster Bar (I’ve been in Aspen + ATX) is tiny but I love oysters and a strong dirty martini, every day all day (if I could)

SKINCARE: 

eleMINT facials: I like their hour facial because it includes lymphatic drainage which I love

Austin has a pretty bad scene for hair + makeup. There aren’t many salons for hair or nails that are good and affordable BUT

hair + makeup, Sharon is my go to

If I’m coloring my hair, I got to Black Orchid and see Emma (blonde specialist and sooo good)

The dentist I go to is TOOTHBAR. It’s the dopest dentist in the world. If you can get an appointment, this dentist is more like a spa than a dentist.

I get my eyebrows done (tinted + waxed) at Austin Glow Spa (with Ellie) 

WORKOUTS:

If you don’t know I’m pretty deep into making fitness a major part of my day-to-day regime. The best gym right now in Austin is definitely KOLLECTIVE: I used to go to Equinox but when KOLLECTIVE opened I switched over there.

If you don’t go out on a Friday or Saturday night…go bouldering at ABP.

I did bouldering for a Fearless Friday one week and would spend way more time there if I didn’t go out on weekend nights!

 Everyone in Austin is obsessed with paddle boarding and being outdoors: the city reminds me so much of when I lived in Boston. Though I don’t go paddle boarding that often, it’s a genuinely fun thing to do on a weekday afternoon or weekend. Bring anyone visiting you in town paddle boarding!

SHOPPING:

East Side has some fun spots but I’d spend all day on South Congress. There’s REFORMATION, a boutique called Maya Star (I’m OBSESSED with MS), FRAME, Madewell and anything else you need.

If you’re desperate for a mall, go to the Domain. Barton Creek Square is not good but has basics like JCPenney, Dick’s, etc.

Be Fearless Summit at UCONN: What We’re All About

4 summits in and the brand behind Be Fearless has taken on a life of its own. For the spring summit, we partnered with the Werth Institute at University of Connecticut to empower young adults to be fearless, unfiltered and most importantly: get out of their comfort zone.

Join the Be Fearless community (before an app launch) to get access to mentors like Allison Kaye (SB Projects) and Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl) and Molly Hanten (Shop Sovereign Collective) who are hosting talks on the platform starting next week. You may remember my interviews with Kelly and Allison on my past podcasts!

Where should we bring BFS to next?

Where My JCPENNEY Fans At!?

Photographed at Kimpton Monaco Hotel in Philadelphia. 

The last time I was on a TV set was for my mentee Jeskya’s morning show segment in LA last year. She asked me to jump in as a model which I wasn’t super thrilled to do but when you’re fearless, you can’t say no! Prior to pursuing the summit program and Be Fearless community so heavily, I was on TV sets every week – working with different brands to compensate me to discuss their new lines so I could afford to continue to blog and do what I love: inspire!

I haven’t had to do TV segments as often as I used to because my career has taken off in the past year which is incredible: but I’ll never forget how much I loved the energy of being on set. Being on camera is one of my strengths so when Fox Philadelphia asked me to host a segment on workwear for women last week, I bought an Amtrak ticket from Connecticut to Philadelphia following the ECSU talk. One of my best friends Gabi (whom I met at the first BFS at Drexel) lives in Philadelphia, so I took the train down to meet her to prep for the segment. I grew up across the street from a JCPenney: it was a store that my mom always took me to for back to school shopping. Does anyone else have memories from when they were a kid asking for something that your family member would always say no to? For me, that was the Bobby Jack line at JCPenney! My mom couldn’t afford buying me their line when I was younger so I always used to window shop at JCPenney before back to school began.

Those memories of my childhood are the reason I am the way I am today, so I partnered with JCPenney to put together these stylish looks for women on a budget this season. Just like JCP, Philly will always hold a special place in my heart: it’s where the first Be Fearless Summit was. Just because you wear clothing that’s affordable doesn’t mean you have to slack on your style: if anything, you get way more bang for your buck dressing on a budget!

Building Your Own Brand with ECSU

Wearing Banana Republic with hair + makeup by Blo West Hartford.

I’ve been in a new city what feels like every single day for the past 2 weeks and oh my gosh I am loving it, but also loving being back in my own bed for one night (last night!) before flying to Miami tomorrow. Being an entrepreneur is never not easy, but one plus is being able to make decisions as often as I want without having to ask anyone for approval. I guess you don’t have to just be a founder to do whatever you want all of the time, do you?

Last week I presented at Eastern Connecticut State University with 3 Be Fearless Summit at UCONN speakers: Rache Brand, Gina Luari and Patrina Dixon. I would have every single summit speaker speak with me at future events if I was allowed to! For this talk, I decided to choose these three leaders because of their various backgrounds and current endeavours. Like usual Be Fearless events, this talk went over time, with more and more students asking questions about their startup ideas and looking for advice from the panelists on how to pursue their dream career path with the current degree they have.

I left ECSU wanting to tear up, feeling equally inspired and fearless by the authenticity and overall feeling that the room had for the two hours we were in there. I also had a chance to sit down with Patrina, who has been mentoring some students from the UCONN summit (hi, Audrey!) through Mentor Match. Her work to help them continue to grow their startup while being in college is incredibly inspiring. Thank you, Patrina!

Midway through the talk, I decided to test out a new exercise. I quietly asked Gina Luari (Place 2 Be founder) if we could giveaway 3 gift cards to her famous restaurant if three students stood up and pitched their own elevator pitch. I wanted them to say 2-5 sentences about themselves or their future company. The three students who stood up were incredible: I don’t think I would have the guts to do that in front of my peers in college. I was so nervous!

Thank you to everyone who came out! I encourage everyone part of the Be Fearless brand to work on their elevator pitch too: you don’t have to yearn to run your own company to describe who you are in two sentences.

This Startup Founder Invested All Her Savings: With No Regrets

This is part of a sponsored episode of The New Unfiltered with SY The Label.

If I could live, eat, breathe and workout in workout clothes, I would. Who wouldn’t!?

A few weeks ago, I interviewed the founders of Woodley + Lowe, a streetwear brand geared towards young adult women, modeling after Brandy Melville. Talking to the two founders really made me realize how young people are struggling more than ever with finding their identity and landing their dream job. With so much time spent on social media, finding out who you want to be seems to take a lot longer now. I always say how fortunate I am to have grown up without Instagram and TikTok and I’m only 24!

The founder of SY The Label is young: Leslye Young took out all of her savings and her retirement fund to launch an affordable athleisure company during COVID. To do that during a pandemic takes GUTS, and I’m excited to have her on the show today to discuss building a brand during the pandemic and her advice for startup founders who don’t have capital yet but still want to pursue their most fearless dreams.

BONUS EPISODE: PITCH LIKE YOU ARE SOMEONE

 

Last week, I wrote a post about pitching and the different variations of pitches I like to see. I’ve been mentoring a mentee named Jenny through a program I’m a part of in Austin at Soho House (launched by Jai, past The New Unfiltered guest) and she’s been reminding me of so many lessons I’ve trained myself to remember over the years. Specifically, about money and pitching.

I released a bonus episode today going into detail on many of my secret tips and tricks to pitching, WHO to contact (stop contacting a contact us form on any website, please please please)  and how to reply when you want money. The first step to overcoming many of these hurdles is to get comfortable asking for what you want. This is so important in every element of your life, personal and business, because until you’re confident enough in your identity to ask for what you want, getting someone to trust you doing a form of work is going to be hard.

In the episode, I forgot to mention that you shouldn’t contact a company and then post about them, then expect to go back and get paid to post. Here’s what I’ve realized, and this isn’t for every single company but for many of them: if you’re in talks to feature whatever product they have, and then you get free samples and post because free stuff is so fun! they’ve already gotten you for “free”.

If your goal was to post the free items and then get paid to post, the possibility of that happening now is very slim because you’ve already shown them you’ll post for free. I’d analyze what companies you want to be paid by and what companies you want free product to post about and from there, you can determine whether you should flesh out a partnership further or just go ahead and post, feature, etc.

Start small. Ask for $100. Make a media kit. Round up a few different clients after the first who will pay you $100 and then up your rate to $200. If you don’t view yourself as the brand that you are, how can you expect someone else to take you seriously?

 

We’re Building…Soho House For Mentorship

IT’S HERE!

Following four summits over 4 years, the expansion of the Fearless mantra and formula has evolved!

While encouraging every single person to be fearless has become and will remain my life mission + purpose, the response from the community that these summits has led to goes deeper than my own personal ambition.

The Be Fearless community is launching in beta below, and by signing up you get early access to upcoming events, private rooms with mentors & myself, and so much more!

JOIN THE COMMUNITY HERE:

https://bit.ly/3ulT8RE

SXSW/Building A Startup Recap

When people ask me how Austin has been during COVID I always answer by saying nothing changed here. I never agreed with the lack of rules and regulations… BUT Austin maintained an element of community and experiences when many other cities shut down during the worst parts of the pandemic (as they should have!)

If you’ve never been to SXSW, it’s one of the best conferences for the startup world and overall networking. Due to the pandemic, SXSW hasn’t happened in years and many people who used to frequent Austin have stayed away since COVID was bad here. This past two weeks felt like the old days, being surrounded by people from different places all in one city celebrating business and entrepreneurship. The last time I attended a SXSW was 3 or 4 years ago when I spoke on a panel about sexual wellness and rules for young people while I was at Radio Disney. This year, I moderated and spoke, starting with a panel on technology and social media and ending with two moderated panels on influencers working with brands and small businesses looking to get funding. After planning the UCONN summit for what felt like a century, being able to show up and do what I love (speak) vs. plan and work with all of the speakers was a nice break.

A few key takeaways for those looking to start a company or build on something they’re working on:

“Run this business like you’re not worried about losing my money” – quoted by the founder of ICONIC Protein, Billy Bosch 

“Founders shouldn’t care about trends.”

“You don’t need to grow a brand to be acquired. You can be a successful founder without running your company with the end goal of being sold.” – VC panelist 

I moderated the panel that Billy was on and left the event with so many notes. As a founder, I think constantly learning is critical. No one knows everything and the only way to keep expanding is to keep learning. Based on many of the panels and events I went to, I realized how now is a seriously good time to build a company or get funding for one. VC (venture capital) in particular is looking to invest in women and BIPOC people so if that’s you, get out of your comfort zone and proceed with your idea now.

Trends come and go just as quick as people choose new music- the time is now.

 

Revamping A Mentee’s Pitch

Since the UCONN summit, I’ve taken on several new mentees I’m thrilled to be working with. A few weeks ago on The New Unfiltered, I interviewed a founder who launched a mentorship program for Soho House. His story is great, but through that, I’ve taken on a new mentor who I meet with every week at Soho House to discuss her progress. During our first meeting, she acknowledged having a successful TikTok page dedicated to her dog that has amassed a huge following. In our session, I tried to gage from her what her intentions are for her future (she currently works a corporate job but wants to transition into more social media based work) and how her dogs page could help her start a personal brand.

Some questions I asked her were:

How can you utilize your exisiting audience to build a new one?

How will you go about finding sponsors? What is your sponsor pitch?

When you write emails, do you find a direct contact via LinkedIn or a press release, or do you submit via the contact form?

Her homework for the week was to send me a sample pitch starting with the existing TikTok page to a brand she wanted to have sponsor her dog. This is what she sent me along with what I sent back:

Which pitch is preferred? I say mine: hers was great however, there are simply too many words. When I receive an email longer than two paragraphs, my mind has wandered. I always say: reduce the B.S. in business – can you get right to the point in 1-2 paragraphs? Usually, you can.