Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Dumblonde

When Disfunkshion magazine requests an interview, I always "do my homework" on the subject. I browse the internet to see what I can learn about them, to ground myself in who they are and what to showcase, and to judge if I am connected to sharing their depth. It's google search & gut check!

Dumblonde presented a new challenge for me: an electro-dance/pop musical group. Plus, these women started their musical careers as members of P.Diddy's girl group "Danity Kane" from his show "Making the Band." They had since parted ways with the group and it's "old guard" and were committed to carving their own place in the industry, on their terms.

So long as I didn't have to mention ANY of that history, or pretend to have expertise on "electro-pop," I was willing to take the assignment. I began this interview with the desire to showcase who these women are TODAY, who they want to be for their audience, and who they are for one another. Plus according to videos online and radio interviews alike, they were constantly being asked about their past. If I was moving forward with such force and success (and a badass sisterhood), the last thing I would want, would be to continue to address what was behind me. 

Your Roots are Showing: A Closer Look at Dumblonde

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

With pure soul, depth, courage and trust in one another, the women behind the independent alternative Dance/Pop group, Dumblonde, are making music their way and unapologetically.

From initial idea and sound, to vision and artistry, the duo Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex are touching every part of the creative process and balancing each role effectively. As Shannon explains, the creative execution comes from “above all, staying true to your vision and not allowing complacency, negativity, others opinions, or being tired to rule the outcome.” Which may sound easy for some, but with 48+hour video shoots, city tours, practices and performances, these women choose to lean on one another and balance their strengths. For Aubrey, their partnership means “[they] each excel in what each other lacks; and because [they] are VERY smart blondes, [they] are always paying attention to how powerful that message is.”

The balance the pair achieves so brilliantly is attributed to two central themes the women shared separately: Passion and fearlessness. These elements drive who they are day-to-day and the bigger picture of their reach and influence. Shannon cultivates the desire to be, “remembered for my compassion and love. Nobody is perfect, [she] prays to be known for how [she] accepts others for how imperfect they are but true to their heart.” This compassion is exactly what Aubrey looks to Shannon for. “She taught me that unconditional love is real and reminds me daily of the patience that is required to achieve it.” As an artist who continues to evolve, Aubrey wants Dumblonde to be remembered for, “fearlessness to constantly overcome and reinvent professionally and personally, and being unafraid to step outside the box and take risks with our sound, brand, visuals and overall creativity.”

Their candid soul and drive for unadulterated artistry carve a point of view that transcends music alone. It is Aubrey’s hope that independent creators gain more opportunity and access in the music industry. Especially because for her, “The entire point of art is creation and exploration and stepping outside boxes. When the business becomes more important than the freedom of that, the art suffers…when the art suffers so do the people that are inspired by it.” The lesson she shares applies to anyone following the depths of their creativity and those who are then willing to support and empower others in doing the same. As Shannon aptly states it, “Just believe in your own beauty and light. What you bring nobody else can or ever will. There is power in that knowledge. Don’t get in your own way and always encourage your sister…your journeys are unique and your God given purpose is real.”

*The lovely ladies even indulged in some quick "fun facts" with me, at the conclusion of the interview.

Favorite Food/Drink  

  • Shannon: Really good Italian & a glass of wine
  • Aubrey: sushi and a moscow mule  

Favorite Guilty Pleasures

  • Shan: riding horses, vodka martinis straight up
  • Aubrey: Dog parks, vending machine snacks

Favorite Book

  • Aubrey: The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Shannon: Girl Boss (currently reading)

 Your Spirit Animal 

  • Shannon: I would have to say a horse. I’ve always been drawn to them in a deep way. To me they are regal, elegant full of strength and yet striking and full of grace. They are independent, trusting, loyal and can only be tamed as far as they allow. Forever wild at heart they are still humble and meek enough to serve others needs. 
  •  Aubrey: bird. They soar.. roam.. have a view of the overall picture more than the specifics. Are the link between heaven and earth.  

How would you describe your personal style?

  • Aubrey: constantly evolving, and I love taking risks. 
  • Shannon: Simple/Classic

Who wears the pants in the relationship?

  • Aubrey: Shan. Ewe I don't like pants. 
  • Shannon: depends on the day

Describe the other in one word.

  •  Shannon: She is “passionate”
  • Aubrey: she is "compassionate"

 

You can explore more of the talent and creativity of Dumblonde >>here<<

Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Maryam Montague

My next interview for Disfunkshion Magazine, required me to dialogue with an incredibly diverse woman, Maryam Montague. As soon as I was given my assignment, and learned my subject lived in Morocco,  I quickly dug into my research and the depths of Maryam. I was eager to learn more about the multiple mediums of creativity she uses for both personal expression and community support. Maryam teaches us to champion our pursuits and celebrate our intrigues, our individuality, and our vastness. Read on below to hear more on her perspective and how she is connecting her global audience to Morocco's abundant artistry. 

The Practice of Dynamism with Maryam Montague

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

A truly multi-faceted woman and an inspiration to many, Maryam Montague is a visionary and an entrepreneur who is limitless in her creative expression. Through her vast capabilities and her successful businesses, Maryam is both a force and a foundation. She is a catalyst for the creativity and empowerment of others. 

Maryam's connection to culture begins with her personal draw to new ideas, thirst for a challenge, and execution of different ways to interact with the world around her. She mentions, “When I am outside of my comfort zone and working on a challenging project, that’s when I feel the most alive and inspired, particularly when my ideas start to come together in new ways.”  Through this stimulation and a commitment to humanitarianism, Maryam has grown many projects under her self-titled brand. “I created my brand to be an aspirational lifestyle destination for the modern nomad. It is under that umbrella that I have my blog, My Marrakesh, my shop, my hotel and my charity, Project Soar.”

Each venture began as a curiosity, manifested into an idea, and was put into motion as a personal practice. “I look at the world through curious eyes and am constantly traveling, studying, learning and collecting… A decorative detail, ritual, or belief will often act as a springboard for a series of actions or products.” This momentum flows freely within her own home--a Moroccan boutique hotel appropriately named, Peacock Pavilions. It is within these walls that Maryam, her husband, her children and even her pets open their hearts to guests from around the globe.  

Nestled among olive groves in Marrakesh, Peacock Pavilions is a hot bed for inspiration, interior design, and personal connection. Built in nomadic fashion and with carefully curated wares, the hotel makes conscious living and artisan goods accessible to all. By focusing on wellness and creativity retreats Peacock Pavilions continually attracts leaders and individuals seeking what Maryam knows Marrakesh to source: “Inspiration and renewal.” Through the hotel and the education shared on its grounds, she "encourage[es] people to contemplate a nomadic-inspired lifestyle...[by providing] a safe and beautiful space for them to try it”

If you can’t cross the globe, you can access Maryam’s collaborations, reflections, and locally sourced products from her shop, blog, social media platforms and her latest book, “Marrakesh by Design.” Each endeavor supports the work of Project Soar, yet another facet of Maryam and her generous spirit. Her non-profit organization provides art, sports, and health education programming to “keep [local] girls in school, breaking the cycle of girl brides and early motherhood, while preparing girls to lead full and productive lives.” As she continues to share this work and her personal disciplines, she hopes her children learn to “view the world compassionately and make a real contribution to making the world a better place.”

Maryam is an example that each of us is capable of living a life of social influence, creativity, and connection with our community. As women, Maryam believes it is especially important that we explore the idea of our own dynamism. She mentions, “I believe that women lead far more unidimensional lives than they were created for.  Too often they limit themselves to motherhood, marriage and their one 9-5 job.  I believe that multiple worlds reside in each of us.” We can all share in the abundance of life if we are willing to use curiosity to fuel our own potential. By sharing our ideas, supporting one another and trusting in our unique abilities, we can shape our world.

For additional empowerment and to explore the world of Maryam Montague, check out the links below:

Blog | Instagram | Pinterest | Shop | Hotel | Charity 

read more about the work and spirit of Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Cat Lee

At the end of 2015, I reached out to a magazine that I stumbled across on Instagram. They had a free-spirited vibe with loads of female empowerment undertones and used wildly vivid colors and energy (hell yeah!). As soon as I saw they had both a headquarters in Hawaii and Florida, I knew I had to reach out. 

I crafted an email sharing who I was, my website, and a selection of my writing. I offered to provide style &/or writing content, then took a deep breath and sent the email off into the hands of "the web." To my surprise and excitement, I quickly received an email back from the editor-in-chief herself; providing praise for my work and point-of-view, and the chance to share both through the magazine. We discussed potential writing options and the promise I would have "a go" at an article in the near future. Soon enough, I was given my first interview with a beautifully genuine Australian artist, Cat Lee.

I found something I connected to, took a risk for my creativity, and remain open to the diversity and adventure I gain through writing. 

Now on my tenth article for the magazine, and thriving in the variety through creativity, I am pleased to share that very first opportunity----my published work, my crafted words, and the magic of an interviewer and a subject who though miles apart, connected so quickly and effortlessly. 

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Disfunkshion Magazine, Volume 23

                                                     Disfunkshion Magazine, Volume 23

you can read her feature below:

Unbound Creative Visions with Cat Lee

by: Leah Lou

"the tallest poppy is the first to see the sunrise"

She spends her days immersed in nature and paying attention to its subtle movements; to the gifts and inspiration that come from meditation, creative play, and choosing each moment. From conceiving an idea to developing it in full fruition, Australian artist Cat Lee is living, examining, and constructing a creative life. 

To live a creative life requires finding your personal joy and having the confidence to go after it day, after day, after day. Like an artist with a unique point-of-view, you can curate a life that brings you vibrancy, an understanding of the world around you, and a respect for your unique role in it. Cat believes “we all are creating our life; our own future; by every choice. I know the life I’d like to live and the world I would like to live in, so, I use this as a guide to how I choose to act; how I choose to see; who I choose to spend time with; what I choose to think; what I choose to hear and what I choose to say.”

Through the use of rich color and a deep respect for nature, Cat Lee can create pieces with both vigor and extravagance while evoking a peaceful and relatable energy. From where she stands, “there is so much sadness in the world and I truly believe happiness is so important to lift our energy to enable us to create change.” She chooses to adorn each of her animal pieces to provide that gateway to happiness and reveal the essence of that animal, as well as to shape her audience’s connection to these feeling creatures. 

It is because of her connection and conviction that she is able to express herself so freely. When it comes to her art, “I find starting the hardest part and I realize it’s because the first step is totally up to me.  Once the foundation has been laid, I let go of all control and allow the artwork to tell me what it requires.”

The power and freedom of personal choice requires that same first step; placing trust in the work and committing to the beauty of the end result. When Cat begins a piece, she “makes a huge mess of the foundation and works to resolve it. Starting with mess is so much easier than perfection.” The same can be said of each of us who steps into each day with the history and mess of the weeks, months, and years before. The mess is what provides experience, character, and pure personality. As a single mother and former “9-to-5” worker, Lee puts a great amount of work into the direction her life is going now. She too is inspired by and “energized when I’m around others who recognize their true calling and are bravely living it.”

So how do we express ourselves freely and walk through our own lives with courage, choice, and artistry? We stand tall. We give voice and expression to our own truth. We become like poppies. Cat introduced the deeply rooted cultural and social term, “tall poppy syndrome; a tendency for Australian people to keep others small if they seem like they’re breaking out of what’s the norm.” For her, the term criticizes those individuals who want to showcase their talents, celebrate their own merits, and simply be their best selves, no matter how weird. To stunt the growth of one another and push for “normalcy” would mean we all stop growing, learning, and sharing from different vantage points. We shape one another best by being ourselves. In doing so, we give each other the safe space to create from our mess, layer our own canvas, and develop at our own pace. 

What does Cat Lee wish women would be more aware of? She mentions, “I absolutely hope the message comes across to other women; young and young at heart; that regardless of what anyone says, you must Be Yourself; build each other up and there’s no need to compete.  The people in the world who we look up to and who are inspiring others the most are those who are truly being themselves.” 

You can find more of Cat Lee's work >>here<< 

and view the work and spirit of Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

Party Style + Collaboration with The Flair Exchange

A month ago I had the fabulous opportunity to pair personal style with whimsical party products; showcasing the ease of executing both for any occasion. I met the mastermind behind this collaboration (Carmen of The Flair Exchange) for quick cocktails and we connected instantly. Not only did our project merry personal and party flair, but it brought together local, driven, and creative women to share their individual talents. 

Check out more images + my style tips over on The Flair Exchange's blog:

  • Learn why a dress is chic and effortless party attire >>here<<
  • Learn how to rock sequins and load on the gems for a confident New Year's Eve >>here<<

{all images by the incredible Amalie Orrange}

comparison

There is one wicked constant in which we all share...across generations, occurring rapidly during most moments in the company of others (and heavily on social media), and is crippling only when you give it too much credibility.

What is this sneaky beast?

Comparison.

and we all do it.

Of course we know it shows up when you're reading a magazine; looking at the perfectly photoshopped women on the covers and in the spreads who are meant to look effortless yet "out of reach." Potentially "attainable" if you buy the right products, subscribe to a certain diet or workout regimen, and spend heavy for the most figure-flattering looks and luxury accessories. 

 

We also know it shows up glaringly on social media where you get a perfectly altered snapshot of unrealistic moments in that accounts life (not everyone but most). 

 

You can't help but feel it at a social gathering where everyone is meant to share about themselves; asking "what do YOU do?" and "what does your husband do?" uggggh. gag. will you measure up?

 

I just came back from a glorious weekend in Arizona, celebrating the marriage of a dear friend and attending to her as a bridesmaid. She was stunning, the setting was beautiful, and there were many social gatherings where I truly connected with both her family and new friends.I mention this because I experienced moments of being hyper aware of comparison. Not just because I was meeting several new people but also because I was engaging in small talk; an exchange I am not fond of from the outset. The double-edged sword is that small talk is the very thing that can lead to genuine connection, increased knowledge and understanding, and a deeper conversation as a whole.In all sorts of conversations over the weekend, I used comparison to remind me of qualities I wanted to sharpen:- patience- approachability- asking more questions/engaging 

  I often say this because though I may want to know more about someone, I don't always ask the questions to get me there. 

I used comparison to remind me to focus on what I am grateful to have in my own personality, my relationships, and in the life I choose for myself.

***See... comparison can be the boost/cheerleader you need to affirm your decisions, your actions, and to cut yourself some slack!

 

I used comparison to see the trap one could easily set for yourself if you give it too much credibility. After all, what can you really know about the depths of someone else's life and those assessments and judgments aren't healthy for them or you. 

 

So what do we do with comparison then? 

 

You control it. You keep a healthy view of your own reality against the perception of another. 

 

How?

 

1. You guard the parts about yourself that you love.

 You are an amazing individual who navigates the world with your unique perspective. Stand on those qualities that allow you to be your best self, effortlessly. 

 Don't allow comparison to weaken what makes you strong

2. You use it to your advantage

 as I said before, you can use comparison to "sharpen" but not completely alter who you are. there is always something to be learned about yourself against the backdrop of others; become expansive and you'll experience so much more out of the richness of relationships

3. Take it with a grain of salt

 put the phone down if you have to, disconnect from social media if the comparison becomes negative and self-destructive. remember that you are only getting a snippet of what someone is willing to share about themselves (this includes conversations too). and we all like to be seen in the best light.

4. Let it go when you need to

 don't torture yourself or others. too much comparison can become harmful. stop before you're consumed; back away so that you remain confident in your own skin.

 

Comparison can strangle yet comparison can elevate. Decide how you want to experience it and exercise your right to control or dismiss it.

lululemon lifestyle shoot

It's no secret i lurrrrrve me some lululemon and quite frequently sneak it into my outfits...even when I'm not working out. I partnered with the gorgeous new Winter Park location to create looks that showcase that very notion; style AND function, beauty AND strength. 

Of course I had to utilize the talented Amalie Orrange Photography to capture our work and take advantage of the morning light off "the avenue." You can also find our models, Riki and Kurt, in the store and happy to help you find the right clothes to support both your workout and now...your streetwear.

 Check out all the looks below!

LULULEMON-Lululemon with Copyright-RikiCUHood.jpg

Clothing and models provided by lululemon athletica Winter Park

Accessories & Styling by me, Leah Lou

Photography by Amalie Orrange Photography

 

 

Goddess Glam

I've posted 5 outfits for the past few weeks as a part of my instagram photo build-up series, #fulllookfriday and this 6th look is truly a favorite. Not only does the style encompass a feeling of elegance but it evokes light, warmth, simplicity, and ease (big proponent of marrying these descriptors). I scored this stunning Rachel Pally dress from my hometown boutique, Therapie. At the time I had no idea how or where I would wear a long flowing jersey-knit goddess dress but I knew it felt incredible on, was fitted yet loose in all the right places, and begged for a special occasion. -A photo session with Amalie Orrange Photography is always a special occasion ;) Especially when she found this stunning ivy wall, spanish tile ledge, and we had a perfect moment with the shining sun. 

These phases of the moon and stars cut-out bangles were a gift from a client/friend/life partner that were snagged from Bauble Bar. These rings are from my personal collection & curated over several years. 

I utilized this stunning beaded headband by Deepa Gurnani to keep the frizz of my wavey hair contained during midday Jamlando (Orlando for everyone else) humidity. Shortly after we started shooting, I tucked the bottom tendrils into the banded portion of this headpiece and created a 20s/greek goddess-inspired hair that looks like the pros did it ! Easy, beautiful, and kept my confidence up as the temperatures rose. 

This necklace was a gift from my mother-in-law and a killer find at a vintage boutique in Tampa, Rare Hues

Images: Amalie Orrange Photography

Styling/Modeling/Straight Eyeliner: Leah Lou

Dress: Therapie Boutique by Rachel Pally

Headband: Deepa Gurnani

Bangles: Bauble Bar

Necklace: Rare Hues

Sandals: Rosie by Lindsay Phillips

 

Safari Inspiration: 2 Chic Ways to Wear It

A few years ago I took the opportunity to spend three weeks volunteering in a rural village in Africa. The beauty of the people, landscape, and wildlife has never left me. Expansive plains and majestic creatures feet from our lodging truly made me value simplicity, nature, and the present moment. At times I have to take myself back there just to tap into that source.

This post shows you two ways to wear African-inspired prints (one giraffe, the other zebra) with chic pieces and bold accessories. 

Beaded ring:Zou Zou Boutique

Horn Bangle: Rifle Paper Co. 

Bracelet: hand-made by an artist at the Riverside Arts Market 

I decided to make these pants more "safari" than "nautical" inspired; Since the stripes are black and thin, they lend themselves toward a variety of unexpected looks. The trick to a high-waist anything with a belt, is to keep your top tighter or tucked in so that you keep the focus on your beautiful waist and don't lose your feminine shape.

  Giraffe Print Tank: h&m

Striped Flowy Wide-leg Pants: Zara

*Druzy Cuff, Bracelet, and Ring were gifts or hand-picked from places I don't remember

Fedora Hat: Zara

Necklace: Dora Mae Jewelry (one-of-a-kind vintage-made-modern pieces)

This Zebra print dress has been incredibly versatile and easy to throw on for hot days, a quick errand, and even a trip to the beach. The zipper detail allows for some adjustment in fit through the chest and the shirt-tail hem allows for both a flirty leg and some booty-coverage. I drew out the black detail of the zebras and added my trusty black gladiators to give this look some edge.  

Give "Safari-Inspired" looks a try--see what creative ways you can put your own spin to it!

Dress: Splendid purchased from Therapie Boutique

Gladiators: old Urban Outfitters find

All Images: Amalie Orrange 

Spring Florals and India Vibes

I'm going to reveal something about my photo shoots here...

Too soon? Do we know each other well enough yet?

When Amalie and I style and shoot together, we stop at spots that speak to us in the moment. The pre-planning/location scouting is minimal and the intuition/spontenaity is maximal. Yes, that is where the magic happens. For this look we wanted to marry the deep green of my dress with a bright, BRIGHT pop of another hue. Naturally The Orange Studio came to mind. 

We were also on the hunt for a bougainvillea, as they are currently in full and glorious bloom in the sunshine state. This sprawling one invited us into someone's side yard and left us feeling like we were a part of an Anthropologie catalog.  

Messy bun and straight eyeliner: Me

Earrings: Larissa Loden

Bracelets: Vintage Chloe Lane Boutique

Clutch: Marshalls find

Stunning Dress: Calypso St. Barth

Fringe Ankle Booties: Dolce Vita

All Images by the soulful Amalie Orrange Photography

Festival Fringe

Music Festival season is upon us and whether you attend, soak up all the fashion through social media, or don't even know what I'm talking about...there's inspiration to be had from the care-free vibes and effortless looks. 

Fringe has been inching its way into the fashion scene for awhile and is fully realized with the current style focus on the hippy trippy, classicly-cool era of the 1970s. I love bringing texture and movement to my outfits and the construction of fringe does just that in one swoop! 

As the weather heats up, the promise of summer seems to call for light-weight and easy breezy.

Layered turquoise and gold accents draw out the navy of this fabulous susana monaco high-neck shift dress (zou zou boutique) and the taupes of the kimono (therapie boutique). 

Sonya Renee's take on the classic hoop is both unique and beautiful; I love how their hammered texture shimmers when they catch light. Stackable rings by Wanderlust + Co are playful, funky, and a great way to try out the "midi" ring. 

These beaded bracelets from Chavez for Charity, are easy to layer (I could load up my entire arm!) and go toward a variety of charities. Talk about a "feel-good!"

 

Vintage jewelry always adds a personalized touch and era inspiration to any outfit. Lately I can't help but don any long beaded necklace from Dora Mae. She has the time and vision to take vintage treasures and give them new life and new luster. 

To complete the entire look, I HAD to throw in more fringe (the more, the fringier right?!?!?) with some killer peep-toe booties from Dolce Vita. I'm not much for heels so these babies add some femininity, edge, and bring some strut to my stuff! 

Images by the talented Amalie Orrange Photography