Sunday, March 31, 2013

.hello, spring! And a happy Easter to you all.

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Today, I want to wish all of you a wonderful day of Spring, and a most blessed Easter!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

lovin' printic!

#printic is the next best thing to sliced bread. Seriously.

Ooh . . . #printic

I adore #printic!

#printic


There's a new Apple app that I am pretty stoked about!  Found via Victoria Smith's blog, sfgirlbybay, Printic is an app that turns your iPhone photos into prints and, AND!!! mails them for you for FREE!  The cost of each pic is 99¢, with a minimum of 3 photos per purchase, but as I said, shipping is free.  I had to order some myself just to see, and I can tell you, in just a few days time (like 3), I got my little photos and I am thrilled!  Thrilled I tell you!!  So for those of us who love the convenience of shooting with our iPhones (this app is not yet available for Android.  Sorry!), who also love seeing our postal workers deliver more than just bills to our mailboxes, this app is for you.  




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pure Life | an interview with Victoria Chavez

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bubble tea

Victoria Chavez and little Emilia of Pure Life Organics in Downtown Wilmington, NC

If you are ever in downtown Wilmington, one of the places you'd visit would be the Cotton Exchange, a historic site made up of several buildings that at one time had been one of the largest exporters of cotton here on the east coast.  Now, its buildings house several different businesses ranging anywhere from gift shops, art galleries, restaurants, and more.  One of these businesses happens to be Pure Life, a health food store and juice bar owned and operated by Victoria Chavez.  I met Victoria nearly three years ago, when our family first moved the Cape Fear area.  At the time, her shop was a bit smaller, and located in another building.  Today, her storefront sits right on North Front Street, gaining a lot of traffic from passerbys, as well as, college students anxious to drink down one of her popular bubble teas.  Unlike many of the other health food stores in town, Victoria offers more than just herbal teas, vitamins, gluten-free and organic items, she also has her own line of health and beauty products.  Everything from shampoos, soaps, ointments, and even a line of baby products she named after her little girl, Emilia.  I wanted to learn more about Victoria and her business, and I was so pleased that this amazing and inspiring woman agreed to sit down and share her story with me.

Originally from Bronx, New York, Victoria got her start in the health food business at the age of sixteen, working for a local health food store in West New York, New Jersey.  Before this time, she already had quite a good grasp of herbology, owing a lot of what she knows about it from her maternal grandmother, a woman of Ta√≠no Indian decent from Puerto Rico.  Victoria recalls the memory of how she landed her job at the health food store.  She was in the process of graduating two years early from high school with honors, working part-time for a local hospital in their youth clinic, all during an extremely difficult time in her life.  "I really needed a job so that I could find my own place. Every day, I would pass by this health food store.  They had a HELP WANTED sign in their window so every day I would go in and ask 'Are you guys hiring?' And every time the answer was 'No.'  So one day, I went in and asked again and when the lady told me 'no', I said 'So if you're not hiring, why do you have a HELP WANTED sign in your window?!"  Her persistence paid off.  The woman took her upstairs to speak with the store owner.  The owner, Richard, underestimating her capabilities due to her young age, had made Victoria an offer.  She would have two weeks to learn about every single vitamin they carried: their properties, scientific names, and health benefits.  If she passed the test, she would be hired on.  Seeing the unfairness of the near impossible task, the owner's mother secretly assisted Victoria by giving her tips on how to remember all the information she needed to know about each vitamin.  Needless to say, when the two weeks were up, Victoria passed his test with flying colors.  She was hired.  And for nearly 3 years, she would work there, learning as much as she could about running a business, from bookkeeping, product knowledge and customer service.  She happily and gratefully recalls everyone who took their time to teach her the skills she needed to be successful.  "Nelly, the woman I kept pestering about the job, was such a huge blessing to me.  She taught me how to balance things like checkbooks, and how to save money.  And, Richard!  He has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I owe a lot to him."

After turning nineteen, Victoria moved on to work as an accountant for companies up and down the east coast.  "I made a lot money doing it, but I hated it.  I hated my job."  In 2000, she moved to North Carolina.  Here, she had worked several different types of jobs ranging from accounting and even to social work, trying to find a career that best suited her.  A few years later, in 2007, between her savings and an inheritance, she managed to gain quite a bit of capital to start her own business.  "I had this money and I thought, 'What am I going to do with it?'  I was thinking about opening a coffee shop, a clothing store, but I didn't like any of those options.  Then I started thinking about what makes me really and entirely happy.  And that's how Pure Life came along.  I remembered that the happiest years of my life were when I was working in the health food store.  I enjoy being with people and helping people, and seeing their faces light up when I do."

Since its humble beginnings six years ago, Pure Life continues to grow.  With the addition of a juice bar, Victoria has been able to provide even more to her customers by offering healthy drinks made with organic fruits and vegetables.  Within the next few years, Victoria plans to further her already extensive knowledge of homeopathic remedies by attending a school for natural medicine.  In the meantime, she happily continues to assist her clientele by providing natural, holistic alternatives for any ailment or need.  One of her most popular items happens to be the Miracle Skin Relief ointment.  Based on one of her grandmother's original recipes, this handmade ointment, made up of several different oils and herbs, has been used to relieve many skin irritations such as rash, burns, as well as, psoriasis and eczema.  It can also be used as a moisturizer, and with frequent use, has also helped minimize scarring from burns to acne.  Personally, I can tell you that this product works AND it smells wonderful!

 When asked what advice she had for individuals who desire to make healthier changes to their diet, but feel that it is too costly, she answers, "Start slow.  If you feel that it's too expensive to buy organic, it's true, it's expensive, just stop buying junk food.  You save money that way.  Replace the junk food with something healthier, like more fruits and vegetables."  Victoria also encourages people to consider growing produce in their own yards, or in a community garden.  However, if gardening is something that you're not quite ready to pursue, try making a point to start purchasing foods locally grown from a farmer's market.  She also suggests that folks should spend their funds buying more food to make at home versus the cost of eating out.  "This way, instead of eating for just one meal, you would have several days worth."  It all makes complete sense.  "People need to realize that eating healthier is possible, you just have to think differently about how you spend your money."


The difference people will feel when walking into her store versus some of the larger health food markets is that she takes the time to get to know her clients.  "When our customers come in to our store, especially the ones that do come in frequently, we know about their dog, about their kids, we know their medical history, we know about what supplements they're taking, and what they're not taking.  We pretty much know what's going on in their lives because we work with them one-on-one.  We build relationships.  We don't see them as just a customer, we see them as family.  We make each visit about you, and not about how much you're spending.  Whether you're spending a dollar or three hundred dollars, you'll be treated the same way because you're my customer.  You become a part of Pure Life."

Victoria is a smart, beautiful, and vibrant young lady, shaped greatly by her life experiences.  She has managed to find a way to balance the task of running a small, yet growing business, as well as raising a beautiful baby girl.  Her energy, enthusiasm, and determination has brought her the happiness she enjoys today.  She gives thanks for who she is, and where she has come in life to her faith in God, and to her wonderful family, specifically to her husband who always encouraged her creativity and the pursuit of her dreams; and also to her grandmother who has been her greatest inspiration and spiritual leader.  Full of the kind of wisdom that one would expect from someone much older than herself, I can truly say that Victoria is a modern day Medicine Woman, and I am truly grateful and honored to have spent this time getting to know her.   


To view and purchase some of Victoria's products, visit her website at www.purelifeorganic.com.  


Thursday, March 21, 2013

a busy month and a good laugh!

Back to work!

Happy Spring everyone!!  The sun is out in full force here in Wilmington, North Carolina, but the temperatures outside are still CHILL-eee!  Today, we are looking at a sunny 50˚.  And now that the weather talk is out of the way, I hope this finds all of you well and excited about the change of season.  I know I am! 

Well, so far, March has been proving to be a pretty busy month for me.  Last week, my wonderful cousin Chelsea flew in from Phoenix, Arizona.  A grad school student, this trip to the Atlantic on her spring break was a much needed reprieve for her, and I enjoyed every minute of her stay.  The days were filled with a ton of laughter (you'll see one of the reasons why here in a minute) and a lot of good, really good conversation.  I also shot some photos for a local lighting business, met with a couple of people about upcoming photo shoots, AND I finally joined my local YMCA.  Yay!  Starting to see some exciting things sprouting up around here.  

This month, I've also picked up my Character Project, an on going series focusing on interesting and inspiring folks who are willing to share their stories.  In the next couple of days, I'll share with you an interview I did with Victoria Chavez, the founder and owner of Pure Life Organics.  But until that post, I leave you with a few images from my "A Day Out with Iris" series.  (Iris being my younger sister who couldn't be here when our cousin was in town.  We didn't want her to feel left out.  Needless to say, she's the one with her head on a stick!)  Cheers!


It all started innocent enough.
It all started innocent enough.  A couple sheets of paper, glue, a wooden stick, and a handful of giggles.


It all started innocent enough.

Where's Iris?!
Where's Iris?!

It all started innocent enough.
THERE SHE IS!!

Looking for a new tee.

Iris, I thought you LOVED sushi?!


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It all started innocent enough.

It all started innocent enough.


Friday, March 8, 2013

we roam | a video by ryan marshall



You know, I love a good story, and if you can't already tell, I'm a sucker for visual storytelling. Vimeo is my favorite channel.  With digital cameras also playing the role of the video recorder, it's no wonder that many photographers are also stepping over, and quite brilliantly may I add, into the realm of videography.  Ryan Marshall of Pacing the Panic Room is one such photographer.  And let me just say, he's a darn good storyteller, but as you'll see in this video, he is also one heck of a poet!  


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

test roll | pentax k1000

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I promised you pictures, well here they are.  Some of them anyway.  I think this little Pentax and I will become very good friends!  



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

longing for spring

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Color!  Oh how I miss you so!  In truth, I actually love the bleakness of Winter, but after so long, the eyes and brain begin to crave the stimulation that only the colors of the rainbow can bring.  I guess one of the beauties about winter months is that they make us appreciate the glory of warmer temperatures and the vibrancy of nature in bloom.  

So, with camera in tow (the new to me Pentax K1000) I headed over to the Wilmington Arboretum to see if perhaps Spring decided to send any messages about her impending arrival.  There were a few. Many of the camellias were already in full bloom, however, perhaps as a way to remind us that this is still her time, it looked as if Winter's frosty fingers could not help but to pinch their soft petals 'til they wilted just a little.  She still technically has 3 weeks to hang around you know.  

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I'll be sharing my film scans from today's adventure tomorrow.  So stay tuned!  Happy week friends!