QUEEN PEN x Queen of the South

This post is sponsored by USA Network and Queen of the South, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a hustler and I learned to develop a tough skin really early on in life because the neighborhoods that I grew up in, did not start off as the prettiest. I had to learn to be resilient, book smart and street smart, fight for what it was that I wanted and never take "NO" for an answer. 

Although my environment was a tad bit rough, I wouldn't change it for the world because it has made me a fighter and appreciate how far I have gotten in life without sacrificing my morals or beliefs for anyone.

  1. Currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology (with an emphasis in Neuropsychology)
  2. Former Jr. research scientist in Cardiovascular Medicine and the Human Genome Project
  3. Behavioral Therapist in communication, cognitive and behavioral disorders
  4. Co-Author of a book in Clinical Psychology
  5. Fitness/Nutrition business owner
  6. Professional dancer and model
  7. National Honor Society member

.... and the list goes on. 

I say this not to brag about accomplishments, but use it as a reminder to help others who look like me know that there is more to life than what your current situation or environment is providing for you.

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:: OUTFIT DETAILS ::

Dress: Neiman Marcus | Belt: Goodwill find | Pumps: Michael Kors |

Tote bag: Hermes | Sunglasses: Jimmy Choo


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One thing I love about a good series is relating to the main character because it allows me to naturally put myself into their shoes and become immersed in the show for hours. That is how I currently am feeling about the new series Queen of the South. Babyyyyy when I tell you Teresa is a BAD A** , I mean it, and I can definitely relate to her because I consider myself a bad a** too (as any woman should, WE ARE POWERFUL).

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Queen of the South tells the story of Teresa Mendoza who fled to America from Mexico after her boyfriend was suspected of murder. In addition, she teams up with someone from her past to help bring down the leader of a drug trafficking ring that has her on the run. In Season 2, we see Teresa start to come into her own as a Queen Pin by recognizing her power and potential.

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If you haven’t watched this show then you are missing out! In honor of Season 2, I am also sharing with you one of my favorite drinks- Hennessy Sangria. This drink is perfect for your binge-watching party because it’s sweet and fruity (sangria), but sneaks up on you and comes with a bite (Hennessy).

Watch the video below….

8 Style Tips For Looking Good on a Budget

If you’re a bit of a style maven, but find that your budget and credit card bill don’t allow you to be as stylish as you like, then it can be a challenge. There is the constant battle between looking good, feeling good, and avoiding getting yourself into debt unnecessarily. But you know what, your wardrobe doesn’t have to suffer. You can still style yourself well and look good on a bit more of a shoestring budget. There are just a few tips and tricks to learn to help you along the way. You just need to know what they are so you can look out for them. Here are some of my top style tips for dressing well on a budget. 

1. If you have a cheaper blazer or jacket, then the chances are that they have some pretty cheap looking buttons and embellishments on them. But the key to shopping on a budget is to not take things at face value. Can you remove some of the embellishments or replace the cheap plastic buttons for some more stylish looking metal ones? If so, your jacket or blazer can look immediately upgraded, at only the cost of a few buttons. So some basic sewing skills are a must for any fashionista!

 

2. Keeping things simple is a great to look good for less. Take your handbag or purse, for example. Some bags have embellishments on them that just look cheap and tacky. It is pretty hard to do embellishments well, when you’re on a budget, in my opinion. So opt for a more plain and simple looking bag, rather than one with buttons or buckles all over. They bag will be much more versatile this way too, so you’ll be able to wear it with a large amount of outfits.

 

3. When you want to look good but spend less, there are also some shopping tips to follow, not just style tips. One of which is to shop online. There are many ways to save money when you shop online. Quite often there are discounts online that wouldn’t be in the regular stores, as well as looking on discount sites like Coupon Sherpa. Again, you wouldn’t get these kinds of discounts in the stores as they are only available online. You can often get discounts for signing up for mailing lists online too, so be sure to look out for those potential discounts. I know some people that are a bit wary of shopping online, especially when it comes to fashion. But at the end of the day, you could always try something on in a store to make sure you know what size or fit to get. Then you can go home and buy it online, looking for a coupon or discount to get it cheaper. Why pay more if you don’t need to?

 

4. If you can’t afford certain materials, then you need to remember that some styles and materials will look more expensive than others. Take, for example, some pumps in faux leather or faux suede. The faux suede are going to look more expensive than the faux leather ones, so they would be a better material to choose. Having said that, they will only look better if they are darker colors. Beige or nude faux suede can look quite tacky, so only opt for the fake stuff if it is in darker colors. They can look just as good as the real stuff when you do.

 

5. Along similar lines, there are other materials that are going to look more expensive than others. Take linen, cotton, and tweed for clothing styles, for example. These are all materials that often look much more expensive than they actually are. So some linen shorts or pants in summer, are going to look more expensive than they really are. Just make sure that you keep the clothes wrinkle-free. Too many creases can make things look less expensive. So a good iron or a clothes steamer is a great investment for any wardrobe.

6. The color of your clothes often is a good indicator of how expensive clothes are. Some patterns or colors can make clothes look quite cheap, so you do need to take your time to look for the good stuff when you’re out shopping. The second thing that you need to do is to choose darker colors. There are a lot of ways to hide how inexpensive clothes are when they are darker. So navy, browns, blacks (and some nudes) are good color choices for clothes to look more expensive.

 

7. Some coats, jeans, or jackets might come with belts or accessories. But often if these are of the budget variety, then the belts or accessories are pretty budget too. So swapping out these extras or accessories is a great idea. If you can find a funky or vintage belt in somewhere like a thrift store, then swap that out for the cheap option. It can upgrade the look of the jacket or coat pretty instantly. A quick little trick that can work wonders! Thrift shops are always a good idea to look for some hidden gems to accessorize with. You might not find a whole outfit that will work, but some accessories and other bits to use can often be found if you know what you’re looking for.

 

8. Most of the time, the inexpensive clothes are going to be the ones that aren’t lined. So investing in a slip (I say investing, but they’re actually pretty cheap), is a great way to make clothing look more expensive. It lines the clothes well so that they don’t look tacky and see through, and can often make the outfit look better on you. It will help the garment to flow better on you, as well as look more elegant. Plus, you’ve got the added bonus of avoiding some wardrobe malfunctions; always a good thing.

 

Have you got any tips or tricks when it comes to shopping and styling your outfits on a budget? Would love to hear what you think.


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Accessorizing: The Right (And Wrong) Way To Get Creative

The accessories you wear can make an instant impact on your look, lift any outfit, and help you stand out from the crowd. But accessorizing the wrong way can result in a severe style disaster. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to accessorize the right way, and make sure you stay on point, on-trend, and avoid making mistakes.

Keep It Simple

While accessories can lift any outfit, they are also capable of overpowering it completely. You might wear an attractive bunch of bangles as a highlight, for example, but combining it with five or six necklaces is probably overdoing it - and vice versa. Too much jewelry can look a little trashy, so if you want to pile it on, only focus on one particular area and go plain and straightforward everywhere else.

 

Be Appropriate

Don’t turn up for work wearing your chunkiest, dangly earrings - simple and professional is all you need. Keep your playful jewelry and accessories for nights out and special occasions.

 

Don’t Hide

Accessories should complement your clothes, not hide or overpower them. It’s the same principle for your face. A large, low brimmed hat paired with an enormous pair of sunglasses of your choice will make you appear like you are trying to hide, and won’t do your appearance any favors. So, if you are wearing a hat, be sensible about your choice of eyewear. And if you do go for the chunky looking glasses, consider dressing in a smaller hat, cap, or even a headscarf.

 

It’s All About The Bag & Shoes

The plainest of outfits can look stunning with the simple addition of a great pair of shoes - and even more so when you have a bag or a clutch to match. There’s no need to splash out hundreds - or thousands - of dollars on a new pair of Louboutins, however. There are plenty of budget-friendly brands out there and off-season sales where you can pick up bargains and look great for less.

 

Highlight Your Best Points

Accessories can also help you draw attention to your best bits, and away from your worst. For example, if you have a short torso, wearing an enormous chunky belt will draw attention to it. Similarly, if you have thick wrists, you will draw attention to them by wearing tight-fitting bracelets. Instead, think about your body shape and best parts and use your accessories to show them off and draw attention away from the bits of your body you don’t like.

 

Color On Monochrome

If you are wearing a monochrome outfit, choose a more exciting color scheme for your accessories. Similarly, if you are going out in a colorful floral print dress, keep your jewelry and accessories nice and straightforward. Use the color of your accessories to highlight what you are wearing, too. For example, if you are wearing brown clothing, you might offset it with amber or orange stones, or a yellow scarf and shoes.

 

As you can see, it’s easy to get accessorizing wrong - but it won't’ take much to get it right. If you have any tips to share, feel free to do so below!


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Tired of Mall Store Trends? Here's Your Alternative!

There’s nothing wrong with the mall. It’s where the vast majority of Americans do their shopping, after all, and there are many good reasons for doing so: everything is in the same place, its convenient and there are always ongoing sales.

But let’s be honest, if you are into style and great clothing, the mall often lets you down. It might be great for the basics, but ultimately, no one wants to dress in tired, repetitive clothes that look exactly the same as everyone else’s.

The good news is that there has never been a better time for American fashionistas to find alternatives, and we’re going to take a look at some of those different options - so read on to find out more.

 Imports

Thanks to the Internet, we all have the power to buy from anywhere in the world these days. That means you aren’t restricted to local trends and fashions - you can tap into the styles of any country or city on the globe. Yes, it will cost you a little more in delivery and - possibly - import taxes. But if you love those Japanese denim jeans, it can often be cheaper to buy them directly from an online store in Tokyo and ship them over than it would be to buy the same pair from your local independent clothing store.

 

Boutiques

Independent stores give you an opportunity to find clothes that you might not find anywhere else.  If you want to expand your wardrobe, so it includes unique pieces, it’s one of your best and most accessible options. There are online clothing boutiques, and you’ll find real world independents in the trendy areas of every town and city in the country. They are worth supporting, too - most local boutiques rely heavily on a loyal following from their communities.

 

Thrift and vintage stores

My absolute FAV.....

Want to get more bang for your buck? Then head to your local thrift or retro store and start developing relationships with the owners and store staff. You can often spend hours looking in thrift and charity stores without finding anything nice at all, but if you start talking to the staff, you’ll find they will be happy to keep some of the good stuff for you. And here’s another top tip - head out to charity stores in the wealthier areas of your town or city. Some of the clothes and accessories that people hand over are incredible, and you can pick them up for next to nothing.

 

Get busy

Of course, there is another way to improve your current wardrobe without visiting a clothing store at all. If you can get handy with a needle and thread, why not start customizing your current gear? There is plenty of inspiration and tutorials online and in books, so get reading, learn how to customize, and you will be able to imprint your unique style on any item of clothing you currently own.

 

Do you have any tips to add? Let us know about them in the comments section below!


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East African Gal

So it's supposedly Spring in the L.A. area, however, it does not feel like it at all. It has been more cooler and cloudy days than sunny and warm days. Hey, I am NOT complaining! As a Midwest gal (St. Louis to be exact), I am use to experiencing all 4 seasons and what TRUE Spring feels like (of course with more rain). But I did not expect L.A. to be this cool.

Not sure if many of you know, but I moved to the L.A. area from Atlanta last August to start my Doctorate program in Clinical and Neuropsychology (YAY!!) and I have just finished my first year. I could not be more proud of myself, for being able to accomplish my dream of getting into a doctoral program. The journey was long, but it was well worth it. This was the FIRST and ONLY school that I applied to and voila, ya girl got in! With that being said, I literally uprooted my life across the country and went that came a yard sale and everything went from furniture to most of my clothes. Needless to say, this year has been heavily focused on school, my clinical internship and work, so there has been NO TIME to go shopping.

.... and that's where this lovely outfit comes in. 

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This lovely creation happens to be 2 different dresses that I conveniently turned into a top and a pencil skirt ensemble. Desperate times call for desperate measure right? However, this is what makes fashion so beautiful, when you can create unique looks that look amazing.

African print anything is ALWAYS in season because it is so versatile and comes in an assortment of color patterns and it always makes me feel good when I can give an ode to the other half of my heritage. As always, black never goes out of style and I love how this dress converted very easily into a top and the cut outs add for a sexy and playful look. 

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:: OUTFIT DETAILS::

TOP: Guess | SKIRT: Vintage find | CLUTCH: TJ Maxx | SHOES: Traffic Shoe


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How To Lighten Up Your Wardrobe For Summer

As the days get longer and warmer; monochrome and dark colors within your wardrobe have less of an appeal. However, it can sometimes be difficult to incorporate brighter and lighter hues into your everyday attire. If you have a large collection of winter neutrals and darker shades; you’re in luck, as these are versatile colors that can be paired with pretty much any other shade! So it’s time to open your wardrobe doors and make some room for vivid brights and pale pastels.

 

Classic Pieces

Just because you’re adding an influx of lighter clothing into your wardrobe for summer, doesn’t mean that you have to buy throw-away fashion that will only last you until autumn. Investing in new clothes is always an opportunity to think carefully about what you’re missing in your closet, and, more importantly, what you’ll continue to wear when the days begin to get colder again. Classic cut silhouettes, in pale shades, like a crisp shirt or elegant blouse, will lighten up a darker pair of skinny jeans, and if the fit is perfect for your body, you’ll be able to wear it all year round.

The same goes for jeans, skirts, and trousers; keep the cut of the clothing classic, and ensure it flatters your body, then consider the color of each garment. Pastel blues, light taupes, and even white, are beautiful shades that will lift your wardrobe from cloudy to sunshine in no time. Pale colors are also easy to pair with an array of hues, prints, and patterns and can become staple parts of your closet.

 

Statement Items

Statement items are often a way to have fun with fashion. If you’ve seen a color trend or print in all the latest glossy magazines; accessorizing is the perfect way to add that influence into your wardrobe. Don’t shy away from brighter shades because you feel they won’t go with anything; remember you have that neutral and monochrome palette in your closet already, and it’s waiting for that yellow tee you’ve been dreaming about or those teal heels.

If you feel like taking baby-steps into summer; jewelry is another route into introducing hot-weather colors to your look. Adding watery, aqua hues with a Roman glass pendant or ice cream pastels with a few bangles are just a couple of examples of how to lighten up your outfit and rock a trend at the same time. Start layering pieces together in the mirror, and see what works for you.

 

Subtle Shades

If you know what you like when it comes to your style choices, and don’t feel like adding a hot-pink summer dress into the mix, then great news; you don’t have to! Maybe you could add a hot-pink nail color instead, or a fuchsia lip. There are plenty of subtle ways to add that pop of summer to your favorite clothes and ensembles, and it’s so much fun experimenting to see what works. Check out Pinterest for some bright lip color inspiration.

Also, remember you don’t have to go bright with color; just lift and lighten some of the items that are hanging on the wardrobe rail. If you have a favorite style of jeans, simply try them in a lighter shade of denim; the same goes for tops and accessories too. Don’t buy pieces just because they’re on-trend; invest in fashion that will make you feel and look great, but, try the mint-green color instead of the charcoal option.


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Summer Shopping on a Budget

I love the fact that summer is within our reach. After all, it means all the hot new clothes are making their appearance on the shop floor, and it definitely calls for a shopping trip in the very near future. But the trouble is that we might not have the biggest budget at the moment. After all, booking vacations and festivals can take a lot out of funds. However, there are some ways you can still enjoy a shopping trip for your summer wardrobe. In fact, here is how you can do some summer clothes shopping on a budget.

Stick to accessories which you can mix and match

Summer is a great time for accessories. After all, we love to wear sunglasses, oversized bright bags, and cute jewelry during the sunshine months. However, when we haven’t got much to spend, it’s a good idea to get some accessories which we can mix and match with our outfits. That way, we don’t have to spend a ton of money on a load of different accessories.

For example, go for some cute black sunglasses which are suitable to wear with a load of different outfits. That way, you can just put them on whether it’s with casual or formal wear. Also, you might want to go for some simple black and gold jewelry. That way, they can be worn with a range of different colored outfits to add some character. And the gold jewelry will look fantastic when you work on your tan during summer. Don’t forget an anklet too which is a must-have in the summer months.

 

Get some coupons for your summer purchases

Before you go on your shopping trip, you need to look to see if there are any deals going on at your favorite stores. After all, you don’t want to end up buying a new pair of shorts at one store to find they are cheaper elsewhere. If you want to get a wealth of new dresses and summery tops while you are limited to dollars, you should look to see if you can get some coupons. That way, you can reduce the cost of your summer purchases. If you would rather shop online, you can even get codes you can use online like a tillys promo code. That way, you can get new clothes for summer for a cheap rate.

 

Opt for one pair of sandals and flip flops

It’s easy to go mad when it comes to summer shoes. After all, there are more cute shoes around which are perfect for summer. But the truth is you only need a couple of summer shoes that you will practically live in during the summer months. After all, if you go for sandals in a neutral or a black color, they are bound to go with everything, and a pair of funky flip flops will also be perfect to take you from summer days to night. Remember that you don’t have to spend a small fortune on shoes. Look around to find a good deal on a pair which are cheap but still good quality.

 

..... And remember to get a few maxi dresses. After all, they are fab for taking you from day to night during the summer.


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Spring is in Bloom with JORD

Finally, the weather is starting to break and the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining and bringing warmth back into everyday life. My favorite part about Spring is the beautiful color versatility of nature and how you can find amazing backdrops to create gorgeous photo memories! Another favorite of mines in relation to Spring is PASTELS! I love gorgeous neutral colors during this time of year because you can play upon color schemes and always have an outfit that comes out amazing. For me, it adds an air of femininity that I absolutely love.

JORD is also impressed with the beauty nature has to offer because they offer unique and beautifully handmade wooden watches.

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JORD is a company that specializes in creating affordable and sustainable gorgeous natural wood based time pieces for men and women, and they are based out of my hometown of St. Louis, MO! They use 13 different types of natural wood from different countries to create their watches, so you know your purchase will match your sense of style but also contain a bit of history and unique culture.

They sent me their Ebony & Gold watch from the Frankie collection. I just love the East African Ebony wood they used and how this watch can go from the workplace-to casual-to a night out. 

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JORD x The Kashonna Files | GIVEAWAY

Wondering how you can score your own timepiece? Well I have partnered with JORD to do a giveaway where you can receive $100 towards your own unique piece!! All you have to do is enter the contest here ....

There is something for everyone! Each person that enters the contest will receive a $25 credit towards your purchase.

The giveaway will close 05/07/2017 at 11:59pm. Both the $100 and the $25 codes will expire on 07/31/2017.


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How To Pull Together The Perfect Outfit At The Last Minute

It’s happened to the best of us, hasn't it? We’ve gotten home from work eager to curl up on the sofa, order in, and catch up on our current Netflix obsession when disaster strikes! The horror of horrors, you get a friendly text reminding you about after work drinks, a friend's surprise party, or a cozy dinner with the in-laws and although you pretend you haven’t forgotten you totally have!


What’s The Occasion?

Figure out what event you’re supposed to be attending tonight and if you’ve received an actual invitation check that for any sign of a dress code. Next, consider the venue. Is it likely that jeans and a t-shirt will be out of place at an upscale restaurant downtown? More than likely yes, so shelve the hoodie and think about dresses, top and skirt combos or a dressy top, heels and smart jeans. Likewise, you don’t want to turn up at your nephew's sixth birthday party wearing a fur stole and maxi dress, so a cute top and skirt or a pretty casual day dress with flats is ideal.


Pick Out Items Accordingly

The best way to avoid a last-minute panic is to group clothes, not by style or color, but by occasion so all your casual, dressy and formal dresses are in one area, t-shirts, strappy tops and blouses are in another and shirts, skirts and trousers are somewhere else. That way, if you’ve been invited somewhere all you need to do is go the the correct area of your closet and pick out clothes that match the weather, venue and your personal style and off you go! Let’s assume you didn’t quite manage to accomplish this remember what you’ve worn to similar occasions previously and go along those lines. For most semi-formal occasions you can’t go wrong with a little black dress, smart jacket, or full length coat and a pair of classic navy or black heels.


Mix And Match Accessories

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These are what tie an outfit together so think carefully about colors, styles, and necklines. For instance, if you’re wearing a top with an intricate pattern or detailed neckline you’d do better to keep necklaces straightforward and elegant but if your outfit’s quite plain, then you can bling it up by wearing statement jewelry.

Those with certain allergies may find that hypoallergenic plastic earrings are less likely to irritate the skin while still looking beautiful. Choose accessories that aren’t too fiddly to get on because you don’t really have time to be messing around with delicate silver bracelets. Match your jewelry to your skin tone for better effect; warmer skin tones prefer the bronze colors of gold jewelry, while cooler skin tones compliment silver pieces, but of course it’s entirely up to you.


Be One Step Ahead

When this process works correctly you don’t need worry about being late! While in the shower be thinking about what to wear, lay your clothes out while mentally comparing jewelry and shoes to the dress, and while dressing, consider what makeup look you’re going for. By always being one step ahead you can mentally prepare yourself to make decisions quickly and on short notice.


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CAPE Me Away: Fashion Collab x TOBI

Fall is here and I am SO EXCITED to pull out my stylish boots, coats and hats while coasting the LA  streets with my Starbucks in hand. This is my favorite season because I can really showcase my style and layering expertise, so when fashion powerhouse TOBI reached out to me to do a review I was uber excited!

TOBI is an online design label based in Los Angeles where LA is the source of their inspiration. What makes TOBI a unique online only retailer is that they design and develop all of their products and collections out of their downtown LA headquarters. With their quick garment productions from sketch done in only a few weeks, they are able to deliver the best of what’s now in LA.

What sealed the deal for me to work with this brand was their commitment to community service and scholarship with their TOBI Cares programs where they provide scholarships to deserving undergraduates, donate 1% of your purchase to a charity of your choice and sponsor and volunteer with many community organizations. A company that has affordable and amazing fashion pieces that supports the community is one that I can support wholeheartedly.

                                                         :: OUTFIT DETAILS::                   Cape Blazer: TOBI.com | Sheer Blouse: Zara | Boyfriend Jeans: Old Navy                                                      Nude Pumps: Michael Kors

                                                         :: OUTFIT DETAILS::

                  Cape Blazer: TOBI.com | Sheer Blouse: Zara | Boyfriend Jeans: Old Navy

                                                     Nude Pumps: Michael Kors

TOBI sent me their Garrison Cape Blazer which was a perfect addition to my Fall wardrobe collection. I have been wanting a cape blazer for the longest time because I love how they add an extra flair to a simple day causal look (as seen in the pics) or add drama to a night on the town look. 

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I wanted the focus to be all about the cape blazer because the red is such a statement piece, so I paired it with a sheer brown button up, boyfriend ripped jeans and my nude heels. I added the gold necklaces for added flair.

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Shop this look and more of their fabulous unique finds at TOBI.com and first timers receive 50% off at checkout!

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:: SHOOT DETAILS ::

Photographer: Donald Franklin dfportrait.com

Makeup: Claire Gonella clairegonella.com


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