Must Haves for Back to School

Some may already be back to school BUT for those in NJ, they still have some time to soak up the sun.  I honestly don’t know many who think back-to-school shopping is an exciting time of the year except those who graduated from crayons and glue sticks to a college campus!   I am sure many wish colleges and universities sent out a handy school supply shopping list like they did during the first 12 years of school.  This way we could put together the must-haves for those first time college students….

School in style

Good grades are important, but who said studying can’t be stylish, too? Whether you’re hitting the library, meeting a project group at a local coffee shop or running to class, there’s a Thirty-One bag for every student.

Are you a nothing-but-the-essentials kind of person? The Call Me Crossbody is the perfect size for your smartphone and a few cards when you’re on-the-go. If you need to pack a little more but still love the convenience of a hands-free bag, a Boutique Backpack can hold a few books, a water bottle, keys and more while also adding a chic pop to a casual outfit. And if you need to pack for a day’s worth of classes or need a work bag for your internship, the Around Town® Tote is perfect for books, folders and your laptop.

Dorm organization hacks

Space is limited in a college dorm room, so maximize every inch by investing in utility products which are durable, functional and come in the cutest prints.

Stow a Large Utility Tote  (LUT) under your bed to hold shoes or seasonal clothes that could take up space in your closet. With tons of prints available, from staple neutrals to whimsical cacti, you can match your LUT to your bedding or wall art. A Stand Tall Bin is the perfect size for a hamper or laundry basket, plus it comes in handy during move-in and collapses for easy storage. Guess what?  The Stand Tall Bin is on SALE this month.  Get TWO with a $35 purchase!  Finally, organize your desk or study space with a  Fold N’ FileTM, Double Duty® Caddy or Littles Carry-AllTM Caddy to hold documents, pens and office supplies.

Lunch break

You may not be packing PB&Js for the cafeteria anymore, but every busy college student needs to eat – and chances are you’ll be doing it on the go. Make snacking between classes a breeze with a lunch thermal that matches your personality. Choose a Thermal Tote in a bold, bright print or go for the Lunch Break Thermal Ltd. in elevated fabrics and finishes. With so many options, there’s a great lunch bag for every student.

Not your average backpack

You don’t have to leave your trusty backpack behind in grade school. In fact, when your classes and meetings are on opposite sides of campus, there’s no better way to stay organized and prepared than with a backpack for every occasion.

Heading over to the rec center for a quick workout? Grab a Cinch Sac or Sling-Back Bag to carry your water, headphones, deodorant and a change of clothes. Looking for something a little roomier for class? Go with the Adventures Backpack, complete with a thermal pocket for drinks and snacks, or the Crossbody Organizing Tote for organization on the go.

Weekend reset

After you’ve worked hard all week, it’s nice to have the weekend to relax, have fun and take some time for yourself. Whether it means staying on campus to hang out with your roommates or heading home to see your family for a few days, these stylish, versatile solutions will have you covered. Opt for an All About the Benjamins® wallet for a lunch date with friends, or choose a Retro Metro® Bag to bring along to the store or while running errands. If you like to spend your weekends at home, pack up an Away for the Weekender with all your overnight essentials.

What’s on your back to school shopping list? Can’t decide what bag will fit your needs, I’m happy to help you find the perfect solution for your organizing or back to school struggles.

Have a blessed day!

#TBT: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I can hardly believe it has been 6 years since I started this blog.  For those of you who don’t know, it was started as a result of a challenge by Vanessa Coppes as a way to grow my business.

For those of you who have ever thought about blogging – do it!  It hasn’t just been good for my business but it has been good for my soul.  Sharing my strength, hope and experience with others has been amazing.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my when it comes to blogging since my MS plays havoc on processing thoughts BUT I will continue in some way!

So, as I celebrate heading into year number 7, here is a throwback to my very first post:

I wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

I was a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things I had when I was growing up and give my daughter, Belinda, more. Isn’t it every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  We lived in a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area with a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to change to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

It was then, the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker who loves working with troubled kids (she now works for the State helping disabled individuals). As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park which as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talked about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t head in that direction. 

Many believe if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent and confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Since signing up to be a part of the Family Wellness & Beauty Day for Kickin’ It Kids AntiBullying, God has pressed on my heart to share this story. 

I know this was a a LONG post but it will always be a part of my story.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Campus style: College fashion bag trends

I know High schoolers and younger are not thinking about going back to school BUT I am sure the college students are gearing up for their new life.  The summer Belinda went off to college was a whirlwind of craziness….

Of course, changing colleges just two weeks before heading off for the first extended trip away from home did help either.  She went from attending Johnson & Wales in Charlotte to Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.  I wasn’t sure how it would work out but it was the best decision she ever made.  I miss her like crazy since she is 12 hours away but I am so proud of the woman she has become.

From backpack purses and messenger bags to slouchy totes and crossbody wallets, this year’s hand-picked campus trends will take you back to college in style. Read on to discover the hottest bag fashions designed to be super-functional, keeping you organized semester after semester.

Trend-right mini backpack purses

A small backpack purse is the perfect combination of hands-free and on-trend. Choose one with sturdy hardware and plenty of pockets – the one you pick will need to hold a ton and stand up to your busy daily routine. Don’t go too bold with this one: choose a solid color in an elevated finish to maintain wearability and lend a timeless air to an of-the-moment style. Thirty-One Gifts’ own Boutique Backpack comes in a luxe, faux-pebble fabrication in your choice of four colors with contrasting striped handles for a pop of fun!

Brand new for Fall 2018, our version of this fashionable, hands-free bag is available early (and at a great price!) to Customers who invite their friends to shop Thirty-One Gifts together this July! Connect with me to learn more about shopping and sharing this great style when you host a party. And as always, personalization is free on Hostess Specials – so make your backpack really stand out with an embroidered monogram or initial in color-coordinating thread.

Campus fashion tip: Wear it over a flowy floral top or dress, and tie a light cardigan or denim button-up shirt around your waist for those college lecture halls that seem to perpetually blast the AC.

Hands-free crossbody wallets

Whether you’re biking to class in the morning or hitting the town at night, hands-free is where it’s at. Choose a sleek and slim crossbody wallet to keep your phone, credit cards, ID and other essentials close at hand. And if you find one with a removable strap like our chic Tons of Funds, snag it – these styles easily transform into an everyday wallet for your larger bag, or clip on a Wristlet Strap for a cute clutch. Three great uses – all without unpacking your things!

Campus fashion tip: Skip the jewelry and sling a brightly colored crossbody wallet across a simple striped tunic and leggings to add a trendy visual pop.

Versatility is key when you’re selecting an everyday tote for class. Our slouchy and stylish Retro Metro Collection features a few stand-out pieces perfect for campus life: Try the Retro Metro Hobo Crossbody in black-and-white, vintage-inspired Twill Stripe. The long, flexible handle means it can be worn as a crossbody, or knot the strap to shorten the handle drop for a relaxed shoulder bag.

Need something with more room and a bit more structure? Our Retro Metro Fold-Overshares the same comfortable styling and durable construction, but features a shaped base and reinforced square corners for more of a messenger bag look. It’s available in cotton or canvas, perfect for toting textbooks, tech and more.

Campus fashion tip: Pair a slouchy bag with a fitted blazer or jean jacket to balance the casual vibe.

What better way to achieve exactly the campus style you’re looking for than by designing it yourself? For a true messenger bag in a chic, upgraded finish, check out our Studio Thirty-One Modern purse. The large magnetic flap is removable so you can switch up your look from semester to semester…or even day to day!

We love the classic sophistication of a monochromatic Caramel Charm Body and Flapwith a stylish pop of black-and-white webbing in the crossbody strap. And be sure to check out our Studio Thirty-One flaps from the Global Inspired Collection featuring bright, graphic prints.

Check out even more hot Studio Thirty-One combinations, or jump right in and start designing your own! Bonus: Each one of these purses is polished enough to take you from class straight to your internship. (Grown-up points!)

Campus fashion tip: Wear it with an olive green military-style jacket and cute ballet flats to punch up your favorite jeans-and-tee combo.

Bonus accessory trend: Lightweight scarves

Want another great college-friendly fashion tip? Think beyond the bag! A square, rectangular or infinity scarf is a key element in your back-to-school wardrobe. Tie it on your bag to add stylish flair and a shot of color, or wrap one loosely around your neck to make a fashion statement in any season.

There are as many ways to wear a simple scarf as there are prints available in our long and lightweight Avenue Scarf: a quick search on Pinterest turns up tons of creative tying methods, from simple knots to fancy braids, head wraps and even belts!

Campus fashion tip: It’s easier than you think to turn a rectangular scarf into a stylish kerchief: you’re just seconds away with this four-step tutorial we love!

Thank you ThirtyOne for today’s blog post.

On the Road Again….

monday morningActually, it is time to head to North Carolina.  I have been waiting for this day for what seems like FOREVER!  Rob and I are packing the car and heading out…

Okay, so technically, we leave in tomorrow morning – unless I can convince him to start driving down this afternoon.  We are headed to see Belinda, Ashley and the 4 grand-fur babies.  I LOVE road trips but honestly, I just LOVE to travel.  Anywhere.  Any time.  This one is even more exciting because we are unplugging or at least as much as I can when it is the end of the month.  No plans except for sitting on the porch, playing with the dogs and going to a football game.  Books are packed.

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The car will be packed full with things for NC as well as some of our stuff.  The best part is I will be OPEN for business as we travel the highways.  I will be able to share the gift of Thirty One with EVERYONE and ANYONE who even smiles my way.The car will be a billboard of the many uses of all of our totes.

Okay, so it may be a little extreme.  The truth is as much as I advocate stepping out of your comfort zone, I am always a bit hesitant.  You know the inner gremlin starts telling you “no one wants to hear about YOUR stuff” or “really, who do you think you are?” – I have him under control.

The BEST way to move ahead in your business or your life, is to step out of our individual comfort zones.  It is a step of faith, trusting God will lead you where he wants you to be and he has the next step planned for you.  If you aren’t stepping out, you are spinning your wheels – burning energy by staying put, in other words STUCK!

OUCH!  Did you feel the smack on the back of the head.  How many of you have given up on progressing in your life?  Maybe you figure “I will never have XYZ” or “I will never be able to ________”.  These thoughts keep us stuck.  There are the thoughts that keep us from growing and moving forward.

So, I am challenging you to let go of the things you’re holding on to because they are comfortable.  I challenge you to take your next step of faith, trusting God will be there to lift you up.  I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Join me as I step out of mine.

I would love to hear what happens.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Ready for College?

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As many kids are getting ready to go back to school, some parents are facing sending their kids off to college. I have to be honest, sending Belinda off to school wasn’t so bad – I mean I was a single mom and she had been in daycare/ preschool since she was 6 weeks old (no judgements, please).  I also knew that she would be home at the end of the school day. Sending her to college was a whole different ball game.

I thought it would be a piece of cake, of course being a workaholic I thought would make things easier – WRONG!  As we drove to what seemed like the end of the earth – western North Carolina – I tried to maintain my calm. Mom (grand mom) was struggling, Belinda was anxious (or maybe it was excitement) about being so far away from home. On a map, North Carolina didn’t seem so bad. Twelve hours didn’t seem so long. Then the reality sunk in as we made that trip for the first time.

The toughest part for me was driving away – leaving my baby girl.  Mom cried most of the 12 hours home and was furious that I left her there.  Belinda was ready to come home right away BUT momma stood tough.  I told her she made the decision so she had to stay for 1 semester – then if she wanted to change, she could.  Well, as they say the rest is history!  Belinda stayed at Western Carolina University for 4 years, graduated from Honors College, got a job in her field (Social Work), earned her Master’s degree, got married and is still living in Sylva, NC.

Okay, so why I am reminiscing about all of this? A blog written by The Joyful Organizer called “Dorm Room Ready” appeared in my “time hop”  Here are some of her suggestions for heading to college:

Cubes are a great way to organize just about anything; toys, clothes, accessories or even office supplies. Thirty One’s Your Way Cube has all the options you want in a cube; handles, a sturdy bottom and even a window so you can see the contents. It can also be embroidered so when you’re headed off to college, it’s already labeled for you! Fun patterns and colors mean you can match this to your dorm room style. The tote even has an optional lid to keep the contents protected, contained and dust free.

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Thirty One’s Stand Tall Bin is perfect for laundry. It’s light weight and easy to carry back and forth from the laundry room. When it’s not in use you can fold it up and store it under the bed. The pattern is easy to distinguish from other’s bags and the flat bottom allows folded clothes to stay folded. This is a great bag to bring things back and forth to school as well; particularly linens, large winter coats or pillows. It’s also great for plush toys, linens and beach towels in the summer, you’ll find a thousand uses for this bag.

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Need help getting organized at home? Is someone heading off to college?  Let me help you get organized and send them off in style.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!