For my second post in the Spotlight series, I bring to you the really talented Monika D. Kalra, a London based painter and art designer. What drew me to Monika was her really vibrant and eye-catching designs that looked great on the canvas as well as on textiles. Needless to say, I got curious and started this conversation to know more about her and her work. Don’t forget to check out Monaara  if you want to know more about her exquisite designs.

fashion designer

Tell us more about your background and what is your specialty?

My father used to trade and curate fabrics across the Indian sub-continent. Growing up in fashion context, I ended up studying fashion and then worked for around ten years in Delhi with Indian Haute Couture brands like Satya Paul. My specialty is playing with colors and intricate patterns; it sort of comes naturally with Asian lineage. I have experimented with embellishment & surface texturing both manual and with modern machines, and of late I started applying my paintings in the fashion context.

How did an interest in painting and designing develop in you?

I always used to paint as a kid and I continued to do it as a hobby all along. After creating elaborate and detailed designs with skilled artisans & modern machines for many years, I attempted to use my artwork in the fashion context. My current focus is in treating fashion as an extension of art. It’s always been on the back of most of my fashion creations but more focused now.

How did you start your business? And what encouraged you to do so?

Moving to London was the trigger point, I always wanted to create a fashion brand, but London with an eclectic mix of art, fashion & undercurrent of expressing one’s individuality did the trick. And then it was the hard yards of creating the right product with the right quality. I started painting much more and with varied subject. And then spent numerous nights, weeks, months on design and production. I feel very happy with the outcome.

fashion designer

 fashion designing

What were the challenges you faced/face and how did you (or do you) overcome them?

Challenge is always finding enough time to do justice to each task. Being a boot-strapped business, where you end up doing everything on your own; it is a learning process day in and day out. But London also provides a very supportive & nourishing environment.


What is the most interesting aspect of your work?

 Concoction of colors and patterns on otherwise usual subjects and then making people feel special and delicate with the scarves. Yes its feels good to create something unique especially when people come back with positive feedback.

What about the most challenging part?

The challenging part was product development itself. Each Monaara scarf is a piece of art, an actual piece of my painting. It carries intricate hand drawn (and not digital) patterns and is different at each corner. Getting the colors to come out well on Satin silk took a lot of experimentation at very different type of printing setups. So, we have a specialised QA process and each scarf is done as a sample (in the fashion design context).

fashion designing

What is your vision for Monaara?

It is still early days, and I see the process evolving already. People come and ask for my designs to be done on different type of garments and I get queries from different parts of the world especially from rest of Europe & US. Monaaraa  is for those who love art and want to look different & feel special. Next few years, I will look to develop & strength relationships in the UK and in parallel evolve my designs into dresses.

How do you balance work and personal life?

When you have a self-sustained business, work & personal lives pretty much merge. My husband also helps me whenever he gets time from his hectic schedule. And we make sure we have our productive breaks now and then.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Have a great weekend. Do show me your love with your likes and comments and don’t forget to follow me :)

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Mummyhood (I just coined the term) is a very tough and busy job which can sometimes (actually most times) leave you looking like a train wreck. Here are my beauty cheats that will make you look like a million dollars even though you feel bone tired and just want to be under a nice duvet for the rest of eternity. 

beauty cheats for busy mum

1) Clinique Uplifting Liquid Illuminator: This is perhaps one of the few products that I can genuinely not live without. True to its word, it really uplifts your face. Mix it with your foundation/CC cream for an over all glow or use it as a bronzer either ways you will look like you have had a well-rested night (which obviously you haven’t). 

2) Bodyshop Peppermint foot spray: Chances are you will be on your toes all the day. Needless to say, your feet would show signs of tiredness too. This cooling spray will rejuvenate and give them an instant freshness. 

3) Batiste Dry Shampoo: Most days I don’t have the luxury of gloriously shampooing and conditioning my hair. Batiste Dry Shampoo is my go to product to get instantly fresh and clean hair. 

4) Simple Eye balm: One thing I realised after becoming a mom is that puffy, tired eyes is part of the job. This soothing eye balm by Simple freshens and relaxes my eyes and is even keeping dark circles at bay. 

5) Olay CC cream: The CC cream is the best alternate to foundation and a tad bit better than moisturizer; most also come with SPF which means you don’t need another product on your face. 

6) Kohl: Busy Mom or not, a good flick of kohl is sometimes the only thing you need to look great. Even on days I  don’t put anything on my face, I still use kohl and it lightens up my face instantly. My favourite is Mac’s Designer Purple.

7) Lipstick: Just like kohl, lipstick is another great thing to use when you have to dash out and look fresh in less than a minute. My favourite one is Mac’s Up the Amp

8) Perfume: Another thing I realized after becoming a mom is that I also don’t have the luxury of taking long, relaxing bath. Hence, spritzing on some perfume is not only a great way to feel fresh but smell great too. My current favourite is Calvin Klein CKIN2U

9) Lip balm: Another quick and easy way to give some TLC to your lips is to keep applying lip balm. I have lip balms in every other nook and cranny of my home. I love the Grace Cole as I had mentioned here

These are my beauty cheats for anyone living a busy life. What are yours? Would love to hear. 

PS: This post is not sponsored, I have brought all the above products except the lip balm. 

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Do show me your love with your likes and comments or better still go ahead and make my day by following me. I follow back 🙂

Starting today is three part series on Post partum wellness. In this first part, I will discuss about fashion, style and loving your body.

If you have been following my blog, you would know that I enjoyed being pregnant and was shamelessly flaunting my bump each week whilst basking in the pregnancy glow. As an expectant mum, I thought like most of the ladies out there that once the babe is out, I would be back to my former self in a matter of days. No, I wasn’t hoping to be Gisele Bündchen by the time I waltzed out of the delivery room but as I was quite active till the very end; I thought it will be just a matter of days to get back into my much loved former non-maternity clothes. In fact, I kick started my labour by climbing 13 floors twice and the next day going for a five mile walk and again climbing stairs. How wrong was I!!

I am beginning to realise that the “fourth trimester” months are going to be tough. But I can make it easier by learning to love my new body each day. Now, I am facing a new sartorial challenge– how to dress my post-pregnancy body and as I am breast feeding, how to make the milk factory accessible when needed. Here are few things I am learning that is helping me on the way.

1)Be Realistic: It has been tough accepting my post-pregnancy body especially the squishy left over tummy. Comments from dear ones that I need to lose my tummy ASAP haven’t been of much help either. But the fact is your uterus which expands up to 500 times its usual size requires 6-8 weeks to contract and your pregnancy tummy which has grown in 9-10 months will more or less require the same time to go back to normal. So accept these realities and don’t be so hard on yourself.

2) Create some black magic: Black (and other dark shades) should be your new best friend. Black hides any bulges and bumps. Head to toe black will also make your body appear longer. Liven up your black (or dark) outfit with colourful accessories.

3) Accessorize: Scarves and jewellery should have a new place in your wardrobe. Long necklaces and scarves will elongate your torso whilst adding some personality to your ensemble. Scarves can also act as bibs when your baby spits or you can use them as a cover if you breastfeed in public. My favourite is a great pair of statement earrings (which you can use in the early days) which can up the ante of any outfit and bring focus to your pretty face.

Post baby fashion

4) Double dressing: Double dress like I have done here (above). Revamp your old wardrobe and take out those light-weight cardigans, kimonos or light-weight long line coats and add it over your dress. Here, I’ve added my kimono over a dress. It will create a shape and hide any wobbly bits. If you live in hot climate, use of a long scarf as a cover up and belt it up.

wrap2

5) Go dressy: There is no need to forgo dresses just because you have a baby and are breast feeding. Stack your wardrobe with some wrap dresses as shown here. Wrap dresses are great when you are nursing. You can also opt for sun-dresses with thick straps that can be pulled over one side when you are nursing.

Image Credit: Polyvore UK

Image Credit: Polyvore UK

6) Button-up: Another great option if you are breast feeding is a nice button-up blouse or a shirt. Opt for light fabrics like chiffon, sheer or chambray they are feminine and not to mention pretty. When opting for a tee or a blouse look for V-necks and wide boat necks. Remember, you now have a natural cleavage use it your advantage.

7) Undergarments: Invest in some good quality bras and get yourself professionally measured especially if you are nursing. Get some thick strapped bras if you are nursing as your breasts will change its size slightly throughout the day. Get some clever shape wear; it will not only boost your confidence but help you to prevent your modesty while nursing. You will either breastfeed by unbuttoning/unzipping/pulling down or lifting you top up. Wear a tummy strap or a vest to hide your tummy whilst feeding.

8) Bottoms-up: Yes, it is quite understandable that you want to fit into your skinny jeans ASAP but don’t fret if you don’t. You are most likely to use your maternity trousers for some more weeks or a month or two. Get some good fitting jeggings that will stretch and ends just on your ankles. Skirts should be another staple—my favourite is the A-line and pencil style that will do justice to your new curves. Harem trousers with elastic are also my favourite.

9) Footwear: We tend to forget our footwear. While it is easy to live in sneakers; opting for an inch or two heels will give you a lift and make you look taller. If you must opt for comfy shoes, go for colourful ballets and slippers that are pretty and stylish.

Post baby fashion

10) Love your body: As stated in point number 1, accept and love your new curves and work with it rather than against it. Stay away from the things that don’t fit or work for this time in your life. Emphasise your best feature, and disguise anything you aren’t happy with. If you have a great derrière flaunt it in a nice pencil skirt. If you have toned arms wear a sun dress.

11) Don’t be a sacrificial lamb: It is easy to lose yourself as your baby’s demands increases but remember you don’t have to be a sacrificial lamb. It is fine to take some time out just for yourself even if it is just five minutes. So put that gloss on, do your hair, work that stretch do things that make you happy because a happy mum is a productive mum.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Please give me your likes and comments and stay updated for the second part in this series where I discuss about alternative therapies. Don’t forget to follow me for more such great ideas, I follow back 😉

This Summer (although here in UK it does not look like summer), I have decided to give the usual pastels and floral nail art a rest. Instead, I am taking a “darker” route. Ruffian nail art is my current favourite perhaps because it really does not require a lot of time and you get a fun nail art in a matter of minutes.

You will need a nail polish of your choice, top and bottom coat and a nail art pen. I have used Nicole by OPI poised in turquoise, Sally Hansen Complete Care and Barry M Nail Art pen in Black. 

ruffian nail art tutorial

After applying the nail varnish and letting it completely dry, I have sealed the colour with the Sally Hansen complete care coat.

ruffian nail art tutorial

The third and final step is to take the nail art pen and gingerly make a moon-like design on the bottom part of your nail. Seal it once again with a top coat. Tada, it is done!!

ruffian nail art design

Told you, it is rather simple 😀

 

 

Week 38th (of pregnancy) started with a major case of baby brain and I actually felt that I won’t be able to lift a finger even if someone paid me millions. But turns out I can be bribed for much less. I got this kimono and suddenly inspiration and energy came back rushing :).

kimono fashion

kimono fashion

I was rather apprehensive to try on the Kimono look (which seems to be the craze these days) but this has become my favourite garment of late. Not only, it is comfortable and light enough to carry you on a hot, sunny day. For pregnant girls like me, who are on the last leg of their pregnancy and feeling “big” it is the best thing that streamlines the body and somehow elongates it. A win-win situation at least for me.

kimono fashion

 

Kimono style

 

Kimono: H and M (sold out, similar), leggings: New Look maternity, Vest: H and M maternity, Bag: Osprey London, Sandals and Accessories: Gifts from Mum, Sunglasses: Hubby’s Ray-ban. 

The fact that it is so versatile is another major plus. Here, I have teamed it with a simple vest and leggings combination but I cannot wait to try (and post) different styles using the brilliant Kimono.

 

Hope you liked this post. Don’t forget to give me your likes and comments. Have a great week ahead and thanks for reading 🙂