College Fashion Week Los Angeles Recap {And A Look Inside My Goodie Bag!} ♡

This post is brought to you by Her Campus Media and its College Fashion Week brand partners. All words & opinions are my own.

This past weekend, on October 22nd, I attended College Fashion Week in Los Angeles! College Fashion Week is exactly what it sounds like. It's fashion week...for college girls. Instead of seeing haute couture looks you would only dream of wearing, you get to see outfits you'd wear while studying, on campus, or during a girls night out. The best part is all of the models are real college girls of all shapes and sizes that have never modeled before! Don't get me wrong, I respect the art of modeling and I love high fashion, but it was refreshing and endearing to see these girls werk it down the runway.

Not to overhype my experience, but I was excited for College Fashion Week (CFW) all month long. I kept thinking, "Is it October 22nd yet?" 

The event was held at Playa Studios in Culver City and let me tell you, it's such a STUNNING studio space that gave off some major rustic vibes. 

Before the crowd rushed in, I made sure to do a few circles around the place to take some photos and experience the awesome sponsors as much as I could. Can we talk about how adorable this candy bar is? It looks straight outta Pinterest post. Whether you wanted to sip on some Boxed Water, eat a smoothie bowl, or get your eyebrows done, you could do it! The experience was far more interactive than most fashion shows, which is why I loved it so much.

There were four fashion shows: rush, study chic, festival and girls night out. There was something for every college girl! The amount of cute-yet-practical backpacks and fierce thigh-high boots I saw made me want to go shopping ASAP! The brands showcased on the runway were My Social Canvas, Foray, Ali & Ariel, Frill Clothing, and Bow & Drape. You could also see the girls sporting some luxurious Bertha Watches!

Between shows, you got to mingle with other attendees and experience the sponsors. Or if you're anything like me, you'd peek through your goodie bag! I was so shocked to see a Fitbit and a complimentary blowout from Drybar in my VIP Influencer goodie bag. Now I can work out while having flawless hair...sounds like a plan to me!

The event was also sponsored by Vince Camuto and Rebecca Minkoff, which made the event feel even more regal. The pink handbag I got from Rebecca Minkoff the perfect accessory.

Now, the more important part...let's just be honest here. You know you want to take a look inside my goodie bag!

The Versace perfume from sponsor Perfumania made me blush. When I first sprayed it on my wrist, the undertones of grapefruit had me all heart eyes. The goodie bag alone was worth so much, I'm so grateful I got to attend!

I can't wait to attend College Fashion Week next year.

9 Things I Learned From International Style Institute

This past weekend I got the amazing opportunity to attend International Style Institute in LA, presented by celebrity fashion stylist Anita Patrickson and Sarah Boyd of Simply Inc.

Although I was head-over-heels (or in my case, flats) excited to attend and cover the 3-day event, I didn't expect to learn much considering I've been in the industry for quite some time. Little did I know I would leave the event as a better writer, blogger, and all-around content creator. I also may or may not have left the event a few pounds heavier considering I ate a couple of donuts from California Donuts every morning, but that's another story...

It's safe to say I underestimated how much learning ability I had left in me. I've been doing the whole content creator thing for 5 years now, so I just assumed I had it down. Yeaaah...I was completely wrong. No matter what your craft is, there's always room to learn. And when you're surrounded by a bunch of boss babes for three days straight, you're going to learn a thing or two! 

Whether you're just starting out as a content creator or if you've been an expert for years, I hope these nine things I learned can help you on your journey.

Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for International Style Institute

1. Your uniqueness is your biggest asset.
Some influencers have millions of followers. Some of them have writing skills you can only dream of. Some of them look straight outta Vogue, some of them cook better than your mom, and some of them take photos that look almost unreal. But you know what they don't have? Your uniqueness. "The best thing you have is yourself," celebrity stylist and International Style Institute Co-founder Anita Patrickson explained.

2. Showing every aspect of your brand is important.
If you continuously scroll down on Olivia Culpo's Instagram, you'll notice two things: 1. she is absolutely stunning and 2. her content is insanely diverse. You'll see food, fashion, DIY, and lifestyle content from her, showing every aspect of her personality and brand. "I want people to feel like they're enjoying my day with me," said Culpo. If you want your followers to feel like they're apart of your story, you have to show them every part of you, not just the beautifully curated and edited parts. This is something Culpo and I have in common. When it comes to blogging, I'm all over the place! One second I'm writing poetry, the next second I'm reviewing a video game, then you'll see me talking about my favorite vegan options at Disneyland. I want my readers to see me for the complex individual I am, not a fabricated, virtual person.

Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for International Style Institute
Olivia Culpo
 speaking about how to capitalize on your social media to grow your brand at the International Style Institute in LA presented by Anita Patrickson and Simply Inc.

3. Never underestimate the intelligence of your audience.
Let's just be honest here...we all get caught up in the day-to-day sometimes We think our readers won't notice our lazy grammar, our unedited photos or our late YouTube videos. That's the thing: THEY NOTICE. They might not care enough to point it out, but they definitely aren't afraid to click on the next best website they come across, completely abandoning yours. "Never underestimate the intelligence of your reader," Writer Natalie Alcala explained.

4. There are no rules for aesthetic, but you must stay consistent. 
We all know how aggravating "aesthetic" can be sometimes. Should you hop on the minimalistic bandwagon like the rest of the world? Or are you into a more preppy feel? Perhaps you've always been into a moody, dark vibe? Or maybe you're all over the place and not even sure where to begin. Here's the thing: there are no rules for aesthetic. You shouldn't hop on any bandwagon you're not 100% on board with. But once you do finally figure out which aesthetic is right for your brand, you have to stick with it. It's okay to change it up a bit as you grow but you shouldn't be switching aesthetics every other week. "You can't be everything to everyone," Vanessa Flaherty of talent management agency DBA explained.

Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for International Style Institute

5. Be relatable with your content. Ask yourself, "would someone share this with their friend?"
Nathan Kitada of YouTube shared with us the top ten ways to gain success on YouTube, shareability being the one I found most affective. When someone shares your content on their Facebook or Twitter feed, they're not doing it to talk about you. They're doing it to talk about how your content relates to their life. "You share it because it articulates something about you," said Kitada. If you find yourself staring at your analytics wondering why you lack genuine engagement too often, it could be because your audience isn't taking anything away from your content. Whether it be the best rainbow grilled cheese recipe or relationship advice, you have to essentially provide a service for them. If you don't, you can't expect them to come back.

6. Don't ever assume anyone is dying to work with you.
"Don't ever assume anyone is dying to work with you," explained Ashlee Margolis of The A List, regarding content creator / brand partnerships. Margolis is one of the reasons why your favorite bloggers and celebrities are always looking ridiculously astonishing while wearing only the best brands, so it's safe to say she knows a thing or two about working with them. (I mean, it is called "The A List" for a reason.) When pitching a brand or emailing someone you're interested in collaborating with, stay humble.

Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for International Style Institute
(From left to right) Anita Patrickson, Olivia Culpo and Sarah Boyd attend the International Style Instittue at the Grove in LA presented by Anita Patrickson and Simply Inc.
7. Authentic content can be more important than reach.
Because not everyone can have a million followers! Microinfluencers are becoming increasingly important in 2016. You should never sell yourself short as an influencer looking for work just because you feel your reach isn't high enough. Unless you're Selena Gomez, the queen of Instagram, there's always someone who has more followers than you. When a brand is looking for content creators to work with, they're not always looking at your follower count, according to Bloglovin's Kamiu Lee. Sometimes it comes down to aesthetic, engagement, niche, passion, or even just being in the right place at the right time. "They're not always look at pure reach, but organic content," said Lee. As long as you continue creating content you're passionate about, you're in the right direction!

8. Let everyone know who you are and why you're doing what you do.
Aesthetically pleasing photos with artsy lyrical captions are cool and all, but it's not going to keep people coming back. You have to tell your story. Why are you posting these photos? What are you doing this weekend? What are your goals in life? Why did you start blogging/vlogging? Where did you get those sunglasses? Whether the story is trivial or life-changing, if it's yours, it's worthy of being told.

9. Always engage with other content creators.
Not only will engaging with other content creators help grow your audience, but it's also a killer PR move. Although it's no secret food blogger Naomi Robinson of Bakers Royale has talent, she made one thing clear: she would be nothing without other influencers. "If you don't engage on social media, you're like a billboard in the middle of a desert," said Robinson. You could have the most beautiful photos with the most poetic captions but that all means nothing if you're not engaging with others online.

If you want to learn more about International Style Institute, check out their website or follow them on Instagram.

I'll Be Attending College Fashion Week in Los Angeles! Will You Be There?

I'm so happy to announce that I'll be attending College Fashion Week presented by Her Campus in Los Angeles! The event will be held on the 22nd of October from 6 PM - 9 PM at The Lazarus experience. You can buy tickets here. I hope to see you there!

The event will be sponsored by the coolest brands which is enough of a reason to go. Your ticket includes a goody bag filled with treats from these sponsors valued at $900! The bag will contain snacks, beauty goodies, and other fun stuff. I cannot wait to see what's inside my bag!

After you enter the event, be prepared to see models of all shapes, sizes and colors rock the runway. Her Campus wants to show the authentic beauty of every single body type.

In between shows, you can mingle with other guests and sponsors. Get your perfume on with Perfumania, feel chic with Vince Camuto, or learn the definition of beautiful hair with The Dry Bar. But that's just the beginning.

You get begin your fitness journey just in time for the holidays with Fitbit, tell the time in style with Bertha Watches, or embrace fall fashion with Rebecca Minkoff and their gorgeous handbags.

Make sure to get your tickets! If you can't make it this year, follow my College Fashion Week adventure on Instagram. See you soon.

This post is brought to you by Her Campus Media and its College Fashion Week brand partners. All words and opinions are my own.

October-Inspired #OOTD + Date at The Broad

My Fall Fashion & Bold Brows With European Wax Center® + Strut 365 ™ Collection Review

This is a sponsored post in partnership with European Wax Center®. All words and opinions are my own.

These past few weeks, I’ve been religiously preparing for fall. Naturally, bold brows and fashion is a very important part of that so when European Wax Center® asked me to try their services, I definitely jumped on the opportunity.

The moment I walked in, I felt a gorgeous energy. The room was filled with women with perfectly waxed brows and messy top buns, the color scheme was an instagram-friendly pink and white, and ‘great music was playing softly in the background. I gotta admit, although I basically grew up in a salon...I was not used to this refine yet modern approach, so I had no idea what to expect! brow specialist calls my name. “Maria!” I smile and walk towards her. “Second room on the right.” As I walk into the room, I see a long table that you lay on, similar to the one at a doctor’s office. That’s when I knew that this was about to be legit.

My specialist discussed my brows with me, which I thought was courteous. Although brows are a small part of your face, they are still very important and deserve to be treated as such. I was ready to own fierce, bold brows for fall!

At European Wax Center®, they use a Four-Step to Gorgeous™ process: cleanse, protect, wax, and rejuvenate. Because they emphasize this process so much, you’re bound to leave every reservation with total browfection. their Comfort Wax ™ was a Godsend! My specialist removed the hair quickly and efficiently with almost no pain for me.

After she was done waxing my brows, she generously gave me a few tips on how to style my brows using their Strut 365 ™ collection, which I was excited to get home and indulge in! My experience at the European Wax Center® made my brows look gorgeous. I usually want to hide them under my bangs but I’ve been dying to show them off lately. The best part can try it before you buy it! They offer a free eyebrow wax to all first-time customers. All you have to do is make a reservation on their website. If you’ve already been to the center before, don’t worry! Their offering a free tote for a limited time when you spend $49 or more on products or services.

I continued to play with their Strut Boldly ™ products weeks after my reservation and I was impressed with how skilled I got. My favorite product is without a doubt the Oh My Brow! ™ Brow Highlighter. It made my brows stand out. For a second, I felt like one of those beauty gurus! If you want to try out their Strut 365™ collection, you can get $5 off your purchase just by showing them this blogpost at your local EWC until December 31st!

The biggest tip I can offer you when using your Strut 3 ™ products is to realize that no two brows are the same. I’m serious! You can’t expect your brows to look like everyone else's, so keep that in mind while styling them. In addition, not even your two brows are exactly the same, so it’s up to you to add that symmetry in. My specialist noticed my right brow is much fuller than my left which I never actually paid attention to before, but it’s significantly helped while filling my brows in.

Although the weather has been a bit too hot for my liking lately, I’ve been doing my best to prepare for fall. Pumpkin candles, pumpkin lotions, pumpkin lattes and pumpkin get the point. In addition, fashion is really important to me during fall. Mustard and maroon are my go-to colors! But of course, as always, accessorizing is important to. My bangs are apart of my signature look, my lipstick brings the outfit together, and the brows add a whole new level of gorgeous to your look. They’ve been becoming apart of my daily routine and I can’t wait to go back to European Wax Center® again to get them touched up!