All posts tagged “The Trendaholic

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Google’s new Inbox is what Gmail should’ve been all along

Email has become a permanent fixture in our daily lives. Even though it is far from perfect it is powerful, useful and commonly accepted as thee go to way to share info.

In a world where everyone has a smart phone the battle for your inbox is now all about how you access it on the go and as it stands now we have two contenders duking it out for all your email needs. Those two players come to us from Google and Dropbox and you probably know both. Mailbox, the scrappy up and comer and Gmail, the email we all use (seriously, if you aren’t using Gmail for your personal email conquests, then you really need to re-evaluate your life ;) ).

The stand alone Gmail has always been close to being great, but yet far from perfect. Yesterday it finally got some help in the form of a new product known as “Inbox”. Inbox is everything that Gmail would’ve been years ago but can only be fully realized because of the break through other apps have made (of course, I am talking about Mailbox). Inbox understands email in a way that is so stupid it is brilliant. Our inboxes aren’t spaces to mush together as many letters but rather a to-do list, that if we are perfectly honest about, is constantly overpowering us.

Google’s minimalistic approach to design looks amazing and the top of your inbox is transformed into an actual to-do list is brilliant. Inbox does a lot of things right but is left lacking in the fact that you still need another app to truly process your email. By allowing you to snooze emails you can spend more time dealing with what you want instead of dreading how to respond. The group sorting is smart and the idea of bundling different types of emails just plain works.

Now to compare it to Mailbox. Mailbox is the first app that has made inbox zero possible for email junkies like me. By implementing a system of swipes to quickly archive, delete, snooze or move to a folder Mailbox has revolutionized the way an inbox flows and Google’s Inbox has noticed. In fact, they noticed so much they did the timeless “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” move by borrowing the idea.

Mailbox also allows the user to decide which emails they just don’t care about and automatically moves them to the folder of the user’s choice. Even though there isn’t much to the design to rave about it doesn’t matter because you won’t be inside the app for very long.

Google Inbox is nice but it isn’t Mailbox. In some ways I wish I would have never started using Mailbox because it ruins every other email option I try. Seeing as both are free I highly recommend you try both but maybe with one catch, try Inbox first. After Mailbox you might never want to go back.

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The Trendaholic Book Club: ‘The Brand Within’

2013 is here, so I’ve decided to start a new section on the site called The Trendaholic Book Club. This is the first post — of hopefully many — that briefly talks about books either I or other authors of the site have read. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest reader with my short attention span in all; however, some books do happen to move me from time to time.

That being said, the first book I’d like to discuss is Daymond John’s ‘The Brand Within’. I finished reading this book a few days ago, and I walked away from it with mixed feelings. The book isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. In this book, Daymond John tries to give his interpretation of what branding means to him. He talked about real life situations with how he started FUBU (which he talked about at great length) and his experience with joining the show Shark Tank.

The highlights I took away from the book was his four stages of cultivating a product: item, label, brand, lifestyle. To me, he was a bit vague on giving specifics on why these four points were important, as he didn’t give any new insight to improve things for those already in the business world. Interestingly, he doesn’t believe the old expression that a product sells itself, adding “It’s just a line” and that “You’ve got to help it along” in order for it to catch. John also talked about the life lessons he learned from his mom. The lady is smart!

This is a perfect book for people just trying to get into the entrepreneurial business. However, for those already deep into the branding, marketing, and promotion of their own business: this book won’t help teach you any new tricks.

If you’ve read ‘The Brand Within’, please leave any thoughts about the book in the comment section below.


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The Trendaholic talks iPhone apps on CT Style

On Friday, May 11, I went to tape a segment on WTNH News 8 & WCTX MyTV9’s CT Style show. The experience was incredible, and everything went smooth as planned (well, almost). During the segment, I quickly talked about four iPhone apps users should have at their disposal. These mobile applications cover a variety of categories, spanning from News, Finance, Entertainment, and Social. The four apps I discussed on CT Style are down below, along with a brief description. You can also watch the show on the embed video. Enjoy!

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The Trendaholic Does It’s First FREE GIVEAWAY!!!

Welcome all fellow trendaholics!  We at The Trendaholic are having our first FREE GIVEAWAY. We asked ourselves what’s the price of loyalty? Well, showing our readers how much we appreciate them by giving away FREE STUFF EVERY MONTH is loyalty rewarded.

Like we’ve said before in our about page we’re not like these other sites who put out this phony image but instead we aim to reward. So, the way you enter in any of our free giveaways is by simply entering your email address to subscribe to our blog and that’s it! By doing that you enter yourself in a random raffle and the email address that wins will receive an email stating that you have won whatever the price happens to be.




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The Trendaholic Chats With Rachel Fine

Recently at The Trendaholic we had a chat with an independent artist by the name of Rachel Fine that has a similar sultry style of music like Jill Scott and a haunting voice that grabs your attention almost like Fiona Apple. Although, there are similarities in certain artist there is no mistake that Rachel Fine has her own unique sultry sound with a dash of intimacy to go with.

1. I realize you have some sort of working relationship with some industry types (namely Joe Jackson) so I just wanted to start off saying, how was it meeting and being around Joe Jackson?

I met my management team while I was doing a photoshoot in the middle of a busy street in Manhattan. One of Mr. Jackson’s executives asked who I was and wanted to hear my music. The rest is history :) I can say that in my experience, Mr. Jackson is a very nice man and I’m honored to know him.

2. Call me crazy but listening to your song “Or You Won’t “ reminds me of Claudia Christian’s music (she was Ivanova from Babylon 5) do you know who she is? If not, then that has to be an original question, right?

Actually- that’s the first time I’ve heard that one!  Definitely an original question, I’ll have to check her out.

3.“Care and Closure” is my favorite song, what was your inspiration for it?

It’s one of my favorites, too.  Care & Closure is an apology. It’s about the mercy it takes to let someone go when you know it’s the right thing to do. Everything I write is from my personal experiences and this one’s probably the toughest to talk about because I’m not proud of hurting someone. Not only do I hope this person can forgive me, I hope that listeners will either be inspired to ask for forgiveness, or will better understand the motivations behind someone who hurt them in a similar way. It’s a brutal song.  And as much as I was trying to help my friend find closure by writing it, it helped me let go too. There are those people who just keep coming in and out of your experience and at some point, you have to make yourself walk away before more damage is done.

4. Do you write your lyrics right away when you want to express something or write when you are about to record and let it flow?

I write when I’m so emotionally strung out about something that to NOT write would kill me. I never force myself to sit down and write a song. When significant things happen in my life, sometimes the only way I can process it is by writing a song. It’ll be so built up in my head that by the time I grab paper, the whole thing just pours out. I may go 6 months without writing anything, and then in a week I’ll have 5 new songs.

5. After seeing your performance videos on YouTube it makes me curious to what your preparation is for them?

You know, every performance opportunity is different and takes different preparation. When I play Ashford & Simpson’s place in NYC, I usually work up an old Duke Ellington number- I like doing the classics in that venue because the crowd feels it. When I’m doing my own material somewhere, I look to add a cover or two that would be unexpected in my sultry style. The last show I did (Bowery Electric on the Lower East Side of Manhattan), I covered NIN’s Hurt & Radiohead’s Creep.

6. What are your fans like?

Well, definitely diverse- I’m honored to have fans in 36 countries!  One commonality I see is a lyrical appreciation for music. I get a lot of well thought out questions from my fans about little subtleties in the lyrics and I appreciate that they put as much care into listening as I do into writing. I would rather have a smaller, long-term, devoted fan base that grows with me as an artist than have a huge flash in the pan following that’s on to the next club banger a minute later.

7. I noticed that you have a master’s degree in Elementary Literacy, I was wondering were you at any point thinking of becoming an Elementary school teacher?

I actually used to work in education, more on the business end though. I ran a supplemental education company until last year, when I recognized I was at a crossroads in my life.  I could continue the corporate path or truly, whole-heartedly, make the leap of faith and go for my dreams. I never wanted to look back with regret that I hadn’t given 100% to pursuing music. That’s what 2009 was all about.

8. If given the opportunity would you consider teaching music to youngsters as a second career? (Saw your video where you were a guest teacher for a day that was great)

I hope to be able to do both, in a manor of speaking. Education Through Music is an amazing charity that puts musical instruments in underprivileged New York City schools. I was honored to spend a day teaching their 5th graders and I hope to work with more of their schools. I think some part of me will always be invested in music education.

9. What are your biggest influences and why?

Well, my producer, Timothy Schletter, writes the music and I write the lyrics. Musically our influences range from Quiet Storm to philly soul & broken beat.  We talk a lot about finding a true blend between electronica and neo-soul (think Jill Scott meets Portishead), with a very laid back feel. Lyrically, my heroes are writers who are honest and heartfelt in what they write, often regardless of rhyming or sentence structure. Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Ben Folds, Dave Matthews come to mind right off the bat for me. Their lyrics make me think, make me feel something.

10. Who have you met that made you the most star struck?

Madonna walked past me at the VMAs. I almost passed out. :)

11. Now on a more serious note, I’m sure you’ve noticed the past few days in regards to the tragic events that have transpired in Haiti. I would like to know what were your thoughts when you heard the news and do you happen to have any Haitian friends that are personally affected by this event?

What’s happened in Haiti is truly devastating. My father is a therapist who is certified to do critical incident stress debriefing- he counseled 1100 people in the first week after 9/11, he was onsite at Katrina and it looks like he’ll be deployed to Haiti to help the rescue workers, police officers & firefighters who are exhausted and overwhelmed by the situation. I think everyone can find a way to be of assistance, whether its financial or sharing their abilities with those in need. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

12. Last question, what are your plans for the near future and what can we expect from Rachel Fine especially in 2010?

I’m so excited for 2010! There are some BIG things happening over the next few months…I’m not allowed to say anything about it yet, but it might involve television… ;)

I would like to thank you on behalf of The Trendaholic in granting us this interview, bringing us in your world and letting our audience connect with you as a person and artist.

Truly my pleasure :)

Want more Rachel Fine check out her MySpaceFacebookTwitter and Youtube pages.

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I’ve Traveled The Mind That Is Rizzo Tees and Lived To Talk About It

How does being your own employee running your own business out of your basement with only a MacBook Pro and a couple of printers sound? If you answered impressive that’s expected but if you answered with cool that would best describe this hustle. Owner and founder of this cool and cutting edge company (that makes concepts for funny t-shirts) called Rizzo Tees has only been in business for a little over a year and has received both good profitability and even better buzz.

The Trendaholic recently had a chat with this entrepreneur from the Midwest and great state of Missouri about business (of course), Twitter, Beer, and yes Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan among other things.

“One hint to small businesses – treat your employees better, and they’ll not only celebrate your success – they’ll work their asses off for you”

Take me back and tell me what you were thinking when you came up with this idea of creating funny t shirts?

It was October 2007, and my birthday was approaching.  I had been surfing sites like Busted Tees and Snorg Tees, and I wanted to take the burden of buying a birthday present off my wife’s shoulders. So I asked her if I could just buy 3 or 4 shirts off the sites and have that be my present.  She agrees, so I order the tees, and they arrive.  I open them up, and they have these tags that say “American Apparel” on them, and I say to myself, “What’s American Apparel, I’ve never even heard of them.” (How weird is that now?  At least I’m a fast learner ;-) )  I end up liking the tees a lot, and at that point the light bulb sorta went off in my head.  I said, “I could do this.”  I have so many random thoughts, observations on the world, on current events, I’m kind of weird that way, so to my mind, it was a business that made a lot of sense.

I immediately began planning. I started an Excel spreadsheet containing a few tabs – budget, and tee ideas.  I started pulling numbers and putting the budget together, and I started populating the other tab with every t-shirt idea I could come up with.  I did exhaustive research on every tee company I could find on the Internet.  I am a serial planner, and I created a mound of research and budgets, lists, plans, etc.  I was going to be spending a significant portion of my family’s money, so I wanted to know what the hell I was doing!

What made you think about networking with your local businesses in your area? And what resources did you already have that you incorporated in the beginning stages of building the company?

That’s a good question.  It’s actually something I’m not doing enough of yet.  I’m doing a lot of networking on Twitter and Facebook, and that networking spilled over into the Social Media Club of St. Louis, of which I am now a board member.  So electronic relationships turned into face-to-face relationships.  And some of those people have businesses.  However, I have a fine line I need to walk between the potential for massive local marketing, networking, and notoriety, and my day job.  This is sometimes hard to articulate, and hard for some people to understand, but my day job is what feeds the family, and frankly it feeds Rizzo, too.  My wife has two jobs, I essentially have two jobs, we have a house and two daughters…. There are a lot of things to consider here.  The main thing I try to keep focus on is keeping my day job.  I’m very good at what I do, but Rizzo Tees is an entirely different ball of wax.  To get to the point, I don’t feel like taking the time to explain to my day job that I have a nighttime hobby, per se, that frankly isn’t actually a hobby at all, but my real passion.  In this economy, why take the chance here and hope that understanding people will understand?  Does that make sense?  I work my butt off at my day job, I work my butt off x 50 at Rizzo Tees, and where does that leave me?  My day job gets done well, Rizzo Tees hopefully spreads its wings and takes off, but man, sometimes I’m just tired.  I get 4-5 hours of sleep, I’m up at 4:30am every day… it can take its toll.  I don’t need our CEO telling me, “You gotta quit this tee thing, because you’re a mess at work.”  To channel Ghostbusters here, I am not “crossing the streams” of these two jobs until forced to.

Back to actually answering your question.  Once the cat is out of the bag, or I’m able to take Rizzo Tees to a full time job, I will begin really networking with businesses.  Until then, I sort of lead this double life.  It’s what anyone does when they start a business on the side in their basement.

As far as resources go, I’ve been the Chief Financial Officer for several companies around town, so I have a lot of business experience.  Many people have great ideas but no business sense whatsoever.  Sometimes the power of great ideas can overcome this lack of knowledge and direction, but sometimes it cannot.  Having worked for a lot of different businesses, from manufacturing to catalog sales company to construction to marketing to distribution (including a t-shirt distributor) has really given me a great deal of experience that I can draw on.

I hate pants t-shirt

Knowing how difficult it is in starting your own business where risk levels are extremely high, what was your family’s reaction when you told them you were going to start your own tee shirt business?

My wife was completely supportive.  As I am a serial planner, she was able to gain a reasonable assurance that I wasn’t about to piss away our money!  Plus, this entrepreneurial scheme seemed way more palatable than some of my other ideas (like starting a mobile shredding business – where would I have parked that truck?).

The other super-supportive person was my Uncle Pat.  He insisted on being my first customer, which I thought was so cool.  He’s a banker and I ended up banking at his bank – his people helped me set up my bank account and my merchant services account (accepting credit cards).  Then on opening day, he bought $240 of eGift Certificates and emailed them to all of my cousins.  It was pretty damn cool – he sent notes with each one saying “Cousin Chris’ tee biz opened today, let’s support him in any way we can.”  He really wanted them to wear the tees and spread the word.  I can tell you, I needed that $240 really badly!!!

Now that your business is off and running, what has been your favorite tee shirt design since you’ve started the business? And more importantly what has been your most profitable design to date?

Props To My Tweeps is the #1 all time design – it just really struck a nerve on Twitter, and I’ve sold a lot of them.  Plus, it was kind of cool… I sent one to Internet Superstar Julia Roy and she wore it and gave me a cool pic to use for my site.  Someone even saw her wearing it in New York City and messaged me on Facebook about it.  So I messaged Julia and said, “Are you wearing the tee today?”  She was like, “Yeah, and how the hell do you know that?”  She thought I was pretty creepy until I explained how!

You’ve said in your blog that there are three types of users on twitter those being individuals, businesses, and individuals who have businesses. You also mentioned how individuals hate the presence of businesses on twitter. My questions are: what is this anger that people have towards businesses on twitter? Shouldn’t people be more mindful toward entrepreneurship and good business?

It’s not everyone, so I want to be careful not to over-generalize.  Some people can’t stand being marketed to. You’d be surprised how many people that order from me do not sign up for my mailing list.  I quite literally hand out the biggest discounts to my email subscribers, and I tell them that, and … people still don’t want to be emailed.  My email is spam to them, and I get that.  But on Twitter, I have witnessed debates between people over the presence of marketing tweets.  I suppose, like anything, it’s all in the packaging.  If you were on TV, you could slap together a seriously sleazy infomercial, and it wouldn’t come across as anything but sleazy and shameful.  If you are a business tweeting, or you’re a business that’s hired a Social Media agency to handle your tweeting, you just have to be sure to respect the people of Twitter.  There are probably times when I haven’t done that, but I’ve learned from each of my mistakes.

One thing you have to keep in mind, not to sound preachy, but not everyone cares about entrepreneurship.  In fact, I’d say a majority of people don’t.  Most people have jobs, not businesses.  It’s perfectly OK to work for others – I’ve done it my whole life, my mom and dad did it their whole life.  Now, those people that have jobs… it doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams.  But circumstances keep them from executing on those dreams.  I wish entrepreneurship was more celebrated in our society, much like athletic achievements are. One hint to small businesses – treat your employees better, and they’ll not only celebrate your success – they’ll work their asses off for you.

Tweet and Drive t-shirt

Now speaking of twitter we had a small “debate” about past actors who’ve played James Bond. You indicated how you thought Roger Moore was an extremely underrated Bond and I believe I shot that down by saying Sean Connery was the best Bond of that era. Seeing that you are presumably an action junkie I’ll ask you a simple question Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan? (For the record, I think Jackie Chan would kick Chuck Norris’ ass)

It’s just so easy to say, “Connery was the best.”  Who would argue with that? Just punks that are too young or naïve to watch a Connery Bond movie. But it’s a copout.  Connery was awesome, but Roger Moore gets so little respect from the older generation – it completely sucks!  Have they even bothered to watch For Your Eyes Only?  Hugo Drax in Moonraker was an incredible villain. And if you can’t get people to listen to arguments about Moore, forget about Pierce Brosnan.  But dude, he was good too!  Tomorrow Never Dies is probably my favorite Bond movie.  The opening where he gets that fighter jet outta there before the cruise missle hits the nukes – that scene still gives me chills, and it had the humor thing going too.  And now Daniel Craig is doing very well with the role.  This is telling to me – I’m hearing some older people like my parents, who swear by Connery, that say that Craig is good.  They have nothing nice to say about Moore or Brosnan, but they’re digging on Craig.  Very interesting.

However, all of that being said, Goldfinger was probably the best Bond movie ever made.  It just was.

Chuck Norris beats Jackie Chan, Santa Claus, and the Dalai Lama – get that line of questioning outta here.  Although, Jackie Chan was so freakin awesome in The Cannonball Run.  Funny story about Jackie Chan – I once lived in a two family apartment building that was sold to a Vietnamese family.  Their young son was adjusting to school here, and needed help with his homework.  Li the dad asked me if I could help him with his math homework – fractions.  So I said sure. I go down to their apartment, and the walls had two things – a statue of Ganesh, and tons of Jackie Chan paintings.  What a cool apartment!

Are you a wine guy or a beer guy? And what’s your favorite choice brand?

Wine.  I drink red wine almost every night, unless I’ve run out.  Then I debate whether or not to head down into Rizzo World HQ (my basement) and pull out one of the good bottles.  This usually forces a trip to Trader Joes for some cheap stuff.  I used to drink beer a lot, but now I’m mostly about the wine.  I drink mostly cheap stuff, but my favorite bottle of late is Cape d’Estaing that I scored off Gary Vaynerchuk’s new wine site Cinderella Wine.  Wow it’s good.

I’ve noticed that you have a soft spot for good will and you are a contributor to Food For The Poor. If you had the money or power to change something in the world what would that be?

I have indeed committed 5% of profits to Food for the Poor, and I hope to God someday I am writing them big checks!  Your question actually gives me a headache – my God, I don’t even know where I’d begin.  Fix our schools, end war, at least have less wars, encourage entrepreneurship across the globe, end hunger, racism, the building of cars like the Pontiac Aztek.  We have a lot of work to do in this world.

Something to think about, and this is not a liberal or conservative issue, I ain’t talking about any of that. Bad people do bad things, and sometimes you gotta go to war, I guess.  But can you name the last decade that we weren’t fighting in a war somewhere?  Literally how many centuries do you have to go back?  That really sucks. And while we’re bringing the fight to others across the globe, we’re so incredibly generous too.  I just wonder where we and the world would be if we cared about our own country more.

Well cool, I think that’s it! The interrogation is over (laughing), I must say what has intrigued me about you is the fact of how cool and grounded you are. With over 35,000 followers on twitter and over 3500 fans on Facebook you’ve remained humble through it all. Most people in your position in this social media develop a big head and become almost self absorbed and lose touch of what got them where they are and that is to be commended. I would like to thank you for giving The Trendaholic an interview and taking the time to shoot the breeze with me about your personal life and business.

Dude, my pleasure, and about that big head… I really do have a huge head, I don’t even know if they make hats my size.  But seriously, I think I’d like Rizzo to be huge and successful, self-sustaining, and my 24/7 job, but even if it gets to that point, I’ll never be able to forget all the people along the way that cheered me on, bought tees, helped me for free, and listened to me vent when it seemed like a mountain too high to climb.  Let’s keep helping each other out like family should!