Jimani Collections

In a recent post, called, “Supporting Ethical Brands” I introduced Jimani Collections, a company that offers employment and education within product design to some of the poorest in the world. Jimani aims to develop a sustainable solution to poverty. Women are trained and provided with the necessary skills to create well-crafted products within the jewelry and home goods areas. Women in Kenya handcraft every piece sold at Jimani. The “Meet the Women” page on the website features the touching stories of each woman working at Jimani. You can read firsthand how they are now able to make a decent living for themselves and their families through this company.

I am wearing a stunning beaded tassel necklace. The three strands includes two blue colored glass beads and one brass chain with a brass horn adornment at the bottom. I recommend wearing this necklace with a simple top so the beading work really stands out. The intricacies and details of this jewelry piece can then be appreciated. Thank you, Eunice for this gorgeous necklace. I am proud and happy to wear such a special work of art!




Tips for a Beach Vacation

Miami illustration by Wendy Buiter

Original image by International Illustrator, Wendy Buiter

In April for my birthday, I am going on vacation to Miami. I have been counting down the days, trying desperately to live in the here and now, but my mind is elsewhere, daydreaming about the beach. Little by little I have been adding to my pile of items to pack, which I find more enjoyable than waiting until the last minute. Packing can be stressful, hopefully by creating this list I can alleviate some of the stress and offer helpful tips for those of you planning a trip. Obviously, the main essentials include sunscreen and a bathing suit, but much more needs to be considered. What does your itinerary include? This will help to determine what outfits and coordinating beauty looks you will need.

Let’s start with toiletries. My favorite sun tan lotion is the Extra Smooth Sun Protection Lotion spf 38 from Shiseido. This product is incredibly gentle and great for those with sensitive skin. Spending a day in the sun whether on a beach or in the pool can wreak havoc on your skin. After sun care is just as important as sun protection. A cooling, moisturizing product should be applied at night on clean skin to rehydrate. Kiehl’s Rose Arctica Cream leaves skin feeling soft and looking plump and youthful. Sweating in the sun can cause residue build-up on the scalp making hair limp and unmanageable. Pack C.O. Bigelow Mentha Invigorating Shampoo for healthy, shiny tresses. Plus the peppermint oil cools the possibly burnt scalp- we’ve all been there! Pack a hat too by the way. These are some of my must-have toiletries. Of course, a razor to keep legs looking soft and smooth, a great body scrub, body lotion, travel sized perfume, and an effective lip balm should also make the final cut.

To ensure that I do not lug all of my makeup on the plane, I put aside a cosmetic bag. All of my products will need to fit inside. This will force me to choose wisely. Multi functioning products are the most economical. If your brushes do not fit in the allotted bag then opt for a blending sponge to apply all of your makeup. Laini Cosmetics offers a wide range of stunning products. Bronze Baby Glo Lotion, BB Cream, Warm Breeze Quattro, Rio lipstick and Venetian Gloss are my summer recommendations.

If you are going to a resort or beach style vacation like myself, then building your wardrobe around bathing suits and sandals is completely understandable. I purchased my bathing suits first and everything else as far as I am concerned is secondary. Shopping for a bathing suit can be daunting. The three way mirrors and fluorescent lighting are stuff of nightmares. Guess what? On the beach there are no three way mirrors or fluorescent lighting. Just natural rays of the sun, clear water, and a breathtaking view. The best advice that I give myself is to get out of my head. Find a swimsuit that you like, that’s flattering, and buy it! For more details on picking a swimsuit check out my previous post  packing-light-for-a-weekend-getaway. Your exact outfit will depend on your plans, but a couple of safe bets are light sun dresses or maxi dresses and a night out look. Either a sexy jumpsuit of LBD. Loose cotton pajamas are essential especially if you sunburn and need to sleep with an excessive amount of aloe vera on your skin. A statement piece of jewelry, heeled sandals, and a cover up should also end up in your suitcase.

A vacation is just that, a chance to relax, unwind, and regroup for the rest of the year. The entire process should be stress free. I hope this helps for those of you that may be struggling. Happy packing and start early!

Make sure to moisturize

The east coast just experienced the wrath of Mother Nature who doled out intense flooding that rivaled Hurricane Sandy and a blizzard with snow accumulations upwards of two feet. Dry, chapped, cracking skin can be the result of extreme winter weather. Here are some of my favorites to avoid skin issues.

Let’s start with total body. I love the C.O. Bigelow body lotions. Currently, I am using the Coconut, which smells warm and toasty. Make sure to apply all over skin immediately after bathing to keep skin from drying.

Aveeno Skin Relief 24 hour Moisturizing Lotion is a must have product. I keep a bottle in my purse at all times. It is incredibly moisturizing and for me, the best part is it soaks into the skin just as soon as applied.

Barielle Total Foot Care is a luxurious foot cream with a powdery soft scent. I apply the cream all over my feet and ankles, then place them in fluffy socks before bed. In the morning my feet are soft and any cracks are healed.

Best moisturizers

Ladies Night Out

Laini Cosmetics will now be sold at Headbangers Salon in Devon, Pa. To kick off this exciting partnership, Headbangers will be hosting a “Bangin Brows and Bold Lips” Ladies Night Out event. Laini Bianculli, Style and Beauty Expert and Founder of Laini Cosmetics will be offering complimentary mini makeup applications. She will demonstrate how to achieve perfectly defined brows and pouty lips!

Please join us on February 11, 2016 from 6:00pm-8:30pm for pink champagne, treats, and a red carpet contest. “Best in Shoe” will receive Laini’s gorgeous Red Carpet Lip Palette! 

Ladies Night Out event

Garces Wedding Show Case

Garces Group

Darcy Hill, Catering Sales Manager, Jennifer Monahan, Catering Administrative Assistant, Beth Koenig, Catering Sales Manager, Executive Chef Adam DeLosso, Vicki Pohl, Director of Catering, and Marina Volpe, Catering Sales Manager

On January 17th the Garces Group hosted a wedding show case held at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts in Philadelphia. The line wrapped throughout the building and a little snow and freezing weather did not deter the throngs of brides and grooms to be. As they waited to check in at registration the Rittenhouse Music played softly.

Rittenhouse Music

Rittenhouse Music

This fabulous event took place on two floors, featuring some of the top vendors in the area. As attendees strolled through they were serenaded by Drew Nugent & The Midnight Society. Guests could leisurely gaze at the beautiful table settings and floral arrangements from rustic romantic to traditional of Carl Alan Floral Design, Sullivan Owen, Petals Lane, Robertson Flowers & Events, and Floradelphia. Each designer was happy to answer any and all questions and offer advice to ensure a successful wedding day.

Drew Nugent

Drew Nugent & The Midnight Society

Petals Lane

Petals Lane


Robertson’s Flowers & Events

Sullivan Owen

Sullivan Owen

Mouthwatering fare was presented for sampling from the Garces Trading Co. & Handmade Mozzerella Bar, Distrito, Village Whiskey, Volver, Amada, and Pinxto serving such foods including strawberry and blueberry shortcakes, a guacamole bar, eggplant with roasted red peppers and much more. Garces events Executive Chef, Adam DeLosso created some signature hors d’oeuvres that were tray passed throughout the afternoon. No tasting menu would be complete without dessert! Three exquisite cakes were on display for viewing pleasure and ideas. Dessert stations included macaroons, Lime Verrine, Apple cider cake donuts, and of course wedding cake!





Village Whiskey

Wedding cake



For the Bride and Groom that desire extra help and years of event expertise, Lauren James Events can ensure that your vision comes to fruition. At Maggpie Rentals, gorgeous vintage items including everything from furniture to accessories can be rented to add a personal touch to your special day. The Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon offers many services to alleviate the potential stress of the the event. The Bridal coordinators will create an exceptional beauty package just for you including styling, makeup application, and eyelash application. To capture this monumental day, reach out to SweetWater Photography & Film for stunning images that will last a lifetime.

Sweet Water

Dutch Huff and Julie Melton, Owners of SweetWater Photography

If you are feeling overwhelmed or just need a little guidance this is the perfect event to attend. Vendors are under one roof and able to fully realize your vision. Missed the event on Sunday? Do not worry, Garces Group will be hosting another show case on March 6th at the Cira Centre.

Supporting Ethical Brands

I believe in supporting brands and companies with a solid mission. A company and brand that is focused and aware of the world and its struggles. Ideally, I want to one day live in a society where a company does not have to claim “sweat shop free” or “not tested on animals.” Hopefully, one day that will just be a given. Veganism has changed the way that I look at all of my passions within the lifestyle industry from fashion to beauty- not just food. Making conscious, ethical decisions about where I buy is just as important as what I buy. I have discontinued making any purchases that are not vegan, only keeping the articles of clothing purchased prior to conversion, as I believe that would be just as wasteful. Throughout my vegan journey, I try to educate myself about the environmental issues attached to certain products as well. For instance, palm oil is technically a vegan food, but it is not ethical. Palm oil plantations cause large scale deforestation, which leads to greenhouse gas emissions, habitat destruction, and reduced biodiversity to name a few.

“Luxurious” fabrics including furs and leather as many of you know are vastly procured through painful and torturous injustices towards animals and cause heavy pollution to the environment through the tanning process.

Other fabrics including wool, silk, and cashmere are also not vegan friendly.

These are my personal beliefs and in no way am I trying to pressure you into converting to a vegan. I am simply sharing my thoughts on the matter. The point I am trying to make is that you do not have to compromise your personal beliefs for fashion and beauty. Companies such as H&M for instance base their H&M Conscious selection on a basic principle, to supply customers with plenty of fashionable, trendy clothing and accessory options that are good for people, the planet and your wallet! As CEO, Karl- Johan Persson states, “ we have set ourselves the challenge of ultimately making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable.” I tend to shop at H&M often and recently purchased many exciting items for amazing prices, making sure that all items that I purchase are vegan. H&M places the highest emphasis on animal welfare, having teamed with the Humane Society to see that best practices are enforced if you so choose to purchase leather.

Jimani Collections, a beautiful jewelry, accessory, and home goods company has created a sustainable solution to poverty. Jimani partners with impoverished Kenyan women, providing employment, a safe workplace, and education within the product design and product creation. Jimani links consumers and artisans to promote equitable trade while alleviating poverty. More to come on this company and products in future post.

These are just a couple of examples of companies that stand for more than just the superficial. Their story, concept, and mission stems from an awareness larger than just the trends or demands in fashion and beauty. For a shopaholic like myself, retail is my cardio. Shopping releasing endorphins just as powerful as an hour in the gym. The experience is even more impactful knowing that the items in my bags did not harm the environment, animals, or people! The simple truth is there is a way to remain fashionable with very little and convenient changes and it begins with knowledge. I continue to learn everyday and make mistakes regularly, but I will never stop striving.


Illustration created by Wendy Buiter. Character is wearing H&M Chiffon Maxi Dress and Jimani Collections Alanna Masaai Beaded Tassel Necklace. Thank you to my sweet Sophia.

Einstein Healthcare 150th Anniversary

Einstein's 150th Anniversary Celebration

This year Einstein Healthcare celebrates their 150th anniversary and to commemorate such a monumental achievement, they threw a party. An anniversary bash complete with scrumptious food, a live auction, an amazing performance by the one and only Diana Ross and hosted by Tony Award winning actor and singer, Jason Alexander.

Einstein Healthcare Network was founded in 1866. Its humble beginnings included a 22 bed Jewish Hospital and has since grown to 8,500 employees. Einstein is the largest independent academic medical center and includes three acute care hospitals; Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park, Einstein Medical Center Montgomery as well as MossRehab. For over 100 years, Einstein has lived by the mission, “With humanity, humility and honor, to heal by providing exceptionally intelligent and responsive healthcare and education for as many as we can reach.”

Einstein provides exceptional care in numerous specialties of women’s health, physical medicine and rehabilitation, heart and vascular care, kidney transplant, liver disease and breast health. Einstein Healthcare system is a pioneer in the areas of 3D mammography, advanced robotic technology, and education offering over 30 accredited programs.

The Anniversary bash kicked off with a special private V.I.P. meeting between the host, Jason Alexander and prominent Einstein leaders.

Jason Alexander

Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers, Lawrence S. Reichlin with Tony Award winning Jason Alexander

Einsetein Healthcare 150 Anniversary

Einstein Healthcare Network Co-Chairpersons (From left to right) Marc and Alison Feldman, Leonard and Susan Klehr, Jason Alexander, Jill and Jon Powell, Nancy and Marc Shrier, and Lawrence and Norma Reichlin.

The National Constitution Center was decorated beautifully, filled with excited energy and packed with people. Delicious gourmet food stations were placed throughout the double leveled party. Live music by the talented Honey & Vinyl Jazz, The University of the Arts A Capable Quartet, and Rumble entertained the crowd. Four amazing destination excursions including Africa, Spain, Italy, and New York were auctioned. The fun evening closed with a spectacular performance by the legendary Diana Ross. The crowd was in rapture watching Ms. Ross glide onto stage in a magnificent sequined dress. She performed some of her more popular hits including “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” while we all sang along enthusiastically.

Diana Ross

Photo Credit: Hughe Dillon

Einstein Healthcare

Einstein Healthcare

Einstein Healthcare

Einstein Healthcare

Einstein Healthcare

Einstein Healthcare

Thank you for a a fantastic night, Einstein Healthcare and for 150 years of tremendous care, dedication, and devotion. To donate to the hospital and patients please visit website to learn about ways of giving. Here’s to another 150 years!   

C.O. Bigelow lip shines


As you may remember, I am a former employee of C.O. Bigelow. I was the Beauty Manager at the King of Prussia Mall location and loved every minute, the products, my customers, the philosophy. The original C.O. Bigelow apothecary in NYC still functions as a pharmacy as well as a beauty store. Established in 1838, this remarkable store offers products and brands with effective and quality ingredients. From the top down, corporate to retail, employees relish in finding the exact product for every concern. Customers are viewed as family and thus treated with respect. I enjoyed my time working with this fabulous company, taking pride in my job and helping each person that walked inside. Sadly, the mall location was not conducive for C.O. Bigelow and the location closed. It belongs in a neighborhood setting, encouraging a community atmosphere and unity, especially in Philadelphia; a city rich with history. The perfect place to have such an American landmark. Fingers crossed that L Brands gives it another try.

Personal care products are sold at C.O. Bigelow, including many luxury brands such as Kate Somerville, Rene Furterer, Acqua di Parma, and Lipstick Queen. Skincare, haircare, bodycare, and makeup are all under one roof, making the shopping experience enjoyable and convenient. C.O. Bigelow offers a full range of their own products as well. Each one has a number written on it representing the order in which is was produced. For instance, the Mentha Lip Shine/Breath Freshener is No. 502 and is a classic must-have item. This brings me to the Bigelow lip shines. Each one provides an ultra shine finish that can be worn alone or on top of your favorite matte lip product. They contain peppermint oil for a natural and on-the-go breath freshener. These lip shines are moisturizing and cooling on the lips.

They flew off the shelf at the store when I worked. I have one in every purse. Wendy Buiter and I decided to collaborate on featuring these lip shines. I felt as if it was important to do them justice as the company holds a special place in my heart. I am a fan of photography, but I truly believe that illustrations are a wonderful way of capturing something a little extra. A photo of these products may appear flat and one note. An illustration, however breathes life into the image, in this case a beauty product. I am certain that this will be a growing trend and will provide an alternative to traditional marketing within this industry.

Thank you Wendy for your interpretation and beautiful artwork!

Lemon Lip Cream

Cinnamon Lip Shine

Vanilla Lip Shine

C.O. Bigelow lip shines

Vera Wang

I have been wearing Vera Wang perfume (the original fragrance) since I was 16 years old. On a leadership conference to NYC my junior year of high school, we took a break to do a little shopping. What better NYC landmark to shop than Saks Fifth Avenue? Walking through the first floor to all of the exquisite beauty counters was quite the experience for such a makeup addict as myself. A bottle of Vera Wang caught my eye. I am a fan of the stunning Vera Wang ready to wear and bridal collection, but at the time did not know that she created perfume. I had to smell it. Her signature perfume, Vera Wang was designed to capture all of the emotion on your special wedding day. This spicy floral intoxicating perfume contains notes of lily, mandarin blossom, rose, gardenia, iris, lotus flower, stephanotis, floral accord, woods, and musk. This may have originally been developed for the blushing bride, but everyone can enjoy this complex and lovely fragrance. For 14 years, this has been my signature scent. I feel absolutely naked without it and positively confident wearing it. This is the true testament of a signature scent. One that is simply an extension of you, one that when others smell it they think of you.

I needed an image that truly represents the special place in my heart for this fabulous fragrance. That may sound a little strange, but scent is such a powerful sense and I have worn this perfume through many occasions. It has become a part of me and I wanted to do it justice. Instead of taking a flat photo of the bottle or using the traditional over sexualized image of a scantily clad model spritzing herself, I decided to have my friend, the very talented Wendy Buiter, create an image that fully encompasses and expresses the essence of Vera Wang perfume. We designed this beautiful illustration depicting a woman in ecstasy with the fragrance, smelling from the bottle all of the complex notes. This image captures the emotion behind the product. 


Wendy Buiter


Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing an incredibly talented Illustrator, Wendy Buiter. Wendy’s career is remarkable and an inspiration to all women. I had the opportunity to speak with Wendy and learn about her story and professional journey. Please take a minute a read her interview below.

Please tell Sugarpeel readers how you began your career in fine art.

My career literally took off as a flight attendant where I balanced international flight schedules with long periods of leisure. I was inspired to do creative things in my leisure time, and always envisioned myself doing so professionally. One of my early passions was to make faces beautiful and people happy. This led to my decision to shift from being a flight attendant to becoming a make-up artist. I’m glad I did! I won several prizes including Cosmopolitan best make-up artist of the year.

Wanting to further professionalize my creative ‘make up’ skills, I started a company specialized in staffing cosmetics sales personnel to cosmetics shops and brands such as L’Oréal, CHANEL, LVMH, Yves Saint Laurent, MAC etc.. I also wanted to share my knowledge and inspire a new generation of make-up artists, which is why I founded a make-up and cosmetics academy as well. The company and academy rapidly grew in size, which was phenomenal, but it also implied that I became more involved with the business, losing touch with the creative aspect that initiated all this. In 2014 I made a difficult decision to sell my company after 10 years, and pursue my long desired career as a creative artist.

Tell us about your passion for and background in beauty and fashion.

I always made drawings from an early age, and when I was 12 I wanted to be a fashion designer. I also had lots of creative hobbies! I have always been involved in fashion, make up and trends. As a teenager, when school was out, you could find me at the cosmetics departments gazing at all the beautiful make-up displays.

What medium do you enjoy using when creating illustrations?

I like to mix and match various mediums and materials – I use pencil, pen, crayons, acrylics, watercolor paint and I’m really fond of Tombow markers!

As an accomplished make-up artist, how does that affect the way you create an illustration?

I always look at facial symmetry and try to emphasize symmetry in the eyes and eyebrows. Because I’ve seen so many faces in my previous career I realize that asymmetry can also look appealing. When I make an illustration I try to find the right balance between a beautifully symmetric face and unique asymmetric features. This creates a realistic face which, in my eyes, makes it more interesting to look at.

Your work tends to exaggerate the eyes and the lips. As an artist are those the most expressive features that you want to capture?

Well it really just happens! The eyes are the soul of the artwork as it is in a human face so that’s where I want to draw the attention to. And everybody knows; luscious lips are always appealing and complement the face. I want ‘my girls’ to be beautiful, but definitely not ordinary 😉

Does a particular beauty or fashion trend draw you to a project?

I’m scouring the internet (and Instagram) looking for new creations from fashion designers that are very appealing or distinguishable. Several fashion designers/brands such as Giambattista Valli, Prada, Chanel or Oscar de la Renta highlight unique features that I can incorporate in my art. I’m always looking forward to the upcoming runway shows and create an artwork that stands out. I like it when their fashion is exaggerated, it’s so much fun to make my own interpretation of bold dresses and lots of embellished items like the SS2016 show from Dolce and Gabbana!

Where would you like to see your illustrations being viewed and utilized? 

Oee, I can name a few! But my goal is really to create beautiful things that puts a smile on other people’s faces. How can we put a limit to that ambition!? I´d like to reach as many people as possible with my art!

I would like to believe that my art is universally applicable in various campaigns (as visuals for beauty/fashion companies and their products, in shops, product packaging etc.) and as editorial art in fashion magazines.

It’s really an honor to create art that people like to collect and display in their homes or offices. But ultimately ´my girls´ on the cover of Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar would be a dream come true, that would be sooooo amazing!


Wendy was kind enough to create original fashion illustrations for Sugarpeel with me as the inspiration! This is only the beginning as she will continue to collaborate with Sugarpeel and is available to commission original artworks. I am absolutely amazed by her beautiful creations and am so grateful to Wendy. Make sure to visit her website where her originals and prints are available for purchase. Please contact Wendy for more information [email protected]