Ever click with someone instantly? That’s what happened when I ran into this fierce Latina in the office. Actually what really happened was I looked at her and thought, “I have that same Phillip Lim dress, WHO IS THIS GIRL???”
Paulina Virgen is not only fashionable but a strong minded woman making life happen in New York with her husband and fab cat Schiaparelli. What a name! Even her cat is working it! Her blog, North 7th & Bedford speaks volumes for women. What’s your preference? English or Spanish…because each post gives you the language option. SCORE! It’s one thing to give us fashion lovers great content to read and vivrant photos; and another thing to represent exactly who you are while doing it. She does it in Her Own Skin. I’d say we have a winner here.

1. What made you decide to become a fashion/lifestyle blogger?
I was working at Ralph Lauren Collection and Spencer, my then boyfriend, now husband, was away the whole summer for work. I wanted to do a little soul searching while he was gone since I really hadn’t lived by myself in a long time. I’ve always been very independent but not having him around gave me all this free time and I was excited to do something creative with it. I was sitting at my desk at work one day when my co-worker ran up to me with a copy of British Vogue and said “Did you see this?!” – Somehow Vogue had gotten their hands on a picture of me during NYFW and included me in a spread with Miroslava Duma and Kate Foley. Next to being photographed by Bill Cunningham, it was probably my proudest fashion moment. I thought ‘You know…maybe I could do this for the summer. Play dress up, take pictures and see what I can do with it’. My posts started as private because I was very self-conscious of sharing my thoughts and pictures publicly but when Spencer got back from his work tour we started taking pictures together and it was fun! It was like our little thing that we did together. He’s an awesome photographer and super encouraging of everything I do so I feel my most comfortable taking pictures with him.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from?
There is always inspiration to be found in the women of New York City – they are SO cool! I may walk by someone and think ‘wow, that’s amazing…I need a pair of shoes like that’. I also like to see the shows when they come out.
I often see movies, old & new, and may find something eye catching there. There was a brief point in my life when I wanted to do costume design so I always pay attention to what people wear in movies.
3. What are your top 3 fashion pieces that you think every woman should own?
1) A great bag – Everyone needs a bag they can wear to work, bring to dinner and out to a bar. My personal favorite is the Proenza Schouler PS1. It is easy to bring from day to night.

2) A little black dress – It’s important to have something you can just throw on in your closet for those last minute dinner parties.

3) A comfortable pair of heels – I’ve found that an uncomfortable pair of shoes can really ruin your day so if you want to look good you have to FEEL good.

4. What advice would you give another woman who is thinking about pursuing her passion (fashion, beauty, lifestyle, etc.) and taking it to another level? How would you advise her to stay motivated?
I would say you have to remember everyone started somewhere and it wasn’t easy at first. You just have to do what works for you because the path someone else took may not always be your path.
5. How do you find time to get it all done? Working full time and giving your followers what they love!?
It’s definitely not easy. I have to give priority to my job (because it pays the bills!) but any chance I get I dedicate to my blog. I’ve learned to manage my time and work on the things that are most important first and take note of what can wait. Everything is important but there are only so many hours in the day. I do believe that as women we sometimes doubt that we can have everything – the career, husband, children, friends – but there’s really no reason you can’t have it all. You just have to learn to prioritize.

Well there you have it ladies; straight from Paulina’s mouth. What a great example of a woman making it happen! You can have it all. GET IT! Socialize with Paulina at the links below….. Tell her I sent you!

xo IKA

Website: http://northseventhandbedford.com
Instagram: @northseventhandbedford
Twitter: @north7thbedford
Pinterest: @north7thbedford
BlogLovin’: North 7th & Bedford



Hey Friends! I thought I’d come to you with one of my newly found obsessions. Everyone knows I make a big deal about having a regular nightime skincare routine. It’s important! But lately, I’ve been going the all natural route. Wait for it…THE OIL CLEANSING METHOD!

Let me start by giving a little education for the nay sayers. Some (oily people) may say, why would I put oil on my already oily skin? Here’s why: Oil dissolves oil! It helps to balance the oil production in your skin. You’d be suprized. In fact, using a natural oil on your skin may actually reverse the problem areas that you may have been suffering with. By cleansing with a natural oil, you’re pulling all of the toxins and impurities out of your skin leaving your face and neck feeling soft and completely radiant!

Step 1: On dry skin apply the oil of your choice to your face and neck, rubbing in a circular motion throughout. Anywhere from a nickel size to a quarter size will do. I use Sweet Almond Oil. You want to make sure that you’re not applying an oil that causes your pores to clog. Click Here for Comedogenic Ratings and oils that can cause acne. You obviously want to stay away from the highly rated oils.

Step 2: Rinse the oil off with warm to hot water. Some people use a warm washcloth to open up the pores. I like to keep it short and sweet. Splash the warm water until you feel like you’re completely rinsed the oil off of your face and neck. This process opens the pores up.

Step 3: Close the pores back up with cold water. Once you get all of those toxins out with warm water, you need to close those precious pores up. Cold water does the trick. Tip: When you find your skin drying up and you don’t have your favorite cleanser around, splash cold water to bring back some of the moisture you lost!

Step 4: Dry! I personally use a clean paper towel on my face when drying it. My preference is to pat it thoroughly until my face looks matte. If my face looks shiny, I still have work to do.

Step 5: Moisturize. This step is optional because for some, the oil cleansing method leaves the skin already feeling hydrated. For others the warm/hot water rinse brings back some dryness. Since my skin is on the dryer side, I re-apply a light coat of the same sweet almond oil I used for cleansing as a last step to lock in moisture.

One of the things I love to do the most is research different ways to keep my skin healthy and glowing. This method has been great so far. I encourage you to try it. You may find that bringing out your BEST skin can be accomplished with the simplist work. If you have your own personal experience with the oil cleansing method, I’d love to hear about! Give me a shout!

xo IKA



If I had a nickel for every time I messed up my eyeliner I’d be rich! Here’s a few items that MUST stay close by when applying my daily makeup, otherwise, you just might think it’s Halloween every time you see me!

Q-Tips: This might be the most important of the “fixers”. Not only do they keep inside my lobes squeaky clean but when I mess up my winged liquid eyeliner a q-tip basically erases the error without taking off the whole eye. It’s small so it easily gets to corners that are hard to reach with any other tool.

Face Powder Overkill: Ever look in the mirror and realize you have too much powder on? I’m guilty! When this happens don’t move to quickly in removing it. Wait about 10 minutes and take a second look. Sometimes our natural oils blend nicely with the product after a few mins. If it still looks like too much, take a tissue, place it over your face and spray a mist like Evian Mineral Water Spray. It rehydrates your skin leaving it less cakey.

Eyeshadow Messiness: Ok, I know I’m not the only one. This happens to everyone! Sometimes when you’re creating a smokey eye or even just applying a light eyeshadow, if falls to the area right underneath the eye. ANNOYING! Here’s a little tip, apply translucent powder under the eye (just a little bit!). By doing this, it makes it easier to wipe the excess shadow off without smudging. Also, start with your eye make up before getting to the the rest of the face. This switch in order, saves you time!

Lipstick On Your Teeth, YUCK!: What’s worst than smiling from ear to ear with red gook on your teeth? Embarassing. Here’s a trick I learned many years ago. After applying your lipstick, take your finger, put it in your mouth and pull it out with your lips closed around it. It sounds like much but trust me, by doing this, you get rid of the excess lipstick sitting on the inside rim of your lips. That’s the exact part where your teeth get involved. 😉

Hey I’m no expert, but these work for me. Applying makeup doesn’t have to be a big production, but it’s nice if it looks like it was! What are some of your tricks?

xo IKA



It’s a joy to talk about a woman who can inspire us all. Desiree Verdejo, a corporate lawyer turned Harlem’s new beauty guru and owner of Vivrant Beauty; a boutique for women of all hair textures and skin tones. Desiree took a risk and it flourished! Vivrant Beauty is a chic boutique housing a range of products mostly owned by women. J’ADORE! I had the pleasure of making a visit to Vivrant Beauty for the Grand Opening in Harlem last week. Mimosa’s, rich desserts, a DJ and store full of must-haves! I left with a new line specifically made for “under hair care”. It’s haircare for the tresses that often get neglected underneath braids and weaves called Girl + Hair (owned by a woman)!

Desiree’s dream became a reality and is carrying on brilliantly in HER OWN SKIN.

"It’s frustrating when you are going to a job that is not fulfilling and your mind is elsewhere."

“It’s frustrating when you are going to a job that is not fulfilling and your mind is elsewhere.”

1. What inspired you to open up your own premium beauty boutique?
Honestly there were a lot of incidents and realizations that led me to work for myself, pursue a career in beauty and open a premium beauty boutique but one of the first moments that pushed me in this direction was about 5 years ago. I’d just “big-chopped” and was in the market for hair products for my newly curly kinky hair. I recall going to my local Korean beauty supply store to find hair products. The products for natural hair, or at least the more expensive brands that I was seeking out, were behind the counter and there was no one there to give me any guidance. It made me realize that there are a lot of people profiting from selling to women that look like me but very few people catering to us.

2. The best part of this journey has been…
Meeting other dynamic women that have carved out fulfilling careers. There’s no doubt that I’m a beauty-junkie but the majority of the brands that line our shelves are women-owned and my interactions with these beauty entrepreneurs have been the most inspiring, educational and satisfying aspect during this process.
3. What are your top 3 favorite beauty products?
This is the hardest question to ask a product lover but a few things that immediately come to mind are:

1) Ren’s Glycolic Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask – I’ve always had acne prone skin, one of the major reasons that I know as much as I do about skincare and ingredients, and I’ve finally gotten my break outs under control. My current obsession is getting an even skin tone. I’ve seen great results with this mask for clearing up scarring and it also leaves your skin with a fresh glow so it definitely a weekly go to for me.

2) Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Green Tea Shampoo – I’m never really impressed by shampoos and usually reach for the one that’s the least horrible, the least stripping, etc. This sulfate-free shampoo is great, though. It leaves my hair feeling clean and moisturized, and it also smells really fresh and clean.

3) Denman Brushes – There are a lot of women that dedicate a day or half a day to washing, treating and detangling their hair, especially if they have curly or kinky hair. I am definitely not one of them. I enjoy the process of keeping my hair healthy but my routine is quick. I can mention a few of my favorite detangler hair products but I always use them with the Denman D3 brush to get the job done. I think that every woman with natural hair should have one. When I’m wearing my hair in an updo, bun, crown braid or any style that requires a sleek look, I reach for my Denman D82 Boar Bristle brush to get a natural sheen before I even add any product. I’ve learned that quality hair tools are just as important as the products.

4. What advice would you give another woman who is thinking about leaving her current career behind to pursue her dreams and how would you advise her to stay motivated?
It’s frustrating when you are going to a job that is not fulfilling and your mind is elsewhere. I practiced law for seven years and for the last two years, I was plotting, planning and daydreaming about “this beauty boutique that I want to open one day.” I would advise such a woman to work towards the idea that’s haunting her even while she’s in her current career. It’s not always realistic to drop everything to chase your dream career (and the practical woman in me wouldn’t advise that) but definitely start a blog, launch a website, prepare your business plan, take an internship if you have the time, head to conferences in your field of interest, begin the research and conversations that will lay the groundwork for you to transition.

One thing that I believe, in life generally, is that when it is your time, you will know it. For years it was hard for me to leave my legal career behind but once I made that decision, the opportunities that presented themselves and the people that came into my life made it very clear that I was on the path that was meant to be. It helped that I had been researching and preparing for the moment. I am glad that I didn’t wait until the day that I could dedicate all of my time to Vivrant Beauty to start laying the foundation or I would’ve missed out on a lot.
5. Talk about entrepreneurship. How does it feel to be the WOMAN in charge?
Free. Scared. Nervous. Confused, Excited. Ambitious. My feelings are all over the place but being my own boss and building my own brand above all things feels very liberating. My corporate career was pretty pleasant but there were so many standards that I felt I had to suppress myself to meet. I can recall, for example, days where we had client meetings when I had to reach into the back of my closet to grab the navy blue and grey suits, and the pale lipstick that I reserved for those occasions. Not physically standing out definitely felt like the name of the game in that environment. As an entrepreneur, its completely the opposite, I’ve had to express my story and experience in every decision from the store design and product selection, to something as small as our business card or daily social media posts. Being myself and infusing that self into what is ultimately the Vivrant Beauty brand has been a thrill.

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, for example, I wake up at 6AM every day feeling like I could’ve started earlier because ultimately I realize that everything, every employee, every bill is my responsibility. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.


There she is friends; an inspiration! Have you ever dreamed about doing something totally different or something you’ve always wanted and took the steps at pursuing it? Well, here’s one way a woman made her dream a reality! Her Own Skin Loves this Vivrant Beauty! If you’re in the Harlem area, visit Vivrant Beauty at 220 Saint Nicholas Avenue. Visit the Vivrant Beauty Website or find this new beauty go-to on Instagram at VIVRANTBEAUTYNY

xo IKa