Traveling to The Ivory Coast (La Côte d'Ivoire)

I am going back home. In exactly three days, I will be hopping on a plane with my sister Laurinda and will be headed to Abidjan, Ivory Coast - my birth place. This trip has been long overdue. But they say, everything has its timing and I believe it to be unequivocally true. For years, I kept telling myself to wait until things would align correctly { business, lifestyle, finances etc…} - it’s as if I was waiting to have all these things figured out to give myself permission. It’s safe to say that some things I’ve figured out in my 20s + early 30s. And those things weren’t even on the list of things to figure out - and yet they’ve brought me here to this point. And where I stand now, it has never been more clear that the choice I am making today might just expand my world in ways I cannot even begin to comprehend.

When I am asked if this is a vacation, I feel a pang in my heart because going back home shouldn’t be considered a vacation nor a luxury, it should be the norm. I want it to be the norm for me. I want it to be the norm for my family. How can something be the norm or a way of life if a concerted effort or choice to make it be that way isn’t acted on? Same goes with a dream idea - nothing will move in that direction if small formative steps aren’t taken to make it flourish.

Does this all make sense? It made sense to me. Most importantly it made sense to my loving husband + partner. His support of the vision (since day one) and perspectives on success and the long game have served as daily reminders and propellers for adapting a risk-taking attitude with patience. I couldn’t be more proud and thankful for the life he and I are slowly building together for our family. Lastly, this made sense to my support system, my tribe + The Branding Edit team.

 So as I travel to re-acquaint with and ground parts of myself, revive old friendships and create new + meaningful connections, I hope to share my experiences in a visual format that is thoughtful and in alignment with my truth, my story and my creativity, while taking in account the truths and stories of the people I will be with as well. This might be a #StyleStop #globaledition in the making…It’s an exciting time and I sincerely hope that you stick around (If you're new to my blog/website (first off, welcome!), you can follow me on Instagram and see what I'm up to). 

Cheers! 

~ Olivia

She So Stylish Feature: Romina Ramos Doing Meaningful Work Abroad In Style

There are many, many women out there doing important work in various places of the world, and most of the time they're out of the spotlight because 1. They prefer to remain free of outside validation of their purpose and their life choices, and 2. Capturing every second of their lives on social media (to show how amazing their lives are) isn't simply their thing. The fact that they alone know it to be true is the only authenticity they want/need.  

These women are freelancers, advocates, ambassadors...they are underground leaders making environmental impact one healthy turtle at a time, and are doing all of that while creating their own narratives. I mean...how inspirational, right! 

Last December I had a wonderful time working with one of these smart + driven women, Romina, as her personal shopper + stylist. If you're a frequent visitor of my blog, you may have noticed that sharing my client's stories is one of my favorite things to do. And this one is definitely worth reading...

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Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your work with turtles and the organization?

I work with endangered leatherback sea turtles in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. This year marks my third season with the project team at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. I patrol a beautiful beach from evening to sunrise to collect scientific data from nesting female turtles. The work is intensive and fun if you like wildlife and aesthetic views. 

Q: What prompted your desire to work abroad? 

Since middle school, I've had an obsession with maps. My favorite class was geography and I told myself that I would discover other countries one day, because I wanted to see how different cultures live day by day. Being American and growing up in a Cabo-Verdean household, I'm naturally drawn to the island life, natural foods, sleepy towns, and beaches.

Q: When you came to me, you were very intentional and decisive about where your personal style was going, can you talk about your style evolution and why this was important to you?

In St. Croix, I travel and work outdoors so a lot of my clothes are basic jeans, shorts and tees with a few nice pieces for outings. Because I'm active, I look younger than my actual age. I was particular about upgrading my wardrobe because I wanted to learn how to dress for my age and body type. There's a different response you get from people when you are and look 26 as opposed to when you look 18. I'm at a time in my life where I'm building on my ideas and networking, so investing in a fresh, new wardrobe seemed right. 

The right outfit for me has to say outgoing and authentic because I'm very grounded to my roots. I'm surrounded by tropical plants, fruit trees, farm animals, and the ocean, very similar to Cabo-Verde (where my family is from). I realized that's where I'm the most happy. For my style evolution, I wanted to play with ocean and desert colors because I'm very attracted to those environments where I live and work in. It's amazing how adding a few essentials such as dressy pants, cute blouses, simple and elegant dresses and jumpsuits can really transform how you feel and carry yourself. 

When I returned to the U.S. for the holidays, I had a budget in mind and knew I needed to stock up on basics and invest in pieces to last me all year long. It made sense to work with you because 1. I needed styling expertise, and 2. My one-week stay was going to be limiting and it was crucial for me to spend most of this precious time with my Rhode Island family, rather than in stores.

Q: What do you like about your wardrobe now? 

It's speaks feminine and maturity! 

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in StCroix on your off time? Your favorite food?

My favorite thing to do in St. Croix is to snorkel with my GoPro Hero4. My favorite food on the island are mangoes. I live on a lush property surrounded by the best mango trees in the west side of the island. 

Q. Do you have any advice for the nomad life seeker out there on where to begin? How to make the leap?

Always be kind to yourself and to others in all situations. Being kind and respectful pays off (especially if you are traveling). You learn to appreciate more and you will receive more. I made the leap when I quit my job, applied abroad again, and traveled on a tight budget for 8 months before I returned to St. Croix. I didn't know where I was headed, but that was okay for me because I felt confident, and I attracted this life that I am living now.  I've gone through so many challenges that I know myself a lot better now and I love that. Be fearless or else you will limit yourself.