Friday, April 14, 2017

Travel Guide: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For my college graduation present, I visited Playa del Carmen, Mexico. While I was there, I loved exploring the area's gorgeous beaches and the variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Here are my recommendations for Playa del Carmen. 
To Stay:
  • Excellent service: Right when we entered the hotel, we were greeted with glasses of champagne. The staff at the hotel was incredibly helpful and made you feel welcomed/comfortable. 
  • Gorgeous interior/exterior: The hotel has a modern feel to it. I loved how everything was out in the open and not enclosed. The hotel setup was perfect for a beach vacation. 
  • Close proximity to 5th avenue: When you walk out the front of the hotel, you are within walking distance of all of the shops and restaurants in the area. 
  • Beachfront access & infinity pool: Necessities for a beach vacation. 
  • Excellent food at the hotel: The guac they had at the hotel was some of the best guac I have ever had! I probably had a bowl of guac and chips every day I was at the hotel. I also recommend the breakfast buffet and the quesadillas. 
  • Other Hotels I heard were nice in Playa: Mahekal Beach Resort, Thompson Playa del Carmen, and Banyan Tree Mayakoba. 
To Eat:

 Chez Celine (above) 
This is the perfect brunch spot in Playa. The food and drinks are inexpensive and delicious. I recommend the ham and cheese croissant, strawberry tart, french toast, and nutella and strawberry crepe. 

This place has amazing Italian food. The pasta is handmade - right when you approach the restaurant, you will see a chef making the pasta. I suggest making a reservation for outdoor seating beforehand, the restaurant is a pretty popular spot in Playa and gets crowded. I recommend the baked penne and the carbonara spaghetti.

Hands down the best service we received at a restaurant on vacation. Our waiter was incredibly attentive and friendly. I recommend the caesar salad (they make the salad at your table) and the filet mignon. 

Alux is one of the few restaurants in the world that is located in a real cave. This is a great place to come for drinks and dessert and walk/take pictures around the cave.

To Do:
We chose the Akumal Beach and cenote snorkeling tour with Ecotours. We picked this tour because Akumal Beach is famous for having tons of sea turtles that swim near the shore. Also, we wanted to do an underground cave like snorkel. For the tour, I recommend the earliest tour. The later the time, the more tour groups and tourist will arrive. We did the beach snorkel first. We were face to face with sea turtles, fish, and stingrays! We probably saw about 10 sea turtles and plenty of fish and stingrays. The second tour was the cenote snorkel. I highly recommend doing at least one cenote snorkeling or diving trip while you are here. Snorkeling in the cenote was truly an unforgettable experience. 

For parasailing we booked with Maroma Tours. We wanted to do parasailing with a company that was certified and knew was safe. This was my second time parasailing and I loved getting to see the views of Playa del Carmen. 

5th avenue is home to a majority of the shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in town. Walking around 5th avenue is a great way to spend a few hours in Playa.

That is all for my travel guide for Playa del Carmen! What are your favorite activities, places to stay, and restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Mexico? Where should I travel next? Let me know in the comment section! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Social Media Tips For Stylists

As a stylist, one of the most important things you can do is to stay on top of current social media trends and to promote your business through these platforms. When used correctly, social media can strengthen your relationships with your clients, create brand loyalty among your followers, showcase your talents to a new audience, and gain new clientele. Below, we listed several tips on how stylists can increase their following and engagement on social media.

Start With Two Social Media Platforms
When starting out on social media, it is best to determine what two platforms are best for your business and focus on only those two. This allows you to spend your valuable time building your following and engagement on those platforms. Then, when you have established yourself on those mediums, you can explore other social media channels.

Interact with Others
The great thing about social media is that it lets you continue the conversation with your established clients and potential clients outside of the salon chair. For example, if someone shares a photo of their new haircut and tags you or asks you a question through the comment section, make sure you reply and show them some love in return. Interact with your audience by replying to any comments you receive, liking and commenting on their content, and thanking them for their support. By doing this, your customers are more likely to engage with your content in the future.

Create a Call to Action
A great way to increase follower engagement on your social media sites is create a call to action. For example, ask your followers to comment about their favorite hair products and to click the link in the bio to read the blog post. Asking your audience to do a certain action and creating a conversation will increase engagement on your channels and give you a better sense of your client’s interests.

Provide Deals and Contests to Social Media Followers
Word of mouth is critical in the styling industry. People are more likely to use a stylist that was recommended to them by a friend. One way to increase your brands visibility is to offer exclusive deals on social media. For example, “Share this post and like our Facebook page and receive $15 off your next haircut” or “Share a photo using the hashtag #hairbyashleyrose and you will be entered to win a free haircut”. By offering incentives, people will want to follow your social media accounts to receive these special deals and your business/social media content will be introduced to a new audience.

Use Hashtags and Location Tags To Your Advantage
Using hashtags and location tags will assist people to find your business on social media. Tagging the location of your salon and using location and industry specific hashtags will help you reach your target audience. For example using hashtags such as #DFWhair and #hairstylist will enable you to locate new clients and followers that are interested in the styling industry.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How To Improve Your Photos For Instagram

With millions of people on Instagram, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, you do not have to have a fancy camera or a professional camera to become #instafamous. Here are some tips on how to improve your Instagram content.

Location- The more interesting the backdrop is, the better! The best way to find Insta-worthy backdrops in your area is to explore your city. Keep an eye out for walls and backdrops that have unique details. Also, you can discover new locations by using the search feature in the Instagram app. Just type in the city or business you are looking for and all of the photos tagged with that location will appear on your screen. For those of you that live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I have a blog post that list the best places to take photos in Denton, Texas.

Lighting- Lighting is key for taking a good photo. I believe the best lighting is natural light. The best times to take a photo are sunrise, sunset, or when it's overcast/cloudy. I like to make sure when I am in the photo the lighting is in front of me, that way you will not have weird shadows hitting your face.

Angles- Angles can add character to your shot. For photographing objects, food pics, or flatlays, usually the best angle is to shoot the objects from above ( birds-eye-view shot) and have a simple background that doesn't clash with the objects. For #OOTD's, the most flattering angle is to shoot someone at a low angle. Have someone kneel down and angle the camera up. This will make you appear taller. Try a variety of different angles ( below, above, straight on, etc.) to see which one works best for you. 

Find your Pose- The best way to do this is to try a variety of different poses until you find the one that feels the most comfortable to you. My go to poses is to cross one leg over the other, have one leg slightly stick out more than the other, and to look like you are walking. The more natural the pose, the better. 

Apps- There are numerous apps that you can use to edit and help plan your Instagram pictures. These are my favorite ones.

  • VSCO Cam: There is a reason why everyone and their mom uses this app, it's crazy good. This app is what I use to filter my photos. They have a variety of filters to use and you can adjust how much of the filter you want in your photo. My favorite filters are HB1, HB2, and A6. If you are tring to go for a specific filter look on your photo, search vsco cam filters on Pinterest, and a list of filter combos will show step by step how to get the look. You can also adjust the saturation, brightness, and sharpness of the photo. This app is free.

  • Facetune: I use this app to make the whites in my photos brighter. You click the whiten feature on the app, zoom in, and run your finger across the parts you wan to whiten. If you make a mistake, you can easily erase it without having to start over. This is great for flatlays or to brighten anything that has white in the photo. I also use this app to bring the details out in my photos using the details feature. I run my finger across the parts that I want to pop in my photo. This app costs $3.99. 

  • UNUM: Before uploading uploading a photo to Instagram, I use this app to see how it will look on my Instagram profile. When you open the app, it will have all of your Instagram photos that are currently on your profile. You are able to upload the photo you are thinking about adding to your Instagram and see if the photo looks cohesive with your feed. There is a tutorial about the app here. This app is free. 

BTW, you should follow me on Instagram. My Instagram is @rachelpittman_      (shameless self promotion).  

What are your tips for improving your Instagram photos? Let me know in the comment section! 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sizzling Swimsuits for Summer 2016

From tropical prints to a twist on the classic black bikini, I've selected my favorite swimsuits that will make a splash for summer 2016.

Pacsun maroon bikini top  $26.95 & bottom  $16.95

Pacsun tropical print bikini top   $26.95 & bottom   $19.95

Pacsun tropical print bikini top  $26.95 and bottom   $19.95

Express bikini top  $20.93 and bottom   $29.90

Pacsun stripes bikini top   $54.95 and  bottom   $49.95

Misguided palm print bikini top  $24.23 and bottom  $19.38 

Misguided red bikini top  $16.15 and bottom  $12.92

Where do you shop for your swimsuits? What are your favorite swimsuits? Let me know in the comment section!
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