I adopted a Tillandsia

Succulents are all the rage right now, especially in rubber dinosaur holders. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a picture of what I’m referring to: cacti and other low-maintenance plants that people have been “adopting” and using as decor.

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Generally, these neat little nods to nature are found in small local shops or Urban Outfitters, the crazy mogul who pretends to be a small-business hipster boutique. Knowing me, I am always seeking out what’s new, and once these succulents became too mainstream for me, I knew I couldn’t rock one in my cube anymore. Behold, I encounter a lady selling the next big thing at a booth at the Made Here market today: tillandsias!

Tillandsia is a genus referring to air plants – meaning they don’t have roots – native to the Americas. Not having roots is the main thing here; that means you can pick up your tillandsia plant and hold it in your hand or even arrange it with a group of rocks and not need soil! How does it gather nutrients? Through the air, with its nifty structures called trichomes (which also give the plant a nice silvery finish). Cutest thing? New, baby tillandsias are called “pups”! Currently, the Wikipedia page doesn’t have a section about them being used as house plants yet so I feel pretty hipster, no lie.

Here’s my new tillandsia!

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How to Dress Like an Italian Girl

  • Italian women are envied worldwide for their style and iconic fashion. There’s just something sexy about Italian girls and their classy way of dressing.  What can the non-Italian learn about what Italian women look for when arranging outfits and about their style?

    Italian girls value clean lines, solid colors, and simple patterns. Edgy is cool, but worn naturally.

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    Generally, an edgy outfit is paired with simple makeup and simple boots and red lipstick. Clothes are generally more refined and sophisticated than the average American girl’s style. Even ripped jeans are worn with kitten heels and a sleek hair, never a baggy t-shirt.

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    An Italian girl is always mindful of her accessories as well, so a purse or sunglasses are never an afterthought but rather a deliberate decision.

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    Leather? Classy, not gothic.

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    These pictures from Milan Fashion Week illustrate the Italian ladies’ heavy emphasis on looking good and dressing well.

    This post was originally published on keepaustinitalian.tumblr.com as part of Aditi’s Italian Culture blog.

Brand Development Idea…

For my brand management course this past fall semester, we had to create a new brand in an existing product category where we felt there was opportunity. My project resulted in a cute idea called Sweetheart Premium Cotton artisan blankets. Read on and let me know if you would buy these!

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Introduction. Sweetheart Premium cotton aims to be the best new brand in the artisan cotton blanket product category. The company will sell locally grown and handmade cotton blankets to niche audiences. These blankets capitalize on the macrotrends involving buying locally, creating local jobs for the underserved, and supporting organically grown products. Cotton is a 100% natural fiber and Sweetheart strives to support Texas’s booming cotton industry while providing more jobs in the South. The final product will be sold within Texas’s urban centers.

Business Opportunity & Distribution. Texas is the largest cotton producing state in the United States. Currently, about 60% of Texas cotton is exported away (production is at a surplus). Sweetheart has chosen to buy cotton grown by farmers associated with the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association and the Blackland Cotton and Grain Producers Association. These two associations cover cotton farmers in the regions which include the Texas urban centers of Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and the Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas. This is crucial because these cities are where the majority of the finished product will be sold. Sourcing cotton from the same geographical vicinity will drastically contain transportation costs which can then be translated into higher profit margins, greater focus on localization, and lower costs for customers. The cotton would go directly from the farmers to local weaving companies to be woven into knit fabric. Leftover, lower quality cotton will be used for the stuffing of the quilts. We would ensure that all growers are organic and that the manufacturers pay fair wages and use high standards of quality and ethics. Local people in the nearby towns will be hired to make quilts of the cotton, hand-stamp the blankets, and will design and create the embroidery. Once the business gets big enough, the firm would look into mass-producing but keep the original ideas of locality, high-quality, and the brand personality in mind.

Competition. Direct competitors to Sweetheart Premium Cotton include other artisan blankets on Etsy and other handmade outlets and gift shops. Indirect competition to these gift-worthy cotton blankets includes other handmade or cute purchases like mugs, candles, sweaters, and scarves from boutiques.

Consumer. The target consumer of Sweetheart Premium Cotton can be understood through the consumer persona we’ve named “Allie.” Allie is a young mom with a toddler. She’s 28 and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she lives with her husband in an apartment in downtown Austin. After work, she enjoys strolling Urban Outfitters, Francesca’s, and Anthropologie for their well-priced, unique items. She frequents local coffee shops and believes strongly in supporting local businesses, especially ones that advocate fair trade. Allie also shops online to find sustainable, high-quality products for her small family; her favorite finds are from Etsy.

Brand positioning statement. For proud Texans who love to be cozy, Sweetheart Premium Cotton is the handspun cotton comfort that wraps you up in the feeling of home.

Brand theme. Sweet ol’ Texas heritage meets modern urbanites.

Brand personality.  Sweetheart Premium Cotton is family-oriented with a small-town vibe. Our services and products are sincere, wholesome, and home-grown. The final designs give a Texas staple a unique twist with contemporary details. Just like you, we’re born and raised in Texas, and we love sweet tea and s’mores.

(Picture of inspiration. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/464574517783625292/)

–I reserve all rights to this idea, brand name, persona, and content– Aditi Bhandari