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She’s Not Your Average Professor

10 May

This Sweet Bling customer is a chic, smart Mama — and she surfs.

We’re actually not sure what your average professor is. We just know that Dr. Paula Peter is by no means average. She is a Sweet Bling customer who is an inspiration for women trying to walk that tight rope of family, career and self.  With Mother’s Day coming up, we thought this was the perfect time to celebrate an inspirational mother.

Peter with her son, Noah.

I’ve known Peter for ten years, through mutual friends. But until I interviewed her, I didn’t know how she came to be a Professor of Marketing. I wanted to know how she balances her career and family, and I wanted to know more about where she got her sense of style. So I went to interview Peter at her office at San Diego State University.

Peter oozes a cool European vibe – which isn’t surprising, because she is from Lugano, Switzerland. She has a beautiful accent which sounds a bit Italian since Lugano is on the border of Switzerland and Italy. Paula is married to Alessio, who she met her last year of high school (he is five years her senior). He is an ICU nurse and together they are raising two beautiful children, Noah and Alice (pronounced A-LEE-CHAY) in San Diego. Peter is the person women look at and say, “how does she do it?” She has a fun and satisfying career, a lovely family and an effortless sense of style.


Top left: Peter with her husband, Alessio. Top right: Peter coming in from surfing. Bottom: Alice, Alessio, Noah and Peter.

I ask Peter where she got her sense of style. She credits her mom, Leena, who was a model (no surprise here!) before she married Peter’s dad. She describes the carefree lifestyle her mom lived, going from city to city in Europe for modeling work. Her mom was originally from Finland.

Peter tells me of fond memories of dressing up with friends in her mother’s beautiful gowns. She also mentions that her grandfather on her mother’s side was a dressmaker.


Photos of Peter’s mom, Leena. Top left: in Amsterdam, bottom right in Lake Como.

When I was a kid and I was maybe 12 or so, I would play Runway at home with my friends and we would all wear my mom’s dresses. They were huge and puffy, but very pretty. My mom would wear these when she was in her 20s in Milan because she was completely out there in terms of her style.

I ask Peter if she thinks her style has changed since she moved to Southern California.

I don’t think so. It’s funny because I don’t get influenced very much. For example, I don’t follow fashion so much, but there are a couple (of designers) I follow. I follow Chanel and I followed Karl Lagerfeld. I also follow Alexander McQueen.

And about that balance in life. I tell Paula, that I’ve seen pictures of her surfing. She told me she decided to take it up after taking her seven-year-old son to a summer surf camp last year. It is something she enjoys doing for herself.

I love it because it’s you and the water. If I want to go in the water and just hang there I can do that — and enjoy the ocean and everything. So I truly love it. I’m not good at it but I’m not giving up.

We start talking about Peter’s 4 year-old daughter and how she likes jewelry, which leads into Peter’s  taste in jewelry. She is what I would describe as a jewelry minimalist. However, for her  21st anniversary (of dating her husband), she did ask her husband for two Sweet Bling Initial Bracelets, one with each child’s initial. Peter explains why she chose the delicate bracelets.

I like simple and subtle. So I love your bracelet (referring to me) because of that (the Baguette Gemstone Bracelet, because you have to look twice before seeing if there is something there. And I see your necklace (the Diamond Solitaire Necklace), it’s very teeny and I love that. I love when there’s  a sparkle but you have to have a double take to see — oh yes, there is something. I find that very chic and fine. It’s something I love to see.

Peter has been teaching at San Diego State University for just over ten years. She loves teaching young people and also empowering other women in academia. But, what I admire so much about Peter is the love and attention she puts towards her family. You see the thoughtfulness in the way she speaks to her children, how she loves laughing and playing with them and how content she is in her role as a mom. But you also see the happiness she exudes when with her husband, without the kids. Now career and family didn’t all fall in to place accidentally. Peter realized early on that she wanted to have a family — and a career as a Professor of Marketing would allow her to achieve both her dreams. I asker her how she decided to become a marketing professor.

Paula Peter, Ph.D at San Diego State University

So I don’t come from a family of known academics. My dad was a hockey player and my mom was a model, so no background related to academia. But they always told me “there is something nobody can steal from you —  it is knowledge. So we truly encourage you to go ahead and study.”

As a young woman, Dr. Paula Peter dreamed of being a competitive figure skater. Peter enjoyed and was good at the sport but not good enough to make a living out of it. So instead of pursuing a career in professional skating, she settled into life back home in Southern Switzerland (Lugano) and attended the Universita’ della Svizzera Italiana. While there, she met a visiting professor from Virginia Tech University. It was an encounter that would motivate her to change the course of her life.

While I was earning my bachelor’s degree, I met Dr. David Brinberg who inspired my love for the subject of consumer behavior.

When Peter chose to pursue a career in the field of consumer behavior, she moved to the U.S. to attend Virginia Tech, where Dr. Brinberg would continue to advise and mentor her during her master’s degree program and, later, her Ph.D. program. Upon completing her doctorate, Peter was named 2007’s “Outstanding Graduate Student” at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. 

During her time as a doctoral student, Peter realized that this profession would not only be satisfying as a career , but provide a lifestyle that she valued – one that would allow her to have a family, and travel.

My first conference as a Master’s student was in Jamaica, by myself. I remember my advisor was not able to come. So he said, “You need to go and you need to go by yourself.” So then I went there and I realized oh wow, people go to the conference but then they have fun on the side. And I realized wow, this is a lifestyle! I’m totally in!

Today, Peter is a tenured full professor at the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University where she researches and teaches about the role emotions play in consumer behavior and how consumers are driven by those emotions in their decision making. Peter notes that her research leads her to believe that there isn’t necessarily a gender difference in the way that we experience our emotions, but that society has different expectations in the way that men and women express emotions.

Based on my research, women seem to have a higher emotional intelligence, meaning that they are more aware and calibrated on the emotions they experience. This is probably due to the fact that they are taught that from an early age it is okay to experience and express emotions. This is not necessarily the case for boys, but things are fortunately changing.

 Her interest in emotional intelligence and gender roles segued into her interest in the inclusion and promotion of women in academia.

I am very aware of the current statistics of women in academia and how we are still not where we should be, especially in the promotion of associate professors to the role of professors. When I earned the title of full professor in May 2018, I felt it was time for me to take action to improve things and initiate change in order to support women faculty and staff members at SDSU.

With this is mind, Peter launched the SDSU’s Women in Business Academia (WBA) employee resource group to support the well-being and advancement of women in business academia. Peter explains the role of WBA:

WBA addresses the unique issues that women in business academia face and the issues that impact their career, families and communities. The group is open to anyone on this campus who would like to see more gender equity in academic settings.

If Peter has made empowering women a part of her agenda at San Diego State, it was because she was raised by an empowered woman.

My mom is my hero. She left home at the age of 17 to be a model and she traveled from Helsinki to Milan. She had to become very street smart at an early age and despite the fact she is not college educated, I think she is the smartest person I have ever known.

While Peter’s mom loved the life she had as a model, she also treasured her role as a mom. But she often offered advice to Peter on the subject of family and career. 

My parents had a beautiful marriage, but she (my mom) always told me, encouraged me to be financially independent and decision-making independent. Where I come from, it was very rare that mothers would work. And actually the mothers who worked were not seen in a good light.

And that very much influenced Peter to find a career where she could be financially independent, as well as be a good mom. We’re proud to say that Dr. Paula Peter is a Sweet Bling customer.

 Have a sweet day!

Rebel Designs and My Italian Friend

4 Dec

I’ve followed Rebel Designs long before I ever started selling their jewelry. I love the name: Rebel. It applies to both young and old. We can all be rebels in our own way. The Manhattan-based Rebel Designs is headed by Gina Riley, who takes her inspiration from the contrasts of rough and refined found throughout the New York City mileau.

Rebel Designs really covers the spectrum of style. The rustic authenticity of leather and crystal can meet the desires of any age group and be so tastefully dressed up or down.

As I went through Sweet Bling’s inventory of Rebel Designs pieces in preparation for this post, I knew I needed a model. I immediately thought of my friend, Antonella, who is originally from Milan, Italy. She is one of the chicest women I know — and adds a bit of flair to everything she touches. Lucky me! I texted Antonella and she agreed to model some Rebel Designs pieces for Sweet Bling.

We decided to do the photo shoot at Dolce, a restaurant in San Diego, that fit our vibe. Antonella wore a white blouse that was something out of a Tuscan chick flick; so simple, yet so elegant. So perfect for my Italian friend. The draping flattered her shoulders and reached just mid forearm in an edgy tunic style.

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I first wanted to style her blouse with a cuff bracelet…and the Rebel Designs Vintage Leather Cuff with Crystal Grid was the just the look I needed!

 

 

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I  also loved her blouse with the Vintage Leather Cuff With Black Diamond Swarovski Crystal Disk. It brought such a rustic flare to her look, complimented by a lovely glass of prosecco, of course.

 

 

 

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Either of these bracelets could be worn with a thin leather bracelet like the Rebel Refined Leather Bracelet with Crystal Disk. My fingers were itching to snap a million photos and style her outfit just-so. Everything was working so beautifully.

 

 

anto close upThe shot of Antonella I that I had been imagining came to life: white tunic blouse beautifully accented with the Vintage Brown Leather Cuff, as she thoughtfully ordered a glass of the best Italian white wine on the menu…it worked so well! It reminded me our adventures in the Italian countryside and the slow afternoons of vacation.

My friend pulled off this rustic elegance like it was meant to be. That’s really what I love most about Rebel Designs. It has the timeless casual for your next European adventure, or the rustic flare for a weekend dinner party. Pair it with a white blouse like my dear friend for a daytime look, or a black chiffon blouse for more of an evening feel. Oh, the possibilities!

After our photo shoot, we reminisced about our travels in Italy. I enjoyed a lovely glass of wine, lively conversation and laughter with a longtime and forever friend. What beautiful inspiration she is.

Ciao,

Sweet Bling

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Boho Bling Style

12 May

A few years back, I was starting to get spring fever so I went to buy something “springy.”  School was getting in the way and an online impulse buy was looking like my best option to curb the burning desire for a shopping spree.

In search of a spring dress, I found a super cute one on a random discount shopping site called Tobi, and just before checking out—I have no idea what came over me—I threw a fedora hat in my shopping “bag.”  What the heck!?  In my defense, the model looked super cute wearing it and for some reason, in that moment, a fedora purchase sounded like just the daring purchase I needed to spice up my otherwise dull spring day.

But let me tell you…Best. Purchase. Ever.  It was so fun to style!  I ended up sporting it all spring and into summer.  It worked with everything!  Casual outfits…short dresses, long dresses, complimented different kinds of sunglasses nicely anddd if I must list a practical component, it may or may not have saved my Irish skin a few extra freckles (you’re welcome mom!).

Ok, so my point here is spring hats are the BOMB.  They’re so fun!  And if you need any more convincing, these photos of our model, Clare,  should do it.

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She had a California-chic-meets-European-model look going as we strolled through the Del Mar Plaza.  Her hats made me think of a European spring break and the beachy jewelry added a gorgeous twist of California that brought me right back home.

Her hat + the casual style of her poncho mixed with the classic elegance of the Rebel Refined Gold Stick Necklace with Crystals and the Rebel Designs bracelets got fashion juices flowing.  In my checkout bag now please!

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IN. LOVE.

Happy Spring!

 

 

Clare’s jewelry:

Rebel Refined Gold Stick Necklace with Crystals

Rebel Designs Gold Leather Bracelet with Crystal

Rebel Designs Brown Leather Bracelet with Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

Creer, tener confianza: To believe, to have confidence

27 Mar

My beautiful friend in these photos is from Madrid, Spain.  I’ve only been to Madrid once—when I was 10 years old—but I remember the classic elegance of the city, the strength of the sun in the mid-August heat, and the warmth of its people. Lorea embodies all of these things in these gorgeous photos: beauty, elegance, fire and warmth.

When I asked Lorea if she would model some jewelry for me, she readily agreed.  We chatted about her style and she said she prefers a simple, classic approach to beachy chic. With the breathtaking backdrop and the beautiful Sweet Bling pieces I had to work with, I couldn’t have imagined a better style for my model.

On an unseasonably warm March day, I took Lorea down to the end of my street with intentions of snapping some photos down on the beach.  But as we started playing around, snapping photos on our way down, the views from up on the cliffs in Del Mar were too spectacular to pass up. These 85-degree, early spring days can be such a fashion challenge at times.  It seems too early to be pulling out the bright floral prints of late spring and summer, but certainly too warm for sweaters and dark colors.

I love the simple look Lorea came up with.  Distressed jean shorts from Top Shop and a simple sheer tank from Zara.  Her sunglasses are Fendi—they’re amazing and now I want some.  Sigh.  And what to do about shoes?  Lorea and I had just returned from the mall where she’d purchased a new pair of mint green Nike’s.  I love the playful nature of the spring-colored Nike’s complementing the casual elegance of her top, finished off with the beautiful Sweet Bling jewelry with various shades of blues and greens.  The combination was a match made in heaven.

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In the first photo, Lorea is wearing the Green Leather and Crystal Wrap Bracelet . In the second photo, she has layered the wrap bracelet with Nyla Convertible Necklace and Bracelet.

My favorite photo of the day was captured by accident.  As I was trying to get a good shot of the Sweet Bling wrap bracelet, Lorea reached up to adjust her sunglasses.   Snap, snap.  I glanced down at the viewing window on my camera.  I had caught this perfect moment where you could see Lorea’s tattoo through a space between her arms—the ocean a breathtaking backdrop—Green Leather and Crystal Wrap Bracelet   so perfectly displayed.

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“Believe”.  I wondered how you say that in Spanish so I asked Lorea.  Creer, tener confianza.  To believe, to have confidence.  It rolled off her tongue like poetry. We snapped a few more.  I love how happy she looks.  Even though she’s half way across the world from home, I could tell the warmth of the day and the beauty of the ocean made her feel at home.

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As the sun caught her hair, we captured the Blue Jasper Pendant —displayed so effortlessly with her classic look.

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I could’ve snapped photos all day, the ocean offering this backdrop that glistened like a freshly finished oil painting.

What a day.  What a day, indeed.

 

Natalie Thompson — Boho Surfboard Artist

3 Mar

“Beachy Boho.”  The carefree 18-year old tosses her head back—a mane of beautiful, sun-bleached blonde hair—and laughs as I attempt to describe her style. She agrees.  The words describe her perfectly.  “I love the 70’s hippy style, bright colors, anything flowy, long dresses.” In a way, her style is more than just flowy dresses and vibrant colors.  It describes her life and her passions.  Her style is part of her story.

For as long as Natalie Thompson can remember, art has also been a part of her story.  It has shaped her and grown her and given her a fiery passion.  Even in preschool, teachers would encourage Natalie to go outside and play.  Natalie would refuse — she wanted to continue working on her art projects.  By the time Natalie was in high school, she had developed a love and a talent for ink drawings and painting.  She began to seek out her art teacher, Karrie Jackson, to learn how she could take her art to the next level.

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Jackson’s idea was a unique one.  But given Natalie’s childhood, growing up in the beach culture of San Diego, it made perfect sense.  Natalie was already defining her style as an artist—incorporating bright colors and elements of nature into her pieces—so Jackson suggested she try extending her talents to new canvases.  She suggested Natalie utilize surfboards and skateboards as slates to display her vibrant art.

Natalie experienced instant recognition and success with her work.  Her first painted board was displayed in a consignment shop where she soon got more orders for her surfboard art.  Her boards are now sold at several shops around San Diego including Island Surf in Coronado, Ocean Beach Surf and Skate, The Hotel Del Coronado and Surf Diva in La Jolla.

We style Natalie in some of the newest jewelry available on SweetBling.com. In the first set of photos, she is wearing an ecru mini skirt and cropped tank.  The Aerin Crystal Drop Convertible Necklace by Jamierocks (around her neck and wrist) the Chain and Bead Bracelet with Crystal by Nakamol and Textured Gold Hoop Earrings complete the look.

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As Natalie changes outfits, I ask her about the present, about the future, about her wildest dreams and aspirations.  She has answers for all of them. Her glowing confidence inspires me.  Fresh out of high school, Natalie is already a flourishing art student at San Francisco Art Institute.  And it’s no mystery to me that success follows Natalie, just like the sun beams seem to gravitate towards her glistening hair.  In her second look, Natalie features tie-dyed leggings and a black bikini top. Our Black Leather and Lava Bead Wrap Bracelet, the Teal Czech Crystal Bracelet (both by Nakamol) and our Small Triangle Bib Necklace by Zenzii are the perfect Sweet Bling accessories.  I snap a photo of Natalie standing on the lifeguard tower, looking out over the ocean.  It’s like I can see her forming new goals and dreams with her thoughtful gaze.

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In this last photo, Natalie stands in front of a weathered container.  She is truly able to stand out in any setting. Here she is wearing a Hematite Beaded Lariat Necklace and Blue Emerald Cut Earrings, both by Jamierocks.  The Silver Leather Cuff with Blue Beads is by Nakamol.

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While Thompson plans to continue painting and selling surfboards and skateboards, her ultimate goal is to open her own surf shop, complete with a line of clothing incorporating her artwork into colorful styles.  And after spending the afternoon with Natalie, I have no doubt she will make this dream happen.  Her passionate, soulful spirit has rubbed off on me.  The sun is now starting to go down.  Natalie, her sister Nicole, and her best friend Hannah, are running on the beach and playing in the surf.  Natalie once again throws back her blond locks as she laughs at something one of them has said.  Her effortless confidence makes me feel like anything is possible.

Take a look at more of Natalie’s artwork on her website: NatalieThompsonArt.com.

Your Valentine’s Day Outfit — Accessories by Sweet Bling

13 Feb

Ok, so admittedly we know that not everyone is lucky enough to be sharing Valentine’s Day with a lover of 15 years.  So how do you strike a balance between the silky red dress that says “15-year-commitment” and your casual street clothes? Well, when it comes to a date night out on the town, you really can never go wrong with black. And while Valentine’s Day might seem like an occasion for a long silky red dress, it really doesn’t have to be that complicated.  So abandon panic mode.  Deep breaths…exhale.  Sweet Bling has got you covered. Open your imagination, head to your closet, and we’ll almost guarantee you’ll be able to pull one of these classic looks together with the help of some Sweet Bling!

LBD—“Little Black Dress”

Ok, so the dress doesn’t necessarily need to be “little,” but honestly, who doesn’t have a black dress hanging in their closet?  And if by chance you don’t, this is perhaps one of the easiest articles of clothing to acquire.   If your LBD has a high neckline, like this one by Nasty Gal, pair with our Sweet Bling Red Slab Pendant . Or forego a necklace and opt for our Ruby Red Teardrop Earrings.  We love the classic elegance of a high black neckline and sparkling red earrings.  Hello romance!

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If your LBD has a lower neckline, like this one from Lulu’s, pair it with our Sweet Bling Red Vivica Necklace. Add some black pumps (we like suede) and you’re ready to go.

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Leather & Sheer—Love is Near!

Sorry, the rhythm was just too cute.  But seriously, hopefully you’ve noticed that black leather pants are in.  I was hesitant to join the troops (did I really have the legs to pull them off?!). But let me tell you: Greatest. Decision. Ever.  Not only are they going to save the day on your stylish & sexy, but-not-too-casual V-day outfit, they also pair great with a denim button down for a more casual daytime outfit. Here’s the look: Black leather pants (or faux leather), sheer black top, cheetah pumps  (yes, we said cheetah!) and this super versatile Aerin Crystal Drop Necklace and our Bling Bling Crystal Earrings. Oh yes!

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If you are into color, another option is to pair the black leather pants with a wine peplum top (see the one we found on The Lust List) and our Sweet Bling Isabella Jewel Necklace and our Chunky Crystal Stud Earrings. This look works with black shoes or some neutral shoes for a bit more pop (we like nude patent leather pointed-toe-pumps OR nude suede pointed-toe-pumps).

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At the end of the day, we not only hope that Sweet Bling takes the stage on these classic V-Day looks, we hope you have a night to remember {no red silk dress necessary}.

Xoxo Sweet Bling

Styling the Bridesmaids for a Winter Wedding

26 Jan

Aaah, weddings! A white sand beach in Aruba, a mountaintop peak in snowy Colorado or a seaside park in Del Mar; if you invite me, expect a ‘yes’ reply in your mailbox…

The details are what I find so fascinating — so much thought goes into each place setting, slice of layer cake, and specialty cocktail. As soon as I hear about the impending nuptials, my first question is “what color are the bridesmaids dresses?” Bridesmaid dresses set the tone for the entire wedding — the color that pulls everything together in perfect harmony.

We don’t get snow in sunny Del Mar, so the idea of planning a winter wedding sounds so exciting. The first winter-inspired color that comes to mind—something fresh and neutral– is a beautiful tuxedo gray. Picture this: your best friends walking down the aisle in a strapless gray dress cocktail dress with a scalloped bodice. The dress is from Weddington Way, an online boutique for bridesmaids dresses. It is a great way to shop for dresses, as it has photos and reviews posted by brides and bridesmaids. The best feature? Pockets! Perfect for lipstick, tissues and mascara for touch-ups!

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Whether in Southern California or New England, the dress should be paired with a cape or wrap. This is the Elayne Fur Coverup by Coast-Stores.com. It’s elegant, classic, snuggly, and faux fur (of course).

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As for jewelry, think simple and elegant. Sweet Bling’s Sterling Silver Bar Necklace (with a diamond) is perfect. Note to the bride: it makes a great bridesmaid gift! Pair this with some sparkly Crystal Stretch Bracelets  and Pave Crystal Disk Earrings. You may just steal the show…

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Silver pave earrings

Pockets are helpful, but every bridesmaid needs a Silver Satin Clutch by Perfect Details for $120. I love the elongated shape and the crystal oval closure. Think of it as an investment piece — you know you will carry this again. For shoes, it was an easy pick. The Badgeley Mischka Kassidy II’s are perfection.

An easy accent for the bouquet — light lavender. Think: winter, but girly and versatile. A dainty hair accessory in a modern bun would be the icing on the cupcake.

With this ensemble… always a bridesmaid actually sounds pretty fabulous.