Where’s That Calvin Klein Messenger Bag, Anyway?

Growing up an only child along Traverse City’s West Bay, I was never short of inspiration. Creating art, searching for treasure, and designing my own stationary line (K Publishers) were among my favorite pastimes.

As the years went on, I discovered a new form of art:

Fashion.

I’ll never forget the monumental moment that shaped my life for years to come.

It was 1996, and Calvin Klein’s cK one was all the rage. Seventeen Magazine featured glossy pages of beautiful models in black and white, complete with a sample of the unisex cologne. I was hooked.

With the scent, came a free gift: a beautiful black messenger bag, complete with a white “cK one” logo on the front. I was thrilled.

“Quite simply, it was—and still is—for everyone, and its messaging reflected that democratisation: “One for all.” –Dazed Digital

My awkward years- both emotionally and physically- were somehow relieved by a brand new comfort: finding a home within a signature style.

On my first day of 6th grade, I was thrilled to don my brand new Calvin Klein messenger bag instead of a Jansport backpack like the other kids.

With a cool black messenger over my shoulder, I strolled into Norris Elementary School, ready you take on my final year before Junior High.

The kids weren’t as impressed as I was.

It was a rocky road.

This started a chain of events that would continue to follow me well through my adult life: being picked out of the crowd for being different. I quickly learned to use this to my advantage- even if it meant sitting alone in the library at lunch during high school. I knew my personal style, I knew my values, and I knew my strengths- but the others just couldn’t see it.

So, I found solace in myself.

The experience with the messenger bag hurt at the time, but truly shaped all my decisions moving forward- with shimmer Lip Smackers, an eye roll, and a smile (braces or not).‬

I started watching the Baby-Sitter’s Club reboot on Netflix over the weekend, a welcomed gift to indulge in not only for the nostalgia factor, but to continue to remember the girl I once was- a girl with an open heart and infinite optimism.

Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill were both my style icons and best friends.

Stacey McGill, a stylish teen from the Upper West Side, reminded me that being myself- even if it meant standing out in a sparkly skirt- was exactly who I needed to be, and I didn’t owe anyone an explanation for my individuality.

The Baby-Sitters Club were like the group of friends and siblings I didn’t have, and I spent every single dollar I could get in my possession on Saturday mornings at Horizon Books. Lost in imagination, I found immense comfort in this series.

Inspired, I searched Google, Poshmark, and eBay for that old cK messenger bag- or at least for a similar style.

Alas, it seems all I have to hold onto is the memory- and somehow, that’s all I needed.

The memory of who I was before the world told me I wasn’t enough. The memory of feeling I was an infinite, magical being- a being who was free within herself.

The reminder that I’m still the 12year-old girl heading to her first day of school with a stylish new bag.

Keep doing you, boo- even if they don’t see the fabulousness in your own unique style.

Independence Day Pleasures

Around 8:30 this morning, I hopped on my bike and headed downtown to meet a friend.

She told me about the beautiful flowers at the Sara Hardy Farmers’ Market, something I’ve been looking forward to ever since returning home from Boston last fall.

I could just picture it the moment I purchased my bike this past May: breezing down the hill, wind in my hair, with a tote bag full of flowers.

I snuck in a shot with hand-picked lilies from my apartment as I passed my high school football field- a place full of so many memories, few involving the actual game of football.

We arrived at the Farmers’ Market early enough to beat the crowds and summer heat. For just $12, I chose a gorgeous bouquet of pink peonies to add to my new rose gold collection in my living room.

Delighted at my find, we stopped by a store to select some vases for my new bouquet. Perfectly paired with my new prints, a rose gold and grey duo were the perfect addition to my decor.

Although my 4th wasn’t full of social events, barbecues, boat parties, or booze, it was a beautiful day of simple pleasures.

Freedom truly is a frame of mind, and despite the chaos and uncertainly going on in the world around us, I do know where I can find solace:

Within myself.

I Survived the Dark to Live in the Light

Last week I felt compelled to hop on my bike and ride down M22 to visit my childhood home and spend some time in the neighborhood I grew up in. Telling people where I was raised is always a bit bittersweet to me; back in the 90’s, I didn’t think there was anything special about Greilickville. Sure, we had the bay across the street, and yes, I was able to take out kayaks and a paddle boat in my own backyard.

It’s hard to believe I didn’t realize how magical this was.

This idyllic childhood setting is something I’ve held on tightly to; the memories of swinging along the creek as I read a good book, hunting for treasure, and imagining all sorts of fantasyland in my own backyard. I remembered peeking over the Norris School playground fence to see my Grandpa Jerome working in the yard, or my mom sitting on the back porch on an afternoon she was off of work.

I felt fortunate to grow up next to my grandparents, my school, and surrounded by nature. As years went on, I began to let go of what I loved so much and began to try to find my way in a new world- a world that involved gossip, rumors, and materialism.

Norris Elementary is now Leelanau Studios, but my artwork of a fishbowl hung in the hallway up until the school closed. My mom has it in her house now.

The early memories of my childhood are the ones I want to remember; not the painful memories of loss, insecurities, or abandonment. I don’t want to recall sitting by myself at lunch, struggling to find connection, or discovering the girls I confided in weren’t really my friends at all.

It was always easy for me to pick up and start over; whether it was a new activity, new school, or a new city, it was never difficult for me to meet people. However, facing the people who hurt me- and facing myself- was much more difficult. Moving back to Traverse City has reminded me of the Kristin people may remember before I left for San Francisco, or even New York- a lost, confused girl with a free spirit. To mask my own discomfort with groups, I would drink excessively- even though my inner voice was always telling me to stay home. Today, thanks to twelve years of “re-inventing myself,” I realized I was exactly who I was the entire time:

A whimsical girl on a tree swing, reading a good book.


Old friends have tried to remind me of the Kristin I was- not the youthful, pure-hearted Kristin, and not the Kristin I am becoming today. No, some people who knew me over the years love to bring up the lost and confused person I was for a period in time- but I realized those people never got to know who I was in the first place.

Despite giving them the opportunity to get to know me now- years of writing on the table and all- they still try to bring me back to the low-vibe, insecure person I was before I found recovery, healing, and inner acceptance.

When asked what I did in Boston, it’s difficult to give an honest answer without unloading more information than the asking party wishes to receive. There is no simple answer for how I occupied my time during my three years in Boston:

I moved to Boston after rehab with no idea where else to go. In Massachusetts, it was a safe space to be myself, to learn to love who I am, and most importantly- to learn to ask for help. If it weren’t for the supportive friends who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t have been able to build such a solid foundation.

When I moved to Massachusetts, I began to think about others- not just myself. With Trump recently inaugurated, there was endless work to do to help others have a voice and basic rights- and I was able to use the skills I learned in rehab to cope with life’s difficult issues.

While in Massachusetts, I became a new version of myself– a clear-headed person with a vision for a healthier, more balanced world.

Sometimes you just have to say goodbye- not only to the people who hold you back, but to the identity that you once clung to. I have to remind myself of all I have endured- the detoxes, the programs, the relapses, and the lives I have lost. I’ve wondered why I survived so many dangerous situations, yet friends of mine have lost their battle to addiction.

Others don’t need to know everything I have faced, but if they did, they may understand why I bike around town with a smile on my face. When you’ve been through Hell and back, you stop letting the little things bother you- and you have an entirely new appreciation for life.

I may be a free spirit, and I may wear my heart on my sleeve. Nevertheless, my struggles were not in vain- and today, no one will take my joy.

For I survived the dark to live in the light.

How Mindfulness Reconnected Me With Fashion

When I started my personal style blog “K on the Bay” in 2012, I snapped shots of my hometown, sunsets, and my shoes.

If I could tie in a few local brands or thrifty finds, great! As a simple Tumblr site, my vision was to show how classic style and nature go hand-in-hand. As the years went on, I became more conscious of my content. I began taking photos to get the post out quickly, ignoring my initial creative vision and love for the process.

When it was authentic for me to put on an outfit, head into work, and snap shots along Grand Traverse Bay, great! Yet once I moved to New York City, it became a chore. I started to shift my focus from creative endeavors to relationships, which also served a good purpose- for the time.

Not only did I never wear heels unless absolutely necessary, I barely wore color, either.

NYFW 2014 with Dallas and Jacey


Then, I realized I was wearing clothes to make other people happy: not me.

The brands, the designers, the ad agencies- I was leaving behind my own vision to adapt to someone else’s.

I had to take a step back and think- what clothes do I feel good in no matter what?

What do I grab first out of my closet?

Although it wasn’t organic or natural for me to snap daily outfit shots in a busy city like New York- especially when I was single with a self-timer- I still had a lot of thoughts. I started writing for my friend Ashley’s website, Kinda Kind, two months after I mysteriously hit “delete” on my blog New Year’s Eve 2016. Leaving behind four years of photos, collaborations, and memories may have been hard, but I was ready to leave behind my materialistic past and figure out what truly made me happy.

My last few months in NYC were challenging- it was pure survival mode. Trump was running for President, the #MeToo movement was a year and a half away, and my own mental health needed a serious break.

I found peace in the park and spent hours writing by the reservoir. I pondered the meaning of life, wondering if I would ever find any sort of fulfillment.

I spent the next few years writing about my journey, what makes me happy, and learned who I am as a woman- without any distractions. Being conscious of what brings me joy- not what commercials, “influencers,” or Cosmopolitan Magazine tells me- was the first step in finding inner peace.

Instead of spending Saturday morning in bed, I would get up and take a walk across the Charles River Esplanade. I began noticing the patterns in nature, the animals at the park, and the familiar faces at my Cambridge Starbucks.

As I documented my path in Boston, I realized how tied I still was to fashion- at least, the creative process.

I had a different style than the other fashion bloggers- simple photos with little to no written content- no ads or frills, and no promises of a brighter tomorrow if you buy a new lipstick shade. This didn’t make me popular. That wasn’t the point- the point was authenticity.

As I shot a photo of my new bracelet alongside my notes for the day and coffee cup, I realized how fashion, technology, AND mindfulness can merge- but not in the way you may think.

I’ve been creating my own style for some time now, a style that hasn’t changed much since I was a high school junior in a black turtleneck and gray Express mini skirt. It’s always been basic, classic, and chic- with a few added surprises.

Fashion doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful, and neither do our lives. My time spent away from working in fashion made me realize how what I’ve learned can add to the industry once again- and never to change the style that is mine.

When I used to work or consult for others, my soul would be crushed when they didn’t like my content. After spending hours coming up with ideas, it could be a challenge to integrate my vision with someone else’s.

As an independent person, this also made me realize- stop working with people who don’t share your vision.

Although some women on the outside may judge me for choosing a bike over a Lexus, renting a townhouse instead of having a mortgage, and choosing a cat over a husband and kids- I chose this lifestyle for a reason.

I’m free.

I am free from obsession with “things,” the need for more, and the warped view that I’m not enough.

Now, I can simply enjoy the creative process- mindfully.

The Mindful in Style inspiration board 💛

Being Grateful for What We Have- Re-Thinking Fashion After the Coronavirus

My closet at my Airbnb in Medford, 2016


When I started writing on this blog, I was beginning a journey of living more mindfully and minimally.

Trump was yet to be inaugurated, Henri Bendel still existed, and I had spent the past ten years trying to keep up with everyone around me.

It was long before J. Crew and now, Neiman Marcus, filed bankruptcy- and our society was still plagued with the need for “more.” Perhaps we still are.

As a woman who has been on a recovery voyage (I say voyage because no sea is without a few storms) since 2011, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve had everything, and I’ve had nothing.

Although I used to think “more” was the way to go, my path of fashion blogging, the lack of authenticity in influencer marketing, and my own experience working with others has lead me to one conclusion:

Quality is far superior to quantity.

Style, to me, is about doing what works for you- mindfully. I shared my thoughts about the future of fashion and how mindfulness, style, technology, and social good can merge.


I look forward to your thoughts!

My closet today, Traverse City

Dream Big: Turning Blog Posts Into A Solid Foundation

Along the path of life, people may misunderstand your journey or doubt your dreams.

When I decided to move to San Francisco in 2008, months before the stock market crashed and prior to a publicly traded Facebook, an acquaintance scoffed at me saying, “well, that will be cheap.”

Within two weeks of this comment, I got a job at a popular tech startup downtown SF and was living in a rent-controlled apartment in Laurel Heights- even less than what some friends in Metro Detroit were paying- because for me, it’s always about thinker smarter, not harder.

What would have happened if I would have taken his comment to heart?

What would have happened in the course of my life had I held back from my cross- country moves, calling off a wedding, quitting jobs I was selling my soul for, or walking away from people who didn’t value me-

all because of what someone who barely knows me had to say?

Had I not moved to SF, I never would have gotten homesick the next year and moved to Austin. I wouldn’t have met some amazing people in Texas who I’m still in touch with today, and I probably wouldn’t have decided to move back to San Francisco had I not lived such a great life the first time around.

But in 2010, I was different. I had discovered blogging, sharing my stories online, and documenting my daily activities. I realized how powerful connection is- and how you don’t have to be involved in a local community to feel a sense of home; home is wherever you feel understood. 

People doubted the San Francisco Giants that year, too. But we all know how that turned out. Fall of 2010, I drove back to the city after a work trip in Lake Tahoe, high on life after quitting an office manager job in data security. With my rental car windows down and the music on, I felt free- but I didn’t know what the rocky road of creative freedom would bring months and years into this journey.


The same person who mocked my California move asked to meet with me years later about marketing his company, as he saw my work and experience from San Francisco.

I couldn’t work with someone who once doubted me.

Over the years, I learned an important lesson the hard way: You don’t need to try to explain or justify anything to anyone when you make choices in life! Those who resonate with your path will find you- but it’s not your job to explain. 

You can simply show them.

For now, try to ignore the negative or fear-based distractions and keep aiming high- the only limitation you have is what others try to project onto you- and what you believe. ✨ You have your own foundation to build upon.


The “Dream Big, Darling” rock was created from a post I wrote back in 2017, inspired by a Primark sweatshirt and a day planner from the Harvard Coop.

Full Flower Moon: Healing and Letting Go

It’s hard to believe 2020 is almost half over, but I’ve begun to see even more clearly; and this moon, it’s time to say goodbye to that first half.

The Scorpio Flower Moon is a time for healing, letting go, and beginning a new chapter. have reflected on the opportunities I once accepted, realizing how undervalued and misunderstood I was.

The thing is, we aren’t aligned for every opportunity- and we don’t have to explain ourselves to those who don’t understand our journey.

The articles I wrote for publications that weren’t used? Now they’re relevant.

The businesses who didn’t want to pay me for my work? Farewell.

The people I confided in who turned around and talked about others behind their back to me? Those aren’t the kind of friends I need.

Creative work isn’t free.

Sometimes it can be difficult to see people trying to mask taking advantage of you as friendship- but I could never represent a brand, publication, or business who didn’t value people’s individuality, talents, or journey.


Henri Bendel “Align Astrology” launch event, 2016. A great brand I used to work with and will forever miss.

Now that I’ve seen the light, I know what my purpose is right now- and moving backward toward low energy isn’t in my cards.

This the perfect time to focus on my art, connect with others I met along the way, and use what I’ve learned to help others through my writing.


I’ve healed to the point where I now know my own worth, and this next half of 2020, I’ll no longer dim my light or reduce myself to what others want me to be.

Who knows what the future has in store, but I can tell you one thing: I’m not going back to the old normal.

Fashion for Good: Style During the Coronavirus

Hooray for PAIGE helping to keep the community stylish and safe!

In an effort to preserve supplies for medical staff, Paige Denim joined LA Protects and Mayor Eric Garcetti to produce non-medical masks in their to help protect non-essential workers. They’re also donating a pack for every 4-pack sold! Whenever I shop these days, I’m always conscious of the social good the company is doing- and want to be sure others know, too.


You can shop the Paige masks here, and check out 91 more stylish selections from Vogue for this “new normal.”

I’ve loved seeing how designers, brands, and social media teams have helped bring people together during this time. From music to inspirational talks, it’s been amazing to see how creative the world has been!

We truly are in this together.