Looking Back and Looking Forward

#Baonanas has come a long way ever since Lloyd's car was struck outside his house and we resorted to Instagram to fundraise for its repair, and while two years have already passed, it still feels so surreal. It's a platitude that many new business owners say, but whenever we look back on all the events that have happened, all the crossroads we've faced, and all the decisions we have made to get to where we are now, it always feels like we're watching ourselves on some sitcom, seeing our sleepless nights, half-conscious bantering, and stressed out fights alternate with the laughter and joy of every victory, both big and small, that make all of it worthwhile.

This has been especially true for the past year. Even though #Baonanas was founded in 2014 and officially became a business in 2015, 2016 will be our first fully operational year. We were still full- time college students, dividing our time between classes and learning the bureaucratic processes of owning a business like how to register a business, getting the necessary permits and licenses, filing taxes, and you know all the fun things! So even though #Baonanas was conceived in 2014, Lloyd and I pretty much spent the next year and a half just gestating 😂

It certainly has been a crazy few months and we want to share with you all of our milestones so far, which we couldn't have achieved without you! We also want to give special shoutouts to all the people who have made all of this possible. As our first full year come to an end, we're feeling really mushy and emotional so bear with us (pun totally intended)! 

We redesigned our logo and did a full rebrand (more of which to come in the months to come). The logo itself is now more balanced and our Bao Bear even cuter! The rebranding also makes it possible for us give a more consistent look and feel that makes everyone think of light, fluffy clouds, happiness, and a smiling support system in our #BaonanaNation!  Thank you to our dear friend  Matt , who initially designed our Bao Bear, and thank you   Super Magic Friend   for the amazing work you've done for us!

We redesigned our logo and did a full rebrand (more of which to come in the months to come). The logo itself is now more balanced and our Bao Bear even cuter! The rebranding also makes it possible for us give a more consistent look and feel that makes everyone think of light, fluffy clouds, happiness, and a smiling support system in our #BaonanaNation!

Thank you to our dear friend Matt, who initially designed our Bao Bear, and thank you Super Magic Friend for the amazing work you've done for us!

We went from some random sticker rolls we found laying in Lloyd's house during our fundraising phase to designed labels for a fully operational retail system! We kept a space for handwriting customer name's because we're really baonanas for each and everyone of you! If you've ordered enough times or have been ordering since 2014-2015, you can bet Lloyd and I remember your name! P.S. there should be a fourth picture, but it's still in the works so stay tuned; we're very excited to share them with you!!!

Thank you, Colin for designing our stamps for our bag and these cute but sleek labels!

After we got our rebranding done, we went to work on making our investment worth it by plastering it on things like our tent, which has come in really handy with those rain-or-shine events, and our #Baomobile! Before our cart, our primary scooping station was our DIY box, made by Lloyd and his longtime friend Kevin! We stuffed it with a mixture of ice and dry ice to help maintain the right temperature, which was sometimes tricky because dry ice is temperamental causing our pudding to freeze into an ice cream like texture and sometimes just evaporating too quickly in the summer heat. Now we're worry-free with our refrigerated #Baomobile, which keeps our pudding light and fluffy at the perfect temperature!

In 2015, when we had no permits and licenses, we told ourselves we'd be at all of next year's markets and events. At the time, we participated in a handful of small events, but in 2016, we took our chances and applied to Smorgasburg, one of the East Coast's largest and most renowned food fairs! It's been a crazy learning experience, and we feel so lucky to have been able to vendor alongside many other great food vendors, who have helped and taught us so much.

We'll be at Smorgasburg till the last weekend of October! Come visit us before it's too late!

One of our biggest hurdles in 2015 was finding a commercial kitchen space to work out of. When we first began as a fundraiser, we whipped up our pudding at home. Later on, as we began to research steps for legitimizing our little side hustle, we found out that New Jersey is one of only two states that prohibits the sale of food from home. We had to be innovative within the constraints of our situation, and that's when we started renting  Ahri's Kitchen  space on their days off. Thank Aena and Andy for being some of the nicest people we know, for believing in us, and for helping us out when we had nothing to say for ourselves. You guys are awesome!  As we continued to grow and expand, we were able to eventually move into our own kitchen space, where we added this beautiful Hobart into the family!

One of our biggest hurdles in 2015 was finding a commercial kitchen space to work out of. When we first began as a fundraiser, we whipped up our pudding at home. Later on, as we began to research steps for legitimizing our little side hustle, we found out that New Jersey is one of only two states that prohibits the sale of food from home. We had to be innovative within the constraints of our situation, and that's when we started renting Ahri's Kitchen space on their days off. Thank Aena and Andy for being some of the nicest people we know, for believing in us, and for helping us out when we had nothing to say for ourselves. You guys are awesome!

As we continued to grow and expand, we were able to eventually move into our own kitchen space, where we added this beautiful Hobart into the family!

We added some friendly faces to our #Baonanas family, as well, to help meet demand! Thanks for all you do guys (some not pictured). This season would've been impossible without you!

In just a few months, we were able to accomplish a lot and grow exponentially, and we are so grateful to all of the people who have helped us get to where we are now, most especially to our parents whose advice and constant support and encouragement have kept us focused and driven. And, of course, we are especially thankful to you, the very best part of #Baonanas (especially since you're here reading this)!

There's still a lot of things we have planned and we're only looking to grow more. We've launched a Kickstarter project to help us move into a bigger and more efficient kitchen and we're offering a bunch of cool Kickstarter-exclusive rewards! We're hoping for the best and keeping our fingers crossed! 



Squeeze'D and Prioritizing What Matters Most in a Business and Life

Writer's Notes: Local Jersey City vendors, Squeeze'D, have been great friends with #Baonanas for quite awhile now. Lloyd recollects #Baonanas' first encounter with the juice masters during our first ever participation at the Pacific Flea market here in Jersey City.

"They helped us out without hesitation," Lloyd said. "We didn't have a tent and they offered us one, told us about industrial clips and gave us advice."

Other than having such humble hearts and warm welcomes, Lloyd continuously praises the beverages Squeeze'D provides to their customers. Compared to other juice shacks and shops that carry out cold-press smoothies, Squeeze'D promotes healthy drinking with the use of fresh fruits and vegetables made on the spot! That's right. If you ever come across these guys at the Farmer's Market, it is 100% guaranteed your drink is made FRESH with their blenders and ingredients on deck!

This week, Lloyd had the opportunity to chat with Squeeze'D founders Carolyn and Victor to see why they're #Baonanas about grinding things up at Squeeze'D! Check it out below!

And as for next week, we will take a break from #WAYBF as we have a huge project in the works! So, if you have a withdrawal, make sure you've got the chance to check out the other stories and profiles we've shared! Thanks guys!

Were there any moments for you guys that kinda stood out [in this business]? 

V: I would have to say, for me personally, it would have to be last year's season participating in some festivals. You believe in the hype because everybody, right away, jumps it up. They might have a Facebook page or something and you right away go with the flow and then you end up wasting time. More than money, ultimately you are going to pay to be there but it’s more time than anything.

This year, we weren’t blown away. We had a set questions, we ask specific questions. [...] We need to know how many years you’ve been doing it, who’s gonna be there, different things.

C: We look at the sponsors. We do all that before we commit. We wanna make sure that they're at least close to what they are pitching to us. So we’ve learned to make better choices as far as festivals and events that we chose to participate in this year. [...] One is always expect the unexpected and be okay with it.

Last year, I’ll never forget the first market day, it was a disaster and then right after that we lost our vehicle. So you wind up having to rent a U-haul truck for a week until we were able to purchase a truck. This year, we had our van sized right to buy a riding truck but it still works. [..] You have to ride it out and then at the end of the night like wow, I can’t believe we actually made it thru. That’s always gonna make you stronger. That’s one thing.

The second thing that I’ve learned is don’t set your expectation levels as far as what you are going to make for each [market] and not every market and not every festival, not every event is the same or every day. 

If you’re in business for yourself, you can’t be scared. The best thing you can do is plan it out the best of your ability and then ask your pair the possible and ride the wave no matter what comes. Some times that wave is high and will take you for an awesome ride and sometimes you are gonna crash.

Where were you guys in your life and how did the idea Squeeze’d come to be? How did this transition from, I think we’re gonna do it, how did that come about?

C: Victor and I have been friends now for 17 years. I used to be roommates with his Uncle and that's how he and I met way back, when our kids were really small. He was married at the time and I was doing my thing in corporate America running around in French heels all over Manhattan five days a week.

So fast forward, I decided to relocate back home to New York City. I was coming out of a domestic violent relationship and had to go into hiding for two years. I just got to a point in my life where I felt I was suffocated. I wasn’t living what I felt to be living.

V: When it comes to Squeeze’D, I think I was already on a lifestyle change since about 2010. I got training for 11 months. I lost over for a 100 pounds. I’ve been on a slight of a roller coaster. Since then, up down up down up down. And a relationship that didn’t end well but it ended.

C: We needed a real friend, we trusted each other. He would vent to me his situation. I would vent to him about what I wanted to do. And I started doing art showcasing in New York City. I’m an artist that painted and [do] professional photography and make up and things like that. At that point, I was just starting that venture. I've always been an entrepreneur. I always been doing that on the side.
That’s where that lifestyle change comes in where we both wanted to be healthy. And I used to be smoker. I quit smoking. I was like 30 years in smoking. I gained weight. He always had his own issue with weight. We both came together and changed how we treat ourselves. And that’s really where the journey started. He decided to do a 60 day juice detox. I did a 10 day.

How was that? Was that fun?

V: It was brutal. It was hard. First two weeks, it was tough. Then after that, it was second nature. [... I] started to create recipes where I can tolerate them 'cause they started to get a little nasty to me. Taste wise, I got tired of the greens, reds and browns.

You are always going to be faced by a bunch of anxiety, fear, doubts and that’s just at the cost of any accomplishments and transformation of your life that’s always going to be there. It’s a common theme I’m seeing in every single business owner. Have you guys been able to kind of deal of that. Whenever you find yourself in a moment like that, how do you slowly begin to reframe yourself?

C: This is funny. I find it funny because I am of the belief that fear is just an emotion and it’s just going to pass. So I have to think logically and I've got to think numbers. That what’s going apply in the decision I’m going to make.  [...] Every entrepreneur is a chance taker. A lot of people say, “No, you don’t wanna take chances.” But the fear can hold you back.

With Victor, the way I do it, I will plant the seeds two months in advance. When there's something coming up that I know is a good thing for Squeeze’d. I think of Squeeze’d. I don’t think about Victor and Caroline, and our staff. I think about Squeeze’d.

Outside of the business, what else are you guys #Baonanas for or what are other activities do you guys like to do when working on the business?

V: Honestly, I have no other passions right now. Right now it is all about Squeez’d. I personally do have to find a way to disconnect and do some that I enjoy. Like I said earlier, you know my journey on a lifestyle change start on 2010. I really would like to get back to that. I really would like to get back to fitness not for anyone but myself.

I don’t really believe that I’m representing my business in the right way because I’ve given it everything. I think I’ve slacked on the true lifestyle and fitness level of it. Ultimately, what I really want to do is, when you do see me, you see that I’m living that Squeeze’d lifestyle - whether be food, fitness, being real and honest, having integrity. That’s what I want to give out.

C:  I really would like to focus on being more of an advocate; talking to other women and young girls about my experiences [as a survivor of domestic violence] and hopefully teach them what resources are available.I just want to help the next female that's in that situation. I’m very pro-woman and am always making sure that I inspire or help inspire women to be their best.

If I can help one woman, I feel like my time here would’ve been absolutely amazing. I don’t feel like I've done anything unless I help somebody do something. And that is one of my biggest passions: helping other women grow and learn about themselves and understand that they are strong, and can fulfill a lot of dreams. You have to be real with yourself.

What's your advice to others to be motivated in what they do?
C: One of the things that Victor and I decided very early on [with Squeeze'D], which something that I would tell anyone starting their own business is, baby steps. Don’t get excited with everything that happens because I noticed with a lot of vendors, they come out or whatever, and then I don’t know. New York shines a little something in front of them and they run over there and they get suck in to this. And next thing you know I think they kinda even forget really why they started it.

One of the things we both decided on, was that we are not gonna leave Jersey City. We don’t wanna do markets in New York right now, we don’t want do events in New York right now. We don’t wanna go, we want to stay home. We live here. We work with the community here. We wanna build it here. This is home-based for us.

Be sure to check out Squeeze'D at this year's All About Downtown this weekend, September 17! Or check them out by Grove St. PATH during the week as well. For updates, make sure to "Like" their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram!



Lynn and the Key of Self-Love

Credit: @dirtyyydan on Instagram

Credit: @dirtyyydan on Instagram

Writer's Notes: They say, "Love yourself before you love others." I couldn't agree more with the saying. One can't really present the best version of themselves unless they learn to love their own being.

This week, we feature Lynn Kim Do, a lifestyle blogger who is #Baonanas at the thought of loving oneself. Read her story below on how she came to loving herself more and how that got to where she is now!

Lynn! What do you think you're #Baonanas for?

L: I think I'm passionate about myself and I think that everyone should be. I feel like I wanna reach the point where I love everyone like I love myself!

I realize I was really passionate about like myself when my boyfriend [said], "I know your passion. Your passionate about yourself." And I'm like, "What's that mean?" He was like, "You always wanna be a better person. You're always trying to help everyone and your just constantly trying to find the answers to questions about the world" and I guess that's it!

When and what triggered you to realize that you were so passionate about self-love?

L: Probably a year ago? Beyond that, I think that being passionate about yourself means that you feel like you have the power to do something.

I think a year ago, I was like, "Oh. Should I join a non-profit group? How am I supposed to contribute this world?! Am I gonna find the cure the cancer?" I don't know God's plans but I can just figure it out as I go along. But I knew, whatever it was, I'm gonna be so ready, so confident about myself.

I feel like every year's really different for me. I think when I moved to New York I had to really be open to like finding who I am even more.

Are you finding the balance on finding yourself and making yourself to be the better person you want to be now?

L: I recently had to think about that. I was like, "How can I work on myself, work and satisfy the world - being a girlfriend, a best friend, a daughter, sister and all that?" I don’t make a very conscious decision to stop seeing the same people and you know? This is adulting. 

I just name more conscious decisions to spend time with certain people because I didn't have time anymore. I used to have so many friends and try so hard to be everyone's best friend and then that was exhausting and also I was really unhappy because I didn't get the same reaction back I felt like the value was so different for everyone.

So then I start using more time to myself, creating and working and I realized those friends understood. I think the best balance is when you do what you need to do by being the best person you are, do your work, do what you wanna do, and the right people will be there.

How and when do you plan to achieve that goal of being a better you?

L: I wanna say the moment where I can change someone's life or a big group of people and really be able to have an influence on something will be it.

People comment or message me and be like "I love what you’re doing" like [...] I didn’t even know people were reading my sh*t! I just thought that [having] my friends supporting me whenever became a clear indication to why I'm doing what I'm doing. But will I ever know if I made it? Probably not. I hope I know! And maybe you can tell me when I get there!

Is there a quote or a motto that you keep to yourself, what keeps you motivated?

So I was a senior at Rutgers and I took this class called Psychology of Art. This professor... It was better than therapy. He would jump to the piano and say, "YOU ARE THE BEST!" and start singing, "You are the greatest!" [...] He was like, "You are my teacher. I am your student." He believed in us more than we believed in us. And I think people should believe in themselves way more, you know? [...] Every time an audition or a meeting with a really big company came up, I would watch this video of him.

Last question, what's your favorite #Baonanas flavor?

I've only had the OG! So OG!

To learn more and connect with Lynn, check her out on her blog, Neckbreakin' Style and Instagram







Harri and the Freedom of Cycling

Harri. What are you #Baonanas for?

H: Science and cycling.

I feel like cycling is probably your number one thing from what I've seen from you.

H: Yeah. It's like I get stressed out when I can't cycle. If I have to walk somewhere, it's just irritating. Cycling is just so natural. I even brought my bike over from the UK!

But I feel like I’m tested with my bike especially cycling through New York. So, [I] eventually get my bike over here, even though it's two kilograms over the weight for Norweigian Air, and within 24 hours I fell in a pothole in New York because New York is just awful.

And on Friday I collided with another cyclist. So I feel like someone is testing my faith, my strength, my commitment to cycling by continuing to throw me off my bike.

But I feel like nothing's gonna stop you 'cause you love your bike so much.

H: Yeah. Somebody asked me if I'd rather not cycle or not listen to music anymore. And it was tough to decide. I think I swerved off the question because it was just too hard.

Now you can answer it here. What would you give up? Either listening to music or giving up cycling?

H: Oh, Jesus! It’s like you’ve been asked, would lose your sight or your hearing? I don’t know!

So, you’re using cycling as a way to pretty much travel on your own and discover things that you haven’t discovered yet. That’s cool! I don't cycle as much, but I definitely know I can't cycle for as long as you can.

H: It’s just a little bit of practice. You just kind of get used to it. It doesn’t tired me up. I get tired running up the stairs or walking up the stairs even. I can cycle for hours not get tired.

Do you plan on going further with cycling?

H: I would really love to cycle the long distance. When you hear about people do the whole coast of South America, from this mountain to this mountain, or maybe this whole coast in America, I would like to.

There is gonna be a cycle open in Eastern Europe between the old Soviet countries. More like 4000 kilometers and I would like to cycle about that just to see all those ex-communist countries, architecture and the scenery. I think that would be very very mad. So yeah, I’ll take a few months from my employment.

So you purposely find time for cycling. It’s part of your everyday life and you actually love doing it.

H: It’s more. It’s not just exercise, it’s getting somewhere. But my bike is not a cyclist at the moment because I crashed into that guy. But he crashed into me, actually. Haha.

How is a day in the of Harri like with cycling incorporated in it?

H: No day is the same. I just run through bits and pieces. Sometimes I could be working in a shoot, or going to some meetings. I could have a day off and that is always fun. But it will entail waking up to the radio, NPR at 9 a.m. when they have the World Service on just so I could listen to a couple of British accents, a cup of tea, usually emails and writing lists. A long list of all things I should have done yesterday. And then, I usually bike before midday to go somewhere. 

Do you set a goal for yourself everyday to cycle as far as you can or is there a destination that you want to reach?

H: I have a list of places that I want to visit on my bike. And that would be a sort of day trip. [I'm] Excited to go to the Rockaways. What's still in on my list is to go to Dead Horse Bay where you start in an island and will cycle into ship graveyard on the other side of the island. [...] I have to go Jersey City obviously.

Queens! I need to eat some food in Queens. Exactly. I just heard amazing things. It smells amazing. We cycled up to the Mets Stadium and you just go through and are just bombarded with these aromas.

What’s the best thing about cycling that you would love to share with the world?

H: The speed. When you’re going down the hill and you take your hands off on the handle bars and you free off the pedals - which is kind of dangerous - on my bike. (Maybe keep hands on the handle bars anyway. Depends on the experience. I don’t wanna give anybody dangerous advice.) It’s just that sort of freedom of traveling to the air just very quickly -- it's great. It’s very liberating. And you can see things that other people don’t see. Like I moved to New York and in the first week my friend was saying, "Oh, you’re seeing more of Brooklyn than I have. I’ve been here for more than three years." So.. I get to know everyone quicker just as of the moment. 

Last question, what's your favorite #Baonanas flavor?

H: Peanut Butter. Bring Nutter to the Smorg.




Jannel and the Importance of Staying True To Yourself

StreetStyleTeller/Jannel Therese

StreetStyleTeller/Jannel Therese

Writer's Notes: It's crazy how time flies. Last week, I talked to Frank about his future endeavors and his willing to change the world through his words and his creativity. While he expresses his creativity through the use of photographs and other multi-media platforms, this week, I talked to Jannel about her creativity and what's she's really #Baonanas for.

Recently being nominated as H&M x Bloglovin's 2016 Breakthrough Fashion Blogger of the Year, I wanted to know what Jannel is #Baonanas for. Though it is obvious she is passionate for fashion and lifestyle blogging, after creating a name for herself, I wanted to learn the heart of it all. What keeps Jannel #Baonanas for doing what she loves?

Check out below!

Since you blog, would you consider that what you’re Baonanas for? Or is there something you're really Baonanas about?

J: I guess that’s part of it. I am very passionate with StreetStyleTeller.com. At the same time, I’m passionate about keeping it true and honest to my viewers because I realize as my readership grows, they would expect me to continue to be me and not let the growth influence me and my blog in a bad way.

You know, let’s say, a brand asks me to collaborate with them and it’s not necessarily the type of things that I would normally post and it’s obvious that I just got paid to post that thing. I feel like my readership and my readers would know that it’s not an honest and true me and that's something I don’t want to do for SST.

Walk me through a day in the life of Jannel Therese/StreetStyleTeller. 

J: Social Media is so deceiving. Let me just say that. I choose to show the fun things in my life but honestly not all fun/glamour. So a day in my life is waking up at 4:30 a.m., catching the PATH train before it leave at 5:25 a.m. And then taking a cab, as soon as you get to 9th St. PATH. Open a coffee shop, before 6 a.m. and then, serve tons of New Yorkers coffee, bagels, doughnuts. 

Hopefully, you could clock out at three but sometimes it’s not the case. So let’s say I leave by four and then meet up with my photographer friend and shoot with them for maybe an hour or two and then try to start a new blog post. Sometimes I get writer’s block and I sit there and try to think of what to write. And then, I go home and start over. Yeah!

Do you even get sleep?

J: Three hours of sleep is good? Right?

So when and what triggered you to be more honest with your brand?

J: Well I guess it’s always a learning process. I noticed the blogging industry is over saturated. But at the same time, it’s easy to pick at the ones that are genuine and that are authentic.

Before Street Style Teller, obviously I was also inspired by other bloggers. But I’ve seen, what I said before, the growth influence, a bad change and I don’t want that for myself and I always look back or I always use those examples to kinda not fall in the same path as other bloggers I guess. 

How do you come up with the content for yourself?

J: What inspires most of my blog posts are my life experiences and [events] on the daily basis. Take a 3D backpack for example. I am inspired by the idea of dimension so I wrote something along the lines of having substance and depth as a blogger.

I understand that besides blogging, you also have another job, right? So do you find the right balance doing both?

J: Yeah, I feel like you have to know [how to] prioritize things. I also work at coffee shops so I would work six to three every morning, but sometimes four days a week, sometimes it’s five and I use the rest of the other days in time devoting myself to my blog and its content and I feel like you just need to prioritize things when you need to.

Do you think you find yourself doing this on the long run?

J: I honestly, when I started two years ago, I didn’t. I was just doing it as a hobby because I thought it was something that was growing, [...] not something that everyone else is doing. I saw blogging as a growing platform. 

It could possibly be a career for me. I’m not gonna put [it] down as a career because it is a possibility and yeah, I’m just open to anything.

What was the “Oh my God, this is actually happening” turning point in your blogging career that woke you up?

J: One of the main, "What is Life?" moments that made me realize that it could possibly be a career [...] is when I got nominated for an award as the Breakthrough Fashion Blogger of the Year. That was something that I entered just because I thought, “Hey, what am I going to lose? I could just enter for this contest and maybe they'll like my blog.” But I stood out and then, the next thing, I got an email saying I won the nominee. So anything is possible!

So since then, has anything changed? Based on the same old Jannel.

J: I’m still the same old Jannel. Well, I guess that anything different [now] i, the amount of exposure that is happening but I still try to keep it real.

Be honest to yourself?

J: Yeah, keep it true to myself.

What message do you want your followers, or even people who are about to follow you leave with the content that you come out with?

J: I hope that my readers can somehow relate to my story. And think of a moment in their life where it kinda reminds them of the same lessons and experiences and just [know] they are not alone, we’re all going through the same thing. [...] Just I hope that they could relate.

Last question, what’s your favorite Baonanas flavor?

J: Oh my god! I like the original or the cookies and cream! Or you guys have the bacon one - the French toast. THEY’RE SO GOOD!

Make sure to cast in your vote for Jannel Therese/Street Style Teller EVERYDAY until the end of August on bloglovin

Connect with Jannel on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and, of course, StreetStyleTeller!

On behalf of Team #Baonanas, congrats on the nomination, Jannel!



Mai and Her Self Expression through Fashion

Writer's Notes: Self-branding is one of the things I was told to do while I was taking my degree up at Rutgers. Whether it was putting up a blog, gathering clips for your portfolio, it was suggested to create or do something help you stick out from the crowd by presenting something that's you as close as possible.

Now, I can only say that I know about self-branding from my personal experiences in college and through friends who are bloggers, so we decided to talk to Mai. Currently part of the social media team for Thrillist, she is also our social media gal behind the scenes! But before all of this, she created a blog to up her name and brand and it just so happens this is what she was #Baonanas for.  And it's safe to say, that she's getting to where she is because of her drive.

Also, it's also her birthday week. Haha. Happy birthday, Mai!


What are you #Baonanas for?

M: That's such a loaded question.  Umm.. Generally, I’m Baonanas for just anything. I’m creatively passionate. My blog is one of the main endeavors and so as with my fashion and like my passion for that. But I’ve also grown to have a passion for anything that like drives personal business as far as like social media like working with other creative people.

And then, it also extends through dance, like I mean, that always been something that like I’ve had a side thing for like five years now but that’s always there for me too.

Since when have you been so #Baonanas for these things you do?!

M: For me I think it already started in college and like, since college is a tiny figure out what you wanna do, I’ve started both the blog and then also dance. The blog was a creative outlet just because I did always wanna like dress up or always had these ideas in terms of fashion and then dance was kinda something I’ve always had an interest in since high school. I didn’t really act upon it until college.


What would be the most important one? Like between like dance, self-branding, and you know, social media?

M: I think no matter what everything kinda comes back to like if I’m expressing myself creatively in a way I want and that is all kinda reflected on my blog. It started out as just posting pictures of my fashion and it kinda’ grew into me sharing a journey. A creative journey and so that why I like to write about like other things that I’ve grown to have passions for. So for me it’s more like a fashion blog. It’s more like an outlet for me to express all of my like creativity or something.

Walk me through a day on how you come up with creating content for your own work.

M: Where do I start? I guess it starts with what exactly I’m gonna shoot? Then obviously the active, doing a photo shoot. And then from there, its gets a little complicated. Like it’s important that every post has something that I wanna share about. So it’s not just me writing like, “Hey, my day was this” or “Hey, I’m wearing this.” But more like, "Okay, what has happened with me and my personal life like recently that I think it’s important to just share or just have written down, as part of what I feel as important as part of my journey."

So generally, with every post I kinda brainstorm, with just like reflect on like what has recently happened, or what I’ve learned or what I have observed or like just anything. A lot times, I get inspiration from what I read, quotes or something that resonates with me. And from there - it’s like a love hate process with writing. It would take me probably two days to write something and I like editing. On top of that, I have to create content for outside stuff so that I can get a bigger reach or post on other sites that I’ve been trying gain exposure on. 

In the midst of just doing everything in like what the hardest thing in blogging and self-branding?

M: I don’t know if it’s the hardest thing for me but it’s definitely something I’m trying to keep at the back of my mind because as a self-brand, you wanna make sure that whatever you’re putting out there and that you’ve sharing with like the world really reflects who you are like you don’t wanna be a fall off like put stuff out you don’t really believe in behind.

Also you have that struggle where it's like “Whoa, I also wanna make sure people like my stuff” because that’s how I grow, and that’s how I gain like reach and exposure. Sounds like a struggle but it also makes you question, "Okay, is this me? Am I putting a 100% me or am I compromising it so that I only fit in what my audience wants?"So like, and it always like trying to make sure that like a 100% behind I’m putting out.

So where can we connect with you, Mai?

M: So I’m Mai. My blog is Little My sunshine. I am a personal style blogger from the New York/New Jersey area and my main thing is always been sharing my creative journey on a blogging platform. And then, yeah. I’m on Instagram! @littlemaisunshine. And yeah... This is awkward, I don’t know what I’m saying.

My blog is http://www.littlemaisunshine.com!



Lloyd and the Humbling Art of Jiu Jitsu

Lloyd in his natural habitat.

Lloyd in his natural habitat.

Writer's Notes: Many of you know Lloyd as the Co-Founder of #Baonanas but before creating the company, he was part of dance teams called FR3SH and UFP. Along his lines of dancing he even managed his own troupe called The Mooks. In between dance and balancing his college life, Lloyd was introduced to the world of Jiu Jitsu and that's when he became baonanas for it.

It's only right that we kick off our series with one of the co-founders of #Baonanas!

What are you baonanas for?

Dance and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

Since when have you gone baonanas for it?

Since late 2014.

Why are you Baonanas for it?

Jiu Jitsu truly is an art. It’s a science. it’s an ego melter and everyone on the mats is an equal. It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, all that matters are the techniques you know and how you execute them. Plenty of people say it’s like human chess or that every opponent is like a Rubix cube you have to figure out, and I couldn’t agree more with these similes. I’ve met some of the nicest guys on the mats that I know for a fact could choke me unconscious in less than 30 seconds. I actually find humor and inspiration in that, and that’s the beautiful thing about Jiu Jitsu - it’s about discipline and avoiding confrontation at all costs before having to apply it. My coach Jay Hayes at NJ United MMA in Totowa is an excellent teacher, and I’ve been too busy to train but I told myself August was my month to come back. When I’m on the mats, nothing matters but my opponent and me, and whether I’m the one who taps or I actually pull off a submission, you bump fists knowing that you asked or gave mercy to your opponent. Nothing is more humbling than tapping knowing that, if this was an altercation on the street, your arm would’ve been broken or you would’ve been choked unconscious. BJJ sounds intimidating, but everyone trains smart, never goes for the kill (unless training for competition), and is very open-minded about growing together as a huge Jiu Jitsu family. I’ve competed twice, and it gave me flashbacks to days as a hip-hop dancer with my crew, The Mooks. 

I was in the hip-hop dance world for about seven years. I was on FR3SH, UFP, and an all-guy dance crew called The Mooks that I actually directed for a number of years. However, we didn't really have one leader and we focused on coming together to make decisions creatively and focused on having fun, doing our thing, and actually placed at major dance competitions in Toronto, Boston, New York, and New Jersey. The creativity my crewmates would display always blew my mind, and their ability to dish out choreography and fun concepts is what I loved about dancing the most. Dance allows a free form of expression, similar to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Everyone person has their own style, their own interpretation to the music or the technique, and that flow state I talked about can be found in both forms of art. Not to mention the obvious parallel of self-awareness, body control, and technique learning and execution all of which can be constantly worked on.

Dance, I believe, will never leave me, and I’ll always groove to a beat wherever I may be. I’m in love with the growth and the beauty found in these arts, and I’m baonanas for hitting the mat or the stage and seeing all the hours you spent practicing and training come into fruition. Win or lose, the journey is what I’m baonanas for the most.

What do you plan on doing to achieve it or make it better?

My ultimate goal is to get my black belt. I was feeling really good on my road to blue belt (the belt after white - I’m still a white belt. Haha.), however the business grew and I got too busy. But as they say, lack of time means a lack of priorities, and I’m prioritizing my health and my overall investment into my hobbies and will get back to training in August. I'll be having a long sit down with my Passion Planner to ensure this happens

Are you finding a balance between what you’re baonanas for to what you’re doing now?

Right now, no, but once I get back from a family trip I’ll be getting down on the dance floor and on the mats. haha.

What flavor are you most Baonanas for?