Monday, October 27, 2008

PROFILE: Kustum Kicks

The text message from fellow classmate and designer Megan Kimber reads: "Be there soon." We agreed on a 5 o'clock departure. At 4:58 a dark Saturn Vue pulls up. Sitting in the SUV, the driver's minute frame appears even tinier than usual. Wearing sunglasses and all black (her trademark), she motions for me to hop in. We jet off.

I accompany Kimber on one of her prized escapes to Carousel Mall. Although rush hour amps up the traffic, my friend keeps her calm, blasting her all-time favorite, Nirvana. Me, not so much. Today I'm more than friend. I commissioned Megan for a personal project, and today I play the role of client.

In 2005, Megan began her own business, Kustum Kicks. Inspired by Kimber's passion for music and fashion, Kustum Kicks specializes in hand decorated sneakers. According to, it's “a place where you can choose the converse/vans designs of your dreams.” Like the designer, who labels herself somewhere between Goth and punk, the creations scream authenticity and employ an assortment of media, including bleach and paint. They also attract celebrities like Bert McCracken of The Used and Syracuse University students by the scores who pay from $90 to $120 for the kicks.

At the mall, Megan directs me to Journeys, the capital of alternative footwear. All the employees welcome her back. She smiles and introduces me to Mark, who assists me with a pair of black high-top Converse. The two catch up on the latest shows and ponder whether to eat or not to eat meat. I listen, fascinated by the exchange. Within minutes, I complete my purchase, and we move on to Hot Topic. Megan's turn to shop.

LOOKS FOR LESS: Beauty Rescues

Short on cash doesn't have to mean short on beauty. Maintain your fresh
 look with a number of items found in your kitchen cabinet, linen closet, or
 dresser drawer. Consider these four cheap, homemade remedies that keep you
 from breaking the bank and help you maintain your gorgeousness.

1. Creamy Solutions. Hand lotion or hair conditioner work as substitutes
 and provide a close shave that leaves your legs feeling as soft as

2. Bye Bye Rocky Racoon. If you don't want to pay $5.99 for a
 makeup-remover refill to erase those splashes of mascara under your eyes,
 use baby oil and a paper towel for a quick fix.

3. Bargain Breakout Fix. If you need divine intervention for a dastardly
 pimple, put toothpaste directly onto the little devil to dry it up quickly
 and painlessly.

4. Lavish your Locks. Your hair works hard for those long, straight locks, that change in hue with the occasional highlight. Treat them right by
 soothing your split, dead, and over-processed ends. Mix a combination of
 one-half avocado, two tablespoons of hair conditioner, and one tablespoon
 of olive oil, and massage it into your hair from the tips to your scalp. Place a shower cap or a cover of kitchen plastic wrap to generate a bit of
 heat and keep it on for 30 minutes. Afterward, wash, condition and style as
 usual. For suppleness, consider a hair masque from egg yolks. Use five to
 eight depending on hair-length and follow same wrap, wait, and wash
 procedure. The yolks provide a radiant sheen.

Looks For Less: Color Me Glam

Forget spending big bucks taking your look from day to night. With a couple of drugstore finds, you can go from ordinary girl to sultry seductress with the swipe of a brush. Consider this your Glam Plan.

1. Make-up is all about radiance and a healthy complexion. So leave that moisturizer and sheer, pressed powder you put on your face before class and freshen the glow by adding a simple dusting of bronzer. My favorite pick: Almay’s Sunkissed Bronzer Powder ($9) goes on smooth and minimizes any caking on your skin.

2. To amp up that tinted skin, add a swipe of metallic shadow. Application tip: use a brush and sweep the entire area from the lash line to brow. Make sure if you use more than one color to blend thoroughly. Don’t worry if you mess up or use too much shadow. A quick brush with a q-tip fixes any problem. For extra pop, add a top and bottom line of eyeliner. Cap off the look by using Clinique High Impact Mascara ($14) to volumize and lengthen those lashes for a bolder look. First apply a white base coat, then a brown or black coat.

3. The finishing touch: that glossy lip your date can’t resist to kiss at the end of the night. For a color that’s perfect for all skin tones, use a shimmering pink gloss like Smashbox’s Lip Enhancing Gloss ($18). It delivers shine for up to four hours without re-touching. Avoid wearing lip liner because the glitzy lip delivers ample shimmer.

D.I.Y.: Costume Quickies

Halloween demands a costume, but few of us want to drop $70 at a crowded costume shop, elbowing giggly teenagers and stoic goth couples. We also don’t want to spend three days crafting some mega costume (Statue of Liberty anyone?). Well when it's midnight on October 30, and your thoughts turn to holiday attire consider these quick options.
1. Joelene the Plumber. Forget Sarah Palin. Every brunette with a suit and a pair of red pumps and glasses who knows how to tease hair will go for this. Why not pick the other McCain staple: the female version of Joe the Plumber. A pair of cutoffs, a tee shirt, a trucker hat, and one wrench and you're home free. We suggest you skip the butt crack.

2. American Tourist. Throw on a Mickey Mouse or large straw hat with a loud printed dress (Hawaiian if possible), tennis shoes, and big sunglasses. Your most important accessories: maps, a camera, and maybe even a fanny pack.

3. The Morning-After Girl. Steal a pair of boxers and a button-down shirt from your boyfriend. Button the shirt like you tackled the challenge in the dark and in a rush. Throw on a your long strand of pearls, tights, and the highest pair of heels you possess

4. Static Cling: Wear all black and use safety pins to attach anything you would regularly find in your dryer: socks, underwear, bounce sheets, maybe even a hand towel.

5. A Deck of Cards: Where anything you want like jeans and a simple white tee. Then with double-sided tape attach all 52 cards. Start the night with 52 cards, but end the evening with 7 when the clock strikes midnight.

6. AA Intervention. If you need more ideas, check out American Apparel's suggestions at

CRUSH: Save-the-World Bags

Most women consider their handbag a totable security blanket. These comfort accessories come in the form of Mary Poppins satchels that hold holding everything from a great read to a water bottle, makeup pouch, and laptop to a small clutch that accommodates a debit card and a tube of lipstick. But these three green handbags do more than make a girl feel secure; the do a pretty good job making the world a little better too.

Belted for Beauty. The Harvey’s are a husband-wife team who landed on a great green idea after installing seatbelts in their 1950s Buick: Their Treecycle collection uses recycled seatbelts. Each bag is hand-made in the U.S. and comes in neutral colors like grays, blues, and browns.; $124 to $148.

Eco With an Edge. Ecoist makes handbags and accessories from recycled materials like discarded food packages, soda bottle labels, rice bags, soda can pull-tabs, candy wrappers, and movie billboards. Artisans create the edgy looks, and the company ensures fair wages and safe working environments.; $38 to $180.

Totally Tubular. In Boulder, Colorado a green company called English Retreads makes their purses from reclaimed inner tubes. They follow Henry Ford’s original Model T motto: You can get any color you want as long as it’s black.; $169 to $400.