interview, chic, styleandsubstance, style file


The best way to describe Sophie Zembra, our first style + substance powerhouse of the year is "veni, vidi, vici".

She moved from Paris to Miami "con furore" opened ANTIDOTE in Wynwood because it felt right and conquering our  hearts  with the perfect equilibrium of "sustainable chic" and acquired the title of "the girl of Wynwood" (according to her Instagram). 

Sophie is the embodiment of chic and young and fresh and happy, the store is the impeccable mirror of her personality and taste, but, as usual, it all happens when someone is motivated by a purpose, a passion, there's no style without substance.



Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

SZ - Totally 100% percent


Your personal style in three words

SZ - I don’t really have one style: it depends on the day, it depends on my mood. But in three words: freestyle; Parisian; chic/casual


I find it extraordinary in how little time you moved to Miami and opened one of the best stores in town: what drives your entrepreneurship?

SZ - Thank you for one of the best store in town J

My boosts are the meetings, the people!! Entrepreneurship it s an human adventure and in conscious fashion even more. My passion drive me in the good as in the bad times. I believe in life and dreams, I'm a dreamer that's why I am an entrepreneur. And to be an entrepreneur you need a bit of unconsciousness. 


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

SZ - Buy only what you like and what you feel good about. Never follow the trend follow only your feelings!!!



Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or

SZ – It’s complicated by time I love fashion and by time I hate fashion!!!


What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

SZ - Be yourself, listen to yourself. Women are raised without taking their word into account. So you have to listen to yourself and believe in your own power !


When did you find your confidence?

SZ – I’m still not confident enough in myself, but entrepreneurship helps me a lot. 



How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

SZ - By creating new princesses: without stereotype!!!


You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

SZ - I like a personal uniform with a touch of creativity. 


Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”?

SZ - “Sustainable fashion is boring” I have heard this too many times, and it’s not true. People aren’t being curious and just follow big brands/company but now we have a new wave of designer who mix esthetic and sustainability with brio. SUSTAINABLE FASHION IS DEFINITELY NOT BORING!


chic, interview, styleandsubstance


She is a producer, an entrepreneur, a mother and a designer embracing fashion for a woman who is +50. I have noticed Erika Ehrman-Repola on Instagram, once again, for her elegance and discreet elegance, for her natural beauty and unfrivolous sensuality. She agreed on being featured, so please meet another fierce 'shero' who reinvented her life at 50. 

'Elegant, eclectic, bohemian'

'Elegant, eclectic, bohemian'

Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board? 

Your personal style in three words
E - Elegant, eclectic, bohemian 

On shopping with a purpose
E - I love textiles and texture, so I am often inspired by that first, I prefer to buy items that are not overly trendy, and feel unique.
Do you feel like sharing one secret?
E - I hate spending a lot on clothes. My dirty little secret is that … sometimes I find pieces at Forever 21 and integrate them into my wardrobe. People have no idea and are often complimentary and think  it’s some high ticketed designer piece. It’s all in how you style it and wear it, sometimes I even cutout the tags and no one knows. 


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …  
E - I am happily and newly divorced and it has made me fall in love with fashion all over again, because I dress exactly how I want and experiment more too. 

What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful? 
E - With regard to fashion, feeling comfortable in your own skin and what you are wearing. If you don’t feel good in your clothes, you don’t feel as empowered. I designed my line of dresses with that ideology in mind, I don’t want you to be a slave to your clothes. You should not have to starve yourself, or go to spinning class five times a week to feel sexy or beautiful to fit into a dress. It’s a state of mind, and it’s about being comfortable first and foremost, and then whatever you wear will look amazing, because you feel confident. 

When did you find your confidence? 
E - I think as I was about to turn 50. I thought I look pretty damn good for my age and I felt sexier than ever before. 


How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype? 
E - Celebrating all types of women and styles. I think being unique, embracing individuality whatever it is, might normalize it and help. 

You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity? 
E - Depends on the season. In the spring and summer I love to wear colors and patterns and I often live in jeans and dresses. In the winter, I find I don’t wear as much color, but I love texture still, so I often have a furry something, a sweater or coat, and my favorite pair of red booties. I try to have at least an accent of color somewhere. 

Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”  
E - I am not sure I find either irritating. I think both statements can be true or false depending on context. Sustainable fashion, if done right, can be interesting. Fashion can be frivolous, but it’s also about self-expression and it’s about showing personality, even if it’s a uniform. Frivolous makes me think of excessive amount of the same things, but if you can afford a great piece and it makes you feel good, it gives you that extra pump of confidence, then why not? 


interview, styleandsubstance, style file

STYLE + SUBSTANCE // Valery Demure

Valery and I never met personally, but when you read the interview you'll realize why she stood out in my Instagram feed. There's no seeking for attention, she is a polyhedral woman who can show at the same time strong opinions and romantic gestures, she is an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife and a relentless supporter of creativity and artistic inclination. Exquisite and unique taste make her special. 



style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

VD - Always, always although empowerment happened late to me


Your personal style in three words

VD - black, playful and bejeweled


A mother, a collector, a curious wanderer of all things beauty: how you do it all

VD - Still not sure! I have a great husband who takes care of all things at home and who follows me in all my adventures.


On shopping with a purpose 

VD - I never really shop for a purpose unless it is food shopping, I am always up to discover a great object, a beautiful texture, a mix of rich colors etc.  I am a wanderer.


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

VD - I can share a secret, for every thing, I like to go off the beaten track...shops, restaurants, places, friends etc. I love the unexpected.

Images below come from


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …

VD - Can’t live with it, can’t live without it, a love and hate relationship


What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

VD - To have the patience, the honesty and courage to truly know herself


When did you find your confidence?

VD - Very late in life, after years of soul searching and therapy, although I have always spoken my mind, and I have always been quite assured in my taste for all, music, arts, fashion, food, men etc.


How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

VD - What stereotype ? cute ? pretty ? pink ? I have no idea what you are talking about… princess, …yes who does not want to be treated like a princess ?


You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

VD - Instinct only instinct...a gut feeling… no personal uniform … always a little fun detail…fun socks, cool handbag, one of a kind vintage sunglasses but never never over the top, not craving for attention. I tend to dislike attention seekers, I find them rather sad.


Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”

VD - Of course Fashion is frivolous however it is such an important part of any culture, and although I can find sustainable fashion clothes and accessories a little too plain, I like the philosophy behind sustainability very much and I think sustainable fashion is evolving fast and it will be become more and more exciting. I am a firm believer too that we must preserve and support, promote craftsmanship all around the world, to me Craftsmanship is an essential part of any culture. I am less interested in the idea of Fashion than the one encompassing true craftsmanship and forward thinking design.

interview, style, style file, styleandsubstance

The simple pleasure of makeup: Beauty for Real

“What men think about what women wear” it was an article in which a guy, your simple average guy who happens to be an actor distilled his male view.

He had some points.

·         You can tell a lot about people by their appearance (good start)

·         Good style in a woman is all about her being herself (kudos)

·         It’s not about what you think it’s cool, it’s about what you make cool which according to him it’s this rare species of woman that dresses in a unique, spontaneous and believable way

·         a woman should “look put together”, dangerous zone, it set my antennas on red alert, as it can go wrong, really “bondage dress” wrong, but he redeems himself by adding that she should also “look comfortable” like have a good time, being able to handle a conversation and play at the bowling alley at the same time.

What did I get out of it? The dude didn’t get it at all, he would have had zero chances to sparkle that conversation with me. The idea of dressing for the men, putting heels and make-up for pure showcase, is so old that it smells like mothballs.

Then I thought I may be the weirdo, one of the chapters of the book says to “Put make-up with discretion […]” I tend to prefer flats to heels, I must be the rebel here, or brought up to be independent from conformism or clichés, Man Repeller style.

This is Women’s Right Month and the thought that we are at it again, having to make our voices heard again, because they think we are weak and inferior, has taken such a role in my daily life, that heck, I have started a whole new relationship with beauty and makeup. If you start from inside your body, you glow and beam and your face will show it.

Thing is: love yourself first and you’ll be the source of love for your loved ones.

A few weeks ago I met with Leslie, the powerhouse behind Beauty for Real the one of the very few makeup brands I use. Imagine my marvel when I found out that her line represents “beauty simplified”. It’s made for someone like me and the thousands of other women that cut out time to add concealer and mascara in between traffic lights and lipstick while riding the elevator to the office.

Vintage jewelry courtesy of

I call it my “no brainer” make-up, that is no more overwhelm at a cosmetic counter (do I need this or that, do I need to buy both?), a newfound pleasure in wearing makeup that looks like it effortlessly happened to fall in the right place. 

Did you know the lhe lip balm has a mirror and a light switch, like hello.

It also has a cheeky side: the set of lip balms is called 3-some and the eye-set is a 4-play which makes you feel part of the gang, you know what I mean, winky face?

It smells delicious because it’s made of essential oils and natural ingredients, on this I confessed to Leslie that when I have my sugar-crash at 3 pm I get a coffee and reapply the Blush + Glo because it feels like having a macaron.

The high tech formulas are meant to make it stay until you remove it at night even if you keep touching your face because you are not used to wear makeup, which is a plus for a newbie and goofie like I am.

Leslie is a veteran makeup artist, with magazine covers and celebrity athletes on her pedigree, a 24/7 committed entrepreneur with a special talent, she is a competing equestrian. Many of her early mornings are blessed with Nabucco her horse who lives in the stables in Wellington, he is a beauty as well as she is while jumping and riding.

On that note: her red lipstick is a constant and it’s impeccable as her white shirt and navy blazer. Considering her makeup is horseback riding proof, you are as sure as hell that eye shadow is as indestructible.

Beauty & Grace is a campaign she has launched to celebrate Women’s Rights Month and “recognize women, who not only look beautiful, but who are actively doing beautiful things and changing other’s lives”

She is asking “who inspires you?”

Take it to the comments to nominate your Beauty & Grace icon.

I start, since I am at it: Emma Watson. From child prodige actress she became the UN Goodwill Ambassador for #heforshe the campaign to end gender inequality. She has a voice, a platform of fans and followers and she has committed to empower girls and women to end the gender gap that pervades the workforce and has social, economic negative impact on sustainable development and peace. Besides, I think she always wears the perfect makeup no makeup and her skin is fresh and plump whether she is at a red carpet event of coming out of Starbucks. 

interview, styleandsubstance

style + substance // Sarah Hartley of Holl and Lane Magazine

You know that when it's instant love with an Instagram account it's because everything resonates, the "media" attached to "social" in perfect harmony, imagery and words meet in heaven.    

"Holl and Lane is based on the idea that your story is powerful." 

"Holl and Lane is based on the idea that your story is powerful." 

Holl and Lane  was like that to me: there was something behind those gorgeous images, there was a woman, a strong, determined, loving, powerful, romantic, passionate one, definitely a talented and equally tunes team and a message. And the word was loud and clear H O N E S T

It may be because I am Italian, or because I have reached a time in my life when BS smells bad and I find pleasure in ignoring it, saying it as it is, accepting that life is never perfectand being OK with it, is the best choice.  

Sarah Hartley, the founder of Holl and Lane, is there, happy or sad, tired or excited, she represents many of us women, yet she has an extra shift, like we say in Italian, like a rare motorvehicle at a vintage car show. She has a plan, a mission, a passion and she doesn't stop.

I have had the honor of interviewing her, because she is a perfect example of style + substance, women inspiring other women, entrepreneurs supporting each other, mothers, wives, daughters who bring life to life. 

"Nearly every decision I make s based on my gut" - Sarah Hartley 

"Nearly every decision I make s based on my gut" - Sarah Hartley 

Vixens , Dynamic, Powerful, Bold , Fearless, Outrageous, Unique these are some of the connotations I have started determining of this style + substance tribe we are forming. Please pitch in, say which one is really one, add yours if it’s missing.

SH : Powerful.  Holl & Lane is based on the idea that your story is powerful. Each time you open up and share a part of yourself, you help someone else to feel less alone.  And that is an incredibly powerful thing.  I would also add Honesty because that is a key foundation in both the magazine and my personal life. 

When did you realize you needed to do something different?

SH : I have been a personal blogger for over 5 years now.  When I started writing about my pregnancy and how difficult it was (so NOT like what media led me to believe), I noticed that people began to really open up to me with their own stories, and that they really appreciated someone being honest. That sparked the idea that our media was sorely missing HONEST stories from real women talking about their trials and their triumphs.

Did you ever make a decision based on your guts and vs. the rest of the world?

SH : Nearly every decision I make is based on my gut.  I base decisions on how something makes me feel - sometimes at the peril of reality.  

When you have the odds against you what do you do?

SH : Just keep pushing.  In starting your own business, it feels as if the entire world is against you just waiting with stumbling blocks.  But you just have to put your head down and do the work.  Research, talk with others in the same industry, ask for help when you need it.  In general, the people in your life will want to see you succeed and will be glad to help.

"The women who contribute to the magazine keep me inspired" 

"The women who contribute to the magazine keep me inspired" 

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” - Madeleine Albright

SH : In the world of female entrepreneurs, it’s important to help out where you can.  This doesn’t mean giving away all of your best secrets, but just being around to bounce ideas off of, letting them know you support them, being a cheerleader and accountability partner when they need it.  

“You are the average of the 5 people around you” has been said and you have created a honest media gleeful movement with a beautiful magazine. You are an inspiration, especially in these critical times when the voice of women has suffered a setback. How do you keep being inspiring?

SH : Thank you!  

The women who contribute to the magazine keep me inspired - as cliche as that may sound.  I find such strength reading through their stories and am humbled that they’re allowing me to tell them.  Each time I’m able to bring a story to life, knowing that it has the chance to help someone, it’s so inspiring.  As far as creativity and designing goes - I’m inspired by other magazines and photography.  They stir my soul to want to create something beautiful.

What would you tell the next generation, other fellow entrepreneurs to look for to keep striving?

SH : It’s going to be hard and you’re going to want to quit.  But if you find something that you’re passionate about - something that even on your hardest days you cannot imagine giving up - it will make all the difference in the world.  When it’s something that you fully believe in, you will do whatever it takes to see it succeed.

What’s your take with “taking risks and facing adversities”?  Do you retreat, do you dive in?

SH : The magazine is one big risk for me and along with it I’ve faced plenty of adversities.  I tend to be a bit on the cautious side but I’m learning that sometimes I just need to follow where my gut leads because on the other side there is often something magical waiting for me.

What’s that thing that fires you, that makes you go ahead?

SH : Doing something that hasn’t yet been done.  We’re starting this movement to give people a voice and I take great pride in that.  I want to continue to be the place that people know they can come to and they’ll be allowed to be vulnerable and honest.  I want to change the face of media and to remind people that their lives are perfect just as they are.

Read, follow, contribute, buy, share, download, participate, be a player in Holl and Lane, everything you should know is HERE.

P.S. Watch for the gift that comes with the calendar and when you get it, come back here to toast for a sparkly and successful 2017. 

interview, style file, styleandsubstance

style + substance // Dawn Gallagher

You know by now about my passion for Instagram and how I take my social medium of preference seriously. I have found another gem and started a pen-pal friendship.

Dawn Gallagher is a fashion model turned role model, she embodies beauty, fashion, creativity and love for color and beauty.

She uses her voice to give voice to whom doesn't have it by giving back to craftsmen with fair trade practices. And just because we are entering the season of giving, I suggest you visit her site and shop away with a cause. 

She is the embodiment of style and substance. 

Your style

DG - My style is all about comfort. I have a 7 year old and I am running around with her, so my shoes and my clothes need to be commfortable during the day. At night, i like to dress up when I am going to an event. I don;t want to walk around as a designer label head to toe. I like to mix and match expensive with inexpensive and unique. For example, I love to pair a Gucci dress with a beautiful artisan pair of earrings made in another culture. (It's all in my website

I don’t like walking around as a designer label [...] I like to mix and match.
— Dawn Gallagher

Your first fashion moment

DG - When I was 17 and went to Rome to shoot the Italian Bazaar collections and worked with all the best designers. I thought ... wow! This is the epitome of fashion

Your muse, or icon of inspiration

DG - Valentino and Chanel

Do you recall the moment when you set yourself free from preconceived limitations and started being who you wanted to be. 

DG - I guess that comes with age. You realize you don't have to dress for other people and you are free to dress for yourself. It doesn't matter what people think. I am not trendy or a trend setter, but rather a non conformist who does not follow trends. I don't care what color is IN right now, I care about what color looks good on me and what I feel good in. I am free to be me. 

You realize you don’t have to dress for other people
— Dawn Gallagher

The piece of advice you wish you had received

DG - I wish when i was younger i had the freedom to experiment and dress however I liked, to use more of my creativity. My 7 year old is so creative and has been since she was three. I let her wear what she wants with no filter and she always looks so chic. I asked her why she loves to dress in lots of colors and mixed patterns, she said: "Mommy, I dress according to how I feel inside" I think that was great advice I wish I had the freedom to explore when I was younger. So now I dress and experiment with colors and patterns I would have never tried before. I guess I am using my creativity like a child. 


"There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women" - Madeleine Albright 


"We don't follow trends, we set them" 

DG - I Like people who set trends without even trying, like kate Moss.

"You never leave home without ..."

DG - My red lipstick, it gives me a pop of color and it makes me happy. 





styleandsubstance, interview

style + substance // Somy Ali of No More Tears

The style + substance series was born as a celebratory corner in the internet, as my way of supporting women that exude power, vision, strength, drive, leadership and blend it with vulnerability, femininity, poetry, romanticism and inspiration.  

This is a different type of portrait, where style took second place.  Somy Ali is a force of nature, an advocate for change, a woman of passion who took her personal experience of domestic abuse as a motivator to help others, as many as she can, day after day.

If this is not strength and inspiration, what is it? Talking about her personal style sounded insignificant when I wanted to know much more. Somy is gorgeous inside and out. 

The numbers on human traffickng, domestic violence and sex exploitation are staggering. Miami falls 3rd place in the humiliating, infuriating and revolting statistics of cities in the US for human trafficking, a podium that nobody would want to race for. 

Sexual assault, unfortunately, has been in the news for the wrong reasons in the last couple of weeks, that I wonder how does that make you feel, as a victim yourself. Because it hurts and shakes me.

SA - It makes me sick to my stomach. For me, no amount of therapy will ever undo what happened at the age of five, then nine and, again, in my teenage years. I am appalled as to how far Trump has come and how much damage he continues to do on a daily basis. What’s more appalling is that he has followers that speak the same language and carry the same beliefs. This does not help ease any victim’s pain, nor does it encourage him/her to speak out and seek help. Trump’s actions and words have assaulted victims of abuse all over again. He is blatantly ridiculing victims that have been courageous enough to speak up. This is the primary reason we are afraid to tell anyone what has happened to us. This is definitely not the progress I wish to see in our society when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. 

Your job is tough, heartbreaking, it requires strength, determination, legal knowledge and law enforcement, yet you conduct yourself with such tenderness, femininity and grace. That duality is something peculiar and innate to women, yet do you think it is one of the reasons men feel freedom to abuse of them?

SA - Absolutely. Certain men though, a specific type of mindset, a specific culture where it is taught that we reside in a male dominated world. I have dealt with and faced these specific mindsets in Pakistan, India and the U.S. I know I will continue to encounter them, as they do not have any prejudices. 

As for the duality, I find that to be fascinating in women and believe it is what makes us so unique and so beautiful. I would not want to lose that about myself as it assures me that I am still good in spite of all the bad I have encountered. 

I disagree with the requirement of eliminating the very element that makes us women.
— Somy Ali

Vulnerability, sentimentalism, romanticism and grace are some values that come natural to women, how can we use them as a source of strength instead of keep hiding them in male dominated environments where power still means, anachronistically, wearing the pants?  

SA - I have learned many lessons in ten years and have dealt with the best and the worst when it comes to humans. I had to teach myself how to use all of the above-mentioned traits with simply one goal in mind: rescue more victims. I disagree with the requirement of eliminating the very element that makes us women. We have many role models that have held on to their femininity, yet, are changing the world. They are ambitious and strong.  

We must remove the stigmas attached to vocalizing sexual abuse
— Somy Ali

You have helped thousands of women and families and children and we are all inspired by you. How do you think we can assist your grassroots tireless job to help break the silence on human trafficking and abusive relationships? How do we tell our children? 

SA - The most important aspect of taking a stand against abuse is talking about it. As a society we must find it normal to discuss these issues at our dinner table. We need to train ourselves to be less selfish. We must remove the stigmas attached to vocalizing sexual abuse. 

I would also encourage people to donate to non-profits where the majority of their funds go towards their mission, not their admin costs. NMT takes pride in using every dollar towards our victims’ services programs and we do not have paid staff, solely volunteers.

We have to speak with our children, as the statistics are terrifying. 325,000 children are at risk for becoming victims of sexual exploitation in the United States. The average age of entry into the sex trade in America is 12–14 years old. And, a pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year while exploiting an average of 4-6 girls. These stats are real and we really need to sit with our kids and explain this to them.

We can’t win this war by ignoring it and hoping it will go away. This is not a third world country issue, this is happening here. Our children are being trafficked from one state to another. 


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