Laura Recommends

February Recommendations

March 1, 2018

To be honest, without this blog post I would have had no idea how February passed by or what I did during this awfully short month. March already seems like a very full month, so here’s to hoping I still find some time to tackle my ever growing to-read pile of books. Until then, here is a quick list of things I enjoyed, read or listened to in the past weeks:


Onward – Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon

I really loved this book. Usually business books or biographies which look at how a certain entrepreneur made it are too vague to really teach you anything beyond the usual clichés of pushing forward and thinking outside the box and just descriptive enough to make the case for a new book on the stands. This is not the case for Onward. Although it has a narrow scope (mostly looking at the years between 2007 and 2011 with few flashbacks), it is full of details, honest retellings of the harshest economical moments of the past decades and many ideas of how to build, manage and lead a culture and a company.

Made to Stick – Chip and Dan Heath

I love the recipe that the Heath brothers developed after analysing thousands of sticky or rather unsticky moments (to put simply, they correlate the sticky term to something or someone being memorable). They concentrated everything they learned in an essence called SUCCES – Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories, which you can apply to most of the messages you want to convey.


Pardon my French

I love Garance Doré, everything she creates is utterly beautiful and emanates a very French air. I think I first discovered her illustrations, then her website and book. Her podcast, Pardon my French, featured awesome guests such as Morgane Sézalory, the founder of the famous and quintessentially Parisian brand, Sézane, and Christian Louboutin, who needs no further introduction. Both interviews, although a bit too long for my commute, were full of insights and stories I had not heard before about the two designers. I highly recommend them if you are into fashion or any other creative industry.

By the Book

I love all things Irina recommends and when she mentioned this podcast, I knew I had to give it a go. This podcast is about two women who decide to test out if they can follow the advices and instructions popular (self help) books are offering. So, they try to live by the book for a week and discuss how feasible the books’ teachings are. So far, I listened to three episodes and their conclusions: the Little Book of Hygge, French Women Don’t Get Fat and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and they are hilarious and extremely relatable in their retellings of their by-the-book living experiments.



I absolutely adore this website/app. It is a sound generator for working and relaxing and it is the best I encountered so far! During the day I am listening to birds chirping and I am imagining myself studying from a park (or you know, cleaning my place like Snow White), during the evening working sessions I am listening to a combination of fireplace sounds, rain, and café chatter and it does wonders to my inspiration and during the sunny mornings I am extending my time in bed by reading in direct sunlight surrounded by the sounds of crashing waves and seagulls. Sounds too good to be true? Well, try it for yourself.

Café con Leche

I love this Spotify playlist and I think I shared it with everybody I spoke to in the past weeks. It has a fantastic mood-boosting mix of Spanish songs, sometimes bachata sounds and acoustic guitar ballads. I love it and it is the cheapest way to feel like during an Iberic vacation!


130 Facts for National Trivia Day (this was on January 4th, but the facts are still fun to share)

Here are some of the facts that made me laugh or gasp:  “Before settling on the Seven Dwarfs we know today, Disney considered Chesty, Tubby, Burpy, Deafy, Hickey, Wheezy, and Awful.”, “Goats have rectangular pupils.”,  “A double rainbow occurs when sunlight is reflected twice inside a raindrop. If you look closely, you can see that the colors of the secondary rainbow appear in reverse order.” and “Elvis Presley’s manager sold “I Hate Elvis” badges as a way to make money off the people who weren’t buying his merchandise”.

Best copywriter website ever (found on Emily Schuman’s website, in one of her “Links I love” series)

This is a great example of how to stand out in a playful way while doing the exact thing you want to get paid for.


Black Mirror

If you have not watched Black Mirror until now, you must. For those unfamiliar with it, Black Mirror is a British anthology series about the dark effects of technology in the (near) future. Despite being referenced in most of my first year classes, I was not excited to start watching it because I thought it would be very depressing to see the possible negative consequences of technology in our lives. However, I loved the ingeniosity of the scenarios, the superb execution, the numerous plot twists which they can still pull off even after four seasons and the ideas behind the series: that we should act more human and that we should be more wary of new technology we allow into our lives. For those of you who watched all the episodes, this video from Screenprism is a great in-depth analysis of the show.


I hope you have enjoyed these recommendations and that they inspired you. I’d love to hear from you, what are you reading now, what cool podcasts are you listening to and what tools enhance your productivity?

Have a great March!


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Job title: Influencer

March 1, 2018

What is the value we bring in the lives of people who follow us? In a digital world marked by the passivity we experience in front of content (also known as content fatigue), what sort of content should we choose to produce? What are the points of difference between influencers in 2018 and what does it actually mean to be an influencer? Have we lost our own personal filter due to our desire to integrate ourselves in certain communities and false standards?

INFLUENCER = person which has the power to influence many people, mainly via social media networks or traditional media channels

They say 2017 was the year of the influencers. I would say that it was the year of the mobile window showcases. #ad #spon #blessed

Due to Instagrammers’ desire to monetize their content in front of an audience seemingly willing to be bombarded by advertorials, paid images and ads, nowadays anyone with a following bigger than a couple of thousand people gets to call themselves an influencer. Obviously, because the agencies and the companies are still in the beginning period of the Influencer Marketing era, they don’t see ill-fitted to attract on board of their campaigns people who are exact replicas of each other. These people tell the same story with their content, overwhelmingly photograph from the same perspective the watch turned to face them to announce a discount code WATCH15 and each of them addresses to almost identical crowds of users.

This is how, from the same thirst to transform a blog into a business or to make an Instagram account become a source of revenue, thousands of people have lost the contact with their own story, with the elements that used to differentiate them at the beginning and sadly, with their authenticity. There is nothing bad in collaborating with brands or in posting sponsored content. The problem appears once people forget the most important brand – their personal one. We are all already careful with what we post online, with what others post about ourselves and the impressions our social media accounts have on others, so to say that we are all trying more or less consciously to build an image for ourselves would not be far from reality.

In the euphoria of seemingly endless possibilities of collaborating with brands based on a fee, many have forgotten the power that was once given to them when people pressed the Follow button. They have forgotten that they became broadcasters. Today, the information and the content distributed by each of us has the potential to reach thousands of people, so it is sad when bloggers and not only choose to use their audience only to gather some likes and illustrate “results” for the partner companies. It is sad because thousands of people made the conscious decision to follow somebody and that person is not properly using their position. Let me explain myself: in a global society in which social and political problems are worsening each day, all these influencers who continue to post content as if nothing has happened (the selfie of the day, the latte art shot, you go on) intensify the filter bubble phenomenon, which means that they get deeper in their own bubble, isolated from the rest of the society and they drag their followers along with them. This is how bubbles are created – in which somebody talks for instance, only about make up (which is a perfectly normal niche), but avoids to discuss society-concerning issues like animal testing, the improper production conditions of some natural-fibres brushes and the false marketing of some cosmetics as organic. The fashion, beauty and complementary industries don’t have to be superficial and commercial. They can be alternative channels via which we can also talk about some other topics which may not be everybody’s self interest, but are the bigger public’s priorities, like child labour in textile factories, the over dependence on imported resources and products, the recycling of materials, the correct remuneration no matter the production country and yes, even the national governing plan, the funds allocated to the development of infrastructure, the future of education and other subjects which are usually left for the news.

No matter if we want it or not, ignorance is no longer trending.

My conclusions and the directions in which I hope that influencing will got into are the following:

  • We don’t need even more commercial influence. Considering that there are already ads, commercials and sponsored content on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube and other platforms, we are already receiving many (some would say too many) prompts to buy a product or a service. What we need are authentic voices, which don’t talk about a product, place, event or service just because they got paid, but because they really believe in these endorsements.
  • We no longer need characters who sketch their online lives as inspirational and worthy to be copied, but real people, who already live lives worth following and, who can be used (moderately!) as benchmarks and sources of inspiration. Moreover, I expect 2018 to be about personal stories, authenticity, creating content with which people can relate and empathize with and sharing emotions with the people around.
  • Activism and influencing will start to combine more and more. The voices of influencers will be heard clearer and more frequently and they will start offering an increased importance to their long-term strategy. I hope that 2018 will be a year in which we can all reflect at what we are leaving behind, if we are happy with our legacy so far and if not, to take action and change the world as we want to.

If 2017 was the year of slogan t-shirts, I hope 2018 will be the year in which we finally implement them.

  • Influencing means a relationship between someone who, thanks to knowing more information, can advice, encourage and even convince someone else to act on something. As in any relationship, the influencers will better understand their positions and power once they will communicate more with their audience. Being an influencer does not mean being a superior, closed and inaccessible figure. (On the contrary, we are more willing to be influenced if we feel like the advice is coming from a friend or from a close and knowledgeable person.) So, I expect to see in 2018 more influencers connecting with their audiences, from the simple act of answering messages and comments to having more moments of honesty and adding more personal touches, even in campaigns with a strict brief.
  • Much more transparency. Clearly signalizing the sponsored content will be necessary in order to trace more carefully the borders between personal recommendations and paid ones. The public has the right to be informed and to know whether a post is paid or not. However, tracing this border with a tag or hashtag at the end of the post should not exempt the author from the responsibility of sincerity. Afterall, we all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf up until no one believed him. If influencers will continue to dishonestly incite at buying, testing, listening etc., when the time will come for them to truly recommend something, nobody will be willing to listen to their advice. So, I hope that in 2018 the influencers will work more at consolidating their credibility and, implicitly, they will become more selective with the brands, campaigns and messages they associate themselves with.

Besides all of these dilemmas mentioned above, I believe it would be very interesting to open a discussion about the future of the influencers.Will all of us become influencers? Or are we all already? Facebook seems to support the latter version as for the past months it has been rolling out the option that for every check in, the users can mention if they recommend that place or not. Of course, there are more options: micro influencing, which means having a relatively small audience, but having one’s opinions and directions treated seriously and adopted or separating the influencers into sub categories: tastemakers, product and experience reviewers and commercial content producers being just few of the possibilities. I think the public is not yet over influencers and that there is a real need of recommendations in the paradoxical ocean of options we now have, but if influencers don’t change their strategies, they risk gradually losing their credibility, and eventually, their influence.


This article originally appeared in ELLE Romania, February 2018 issue, number 243

Image via Alexandra Lapp

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Analog, Digital and the Return of Analog

February 18, 2018

I still remember the first disc I ever listened to on my dad’s pick up: it was The Little Match Girl, a story which moved me profoundly. The story seemed unique both because of the message and the sounds the machine was making which resembled the very fire sparks the little girl was dreaming about.

Although they seemed obsolete at the beginning of the 2000’s, the pick-ups, cassette players and tape recorders are making a come back, uplifting the spirits in the houses of music lovers and not only and in the process, becoming part of the lives of younger generations, many of which not remembering the days when owning such a machine would attract the neighbourhood’s envy. And it’s not just the old-school music players which are back; film cameras, printed books, typewriters and many more analogue devices once presumed dead are now reclaiming their spots in the consumer’s hearts.

The question is why? Where does this resurrection of the analog come from?

We may trace back one of the reasons of this come back to Instagram, which currently has more than 800 million monthly users. Created to mimic both the effects of film photo cameras and the instant nature of the photography process (as the app’s name indicates), initially, Instagram got its fame thanks to a unique series of filters which could have been applied to the photographs. And so, the users got to experience the unforeseen desire to use the Sutro and X-PRO filter or a hint of vignette on any image posted. Fast forward from 2010, these filters have been declared passé because they clearly show that the images are actually impostor photographs which ooze an absurd creation effort.

Additionally, alongside the fact that up until 2016 the logo of the app was a pictogram of a camera with a retro look, there is another element which links Instagram and film cameras: #FilmIsNotDead, which, at the time of writing, had been used in more than 5.8 million posts of film camera lovers. So, thanks to an app, a new international community was born, which in the past, could have never gotten to this scale in what regards the number of users involved and their dispersion on the globe.

So, it’s not that surprising that currently film cameras seem to be winning ground. Some of the most well known analog models from the past years, Fujifilm Instax and Polaroid Snap, became instant (pun intended) hits among teenagers and not only. What’s more, in 2008, the last Polaroid factory in the world, based in Enschede, the Netherlands, was supposed to be shut down, but a group of entrepreneurs and fans of the brand managed to buy it, establish a new brand with an optimist name (Polaroid Impossible) and create a new type of film, which got sold in commercial chains like Urban Outfitters, a favourite shop of the 18-28 age demographic.

Another product presumed to be close to extinction, but whose story is not over yet, is the tape recorder. Having its production halted by many manufacturers at least two decades ago, the tape recorder received a second chance at the end of 2016, when the Swiss company Revox announced the premiere of a new model created in partnership with Horch House, a company founded in 2012 which boasts with the best analog master tapes. Also benefiting from the same encouraging fate, the pick-up (or the tournedisque), can now be found on the shelves of international mass-market retailers, among which are Fnac, Media Markt and of course, Urban Outfitters.

In this way, both the hard-core vinyl disc fans and the new and younger adoptive parents, from the Millennial generations, can enjoy discs which always contain a pleasant surprise, such as a flyer with the lyrics of all the songs on the album or a series of exclusive images depicting the artists – physical elements which consolidate the relationship between them and their fans and which do not have the same impact in the digital environment. Employing the same trick of the souvenirs, each 1989 album by Taylor Swift sold as a CD was accompanied by nothing else but a series of 13 images taken with a Polaroid, each photo being complemented with a handwritten lyric. However, it is interesting how the final result illustrates a hybrid between the analog medium, represented by the instant photographs, and the digital one, represented by the CD (acronym for Compact Disc, a form of storage based on binary logic, if I may refresh your memory).

Staying in the musical business, another singer who has embraced the analog medium is Lana del Rey, an American artist whose albums, starting with 2011, can be found online and also as vinyls and CDs. Moreover, her retro image of a pin-up girl matches perfectly with the nostalgic atmosphere of her music, which links back to the ’50s, as her videos also demonstrate (Video Games is a great example for this).

However, the return of the analog seems to contradict with the current situation in which on a yearly basis there is another launch of a smartphone, smartwatch and even smart fridge. In this whole new electronic paradise, in which the consumers are persuaded into buying bigger and more expensive products every year, how come e-readers have not made their way into more homes?

Everybody thought Amazon would destroy the industry of printed books when it launched the Kindle. And it’s no wonder since e-readers are able to store more books than we could ever have in our personal libraries, all with just an initial purchasing cost and with the recharge of the device few times a month. However, unsurprisingly, recent data shows that actually, in Europe and in the US, the consumption of printed books has gone up, the UK experiencing increases of almost 4% in comparison to 2015.

So, where does this passion for reviving the analog come from?

Is it maybe the nostalgia of the long gone times as Lana del Rey hints through her image and music? Is it maybe because we would like to slow time down in a society in which everything seems to be moving at an increasingly high speed? Or actually, maybe the problem is simpler and can be reduced to hipsters and the fact that there will always be people to oppose the mainstream. Or maybe the return to analog is the last chance some people have to feel that they are in control in the relationship with technology, which asks us to update our minds as quickly as our apps. Or maybe we are so crushed and stressed that we desperately want to relive simpler times, in which the wait to develop a film image was the emotional highlight of the day. Are we really that overwhelmed by our galleries made out of thousands of digital images and by our phones with 128 gigabytes of memory that we want to relive the unicity of the 36 film frames?

Well, maybe the answer is a bit of everything.

One thing is certain: society has reached a moment in which phones, tablets, laptops and phablets do not seem so astounding anymore with their blue light and continuous distraction risk, hence the trend of digital detox. It seems that we still appreciate the feeling of holding a physical book in our hand, the smell of freshly inked paper and the luxury of immersing ourselves in books without the bugging notifications at the top of the page. No matter how much we would praise the digital medium, we seem inseparable from materiality, from the unicity of each product which falls into our hands, either if it’s a book with a printing error, or an unintentionally scratched disc which will forever hold the memory of the causing event. Ergo it is certain that we like to feel as if we are the possessors of something unique, which cannot be taken away from us by a power outage or a software update.

However, I cannot not observe an irony in the Ying-Yang relationship between the analog and the digital: the fact that we can have on an Ipad a bizarilly similar experience to the 0ne of typing on a typewriter with the feature of editing and re-editing entire paragraphs, while having the possibility to send the typed document to anyone via email. Hanx, an IOS app, makes all of this possible. Additionally, the same paradoxical feeling is offered by Instagram, where under the umbrella of a hashtag about film one can find digital eulogies of scanned photographs.

After all, considering that the DNA of the digital is based on the analog medium, it should not shock us that by acting as a recessive gene, the analog has materialized (pun intended) again in our lives. And until we will assist at yet another genetical change of our technologies, my take on this is that we should enjoy music, films, books and photographs no matter (again, pun intended) what.

This article originally appeared in ELLE Romania, January 2018 issue, number 242

Photo by Peter Heeling, via

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Laura Recommends

January Recommendations

February 4, 2018

January is not usually among my favourite months, simply because of the stay-cation-inducing weather, but this past month was probably one of the best starts I have ever had. I caught up on some films, books and series, I published and drafted lots of new articles, including this heartfelt one on vision, and I finally went to some museums I should have checked long before. I am having a good feeling about the coming months and about 2018 in general, so here’s to rocking the months ahead!

Until then, here is a wrap up of books, exhibitions, videos and lots of handy things I enjoyed this past January.



Book Depository

I recently did an online book haul and I decided to try out this website that I have heard so much before and it did not disappoint! I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical due to the heavily discounted prices and free shipping, but all my books arrived in pristine condition in 7 to 10 days, so I am more than happy and will definitely order again. One thing which bothered me a bit is that they don’t accept Maestro cards, so you should take that into account when placing an order (if it affects you).


I know, everybody raved about this book in the past months. Naturally, I am always curious when there is a hype this big around a book, so I read Sapiens over the second half of my winter break and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I think it is a great introductory book into the history of humankind, and I have to say the last chapter, “The End of Homo Sapiens”, was particularly good and really got my mind busy.

Start with Why

When flipping through one of my old notebooks, I realized I actually watched Simon Sinek’s wildly famous TED talk in early 2016, so it felt nice to finally read the book which became an “instant classic”, Start with Why. While Sinek may be a bit too pushy with the core idea and with his favourite vocab words, there is a lot to take away from the book, no matter if you want to start a business, if you are already leading a team/ company or if you just want to understand where to head next and how to present yourself and your purposes.

How To be Alone – Sara Maitland

“Yes, thank YOU!” and “Finally, someone said it!” are just two of the thoughts I had while reading this book. It’s full of messages I am sure lots of people think about, yet not so many say them aloud or act on them.

“Most of us have a dream of doing something in particular which we have never been able to find anyone to do with us. And the answer is simple: do it with yourself”. How elementary is this idea, yet challenging to apply in real life?

Another thing which stuck with me because it hit me only while I was reading, is this: Nowadays, we value autonomy, personal freedom, independence, self fulfillment and individualism more than ever, yet we still shame solitude. John Oliver would definitely say “How is this still a thing?”




If you have not watched Persepolis, do that right now. I got the graphic novels of Marjane Satrapi two years ago and I thought they were enough in order to understand her story, yet nothing prepared me for the harshness, the joy, the anger and the overall emotional roller coaster this animation is. So relatable at times, yet so hard to digest the reality that wars, power abuse and revolutions are still harming people and destroying homes.

Loving Vincent

To cheer you up a bit, this movie is on the list because I have never seen something so exquisite until now. To give you some context, this film is about the life and death of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh as told through his paintings. Yes, the entire (!!) movie was hand painted in his style based on the works he left from his nine (just 9!!) years as an artist. Dozens of artists gave their best to make this happen over multiple years, so you should definitely see it! What’s more is that it just got an Oscar nomination so act fast before you cannot engage with your friends in an post Oscars-worthiness discussion*.

– also, the final song was so beautiful and touching it left me in tears (you can listen to it here, if you need a good reason to shed some tears)

*haters will say the actors’ accents are not accurate and that the story is not complex or vivid enough, but we can never be pleased, can we?

The Crown

Only after watching this series have I realized how little I knew of the Royal British family. If you are interested in history, British culture and tremendous acting, you should start watching this as soon as possible. Try not to binge watch everything in one day, OK?



Rescue Time

In January I promised myself I will be more attentive with the time spent on Internet (which is why I deleted Facebook from my phone!) and I found this browser ad-on very helpful in counting the hours I waste spend on certain sites. It also records your average daily number of productive hours, so that is also pretty helpful.

On Multitasking – The Cost of Continuously Checking Email (via Harvard Business Review)

This article, which takes you less than 10 minutes to read and fully digest, has such a powerful analogy in it that I had to share it:

“Suppose each time you ran low on an item in your kitchen—olive oil, bananas, napkins—your instinctive response was to drop everything and race to the store. How much time would you lose? How much money would you squander on gas? What would happen to your productivity?

We all recognize the inefficiency of this approach. And yet surprisingly, we often work in ways that are equally wasteful.” – Ron Friedman on multitasking

Optical Character Recognition (via Office One Note)

OK, this trick may sound fancy, but it is so so helpful! Recently I had to transcribe a lot of text from images (particularly print screens) and I dreaded doing it. However, thanks to this Office help page, I learned that if you insert an image in an Office One Note file, you can right-click on it and select “Copy Text from Picture”. How NEAT is this?!

Google Docs transcribing tip (via Quartz)

Another awesome trick I learned in January is that you can transcribe vocal files easier if you dictate them to Google Docs. Much easier than typing down everything!



The world organized by incomeAnna Rosling Rönnlund

This recent TED talk shed so much light on how, on a global scale, we are not that different from one another. Turns out, it is not necessarily culture, but money that creates the boundaries between us. Please watch this to get a different perspective on your own life and wealth and on how similar we all are.

How Atomic Bombs can Uncover Forged Art

I just discover the “It’s Okay To Be Smart” YouTube channel and this video is a great example of how you can teach people something very cool about art and forgery while making it light and fun to watch along.



Legendary Trunks exhibition, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam

Although I am cheating a bit because I saw this exhibition in February, it is on just until the 18th, so I figured, if you want to see it you should know about it. What is this about and why should you go if you’re in town? It’s the work of a Louis Vuitton trunks collector who managed to bring together the suitcases of Gustave Eiffel, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Judy Garland, Ernest Hemingway and so many more together with unique pieces of trunks for flower bouquets, casino nights and even caviar! It’s learning about history in some of the most pleasant ways ever!


Hope you got inspired and if you do test out some of the things listed in my Recommendation series, do let me know!

Have a fantastic February,



Photo by Cynthia de Luna on Unsplash

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I have lost my vision

January 23, 2018

No, not my eyesight.

I have lost my vision in the sense that I feel as if I am floating in an endless sea, mindlessly drifting from one thing which comes my way to the other. I seem to have lost the bigger picture of my life and my career (can I say that? “career”. Do I have that? After all, I am just 20 and still in school, so, can I?). It seems to me as if I had had this vision once, as if I knew where I was going, what I was doing and what steps would follow. After all, I think I knew what I was doing when I chose to move abroad and when I chose living and studying in Amsterdam. But, somewhere on the road, after those moments, the picture got blurry, and eventually, I found myself not only not remembering what was my vision, but also not knowing what I want to do next.

I realized we have no direction or control whatsoever on our lives. Yes, this was news to me. I was somehow still believing in this deterministic ideal and it proved faulty. No wonder. I also became aware that whenever I seem to lose the faint grip I have on my storyline, I panic and I go into this desperate, hyperventilating mood in which I jump at all opportunities that arise, even though they seem wrong from the start. What’s more, I undervalue myself. And so I accept doing things which are not bringing enough into my life.

For the past months, I have been relying on inertia, achieving things out of what seems to me a lucky strike of coincidence and convergence of lines, people and hazard. And I know this is wrong. Because I am the only one behind my actions, the one who made them all possible. But I just can’t seem to enjoy it. I do a ten seconds celebratory dance and then I start wishing for more. Which is deeply toxic, if I am being allowed to point out the obvious.

I am in my very early twenties and I already had a career crisis. *eye roll I thought I had enough of fashion, publishing and social media work. *double-eye roll Although liking them, I felt trapped. I felt as if I had already seen my future: an unemployed self-employed contributing editor and social media assistant working here and there, earning just enough money to make a living. I am sorry. I am not deeming this lifestyle bad or inferior, it’s just not what I had imagined for myself. What have I imagined, you may ask? I don’t know. Maybe I was picturing myself already laying the foundation of my own business or already being financially independent. Guess the whole Self-Made legend got to me.

It may take me one more week or a few more months to get back at it, to see again how the dots connect with each other and how the decisions I have made so far lead me to my bigger picture, but for now, all I wish for is a pair of glasses that would show me what I should do next.

And I know this is not the typical story you read or want to read since it does not have a clear ending or an inspirational resolution, but I think it’s important to keep it real.



*collage by yours truly

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LauraxELLE, travel

Jet. Set. Amsterdam!

January 12, 2018

As a proud adopted-Amsterdammer, it was about time I shared my favourite places in the Dutch capital, along with some little secrets. You may find all of them below in this adapted post from an article I wrote for ELLE  Romania.


There are four daily flights from Bucharest Henri Coandă (OTP) to Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) operated by TAROM and KLM, so you have where to choose from.


Although the Dutch don’t have a vast gastronomical culture, they compensate very well with pastry products, sweets and coffee. Among my recommendations there are the white chocolate core biscuits from Van Stapele Koekmakerij, the almond creme croissants and lemon tarts from Simon Meijssen and the coffee from CT Coconuts, TOKI, Scandinavian Embassy, Bocca Coffee and Lot Sixty One.

During this whole sweet journey, don’t forget to discover the beauty of the canals by boat, explore the Albert Cuypstraat market, walk through VondelPark, Holland’s biggest park, visit A’Dam Toren, which hosts Europe’s highest swing and go through Bloemenmarkt, the only floating flower market in the world.


Gathering under the same roof thousands of masterpieces from the Golden Age and not only, Rijksmuseum is a constant presence in global museum tops, alongside another one you will adore: Van Gogh Museum. The entrance to both museums can be facilitated also by electronic tickets or by the I Amsterdam card. Besides those two touristy landmarks, you should also go to some less known places:

Cinema Pathé Tuschinski
One of the most beautiful cinemas you will ever see, Tuschinski has been functioning since 1921, stunning movie-goers with its Art Deco and Art Nouveau design. The movies are not dubbed, so you don’t have to worry if you don’t know Dutch.

Tassenmuseum Hendrikje
What happens when you work in the field of antiques and you end up owning a collection of more than 5000 bags? You open a museum. This is the story behind the biggest museum of bags and purses in the world. *Must see

Eye Film Museum
For all lovers of film, contemporary architecture and not only, the newest residence of the Dutch Film Museum, opened in 2012, is definitely worth paying a visit. To get to the OZN-like building it’s necessary only to go on a free three minutes ferry ride from Central Station to Buiksloterdijk.



Being newly renovated in 2016, Pulitzer Hotel is made out of 25 interconnected canal houses. As Amsterdam’s XVII century canal network is part of UNESCO world heritage, the houses couldn’t have been modified on the outside, but inside there is a whole labyrinth of rooms. Antique Collector’s Suite and Book Collector’s Suite are probably the most beautiful rooms in Amsterdam.

The Dylan

Also located inside the canal ring, the Dylan is a hotel in the proximity of De Negen Straatjes area (a little quartier made of literally Nine Little Streets) famous for its small boutiques, artisanal spaces, cozy restaurants and shops with local products. Having a French specific restaurant, views over the canals and an elegant decor with traditional Dutch accents, it would be very tough for this hotel not to please you.


Starting with the last weeks of April, when the Tulip Fever begins at the Keukenhof Gardens and its surroundings and until the end of October, when the days are already too short.


You may also want to check out:

Bar Botanique

Brouwerij het Ij


Hortus Botanicus (one of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens – 379 years)

Hermitage Amsterdam

Museum Van Loon

Museum ons Lieve Op Soldier

And of course, Anne Frank House


This article originally appeared in ELLE Romania, December 2017 Issue, number 241

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fashion, LauraxELLE

IT boys and the Fashion Industry in 2017

January 4, 2018

A Little Dictionary of Clothes, Accessories and Men of the Moment

If menswear of the previous years has thrown you into a nebula from which you see no way out, then you definitely need a guide. Below you’ll find an extremely practical one so you’ll know who and what matters in the stylistic landscape of the season. You’re welcome!

Ripped, almost torn apart jeans, Yeezy sneakers, beanies, dad sneakers, Instagram posts tagged with #MyCalvins, über-skinny pants wore exclusively with cowboy boots or Vans, products superimposed with the Supreme logo and the hairstyle which lead to an increase in hair ties’ sales, the man bun, seem to have taken over men street style. 

Meanwhile, on the runway, big fashion houses like Gucci propose all-denim outfits with patches, they bring back clothes with epaulettes, as shown by Vetements, or produce crop tops for men. Other initiatives, such as RompHim, a male jumpsuit, raise over 350.000 dollars on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform. Therefore, questions such as “What is going on with menswear?” and “What is menswear direction?” are perfectly understandable. 

Currently menswear seems more demasculinized than ever before (and anyway, what does “masculine” mean today?) and seems to be running away from any kind of convention. Still, before examining the influences and the directions of menswear, it is necessary to go over the vocabulary required for such conversation. Therefore, I am proposing you a short dictionary of men style and contemporary pop culture. 

#MyCalvins. The hashtag associated with the Calvin Klein brand counts more than half million Instagram posts in which customers show how they wear their CK underwear.

A$ap Rocky. American rapper and music producer. Most famous member of the hip hop band A$AP Mob and one of the unofficial Gucci ambassadors. 

Beanie. A thick and long sock-like hat, frequently worn in an unpractical way only on the tip of the head.

Brooklyn Beckham. The oldest son of David and Victoria Beckham, Brooklyn has already published a photography book. Considering his family, his connections with the fashion world are not few; Brooklyn being the cover star of multiple magazines such as Miss Vogue and a Fashion Week front row attendant. 

Crop Top. Literally, a cropped top. This garment’s dimensions are slightly bigger than a woman’s bustier, in effect leaving the abdomen bare.

Fedez. The Italian rapper of the moment, currently engaged with  Chiara Ferragni, the most popular fashion blogger and entrepreneur. He is one of the biggest Supreme fans, and their products appear even in one of his latest videos, Senza Pagare. 

Harry Styles. The unofficial leader of former boy band One Direction, who meanwhile became a solo singer, actor and style icon.

Jared Leto. The soloist of the pop rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto is the image of Gucci and an artist who was never afraid of bold clothing choices.

Justin Bieber. Canadian singer turned famous during his teenage years, now one of the most well known pop artists in the US.

Kanye West. American rapper, music producer and clothing designer. His first collection, for F/W 15, received mixed reviews, but along the seasons, Kanye established a name for himself in the fashion world with highly watched and debated shows, his catwalk presentations becoming one of the most looked forward shows of NYFW. Kanye is also married to Kim Kardashian, a constant figure in the fashion industry and the most widely known person to wear clothes designed by him.

Man Bun. Masculine hairstyle which entails long hair to be tied in a bun (usually on top of the head).

Nick Jonas. The youngest of the Jonas brothers, Nick became a solo artist, actor and model, having recently shot a campaign for Calvin Klein.

Nike Huarache. Model of sport shoes originally launched in 1991, easily recognizable after its heel area, which ends with a thin layer of neoprene that looks like a sock.

Pharrell Williams. Besides the fact that he is a musician and producer distinguished with 10 Grammys, Pharrell is also one of the boldest artists in what regards his red carpet appearances. 

Romphim. A short jumpsuit for men in pastels colors and funky prints. The crowdfunding campaign got viral on the Internet, bringing into discussion the fact that are no reasons for which only women should be allowed to wear short jumpsuits. 

Supreme. Initially a brand dedicated to the young skate and hip hop subculture, Supreme rapidly became one of the most loved brands thanks to its multiple collaborations with Nike, Air Jordan, Vans, Levi’s, Comme des Garçons and the most recent one, Louis Vuitton. The ques for the new products are already famous, their collections being so sought after that they get sold out in less than 3 minutes.

Vans. American brand dedicated tk skate shoes, today very much present in youth’s closets. 

Vetements. French brand created in 2009 by designer Demna Gvasalia. The Georgian origins of the designer have become the signature of the brand, being associated with the eastern european and soviet influences of the clothes and the styling.

Yeezy. (1) Collaboration between Adidas and Kanye West for a line of sport shoes. So far, the collaboration gathers three models: Boost 750, Boost 350 and Boost 950. The shoes get sold out in as much as 90 seconds from the moment they become available online.
(2) Kanye West’s clothing line.

Zayn Malik. Another former member of One Direction, Zayn is now a famous solo artist and at the same time, a trendsetter, alongside his girlfriend, Gigi Hadid.

At a more detailed analysis of the elements and participants from fashion’s chess table above I am sure you have noticed some patterns. I have identified three:

Brands love It Boys
The first pattern refers to the two sides: the fashion houses and IT boys. And although there is nothing new in the fact that most fashion houses pick someone from the showbiz industry to represent them, the examples above indicate a more niche approach of the brand ambassadors typologies. They are no longer people everybody knows, but some influencers who would have adopted anyway the aesthetics and the products of the brand. Concrete examples in this case may be Fedez, never separated from his red Supreme duffle bag and his logo t shirts or A$ap Rocky and Jared Leto and their closets full of Gucci. Therefore, the transition from fan to ambassador or image associated with the brand comes naturally and credibly. This aspect further leads to more exposure for the brand, which is not a surprising effect of using brand ambassadors, but in this case it leads to the authentic diversification of the audience. Would rap music lovers have worn head to toe Gucci had it not been for the influence one of the genre’s most popular icons had?

In the dictionary above there is an intentional high number of references to two subcultures which now have a special influence on fashion: the skate culture and the pop-rap culture. Although the two categories don’t normally overlap with the clothing and accessories industries, men’s closets include increasingly more sporty, casual and even athleisure pieces, in the shape of sneakers, sport shoes, sport hats, beanies, jogging pants and hoodies. So, through ambassadors from skate and pop-rap cultures, companies specific to those niches, like Supreme and Vans, bring into the mainstream elements typical for those areas.

The Family Tree
And, finally, I cannot ignore the personal links that IT Boys have with key people in the fashion industry. With a mom awarded with the CFDA prize in 2015 and with one of the world’s most stylish men as a father, there was no surprise that Brooklyn Beckham got influent in the fashion world, even becoming the photographer of a Burberry campaign in 2016. Moreover, his younger brother, Romeo, was the protagonist of a Christmas themed video for the same fashion house back in 2015, when he was only 13. Another stylish man who developed ties to the fashion industry is Zayn Malik, whose girlfriend is one of the most well paid models in the world. Together, they were the protagonists of a Vogue US cover in which they both sported… nothing else but Gucci. Should I further mention the Vanity Fair Italia cover with Fedez and Chiara Ferragni, fashion world’s number 1 influencer as declared by Forbes? Or the multiple Harper Bazaar’s covers with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West?

All these patterns indicate the fact that fashion is in a perpetual change, that we are constantly redefining what style, masculinity and elegance mean and that brands should listen more to subcultures if they want to stay relevant and even more, if they want their name to be on everybody’s lips.

Article originally published in ELLE Romania, ELLE Man supplement, November 2017 issue, number 240

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Jet. Set. Moscow!

December 27, 2017

Looking back to one of the cities that surprised, scared and impressed me all at the same time in the past months, here is a English adapted version of my first travel article in ELLE Romania.

As always, I want to be fair and transparent with you, so the places marked with an asterix (*) are places I have not had yet the pleasure to pay a visit, but they are still highly recommended amongst the well-traveled circle.

The capital of an excessively polarized society, Moscow best illustrates the contrast between the soviet architectural style of poor neighbourhoods and the glamorous and cosmopolitan city centre where the best apartments have a view over the Kremlin.


From Bucharest Henri Coanda Airport (OTP) to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) there is a daily direct flight operated by Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot. The flight takes about three hours.


Besides the necessary visit to the Red Square, the Saint Basil Cathedral and the luxurious commercial centre GUM, you must see at least five metro stops: Kievskaya, Belorusskaya, Komsomolskaya, Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Novoslobodskaya. On top of these you must not miss a visit to the Kremlin, especially to the Armory, or to the famous Tretyakov Galleries or a night at the Bolshoi Theatre. Further recommendations are:

Tsaritsyno Palace

Located on a 405 ha propriety of  Empress Catherine the Great, the Tsaritsyno Palace was designed especially for her, but it remained abandoned after her death. After 200 years, in 2007, the construction of the palace was finally finished and the palace became open to the visitors. You can find out more here.

Kolomenskoye Palace

A former summer residence of Aleksey Mikhailovich, this palace is made completely out of wood, after intense renovations which had to take place due to Catherine the Great’s decision to tear the building apart. Today, the palace is the host of interior events, and sometimes, on the 390 ha property there are music festivals. You can read more here.


Ritz Carlton*

Located at a one minute walk from Red Square, Ritz Carlton is also enjoying the largest hotel rooms in Moscow. At the same time, the hotel’s restaurant is being lead by a three Michelin stars chef and the hotel’s bar offers panoramic views over the capital. You may access more information here.

Petroff Palace*

A former palace owned by Catherine the Great in which they say Napoleon also slept in, the Palace has 43 rooms decorated with royal charm and benefiting from all modern comfort. During summertime, the most renowned soloists from the Bolshoi theatre are the stars of outdoor concerts in the Palace’s garden. More about its story here.


White Rabbit*

Voted as the best Russian restaurant, eating at the White Rabbit is deemed as an unforgettable experience. Focusing on local produce and reinterpretations of traditional dishes, the restaurant is memorable also due to its glass dome, from where you have amazing views to Moscow City, the modern business hotspot of the Russian Capital. For reservations click here.

Café Puschkin*

Hosted by a baroque mansion, the restaurant has been topping Moscow’s horeca charts since its opening in 1999. Appreciated both for its Russian and French gastronomies and for its sumptuous dining rooms (where there were once a bookshop and a pharmacy), the restaurant deserves a visit. More information here.

I hope you liked these recommendations and maybe they inspired you to pay Moscow a visit!

Article originally published in ELLE Romania, November 2017 issue, number 240.

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Laura Recommends

November and December Recommendations

December 23, 2017

Since December is close to an end, I decided to wrap up the previous two months in one neat article with my recommendations of books, movies, campaigns, events and more. I hope you’ll enjoy them and I would love hearing your recommendations as well!


Freakonomics – Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt

In the past weeks I finally managed to make ends meet and I read the book which started the whole Freakonomics phenomenon: the first book (originally published in 2005). If you remember, back in the September Recommendations article I shared one of my favourite episodes of Freakonomics Radio which was discussing universal languages and especially Esperanto. The book was very entertaining and it posed some very interesting, albeit dubious questions, which link sumo wrestlers to teachers, the impact of the names we receive from our parents on our success and so much more. A nice read to make you see things from different perspectives and link some elements you wouldn’t normally associate.

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

I previously read The Tipping Point by Gladwell and I really liked it so naturally I wanted to read more books written by him. I think I enjoyed Outliers even more and it has definitely influenced the way I see success now: indeed, it’s a lot of work and personal skills and dedication, but also plenty of additional factors that I previously didn’t consider so relevant or which I have overlooked. I really want to read Blink as well but I have received mixed recommendations so far. Anyone care to share their thoughts on it?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

I fought hard not to like this book. It seemed way too overhyped. But I was wrong. In the end, the title of the book received more than an explanation. To me, the book in itself stands as an illustration for the elegance of the hedgehog. Because sometimes the people and things which from outside look the most frightening or displeasing, end up winning us over with the treasures they hold inside.


Lessons from my grandfather – Arun Gandhi

This was an event organized by The School of Life Amsterdam in early November in which, yes, one of Mahatma Gandhi’s grandsons came to talk about continuing to spread the peaceful ways of his grandfather’s and promoting non-violent solutions in a world in which there seems to be increasingly more disputes. Arun Gandhi is an activist and author of several books such as Nonviolent Communication: A Language of life, Grandfather Gandhi, The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from my Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story. 

Christian Dior, Couturier du rêve

One of the presents for my birthday this year were tickets to this Parisian exhibit. My dad waited in line more than three hours in the December cold for us to get tickets as soon as possible and it was so worth it! I have seen quite a few fashion exhibits this year, but this one topped them all! They had an extensive collection of dresses worn by celebrities, old New Look deux-pieces and an entire rainbow room of miniature dresses and accessories.

This exhibit is open until the 7th of January, so if you really want to go, you still can!

At the Table with Nigella Lawson

This was another event organized by the School of Life Amsterdam in which the renowned cook and cookbook author Nigella Lawson came to talk about the more profound meaning of food and “its connection to pleasure, meaning, belonging and creativity”. I never thought talking about food could ever be this entertaining and above all, hilarious, but Nigella and the other hosts of the event proved me wrong. If you are interested in listening to a talk about food recorded between Nigella and Alain de Botton, the founder of The School of Life, click here.


Librairie Galignani, Paris

In 1801 this was the first library in continental Europe to sell books in English and it has been located in the same place on Rue de Rivoli since 1856. They have an impressive collection of “coffee table” books, which in my mind translates to 50×50 cm books weighting half of my weight which talk about Chanel design, contemporary jewelry making, French castles and gardens and more. Naturally, their selection of English books is an impossible-to-resist type of place.

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris 

Ever since it has been renovated, France’s National Library (locally known as BNF) has welcomed many visitors eager to be left stunned and maybe a bit jealous too since the studying area is one of the most beautiful I have seen so far (maybe tying with the Rijksmuseum Research Library). See what I mean here.



I recently came across this campaign which I couldn’t help sharing: #ReadToLead, initiated by Influencers on Facebook. The campaign challenges CEOs, leaders and heads of large communities to share what books have inspired them in 2017 or what helped them improve their business. So far, the CEOs of PayPal, Walmart,, Marriott Hotels and many more have joined the campaign with their lists, so you might want to check it out here.


I stumbled across a video about this company and my whole face lit up. They recycle billboards by turning them into surfboard bags, duffel bags, backpacks, fanny packs and wallets since billboards are made of colourful vinyl that can double as bag material. Since so many of these billboards end up in landfills, it is absolutely amazing that a company is repurposing already existing resources. Click here to watch a video about the company’s story or click here for their website.


While looking to buy a French magazine I missed while being in Paris, I found, an amazing website from where you can buy digital versions of most French magazine (so lifestyle, automobile, cooking, sports, fashion etc.) for less than the printed cost while also accessing older issues. How cool is this?! Also, they have a broad selection of British and Italian magazines, so you should definitely take a look at their website. P.S. They also carry a bunch of free magazines.

It seems like I am not the only one always thinking about which plane seat gets the best amount of light during a flight. I discovered this website which shows you which side of the plane you should stay in if you want as little light as possible or contrary, if you love some nice sunrays. Or, of course, you can always calculate the sun’s position by yourself, but I decided it’s good to double check :p

This has been all from me this year in what regards my recommendations. I certainly hope you enjoyed them and that maybe you found some new delights across the ideas I proposed. If you have not checked out the other Recommendation articles yet, you may find them below or in the Laura Recommends tab of the website.

I am wishing you a fantastic 2018, full of great books, films, cultural events, thoughtful conversations and anything else that enriches your mind!



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