2017: “The Worst Year Ever”

Before I start, I want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for sticking around and reading my content. Thank you for following my ever-growing Instagram account. Thank you for supporting my brand, Collectively Kaitlyn. I work so hard to produce the type of content you guys like reading and seeing and the type of content I am proud to display. Now, this blog post is going to be completely different. I won’t be talking about fashion, lifestyle tips, or crazy deals you need to snag. Instead, I’ll be talking about my year in review. What happened, where I went, what I did, and how I changed. So, keep reading if you’re interested and I hope by the end of this post you feel inspired to be your best self in 2018.


It’s hard to open up about your personal life on the internet, like, you have thousands of eyes judging you all at once, but, when you have a platform and a voice that you can use to help someone else, you need to use it. 2017 was amazing… in some aspects. I was promoted within my company, I traveled out of the country to the beautiful city of Toronto, I traveled to so many wonderful cities in the USA, a handful of my favorite friends got married, another handful got engaged, I had the opportunity to work with SO many absolutely awesome brands, I got to celebrate the many successes of friends and family, etc…

I felt alone. I felt numb. I felt nothing. 

Rewind to give you a very short, very quick, little background story. My entire life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression to an extent I just never knew it. It was always manageable or I always had so much going on in my life that I could push the anxiety away and completely forget about the emotions I felt. In 2016, I graduated college, after 6 years. I left a job I had loved for over 5 years. I became an alumni of my sorority. I went from working 9-5 in an office to working from home. I moved into a new house. Everything in my life was changing. I began to feel extremely withdrawn, sad … constantly sad, I stopped going to the gym which was always a positive outlet for me, I would cry for hours on end in my dark bedroom by myself completely unable to move. In late 2016, my depression and anxiety reached an all time high. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t even breathe most days. I wrote several letters to loved ones explaining why I simply couldn’t live my life anymore. I wanted to leave, leave all of the positive things I had surrounding me. I wanted nothing more than to crawl into a shell and never come out. The end of 2016 came and I felt like I had nothing to show for it. The anxiety was overpowering everything I tried to do all while taking everything I did have away from me. The depression was so severe I couldn’t be trusted to be alone. I felt like my life was completely unwrapping before my eyes and I had no control over it.

Fast forward to February 2017 – I was finally referred to a therapist who was willing to help me through all I had been dealing with on my own without prescribing medication to me. After months of talk therapy, I “graduated” from mark to severe to extreme in all categories (anxiety, depression, and panic disorder). My therapist told me she could no longer help me alone and that I needed to see a psychiatrist in tandem to meeting with her.

My heart sank into the ground.

I never wanted to be medicated. I had heard the horror stories of people gaining weight, becoming addicted, etc … and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with any of that. However, I went along with her recommendation. In August 2017, shortly after my 25th birthday, I met with a psychiatrist and was prescribed a medication to help me work through my feelings and to feel grounded. Against my will, I knew I needed this type of help. I knew I had let things go on for so long untreated that I needed to correct the imbalance happening within me. I’ve never been more thankful. I’m not “cured” and I may never be, but I can function like a normal human. I’m myself, actually, I’m better than I have been in a long time. The road is still rough and I’m not negligent to that but I can say that the view from where I am compared to where I was is magnificent.


2017 was a year of growth. I became dedicated to Collectively Kaitlyn and my passion for blogging was found once again. I found myself and I found something that makes me happy, creating content. I grew within my role at my company, even received another promotion! I nurtured true friendships and let go of friendships that no longer served me. I took time to be selfish and put myself first. I traveled, I experienced new things, and I tried to pick up new hobbies. I became friends with unexpected individuals both in person and via Instagram. I had my life touched by so many of you through kind words and encouraging comments. I’ve made connections with some of my favorite brands and public figures through my brand and I cannot express how eternally grateful I am for those opportunities.

2017 might have been hard but it most certainly wasn’t the worst year ever. In 2018, my goal is to continue to become the best version of myself that I possibly can be. I want to continue growing my brand, working hard to produce quality content, work with more brands I admire, excel in my career, put my mental health as a priority, and use my platform to help others who may also be struggling.

Wishing you the absolute best end to 2017 and the most amazing start in 2018! I have a blog post launching this weekend about “realistic resolutions” to have in the new year so be on the look out for that one.

Cheers to you and yours!

xx, Kaitlyn

Gift Guide #4: For Him

We allllllllll know guys wait until the last minute to let us know what they want for Christmas. So, no fear, I’ve linked some last minute items for your man, dad, brother, or grandpa that are sure to be a hit with any guy!


Native Union Charger Set

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Earlier this year, I was introduced to Native Union through my boyfriend after he forgot to pack our chargers as we were leaving our hotel room in Vegas (charger packing and tech things are his job — he took full responsibility!). Anyway, he immediately turned around to purchased these amazing chargers from Native Union and we’ve been hooked ever since! The best part is that Native Union sells a plethora of cables in all lengths and sizes!

MVMT Watches

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I absolutely love MVMT watches! They were founded on the ideals that style shouldn’t break the bank and that luxury can be affordable. These watches are some of the best quality for the money that I’ve ever seen. With so many styles, these are definitely going to be a hit with any guy on your list!

Jack Black Gift Set

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Jack Black has become one of the most requested items from the guys in my life! The gift sets are great for stocking stuffers or an all-in-one gift at an affordable price point.

Happy Socks

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Happy Socks are probably the funkiest, yet coolest dress sock on the market right now and, I mean, who doesn’t love getting fun socks these days?

Patagonia Quarter Zip

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Patagonias are not only practical, but on trend. If your guy isn’t into prints and designs, these quarter zips are the perfect alternative!

Chukka Boot

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Chukka boots have been a necessity with the guys I know. They’re stylist, go with so many outfits, and can be dressed up or dressed down. What more could you honestly want as a guy than a shoe that makes getting ready more effortless than it already is.

Sephora Cologne Sampler

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Possibly the best gift for picky guys on your list! With this gift set, they’re able to redeem a voucher for a cologne of their choice.

Slippers

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Men don’t always like to admit it but they love slippers just as much as women do. These Ugg slip on slippers are some of the comfiest you can buy and will make your man feel like he’s walking on a cloud!

Google Home or Google Wi-Fi

Google Home is a super convenient device to have in your home because you can do just about anything with a google home system. From playing a Spotify playlist to getting the answer to a perplexing question — google home has your man covered. Google Wi-Fi is an incredibly easy device to set up and syncs with an app to make managing it super simple.


Many of these items can be purchased on Amazon Prime, too! I hope this gift guide helps you navigate the tricky world of shopping for men.

Happy Holidays from me to you!

xx, Kaitlyn

Gift Guide #3: For The Person Who Has Everything

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Case App – With so many of the same, types of phone cases and laptop skins on the market, it’s often hard to find one that you haven’t seen 100 times before. If you’re shopping for someone who “has everything” chances are they probably have the latest and trendiest tech accessories. Well, Case App allows you to design and create your very own, customized phone cases and laptop skins! This means you complete and total creative freedom to really give that special person on your list exactly what they’re looking for. Use my code ” KAITLYN20 ” for 20% off until December 22nd!

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Amazon Prime subscription – With everything accessible at the touch of your finger tips, Amazon Prime has quickly become one of the most useful services to purchase. What better way to say, “Happy Holidays” than with a year of free Prime! The best thing about Amazon Prime is that having access to Prime doesn’t just mean fast shipping and awesome discounts. It also means having access to Amazon Movies and other fun Amazon features that are sure to bring delight for months to come!

Monthly Subscription Box – I am all about monthly subscriptions and I love giving them as gifts! I think it’s so fun to open a little present each month that gets delivered right to my door. Some of my favorite monthly subscription boxes include UnderClub Co, Hum Nutrition, and Sephora Play!. Let me dive a little deeper into each box and give you the low down on why I love them all.

1. UnderClub is a luxury underwear subscription service for women. They pride themselves on delivering the best products to women to help them start their day off feeling their absolute best. I love the high quality items I’ve received and I love how simple it is to try new products because they’re delivered to me each month. I highly recommend giving this subscription service a try! You can sign up for 3, 6, and 12 month services on their website! Grab your UnderClub gift here

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2. Hum Nutrition is a monthly vitamin subscription service that, in my opinion, trumps all the rest. I have been obsessed with Hum Nutrition for years and I absolutely love getting new products in the mail each month. The sign up process is super easy and literally as simple as 1, 2, 3 …! After signing up for a subscription, you’re paired with a nutritionist that helps guide you through your journey to better health. You can customize your monthly box each month which makes giving this subscription as a gift to someone who has everything, the best possible!

3. Play! by Sephora It’s no secret that I’m a long time Sephora lover. I’ve tried allll of the other makeup subscription boxes and, while I like them, none of them have ever compared to the value I find in my Play! by Sephora box. What I love most in comparison to other monthly makeup subscriptions in the same price range is that with Play! by Sephora you’re promised 6 of their best selling or hottest trending products. One of those products will be a perfume sample and the other five will be something that you’ll actually use instead of throwing in your sample drawer and forgetting about it. For only $10 per month, I think this is a steal!

The best thing about giving a subscription of monthly boxes to someone that has everything is that they’re getting something new each month.

S’well Bottles – I am obsessed with S’well bottles and I have amassed quite a collection … good for me but not good for my cupboards and to be quite honest, lack of storage space. Anyway, with so many different designs and sizes of S’well bottles, there’s sure to be something for everyone. The best thing about S’well bottles is that they encourages you to drink more water and who doesn’t want that? They’re perfect to take on an airplane, to a workout class, to the office, or even just to keep in your car to refill at your connivence.

Popsocket – THE MOST UNDERRATED PRODUCT OF 2017! I am in love with my popsocket and I truly cannot imagine going back to the days before I had a popsocket on my phone. You know; the days of laying in bed, looking at your phone, and dropping it on your forehead? Or, how about, trying to take the perfect group selfie but your phone slipping out of your hand and cracking your screen as it falls onto the cement? Sound familiar? With a popsocket, you’re able to stabilize your phone and give your poor pinky a rest while texting. Not to mention, for less than $15 you can completely customize your popsocket and give one of the most practical and meaningful gift this year!

Tile – Never lose your things ever again! This little device pairs with your phone via bluetooth to help you track down anything it is attached to. If your item is within a 100-foot bluetooth radius of your phone, Tile plays a loud tune until your find it. This is literally the best gift anyone could give in my option, because I can’t even count how many times I’ve lost my keys, purse, sunglass case, etc… and have wasted hours looking for items that were right in front of me all along.

An Experience – If you think about it, the reason why someone claims to “have everything” is because they’re just craving an experience or just itching to spend some quality time with you. Ticket to a concert, or a show like cirque du soleil, or a fun night out at a food and drink tasting festival are all really incredible gifts that can be shared together making memories.

 

xx, Kaitlyn

Gift Guide #2: For Her

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Okay, now ladies!! (yeah!)

Who got my reference? Travis Porter, anyone?

Girlfriends, gal pals, moms, grammies, aunts, sisters, sorority secret santa gifts, your boss — there are probably a ton of leading ladies in your life that are on your holiday shopping list this year and buying for them can often be difficult. Some have all that they need, some claim they don’t want anything (my grammy), and others have champagne taste while you’re stuck on a Miller Lite budget. Whatever the case may be, these gifts are sure to please all the girls in your life!

One of the best things about the holiday season is that soooooo many companies like Tarte, Glam Glow, L’Occitane, etc… come out with gift bundles of their best products or products launched specifically for the holidays. These gift sets are always on my Christmas list because the value is often too good to pass up.

Tarte Pout Pleasures Lip Set

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Glam Glow Let it Glow! Gift Set

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Peter Thomas Roth Ready, Set, Drench Gift Set

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L’Occitane Holiday Hand Cream Trio

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Sephora Favorites Travel Perfume Sampler Set

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I’m from Michigan, so, naturally, I enjoy being as cozy as humanly possible during the winter from my head to my feet. Here are a few of my favorite cozy essentials that I know will make any gal smile from ear to ear.

Ugg socks or slippers

Patagonia Re-Tool Pullover

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Love Your Melon Beanie

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Blanket Scarf

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Comfy Robe

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Home goods are practical presents all year long and I know I’m always on the look out for decor that will match the theme of my home.

Tic Tac Toe Set

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Bath and Body Works 3-wick Candles

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Pineapple Tumbler

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The holidays are a great time to receive jewelry that you wouldn’t normally purchase yourself. The best thing about buying jewelry for someone as a gift is that you get to combined their personal style with what you believe would look best. Sometimes that can be a little risky if the person you’re shopping for has specific taste but overall, it’s truly meaningful and after all, it’s the thought that counts.

Dogeared Necklace

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Initial Necklace

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Kendra Scott Danielle Earrings

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Coordinates Collection

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What are some items on your wish list this year?

 

xx, Kaitlyn

 

Gift Guide #1: Self-love

Happy December 1st! Can you believe that December 2017 is already here? Like, I’m still trying to get over the fact that 2005 was literally 12 years ago (who’s with me on that?). So, to welcome December with open arms, I’m kicking off the month with a series of themed gift guides for those special people in your life.

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Self-love is something that I take very seriously. I think it’s so important to take time out of each day to do something that fills you with joy, no matter what it is. Too often we forget to love ourselves first, we forget that we’re the only version of us that we’ll ever have. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, it’s critical to fill our souls with good energy. There are many ways to show yourself some good old self-love, I personally like to take time out of each day to decompress from the day and calm my mind. The best part is that, because there are so many ways to relax your body and mind, you’ll never have to fall into a stagnant routine.

One of the best ways to completely relax is to make a date with your favorite, local spa. I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Mojo Spa in Wicker Park to bring some of the best deals of the holiday season to my readers. Mojo prides itself on their handmade soaps, skincare, and cosmetics that are made in small batches with good-for-you ingredients and formed into fun, creative designs! This Chicago-based beauty company has shared their ideals of merging beauty and comfort with celebrity fans and customers all over the globe. For over ten years they have been manufacturing, developing, and testing their own recipes! I’m all about handmade products that are made with fresh ingredients which makes this collaboration with Mojo a perfect fit!

I received my very own pumpkin pie bath soap, which is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. The time, dedication, and attention to detail is just phenomenal! The best part about this soap is that it has anti-inflammatory benefits and is packed full of antioxidants.

With the holiday season in full swing, Mojo has launched their special Golden Ticket offer with any $200 in-store or online product purchase! A Golden Ticket could be anything from a $25 signature mani/pedi to 30% off products. This offer is only valid until December 24th so jump on this opportunity while you can!

If you’re a Chicagoland local, you can book a nail appointment at Mojo or stop by the store to pick up a few of their products. Gift sets are available for any occasion but especially for the holidays and at such reasonable price points. If you’re not local, no worries! They ship worldwide!

I am so excited to continue this gift guide series and I hope you are too! Other guides you should be on the look-out for include a gift guide for her, a gift guide for him, and a gift guide for the person who has everything! Happy Holidays!

xx, Kaitlyn

 

Guide to Cyber Monday!

Hey hey! I know I love Cyber Monday and I’m sure you do too! I’ve taken the time to find and link some of my favorite sales for you to enjoy. Happy shopping!

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Anthropologie — 20% off full priced items!

Asos — 30% off everything with code EPIC30

Banana Republic — 50% off everything!

Baublebar — 35% off everything with code CYBER35

Express — 50% off everything!

Free People — 50% off select items and an additional 25% off sale items

J.Crew — 40% off your purchase and an additional 10% off with code SHOPFAST

J.Crew Factory — 60% off everything!

Nordstrom — Extra 20% off selected items and up to 40% off designer collections

Red Dress Boutique — $10, $15, $20 Site Buster Deals

Show Me Your Mumu — 50% off selected items with code 50forMU

What are your favorite places to score deals?

 

xx, Kaitlyn

 

Black Friday Steals and Deals

When you think of Black Friday, some words that come to your mind are probably “chaotic” or “crazy, but I’m here to help you navigate some of the best deals you can score this year! Personally, I’m a huge fan of Black Friday. I love the thrill of finding deals, saving money, and buying gifts for others (… and myself, of course)! When I’m Black Friday shopping there are a few places I always, always have to hit up because the deals are usually unreal. I’m going to walk you through three places I know I’ll be headed this Friday.

One of the first places I head to is always Target. Target is amazing all year long, but, Target always has the best Black Friday deals. I’ve compiled a list of some of the items I’m most excited to get my hands on for friends and family this year.

Fitbit Charge 2 – $99.95 which is a savings of $50

Beats Studio2 Wireless headphones – $159.99 which is a savings of $220

iRobot Roomba 614 robotic vacuum – $199.99 which is a savings of $100

Ninja Professional kitchen system – $99.99 which is a savings of $100

Threshold fuzzy blankets – $18 which is a savings of $21.99

Google Home – $79 which is a savings of $50


*** I have a $300 Target giftcard giveaway live on my Instagram right now (ending 11/22/17). Feel free to enter here! ***

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The next store I always head to is Express. I typically stray away from Express just based on the price for the quality but Express always runs a 50% off everything deal during Black Friday. This is a great time to stock up on sweaters and other layering pieces! Here are some of my favorite items included in the sale!

Extreme Circle Hem Cowl Neck Sweater – $34.95 normally $69.90

Editor Pick Cold Shoulder Sweater – $29.95 normally $59.90

Off The Shoulder Balloon Sleeve Sweater Dress – $34.95 normally $69.90

(Minus The) Leather Jacket – $64 normally $128


I’m all about being able to buy gifts for friends that I know they’ll love and Sephora is always on the top of my go-to list, especially during Black Friday. I can find so many small add-ons to gifts that are affordable and practical. A lot of the best deals at Sephora can be found online or on their app which is where I head to avoid crowds and be an efficient shopper. Here are some of the items in my shopping cart!

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – $15 normally $42

Benefit Bestseller Blowout – $15 normally $43

Bite Beauty Mini Multistick Duo – $15 normally $20


Are you Black Friday shopping? What are some stores on your go-to list? Let me know in the comments.

xx, Kaitlyn

 

NASH-ing!

Hey hey! Before I get into the blog for today, I wanted to touch on something I think is so important. I took a little time away from my blog to focus on some self-love. I think unplugging and removing yourself from the internet is so incredibly important especially if being online all the time (social media included) is a huge part of your job and one of your favorite hobbies. It’s perfectly okay to take a step back whenever you feel the urge to because there’s only one of you and you need to take care of yourself! One of my favorite self-love books to read when I’m trying to detox from the chaos of the internet is Light is the New Black. I linked it for ya, so feel free to check it out!


Okay, on into the goods. One of the things I love most about traveling is experiencing the sense of community a new city has to offer. I adore the feeling of being surrounded by people who just absolutely enjoy the place in which they live. It’s empowering! Recently, you all know I visited Nashville and I saw these adorable NASH hats at a boutique in The Gulch. I absolutely needed one! In addition to hats, there were tees and tanks with the words NASH or VILLE on them, cute right?. These simple yet oh so chic items won me over immediately. I had to learn more about this brand and that’s when I knew I needed to know more about how this company blossomed.

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The Nash Collection was started based on the lack of non-cheesey, chic, souvenir-type apparel items in Nashville. Aside from pleasing the tourists, there was a serious need for locals to feel a sense of identity with their city. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to talk one on one with Laci, the founder of The Nash Collection. Before launching The Nash Collection, Laci was able to do some recon through a boutique called Revv in Nashville to determine just how strong the demand was and, because of that, was able to deliver the products so many customers were dying to have. Their first round of NASH hats hit the shelves at Revv in July 2016 and it’s been a booming market ever since! One of the coolest aspects about The Nash Collection is most of their items are unisex so it’s not geared towards one specific gender.

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While I’m not a local to the Nashville area, I do feel at “home” when I’m there. Is that weird? Do you ever have that feeling like you’re just supposed to be somewhere? Nashville is truly such an inviting city with so many quirks and a whole lot of spunk. Not to mention tons (literally because they’re building so many new buildings with tons of metal, haha) and tons of new developments popping up all over the city. Nashville is an emerging, growing city with thousands of individuals and families moving to the area each month. Talk about an awesome influx!

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So, maybe you’re not in Nashville and maybe you have no desire to move there. Well, have no fear because The Nash Collection has expanded beyond Nashville and has plans in the future to keep expanding their brand. The best thing about this collection is the fact that you can sport these pieces literally any time of the day. If it’s at the gym, pool side, or throwing a VILLE tank on with a cardigan to run errands – there’s something for everyone! Be sure to check them out online and see what cities they’ve already expanded to. The Nash Collection didn’t just create a brand, they created a lifestyle!

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xx, Kaitlyn

 

Amelia’s Flower Truck

Hey, hey! Long time no chat. I’m back from my spontaneous trip to Nashville and I must say, I already miss it. Whenever I visit a city I like to get the local’s perspective paired with a few touristy things (peep my #WhatLiftsYou picture on my Instagram, for example). One of the items that was on my list of things to do was to visit Amelia’s Flower Truck. I’ve seen Amelia’s all over Instagram and I had heard about it from a few friends so I knew I had to experience this ultra cute flower truck myself.

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First, I had to figure out which part of Nashville Amelia’s was going to be in on the day I went. I originally thought this was going to be slightly challenging but Amelia’s website makes finding the truck locations so incredibly easy with an interactive calendar of events. A fun fact about Amelia’s is that each flower truck has a name; Amy, Melody, and Rory. Adorable, right?!

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Image above from Amelia’s Flower Truck

Upon arriving, it started to down pour. Like, I’m talking literal buckets of rain were falling from the sky. None the less, I was blown away by the line of people waiting for their opportunity to pick a bouquet of flowers even in the rain. Once I got up to the truck, I saw one singular sunflower left and I immediately grabbed it. Sunflowers are my all-time favorite flower so I knew I had to have it in my DIY bouquet. I arrived a little later in the day so the selection of flowers had dwindled a bit but I took that as a good sign of how much locals and visitors absolutely love to support Amelia’s.

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The owner was super sweet and offered help if I needed any assistance crafting my perfect bundle of flowers. The prices were marked per stem and were all more than reasonably priced. Once I had my goodies, they were trimmed and wrapped up for me in the most simple, yet boho chic way.

Honestly, I was so impressed. I loved the bouquet I picked because it was completely unique which is something that has always been important to me when it comes to flowers. I’ve never been the typical, “I want red roses”, girl and Amelia’s was the perfect place for me to be able to express my creativity by creating my own bouquet.

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The best part? These beauties were troopers and even made it 8 hours in the car all the way back to Michigan with me! If you’re ever in Nashville, I highly recommend checking out Amelia’s and getting yourself or your loved ones a special, unique-to-you bouquet. I know I’ll be back during my next visit!

What’s your favorite part about visiting a different city? 

xx, Kaitlyn