I Rented an Hermès Birkin Bag From This New Chicago Start-Up

A Chanel bag. A Birkin bag. That sounds like a dream closet. Just like you can live in a dream house for a week with Airbnb, you can walk around with a thousand dollar bag – or like I did –  with a $19K Birkin Bag for two weeks with the new Chicago startup, DesignerShare.

“Women love to bond over this idea of sharing their clothes and accessories with one another,” Sarah Perkins, Co-Founder of DesignerShare, the first peer-to-peer marketplace for women to rent their designer clothing and accessories in Chicago.

We’ve all envied our friends closet at one point or another – or borrowed a friend’s shirt or a sister’s earrings. But, it becomes another level when that closet includes Chanel and Hermès.

Windy City Cosmo sat down the Co-Founder of DesignerShare to learn about how some of the most coveted items in fashion are now being shared with other women in Chicago. And then, I share my experience with the service and what it was like to rent a $19K Birkin bag for a two-week vacation.

View this post on Instagram

I’m ready for the weekend! Who’s with me? 👋

A post shared by Allie Barke (@alliesfashionalley) on

 

The Story Behind The Chicago Start-Up:

DesignerShare started with a problem, as most startups begin. In college, Sarah Perkins had too many sorority formals to attend and not enough outfits. So, she borrowed from her friend’s wardrobes – something that resonates with a lot of women.

Rent the Runway was actually starting when Perkins was in college and she thought “I’ve done this. I just haven’t monetized it yet.”

There are other places you can rent handbags and shoes and clothes from – but all designer, and all from your peers? Nope.

Monetizing an Idea:

Having an idea is great, but finding an idea to fund it is another story. Windy City Cosmo has spoken with a bunch of female entrepreneurs. Some reach out to their network and alumni like this 3D printing jewelry start-up and some do a mix of e-mail outreach and venture capital funding, which is what DesignerShare did.

For pricing, they looked at their competitors and other sharing economy companies. They did a heavy pricing analyst.

Sarah shared the mentality, “We want everything and we want it now. We want it cheap. But people will pay for the convenience. We really focus on being fast and efficient and wanting to make sure the experience was everything she wanted.”

The start-up had an office in 1871 and used some of their resources to grow their business. They also did rounds of venture funding and used PR to gain exposure. So far, they have several articles on sites like The Chicago Tribue and DNAinfo.

They even held a  runway event at the rooftop at The Godfrey Hotel in October 2017 with other entrepreneurs like makeup and hair startup for employee perks, The Lisa App. 

Finding Balance as an Entrepreneur:

Business wise it’s always a journey. How do you grow your brand and also stay sane?

“I was raised to have a lot of balance,” Sarah Perkins shared, “I go to bed by 10 pm and I wake up at 6 am to work out. I am non-functional if I don’t get enough sleep. I take the longest naps on the weekend.”

“I haven’t gone on vacation in 8 months. I think January I’ll have a few days.”

GirlBoss Was Right: Customer Service is Important:

“We don’t want to be mean girls. We want to be the friendliest shopping,” Sarah Perkins shared.

“No one wants to leave home. I’ve delivered to a girl at happy hour,” Sarah Perkins shared. “I walk into Monks Pub in the loop. It’s a very old bar. It’s one of those places with peanuts in the bar. And I show up and say ‘here’s your clutch for her friends birthday party this weekend.’ The customer said, ‘look at this customer service, you’re delivering to me while I’m having beers!'”

And the craziest part of the story is that Sarah is allergic to peanuts. So, she literally had to find the client, deliver the designer item, and leave before having an allergic reaction.

The customer said look at this customer service, you’re delivering to me while I’m having beers!

It’s not always delivery that equates to great customer service. Sarah Perkins describes a situation where one client was unhappy with a bag and within 2-3 hours they got her a new one.

The Dream Closet:

DesignerShare has expanded to 800 users and 700 pieces. Some notable items include Dyanasua bag from Gucci and two Birkin Bags.

Women Using DesignerShare:

“We really want women to look and feel great on a regular basis. We focus on the problem of people feel scrutiny in how they look, ” Sarah Perkins shared.

Clients use DesignerShare for a number of reasons  – sometimes it’s a birthday party or a vacation where women want to rent a bag or a dress.

Today, with the need to constantly go out and do photo shoots for blogging and business, it can get overwhelming (and expensive) to constantly update your closet. Chicago fashion blogger, Caitlin Patton shared in a recent blog post, “Personally, I don’t have the time or money to be spending thousands of dollars on new clothes just to take pictures in…”

It goes beyond photo shoots – sometimes it’s having a nice bag for a corporate event or an interview that can help give women a confidence boost.

Sarah also eluded to other times you want to look your best for – “like when you see your ex for the first time, you’ve got to turn it up.”

My Experience Renting a $19K Birkin Bag:

I rented a Birkin Bag – something I learned about from Gilmore Girls about and was like – who can afford a $19K Birkin bag?

Well, for two weeks, I got to be that person. And I couldn’t believe it. It’s fun to play dress up when you’re a kid – I use to make clothes out of sheets and wear clip-on earrings. But to actually play dress up from a dream closet as an adult was surreal.

I got to take it with me to visit my family in Boca Raton, Florida and then on a mini vacation to Orlando Florida for Mickey Christmas. And then I went to the Bahamas and took it with me as I had a few drinks with friends at the Bah Mar Resort. It was really nice to dress up my casual sundress and beachy vibes with a designer purse. But it also felt weird. My entire life and business worth cost less than this bag – so I tried to only take it out to classy places.

Let’s be real, a Birkin bag costs anywhere from $12,000 – $223,000, according to Fortune. I am so not used to walking around with something so valuable – it was a gift as much as it was a curse. There’s something different about renting an item from a person rather than from a company. It’s like when you spill coffee on your sister’s shirt – you know she’s going to be mad because it’s her favorite shirt. Well, I felt that liability when I rented this handbag.

The best part of my experience was customer service. I was speaking at a conference in the morning. Sarah had texted me about renting a bag. I literally got off stage and she found me a Birkin bag. On top of that, I was only home for an hour to grab my luggage and get to the airport. DesignerShare was able to work out all the logistics and deliver the bag on time so I could catch my flight.

The service was so personal and fast-paced. DesignerShare acts as a middleman between the borrower and the lender. They coordinate drop-offs by hand – without a scheduling app. They partner with Lyft to drop off and pick-up the luxury item and then they partner with Tide Spin for dry cleaning to return the item in the best shape back to the lender.

DesignerShare Empowers Women to Be Entrepreneurs:

What’s great about DesignerShare is that the women lending their items are like entrepreneurs. DesignerShare can help women take photos and they offer a suggested pricing model, which is 10 percent of the original worth of the item. But ultimately, a lender can deny or accept a request and they price their goods.

Lenders enjoy putting their closet to good use and earning money when they’re not wearing the items. We all can’t wear all our clothes at the same time.

Learn More:

To learn more about DesignerShare, you can visit their website here. 

DesignerShare had an office at 1871, an incubator in Chicago. 1871 offers events regularly and spaces for start-ups, you can learn more about their weekly events here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

Follow:

A Good Laugh About Stand Up Comedians: HBO Crashing Season Two

**There might be spoilers.

If you’re looking for a good laugh this hibernating season, I have some exciting news – HBO’s Crashing Season Two airs Sunday, January 14, 2018. The show feels so real you can’t help to feel empathy for the main character, but at the same time laugh at the average day the show takes you through.

TV should entertain or inspire or tell a story worth telling. We’re so used to it being background noise or an excuse to hookup. That’s how I felt – I couldn’t get into TV. When I went to the pre-screening of HBO in Chicago, IL with the A. V. Club, I was surprised to learn that within the first few minutes of HBO’s Crashing, I was hooked.

Crashing is a comedy produced by Judd Apatow’s Girls, and stand-up comedian, Pete Holmes about the fictional character Pete Holmes, an aspiring stand-up comedian, whose life has been upturned by his wife’s affair. It follows Pete Holmes through his day job at Cold Stone Creamery and then his stand up show at night and then him crashing at various people’s homes as he tries to get back on his feet.

HBO Tells It Like It Is:

I think what I loved about this show was what HBO does best – tell it like it is. It’s what I loved about their other show, Insecure. But, that’s another post.

View this post on Instagram

To stay in or to crash on a Saturday night – that is the question. Season 2 of Crashing is tomorrow night on @hbo. I’m so nervous about comedy #tvshows because I never find them funny but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud during the Cold Stone scene. I had more fun crawling up in this bed laughing at the hilarious life of stand up comedians with chicken and waffles (and a bar behind me) than I have in awhile. We all need to rent out furniture stores for parties. 💁🏻‍♀️#willworkforchampagne #HBO #peteholmes . . . #weliketoparty #happy #chicago #chigram #instagood #blogger #havefun #explorechicago #downtown #sogood #chitown #bloggerlife #behappy #ootd #girlboss #citychic #boots #outiftgram #jumpingonthebed

A post shared by Windy City Cosmo | 🍸🎈💁🏻‍♀️💋 (@windycitycosmo) on

Pete Holmes is living a (below) average American life. He has a day job at Cold Stone Creamery. You can feel his pain when a dad tries to tip him a dollar and he insists – please don’t tip me a dollar. And what happens next had me practically spitting out my champagne. You’ll just have to watch.

During Season Two, Episode One of Crashing, Pete sleeps with Ali, a fellow aspiring stand up comedian. After their hookup, he lingers and thinks it means more than what it was – a one night stand. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to hookup with someone and then in the morning have to creatively suggest how to get them out of your bed – this cringeworthy scene is for you.

After we watched the last episode of Crashing Season One and the first episode of Crashing Season Two, we were treated to a moderated Q&A with Pete Holmes and Jamie Lee by Marah Eakin, Senior Editor, The A.V. Club.

Pete Holmes shared that this show is actually based-off his divorce from his wife. And he really did have an awkward encounter with the first person he slept with after his divorce. I found this so interesting and more excited to watch since I share dating stories on Windy City Cosmo and my new podcast, Ok Cool, based off my life.

Preview of Crashing Season Two: 

Crashing Image

With the help of Ali, a fellow rising comic, Pete explores the alternative comedy scene, a world of comedy nerds, apartment shows and no-drink minimums, where he begins to thrive. As he continues to lean on the hospitality of comedy greats, Pete explores all types of comedy, from benefit  shows to the college market to roast battles. These diverse encounters test his enthusiasm and optimism, but also promise to make him a better comedian as he tries to survive the competitive world of New York stand-up.

Pre-Screening Party:

To celebrate the second season, Windy City Cosmo joined The A.V. Club and HBO for a party at a rented out furniture store because the only way to watch a tv show is on comfortable beds and couches.

It was definitely a new way of networking to sit in bed and be like, “can I join you?” while we talked about serious matters like freelance writers affected by Facebook and Instagram’s changing algorithms which have shut down publications. The juxtaposition made the night awkward and funny like the show.

Besides good people, there was also good food. I picked the bed with the bar behind it so I had champagne basically poured to me from bed. I feel like everyone should put a bar in their bedroom, but that might be dangerous.

We also had a full breakfast bar – amazing chicken and waffles, an extensive chocolate and glazed donut wall, and milk in various cereal flavors. The milk was definitely weird – it tasted as if I just had a bowl of fruit loops without the fruit loops.

If you’re going to watch Crashing, I suggest doing breakfast for dinner. It airs on Sunday, which is a nice day to relax and maybe make some mimosas and eggs while experiencing the life of a stand up comedian, Pete Holmes.

Cheers and happy hibernating!

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

Follow:

What’s a Typical Day for a Blogger?

So, what do bloggers do besides look amazing in photos and get facials?

One of the scariest and coolest parts about being a blogger is that you get to make your own schedule.

The thing is that it can either be a full day or a light day depending on how many brands you’re working with or events you have.

Unlike a job where you are assigned your work, as a blogger you have to create your work.

I run Windy City Cosmo, so I have to develop the content calendar, reach out to experts and entrepreneurs, interview, and write articles and then promote them and my brand.

I’m going to go through some of the aspects of blogging and then give you a one minute recap of what a typical day looks like for bloggers.

Content Creation

Content creation is one of my favorite aspects of blogging, and I’m currently looking for a full time job in that area.

There’s many ways to come up with content ideas. I look at the different areas that my blog covers – beauty/health, building relationships, food/bar/travel scene and how to grow a business. I like to find events or people to interview for each of these topics.

Usually, I look at magazines like CS magazine or TimeOut Chicago. I also receive Google Alerts. And I subscribe to publications and organizations with similar beats like the tech and entrepreneurial news from ChicagoInno, 1871, Women Tech Founders and Built in Chicago, or the global beauty and business brands and bloggers like Marie Claire and Forbes and On-Air Beauty Expert, Deepica Mutyala, as well as connecting with people in these areas like my interview with the former editor of Vogue. I also join local Chicago groups like Creative Women’s Co. which I’ve volunteered for their events (they also have a great podcast), or Ms. Tech which I’ve covered for Windy City Cosmo, and I’ve written for them.

Then, I also think about ideas or events that I would be interested in and what might be good for that time of the year. I like to think in terms of season or holidays, but’s it’s also so important to think about evergreen content – content that is relevant all year round.

Keywords and Relevance

When I think about writing an article, I have to think of what people are searching for as well. Writing for the web is kindof like filing except you want to make sure you write something engaging not just robotic. (Hint: start with the headline). There’s a system created by Google and it’s called SEO – search engine optimization. If you label your document correctly (through your title and keywords in your post), people will know it’s relevant when they search for it. It becomes more relevant when you link to other documents/articles, and even more relevant when people share it and talk about it. You can learn some more tips about SEO here. One of my favorite authors about the subject is Orbit Media.

When I write an article I think about the specific topic I’m addressing and if it will be relevant and if it is worth filing away for reference. The only caveat is if it’s timely. I’ve learned that it’s hard to compete with bigger brands when it comes to timely news – but just because you can’t break the news, you can create a voice and opinion from that news. People like Luvvie from Awesomely Luvvie have grown their audience from doing that and writing for popular websites.

Photos

Photos are an important part of blogging. This can be the main part of blogging for some bloggers. They will have photo shoots almost everyday or spend a Saturday shooting looks for the week.

Most bloggers with recommend Canva which helps you easily create pictures for your blog. For photo editing, people use different apps. I’ve enjoyed Snapseed, which I learned about from a fashion designer.

Writing a Post

Writing an article can take awhile. There’s a lot of aspects to creating content and writing can sometimes be the hardest for bloggers. The main parts of the article to focus on is the intro and the headline and having a keyword. But, also don’t neglect the conclusion and how someone would share or learn from your post. Hubspot has a great class about how to create content for different mediums. I learned about how to take one post and truly reuse the content to get more traffic.

Another overlooked part of blogging is editing. I will recommend Grammarly for editing. If you don’t have someone who can look at your work, Grammarly can be that free extra set of eyes. It’s a Chrome plug-in that you can use on WordPress or even for your emails and social media posts.

Testing Content

I’ve read a lot of tips from other bloggers and also followed them. I learned that having a theme or style whether that’s your Instagram filter or tone on your blog have helped them to grow their following. If you look at Once Upon a Dollhouse, a blog about two best friends, they are always wearing creative outfits like twin. Chicago blogger, Emma Lenhart has a similar filter in all of her Instagram filters and she talks about her process here.

Bloggers also experiment with their posts. For Instance, Macy Stucke found out that her pictures would get reposted if she was at a crosswalk. In a podcast I’ve listened to The Chris Loves Julia Podcast and Julia talks about how she would post a few different photos to figure out what her audience liked. For instance she would post a photo of a room and then she would post a photo of someone in the room to see what had more engagement on Instagram. A huge part of creating content as a blogger is testing content.

Events: Hosting or Attending

One of the best parts of blogging is meeting new people. To do this, you go to events or you create your own and invite others.

Some bloggers are know for their events like Once Upon a Dollhouse threw an amazing Friendsgiving at The Four Seasons.

A lot of bloggers simply go to events. I average anywhere from an event a week to four events a night depending on my schedule. Some of my favorite events was a staycation in Rosemont or a cocktail party with The Everygirl at Celeste or the Popculture themed real estate party.

Gaining a Following from Social Media

Another main aspect of blogging is social media. I spend about an hour to well, I really don’t want to admit how much time I spend on social media a day. I’m primarily on Instagram or Snapchat and Facebook and then I also go on LinkedIn and Twitter. Some of the main things I do on these platforms is follow bloggers like me or people I want to connect with for articles or events or brand sponsorships (so PR).

Then I also reach out to my followers and see who they are following. I spend a good chunk looking at content and using that to think of my own brand.

Another thing I use social media for is outreach. I write comments and I go to other websites and read and comment on articles. I think when I first started blogging I was so focused on my content, but now I realize three years later that caring about other people’s content and learning about your followers helps you build a more engaged brand.

How to Make a Business from Blogging:

While writing for my blog and going to events is fun, I’ve really wanted to turn my passion into a profit. I have to make blogging a business by applying for speaking opportunities and networking and working with brands for sponsorships. Other ways bloggers make money is through affiliate links, coaching bloggers in how to blog, freelancing and managing brands social media profiles.

Sometimes I join blogger groups, but I also go to a lot of events and my relationships with PR people from when I was a journalist have really helped me grow my brand. From that, I’ve met some great PR people at parties and on social media.

Making Connections Through Social Media and Email Marketing

One of the key ways to connect is either going to parties and running into the same people and also combining that with social media and email marketing. One of my tips is to find people going to the same party as you and connecting with them before the event on social media. You’ll be surprised that people look for you at the party when you follow them and drop a line. I also connect with people after a party by using the Instagram Geo filter to see who tagged photos or by using the hashtag.

Another good way to follow-up is by email. I have a few templates I use. You want to include a blurb about your blog and how you can help each other. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying – hey, I’m a blogger. I cover this beat. I’d love to know more about the brands you’re working with and how I might be able to help your clients reach their target markets.

It’s also good to see which brands are working with bloggers. You’ll notice that Chicago bloggers like Emma Lenhart and LincolnParkMin have sponsorships with Glossier.

Other sides of the blogging business include setting my rates and invoicing.

Understanding Algorithms and Social Media Rules

Another aspect of being a blogger is reading about new algorithms on Facebook or Instagram. A lot of fellow bloggers have been shadow banned which means their post won’t show up in the hashtag feeds because Instagram feels that they violated their terms of use. Chicagogrammers, a Chicago based Instagram community, has a weekly newsletter about Instagram influenced trends and regulations.

A Blogger’s Daily Life

Below is a one minute video of what my Monday schedule looks like.

There’s a lot of aspects to blogging. I don’t do all of these tasks everyday, but I do touch on them in some form or another. I know bloggers who delegate their tasks or who build a team and others like me who do everything themselves and sometimes have guest contributions.

What’s your favorite part about blogging?

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

Follow:

You’re Ordering Your Coffee Wrong, 3 Tips To Change That

Have you ordered a bad cup of coffee? We all have gone to a restaurant, ordered something that didn’t taste good and then never went back cc: Yelp reviews. But maybe it wasn’t the restaurant, maybe it was us.

See, we all have different taste buds and preferences. So, when you ask a server, “what do you recommend?” it will be based on their preferences – not yours.

We sat down with Al Liu, Vice President of Coffee at Colectivo Coffee, a Milwaukee-based coffee shop opening its second location in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood (2261 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.

How to Order Coffee For Your Tastebuds:

Here are some tips to help you understand how you like your cup of coffee.

At Colectivo Coffee, they label their coffee with three indicators – RBA: Roast, Body, Acidity. We’re going to walk through all three to help you pick the right cup of coffee for you.

img_2598

The Coffee Roast:

“I like medium roasts,” I tell the barista.

Honestly, I don’t even know what that means – I guess that I am a person who doesn’t know what she likes, so she stays in the middle.

I like to think of roasts as where you end up than where you start. See, roasts indicate a few things.

So, when you say you like a light roast, you want more caffeine and more acidity in your cup of coffee.

img_2582

The Mint Matcha Latte is one of Colectivo’s most popular seasonal drink. Look for a “Cold Fashion” near New Year’s at the Logan Square location. It’s a cold brew coffee version of one of Milwaukee’s favorite cocktails.

The Coffee Body:

Next, we move on to the coffee’s body. This indicates the richness.

Al Liu compared it to milk, which ranges from Skim milk through Whole Milk. Skim milk is lighter and Whole milk is heavier and more filling.

When you sip a cup of coffee, let it sit on your tongue. How does it feel? Coffee with less body will be lighter (in terms of weight) and coffee with more body will be heavier.

At Colectivo, their Guatemalan coffee has less body, while their Brazilian coffee has a heavier body.

For coffee aficionados, acidity is described as “smooth” for lower acidity and “bright” for more acidic blends.

For me, I also noticed that this translated into the taste of the cup of coffee. The Brazilian coffee was more flavorful – I could pick up on nutty aromas. The Guatemalan coffee was lighter and when I took a sip of the Brazilian compared to the Guatemalan coffee, the Guatemala coffee was weaker to me. It didn’t taste as strong as the Brazilian blend.

The Coffee Acidity:

Interestingly enough, coffee acidity doesn’t indicate the pH balance. It’s a sensation that you feel on your tongue.

Take a sip of coffee and let it sit on your tongue. Once you’ve swallowed it, notice if there is a sensation on the back of your tongue. The stronger the sensation, the more acidic the cup of coffee.

In my coffee tasting at Colectivo, I noticed that I preferred coffee with less acidity.

 

img_2611

Al Liu, Vice President of Coffee at Colectivo Coffee, with Amanda Elliott, Founder of Windy City Cosmo, for Colectivo’s Logan Square opening.

 

Conclusion:

After sampling a few different blends, I realized that I like coffee with less acidity and a fuller body. So, while I came in asking for a medium roast, I should have ordered a darker roast.

Note that different coffee shops have different scales of roasts. So, a light roast coffee at Starbucks won’t be the same as a light roast coffee at Colectivo. Pay attention to the acidity and body of the blend, which will be a better guide.

Coffee Flavor:

The last detail to consider is flavor. Coffee’s flavor changes based on location. In Guatemala, for instance, there are three different coffee regions. In the highland regions of Guatemala, Huehuetenango coffee is grown, which has a fruity flavor.

One of the most popular blends for more than twenty years at Colectivo is the Blue Heeler, Sumatra blend.  Sumatra blends generally have a  heavier body and lower acidity, and they have spice which can range from roasted bell pepper to sweet tobacco, sometimes.

Pro Tip: If you do pick up a bag of coffee from Colectivo, they come as coffee beans. You can ask the barista to grind your coffee for you.

Colectivo Coffee Shop Opens in Logan Square:

Colectivo Coffee shop opens December 20, 2017, in Logan Square, its second location in Chicago, IL. The new cafe features an outdoor patio and year-round fire pit, operable floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and Colectivo’s signature unexpected design touches throughout, like vintage industrial mixing bowls transformed into indoor hanging planters.

Logan Square will offer a full menu of Session Roasted coffees, Colectivo Keg Co. house beers, Letterbox Fine Teas, made from scratch & delivered fresh daily Troubadour bakery items, all-day breakfast, and signature sandwiches made on slow-made bread.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

Follow:

Disney is Still Magical: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas

It was magical. Thats how I felt watching the fireworks burst over Disney’s Castle at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL. Magic is what Disney and in this case, Mickey does best at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas.

I took a trip with my sister’s family to Walt Disney World to get in the Christmas spirit. It was my first time at Magic Kingdom as an adult and it was quite the experience.

We were only there for one night – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I had no expectations about lines or food or kids running around. Usually, the world is my amusement park – I love visiting cities like Seattle and LA. So trading in hiking and skyscrapers for Mickey ears and roller coasters is new to me.

Dressing Up for Mickey:

But it’s not new to everyone. From the moment we were in the parking lot – we saw the outfits and the Mickey ears and the t-shirts. This was a costume party and everyone couldn’t wait to meet their host – Mickey.

Even some of my favorite Chicago bloggers were going to Disney for the holidays.

But let me tell you, it took parking, a transit corral, and from there a train or a boat, and then a finger scan – yes they scanned our finger – to get into this party. Writing this makes me think the experience was similar to a James Bond film in slow motion. Que Trey Songz.

I think the Magic began on the boat when I saw the Disney castle. I don’t know if it was seeing Beauty and The Beast this year but I became a little girl inside seeing the iconic castle.

If You’re Going to Wing It – Here’s a ProTip:

From the moment you scan your finger, you enter into this magical space.

The first thing we did was read an article to with tons of tips. One of those tips was to make sure we had a plan. We had no plan unlike this guy. The other was to get the Disney Parks app. It tells you vital information like wait time for rides and for people like me who walk in the wrong direction, it’s the Google Maps for Disney.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party started at 7 pm but you could enter as early as 4 pm.

When we got to the theme park, we started with an easy ride – Swiss Family Treehouse – which is like walking in a well-built tree house. There was no wait and we got to see a great view of the Disney Castle. If you haven’t read the book, The Swiss Family Robinson about the shipwrecked family – it’s kind of fascinating. It goes in depth in how they used their resources on the island to survive.

Next, was dinner time! You could tell the theme park was probably at half the capacity because we could grab a table and eat with little commotion. They shutdown the park early for regular guests so that there were less crowds. Pro tip: you can bring your own food into Disney and I highly reccomend it, but also the Lobster Roll was on point.

Waiting in Line:

We then walked to our first ride – the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – where you drop and turn through a haunted gold mining town. I was with my 5 year old nephew and we were so close to being next in line when he had to go to the bathroom. This is the part where I emphasize with parents taking kids to Disney. The wait time during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas was fantastic. We literally only waited 10 minutes to go on rides. I cants imagine having to wait for an hour and then your kid had a bathroom emergency.

So, this is the part where I go on my first roller coaster this year and I’m so glad my nephew wasn’t there to hear me scream (some obscenities). Honestly, right turns, dark tunnels and the fear of the unknown had me dropping more f*bombs.

My nephew and his dad came back and we were ready for round two. Well, this was my nephew’s first roller coaster and he didn’t like it.

So, after that, we had to think of something besides rides. We tried to get him on the Magic Carpet ride but it was too soon. I personally loved the Magic Carpet ride. We got to fly pretty high but the speed was slower so it was like a horizontal Ferris Wheel. It was low key and nice.

The Mickey Parade:

Up next, we went back to the Disney castle and saw the end of the Mickey show. One of the biggest events of the night was the Mickey parade. We waited with tired kids and rows of strollers and then it began. There were flips. There was the muffin man and Snow White. There was Aladdin and the Beast. And last but not least, there was Santa reading off names of boys and girls. Everyone was happy – all the performers had an extra bounce in their step and a forever smile on their face.

Fireworks Over The Disney Castle:

We finished the night in Tomorrowland at an underwhelming car ride. Our lips were blue from the free blue snow cones and we caught a second wave of energy from the dancing polar beers. We walked past the spinning tea cups and met back at the Disney Castle with a fireworks finale. The streets were lined and the iPhones we’re up as the Disney Castle lit up with shooting fireworks. My nephew was tired and so were a lot of kids at 10 pm. As we headed towards the exit and I saw the last firework fade, snow started falling from the sky. I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment. Thinking about how perfect and magical it felt.

We followed the parents who were walking with their kids fast asleep and hanging onto them. We took the ferry and then as we went on the trolley back to our car my nephew out his hands up in the air like we were on a rollercoaster.

We finished the night at the 24 hour drive thru Starbucks for some hot cocoa and then fell asleep too fast.

Disney: Why It’s The Happiest Place:

When I woke up the next morning, I hoped into the jacuzzi and thought about this experience – Disney is magical because your smile is met with a smile and everyone’s nice. Imagine a world where everyone is nice. Nice is nice.

I hope you spread the Magic this year where ever you are. To wear that velvet blue dress or red skirt and to wear it with arms that reach out and help someone with their bags and lips that smile back at a passerby, and patience in a time when there’s too many parties, too many gifts and not enough alone time and sanity.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I’m thankful for all of you – my loyal readers and inspiration and party goers. Let me know if there’s something I can do to make your spirits bright!

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

Follow: