Arture – By Shivani Patel

accessories, bags online, brand, collaboration, Fashion, people, stories
Meet Shivani Patel, an accessories designer from Chennai and founder of Lemon Drop Design Solutions. At a very young age she developed an interest for making little bags, pouches and gifts for friends and family, by picking up scraps of leather from her father’s factory, and soon enough that led her to take up an accessory design course from NIFT, with specialization in footwear and leather goods. Soon after college, she wanted to design and so she started making wallets and handbags under the brand name “Lemondrop”, and started offering design services to other brands.

Tell us more about Arture and how did you come across Cork?
When I was done with my course and I was free for a few months, I took the time to completely redecorate my boring white room. I painted in earthy colors and murals, made some shelves for the wall with some old plywood that was lying around, and even decided to work on a pin-up board for myself. That’s when I started looking for cork to use. I sourced cork sheets locally and they really intrigued me. I  thought about the idea of using them in products but I knew it wouldn’t work as the cork I found here was rubberized and very thick.

I had always thought of the idea of starting an all-natural, Eco-brand, but I didn’t find anything that felt right. When I researched and learned about the properties of cork, and the benefits of using it, I didn’t need to think any more. I just needed to find the right supplier.
In 2014, I was in HongKong for a materials fair, and that’s when I found what I had been looking for. I then sourced samples from various parts of the world and did not settle until I was 100% happy with the quality of the cork. I finally decided one supplier that had the perfect material for me.

Do you do the designing and manufacturing by yourself?
I design myself, as well as handle the business side of things. I work alone with a very skilled technician, who helps bring my designs to life. He also looks after the production and quality aspects.

Entrepreneurship at a young age, what were your struggles if any?
Dealing with fear is the tough part. When things get a little rocky, fear creeps in. And you’ve got to learn that fear is the enemy. On days that I get scared, I need to take a step back, relax, and remind myself of why I do what I do. And then I’m back 🙂

What/Who is your inspiration?
My parents mainly. My dad is the reason I got into this field. He ran an export company which is very different from what I do, but it did make me develop an inclination towards this field. I decided to take up design, and they supported that decision. My mom has an inherent sense of style that comes to her naturally, and I like to believe that’s where I get my design aesthetic from 🙂
Other than that, on a completely non-design side, Audrey Hepburn is my constant source of inspiration, and I am a big Seth Godin fan.

Your favorite brands for accessories?
Brands like Bellroy and Nuvo really inspire me. I love the character that the brands have. It resonates across their products, their website design, everywhere. I love that they constantly stick to their brand voice, and simultaneously create beautiful, meaningful products. That’s the kind of brand Arture aspires to be.

Future plans for yourself and your brand?
I want Arture to become all that it is capable of being. And cork is just a starting point. It just so happened that I stumbled upon cork and loved it. But Arture is about nature. So we are constantly going to be on the look out for any materials that are natural and innovative.
 
Arture crowd-funding campaign is now live! You can check out the products and the story behind Arture here.

HappyCheckout.in for Happy Online shopping

bags online, Fashion, shopping, sponsored post
Slowly but surely I am turning into an avid online shopper. Although I have been shopping online for quite a while now, initially I refrained from buying stuff like shoes and jeans online because, I still preferred going to the store and trying them out before deciding to swipe my card. But the crowds at shopping malls, the never ending queue at the trial rooms and dragging my legs out of exhaustion after a whole day of standing and walking is not how I prefer to spend my weekends! Another big bonus of online shopping is definitely the discounts that you can avail and get your favorite products delivered right to your doorstep at a much more reasonable price than the original!

HappyCheckout is one such website that’s your one stop solution for exclusive, verified coupon codes. There are a large number of websites that claim to provide discount coupons but how many of them provide genuine coupons that actually work? The frustration at not finding such sites that add actual value to the shopper’s intent was what made this team of online shoppers start HappyCheckout.

Just as the names says, the main intent here is to make your checkout process happy and hassle free! All you have to do is follow these simple steps:

1. Open happycheckout.in and search for your choice of shopping site or simply click on the popular ones available in the list given.

2. Browse through the coupons available for the website and click on ‘reveal code’ for accessing the coupon.

3. You’ll automatically be directed to the website where you can browse and shop to your heart’s content!

4. Copy the code from happycheckout.in and enter it in the checkout page and apply the coupon!

They offer coupons not just for purchasing from fashion retail sites like Jabong, Myntra, Yepme, Zovi but also travel websites like Make my Trip and Redbus, and food like Dominos and KFC. It’s really that simple! I for one, am pretty excited to be using this for all my future shopping hauls!

How to: Wear a red shirt in 5 ways

Fashion, how-to, indian fashion blog, Remix
As I sit at my desk today to pen down a post, it feels as if I am coming back home after a very long vacation. Life has taken a drastic turn over the past month and I am still trying to get my feet back on the ground!

For a change blogging had taken a back seat while I focused on other important matters of my life. You know those phases where priorities just take over, and you really don’t want to spend too much time coming up with creative outfits to wear? That’s usually when I tend to live in the same clothes day after day, the comfiest, softest ones that are just so familiar to touch and feel. But, there’s no reason to dress the same way even if you are wearing the same clothes everyday!

 Color block it with a skirt! 

Red and royal blue has somehow become my go-to combination. I love the visual contrast they provide and how they perfectly complement each other. Although it might seem a little too festive (think 4th of July) or cartoon-ish (think superman), when the right shades are paired in the right way and with the right kind of accessories it’s a visual treat!

Skirt: oasap.com | Shoes: SteveMadden 
Clutch: Newlook via koovs.com

The classic tucked in look!

There is something about tucking in a shirt into you favorite pair of skinny jeans that gives it a very business like, no nonsense feel. Black and red are a classic color combo that never fails, be it for business or pleasure! 

Jeans: Levis | Bag: stalkbuylove.com |
Shoes: Dorothy perkins via jabong.com 

The I-shall-laze-around-home-with-a-book-all-day look!

Whether you love them or hate them looks like overalls are here to stay. They are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing and if paired correctly you can very much look like a grown up in them! You can wear them with crop tops, tank tops, simple tshirts or a bright red shirt!

Overalls: Levis | Shoes: forever21.com

Tie it around your waist

This is the easiest, simplest trend that evokes an effortlessly cool vibe. Also, your shirt is always in a handy place if you suddenly need to throw it on to keep warm. If you are wearing a loose top, trying a button down shirt around your waist will automatically balance it out to create an hour-glass figure. And adding a bright colored shirt to a basic blue jeans – white tee combo adds color and a spark of interest to your outfit!


Jeans: Levis | Tshirt: c/o cupcakesandcloset.com

Shoes: forever21.com








Wear it over a fancy dress

 The best way to tone down a fancy dress and wear it in a more causal setting is to add a cardigan or a shirt. Adding a button down shirt over a dress makes it possible to wear it anywhere during the day time. This is also the easiest way to wear all your summer dresses during chilly weather. A sling bag and a pair of heels will complete your look!

Dress: Gifted | Bag: oasap.com | Shoes: jabong.com

Desi Girl

Fashion, hyderabad, indian fashion blog, Indian wear, Look of the Day, Styling
Every once in a while I tend to come back to my Indian roots and desi dressing. In fact I would say it’s quite often! As much as I enjoy the comfort of a jeans and a tshirt or the feminine and flirty look of a lace dress, I would always always say that there is nothing as elegant and graceful as Indian wear. More than half the Indian population still dresses in a traditional attire so I never understand why as fashion bloggers we rarely feature Indian clothes on our blogs. As an Indian fashion blogger, I make it a point to include Indian wear as part of every day dressing and not just as festive wear or special occasion wear as most project it to be. Having grown up in a comparatively conservative city like Hyderabad, all of my college years were spent in churidars. My working years too were mostly in Indian formals, as that was the most obvious choice for the sweltering heat in the city!

When online shopping became a buzz a few years back, the options for western wear and International brands kept multiplying and soon you didn’t have to look beyond your laptop to have the latest trends and styles delivered to your doorstep. Up until then I was still going to my favorite local shops, buying vibrant prints of materials, mixing and matching prints, designing my own kurtas and blouses and trusting my local tailor to deliver the best stitched suits for everyday wear and festive wear. But with the new surge of online shopping sites for Indian wear that stock up on every kind of design, shopping for Indian wear has taken a whole new direction. Whether you are living abroad or living in India, getting your hands on sarees, lehengas and kurtas has never been easier. One such website that offers a great selection of designs along with customization options is CBazaar.

For this particular look, I wanted to play with different Indian accents that could be worn on an everyday basis. White is always an artist’s favorite color as it provides the perfect canvas to throw on splashes of color. Bandhani (tie-dye) dupattas need no introduction at all. The crinkled fabrics with vivid dramatic colors come in so many playful patterns. There is a whole lot of meticulous process involved in creating them and each pattern has a given name and is usually worn for a specific occasion. I had picked this pair of mojaris while street shopping in Pune, and although this is the first instance that I am wearing them I already have tons of ideas for remixing them with both Indian and Western wear. Finished my look with a pair of sliver jhumkas, a few bangles and a printed cloth bag for an evening spent walking around stalls, satiating my visual appetite and getting inspired with all the crafts, colors and designs around me.

So the next time you reach out to wear your pencil skirt or your skinny jeans, give it a miss at least once in a while and instead go the desi route. Don’t restrict yourself to wearing it only for festivals or weddings. We have a riot of colorful options that can look just as classy and trendy as a western outfit, so go exploit them to the fullest and be proud of wearing Indian attire! And in case you need a serious wardrobe update, don’t forget to check out Cbazaar for their various options!

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Dress: Stitched by local tailor | Bag: Shilparamam | Earrings and Mojaris: FC road Pune

Photography: Divya Medikonda

Valentine who?

Fashion, Look of the Day, oasap, valentines day, weekend
Valentine’s day has successfully made the transition from being just a ‘day’ to a full fledged festival. Love it or hate it, you simply can’t ignore it. While hindutva groups try to ‘preserve’ our Indian culture by  trying to squish out this dangerous festival-that-must-not-be-named (because it has been adopted from western culture you-know-where), their purpose is more or less lost in the ensuing chaos. Those who celebrate it still go on celebrating, those who have the “why have only one day to celebrate love?” attitude take the high road, while those who are making money out of this entire fiasco are having a jolly good laugh while jingling their money bags. So really, what is it that we are trying to achieve here?

Some debates are never ending. I like to pick and choose my battles and I don’t see any good coming out of fighting for it or fighting against it. In the end, celebrating (or not) is as much a personal choice as celebrating your birthday. So, being a fashion blogger, I did the next best thing that I could do, which is to style a couple of Valentine’s Day looks for you guys. The hot debate here is always whether wearing red has become too passé or if it’s still fashionable to be decked in hearts and reds. I would say wear whatever the hell you want. Fashion has no rules, and if black is your thing, by all means go ahead and rock that!

 Look 1

Black is usually my answer to all my outfit dilemmas, but even I couldn’t escape the mushiness in the air and I gave in to wearing my heart on my sleeve (body? torso?) for this one day. I received the cutest heart print blouse from oasap.com which was perfect for pairing over my favorite burgundy jeans. I din’t go all out ‘red’ but decided to stick to shades of it, and of course added my favorite pair of sparkly heels. This is really a fuss free, easy, day time look that doesn’t require too much planning or thought. 

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Look 2
For the second look, I still wanted to keep it simple yet dressy. Maxi skirts shall remain my absolute favorite for a long time to come. I layered a couple of gold necklaces over a crop top for a subtle dressy look. The soft and flow-y fabric of the skirt gives it a very feminine feel and although my plans for this Valentine’s day involve eating cupcakes and spending the weekend catching up on my reading, this is something that I would definitely wear for an early dinner!

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Look 1 { Jeans: Kraus | Top: oasap.com (buy here) | Shoes: Dorothy Perkinds via jabong.com }
Look 2 { Skirt: oasap (buy here) | Necklace: oasap (buy here), Top: forever21 | Clutch: NewLook via koovs.com | Shoes: jabong.com }

Best Budget Hotels to stay in Hyderabad

hyderabad, Travel
After staying in the same city for more than twenty years, it can be challenging to look at it from a tourist’s perspective. You know the chaat waala at every galli, you know the best street shops for a shopping spree, you know which theater offers buttered popcorn and which doesn’t, you have your favorite coffee haunts and you know the exact time to start to beat the peak traffic and reach your destination on time. It’s basically home no matter what. When a friend who was visiting for a weekend, asked me for a list of places to stay in Hyderabad, at first I was stumped. And then I realized there were some really good themed hotels if you were looking for a quick weekend stay.  After a lot of research, careful scrutiny and talking to many who have stayed in these places, I bring you this list of best budget hotels in Hyderabad. So the next time you are in the city and looking for a place to stay or if you are living in this city but decide to take a mini-vacation within the city itself, this list is your friend!

Bikanervala Boutique hotels 

Located in the prime area of the city, you have easy access to everything you need – restaurants, malls, parks and even the airport! But the USP of this Boutique hotel would definitely be the delicious food. It is a paradise for vegetarians and the options are simply endless. It’s the best place for authentic Rajasthani/Gujarati dishes and chaat.

The Lime Boutique Suites

With 30 boutique rooms, conference rooms and a global vegetarian restaurant, this brightly done place is bound to put you in a cheerful mood instantly – whether you are here on a personal holiday or a business trip. The cafeteria style restaurant seating and the bright lights make a pretty picture!

Concord Comfort – Upper Crest

This is actually a mix of hotel + service apartment, again in the heart of the city, but very budget friendly. Concord Comfort offer their service apartment services in a total of five different locations within the city – all with lovely decor, home cooked food and incredibly kind staff.

jüSTa The Residence

 
Its a boutique hotel situated on Necklace road, offering masterfully designed guest rooms with herbal bath line products and a roof top multi-cuisine restaurant overlooking the lake. Also a great place to try amazing vegetable biryani.

  

Don’t forget to visit these places the next time you plan your mini holiday!

#LikeABoss

Fashion, Look of the Day, stalkbuylove, Styling
Hello #GirlBoss! Yes, you reading this sentence right now. You are a #GirlBoss aren’t you? Have you read Sophia Amoruso’s book #GirlBoss? It’s been one of the most talked about books in recent times so you must have. Even if you haven’t there must have been a couple of selfies here and there with the book strategically placed to be in the frame. Or next to your drink on the beach. Because that’s what real girl bosses do. Go to the beach, chill out with a drink in hand and read books that inspire you to build multimillion dollar companies. I admit I’ve been guilty of the same! So the book has been ripped apart from every angle by critics, some saying the hashtag tells its own sad story of being a ‘Girl Boss’ instead of a ‘Boss’, others showering praises over the fun, self-deprecating and self-aware author. Keeping all that aside, the essence of #GirlBoss still hits you strong. No I’m not claiming it will transform you overnight or that brilliant ideas will strike you at midnight or that you will somehow build yourself a multimillion dollar empire. But you will teach yourself to do stuff you don’t know instead of hiring someone to do it for you. You will stand up for your beliefs even if the whole world is against you. You will realize there is nothing wrong in asking for a helping hand. You will start to feel like a #GirlBoss and then then soon enough, start acting like one.

I was trying to channel my inner #GirlBoss (or just #Boss if its pleases you!) with this look and styling. Confident, independent, knows what she wants from life and is not afraid to go get it. Yes, we all falter, we have our moments of curling up in bed with a bag of potato chips, favorite tv show and refusing to get up until the universe gives up on plotting against us. But once a #GirlBoss always a #GirlBoss and eventually we bounce back.

I am being drawn to everything black and white these days. Probably because they form the perfect canvas to add a bit of color and sparkle. A tiny pop of orange made all the difference in the world to this monochrome look. Sometimes you just want a hassle free, no-nonsense outfit with no chunky necklaces or earrings or bracelets. Body chains are the perfect alternative for such occasions – you have jewelry on, but it really doesn’t get in your way! I just added my favorite pair of heels and a printed bag to complete the look and am ready to conquer the world #LikeABoss!

p.s – This post has been submitted for the “A style of my own” contest hosted by Women’s Web and Trishla emart

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Jumpsuit, Bag: StalkBuyLove | Body chain: Forever21 | Shoes: SteveMadden | Blazer: Gifted
Photography by: Divya Medikonda

5 Must-Visit spots when in Prague

Czech republic, globetrotter, Prague, Travel
Prague is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. After simply one visit it’s easy to see why. The old world charm that effortlessly meshes with new age wonders, offers a very unique experience to any tourist visiting the city – be it for the first time or the tenth! Read on to know more about some of the best spots in the city of a thousand spires.

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Charles Bridge

This is one of the city’s main attractions linking the two sides of Prague.  You will always find a hoard of tourists walking along this bridge, stopping at hot dog stands and appreciating the view of the magnificent Vltava River. This is truly the center of the city from where you can see the Prague castle towers against the evening sky. There are also innumerable street artists and jazz bands providing a bounce to your step as you walk along.

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National Museum
Museums are never first on my ‘to – be – seen’ list when I visit any city. But I decided to make an exception in this case after what I’d heard about Prague’s National museum. The building itself is splendid with a huge skylight and stone carved structures. It breathes royalty from the moment you enter it, and you left wondering whether you need to admire the magnificence of the majestic hallway, the red-carpeted stairs or the actual exhibits.

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 Old town square
Despite being such a touristy spot, Prague’s old town square has remained untouched since the 10th century. The cobbled streets, the street market selling all sorts of trinkets, the outdoor cafes where you can enjoy a glass of wine in the warm sun, an ever changing cast of musicians and street performers – they all add to the charm and beauty of the place.

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Prague Castle

The walk up to Prague castle is almost as enjoyable as the view from the top of the castle towers. The city is made for walking, stopping and admiring. The evident beauty of the churches and buildings is enough to stop any man who is least interested in architecture in his tracks. Photography isn’t allowed inside the castle, which is a good thing as, for once, you can feast your eyes on the sculptures, the arches, the intricate stone work and carvings, and of course the view of the entire city from the top!

Astronomical clock

It’s the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and still in working condition! Hundreds of tourists gather around the clock every hour, with their cameras pointed and ready to enjoy the fascinating mechanical performance of the clock. At the end of every hour, figures on the sides of the clock become animated. You will see a skeleton ringing a bell, a Turk shaking his head, a miser with a purse full of money, a Vanity looking in the mirror and two windows that open to reveal twelve apostles greeting the city. This comical performance ends with a golden rooster crowing and a huge bell ringing at the top of the tower.

Prague is called one of the world’s most beautiful cities and for good reason. It must be on every travel buff’s wish list. And with websites like Travel Tours offering such packages, Prague is just one click away! I absolutely love to travel whenever I get a chance (which doesn’t seem to be very often these days) but I am already on to planning my next trip hopefully sometime soon!

Share your travel plans for this year in the comments below. Maybe we’ll bump into each other halfway around the world! 🙂

Spruce up your wardrobe!

creativity, Fashion, indian fashion blog, Remix
I think it has finally been deeply ingrained in all our brains that, to have a functional wardrobe you need to have your basics covered. The basic skinny jeans, a white shirt, a pair of classic black pumps and etc. etc. A lot of blog posts and articles have covered this topic so thoroughly that I don’t think there is anything else left to add. But I do have something to say about how to spruce up your closet by adding a few funky pieces. There is no ‘set list’ of statement pieces to have because, well, they are statement pieces! Each unique to it’s own self – be it an accessory or clothes or shoes. There are no rules except to go wild, to go for the unexpected, to experiment and to simply have fun by including one-of-a-kind pieces that take your basics to the next level! Over the years I’ve collected a few of such pieces that never fail to make a statement. This list is a compilation of my personal favorites from my wardrobe. Hopefully it inspires you to buy something the next time you spot a piece that makes you do a double take!

Laptop sleeve that doubles as a statement clutch:
This laptop sleeve has always been a conversation starter. Whether I use it to carry my laptop to client meetings or as an over sized clutch to accessorize an outfit, I’ve always been asked where I’ve purchased it. Personally I love it because it has been customized to include my blog’s name and a piece of art that I really love!

Body chain:
Body chains are a great way of accessorizing an outfit. With the innumerable number of designs available, its almost impossible to narrow down on which one you want. Start with something a little simple. One that can be worn over western wear as well as traditional outfits. One of my favorite ways of pairing it is with a saree. Yes! Just like you wear fancy waist belts (or vaddanams) on sarees, a body chain can also be worn for a really different look. You can then go for shoulder chains too which would look great when paired with a plain saree.

Green harem pants:
In the past few years I have seen about ten different varieties of harem pants but have not liked a single pair except this one. I don’t think I get the concept of a harem pant. Where would you wear it? Personally the drop crotch version is something that I strongly dislike and I don’t think it look flattering on anyone. The only pair that I find comfortable and have worn to death is this bright green pair. Whether its paired with a kurti or a tshirt it never fails to live up to its promise of comfort and style!

Hand made shell necklace:
This particular piece was a special buy, a hand made necklace by an artisan in the tiny town of Mahabhalipuram. The shells, the little mirror and the bright colors instantly made me buy it. Its not a ‘statement necklace’ but it still is a unique piece, one that you don’t get to see often. And definitely not in any high end accessory stores. Hand crafted items have their own personality, their own story. Whether they have a sentimental value of your first trip away from home, or memories of an early morning trip to a far off beach – they are definitely for keeps!

Inkkas shoes:
Okay so by now you must be knowing that I have a thing for anything hand-made and eclectic. When I was first sent this pair of Inkkas shoes, I was blown over. Made from local materials found in a city called Cusco in Peru, Inkkas’s philosophy has always been philanthropy and authenticity. Inkkas is a team of dreamers and their story of how they founded this company is something everyone needs to watch

Paintcollar

Art, collaboration
I finished my first official sketchbook full of my own sketches when I was in the fourth grade. Since  then my interest in sketching and painting has only increased ten fold. Once I took up oil painting, I knew I it was going to be a hobby for a lifetime. I love creating beautiful pictures on a canvas, I love bringing them to life and I struggle (because I am still learning) to make them look as realistic as possible. Creative hobbies such as these give you a rush like no other. And when people appreciate your work, so much so that they think it is worth paying money for, it gives you an unparalleled high! I recently came across a very innovative company called paintcollar.com that does just that. It gives you a chance to convert your art work into merchandise, making your work accessible to people who appreciate art and are willing to pay for unique products.

Paintcollar.com has an easy to use design tool through which you can upload your designs and select the merchandise you want your designs to go on – tshirts, posters, canvas prints or laptop skins. Once you are done uploading your work, it gives you an option to select your profit margin. You also have options for choosing the colors of your tshirt. As soon as you make your merchandise public and confirm the ownership of the images, you are good to go! You can browse through various artist’s profiles, follow them to be up to date on the new designs they upload, or simply show your appreciation by liking their images. All the manufacturing and shipping is taken care of by their side. All you need to do is design some kick ass pieces and start promoting them among your friends and family!

Being an avid painter and designer myself, I couldn’t help but pick some of my favorite pieces from the artists’ collection. My first pick was a t-shirt with the iconic “V for Vendetta” picture and quote. Of Monsters and Men is one of my favorite bands, and their song Your Bones is hauntingly beautiful. When I saw another artist’s design of a poster inspired from a line in that particular song, I knew I just had to have it. It’s currently adorning my work desk, as a continuous reminder to hold on to my dreams and everything dear to my heart. When it comes to books and tv shows/movies, I would any day prefer the books. But Game of Thrones is the one exception to this rule where I seem to prefer the tv show more than the book (although that didn’t stop me from buying and reading them!). Tyrion Lannister, probably the most entertaining, witty, important and complex character of the show is no doubt my favorite and so an obvious choice as my next buy. Lastly another tshirt with Muhammad Ali’s catchphrase “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” which I think is a pretty perfect description of my personality!

Paintcollar has something for everyone. Whether you are looking for clothes with unique designs, iconic phrases or quotes, whether you are looking for posters to decorate your walls or add a personal touch to your workplace, you are bound to find it here. After all, all creative bees seem to think alike and there is a high possibility you will fall in love with more than one piece here!

p.s- This is not a paid review. All opinions are genuinely my own!

Tshirts, laptop skin, poster – paintcollar.com