Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

Good Reads: 30 January 2015

As I spoke about on Instagram yesterday, there is a lot going on right now.

It's all good stuff - all exciting stuff – it's just a lot of stuff. I'm coming off of last week in Salt Lake City at Alt and tonight am London-bound on my second overnight flight of the week. I'm still kind of playing catch up after being gone for a few days but I've been trying not to push it too much this week and instead have been enjoying this week with my family in North Carolina.

I can't wait to get back to London tomorrow – Saturday, that is – because that means we're one step closer to being in NC for good. Just a few more months we should be able to buy that used Civic and spend our weekends outdoors. Dream big, guys. Dream big.

Anyway, what are you up to this weekend? Would love to hear if you wouldn't mind sharing!

the truth about long distance relationships, from someone (else) who knows. 

loving this sweet little soap dish!

thinking it's time to update my everyday pants. these guys should do the trick.

a free, quality photo resource.

had this documentary recommended to me and now I want to see it. speaking of culture stuff – anyone reading the new miranda july?

ready for spring.

warming my heart in so many ways.

nc in the news. 

this giveaway ends tonight!

finds this week: A Mano / Sleeper / Clyde (and, as always more here)


me elsewhere: 

One Woman Shop

Writer's Workshop on June Letters

Huckberry on DesignGood


Have a great weekend!

American-Made Giveaway

San Francisco's Tradlands has been on my list of American-made favorites for a while.

I wrote about their quality button-ups and small-batch production methods here, and my admiration for Tradlands as a brand seems to grow on a near-daily basis. Aside from everything mentioned above, Sadie and Jeremy of Tradlands are warm, friendly folks – something that's of extreme importance to my Southern soul.

This week, Tradlands teamed up with a few other wonderful American brands (Appalatch, Archival Clothing, and Gamine Co.) to offer an American-made giveaway package valued at $600. One winner will receive a Purl Scarf from Appalatch, a Waxed Twill Shoulder Tote from Archival Clothing, a Hemp & Fleece Raglan from Gamine Co., and a Button-Up Shirt of your choice from Tradlands. The prize will be shipped for free to the winner and is open to International entrants so London pals, you're in luck.


The American-made giveaway ends tomorrow night, Jan. 30 at midnight PST so if I were you I would enter, like, now. 

Good luck, guys!

How To Overcome Insecurity

Though it seems to fade more by the week, day, hour, and sometimes minute, insecurity is something I've dealt with for a while.

Sometimes I'm insecure about the way I speak. Sometimes I spend hours overanalyzing my day and worrying that I'm not good enough

There are certain coping mechanisms that I've found that have helped me to overcome my insecurity. These mechanisms are like little tools in my mental health toolbox, and they've help me get through my professional and social life just fine. In particular, there's one method that I use and have noticed myself using more as my confidence grows.

That method? Oversharing.

And I mean oversharing of all information – small stories, big stories, back stories, future stories. The idea is that I'll get everything I'm insecure about out in the open before anyone can discover what's really going on. I know a lot of women feel this way – it has to do with the idea that at any moment the curtain will lift, and everyone will discover what a fraud you are. So by oversharing, not only are you putting the other person at ease by having a conversation filled with self-depreciating anecdotes (surely a symptom of Good Girl Syndrome – see above) but you're also protecting yourself.

It's a total win-win.

I've known about my tendency to use oversharing as a method for battling insecurity for a while, and last week as I attended my first Alt Summit I found myself yet again employing these means of constant too much information-ing.

Even though almost everyone in attendance was was incredibly friendly, completely on the same page, and encouraging in a way that only a room full of supportive, creative women can be, I was still insecure. Us introverts tend to find things to worry about. 

During the meeting and greeting and friendship-forming, what should be a simple question became a mental minefield for me with each person I met. The question that tripped me up the most: Where do you live?

The truth? The truth is that I live half in North Carolina, half in London in a complicated way that only expats in transition can fully understand. Case in point – I recently had a call with my U.S. phone carrier. When I explained to them that I'd soon return to London, they asked how long I'd be out of the country. After telling them that I didn't have an exact return date, hearing their confusion, then over explaining that right now I was in the U.S. but soon I'd be in London but then would be back hopefully sooner rather than later, I realized that my oversharing was hurting me rather than helping me. I was the crazy lady on the phone who talks so much that it sounds like she's just looking for someone to talk to.

I'm not that gal.

At Alt, where you're meeting someone each time you turn around, I found myself telling everyone I lived in "North Carolina" – air quotes and all – then explaining the entire story of the immigration process to sweet, confused Californians and Oregonians. (How easy it must be to just say "Portland" and smile.)

So instead? Instead, on the last day, I began telling everyone the truth – that I've been in living in London for about three years, and that my husband and I are in the process of moving to the States. Why was that so hard?

Oversharing is a protection mechanism. It puts me in control of situations which contributes to my new-found confidence. Still, I hope to get rid of my oversharing tendencies sooner rather than later. I'm aiming for honesty and simplicity in all areas of my life, including this one.

But until then, don't ask me any questions (even the simplest of ones) unless you want the real answer – self depreciation, air quotes, and all.

Salt Lake City-Bound

I'm currently on a flight to Salt Lake City – a place I've never been and am excited to see and experience first hand. I'll be there for a long weekend for ALT Summit with DesignGood, and I can't freakin' wait.

Any of you going? If so, let me know – would love to hear what you're doing there and maybe even meet up! 

I'll report back early next week and (obvs) will post lots and lots on Instagram while I'm away.

In the meantime, you might want to read this post on Ghanaian handbag designer AAKS, this piece on mindful shopping, and this piece on moving like a minimalist.

Taken on Monday at Foster's in Durham, NC

Have a great week, guys!


Maybe it's me, but in the last few years I've noticed an increase in the amount of editorial content targeted at real women. That is, women who are talented, hardworking, interesting, have great style, but are also nice and honest about their lives and experiences. 

It's refreshing to say the least.

For a while I was somewhat frustrated by the editorial world. The women and their worlds always felt idealized and fluffy, even if it was in an indie, dishelved hair kinda' way. Instagram is maybe partially to blame for this, but in general it felt like we were missing honesty, messiness, and the real stories that come with that.

And then I started to find them – the writers, editors, and women who I could relate to. The real bloggers who were nice, hardworking, had flaws. Magazines like Golly came out and grew followings. These were platforms were the women seemed fun and looked cute, but were also talented, smart, and vulnerable.

This brings me to OKREAL – a young publishing platform that tells the stories of women who are interesting in real, regular ways. Aside from interviews with these women, the site also features nuggets of advice with OH YEAH, thoughts on body image, and the OK KIT that offers not-so-deep things like a review of New York's theclass and a recipe for sugar-free Kombucha.

I've obsessed over OKREAL and its stories (this, this, and this are favorites), its glorious design, its choice of subjects pretty much since it started. 

Obviously I had to talk to the real gal behind OKREAL. Founder and Editor Amy Woodside tells me all about it:

Amy Woodside of OKREAL

How did OKREAL begin?

AMY WOODSIDE: My background is in communication. I wrote, illustrated, xeroxed, bound and distributed a newspaper about my life to family members when I was 4-years-old, so you could say that it started then.


How would you describe OKREAL to someone who's never heard of it?

AW: OKREAL is a movement enabling people to recognize and build upon value in their lives, connecting them with themselves and each other. It is a network and resource for motivation and guidance in leading a successful, meaningful life. 


What gap did you see in the market that led you to creating OKREAL? Who wasn't being heard from?

AW: I didn’t understand how you could read about what interesting women ate for breakfast, what clothes or products they wore and used, or what their morning routine was — but could not find content related to what was truly important to them. There are an abundance of stories but a lack of meaningful information. OKREAL fills that gap, providing a collective resource for authentic insight into real lives. It’s a curation of wisdom for how to be who you want to be. 


You've featured some incredible women – from Maya Jankelowitz of Jack’s Wife Freda to the New Museum's Karen Wong. Any dream interviews you haven't had the chance to do?

AW: The site is less than 4 months old – it is still very new. I am overwhelmed on a daily basis by my ever-growing list of people who I want to connect with and learn from. 


Is there a specific or message you're trying to convey with the site?

AW: That we are defined by what we value, and that a strong sense of self is a foundation for getting what we want out of life. So we should probably pay attention to this, and learning from others helps. Which is why the ‘real’ element of the site is so crucial: we need to trust someone in order to resonate and learn from them. 


What's the most interesting interview you've had so far?

AW: It’s impossible to narrow this down to just one, because I learn something new each time I speak with someone. They are all equally valuable lessons—regardless of where that person is in their life. 


Color plays a big role in OKREAL's design and branding. How important is design for the business?

AW: The branding was important in that it needed to feel down to earth, positive, and simple—with the focus being on the content, specifically the people featured. I could say that the color was symbolic of the varied personalities and identities brought together in this community, but really, it just turned out that way. It looked good and it worked. I also have an awesome design team: XXIX who let me interfere as much as I wanted throughout the build. 


The women on OKREAL are from a variety of different industries and lifestyles. What would you say is the one element that ties them all together? What's your process for scouting OKREAL subjects?

AW: Sometimes I’ll go into an interview with particular angle, but the person will completely surprise me. There has been an inclination towards the creative industries because that is my default network, but it really comes down to something I admire about the person; something I am drawn to, regardless of their occupation. The common ground would be that each person I interview is doing something that is an expression of their real self and they have a story to tell.

Feeling inspired by Amy and the badass women of OKREAL? Want to (finally) sort your life out? Here's your chance:

OKREAL has teamed-up with Penelope Trunk & Quistic to offer $100 off all Quistic courses for 3 days, and 3 days only. See here for details.


Thanks to Amy for her time, and for creating such a beautiful, platform.