Wednesday, July 30, 2014

insta-faves 03: legal miss sunshine

today i'd like to introduce you to andrea ament, a.k.a. legal miss sunshine, an event stylist, shop owner and blogger who is my latest crush on instagram. her gallery is a bright, happy collection of vintage and travel-inspired photos, and one that i love to follow. andrea was gracious enough to let me feature her shots here on the blog, and to answer a whole bunch of overly personal interview questions.

if that wasn't enough, she also generously offered to sponsor the very first giveaway here at avery street design! you can enter to win one of her gorgeous photography prints at the end of this post. (and can i just say to the winner: i am jealous!!)

//   //

asd: you and i have only just met so i still feel like i have a lot of getting to know you to do. how would you answer the “who are you?” question in, like, three sentences? (yeah, i know, heavy guns out of the gate)!

LMS: Wow. This IS a big question and I think the answer changes so often as to where you are in your life. So currently, I guess I am: A non-practicing attorney who is in the process of starting an event planning/styling business with a blog and two Etsy shops on the side. I’m a wife with an amazing husband, a daughter/daughter-in-law to great parents, and I’m an only child, so my friends are my family. I’m also a traveler, a planner, a sometimes marathon runner, a picky eater, and a photographer. 

asd: you have a lovely blog. when did you start it and why?

LMS: Aw, thank you. I started my blog in May of last year and I guess I started it because the one thing my friend and I kept repeating while DIYing things for my wedding is that I should have a blog and I should be photographing/blogging about the wedding process. Also, I travel A LOT, and I like to share my travel photos, but I like to share my photos with more than just my friends on Facebook or in 2x2 squares on Instagram.

asd: what have you learned about yourself since starting a blog?

LMS: Currently, I think I am learning to find my voice. I think I’m pretty sarcastic and funny plus I cuss a lot in real life, but that isn’t as reflected in my blog, so I’m working more on writing in my own voice, regardless if it offends readers (or my mother-in-law). But don’t worry, I’ll keep it PG here!

asd: why did you join instagram?

LMS: I joined Instagram because it was the single thing I liked about Facebook all in one single feed: my friends photos showing me their current (or throwback Thursday) lives. Now Facebook is flooded with “BuzzKill” articles and quizzes, news articles, and memes. I originally only followed friends on IG, but now I follow mostly strangers who take beautiful photographs, and I love the voyeuristic snapshot into their lives.

asd: your pictures on instagram are so intriguing. what do you hope a picture of yours will convey to the viewer?

LMS: Boys used to tell me I was intriguing, but I have never heard that about my photographs! I would love to know what you find intriguing about them. I guess I hope my photographs convey a sense of adventure and fun and I hope that they inspire the viewer to go out and see the world and find the beauty in everyday objects like vintage signs, walls, senior living communities, etc.

asd: here’s why i say intriguing. they make you look closer and longer. they give you a glimpse but not the whole picture. they tell a story, but not all of it. there are so many pictures on instagram that are wonderful little shots of a greater whole, but they’re either too abstract (so you don’t know what it is), too boring (you know what it is and you don’t care) or too obvious (it gives away too much). i’m drawn to the pictures that give you a sense that you are somewhere else, while still making you wonder what the rest looks like. the appeal is a beautiful view; the intrigue is what’s outside of the peephole. this was the first picture i found of yours, and i stared at it for a long time, wondering what the full story was:

asd: the other reason your photos are intriguing to me is i often notice something on a second look that i didn't see right away: the fact that you and your husband are behind the sign, that you're sliding down the whale, or that the leisure world windows look like funhouse mirrors. i started to wonder if 'intriguing' was the wrong word, so i looked it up:

"to arouse the curiosity or interest of by unusual, new, or otherwise fascinating or compelling qualities; appeal strongly to; captivate."

and, yep, that nails it.

asd: speaking of things that fascinate you, what’s with you and flamingos?

LMS: They are pink! And awesome! And I love kitsch, so I love lawn flamingos. I’m hoping their popularity fad soon fades though. I’m predicting zebras, camels, and ostriches as the next popular animals.

asd: i’ve read your ‘57 random facts about me’ and laughed out loud. pick one fact to give us the full story behind.

LMS: Ok, how about 2 facts, because they go together:

22. I didn’t cry when my husband proposed.

23. But I did when he said he would buy me a sleep number bed. My sleep number is 20.

So most girls cry when their husband proposes to them, right? No. Not me. Not a hint of moisture in my eye. But my husband had been asking me for months if I would marry him, and my response was always “Maybe, we’ll see if you ever ask properly” meaning formally asking with a ring (I’m not a dummy, I listen to Beyonce!) So he finally asked, but he didn’t have a ring. He then excused himself for a moment and came back with a box and asked me if the box changed my mind. Well, I didn’t know what was in the box, so I told him “maybe, let me check the box ….” I mean, for all I knew it could have been earrings! I wasn’t saying yes to earrings! But inside was a gorgeous ring, and I said “Yes!”, but there were no tears.

LMS: Now, cut to us engaged, planning to move in together, and we’re playing Goldilocks in a Sleep Number store in the mall. We’re lying on probably the most expensive bed in the store (and those suckers are NOT cheap) and he said something like “Do you want this bed?” and my poor bad back and shoulders were lying there, gently cushioned in the Number 20 heavenly cloud of a glorified air mattress, and I said “Yes!”, he said “Ok, I will buy you a Sleep Number mattress” and in that moment I might have had to wipe away a tear or two.

asd: were you married very recently?

LMS: It’s not so recent anymore. We’re coming up on our two-year anniversary in September.

asd: tell me about your wedding!

LMS: Our wedding was inspired by the venue. We were married on the porch of the beautiful Hale House at Heritage Square Museum, and we incorporated many elements of home into the wedding design. Im also a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, so Alice was incorporated as well with hints of a mad tea party, pink flamingos, doorknobs, and croquet. It was truly a labor of love. Most of the decor and elements were handmade. And we sourced all of the decor, furniture, and dishes and drove a uHaul to the venue the day before to unload. It was not the smallest uHaul. You can see photos on Style Me Pretty.

asd: get out of town! that is GORGEOUS! (i just used capital letters, so you know i mean it).

{photo by sarah k chen}

asd: what has been the best part of marriage?

LMS: I am a very independent person, I’ve traveled to and lived in other countries by myself, but the last couple of years I’ve spent the majority of my time with my husband since we both work from home and surprisingly we have not yet gotten sick of each other. So while I can totally go places by myself, it has been awesome to have a partner in crime.

asd: i'd love to pick your brain a little bit, going back to instagram, on behalf of people who are new to using the site, and who want to polish up their feeds and make their photos more impactful.

what kind of camera & editing software do you use?

LMS: I am 98% iPhone, and 2% Fujix100s. If the photo is an iPhone photo, I use VSCO and play with the brightness, contrast, and temperature of the photo and sometimes use a filter, but almost never at full 12 level. If I’m using a Fuji camera photo, I edit in Lightroom, play with brightness, contrast, and temperature and then use VSCO to crop it into a 2x2. I also slightly overexpose everything, I just like the slightly blown out look.

asd: me too. i love turning up the exposure, and i can’t even believe what just that little step will do for a photograph.

asd: your instagram gallery feels so beautifully cohesive. how do you edit what you post to make sure your pictures “fit” with each other?

LMS: I’ve been editing my photos since January of this year to make the colors/brightness fit with my other photos. This is really simple to do if editing photos with VSCO since all of my other IG photos are right there in my library ready for comparison.

asd: is there a formula you’re trying to stick to, for example, specific edits or subjects?

LMS: I tend to stick to brights with white, pinks, pastels. I currently only post daylight/daytime photos regardless of how cool the fireworks/sparklers look, or how awesome a vintage neon sign lights up. My photos are almost always in 2x2 squares. My subjects are generally architecture, signs, Disneyland, and little vignettes of home or life that I like.

asd: do you hold back from posting pictures that don’t fit, even if you love them?

LMS: Yes, I hold back from posting photos that don’t fit. If I’m out and about traveling/sightseeing, I generally take about 100-125 photos/day, but I only post 1-3 photos to IG a day.

asd: what has been the most surprising thing you have found on instagram?

LMS: I found that I like following strangers (people who I have never met in real life) and I love the community and friendship that exists between all of these strangers. Using hashtags, you can “meet” someone across the country who has similar likes, tastes, and interests and become friends. I’ve also found a lot of inspiration from some stunning talented photographers who constantly show me places that I want to go or experiences I want to experience for myself.

asd: who are your favorites to follow?

LMS: Can I name all 262 people I am following? No? Ok. How about Grace Bonney, Design Love Fest, Sisilia Piring, Joy Prouty, Joy Cho, Leah Bergman, Kelly Lanza, Sonja Rasula, Melissa Hope, Grace Chon, Dine X Design, Joanne Pio, Gaby Jeter, and Kelly Lack to name a few.

asd: what makes you hit the “follow” button?

LMS: Beautiful photos! Also, diverse photos. I’ve unfollowed a few people who keep posting the “same” photo over and over - usually a vignette in their house, or a pool scene, or travel photos. Like, the same photo, but a different angle, a different day, but the same content.

asd: how about using hashtags?

LMS: Use them, but don’t abuse them. I like to limit my hashtags to 3-5 per photo. And I try to sometimes make one a joke.

asd: which ones are your favorites?

LMS: I love #signgeek for all the vintage signs, vintage neons, etc.

Any of the Design*Sponge hashtag series like #dslettering, #dssummer, #dscolor, etc.

I like #vscocam because of the awesome, random photos.

And, I’m also a fan of my #willAndrealikeit series in which I post a food and take a poll of whether or not I will like it, then the next day I show a photo of me eating that food. I’m a picky eater, so my friends really like this one. I’ve only done a couple, but I’m planning on doing more starting next month.

asd: ha! that’s hilarious...i will be looking out for that.

asd: give me, in your opinion, three rules for instagram etiquette.

LMS: I have four rules:

1. Don’t be mean.

2. Thank people who comment or reply to comments/questions.

3. Don’t ask for followers, it is so annoying.

4. Post your own photos, or give credit when you regram someone else’s photograph/work.

asd: how about some advice for new bloggers and small business owners. what would you say to someone just starting out?

LMS: Stick with it. Stick to a schedule. Blog regularly. It’s hard, but try to do it.

asd: how do you budget your time between running a small business and keeping up with a blog?

LMS: I don’t. I am totally overwhelmed right now. But I just prioritize and do the best that I can.

asd: ha! glad to know i’m not the only one. any tips for staying blog-organized?

LMS: An editorial calendar. I have a large desk calendar and I stayed up until 3 am about a month ago and planned the next 3 months of my blog. That’s not to say that it won’t change or I won’t edit it, but at least I have a plan.

asd: your bio says that you decided to become an event planner after graduating from law school and passing the bar exam. how did that go over with your family? any regrets?

LMS: My family is very supportive. Life is too short to do something you don’t love. Also, I want to be around and raise my (future hypothetical) kids. I don’t want to work 60-70 hours a week in a law office and never see my family/kids. Of course, I regret my student loans, but a legal education is still useful - I mean, just earlier today I reviewed a contract my husband was asked to sign and told him not to sign it unless there were major revisions.

asd: in a creative job, inspiration is everything. what is your favorite way to be inspired with new ideas?

LMS: My favorite way to stay inspired is through Instagram. I have a folder of screenshots that I take of photos that inspire me - either of places I want to travel to, clothes I need to buy, things I need to make, color palettes I like, etc. Although, I’m also kind of old school and I LOVE magazines. I like to be able to just sit down with a magazine and flip through the pages and not look at a screen. My current favorite magazines are Sunset, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Real Simple, and the Anthro and J.Crew catalogs (those count as magazines, right?)

asd: those absolutely count as magazines.

asd: can we talk a sec about [the blogging conference] ALT summit? there are a lot of people, like me, who want to go but have no idea what they're getting into. i appreciated that you posted about your experiences so we could be better prepared!

what was the one thing you learned/ saw/ heard/ did there that has had the most lasting impact?

LMS: I think I realized that not all, but A LOT of the speakers/panelists were cases of extremes. The particular speakers/panelists at the ALT conference I attended were bloggers and entrepreneurs who are very successful. And while someone can learn from their hard work and skills, it is important to keep in mind that the success may also be due to luck, such as being in the right place at the right time, or the success of a fad, and you should not be disappointed that your blog or business has not yet achieved the same success. Or basically that quote, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle ...” and especially that middle that just happened to strike gold.

asd: did you meet anyone that was so awesome that i (and the rest of the world) need to know about him or her?

LMS: I met Kim Wardell of Design + Life + Kids and she is awesome! She blogs about modern home decor and she has two gorgeous little girls. She is going through a family tragedy, so go click on her Instagram and send her some hearts.

asd: which speaker did you like best?

LMS: Well, since this is an Instagram based interview, I have to say that the photo styling workshop with House of Brinson was the most informative. I learned a lot of photography tips/tricks. They have a workshop coming up during ALT for Everyone.

asd: what’s your five-year plan?

LMS: I don’t really have one. But in 5 years, I hope I will be just as happy if not happier than I am now with the husband, 2-3 kids, a weiner dog, and a couple of thriving businesses. I also hope to go to Italy or Morocco in the next 5 years. We’ll see.

asd: tell me a little bit about your event planning business.

LMS: My event planning business is The Party Task Force, and I’m just starting out, but I hope to do event planning and styling for weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, bachelor/ette parties, birthday parties, etc. So if you have any friends in Los Angeles and they need help planning, coordinating, styling their wedding, party, or other event, please let me know!

asd: you also have an etsy shop, which has, like, the coolest stuff! where do you find it all?

LMS: That is a trade secret! But I guess the answer is everywhere: flea markets, garage sales, antique stores, thrift stores, etc. I pick things up everywhere I go.

asd: do you think instagram is an important social media for a small business or blogger to be on?

LMS: Yes, of course! I’ve found Etsy shops and new blogs to follow through Instagram!

asd: what is your advice for getting people to find you or your business, and then follow you?

LMS: Gosh, I do not know. I don’t have that many followers really. I think a cohesive style helps, as well as well thought out hashtags, and maybe playing with the Design*Sponge hashtags (which is how I found you!)

asd: does the ‘like’ button on instagram ever make you feel bad?

LMS: No, it never makes me feel bad. The only thing that makes me feel bad is when someone unfollows me. I always wonder if they were only following me to gain followers themselves (a follow for follow type person) or if there was something about my gallery that they didn’t like anymore.

asd: you obviously love travel. what was your favorite trip?

LMS: I’ll always love Paris and France. I might never go back to Australia, Fiji, Curacao, Mexico, the Netherlands, England, or Germany, but I will always go back to Paris and France. Mostly for the delicious baguettes and chocolate eclairs!

asd: where are you going next?

LMS: NYC! I’ve never been. Can you believe it? I’ve traveled all over, but I have never been to New York City. I’m so excited!

asd: pick one of your favorite photos and tell me the story behind it.

LMS: I’m going to do two. I took this photo while running a half marathon. It’s one of my favorite photos and I just happened to catch a surfer with a teal/mint surfboard near an awesome teal/mint VW bus.

LMS: This is another of my favorite photos. This photograph was taken while on my honeymoon. We’re standing in a field in Auvers Sur Oise just outside of Paris where Van Gogh spent his last days. The last painting he did was Wheatfield with Crows, and it is in that wheatfield that I took this photo. I love the wildflowers, the clouds, the colors. It was also just a wonderful day spent in France, exploring an artsy town, with my new husband.

asd: last, and most important, question. why are there so many weird giant statues along the roads in this country??

LMS: Well, if there are four gas stations at one intersection, but one has a giant Muffler Man, or World’s Largest Chile Pepper, or Pistachio, at which one are you going to stop? For me, it’s an easy choice, I just love the kitsch and the campy-ness of roadside attractions.

asd: friend, it is hilarious to me that you had an actual answer to that question.

//  //

i'd like to thank andrea for being my guest today. her instagram is simply delightful and i know you'll enjoy following along with her as much as i do.

and now- the giveaway! simply comment below and tell me what your favorite photo of andrea's is. you'll be entered to win one a 5 x 5 print of your choosing from her etsy shop (valued at $16.95). any united states resident over 18 is eligible (void where prohibited). i'll randomly choose a winner on august 7th. (be sure to comment with how i should reach address or instagram handle, etc). good luck!

and if you're like me and never win anything, good news: you can use the code WOOHOO20 for 20% off any photography print in the shop! how nice is this girl?!

thank you for stopping by to learn a little bit more about andrea and her lovely photos. please join me in wishing her all the best in her new business and adventures ahead.


  1. Laura, thanks for a fantastic interview. If I would have just seen Andrea's feed, I would have fallen in love with her photos, but hearing more of her story was frosting on the cake.

    Andrea, I hope this doesn't come across as an insult, but when I look at your photos, I think "I get it!" You see I like pretty things. Often I stare at something someone else has deemed "great art", and I just don't understand why it's good. However, every one these photos lives at the intersection of pretty and kitschy and I love them! Like want-to-buy-prints-for-my-house love them. I had to comment because I want to win the drawing (I peaked at your etsy store and it's fantastic as well). Even if I don't I am going to buy something fantastic from your store. Also, you made me want to see places I've never even thought of before. I am busy raising 3 little boys and I am joyfully, delightfully in chaos mode. I rarely think about what my life will look like when I am out of this season. Your photos made me anticipate traveling the world with my husband. So I can pretty much guarantee he will be subscribing to your feed tomorrow as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. And I just realized that commenting in the middle of the night is less than ideal: I forgot to tell you which photo I liked best. I love the surf board and the car. Great story, great pic.

    2. Steph, thank you so much for the sweet words! I'm so happy to know I've inspired someone out there with my photos! And if you happen to be going anywhere in California or Route 66 and have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

  2. Also, Laura, you made me realize something! When you asked "Where do you get your inspiration from?", it dawned on me! I've been viewing looking for ideas for my home as cheating. Of course I have decorator's block! It's okay to look at a magazine and like something and imitate it a little. Thanks for the freedom! YOU inspire me. :)

    1. thank you so very much, steph, and thanks for all your wonderful comments!! you so have the gift of encouragement. ;-)

  3. Call me crazy but I really was drawn to Hotel Longhorn! Who wouldn't want to catch a wink surrounded by that luxurious pink???

  4. Great interview laura! I want to sit - no - lay in that wheat field and listen to the breeze and watch the clouds float by! Fabulous! (Allison)

    1. yes!!! that would be sooo nice right about now. ;-)

  5. Great interview Laura. Those. Pictures. Are. Amazing. Uh-mazing!!!

  6. Andrea is AMAZING and her interview was of course just as incredible as she is! I adore the photograph of the VW bus + surfer. The colors in it are sublime!

    XO Vanessa

    1. Vanessa I think YOU are AMAZING! Thank you! (Also, I think I stole my 57 Things About Me page from you, so thank you again!)

  7. Excellent interview! Love Andrea and her photography... especially how her pink obsessions so tastefully shines through :) And I 1000% agree that Andrea and her work is totally intriguing. We sat for dinner once and I knew we would be friends! She's hilarious, gorgeous and simply awesome. xx

    1. Thanks for reading, Kim! And thank you for the lovely compliments!

    2. thank you kim! and i'm so very sorry for your loss. i'm so glad andrea told me about you- i will be following you and praying for you. thanks for coming by and your sweet comments. xo.

  8. Laura, I love this series. It is so interesting. Thanks for introducing me to Andrea and her work. I love her visual perspective and the little element of mystery that is in each picture. My favorite is probably the antlers, because I am currently obsessed with antlers. (I have no idea why...maybe living in Minnesota.) In any event, thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you, Grace! I'm totally into antlers, too. That is also one of my favorite photos!

  9. Laura, thank you so much for having me and forcing me to get a little introspective. Seriously wonderful questions! And I love, love, love thinking of my photographs as intriguing. I always liked that boys in bars thought I was intriguing, and I love that you think of my photographs as intriguing. I guess it means my personality is captured through my lens in my photographs. Thanks, again! This is a great series and I cannot wait to read about your next insta-crush.

    1. hahaha andrea, thank YOU for subjecting yourself to the grilling and for sharing your photos. i'm so excited to see what is in store for you. you are an inspiring talent! ;-)

  10. thank you so much, everyone, for your kind and sweet comments! we have a winner's HOLLY!!! congratulations holly!!!!

  11. This post is really valuable that designed for the new visitors. Pleasing work, keep on writing.


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