Bed-time musings

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think,
I’m not going to make it
,
but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
― Charles Bukowski

cat in bed

Over drinks on a Friday, I realised being single must be a blessing, because really,

bedd

I mean, if some lady got to marry the Eiffel Tower, I can be legally tied to my bed so that it’s absolute cruelty to force us apart. It took weeks of sleep deprivation, and then a good sleep-in Saturday, for me to realise my greatest love is my own bed.

And if my bed were all these kinds of pretty…I’ll never ever leave it for anything or anyone.

bed22

bed33

queenred
Red Room. Hurhurhur…who else gets the reference?

treebed

forestbed

#randommusings on a Saturday night, before I return to worshipping my other half.

Tata.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – INNI Skincare

My ultimate skincare remedy for the festive season has arrived! Look no further if you too are worried about ruining your skin with anticipated late nights, booze and Christmas goodies. INNI by La Source Spa is a premium range created by beauty professionals from the popular beauty sanctuary, to give you results that parallel stepping into a spa.

I’m featuring 2 exclusive product sets from BlackBox SG – the INNI by La Source, and INNI Solutions by La Source. Both beautifully packaged, these will make great Christmas gifts for family and friends. Products are 100% botanical and source-traceable – its ingredient lists feature easily identifiable plant and nature-sources. To put our minds at ease, all products are also free of parabens, mineral oils, additives and preservatives as well as colouring or artificial fragrances.

You can purchase these exclusive sets straight from BlackBox SG, plus don’t forget to claim a further 10% discount by using the promo code <<BBXJEAN10>> upon checkout!

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

Exclusive Box – INNI Solutions by La Source

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

These products are a sneakpeek into INNI’s extensive solutions range, which target age-defense, advance whitening serum, pigment corrective and AHA renewal, amongst many other skincare troubles. All products in this set have a really clean  scent – no acidic / alcoholic smells which irritates the hell out of me. I’m big on the scents, and INNI has passed the test. Here we go:

1. Hyaluronic B5 Gel | 30ml
Provides intensive hydration by binding moisture to skin tissue. Restores and hydrates all skin types without clogging pores.
Suitability: For all skin type includes acne prone skin, male and female
Retail size and price: 30ml @$104.86
Verdict: With an au-naturale ensemble, this product is super hydrating. Gel-based, it glides on smoothly and is absorbed so quickly, it is as if my skin is quenching its thirst. Leaves no residue so feel free to layer with the rest of your routine. My favourite product from this set!

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

2. Youthful Glow Enzyme Peel | 15ml
A nutrient-rich exfoliant that combines the enzymatic properties of papaya and pineapple with the nourishing advantages of wholesome pumpkin. Leaves skin with a soft, refined glow.
Suitability: For all skin type, male and female
Retail size and price: 15ml @$17.66 | 80ml @$94.15
Verdict: Only tried this once – the exfoliant is powerful, and the results are as though I’ve just done a peel at a facial. Slightly drying after the exfoliation. Moisturizing products used after this peel got absorbed really efficiently.

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

3. Skin Rescue Serum | 15ml
An instant fix for tired and fatigued skin, this Vitamin C-based serum hydrates and rejuvenates, promoting overall skin balance.
Suitability: For all skin type, male and female
Retail size and price: 15ml @$57.78 | 30ml @$115.56
Verdict: This worked wonders for my tired and fatigued skin. I’ve been having some late nights, and my complexion is taking the brunt of hits. Besides needing hydration, a shot of Vitamin C helps lighten up any pigmentation from skin fatigue, and also boosts skin elasticity. Great especially if layering on right before bedtime.

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

Exclusive Box – INNI by La Source

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

This set includes item overlaps from the previous set –  Youthful Glow Enzyme Peel and the Skin Rescue Serum. I’m really in love with the white mini satchel and pretty orange ribbons! Everything about this packaging feels like I’m stepping into a spa room.

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

1. Illuminating Whitening Mask | 15ml
This unique brightening mask contains sea kelp, enzymes and minerals which work together to tone and brighten dull and tired looking skin.
Suitability: For all skin types, male and female
Retail Size and Price: 15ml @$15.65 | 80ml @$83.46
Verdict: I have fair skin in general and whitening masks never managed to achieve immediately visible effects. Or this could be because I was using this after a particularly late night. This revived my late-night, sleep-deprived zombie complexion, which instead of looking lifelessly gray, has taken on a slightly brighter tone. Will definitely try this again for more visible results.

2. Youthful Glow Enzyme Peel | 15ml

3. Skin Rescue Serum | 15ml

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Have never been to the La Source Spa, but from what INNI can do, the spa is definitely worth a visit somehow. Get these exclusive INNI skincare sets if you’re looking for some home-based pampering!

Named INNI – short for Infinity – the brand is founded on love for purity and wellness. All products are 100 per cent natural and made without parabens, mineral oils, artificial colorants, perfumes and fillers. Harnessing the power of the range’s signature ingredients – Australian heilmoor clay, a peat which has purifying, anti-ageing and rejuvenating properties.”

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – Winter Organics

What’s new in my beauty stash?  A box of cool face and body products from Winter Organics that I’ve been psyched to try out!

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

What are they:

Calendula Shower Gel 
Retail Size and Price:
 200ml, $19.90
Lather and cleanse in a field of budding marigolds, refreshing your mind as well as your skin. The organic flower extract calms skin irritation and replenishes dry skin with lashing moisture. pH5 formulation, certified organic and suitable for all skin types including sensitive/eczema skin.

Key Ingredients:
1. Calendula Extract: Gentle on the skin with moisturising properties. Beneficial for allergy prone and sensitive skin.
2. Rooibos Extract: High level of anti-oxidants to counteract the effects of premature aging. It’s anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties makes it perfect for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
3. Vetiver: Anti-septic and moisturising properties to protect skin.

Verdict: Gentle flowery scent of the soothing kind. You know how flowery fragrances can get really sweet and annoying, but this one grows on you. I can foresee my family and I using this again.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Macadamia Hand & Body Lotion 
Retail Size and Price:
 100ml, $18.90
Safe for all skin types including sensitive skin, the Macadamia Hand and Body lotion uses the healing power of macadamia nut oil/milk and Tocopherol. Rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants, it keeps skin moisturised, improve the appearance of scars, helps with sunburn and other skin irritation. pH5 formulation, certified organic and suitable for all skin types including sensitive/eczema skin.

Key Ingredients:
1. Macadamia Nut Milk/ Oil: Rich in Vitamin E. Improves the appearance of scars, helps with sunburn and other skin irritation. Promotes skin elasticity, youthful appearance and restore skin’s barrier function.
2. Tocopherol: Natural antioxidant which is rich in Vitamin E that promotes cell renewal, skin elasticity and help prevent the signs of ageing.
3. Chamomile Flower Extract: Anti-inflammatory and soothing, beneficial for allergy prone and sensitive skin.

Verdict: Handy bottle to carry around in your purse or handbag. The texture can get a little thick and takes some time to absorb into your skin, but when it finally does, leaves a pleasant lingering scent. My skin was left moisturised for a very long time.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Cacao Facial Scrub 
Retail Size and Price: 100ml, $26.90
Cacao is a natural beauty superfood. With high level of antioxidants, Vitamin C, E, magnesium antioxidants, it enhances cellular regeneration to develop a healthy glow and clear skin. Triple natural gentle exfoliants of bamboo powder, argan shell powder and olive seed powder gently polishes and exfoliates. pH5 formulation certified organic and suitable for all skin types including sensitive/eczema skin.

Key Ingredients:
Triple Natural Gentle Exfoliants – Bamboo powder, Argan shell powder and Olive seed powder
1. Cacao: a natural beauty superfood. With high levels of antioxidants, Vitamin C, E, magnesium and antioxidants, it enhances cellular regeneration to develop a healthy glow and clear skin.
2. Olive Squalane: Derived from olives, it is similar to our skin own molecular structure. It’s biocompatibility allows it to penetrate all layers of skin for hydration, rejuvenation and nourishment of our skin.
3. Papaya Extract Enzymes have exfoliating properties to remove dead and damaged skin. Improves tone and texture of skin.

Verdict: Indeed a natural beauty superfood! This is my favourite Winter Organics product from this set because it smells good, and does wonders to my skin. After one scrub, I swear my skin glowed a little, even after an entire day in a dry air-conditioned environment. Unlike many scrubs out there, it didn’t feel rough. But don’t take this for granted, when using a scrub, always only use your third and fourth fingers so you don’t harm the top layers of your skin.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Chamomile Facial Cleanser 
Retail Size and Price: 100ml, $25.90
Refresh your skin with Chamomile Facial Cleanser pH5 for use day and night. Release the relaxing, soothing scent of a natural flower blend as you massage the cleanser into your moist skin. Soft chamomile, soothing aloe vera, sweet calendula, exotic ylang ylang, warm rosemary, and citrusy orange ingredients blend together for a luxurious natural fragrance. Our formulation of pH5 is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin and speed up acne healing time with anti-inflammatory properties.

Key Ingredients:
1. Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice: Anti-inflammatory, soothing, hydrating and toning
2. Seabuckthorn: High level of anti-oxidants, vitamins A,C,E & K and fatty omega to counteract the effects of premature aging.
3. Chamomile Flower Extract: Anti-inflammatory and soothing, beneficial for allergy prone and sensitive skin

Verdict: Chamomile always has that calming effect. When I use this to wash my face before bed, the au-naturale floral scent soothes my skin and relaxes my mind. I found the product slightly drying because after one wash, my skin felt a little tight. Then again this could be because I have been staying in air-conditioned areas for too long periods of time.  Overall I would still use this product again! Plus it’s handy enough to carry around for my showers at the gym.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Winter Organics formulations are all natural, gentle on the skin, environmentally friendly and cruelty free. Natural and organic compounds are not only biodegradable and sustainable, they also do a better job than harsh chemicals which is a cheaper alternative for skincare. Certified organic ingredients must pass more rigorous standards of purity.

You heard it here first: Winter Organics Exclusive Box is available exclusively at S$61.60/box at BlackBox SG. (Usual Price: $88). Promotional price of S$49.90 is applicable to the first 30 sets only, after which this set will be sold at $61.90.

Don’t forget! Quote <<BBXJEAN10>> to enjoy an additional 10% off this or ANY exclusive sets at BlackBox SG 🙂

Direct shop link- http://blackbox.sg/luxury/detail/everything/Winter_Organics

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Face Inc – Revolutionary Primer Mist

Bustling with excitement as I’m writing this – The Face Inc has just, on 1 Nov, launched its Primer Mist and I’m honoured to be able to review this!

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Back in April, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Face Inc’s cleansing gel and active toner. I loved their lightweight texture and clear composition. And especially because it doesn’t create a layer of grease on my skin. The Primer Mist has not fallen short of expectations. It is indeed, as described on their website, a “lightweight hydration face mist that works instantly to hydrate, smooth and tighten skin in 15 seconds“. As The Face Inc suggests, the product is ideally for use before make up as a skin refresher and primer, to allow makeup to stay fresh for longer periods of time, but I spritz mine on before and after to lock in my makeup.

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean SingaporeThe Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean SingaporeRetailing at SGD68, the primer mist comes with a travel-sized spritz bottle and 2 refills (3x15ml). Shaped like a lipstick, the bottle is slim and small enough to slip into the pocket of my jeans, and even the smallest of purses, for all-day hydration on-the-go. Perhaps I’ve just found the perfect alternative to Vichy’s Eau Thermale, which I used to never leave home without.

To open, the blue top cap is easily slipped off, and a nozzle is revealed by twisting the bottom half of the spritz.

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Directions for use: Hold bottle 8 to 10 inches away from desired area and spray gently. Wait a few seconds before dabbing dry, and proceed with regular make-ip application. Can be used any time of day!

I tested this out first by first spritzing onto my hand – the liquid is clear,  but not completely watery (see first picture below). After spreading out the product evenly, absorbance rate was pretty fast. Within 15 – 30 seconds it was completely absorbed into my skin (see second picture below).The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

After application, a cool sensation persists. Zero grease/residue was left behind so it looks as though I didn’t apply any product at all and that I feel was the best quality of this primer mist. Fragrance-wise there were no distinctive smells at all, so it doesn’t irritate at all when you spritz close to your eyes or nose.

I brought this out to the gym this morning. Post-shower, this doubled really effectively as both toner and moisturizer, and even as a makeup setting spritz! Seriously given this super convenient design, even without learning about the product, I’m already sold. Just take my money already. Loving this sleek blue hydrating primer mist so much, that I’m just so glad it comes with refills.

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Please refer to this snapshot for complete detailed directions for use!

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Thank you, The Face Inc.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – ProActiv+

No.1 acne treatment system Proactiv® has developed a more advanced Proactiv+ – an all-new acne-care system, now gentler and more effective than before. Completely reformulated from the ground up, Proactiv+ integrates Proactiv’s Smart Target Technology to deliver active ingredients directly into the pores to fight off breakouts.

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean]

Proactiv+ is a medicated acne care treatment featuring a 3-step regimen and salicylic acid. This exclusive set comes with a handy quick start guide (albeit in Japanese), and is now available at BlackBox SG. Psst… don’t forget to apply my code ‘BBXJEAN10‘ for further 10% discount off your entire purchase! ♥

I’m hosting a giveaway for Proactiv+’s Skin Refining Mask at my instagram, and am announcing the results for this tomorrow (Sunday, 25 Sep!) Simply comment to stand a chance to win.

Now moving onto my reviews.

Proactiv+ 3-Step Core System Kit Exclusive set

The exclusive set comes in a convenient box, which opens up into a pretty turquoise interior, in which the 3-step regime is laid out cleanly. Though formulated to last 30 days, I believe this will last more than 2 months.

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 2

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 3

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 5

1. Proactiv+ Skin smoothing cleanser

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 11

 

“Gentle exfoliating beads remove dead skin cells and excess oil. Contains an active ingredients salicylic acid. Kills acne-causing bacteria and helps to improve acne-causing bacteria and helps improve acne-prone skin. Smooth-textured agent thoroughly cleanses your skin.”
Retail Price: 60g, $29.90

Verdict: The texture felt too clean and even to be an exfoliator, but as it thins out against the skin, I could feel the small exfoliating beads working to smoothen out and remove my dead skin cells. Could feel and see the difference – though it’s good to remember not to rub too hard! Especially if you have bumpy acne. I’m in love with the clean, indiscernible, scent.

To use, apply appropriate amount (one tea spoon) of product to damp skin, then gently massage avoiding the eye area and lips, and rinse thoroughly with warm water.

2. Proactiv+ Pore Targeting Treatment

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 10

“Integrated with the New “Smart Target™ Technology”. It is a serum with active ingredients to help prevent acne. A gentle lightweight gel texture adds moisture to the skin. Helps improve the skin’s texture to ensure a supple appearance.”
Retail Price: 30g, $20

Verdict: The light serum gets absorbed quickly, and can be applied with heavier creams like sunblock and liquid foundation. A light tingling sensation follows after application, and I like that it only has a light, clean fragrance. Formulated as a pore tightening treatment, I felt that it was better as a acne-smoothing serum.

To be used after Step 1 (Skin Smoothing Cleanser). Apply appropriate amount (pearl size) of product, then gently smooth over entire face avoiding the eye area without rubbing and allow to fully absorb.

3. Proactiv+ Skin Brightening Hydrator

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 9

“Moisture-rich texture containing Vitamin C derivative and botanical ingredients. Protects skin from dryness. Prevents new acne from forming and smoothens skin. Adds complexion and helps make transparent skin.”
Retail Price: 30g, $29.90

Verdict: Skin feels moisturised upon application, though when used on top of the Pore Targeting Treatment, the product takes a while to get absorbed and leaves a layer of residue. Meantime, I’ve been using this together with sunblock and BB cream. After a week of use, my skin appears brighter!

To be used after Step 2 (Pore Targeting Treatment) or a toner fully absorbed, apply appropriate amount (pearl size) of product. Gently smooth over entire face
avoiding the eye area without rubbing and allow to fully absorb.

[FREE] Proactiv Refining Mask 

When you purchase the exclusive box set, this product comes completely free!

 

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 7

“Proactiv® Refining Mask provides pampering that an oily, pimple-prone and sensitive skin needs. The facial mask acts as an acne treatment skin care product as it contains elements such as sulphur (a proven acne-fighting ingredient) that effectively fights acne causing bacteria. The active ingredient in it absorbs excess oil, reduces the appearance of pore size, pacifies redness and improves the skin texture. It also works well on stubborn blackheads and whiteheads. Regular application of this facial mask will give your skin a smooth and radiant effect.”
Retail Price: 28g, $20.50

Verdict: I have enlarged pores on my nose and certain parts of the T-zone. After a week of regular use, it gets easier to cover up those pores with makeup. Wouldn’t lie as to say that my pores are completely diminished from sight. I do love the clean fragrance of this refining mask, and would definitely use this on a longer-term basis for more effective results.

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 8

Overall Verdict: As with most Japanese cosmetics, this Japan-formulated series give off a clean, refreshing vibe. It is an affordable off-the-shelf pharmaceutical brand, and I’ll definitely replenish the products that I find useful after I’ve used up this 30-day supply. For all my readers, I do hope you’ll give this a shot!

Direct shop link – http://bit.ly/ProactivExclusiveBox

Quote <<BBXJEAN10>> to enjoy an additional 10% off this or ANY exclusive sets at BlackBox 🙂

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 6

Proactiv Japan Skincare - Blackbox SG [Viktoria Jean] 4

Watch this space for more skincare reviews.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – Dr Young Skincare

Hello! Haven’t updated in a long while, but I’m still alive!

Got my hands on a bunch of skincare products from Dr Young Skincare, and had the luxury of pampering my skin with goods from their latest launch. They deserve a good long review. Thank you BlackBox SG!

More exclusive Dr Young skincare sets are available at BlackBox SG. Psst… don’t forget to apply my code ‘BBXJEAN10‘ for further 10% discount off your entire purchase! ♥

Exclusive Box 1 – Dr. Young Acne-Prone & Oily Skin (Dark Skin Base)

Targeted at troubled skin, these products focus on soothing inflamed skin, and covering up your flaws. Though generally I don’t have acne problems, I have worked these wonders into my skincare regime to soothe the occasional breakout. Limited sets are now available at $32.90/box (U.P $76.60)! Link to purchase: at BlackBox SG

Dr Young Skincare BlackBox SG 2

What’s in it:

1. AC Out Spot Toner With Herb Complex | 120ml
Contains green and white tea that protect skin, with additional 5 herbs that prevent spread of irritated spots and control sebum excretion.  Green Tea & White Tea prevents skin damage while Tea Tree Oil, Salicylic Acid and Triclosn soothe irritated areas.
Retail Price: 120ml, $36.90

Verdict: Slightly watery, with zero alcoholic scent. Faint scent of tea tree oil in the liquid, which I loooove. Used this on my seasonal, hormonal breakouts (ladies, y’all know what I mean) and the toner soothed my angry red spots – making them calm down and fade away way faster than they usually do. Advise not to skip the cotton pad during application due to extremely runny liquid. (Then again, I hate viscous toners.)

Dr Young Toner AC Spot Out

2. 2P Pearl Brightening Balm SPF35 PA++ | 30ml
Hydrating soothing B.B. cream without stickiness but light adhesiveness that makes dark/tanned skin much brighter, healthier. Provides fresh feeling on your skin all day long.
Shade:  dark skin color base
Retail Price: 30ml, $27.90

Verdict: Unfortunately the BB Cream was of a darker tone and didn’t suit mine. Will be giving this away to a tanner friend. Any takers?

Dr Young BB Cream Skincare BlackBox SG

3. Refreshing Spring Showers Mask (Damyang Bamboo) | 2pcs
Contains refreshing bamboo extracts from Damyang, which are rich in mineral and Portulaca Oleracea Extract. Also contains Flavonoid from Adansonia Digitata Leaf Extract, and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract which soothes sensitive skin.
Retail Price: Per sheet (20ml), $5.90

Verdict: Left mine in the fridge before application so as to ‘ice’ my pores – the cooling effect doubled the shiokness of this mask. Bamboo extracts in any facial product almost never go wrong. The cooling and soothing effects were good – although I was left with a slightly heavy residual essence on my skin. I actually do prefer some other varieties in another Dr Young face masks set (below).

Do make sure that the BB Cream suits your skin tone! There are two available in the selection. All in all, a very good selection of products for a targeted purpose.

Exclusive Box 2 – Dr. Young Face Mask Set (Citrus, Bamboo, Ginseng)

You know how some facemasks can never adhere comfortably to your face, or annoyingly leave a thick sheen of grease after? In my opinion a good facemask should fit ‘like a glove’, with minimal slipping, and leave little to no residue.

Dr Young’s exclusive sheet masks set comes with 5x citrus, bamboo and ginseng-enhanced face masks, which in my opinion ranks above the usual drugstore variety. The texture of its sheets are even finer than some of my favourite Taiwanese brands (My Beauty Diary included), though not as soft or pliable. At $22.90/pack (U.P $54) for 15 sheets, this set is practically a steal. Link to purchase this set: at BlackBox SG

Dr Young Skincare - Blackbox SG

Dr Young Masks Korea

What’s in it:

1. Clear & Glowing Sky Mask (Jeju Citrus) 
Boasts the brightening effect of tangerine from Jeju Island, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, and White Flower Complex (Jasmine, Rose, Lilium candidum, Freesia Refracta, Leontopodium alpinum, Iris Versicolor Extract) to improve your skin tone and complexion. Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract and hyaluronic acid provides deep moisture to skin.
Retail Price: Per sheet (20ml) @$5.90, 5pcs/set @$18

Verdict: I’m biased towards product with tangy, citrusy scents, as it enhances the clean, refreshing effect. After a couple of use, skin seems lighter and brighter from within. Great as a boost to the pre-bed ritual.


2. Refreshing Spring Showers Mask (Damyang Bamboo) Contains refreshing bamboo extracts from Damyang, which are rich in mineral and Portulaca Oleracea Extract. Also contains Flavonoid from Adansonia Digitata Leaf Extract, and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract which soothes sensitive skin.
Retail Price: Per sheet (20ml) @$5.90, 5pcs/set @$18

Verdict: As mentioned, the slightly heavy residue could be better. I’ve tested some lighter bamboo facemasks.

Dr Young Skincare set Blackbox SG masks

3. Nourishing Rain on Dry Skin Mask (Geumsan Ginseng) 

Saponin, which is the main ingredient of ginseng from Geumsan, ChungCheongnam-do, provides elasticity and nutrition to skin. Additionally, Medicinal Herb Complex (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Prunus Persica (Peach) Leaf Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract) and Shea Butter extracts fill up skin with deep moisture and nutrition and wrap it up, which leads to healthy and glorious skin.
Retail Price: Per sheet (20ml) @$5.90, 5pcs/set @$18

Verdict: The ginseng mask is by far my favourite – after 20 minutes my face feels truly ‘prepped’ for other products in my routine. This was lighter than most ginseng masks (or masks claiming to boast the skin-loving properties of ginseng), and the aftereffect was less oily than most. The moisturized feeling lasted for about 4 hours before my face started greasing up. And that was good enough for me. Was able to layer on some sunblock after using this, and not feel that there was too much on my face.

Ginseng face masks dr young

Feel free to develop your own verdicts. With the haze returning, it’s even more crucial to give your skin some lovin’. On most days, I begin my evening skincare regime with facemasking – this step in the ritual is just really important to me, and increasingly so with bad air conditions.

Grab your Dr Young skincare sets from BlackBox SG today! What’s even better, you can quote <<BBXJEAN10>> to enjoy an additional 10% off this or ANY exclusive sets at BlackBox 🙂

P.S. I’ve missed writing here! ❤

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – The Face Inc

A peace of mind is what I got from trying out The Face Inc‘s cleansing gel and active toner. The clear, see-through consistency of both products attest to its au naturale qualities. And I just love the clean, simple fragrance!

Blackbox SG - The Face Inc

I found out about The Face Inc via this beautiful, exclusive set from the BlackBox SG, and was so glad to discover this quick facial fix at only a fraction off the market value!

Over at www.BlackBox.sg, you can grab this Exclusive Set at ONLY $26.90 (U.P $44), with full sizes included (only for the first 40 sets, while stocks last).

What’s even better, you can quote <<BBXJEAN10>> to enjoy an
additional 10% off this or ANY exclusive sets at BlackBox!

The Face Inc BlackBox SG Giveaway

Read on for a sneak peek of this exclsive set. Unwrapping this took a little longer, because I never want to ruin these boxes.

The Face Inc Cleansing Gel Active Toner

I was really fascinated by the product’s absolute clarity. Transparent cleansers are not very common, or perhaps I’ve been using way too many products with  intensive lather.

The Face Inc Blackbox SingaporeThe Face Inc Blackbox Singapore

1. The Face Inc Cleansing Gel | 50ml

Marketed as a proprietary cleansing formulation that hydrates and tones all skin types. The clear gel feels cool to the touch when applied, with a faint fragrance attributed to the gel’s cucumber extract component, that acts as a skin conditioning and softening agent. The cleanser even has mild exfoliating properties, but for that property you still need an additional exfoliator.

The sodium chloride ingredient acts as a natural astringent and antiseptic agent, absorbing moisture, firming the skin and balancing the skin’s pH level. I don’t have to worry about acidity wrecking havoc on my skin.

Retail Size and Price: 50ml, $22

The Face Inc Cleansing Gel

2. The Face Inc Active Toner | 50ml

This alcohol-free toner contains AHAs for an enhanced cleansing process. Components like Citric and Lactic Acids remove dead skin cells to reduce wrinkles, discoloration and roughness, to reveal a radiant skin. Although toners are typically applied with cotton pads, I tend to skip the whole cotton-pads thing, since a lot of the product gets wasted and soaked into the applicator anyway.

I love the tingly feeling upon application of this clear, colourless fluid. There’s even a faint fragrance that lingers after!

Retail Size and Price: 50ml, $22

The Face Inc Active TonerThe Face Inc beauty

This Exclusive Pack – The Face Inc (Clear) is available at $26.90/pack (U.P $44). Direct shop link here at www.bit.ly/thefaceinc_toning

Psst… don’t forget to apply my code ‘BBXJEAN10‘ for further 10% discount off your entire purchase! ♥

Promo price @$26.90 is applicable to the first 40 packs only, so grab yours quickly! For more information, head over to www.blackbox.sg.

Blackbox SG beauty blogger singapore

About The Face Inc:

Doctor prescribed skincare, The Face Inc comprises a range of products near pharmaceutical grade, specifically formulated to tackle the prevailing conditions of acne and blemishes, pigmentation and scars, fine lines and wrinkles. Their primary offering is a skincare range comprising of 16 products, that is of near pharmaceutical grade, their high concentration of active ingredients translates into prompt and visible results, truly efficacious.

The Face Inc Blackbox Singapore Active Toner

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Holler Out! Pondok Jawa Timur

Dinner at Pondok Jawa Timur  on a Saturday Night, before our excursion to the iLights festival at Marina Bay. Thank you Aveline for hosting us!

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore

Before I go deeper into the authenticity of Pondok Jawa Timur’s Indonesian cuisine, I wanted to touch a little bit on HOLLER OUT, the latest foodie-tech app on the block, available on both iOS and Android. When you quote “VIKTORIAJEAN” on @holler.out app, with a minimum spend of $30, you get 10% off your total bill! In addition, you automatically become an ambassador for Pondok Jawa Timur by using my promo code on payment.

What Holler Out app does is to encourage word-of-mouth and social media affirmation of bistros, cafes, bars and restaurants. By sharing your code, or using someone else’s, both parties benefit! Because as an ambassador, you gain a teeny share of cash in your stash, which you can choose to cash out in future. As a code-user, you stand to get 10%-20% off your total bill. As a restaurant owner you get loads more social media mentions by being a participating vendor. Currently there’re more than 40 vendors, including spa and recreational outlets, and the app is ever expanding.

Pondok Jawa Timur is a participating vendor, and if you use my code “VIKTORIAJEAN” when you dine, you get a 10% discount. Simple relational equation. Use it now!

Let’s talk food now. Here I am, holding the Bakwan Jagung, or the simply irresistible fried minced corn cake and prawns. When I think about Indonesian food, my vocabulary falls short and stops somewhere between “Chendol” and “Ayam Penyet”. Hence, dinner at Pondok Jawa Timur was really an educational tour of the Javanese food culture.

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore Viktoria Jean
Dan decided to crash my photo. Hahha.Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore Viktoria Jean

I love how our rice came in 3 colours: White, Green and Yellow – Green being pandan-infused and yellow being tumeric-infused. The restaurant’s signature prawn crackers go so well with rice, and almost every damn thing, that its scattered all over our dishes. We had crackers for starters as appetisers.Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore

Avocado is supposedly healthy fat, and does wonders for your skin. This rich avocado shake comes with creamy chocolate sauce, and is the best drink to ruin all diet plans…and to make your skin smooth as a slab of butter. Choose wisely.

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore avocado

Who am I kidding? I choose avocado chocolate any damn day.

Thanks to our fabulous host, we enjoyed this array of dishes and almost had to roll our fat bellies out of 737 North Bridge Road. I especially enjoyed the Sate Ayam sticks, as we all know, are grilled chicken skewers served with special peanut sauce. Their sauce is smoother and definitely less chunky than the version that I’m used to eatting from Satay by the Bay or East Coast Park. And the taste is less peanut-ish, and stronger on garlic and spices.

As you can see, there are 3 types of soups in the photo:
The one furthest away is the Rawon, or the rich tasting Javanese beef black soup. Ayam Kare is the one in the middle and it’s essentially chicken curry.  Then there’s Soto Ayam, or  Tumeric Soup with shredded chicken, boiled egg and vegetables.Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore 1

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore satay

That delectable dish in the forefront is the Ayam Penyet – the traditional fried chicken served with fried tofu, tempeh and sambal belacan. Loved it! It’s crispy and crushed tempeh actually tastes like pork floss.Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore
Beside the curries, beef rendang and its traditional spice blend with coconut milk sauce goes perfectly with rice. It’s so good.Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant SingaporePondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore
This is the Ayam Bakar Kecap, the marinated grilled chicken with sweet sauce. I like it that it resembles teriyaki, and retains the heavy spice-infused flavour of most Indonesian dishes.

Ayam Bakar Kecap – $7.90Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore

Satay Sate Ayam 5 Sticks – $8.90Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore Satay
And the Bakwan Jagung (3pcs) – $6.50Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore

I loved this! Chicken curry/ Ayam Kare – $7.50Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore curry

Ayam Penyet – $6.90Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore ayam penyetThe Tahu Penyet (3 pcs) $2.50Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore Tempeh

Beef rendang – $8.90Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore beef rendangIkan Asam  – $9.50Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant SingaporeSambel Goreng Kentang Kering, or crispy sambal potato  –  $2.00Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore side dishes

Sambal Kacang Ikan Teri or Sambal fried anchovy w nuts – $2.00Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore side dishesPondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore

Kerupuk (prawn)  –  $2.00 / pktPondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore crackers

Of course, what’s a meal without desserts?

Introducing the Ice Campur ($4.50), a classic Indonesian ice shaved dessert served with chendol, grass jelly, young coconut and atap seed. Yummy! A must-have for the recent wave of humidity. 

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore chendolPondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore chendol

We were also served the Ice Kepala Muda Gula Jawa ($4.50), shaved ice with young coconut served with javanese sugar. Very interesting combination that tasted of gula melaka and sweet fresh coconut. 

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore Chendol 2

This is the Ice Teler ($4.50), an all time favourite Indonesian mixed ice served with young coconut, jackfruit and avocado! I loved this one especially, as there was a hint of lime and tasted super refreshing. I think I can eat one all on my own.

Pondok Jawa Timur - Indonesian Restaurant Singapore desserts

Opened by Indonesians, this restaurant has authentic recipes down to a T. Plus the prices are very affordable at the $13 – $20 range for a good full dinner. For Pondok Jawa Timur’s full menu, check out their website, or head down to their homely physical store at 737 North Bridge Road. I know I’m definitely heading back there for more Indonesian food soon!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – Formula 10.0.6 Review

I first noticed Formula 10.0.6 on a Priceline Pharmacy shelf in Brisbane because the brand’s bold words and bright perky packaging were hard to miss. I’m really ecstatic to try this oft-heard of skincare brand that has been around for 83 years. Thank you BlackBoxSG for allowing me to review FORMULA 10.0.6!

Psst… don’t forget to apply my code ‘BBXJEAN10‘ at checkout for 10% discount off your entire purchase! ♥

So the products I got to test were:
☆ Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer (75ML)
☆ Three Times Sublime 3-In-1 Blackhead Wash+Scrub+Mask (100ML)

☆ Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask
☆ Deep Down Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask
☆ No Time To Shine Oil Absorbing Mud Mask


Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer
This matte-finish moisturizer contains guarana and Vitamin B3 to keep skin smooth and shine-free all day. The energising Guarana extract recharges tired skin while the combination of Vitamin B3 and Salicylic Acid helps prevent excess oil secretion, leaving a seriously shine-free complexion. This all-new formulation is derived from a predecessor, the Aloe Vera and Bamboo Mattifying Moisturizer.

I first noticed the product’s interesting fragrance – I still can’t put a finger on what it smells like! A pleasant mix of aloe vera and eucalyptus?  With a touch of tea tree, so altogether a pleasant, clean scent. The product has a a thin consistency for people who dislike thick viscous formulae. When applied, I felt a slight stinging sensation all over the areas in contact with the cream. The stinging sensation stopped after the cream was fully absorbed into my skin within 2 minutes. The mattifying effect lasted on my skin for approximately 4 hours after application, before my face naturally became oily.


True to its mattifying properties, the cream is fast-drying and leaves no sticky residues. Under my usual sunscreen and foundation, I used this as an oil-control base to keep my shine in check. For a long time after application, the pleasant scent remained on my skin!

A component of the product -Aloe Barbaden Leaf Juice – is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, cell-detoxifying acids, and also anti-inflammatory ingredients like salicylic acid. Often described as the ‘life-force of aloe vera’, the extract helps to shrink pores and sooth acne flare-ups, while nourishing to avoid over-drying sensation. I learnt this while googling the product ingredients to find out what was contributing to that incredible fragrance.
Three Times Sublime 3-In-1 Blackhead Wash+Scrub+Mask (100ML)

Three Times Sublime was first launched in 2012. The product annihilates blackheads and clears up your skin by simultaneously removing excess oil, unclogging pores and eliminating dark blemishes. It’s 3-in-1 formula which acts as a foaming wash, exfoliating scrub and mud mask for the complete complexion overhaul.

I wasn’t expecting such a thick scrub with that many jojoba beads, but thankfully the product worked well and didn’t feel scratchy on my skin. The product smells au naturale and fantastic thanks to its Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate formula. For 15 minutes, with the product on my face, there was zero irritation. Just a small tip: leave your Three Times Sublime in the refrigerator before application for an amazing cooling effect!

Being an ultimate time-saver, the product is ideal for the busy socialite…and basically anyone who wishes to save time on skincare. Pink Grapefruit, a subtropical citrus fruit with an invigorating and uplifting fragrance to boost your mood, is one of the ingredients, along with  Jojoba beads to exfoliate dead skin cell, leaving your skin super smooth and blemish-free.

Directions to application: Apply to freshly cleansed and dried skin. Apply a thin coating over face and neck, avoiding eye area and allow mask to dry for 10-15 minutes. Dampen face and neck and massage gently until skin feels clean and smooth. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Pat skin dry. For best results use three times per week on alternative days.

Mud Masks
☆ Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask
☆ Deep Down Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask
☆ No Time To Shine Oil Absorbing Mud Mask

I managed to test all 3 mud mask trial kits. Formula 10.0.6’s Deep Down Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask was my absolute favourite – the product smells refreshingly warm (I love the fragrance!) with its sea-salt, bergamot and orange combination. There was a heating sensation which tingled my skin which I didn’t find unbearable at all. In fact, that’s when you know the product is working its magic.

The Deep Down Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask is beige-pinkish in colour, and completely opaque. The cream glided onto my skin with easy finger application. The hard part comes when getting the product off! After leaving the product on for 15 minutes, the layer dries and hardens, making it harder to remove. Just a tip: use warm water and a soft washcloth (which I usually do for all liquid face masks).

I noticed significant difference from ‘pre mud-masking’ to ‘post mud-masking’ – my skin was visibly brighter and my pores weren’t as visible. I can even forgive the slight drying effect that comes with the detoxification process, because my face felt thoroughly cleansed of all the impurities from makeup and accumulated sun damage. For just 10-15 minutes of your time every week, the effect can be amazing. This is great for anyone feeling as though your skin can hardly breathe from the amount of makeup you’re putting on everyday. Loved this product so much that I’m planning to get a full-sized tube of Deep Down Detox!

Directions to application: Apply to freshly cleansed and dried skin. Apply a thin coating over face and neck, avoiding eye area. Allow mask to dry for 10-15 minutes then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Pat skin dry. Use 1-3 times per week.

No Time To Shine Oil Absorbing Mud Mask is one of those face masks that works perfectly after a day out in the sun. The product consists largely of sea kelp and calendula – a little flower that packs a reputation for healing, soothing and antiseptic qualities. Sea Kelp normalizes the skins moisture content and helps heal blemishes due to antibacterial qualities. Concerns over sun damages are allayed at the end of the day when this mud mask helped soothe my skin. Despite its oil-absorbing claims, the product does not dry out the skin. I’m particular about product fragrances, and this one has an herbal deep-sea scent which I love!

Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask  clarifies the skin by eliminating impurities and clearing blocked pores. With the help of Strawberry, Yarrow and Rosemary, Pores Be Pure works to provide your skin with instant complexion perfection. The product is packed with antioxidants, which in any case is great for your skin and health in general. I found this product mediocre, and didn’t detect significant skin-clarifying results on my first usage. Perhaps I just need to use this a couple more times for that to show. Nonetheless, there is a mildly sweet scent to this product which matches the pink packaging and girly strawberries content.

All in all the mud masks are great value-for-money in terms of face masks. I do greatly recommend the Deep Down Detox!

About Formula 10.0.6
Jesse G Bell brought Ten-O-Six to life in 1933 with the first hero product lotion. The brand took off in 1950, when the product hit Seventeen magazine in the US, promoting complete complexion care. In 2008, the brand underwent a revamp into their current vibrant packaging, perky product names and even more star products to banish blemishes. The current range includes skin care products specifically designed to promote clear, healthy skin.

The range is now exclusively sold at selected Guardian Pharmacies in Singapore. You can also find incredible Formula 10.0.6 deals at BlackBox SG!

Visit BlackBox SG for more skincare magic!
Get the exclusive set with all the above products: Here.

Don’t forget to apply my code ‘BBXJEAN10‘ at checkout for 10% discount off your entire purchase! ♥

Check out my past review of TDF skincare sets, also available at BlackBox SG.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Ultimate Cheat-Sheet To Decluttering Your Vanity Space

(Article originally published on HIPVAN, January 26.)

All beauty lovers face the same problem: they find their room gradually being taken over by skincare and makeup products. Lipsticks all over the desk, toner bottles under the bed, sunscreens in the bookshelf and a skincare stash littering the floor. Does this sound like your bedroom?
Come every Chinese New Year, creating order in your vanity space is possibly one of the most neglected duties! For convenience, many ladies leave their beauty stash out in the open, all of which goes into a shoebox somewhere during relative’s house visits.
Watching beauty YouTubers organise their vanity space have inspired many solutions for decluttering beauty essentials. Once you begin organising that beauty space, a little bit of OCD will possibly get you addicted to keeping lipsticks, brushes and skincare products spick and span, nothing out of place. (Psst… All the products below can be found at HIPVAN.) Here’s our 10-step cheat-sheet to a more organised vanity space:

1. Check That Expiry!

The HipVan Blog

Don’t be afraid to throw out unfinished products that have been around longer than you can remember! Skincare products (serum, lotion, face cream) are typically good for 1 to 2 years upon unboxing. As for makeup, the shelf-life depends on the nature of product. Throw out mascaras after 3 months of use, lipsticks after a year, and compact foundations after 2 years or more. A good rule of thumb to follow before purchasing full-sized skincare products is to test out miniatures, before deciding if you would use the product often on a long term basis.

 

2. “You spin my head right round…”

The HipVan Blog

(Click on image to see the product)

Too many knick knacks lying around, are they making your head spin? YouTube Vloggers have started trending the craze of spinning vanity organizers for a while now! The Tabletop Spinning Vanity Organizer holds over 100 pieces of your everyday beauty essentials, arranging them in specially designed compartments for ultimate efficiency. What’s more, it spins (so you won’t have to!) for easy access to your skin care, cosmetics, or other grooming supplies conveniently!

 

3. Let’s Hit The Bar

The HipVan Blog

(Click on image to see the product)

In the midst of spring cleaning, don’t forget your skin needs defense against the drying, clogging effects of dirt and dust. Mini Beauty Bar might just be aptly named when used to store the perfect thirst-quenchers that your skin needs. The double-tiered crystal-clear acrylic drawers will keep contents visible and organized while adding the perfect sparkle to your room.

 

4. Tender Loving Care (TLC)

The HipVan Blog

Your products need a little TLC in order for them to love your skin. The first thing you touch before applying the products to your face is the exterior of the product aka the bottles. Do wipe down the surface of your skincare products during spring cleaning to avoid the transfer of bacteria to your face! Precautions are worth it.

 

5. Stack Them Sky-High

The HipVan Blog

A smart way to save on space and still keep a neat vanity space is storing your vanities in stackable acrylic drawers. Most acrylic organizers are build in such a way that they can be stacked on top of each other, so make use of this idea to build your own Empire State of Beauty.

 

6. Brush Up On Your Cleanliness

The HipVan Blog

Brush cleaning can be a chore, but not having your brushes cleaned at least once a fortnight breeds germs and other unspeakable dirts. Powder residues will also build up in your vanity space, making your storage area altogether unhygienic! Make sure to use shampoo or a brush cleanser for frequently-used makeup brushes. Also keep your brushes neat and tidy with the Swirly Acrylic Makeup Brush Holders

 

7. Spin Me

The HipVan Blog

(Click on image to see the product)

Want a fun unconventional way of storing your beauty products? This 4-Section Acrylic Swivel Organizer saves a whole lot of space and still keeps storage fun by having the swivel function in each tier. Store more than just your skincare products! This is a fun way to keep your jewellery, lipsticks and hairclips in plain sight.

 

8. Playing Hooky

The HipVan Blog

(Click on image to see the product)

The Bow Dress can do so much more than it looks! Sticking to the fun side of storage ideas, this hookable Bow Dress can be hung up in your wardrobe to stash products that are used with lesser frequency, yet still keeping the products within your sight. This way, you can still view all your beauty stash at a glance. Let’s get hooked up!

 

9. Cutting Corners

The HipVan Blog

The Acrylic Corner Organiser saves you a tonne of space by taking up the most underrated spaces: the corners. Utilise every corner of your desk, table-top, room edges!

 

10. Size Matters

The HipVan Blog

(Click on image to see the product)

Keep your storage light and simple with the Acrylic Triple Tier Mini Storage Box – this baby is perfect for miniature sized skincare testers. The diameter is also perfect for cotton pads, cotton wool, nail polishes and nail-art paraphernalia.

So now you have your space organised, no more excuses on stocking up your favourite beauty brands this CNY season!
For more information, visit BlackBox Singapore at blackbox.sg to get your beauty miniatures.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] FACTORY TWENTY-ONE

Rustic furniture with recycled, reclaimed materials has taken the UK by storm. Whereas ‘rustic’ can sometimes refer to furniture displaying a distinct lack of craftsmanship, this is clearly not the case for one inspiring woodwork designer and his crafts, which use a large amount of recycled materials – mainly English oak or old pallet wood. Am honoured to sneak 5 questions in with the designer himself! Read on.

⚓️FACTORY TWENTY ONE

Who: Christopher Berry

What: Sussex-based Home Accessories – rustic, retro furniture, interior decor, prints and posters

🏠: ETSY! | Factory Twenty One | Facebook

We ❤: Wooden wall-planters in gorgeous colours

WhereFactory Twenty One, Unit 10 & 11, Alfriston Road, Berwick Court Farm (UK)

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Started by Christopher Berry and inspired from a background of medieval furniture and a degree in furniture and product design, Christopher set out to create affordable, easily shipped and eco-friendly house-hold products.

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“Factorytwentyone’s aim is to create original items, available to everyone. With a mix of traditional manufacturing techniques and modern processes, our collection of products ranges from lamp shades to coat hooks and clocks to key hook and mail organizers. You’re sure to enjoy the quality and playful side that goes with each design.”

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5 QUESTIONS WITH CHRISTOPHER BERRY @ FACTORY TWENTY ONE

VJ: Why ETSY?

Etsy has been a fantastic opportunity to show and sell my designs around the world. There’s a lot of work that they put in on social media and through local etsy teams. It’s a real community and everyone’s keen to help each other. It’s free and there’s a low rate of commission charged on sales. This was perfect when facatorytwentyone started out and as we’ve grown we’ve seen etsy grow too.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

I began working with my father doing Tudor, Elizabethan, & Georgian period replica furniture and at the same time studied furniture and product design at university. With an interest in modern design and the skills I had from work and university I decided to invest these in starting up factorytwentyone creating products that are inspired from my past.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy?  How did you overcome these challenges?

Looking back I would say getting together the right tools and machinery, and the space to put it together. Luckily I was fortunate that my father had this in place already. But this would be a large outlay for someone starting out. Also getting the products in front of the right people, this is where etsy has helped.

VJ: With so many online stores, was branding an issue in setting up on Etsy?

Not really. I wanted to do something different.  I was keen to have a good brand but the most important thing was that the products spoke for the brand .

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind your business!! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

Factorytwentyone is run by me so I’m involved with everything from accounting through to the manufacture and distribution. I love everything design and im consistently looking through blogs and magazines in my spare time reviewing trends and inspiration. To relax and refresh my mind I like to mountain bike, thankfully the workshop is at the base of the South Downs in Sussex.

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Be sure to check out his workshop at Berwick Court Farm!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] MILKCART – DESIGNER FURNITURE

Our Etsy journey continues with husband-and-wife duo from The MILKCART, a Sydney-based designer woodwork store. Inspired by simplicity of Danish furniture and light filled interiors of Australian homes, the duo’s great eye for detail has produced gorgeous, inspiring hand-crafted woodwork. Today we get up-close and personal with the creatives behind The MILKCART store.

⚓️MILKCART

Who: Ryan & Marnie McKnight

What:  Handcrafted, upcycled furniture

🏠: ETSY! | The Milkcart | @milkcart | Facebook

We ❤: The Dolly Collection, Skinny Betty…

Perks: Free delivery Australia-wide; SAVE $50 by picking up from their workshop in KIRRAWEE. Enter the discount code ‘Workshop’ at the Checkout.

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Trinity Console
Clean lines and precise woodwork at a fabulously affordable price – there’s so much to love about MILKCART. The store refreshes its collection every now and then to keep things interesting for returning customers.

MILKCART’s vision is to breathe new life into old ideas, creating original furniture with a vintage industrial feel. Each item is practical, beautiful and unique, complementing any decor or style. We know there is a place in your home for one of them!

5 QUESTIONS WITH MARNIE @ MILKCART

VJ: Why ETSY?
Etsy was the first platform we used to sell our furniture. Not only was it easy to use, it was also inspiring, innovative and really supportive of us as we developed our brand. There are great community groups within Etsy which helped answer our newbie questions and advise us on selling techniques. The local team also included us in an Etsy Pop Up event, which took us out from behind the computer and face to face with our customers, which was a scary, but ultimately rewarding and we haven’t looked back since.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
After moving house, we found that there was very little designer furniture within our budget, and more specifically, nothing to fit those narrow spaces and awkward corners of your home. We made a couple of pieces for our home, and then decided that if we liked them, others might too. What began as a hobby in the back shed is now a full time job for both of us, with a large workshop and plenty of helpers!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy
The hardest part, I believe, is making your product stand out. I think that photography is key in an online environment, and I am constantly trying to improve my pictures to represent our products and brand. Luckily, everyone has smart phones now, and that is really all that you need – a phone and some practise! Also, finding out who your target audience is, really helps so you can aim your key words towards that demographic.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
With the photos, I just keep trying! I would love to take a quick photography course, but honestly don’t have the time! I am happy with the overall feel of the pictures, and will update them as I get better. The keywords are also an ongoing project for me – trial and error as we work out who is drawn to what, and why. There is more research and computer work involved than I thought, but I am amazed at how much I have learnt and how much support there is online to help you when you are stuck.

VJ: We like to know more about the person behind The MILKCART! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
Milkcart is made up of myself (Marnie) and my husband Ryan. We work together in every project, both online and in the workshop and studio – every single items passes through these four hands. Outside of work, we also have to live with each other, so luckily we get on pretty well! We have three kids, a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and crazy ambitious dreams – most of which are already coming true! We are huge believers in visualising your product or brand, or any single thing in your life, and working towards that with a positive outlook. That way, anything is possible!

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Scarecrow Lamp

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Black Betty

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Concrete Puddles

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Skinny Betty

Our pieces are fully designed and handcrafted by us in our Sydney workshop – each passing through our four hands – a real human touch, separating us from the mass produced items flooding the market. We really wanted to incorporate pieces with simplicity and practicality, and inspired by a quote from a Brooklyn furniture design company, ‘Perfect Imperfection’ has become our motto.

For more of their gorgeous work, check out the links above, or their main store at

MILKCART
4/29-33 Waratah St,
Kirrawee NSW 2232, Australia

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] POPOV LEATHER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Lately I’ve been obsessed with all things leather. Black jackets over lace dresses, a denim top and synthetic leather jeans –  a whole new world of possibilities are out there with made-to-last durables. As travellers we all need a trusty, durable wallet that is able to withstand the harsh elements we may encounter. A solid leather piece can provide excellent protection for cash and documents. Whilst it may prove difficult to source for leathers of high quality, fine texture and minimal odours, it’s good to keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, quality leather goes through much longer and complex processes than low-grade ones. Look no further for premium leather:

⚓️POPOV LEATHER

Who: Ryan Popoff

What: Handmade leather wallets crafted in British Columbia, Canada.

🏠: ETSY! | Popov Leather | Instagram @popovleather | Facebook

We ❤: Popov’s Field Notes Covers and customised leather wallets in gorgeous colours!

Your Perks: Enjoy 20% off entire order when you quote “VIKTORIA” at checkout!

Shipping: International; free shipping for orders >$75 to USA and Canada

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“Our personalized leather wallets are guaranteed for life and backed by a satisfaction guarantee. Nothing leaves our studio unless we know you’ll love it.”

Based in British Columbia, Canada, Popov Leather is a small leather fabrication studio dedicated to 100% hand-made goods, inspired by contemporary aesthetics and functional, minimalist design. Popov’s leathers are sourced from Horween (USA) whose timeless vegetable-tanning process, a technique which hasn’t been updated in a hundred years, has been exclusively supplying leather for NFL footballs.  All of Popov’s products are sewn by hand with imported Tiger thread, and nothing leaves their studio unless the owners know you’ll love it. True enough (as our conversation below reveals, on top of positive online reviews), the company’s reputation and customer rapport is enhanced through a conscientious system of brand credibility  – they all love shopping with Popov Leather.

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5 QUESTIONS WITH RYAN POPOFF @ POPOV LEATHER

VJ: Why ETSY?

When I first started leatherwork as a hobby, I used Etsy to validate my work. Etsy is great because they focus on bringing customers to their site while the sellers can focus on their crafts. I focused on my work, learning as much as I could about the trade and each sale pushed me further and further. It took a long time to get to where we are today. I quit my day job in November and I’m currently building a new home and workshop to support the business. Without the support I had from Etsy in the early days of learning leatherwork, I don’t think I could have ever gotten to where I am now today.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

I worked as a night auditor at my university for two years, in the nights on my days off I would stay up very late (to not ruin my sleep pattern) and leatherwork was a hobby I could do in my home. I spent many late nights, on my days off, trying to hone my skills and develop patterns for wallets, etc. At work I could watch YouTube videos and read leatherworking forums during my breaks, so it worked out nicely.

I wanted something I could do with my hands; most of my life has been spent in front of a computer or in an office-setting. I really hated it. You get no satisfaction from spreadsheets – making a wallet, mailing it and getting a kind review from a customer is so fulfilling. I run this business 12-14 hours every day and I never feel like I’m really working.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy

I think the hardest part is realizing what’s important. A lot of people will tell you that having 100s of products on Etsy will get you sales; this isn’t true. Up until this year we had about 12 items for sale and did just fine. You have to figure out how to grab a shopper’s attention in a sea of other makers’ products.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

To get recognized on Etsy, the two biggest factors are: relevance and photography. Understand how Etsy’s relevance system works by researching titles, tags, and SEO. There are a lot of great articles in the Etsy forums as well as on their blog and in the Etsy seller’s handbook. After you figure that out, work on your photos every single day. What makes a good photo stand out? What do your competitors do? In our case, we saw that a lot of sellers used a plain white background to showcase their products, so we did the opposite and used a burlap textured background. We stood out and I think that helped a lot.

After that, customer service is a huge. I try to answer all my emails within minutes of getting them. Customers love that. We really try to go out of our way to make sure everyone is happy with their product. We offer satisfaction as well as lifetime guarantees on all our products. Handmade products really allow you to quality control your goods, so we’re confident that we can stand by these guarantees.

Finally, hard work and having a tough skin. Jill and I are at this pretty much all our waking hours. You have to be prepared for long hours as well as handling tough feedback from customers. There are times where you can’t please everyone, don’t take it personally. Learn from that experience so you can equip your business to handle or prevent that same situation in the future.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Popov Leather! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

I graduated in 2012 with a BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria – shortly after that I worked at the University and discovered this hobby that turned into my business. I recently moved to Nelson, British Columbia with my partner Jill to build a home and workshop. I hope to learn how to Kayak soon!

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Watch other Popov Leather reviews on YouTube:

Feeling as inspired as I am from all these entrepreneurial stories? Stay tuned for more Etsy features and discount codes from notable Etsy stores.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] GRAPHICS FEATURE: HOPSKIPJUMPPAPER

Customised wall art concepts has become all the rage in contemporary Asian homes following a rise in hipster worshippers. Whereas this trend has been around in the West for quite some time, the idea has only recently been adopted in modern Asian interior design. Popularised by Etsy’s legion of talented graphic designers, it’s now really easy to purchase typography prints online and have them delivered to your home. True enough, for apartment-owners looking to individualise their homes, possibilities are endless with typography and prints. Running short on gift/decor ideas? We’ve got one right here:

Today we get up close and personal with an admirable stay-at-home mom turned small business owner. Read on for her Etsy business journey.

⚓️HopSkipJumpPaper

Who: Jeanne DeFauw (Graphics Designer)

What:  Typography and Wall Art Decor

🏠: ETSY! | HopSkipJumpPaper | @hopskipjumppaper | Facebook

We ❤: Her signature “I love you …” series

Your Perks: Enjoy 20% off entire order when you quote “TRAVEL” at checkout!

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(I could use one of these as a cheer-me-up as I down my daily cuppa!)

What you’ll find: Nursery art, alphabet prints, digital illustrations, zen and humorous art. You name it.

Well, perhaps it’s just me, but there’s something comforting in waking up to an inspiring quote, or a saying that strikes you particularly hard. There’s solace in reading a big strong reminder of how your life can or should be. And I found some graphics I really loved on HSJP.

Travel art is perfect for your loved ones living far away or to commemorate an anniversary or special vacation. Coffee prints are perfect gifts for that caffeine-addicted friend. Why not say “I LOVE YOU” with a customised greeting card? Whatever the occasion, you’re sure to find something special! HSJP offers modern typography wall art prints, posters and greeting cards for travel, sports, children’s rooms, weddings, and home decor.

As if her work isn’t evident enough, HSJP’s designs have also been featured and positively validated on Apartment Therapy, BabyTalk, Babble, BuzzFeed, DailyCandy, and SmarterTravel.

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5 QUESTIONS WITH JEANNE @ HOPSKIPJUMPPAPER

VJ: Why ETSY?

My name is Jeanne. I’m a work-at-home-mom of two very active little boy. I’m also a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising. After I had my first son, I left my corporate job and started to look for a creative outlet. I stumbled onto Etsy and have since had three shops. I closed the first one because it focused on custom graphics and I found I didn’t have enough time for custom work.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

The second shop, HopSkipJumpPaper, began with mainly nursery art since that’s where my life was focused was at that time. My husband and I traveled extensively before having children. I would often ask him: How much do you love me? And, he would answer: From Here to Vanuatu (or some other crazy-sounding location far away). I decided to try some travel prints in my shop. They sold quickly and I added more. Now my shop is focused more on travel-related items.

I recently opened my third shop, Ramble Print Co, for instant download – printable art. I’m slowly working on building inventory. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy

My biggest challenge is feeling overwhelmed. It’s not easy balancing a business, small children and life.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

Prioritizing is key! I wish I had more time to design, but need to spend most of my time printing, packaging, responding to messages, researching, keeping on top of Etsy changes, etc. Running a business takes lots of work. Reading the Etsy forums, networking with other sellers, and reading blogs and articles help.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Popov Leather! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

I love travel, reading, playing with my kids, hiking and living in Colorado.

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“My new Etsy shop is www.etsy.com/shop/RamblePrintCo

Find me at: HSJP

Check out my pins and posts!
Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr “

How not to love these artsy, creative prints? Don’t forget to use that discount code when you checkout!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[TAIPEI] oo6. NIGHT MARKET HUSTLING

So we arrived at the famed Raohe Night Market 饒河街夜市 in Northern Taipei, which is in close proximity to Taipei’s Rainbow Bridge across Keelung River (another topic altogether), and accomplished the feat of exploring the entire district in a night. But hang on, this post is all about food! The night market 饒河 (Raohe) is named precisely as the stretch of food, beverages and late-night shops run parallel to 基隆河 (Keelung River). Our native Taiwanese buddies had highly recommended this street for its reputation of being less touristy and cheaper than Shih-Lin or Linjiang Night Markets.

ROUHE NIGHT MARKET TAIWAN

raohe st night market

So we entered via the main street, having walked from the designated exit of Houshanpi Station, into this intermingling of food, clothes, gadgets, lingerie and everything-you-can-think-of shops.

We made these boys eat their first 臭豆腐 Stinky Tofu, Taipei’s famous smelly dish. They had mixed feelings about it.

smelly tofu for the first time
“Oh god what is this montrosity!”

 

taipei tofu
“Oh hey, aside from the smell, there’s a party in my mouth.”
P1060416
“Crap I actually loved it!”
CHOU TOFU
I’m fabulous #foodporn
handrolls taipei icecream
HERE COMES THE REAL THING: PARTY IN OUR MOUTHS

We all loved this ice-cream & shaved peanut burrito/wrap 花生捲加冰淇淋! The scoops of ice cream came in vanilla, coconut and taro flavours, which tasted soooo good with peanut and the thin skinned crepe. The sprig of coriander added a unique twist. Overall, the dessert was refreshingly light – it felt just like having after-dinner mints, except with a lot more calories. I loved watching its preparation: the vendor first laid out the crepe, then shaved from a huge block of peanut candy. Three scoops of ice cream are set in a row before he shaved another layer of peanut candy, and topped it up with coriander. Then of course the combination is wrapped up, burrito style, and eaten like a Subway wrap. Voila!

raohe night market taipei
Predator face, with the peanut roll.
peace out girl
Now who’s up for seconds

For a traditionally laid-out Chinese night market, Raohe also boasts amazing Japanese food: teriyaki chicken on sticks, sushi and hand rolls. You name it, they’ve got it.

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日本玉子燒
日本玉子燒 Japanese mentaiko etc
not a selfie
Someone hijacked my camera

This one below is a personal favourite: Taro balls! I’d always thought they were cuttlefish balls but no, it’s made from taro, and fried. The Taiwanese do such amazing things with Taro, I love it.

night market cuttlefish balls
Watch me toss the damn balls
fried cuttlefish balls taiwan
Up up here we go

Okay confession: I cannot remember what the dish below is. We ate too much that night to keep track of everything so if anybody could tell me what this is, I have cookies for you!!

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WHAT AM I? Clues: fried, doughy, soya sauce…

And evidently, everything here was so yummy, that even on a full stomach, we couldn’t resist having to juggle all our food on our hands.

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lemme take a selfie...not
Me eating with a camera in my face: this was the most glam shot.

If you’ve got kids with you, they won’t be bored. Take them fishing and you get to bring the little rascals home with your big rascal. Hahha.

kids activities night market
#bored #daddy

For the grownups, there are no lack of fancy-schmancy knick knacks and strange foods at Raohe night market. Here goes collection of my favourite shots:

I LOVE TAIWAN
Sums it up for you
green taipei
Wheatgrass and all sorts of juices
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Royal jelly in a tub, anybody?
street food night market taipei
Guava juice maybe
boobies taiwan
Boob shot
taipei night market
Hustle and bustle and stranger looking into my camera
taiwan raohe market finds
Got coconutmilk

foodporn taipei

foodporn taiwanese night market

clocks taipei

birds taiwan

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This whole scene is too traditionally Taiwanese
cows boss taipei
I’m the boss. The Cow Boss. Hell yeah, steak.

Having eaten our way through the night market, we crowned the ICECREAM&PEANUT ROLLS as the King of Raohe Night Market. If we had a sliver of space left in our bulging bellies we would have had seconds, but sadly we couldn’t roll ourselves back to the stall. Everybody needs to try it once at least, if not from Raohe then at other night markets. YOU WON’T REGRET IT. And life’s like that isn’t it? If you don’t eat it, you might not live long enough to eat it again #justsaying.

Peace out.

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Raohe Street Night Market
Section 4, Bade Road, Songshan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Nearest Metro: HOUSHANPI STATION
What’s good: 藥燉排骨 Medicinal Ribs

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

November, Please Be Awesome

hellonv
Saying goodbye to a beautiful month of October, ushering in my favorite year-end season, with a resolution to be always mindful, never to treat anyone with a careless disregard. I was in London treading on mounds of fallen autumn leaves, feeling nostalgia for days gone by. And suddenly I’m in Christchurch with my fourth bout of food poisoning this year, from the mussels and seafood cooked by a couple of friends and I. Ten months into 2013, I still don’t feel the urgency to treasure this slippery concept of time. Day to day, things change too fast to grasp and savor the beauty of each moment, each person, floating through our transient lives.

♛ Scarlet Carousel | oo2

{Installation} – [oo2]

Noemie Matsumoto is accustomed to getting what she wants. A girl with a purpose.

February 2017
South Korea

“Noemie is late! I tried dialling her cellphone but it’s been going straight to voicemail.”

“I wouldn’t be too worried. Knowing Noemie, she’s possibly hooked up with some fella on her way to Miller’s.”

Reina rolls her eyes, sighs. Eiji was right. Her other best friend undoubtedly had the knack for lapsing into temporary non-existence. Especially when a decent-looking man was within twenty-feet radius.

“Even if that’s so, Miller’s is just down the corner, she should have brought whomever down to meet us! We’ve agreed on a celebratory toast to the end of finals and summer term.” Reina grumbled.

“So much for bros before hoes,” Eiji gives an empathetic nod, but is unable to hide a grin, “well in any case that leaves you and me Reina. Let’s head in while we wait for her.”

Eiji drapes a casual arm around Reina’s slim shoulders and steers her away from the sidewalk, and into Miller’s Pub.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Noemie Matsumoto is accustomed to getting what she wants. A girl with a purpose, she picks her outfit with calculated deliberation. A semi-formal navy blue blazer over an off-the-cuff white sundress that skimmed her mid-thighs – she would bite her own tongue if this is not a sure-fire way to turn heads on a casual Friday pub-crawl with her best mates.

She had let slip, in a conversation earlier, to the attractive new Professor of European Literary Classics that she would be spending Friday evening at Miller’s Pub with Reina and Eiji. That she was somewhat uncomfortable playing gooseberry to her two closest classmates, watching the lovebirds bicker and persist in absolute denial of obvious mutual attraction. The Professor was new to the faculty — so naïve was he as he shook his head, insisting on having thesis papers to grade. A slight tilt of her chin to accentuate her slim jawline and a slow flutter of her long dark Asian lashes were all it takes. Noemie had noticed the immediate shift in Professor Rousset’s stance.

He agreed to vet through Noemie’s draft essay on Henry David Thoreau. Of course, not a word of which had even been written. Noemie told him she needed loads of help, as English was merely her second language. A corner of his lips had lifted and his eyes narrowed into crescent moons. If that wasn’t a loaded smile, Noemie didn’t know what else it was.

Well, a girl with her charismata have got nothing to lose.

Standing with her feet crossed at the ankles to accentuate her long ivory-white legs, she blows a fringe out of her face. Even the ordinary stance she took while waiting for her two best buddies resembled a model posing for a photoshoot. From where she was standing, men had been giving her appreciative looks and extensive once-overs all night. Well, almost every man. That one earlier had looked at her as if she was a pest, a nuisance. Or worst, a prostitute. Oh please, I’m not one of them.

Men never looked at her without a second glance. Men certainly did not display such obvious disinterest and disgust. Indignant, her ego was admittedly bruised, which fuelled her urge to pursue the strange man in a bid to expose his inner lust. After all, all men were the same.

Forget Professor Rousset. He would be putty in her hands.

Noemie totters gracefully in her stilettos, yet hurries to catch the fast receding shadow of the tall, dark stranger. The alley, lined with two rows of rear kitchens, is rancid with a stench of rotting meat, vomit and expired liquor. A trio of women stays squat by the curb, puffing on rolled cigarettes while a bald heavy-set man appears to be handing out a stack of cash.

“Make good with the crowd tonight. All businessmen with spending power.” The bald man chortles, stuffing the rest of the large wad of money into his back pocket.

Here lies the reality behind glamourous nightclubs and pubs: they ran on filthy money. Noemie totters close enough to glimpse the rolled cigarettes in their hands.  Upkeep of pretty, and desperate, hostesses involved feeding them with cocaine and amphetamine and weed. In return there was a business quota each night that they had to meet – a minimum number of men that they had to lure into their chambers of secrecy. Spiralling further into the depths of drug addiction, what other choices do they have but to return every night for doses of sustenance? It was their choice of livelihood.

Here, women used their charms in an entirely different manner from the way Noemie normally does. Noemie was clever enough never to throw herself at men’s feet. It was always quite the opposite.

Past the trio of women, she almost stumbles over a foot of a drunkard, sprawled like a starfish, facedown in a pile of trash. His friends, equally drunk but conscious, wolf-whistles in her direction. They smell sour, a mix of body odour and putrid vomit.

“Hey sexy lady!”

“You’re so fine, you blow my miiiinddd.”

Oh God, the things drunken people say.

One of them, who’s obviously been having one drink too many with his belly the size of a football, staggers to his feet, lunges at her.

Noemie steps aside, sticks out a foot, and rolls her eyes amusedly as the man stumbles. Not giving up, he swivels around and grabs her blazer by the edge, tugs her so close that she could smell the rancid liquor on his breath.

“Get the hell off me!” She screams and smashes a fist into his face. Blood pours from his nose. He growls like an animal and from behind her, his friends roar with laughter.

Another hairy arm wraps around her waist and turns her around. “Feisty, I like this one.”

Without thinking, she stamps her stiletto heels into his loafers, grinds down with satisfaction as she realizes she had hit a toe. The man howls with pain and falls to the ground, clutches his bloodied feet. She spins on her heels, makes a dash for it, leaving the intoxicated mob howling in pain and booming with drunken laughter.

Men, a bunch of idiots.

She clutches her cellphone, switched to silent, in her clammy palms. The atmosphere in the alley felt infinitely foreign, so much so that she breaks into a run further down the path where the man had supposedly gone. Noemie knows that it is far too late to turn back, but she could no longer see any sign of the tall, dark man.

The smell worsens as the streets became narrower and less familiar to Noemie. She hardly dares to breathe audibly for now, the only sounds that filled the passageway were distant soft footsteps, and that of her own heart beating. Before her, she notices a stranger slip to the left of a T-shaped junction and she quickly follows suit. But as she rounds the corner, the figure of the handsome man was there no longer. Not even a shadow of the man remains.

Then there was a gunshot. Unmistakably, someone had opened fire.

Noemie looks all around her in sheer panic. She doubles back a couple of steps, unsure of where to go from here. The odor of gunpowder residue wafts into her nose. Then she hears a scuffle. She knows she must leave the alley, but which way to go?

What was it? Who was hit? Where —

“Urmph!” Her breath catches in her throat as she is flung aside, and pinned against a wall by very strong arms. Her cellphone tumbles to the ground with a clang, the glossy red cover falls apart.

Thrashing her arms, she struggles to free herself. Single-handedly, her assailant grasps both her wrists in a vice-like grip behind her back, another hand clasps tight over her mouth. Hardly a sound could escape, much less her muffled sttempts at screaming.

“Who are you? Did you come alone?” He fires his questions emotionlessly.

Unable to move her upper half, Noemie knees him hard in the groin.

“What the f—

Doubling over slightly in pain, his right leg immediately hitches up, pinning the hem of her swishy dress to the wall, just enough to reveal a sharp glint of an object that resembles a gun, nestled in the side of a thin leather belt.

Blood drains from her head. He fired the gun. He had shot somebody. He had possibly killed somebody. Noemie shakes her head to show that she means no harm, but the man slams her against the moth-eaten timber wall. Pain shot through her spine. Noemie gives a soft whimper as tears runs down her cheeks, and onto the man’s fingers.

“Look, I’m not going to hurt you. But if you struggle, or make any noise, I’m throwing your dead body into the boot of my car, you hear me?”

Knowing she could very well be shot dead in an instant, she drops her tensed shoulders and bows her head slightly, surrendering to her assailant.

Sensing her relax, he loosens his grip, and slowly drops his hand from her mouth. Noemie looks up and recognizes the man she had followed into the alley. She searches the face of the tall dark stranger that was hidden by shadows cast in moonlight, and catches the dark trickle of blood running down his temples.

“Hey…you’re bleeding! Let me see to that, I’ve got a handkerchief somewhere in my purs–

He holds a finger to her lips, shushing her. Then takes astep back from her. Women, they talk too much. They annoy the shit out of him. He readjusts the clip on his belt that, by now she realised, strapped the gun to his waist.

“Why were you following me?”

His ice-cold mannerism seems more appealing by the second. At a loss of words, Noemie opens her mouth with uncertainty. “I…” What is she going to say? No explanation could express her whys. What could this man do to her? Kill her? Not with her charms. So she plays it such that the ball stays in her court.

She lets more tears run down her cheeks as she sinks slowly to the floor, and in doing so, her dress rips at the seams as the hem catches a splinter in the wall.

“I’m lost and I can’t find my way out. I thought if I followed you, I could find a way.…I…then heard a gunshot.”

He squats down, looks frostily at her tear-stained face with no sign of empathy, and says, “Don’t pretend to be a helpless female. All you whores use the same tactics.”

Coolly, he picks up his cellphone which had slipped from his coat-pocket, dusts them off with the back of his hand, and gets back on his feet. As he turns to walk away, he says over his shoulder, “If anyone asks, you heard nothing. You’ve never seen me.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Professor Rousset!”

Reina spots him, waves him over and gestures toward an empty bar stool right beside her. The lean French lecturer looks around, as if searching for somebody, before accepting the invitation.

“Looking for anyone?” Reina hands the Professor a pint of lager, and smiles at the attractive academic tutor. Rousset shakes his head, accepts the beer and pushes a couple of dollars toward the bartender, who pushes it back at him.

“Hey, on the house ma brudder,” the bartender strokes his handlebar moustache, “it’s Free-Flow Friday. To celebrate the last day of Ms. Yamaguchi’s exams.” He gives Reina a conspiratorial wink, and whizzes away with twenty champagne glasses in his hands.

“You’re a celebrity around here huh?” The professor chuckles deeply and leans close to Reina, clicking his jug of lager with hers. Eiji clears his throat from across the table, and leans over in a territorial stance as he grabs hold of Reina’s beer jug and pulls it toward himself.

“Her dad owns the place. Everyone at Miller’s knows her.” To Reina, he knits his brows together and warns, “ Don’t drink too much.”

“You’re sooooo naggy.” Reina snatches back her jug of lager and defiantly downs it all. As she clangs her now-empty jug onto the table, she gives Eiji a look that says so-there.

“Ah… Princess Yamaguchi,” Professor Rousset nods knowingly.

Reina shook her head. “That’s too much a title for me to bear. Besides, I’m just a geek who loves the literary arts.” She orders another jug of beer for herself, and Eiji who declines and looks on at his marginally drunk best friend with concern.

Barely a month into his teaching career at Seoul National University, he was well aware of the Yamaguchi’s contributions to the academic institution. From the Deans’ conference hall, to the performing arts theatre and the college central library, the family had a large share in infrastructure – so much so that the theatre and its surrounding hallways were named Yamaguchi Hall of Artistry. And as Reina was an undergraduate in the Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Mr Yamaguchi had built a separate building for research in the literary classics. Indisputably, Mr Yamaguchi was an associate on the Board of Faculty Directors.

“I don’t want to be a princess. I’m a Queen. Princesses are as weak as useless Barbies, always primping at mirrors…demanding this and that. Never working hard for anything they truly want. I’m no princess.” Reina shakes her head. “But since my dad owns Miller’s, feel free to drink up, Professor. On me!” Reina smiles, swaying as she stands, slightly tipsy from having knocked back two glasses of Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio, two tequila shots and 2 jugs of lager.

“Woah, steady there.” Professor Rousset holds Reina by her waist as she stumbles forward, giggling.

Eiji springs up, quickly shoves the professor’s hand aside, takes hold of Reina and allows her lean her entire weight against him.

Reina struggles out of his grasp. “Eiji!” She walks ahead a few steps, shaky but more steady. “I’m fine. Go back to your seat, I need the bathroom.”

“You sure?” Eiji looks ready to lunge forward to catch Reina if she should stumble and fall again.

“Naughty, naughty. Trying to get into the ladies’ bathroom on account of taking care of me? Tsk, Eiji Saito you pervert.” She slurs her last words and disappears round the bar corner into the washroom.

Reina grips the edge of the washbasin, and takes a good look at her face. She whips out her mauve lipstick and gives her lips a smacking fresh coat of colour, while remembering that her other best friend was still M.I.A.

“Let me give Noemie another call. She’s missing out on the hot Professor Rousset.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pierre swipes the sticky blood from his face with the back of his hands. The wound had clotted, and he could feel a throbbing headache arising from within his skull. He had dodged, a swift decisive move that saved his brains from being blasted to bits. The bullet scraped the right side of his head and probably he would find a clump of dark brown hair missing from his scalp. But that was all the damage done.

Nagasaki’s message had been intercepted. The original messenger undoubtedly dead. The women who had attempted to kill him was now lying gagged, bound and unconscious in a pile of trash, accompanied by a band of noisy drunkards. He would never physically injure a woman, even if they had tried to blast a hole in his chest.

And who the hell was the girl who had followed him?

He had to make a quick call to Las Vegas.

As he held up his cellphone a connecting call flashed in the screen.

From << REINA YAMA ❤ >>

What. The. Hell?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her cellphone rang.

Sitting upright from her slouched position by the dirty alley wall, Noemie flipped aside her long black hair to answer the call.

“Hello, Noemie speaking.”

“Noemie? Who the hell is Noemie?”

She quickly checks her cellphone screen. Caller Unknown.

“I am Noemie Matsumoto. And since you’re calling me, you should know who I am.”

There was silence on other end.

“Hello?” Noemie repeats.

“What did you say your name was?”

“Funny that you’re asking me. Noemie Matsumoto. Who are you?”

The man sniggers. “New, aren’t you? Noemie, Noemie, Noemie…” the man rolls her names several times around his tongue, “Noemie Matsumoto? I see they’re hiring young girls now.”

“Young girls…?” She lets her thoughts run for a moment, anger rising up from the pits of her stomach.

“Now Noemie, did you complete what you were supposed to do?”

“What job?”

The man remained silent.

“What job?” She repeats, anger boiling over the edge at having been provoked so many times on the same night.

“Hey listen up, I’m not a goddamn prostitute if that’s what you’re implying!” Noemie bursts, filled with annoyance accumulated from her earlier encounters. “You’re the second person today who thinks I’m a whore and it’s getting on my nerves! Go to hell, asshole!”

The man on the other end chuckles once before the line went dead.

Noemie feels the sudden urge to fling her phone across the alley. She shuts the call, clicks on ‘Contacts’ to search for Reina’s number, but to her surprise, all the names on her contact lists were so foreign they could be from another planet.

“Wha…oh shit.”

She remembers that moment when her phone had fallen from her grip, and that the man had picked up a cellphone of an identical model after labelling her a whore.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

5 in the morning. Reina staggers weakly up the stairs leading to the shared apartment. Noemie had rejected all her calls and she should probably be home asleep by now. She herself could hardly feel her brain functioning any longer. Sleep beckons.

Eiji had walked her home. To be more exact, he had lifted her onto his back, made her straddle him in a limp piggyback for most of the journey home. She had been too drunk to grip onto his neck. When they had passed by a convenience store, Eiji forced an entire bottle of mineral water into her. That had sobered her up a great deal.

She wrinkles her nose as she reaches her floor, as a peculiar stench pervades the hallway leading towards the apartment.

Strange, Noemie had forgotten to lock the front door.

As she steps in, Reina gasps, her back stiffens. Shards of broken glass from a fallen artpiece stuck out from their Persian rug. Noemie’s favourite orchid vase was now in smithereens. Their linen cosy pink couch had been overturned, with cushions slashed open and their feathers strewn all over the living room. She scans the damage, thoughts running wildly through her head.

Her drunken stupor clears the very instance she spots Noemie, her back against the kitchen table, slumped in a pool of what appears to be blood.

She falls backwards, and lets out a piercing scream.

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Scarlet Carousel ©
Searching for the centre of the universe, the centrifugal force that holds everything together.
Each spinning out of control, yet inevitably riveted.
Is this a journey with an end, or does the weight of the world settle in places where the spinning never stops.
Where then will the spiral lead them?

To be continued…

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xoxo
Viktoria Jean

SCARLET CAROUSEL