Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Meet Tabby Noorbakhsh, Artist

TJ Source is an Etsy shop where you can experience art on a personal level through a unique collection of stylish purses, phone cases, neck ties, and jewelry featuring the art of Tabby Noorbakhsh. TJ Source is made up of dynamic duo Tabby and Jose, who are partners in both life and business.

Tabby's art style encapsulates the bright colors and fun, flirty lifestyle of Miami and her work has been featured for Miami Art Basel 2015 At Art Fusion Galleries in the Wynwood Arts District, the world's largest art exchange. Her original vibrant paintings are exhibited throughout South Florida and we are proud to now be able to offer products that showcase her happy paintings and inspiring color arrays.

Tabby and Jose believe that art can be used as a form of therapy, and their wearable art goods can deliver healing and positive energy while also being fun and fashionable. They love the synergy of this work and how elements from so many industries can be combined to deliver outstanding quality products to their customers at

1. What inspired you to create fashion and home decor product featuring your artwork?

My inspiration to feature my artwork on everyday merchandise and fashion goods like handbags is my spirituality and connection to the earth. I express my connection with our earth through my paintings. Identifying my strengths and honing on them has helped shape this business.

In a stroke of good luck, my real life experiences synchronized, and it all started with art shows exhibiting original art and proliferated to jumbo office bags made of leather showcasing my art designs on a functional fashion medium. The art purses function as a modern day walking canvas.

The first thing I ever merchandised was a mug for a friend's birthday showcasing a butterfly, an orchid, and her name on it. It brought such joy opening the package and took me to my happy place from my childhood. Later, I discovered the same elation and joy as, over time, I put the art on new things and it's like instant gratification to see the art on quality and durable handbags. Having experience as a commercial and print model with years of modeling other designers' clothing and accessories lines, like my favorite MOGRA of South Miami, gave me exposure to the best of fashion that I am lucky to translate into my own merchandising line now.

2. When you create a piece of art, do you have particular ideas in mind for how you might incorporate it into a product, or do you tend to create your artwork freely and then see how it might work with your product line?

Typically, I do the art piece with three or four different concepts in mind. I like to use stretched canvas with acrylic paint and other mediums that create texture and shine, and I often do several varieties in a set for exhibiting purposes. Recently, I started working backwards and have an upcoming new product launch that I created from the handbags reversed to the art.

I am in the process of designing four to five pop-art styles, Leaves of Change, exploring everyday wardrobe colors with a splash of added vibrancy for some good vibes. The latest designs will be launched in Summer 2017.

Painting is what keeps the entrepreneur spirit alive inside me--it's what makes me different and just helps things tick. Creating durable handbags makes me happy because I feel I'm making a functional, authentic contribution to society. Every woman and man needs another handbag, let's face it! It is the way we privileged humans prefer things: no matter how many handbags we have, we always want what's new and cool. Our team thinks we created just that, the something NEW thats fun AND functional. We are constantly trying to fulfill our clients' needs with color to their wardrobe. I've used my unique design clutch handbag, and I've noticed it's very functional, and the double handle helps with the durability. The zipper is durable: my keys and cell phone are always tucked inside the compartment and my credit cards and ID are safely concealed in the secret pockets. I stand by my products' durability.

3. How does living in Miami influence you as an artist?

Living in Miami is a great breath of fresh air that helps me get inspiration for my new creations. The gorgeous environment is tremendously impactful on me as an artist. I love the weather with the warm tropical temperatures and soft nature colors of the ocean meeting the sky. Miami is a timeless place where weeks turn into months and months turn into years effortlessly and without resistance. I am lucky to have found a wonderful and compatible life partner, Jose, who makes the South Florida experience that more aesthetically pleasing and meaningful. What I love most about Miami besides my wonderful family is the sheer beauty of the beaches, city and downtown life, mixture of people, fusion of arts and culture and Latin swing.

4. Why did you chose Etsy as a platform, and how do you choose the designs and products to feature in your shop?

I chose Etsy because it is unique, represents self expression, and caters towards creativity and originality. I love the versatility of Etsy and the easy to navigate features. I have piece of mind with this platform because I know my clients' transactions are secure. I also know that as a small business owner, my marketing budget is spent well because I see results in my sales through their ads and analytics.

My goal is to expand to new platforms like next because we have lots of new designs coming up. Our goal is to really take advantage of technology because we are lucky enough to be able to utilize so many great resources, literally at the tip of our fingertips.

5. Would you tell us a little more about the way that you see art as therapeutic and how you hope customers will experience and enjoy your products?

I see my art as connecting nature with spirit. It is a form of visual and emotional healing because art does heal the body, mind, and soul of a person from the inside and out. Art is non verbal communication the unites the divided in times of verbal and physical conflict. Certain colors can have a positive effect on mood and emotions. I hope to channel soothing nature tones and colors into each painting that the viewer can take in for mood restorative therapy. The colorful art on purses, cufflinks, etc. can have an uplifting and happy effect on a person's mood.

Thanks, Tabby!

Meet Igor Koshutin, Founder of HipStar

Have you ever been carrying a backpack and wished that you had an easier or more versatile way to carry things? HipStar is a hands-free, lightweight travel cart that you can use to carry 80 pounds of gear with you. The cart is also collapsible and designed to be able to roll easily across uneven surfaces. It can be used as a cart, backpack, or bike trailer. Learn more about this innovative product by visiting

Our interview is with Igor Koshutin, founder of HipStar.

1. When you came up with HipStar, who did you imagine would use it?

HipStar is perfect for a wide range of travelers, from those who want to go on a short stroll, to professional mountain climbers. It works well for anyone who needs to comfortably transport heavy items, including tourists, hikers, mountaineers, backpackers, fishermen, foragers, hunters, and golfers.

It can even be used in professional or military contexts to carry important equipment and supplies over unpredictable terrain. For serious mountain hikers and military use, the HipStar comes in a more durable option featuring additional hardware that reinforces the structure and allows for heavier gear to be carried with the same ease and comfort.

2. How is HipStar different from existing backpacks or rolling luggage?

The rolling bags and backpacks currently on the market were designed for use mainly in areas with smooth flooring like airports and railway stations. Meanwhile, many tourists and hikers prefer to use conventional bags and backpacks instead of wheeled bags because the internal frame and wheels take up valuable storage space and add excess weight.

Our product is collapsible and can be easily converted into a backpack to maximize storage space and for those times when you are using stairs or negotiating some sort of terrain where you don't want to use the wheels. It also adjusts for height and angle between frame and handles, depending on the weight of the equipment (reducing the pressure on the body in the place of mounting), allowing you to comfortably pull the cart behind you without feeling strained.

3. How did you get this idea?

The idea came to me while traveling in Europe with my family. Between the three of us, we had one backpack with all of our things. After half a day of walking around, my shoulders were already sore. There was so much to see, but I was only thinking about my heavy bag. I only wished I had a companion who would carry all of our stuff for us and never get tired. No matter where and how you travel, even a light backpack begins to weigh as much as a few bricks. You get tired. You get impatient. You waste half your day dealing with back pain. All because there's no other way to carry your stuff other than on your back. What about seniors or people with back problems? They are even more affected by carrying weight around. Doesn't matter if it's light or heavy. This is why I invented the HipStar.

4. How much does it weigh? You show a strong muscular man using the HipStar, but how about someone smaller, or a senior citizen?

It is not heavy at all! Even a "heavy-duty" prototype's frame weighs approx. 10 lbs. We cannot count the weight of the wheels because we used the regular 2.5 lbs. wheels to prove a concept. Furthermore, the product design stage will result in approx. 50% decrease in weight by utilizing new materials and wheels. The total weight of the heavy-duty model with wheels will be no more than 7-8 lbs.

With the HipStar in a CART MODE a cargo weight is close to zero due to CG balancing. With the HipStar in BACKPACK MODE, users will not notice a 7-8% weight difference in a short run, when traveling over more difficult obstacles (rivers, ravines, steps, etc.) or when moving on rough terrain that the cart cannot traverse. Users would need to make their choice--to carry their load on the spine all day long or a bit heavier load just for a few moments to go over some obstacles.

5. What is your estimated retail price?

Our product designers are working on finalizing the design (mechanical development and integration) and pricing for the components. In the first year of operation, production cost will be higher until volumes are up. The light version's estimated retail price will be around $100. The mid and heavy versions should cost $150 and $250 respectively.

Thanks, Igor!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Meet Jamell Crouthers, Poet and Writer

Jamell Crouthers is a poet and writer who creates thought-provoking content about different aspects of life. His goal is to write poetry books on societal issues that we all face in today's age. Through writing poetry, he says, "it is an easy read for others, and it's a gateway to getting inside of my mind and how I write."

You can learn more about Jamell and read samples of his work by visiting his Amazon author page, as well as his author profile on Bublish. He is also on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, and he maintains a personal website at

1. How did you first get started with writing poetry, and who are some poets whose work inspires you?

I got started with poetry when I was 13 years old. I wrote about life and thoughts that I had going on in my mind. As I got older, I wrote about my life experiences, love, and family. It wasn't until my 30s where I started writing about societal issues and more serious things regarding life.

A lot of the poets I follow on Instagram inspire me to write. Their poems relate to some life experiences I've been through. They give me a lot of ideas to write different things, too. I don't want to say names or anything, but I appreciate their work and self-expression through poetry. It takes a lot to share your thoughts and be vulnerable these days.

2. Why do you see poetry as the way to communicate your stories and ideas, rather than prose?

I see poetry as a way of self-expression. It's a lot of formulated thoughts all put onto a piece of paper. I find writing poetry and reading it as an experience that the reader will feel.

3. What's your process like for determining what goes into the manuscript of a book that you intend to publish?

I spend a lot of time brainstorming. I write everything down. I have a blue book with pens with me at all times. It's writing out chapters, developing the character I'm going to write about and thinking of a storyline for each character. I observe the world. I have a quiet personality at times, and that's where I'm thinking. I also talk to people and listen to their experiences. Listening to music gives me ideas too.

4. In sharing your work both in book form and through social media, do you get a lot of responses from readers?

With the readers that have read my books, I get a lot of wow responses and a lot of emotional responses from readers. It's an emotional rollercoaster for readers who read my books, and that's my goal. I like to create imagery and make people emote. I've had a reader tell me that she cried reading my book: that's when I knew I had them drawn in.

5. What else would you like readers to know about you and your writing?

I would definitely like to let readers know that my books are different. They deal with a lot of societal issues head on, and there is a lot of emotion that comes from the characters I've created. While it is fictional, these are characters that will relate to you in some way or they will relate to someone you may know. It's definitely not the traditional read. It's different but it's a good different and worth the read.

Thanks, Jamell!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Meet Lisa Sanovski, Web Developer

Lisa Sanovski is a freelancer who does web development work for clients, mostly for small to medium sized businesses. She has been building websites for clients for the last five years or so, mainly on WordPress. Over the years, Lisa has come across a number of web hosts; most have been good but some have been not-so-good. Bluehost is one of the latter. Lisa started as a place to post her reviews of and other web hosting offerings.

1. When someone who has never built a website before tells you they want to start a website, what's the first thing you tell them?

I usually tell them that their website will be built on WordPress which is the exact same platform that many of the Fortune500 brands like News Corp and Sony Music use to build websites, and the reaction I get is often, "Wow," followed by "Oh, and how much is that going to cost me?"

That's the beauty of building websites using WordPress; it powers more than ¼ of all sites on the Internet; it's secure; and because it's open source, it's 100% free use. There are a bunch more compelling reasons why you should WordPress, nicely compiled here.

2. I used to think of WordPress as being more suited for blogs, but over the years, I've seen it used more and more for websites that are fairly static. What's your advice to people who want a website but don't want to be regularly updating it like a blog?

Yeah that's right: WordPress started out as blogging platform, but today it can be used to do so much more. It can power full blown ecommerce sites and run company intranets, online forums, job boards. And it has loads of more uses. I would say it depends on the industry you are in, whether or not you should regularly update your website with more blog-type content. Most clients I create sites for are more static, set and forget type ones.

3. What's your process like in building websites for clients? Do you mostly get people set up with WordPress, and then they carry on with refining and updating their site?

The thing is, anyone can learn how to use WordPress and update their website's content. I think that is one of the main reasons why I love working with WordPress, and regularly use it to build websites, because it's so easy to master. So once the design is more or less locked in, I do a bit of training with the client, and they will learn how to refine and update their own website.

4. What inspired you to start your website about web hosting?

The main reason why I started my honest Bluehost review site was to provide a more of an honest and unbiased review of Bluehost, based on my own personal experience of using them for clients and personal sites over the years. Because Bluehost has a fairly generous affiliate marketing program, there are loads of review sites out there, sites that are more interested in earning an income from referring signups to Bluehost than to provide people with real honest facts.

5. In the five years that you've been doing web development, what changes have you seen--and are there other changes you think might be on the horizon?

That's a really great question. Gosh, there have been so many changes over the years, from one page layouts, parallax scrolling, flat designs, video backgrounds, just to name a few. Looking into the crystal ball, I think the mobile first approach is here to stay; you know, people and "users" of websites are more and more on their mobile devices and expect websites to load fast and display well no smaller screens, and web developers and designers have to adjust to that.

Thanks, Lisa!

Meet Lunden De'Leon, Actress

Actress Lunden De'Leon has played a number of diverse roles in television and film ranging from a caring therapist (Somebody's Child), to a young African mother (Vital Signs) and a sexy villain (Cryptz). Yet over and over again, the actress wins over audiences by making these characters very memorable. After taking on small roles in film and television, De'Leon began to transition into leading roles on the small screen. She soon landed bigger roles and gained worldwide recognition portraying the role of Joanne Mbutu on the television series Vital Signs. De'Leon later went on to appear in over 50 movies and television shows working alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Just recently, De'Leon starred in the romantic comedy An Inherited Life, portraying the role stylish lawyer, Bianca Wallace. Whether it's a thriller, a funny comedy, or a tear-jerking drama, De'Leon has done it all. When asked what's next for the actress she replies, "I'm currently revamping my cosmetic line 'Lunden De'Leon Cosmetics', as well as working with a few charities in South Carolina. So I'm juggling a number of great things right now."

Learn more about her by visiting

1. What do you enjoy most about acting?

I enjoy analyzing my character and becoming that character while staying as organic as possible.

2. How have your experiences differed when it comes to working on movie projects contrasted with working on TV projects?

I appreciate both film and television. I'm just thankful to be working. However, I can take more creative risks in film, so that gives it a little edge.

3. Would you tell us a bit more about your cosmetics line?

I started Lunden De'Leon Cosmetics years ago but decided to revamp it around Christmas time. The line offers a variation of beautiful shades for darker skin tones.

4. What are some of the charities in South Carolina that are dearest to your heart?

I dedicate my time or money to a number of charities in South Carolina. I know what it's like to struggle; therefore, I have to give back. From homeless to helping at risk youth--it's all dear to my heart.

5. Do you have any projects you're especially looking forward to in 2017 and beyond?

I have two movies coming out in 2017: a horror movie called The Lake House which should hit theaters this fall and a romantic comedy for television called An Inherited Life.

Thanks, Lunden!