Q + A with Danielle Scruggs


She does it all, and takes some amazing photos in the process.  Get to know our a new member of the Fortique community, Danielle Scruggs

F: How does a typical day look for you?

D: I work as a photo editor at LivingSocial, so a typical day for me is researching stock photography, editing photos from merchants who run their deals on the site, and taking original photos to build our photo library as well as for content marketing purposes. We've been running special promotions centered around events such as the Super Bowl, and we recently started an Instagram account, so I contribute to that as well. I also work as a curator and cultural producer for two collectives I co-founded: MAMBU BADU, which focuses on emerging women photographers of black/African descent, and DDAY, which focuses on visual and performance artists in D.C. So, after my day job ends, my second shift begins---scheduling meetings, building and maintaining websites for both collectives, managing our social media accounts, conducting press outreach, and documenting our shows. In addition to this, I'm always shooting, and pitching photo essay ideas to traditional and online publications as well.

F: How did you get started as a photographer? Did you have another occupation before it?

D: I've been photographing pretty regularly since I was about eight, when my dad showed me how to use his Pentax K1000 camera (I think he wanted to make sure I didn't break it, so he showed me how to handle it properly). I also took darkroom classes in high school and made photography my minor in college. 

However, I didn't see myself as a photographer, as an artist, until after I completed my undergraduate studies at Howard University. I graduated with a print journalism degree, with designs on becoming a copy editor. But I soon realized that what I could really see myself doing all day for the next 40 or so years, was shooting and editing photos. So I took a year off, interned at various photo studios, applied to graduate school, and studied photography and video more in-depth at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore.

F: Why is photography special to you? 

Danielle Scruggs

D: Photography is special to me because it’s so important to document yourself, your experiences, your family, your friends, and to not assume that other people will tell your story correctly, if at all.

F: When you're shooting photos what do you look for?

D: It might sound like a cop-out but I don't exactly know what I am looking for until I see it in front of me. I try to take my camera with me as often as I can, and I also shoot with my phone to keep my skills sharp and to train myself to always be on the lookout. I suppose I'm just always looking for that serendipitous 1/250 of a second that I know I'll never see or experience in exactly that fashion, that light, that angle, ever again.

F: What makes your photography "yours"?

D: I'm still trying to answer this question for myself.

F: Do you have a number one tip/trick of your trade?

D: You have to know about more than your specialty, regardless of what kind of creative you are. In addition to photography, I've had to continuously hone my writing, editing, social media, and networking skills, in addition to knowing how to balance a budget, track projects using spreadsheets and Google Docs (ugh, right? But it's effective), and also being handy with hammers, power drills, and frames when it comes to hanging works for exhibits.

F: Do you have a favorite photo or photo shoot? If so, what makes it your favorite?

D: It's so hard to pick just one, but so far, I'm fond of the photos I took while I was an artist-in-residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, NY. It's about two hours outside of New York City and is a gorgeous place that, in a lot of ways, has been untouched by time. Another favorite shoot was when Matt & Kim and Amanda Blank performed at Black Cat in 2009, I believe. The energy was crazy and it was one of the best times I've had shooting.

F: From where/what do you draw inspiration? 

D: Everything, really. Going on long walks and hearing different accents and slang in D.C. (or another city I've traveled to); music; talks with my friends and parents; novels I've read. I'm always mentally Rolodexing everything I encounter. Only some of it actually makes its way into my work, but all of it informs how I approach it.

F: How would you finish the following sentence? Creativity is ...

D: a multifaceted, evolving entity.

Wine and Dine with Arrowine

The weather is getting warmer, so it's the perfect time to start thinking about outdoor entertaining.  We'll have some great idea inspiration for theme and decor next week, but for now let's focus on the main event: the refreshments. 

We love supporting local businesses, so, while planning our first Fortique Styled Shoot, we reached out to Arrowine in Arlington for a little help with wine. Arrowine, which has two locations one in Arlington and another in D.C., is a one-stop shop for the best food and drink to serve your guests. 

They have a carefully curated selection of fine wine, beer, cheese, and meat. The products are sorted by country so locating a particular flavor is a cinch. For our purposes we were looking for some great Spanish spirits. The knowledgable staff at Arrowine was able to point us towards great red wine and Cava options. 

Stop in and check out Arrowine! They have frequent tastings. (As if you needed an excuse after reading this post and seeing the photo gallery.) Consult their handy tastings and events calendar for more information!


Q + A with Nadya Sagner

We're happy to welcome Art Consultant Nadya Sagner to the Fortique community!

To properly introduce our newest Fortiste, we decided to catch-up with her to find out a little more about this busy mom, wife, and creative entrepreneur. Welcome, Nadya!

Nadya Sagner, Art Consultant

Nadya Sagner, Art Consultant

F: How does a typical day look for you?

N: Get my kids off to school; chat with my husband as I drive him to the Metro; catch up on email; work out; then take care of whatever business I have going on, whether it's a blog post, a writing assignment, a new client consultation, or scouting art in person or online. I love both the structure and the flexibility of my life. So when I feel frustrated over a slower period of work, I remind myself how lucky I am that I'm my own boss, and that I have time to do what I want: see a friend, read a book, go for a walk, go shopping.

F: How did you get started as an art consultant? Did you have another occupation before it?

N: I'd been a magazine editor and freelance writer for years. I started my blog several years ago, and though I wrote about all kinds of style subjects, I realized I enjoyed writing about art the most. Then I started doing informal art consulting for friends, who encouraged me to turn it into a small business.

F: Why is having art in a space important? 

N: Art reflects your personality, your experience—what you want your surroundings to say about you. Art affects the mood of a room, whether it's vibrant or serene.

F: When you're looking at art for a space what exactly are you looking for?

N: As a consultant, I just want to help the clients express themselves in the prettiest, truest way. I actually love when a client's taste is different from my own; it makes me look at art that I wouldn't notice otherwise.

F: Do you have a number one tip/trick of your trade?

N: Keep your eyes open, and don't be a snob. Art is where you find it, whether on an amazing trip or in the aisles of Target.

F: Are there any trends/decorating ideas that you're loving for Spring 2014? 

N: Apparently bright blues and orchids are the big colors for 2014? I love cool shades, and I love flowers, so that one works for me. But I find that my style has tended to solidify as time goes by; I definitely try to keep current, but I'm not a big trend follower.

F: How would you finish the following sentence? Creativity is ...

N: ...self-expression, whatever form that takes!

Your Fortique Guide to Spring

It may have just snowed, but Spring is right around the corner. Don't be caught unprepared for shifting seasons. Here's your very own guide to that sensational (and long-awaited) season we know as Spring!

Clean: Clear out the winter clutter, and make your interiors match your mood- light and bright! 

NEAT Method can help you organize, arrange, or rearrange your space. These ladies are pros, and can have you feeling clean, confident, and prepared. Simplify your space, and simplify your life. (Think about it, what if your desk, closet, and living space looked like the ones pictured below.) We can get behind that! 

Refresh: So, after you've cleaned and organized, you'll probably want to freshen up the space you've been hibernating in. 

We have numerous interior designers that can help you no matter your budget. Remember, our interior design pros can help you in a variety of ways from mood boards and consults, to shopping and full service design. 

Embellish: If your walls are looking a little bare, consider adding some art!

Nadya Sagner can help you add some life to your walls as your go-to art consultant. Whether you'd like to figure out what to do with pieces you already have, or you'd like to find some new wall candy she's here to help!


Spring Trends

Trends can be confusing. It's hard to know which trends to incorporate and how to incorporate them. So, using this Elle magazine article as a guide, we're summarizing our favorite ways to incorporate the runway into the everyday.

Trends don't necessarily have to be displayed through the clothes you wear. Consider implementing them with tech accessories, a purse, or a scarf that can double as a decorative touch in your house. To get back to the trends, here's the what we're working with:

Crop Tops - Sheer - Wide Leg Pants - Graphic Prints - Fringe - Embellished Details - Floral

To the left are a few ideas of how you might want to go about switching up your style. 

The examples are from J.Crew, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Free People.

Don't be limited by any particular store though! Whatever your budget, you should be able to find a version of the trend you'd like to incorporate. 

As always, if you find you need some more help, feel free to contact one of our Fortique stylists!

They'd love to help you figure out what works best for you.

Infuse Your Space with Color

After a little Spring cleaning reward your diligence with some decorating fun. Whether it's paint, textiles, or accent pieces, adding a little refreshing color is easier than you think. 

There are different ways to approach adding color. Here are a few ways to approach it. 

A color scheme is a classic way to think of color. There are a few different classifications, but we'll just stick to two. 

Color Wheel Fotitque Blog

Analogous Color Scheme: uses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. For example, blue-green, green, and yellow-green. Essentially for any color you choose on the color wheel, include the one to the left and the right. 

Complimentary Color Scheme: uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, violet and yellow. 

2. Choose Your Favorite: because life is to short to live around anything you don't absolutely love. Say, for example, your favorite color is neon pink. While we might not suggest painting your walls neon pink, we would suggest adding pops of neon and vibrant pinks in the form of pillows, a throw blanket, or some accent pieces like candles or coasters. 

Color Choices Fortique Blog

3. Choose According to the Mood: you'd like to achieve when you're in this particular space. If it's an office maybe you want something energizing, so you might decorate with brighter hues. If it's a bedroom, you may want to incorporate softer shades of your favorite colors. 

Here are a few examples from our interior design experts to inspire you!

If you get overwhelmed, our interior design experts can accommodate a variety of budgets and aesthetics. They can help you through the whole process, or simply help you come up with a mood board that solidifies your aesthetic. Don't hesitate to contact them! 

Fuel DC: Our Big Debut

On Wednesday Fuel D.C.  hosted its first event: a workshop on Google+.

(For those who may not know, Fuel D.C. is a collaborative of three small-business owners: Stephanie of Fortique, Bree of Capital Romance, and Liza of Studio DBI. Together they look to reinvent the idea of a business workshop.) 

After a cocktail hour, our fun and fearless speaker, Allison Guarino, gave our guests the low-down on the seemingly mysterious social network that is Google+. Here are a few highlights from Allison's tutorial at Studio DBI

1. GET STARTED! Even if you don't feel ready to join, you should...now! No more of that "but I don't have a website," or, "I'll do it soon." Excuses are only holding you back. 

Why? Google is a major player on the internet. Establishing yourself and your business will only help your SEO. Everything doesn't need to be perfect to start. The important part is that you start. 

2. KEEP IT UP. Think of your presence on the social network like a muscle you need to exercise. Try to interact and update your Google+ about every 72 hours to stay relevant. This includes not only posting content, but also liking and commenting on the content others are posting. Also, don't forget to follow up with anyone who interacts with you. 

(Be sure that any blog posts you post on any social media sites are re-posted from your website. This will get traffic moving on your site, and function as an archive of published material that gets you recognized by Google.) 

3. LINK YOUR PROFILE. Don't forget to add a "Google+" badge to your website. Visitors to your website will be able to connect to your business on another level. Your online presence will be all the more formidable. 


ABOUT ALLISON:  is a digital marketing strategist passionate about quality content creation and leveraging social media to connect with customers in the hospitality industry. She has extensive experience in the technical side of search engine optimization and website analytics but gets most excited to plan and create unique content for brands including Hyatt Hotels and Hilton Worldwide. In her current role at MICROS eCommerce, she manages web strategy for boutique and portfolio hotel accounts. Allison joined the digital marketing world after tenure in Philadelphia as a private club manager; responsible for marketing, event planning, and operations management.  She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware.

STAY TUNED! Our next workshop will take place in a few months. More details to come! 

How to Maximize your Instagram

There's no doubt that Instagram is a valuable marketing platform for businesses. Consider this, Instagram ads from retailers increased ad recall by 32% and brand message lift by 10%. Furthermore, according to Pew Research, 57% of Instagram users visit the site at least once a day, and 35% of those do so multiple times per day. Here are a few tips to make sure you're using the platform to its fullest. 

1. THE PHOTO: Instagram is all about pictures after all, so the photo (or ad) has to be on point. To ensure it's top-notch keep these things in mind:

Is the perspective interesting? What is the content of the photo or ad? Is it engaging?


2. THE EDITS: Instagram features a whole host of editing tools from straightening and enlarging to photo filters. Be sure that the edits you’re making improve the picture. If the content is striking or beautiful on it’s own, for example, there is no need to add a filter.

3. THE CAPTION: The most enjoyable captions are pithy and to the point. So, keep it simple! Remember to tag your images with hashtags if you’re concerned with the discoverability of your photos. If your photo features people or businesses who also have Instagram accounts don’t forget to tag them. 

4.  SHARING: You can post your Instagrams to a variety of other social media platforms you engage in. While you are able to select all of them, it is important to consider where your photo will be the most well-received. Facebook, for instance, may do you more good than Twitter given that images are displayed automatically and don't require clicking a link to view. Figure out how Instagram fits in with your social media strategy. 

Winter --> Spring: How To Capitalize on Your Transition Pieces

1. Organize

This is probably the hardest part, but it’s worth it. Why? Because you’ll avoid those awkward moments when you’re horribly overdressed or underdressed for the weather. We think that’s reason enough to push through a quick closet cleaning session. 

*Find things you'd like to donate? Find your local donation center here.

2.     Itemize

These jackets from Anthropologie are perfect for the transitional months. 

These jackets from Anthropologie are perfect for the transitional months. 

Pull out your most versatile pieces. For instance, that sweater you have that strikes that perfect balance between thick and thin, or those pants that look great with boots and flats. If you find your closet lacking, here are a few things you may want to invest in: a versatile jacket, casual sweater, long sleeve blouse (with roll-up sleeve tabs), ankle boots, and a lightweight scarf.

3.     Accessorize

While you’re at it, figure out which accessories go best with what: scarves that can be worn around your neck, or stylishly tied around your purse, or that necklace that balances jewel tones with more vibrant hues. Getting this out of the way will simplify your mornings, and save you tons of time when you are rushing out the door. 

Don't forget, if you need professional help we've got you covered! 

Contact one of our creative professionals. They'd be happy to help.

Flower Care + Keeping

Did you get a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day? (We hope the answer is yes.)

Well, here's a quick review of how to keep them looking great! We'll start from the beginning so you're prepared when you bring home your next bundle of joy. 

Flower Care.jpg

When you get them home

1. REMOVE any wrapping from around your flowers, as well as any foliage that will fall below the water line. 

Why? If not, leaves that lie in the water will quickly deteriorate the quality of the water. You wouldn't want to drink dirty water, right? Don't make your flowers! 

2. CUT your flower stems on an angle. If possible, use flower shears or a flower knife. 

Why? Regular scissors will crush the stem and inhibit water intake. Cut the stems on an angle to ensure maximum water uptake. 

3. ARRANGE flowers in a vase of cool water.

If available, mix flower food into the vase to ensure long-lasting flowers. Some bunches of flowers come with packets of flower food attaches. If not, ask your florist. They typically have some available. 


1. CHANGE the water. 

Why? Your flowers won't thrive in a dirty environment. Be sure to clean the vase with warm soapy water first. 

2. CUT the stems. 

Why? A fresh cut will allow your flowers to soak up all that fresh, clean water you just added. 

3. REMOVE any dying flowers. 

Why? They will only dirty up the water, and take away from the beauty of the flowers that are still going strong. 

V-Day Style: Looks to Suit Any Occasion

Like we pointed out in our previous post this week, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be stressful or overblown. Whether your plans call for casual or dressy, we've got some ideas to make sure you're looking your best. Looking great suits any occasion after all. 

Peplum: ModCloth, Bracelet: Anthropologie, Flats: Zappos, Dress: ModCloth, Necklace: Anthropologie, Clutch: Stella & Dot, Pumps: Zappos

See how the lip stains match up: Revlon vs. Tarte.

As always, if you need any help with your look, we've got stylists and makeup artists to assist you! Don't hesitate to contact our creative professionals. Beauty and style is their passion. 

Infographic: Fortique

So, to follow up on our instructional post from Tuesday, we decided to take our own advice. We used the tips we outlined to formulate our own infographic. We kept ours simple. (At least for now.) While we're not at the same level as our graphic design providers, we think this shows that it's possible even for amateurs to come up with a good product.  Don't be scared to try your hand at it. If anything, the process will make you appreciative of graphic designers, and maybe more likely to hire one. 

Good luck!

Fortique Infographic.jpg

Five Things You Need to Know About Infographics

Maximize your story... tell it visually! Here are a few things you should know before you get started. 



1. Organization 

Think of infographics as one of those five-paragraph essays you wrote as a kid. Start by introducing and defining your opening topic. From there, develop your argument with supporting points. Finally, wrap it all up with an intriguing closing statement. Think of your content as a funnel. As you move forward, your content should become more focused. 

2. Style

Yes, our computers offer a plethora of design tools at our fingertips. This doesn’t mean you should use all of them at once! Decide what style you’d like to accomplish before you get started. This will speed up the process immensely!

When in doubt, make a mood board to organize your ideas.

When in doubt, make a mood board to organize your ideas.

3. Design

The most successful infographics usually have formats that mimic their topic in some way. Brainstorm about ways you could illustrate your topic. Possible questions you might ask yourself are: What is the first thing I think of ? What shapes, colors, or logos do I associate with this? Don’t be afraid to solicit other points-of-view from friends, family, or co-workers.

4. Information

Infographics are useless if the information you include isn’t accurate. Precision reporting is key. Double check the validity of your facts and your sources. Also, don’t forget your citations!

5. Dissemination

There are a significant number of options for distributing your final product. While you may be able to get away with using all media outlets, you may want to think carefully about the best channels to publish. Things to consider might be: Who is the audience? What media outlets is my audience most likely to use? Is media the best route? What is the best way to present my infographic? Is a simple post sufficient, or will I need to consider something more creative?

Don't forget, if you want to leave your infographic design to the professionals look no further. We've got the talent that will put you on track. Contact one of our talented graphic designers today. 

Casa Pino & Easy Holiday Entertaining

Yesterday may have been the last day to ship gifts for Christmas, but it's not too late to pull together some easy holiday entertaining.  We asked Lea from the CASA PINO to share some of her effortless hostess tips for the holidays.

Hey y'all, I'm Lea from the CASA PINO. I'm so excited to be here blogging on Fortique. I'm going to show you how easy it is to throw an elegant holiday party anytime!

The Holidays can be all hustle and bustle, but it doesn't have to be! Perhaps it was my upbringing in the South, but I always like to be "entertaining-ready", which means I try to have a few things on hand at all times so that I can host guests easily at a minutes notice. Here are my go to items for effortless holiday hospitality. 


I keep a couple bottles chilling in the fridge at all times. You can save the fancy Champagne for special occasions, sparkling wine is just fine. I recommend Gruet Blanc de Noirs (Total Wine + Whole Foods), Secco (Trader Joe's), Jaume Serra Cristalino (Total Wine, Giant, Safeway) and to make the bubbly a little extra festive, I buy some pomegranate seeds or make some sugared cranberries (here's an easy 3 ingredient recipe) and add a splash of Sorel, a sweet and slightly spicy hibiscus liqueur. Sparkling Pink Cocktail, don't mind if I do! Yum! 

Sugared Cranberries


Cheese plates are so easy to make, they look beautiful, and they are total crowd pleasers, and you don't have to be a Maitre Fromager to assemble the perfect combination of cheeses. The general rule is a hard, soft and blue cheese in a variety of milks; cow, goat, and sheep. Pick up an asiago (hard/sheep), a chevre (soft/goat), a gorgonzola (blue/ cow), a bunch of grapes, a few different kinds of crackers and you're set. If you see fig jam, quince paste, or a pate, grab that too for a little something extra. If this seems overwhelming just ask the person at the cheese counter for help or head to a specialty shop like, Righteous Cheese at Union Market, they would love to help you pick an awesome, unique selection! 

Artisanal Cheese Plate


It' so important for setting the mood, and so simple to do! All you need is candles; tea lights, pillars, or tapers, it doesn't matter- just use what you've got. Sprinkle them around the house and light them just before guests arrive. And music, I usually just download a holiday playlist and push play! Here is a great one from Hip Hip Gin Gin

Christmas Party Play List

and lastly...


You're probably thinking this is going to be the hard part, but really its the easiest! I bet you've already got a tree up and maybe even a wreath. So all you really need to make the whole house feel festive and party ready is some extra greenery. If you don't have any on hand, visit a local tree stand. They have a mountain of clippings and they are usually happy to let someone grab as much as they want! I got some fir branches when I bought my tree. We had a recent snow and ice storm that took down a couple of pine branches in a little park in my neighborhood, so I helped my self to as many as I could carry. So my cost on decor, so far, $0. Gotta love that! If you wanted to buy something while you were the store, branches with red berries work well for these simple arrangements. You don't need to be a florist, just grab a assortment of vessels and put a branch in each, and then I'd lay a few little branches around the food and drinks. It's crazy easy, and so elegant. 

Easy Green Holiday Decor
Easy Holiday Decor - Candles & Berries
Easy Holiday Decor - Candles & Greenery

That's it! Simple stress-free holiday entertaining from the Casa Pino. I'm hosting my chic simple party next weekend so I'll have tons of pictures for y'all on our blog and on Instagram! I hope this helps y'all make your holidays more special! We think, it's not how much money you spend, it's all about the time you spend with those you love.

xo Lea Hart from the CASA PINO

Sweet Thymes His and Hers Proposal Checklist

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Monique Smaby of local Etsy shop Sweet Thymes to learn about her business.  Her shop is an awesome collection of custom, vintage themed rustic wedding and event decor.  To celebrate the beginning of engagement season, we asked Monique to share their engagement collection and some proposal tips.  Check it out and don't forget to talk to our event planners for help with your engagement party! 

Sweet Thymes Logo Banner.jpg

For Him:

Check this list off and you will be ready to pop the question with style.

  • Ask her parents for permission
  • Pick out a ring 
  • Get a ring box
  • Pick a meaningful place to propose
  • Hang a "Marry Me" burlap or vintage glitter sign
  • Gather your thoughts and practice
  • Find a friend to capture the moment with keepsake pictures

Time to get down on one knee!

For Her:

You said yes!  Celebrate at your engagement party with these unique and quirky decor items to create the beginning of forever.

Time to pop champagne to celebrate with friends and family!

Easy Holiday Decor

We hope you all survived Thanksgiving. So, now that the dust has settled (a little), it’s time for a debrief. Here are some ideas we tested out that you might want to work into your next big event. Easy and fun: doesn’t get much better than that!

Easy Holiday Decor Flowers in Vase
Butcher paper wrapped table

No-Fuss Flowers

 This idea came out of boredom. Tired of seeing the same traditional arrangement on the dinner table, we mixed it up a bit. The best part? No flower arranging skills required!


  1. Pick up whatever flowers you love.  Pull from your yard, an aging bunch you have already, but your favorites.
  2. Layer the flowers in a clear vase. Think of it like a flower trifle.

Butcher Paper Placemat
Butcher Paper Placemat Flower
Butcher Paper Placemat 3

Fun + Functional Table 

This idea is perfect for anyone who has kids, a creative heart, or who wants to minimize cleanup.

  1. Line your table with brown paper. Remember to tape it down on the ends and sides of the table to prevent it from moving around on your guests.
  2. If you’re having a sit-down dinner, block off faux placemats with tape. We used washi tape which is available in the scrapbooking sections of many stores.
  3. Lay out plenty of markers and let your guests unleash their inner child! (Note: Don’t forget to do a test to make sure the markers don’t bleed through.)

Top 3 Thanksgiving Apps

The big day is right around the corner! If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your Thanksgiving to-do list, check out these helpful apps. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Best of Thanksgiving Apps

1. KitchenPad: Focus on the cooking instead of the logistics. This app keeps track of all your timers in one place. Choose your oven and stovetop layout, and then label the food, and program the time.  That’s it!


2. CHOW (Thanksgiving Dinner Edition): Think of this app as your mother standing over your shoulder, except without all the nagging. Choose your own combination of nine Thanksgiving favorites, and you’ll get a timeline for the week that takes you all the way up to dinner!


3. 4 Day Throw Away: This app answers all those food safety questions that come when hunger hits and leftovers abound. Choose the food in question and then you’ll know whether or not you can eat free from inhibition.