Student Life: A Balancing Act

Here to tell us about the balancing act required with being a student, an aspiring writer, a lover of books, and a show choir star is Raylee Dawn.

In my life as a student and a living person, I find that balance is the root of the tree. I love to read and write, but the problem is trying to find the time while I study for classes and practice for the school show choir.

I find that if you take your class syllabi and a planner from Wal-Mart you can mark all of what is going on and the due dates. You might have to change some of them, so do that in pencil. Then I can mark free time. I don’t rely on this time to be constantly open, so its just a perk. I also think as free time as a reward that I get for doing my work, so I do try to keep it free.

However, this might not work for some people; it didn’t work for me for a while. As a result, I would spend one day of the week on one subject, so I didn’t get bored. This worked really well since I only have seven classes. Sometimes I might know of an upcoming test, so I would switch days but only on the week right before. You must remember that most people only remember 25 to 50% of what they hear so you should study a few days or weeks in advance.  I like to have an hour or 30 minutes to read a day but that doesn’t always work.

I try to attend after school activities that allow or implore me to read and write. A book club can be nice, and you can even get ideas on what to read next. An art club is good for those who like to draw; there’s a local art gallery that lets me sell some of my pieces. Clubs are fun and always have something for you to do.

Now that I’m done explaining how I do all these things and still have the energy to stand up, I think its time to tell you why I do this.

Half the clubs I’m in, Honor and Show Choir, I’m in to get in to a good college with the best musical program. While that is true for the other half I’m in, its not true for the other half: the reading and the writing clubs

The only other reason I have for this is to keep myself entertained and not bored out of my mind just thinking of school. I meet new friends at these events, and while I know that makes me sound like a cliché, its true. I don’t belong to one clique because I hang out with multiple groups at school. If one clique kicks me out, a new one always finds me because I am in these clubs and choirs and libraries. I’m no jack-of-all-trades, but I can throw up a good disguise.

Raylee is a 13 year old star student with dreams of becoming a writer. Besides her love of the written word, Raylee is also passionate about the performing arts. She’s a member of 2 choirs at her middle school. One day you’ll see her on Broadway with a book on the NYT Bestsellers list.

If you’re interested in contributing, we would love to hear from you! Contact us here if interested.

So You Want to be a Fashion Designer

By Danielle Lieneman

The fashion industry is one that’s alluring to many, especially with shows like America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway dominating cable. It’s an industry that’s competitive, creative, and captivating. There’s nothing more awe inspiring then seeing the formal gowns donned by movie stars at the Oscars or the edgy outfits gracing the models on the cover of Vogue. We’ve had the pleasure to speak with Ermelinda Manos, a Las Vegas based fashion designer, about what inspired her to join the fashion world, her creative process, and the industry as a whole.

My inspiration when creating a collection comes from films, traveling, and fabric sourcing. My designs are effortless and timeless. I like to accentuate the female form, as I design for a confident and elegant woman.

First, I start off by making mood boards, with inspirational images that help me keep ermelinda-case-study-1focused on the style I want to design. This is helpful to maintain a cohesive collection. Elements, styles, and colors within the collection should be cohesive and all effortlessly flow together, or be able to mix and match the looks with each other. I start sketching my ideas out on my sketchbook, and I sketch the entire inspiration based on how I envision the model on the runway— from hair, makeup, shoes, and accessories to go with the design. After I make several sketches, I make a list of the elements that stand out the most and the fabrics I want to use. I always do a color and trend forecast to make sure that the colors I pick are in season. One of my favorite parts of designing is going to the garment district to source the fabrics, trims, the beading, and all of the materials needed for each design. Sometimes, the design is created after I find the fabric that inspires me.

Next, I lay out all of the fabrics and the materials as I play around with them and create more sketches. This allows me to have a clear vision of what each design will be, as I narrow down my sketches to six to 12 looks that would be the final looks created for the collection.

Ermelinda Case Study 4.jpgThe production begins, and I always have music playing in the background as we start creating the samples. All of the patterns are either draped or drafted, but I prefer draped a lot more. I’m very hands on with the sample processes as it is the most crucial part of the design; there’s room for adjustments during sampling that you cannot do once it’s finalized. I love to sew by hand, more than sewing on the machine, which is why you will find my designs have a lot of details that are handmade. Usually, our fit model is always a standard size when we try on the designs to ensure they are wearable and fit correctly for the ideal woman we have in mind— and that the design is flawless. Once the sampling and fit is approved, we then produce the final look or make multiples of the design.

Hand sewing and creating dresses has been my first love since I was a child. I’m fortunate to be able to live out my childhood dream, but the fashion industry isn’t always so glamorous. I spend many hours in the studio sewing, sampling, or running around downtown for endless hours to find the right bead or the right zipper. It’s a fast-paced industry, and there’s not a lot of time to sit and daydream when creating. Sometimes I have deadlines to create a design within hours, which is a lot of pressure. The results are very rewarding— the moment you see the gown draped on a woman’s body, and the woman feeling confident and beautiful in my design. To be able to have my designs be part of women’s lives, to be a reason for them to feel beautiful and smile, that is what makes everything worth it.

Her advice is so intriguing! I never thought about how fast paced the industry must be and the constant struggle of being creative on a deadline. What do you find most fascinating about the fashion industry?

If you’d like to learn more about the fashion industry, please reach out to us or preorder our book on Amazon!


The Music Industry: Everything You Need to Know

By Danielle Lieneman

The music industry is one that, while enticing for many, that’s hard to break through. photo-jan-27-12-02-52-pmThere are options other than the traditional pop star who makes millions however, as Daniel Ennis reminds us. Ennis is an English and advertising student at the University of Florida with a passion for music. Here’s his unique take on the subject:

“I have played in several bands over the last seven years, and before coming to college, I used to set up shows for other musicians to play too. We recorded a lot of music in those bands but didn’t have much interest in making money from it. We mostly just ended up handing CDs out at cost or giving free downloads to people. We didn’t make money, but we had a reputation in our hometown.

With websites such as Bandcamp, MySpace, Facebook, and other social media channels, music can be spread with the click of a button. This can be advantageous for do-it-yourself types because relatively unknown bands can easily attract fans all over the world, but at the same time, it’s detrimental to the record label system that has been in place since music has been recorded. Anybody can download anything. Social media and the internet perpetuate this spread of information and give opportunities to bands that wouldn’t ordinarily get attention. At the same time, the notoriety of bands that become known on e-zine and music community websites such as Pitchfork Media ( or Stereogum ( has a shorter shelf-life. Bands come and go as frequently as the seasons, and trends in styles come and go at the same time. It’s a very interesting time, with a lot of opportunity for the early adapters that are willing to take a little risk and play the game.

If you have a DIY label, one of the biggest difficulties is creating interest. If the music is good enough, then it will speak for itself, so to speak. But it’s not always that easy. When the label promotes its artists through shows to create a grass-roots feel, while at the same time utilizing new forms of social media such as YouTube, it is easier for the listener to participate in generating interest, which makes it easier for the DIY label to exist.

Communication with potential fans is also a key. Communication, always seeming “new” and in the moment, always creating new things, or giving the impression that new things are always coming out is really important. But at the same time, you don’t want to saturate your audience with too much all at the same time. If the band can find the right balance between saturation and silence, they are likely to be able to get interest and notoriety enough to build a network of fans that come back for more.

The best way to succeed on Twitter is to be interactive. If you’re talking a lot, responding quickly to anyone’s retweets and mentions, they’re more likely to have a conversation with you. Conversation is a big way to get attention that can then promote music.

Social media is moving very fast all the time that it’s hard to predict which direction will be next. I would like to be able to say that Facebook will be around forever, but I know that’s not true—not by a long shot. Commercialization takes away the appeal of many sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, so people are more likely to abandon one social medium in search for another that doesn’t disrupt their day-to-day socializing as much.

People will want to keep finding ways to communicate on the internet and find new ways to interact so they can find new music (and other things such as news and videos). Still, it’s hard to say what’s next. Maybe Xanga will make a revival, but for the sake of people on the internet everywhere, I hope it doesn’t. (Xanga was notorious for illegal file sharing and pornography.)”

photo-jan-27-12-01-14-pmAs someone without the ability to even carry a tune, I have a lot of respect for those who dedicate their lives to music in any sort way. If you’re musically inclined and want to read more about what exactly the industry is about and how to get involved, be sure to check out one of our newest releases So you Want to…Join the Music Industry, available on Amazon.

Mo’s Bows: Fashionable Advice From a Young Entrepreneur

by Danielle Lieneman

We’ve decided to try out something new here at Atlantic Teen! In addition to our regular content, we will have some featured spotlights that correspond with upcoming releases to provide real life experience and advice from young adults just like you! For our first feature, we have Moziah “Mo” Bridges, a 14-Year-Old Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur.

ya_fashiondesignercoverMo will be featured in our upcoming release: So You Want to Be a Fashion Designer: Here’s the Info You Need, which will be available for purchase in early 2017. This book provides all of the information you need to get your foot in the fashion industry, even from your own home! No need to live in New York City with this book in your hands. Reading this book, you will learn how to pursue an education in the industry, how to determine your specialty, pattern-making, bookkeeping, and everything in-between, all explained simply and thoroughly.


From Mo himself:

Mo’s Story 

I started my company when I was nine years old, and I started because I couldn’t find any other bowties that really fit my style or my personality. So, that’s when I asked my grandmother to teach me how to sew…From that point, I started an Etsy and then, I would sell my bowties for bags of chips or trade them for rocks… We would go out to farmer’s markets, and we would do local shows and local trunk shows. After that, I would make it into the newspaper, and then the newspaper contacted the magazine. And then the magazine went to the show, and then the show went from show to show to show to show. I didn’t think it would get this big, but my hard work and dedication led me to this point.

Shark Tank actually called us and they wanted us to be on the show. Originally, my mom said no because she didn’t want to have us crying on the show. We went out to LA, and we shot the show, but it wasn’t for sure that we were actually going be on the show; it was just, like, a thing that we did. But then, when it got to that point, we were so excited that we got the opportunity.

If you didn’t see the show, I didn’t walk away with the check, but Daymond [John] did offer to be my mentor… and so, after that, he’s just been guiding me through the practical aspects of owning my own company. He’s taught me always to stay true to your company and never sell out your brand. Always know your brand, and just be yourself. My particular brand is fashionable with a touch of class, and urban.

[Mo’s Bows bowties] are in a lot of stores. I have twelve to fifteen stores that they’re in right now, but, where I get most of the profit is from, um, online, and that’s my website. Someone helped me [make the website]. We have a whole Mo’s Bows team that helps.

Advice for Teens Interested in Fashion:

I would tell them to always figure out what you like doing and find out how you can make profit out of it. And, also, just to be true to yourself and believe in yourself. I think believing in yourself means invest in yourself, and just stay true to your brand, like Daymond always taught me.

I do give back to the community. I have my Go Mo! Summer Camp Scholarship, and 100% of the proceeds help kids go to summer camp because in Memphis it’s hot, and childhood hunger is at its highest in the summertime because kids aren’t eating that nutritious meal [that they’re eating] when school time is in. So, I figured they can have fun, go to the movies, go to the swimming pool, and just be kids.

Future Goals:

I want to be a fashion designer, and I want to have my own clothing line by the time I’m 20. I want to go to Parsons School of Design and hopefully get a Range Rover in the process of that.

Don’t forget to preorder our upcoming book here. Hope you enjoy the read and pursuing your dreams to become a fashion designer!

mo-pro-shot-copy-headshot A former Shark Tank contestant, Moziah “Mo” Bridges is the 14-year-old CEO of Mo’s Bows handmade bowties: a Memphis family-run business. Mo’s bowties have been featured in numerous international publications, and are sold online at, as well as Neiman Marcus and other retailers throughout the United States.