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Toni & Katrina of Under The Sweater Talk Goals, Blogging & Feminism

Throughout the years, I’ve learned that women supporting other women is one of the greatest things to ever occur. When we go through adolescence, we see girls fighting each other rather than standing next to each other. As we get older and grow more confident with ourselves, we realize that pitting ourselves against other women is a waste of time and energy.

With March being Women’s History Month, I hope we can appreciate and value ourselves and also the friendships we’ve made with other women. Don’t pay attention to those glossy magazines that say only one actress can look good in a designer dress. And forget about the “Squad goals”, which ultimately exclude others. It’s 2016 and I say it’s time we join forces with one another. That should be the ultimate goal.

On that same note, we’re happy to introduce two amazing women, Toni Esteban and Katrina Bartolome. They are co-founders and writers of the blog, Under The Sweater. They were happy to speak about women’s issues, share their goals, and describe their ideal day. They even shared a few photos from their European travels last year! Their friendship and blogging venture demonstrates what can happen when two women team up and pursue an interest together while supporting each other along the way.

Toni and Katrina taking in moments on their trip to Paris, France last year.

Toni and Katrina taking in moments on their trip to Paris, France.

YHM: What’s your morning routine?

TE: I have this habit of setting my alarm 10-15 minutes earlier than I have to wake up, just to trick myself into thinking I can get more sleep when I hit that snooze button. Then, I usually eat a light breakfast, spend way too much time figuring out what to wear, and rush out the door to catch the bus since I spent too much time figuring out what to wear! Moisturizer, foundation, eyeliner, and a brownie nude liquid lipstick are essentials in my morning routine.

KB: When my alarm goes off I find myself hitting snooze about 5 times until I drag myself out of bed. I get my Nespresso started so by the time I’m outta the bathroom, my coffee is there waiting for me because I’ve pretty much sold my soul to caffeine. As for skincare and beauty, it’s pretty simple on an average day: cleanse with Glossier’s Milky Jelly, moisturize with the Priming Moisturizer, swirl on Laura Mercier’s mineral powder, add a touch of mascara, and apply a tinted lip balm that I’ll carry with me throughout the day.

YHM: How did you meet and how did a friendship begin?

TE: We met at New York University during a club dance team audition. We actually were in the same group when we auditioned! Katrina didn’t remember this when I told her. I distinctly remember telling her I liked her sweater one day, asked her where she got it and from there we decided to go shopping together – and from there, a beautiful friendship was born.

YHM: What inspired you to start a blog?

TE: I’ve always loved fashion since I was young, but I only became exposed to blogging in college. I was instantly hooked and wanted to create my own space where I could express my love for fashion, but I was always insecure about actually pursuing it. On a whim, Katrina and I decided we should do one together since we both had the same kinds of reservations. I think running a blog with one of my closest friends gave me so much more confidence in myself and I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.

KB: We’ve always individually had a thing for fashion and found ourselves bonding over our favorite brands, blogs, influencers, etc. Having my own blog was always something that was on the back of my mind, but I never took any action towards it until I found out Toni had the same interest.

Katrina Bartolome

Katrina Bartolome in London, England, UK.

YHM: What was a challenge you faced while co-running a blog? And how did you overcome it?

KB: A challenge we faced (and still do, if not more now) is scheduling. Having started a blog during one of our busiest years in college, it was always difficult to find time to produce content consistently. Now that we’re living quite far from each other, it’s even harder finding time just to meet up. Also, in general, a lot of things just take more time when co- running a blog. You don’t just have your idea, execute it, and put it up. There’s always something to take into consideration. When you’re collaborating, you need to discuss, plan and compromise if need be.

YHM: In New York City, people know their sense of style and go with it. Is there a piece of clothing or accessory you wear that may not be everyone’s cup of tea?

KB: That first statement is exactly what I love about New York City. Nothing is everyone’s cup of tea and here we embrace that. I’m not a huge risk taker when it comes to how I dress so it’s hard for me to pick something but if there was anything I’d say maybe the bulkier sneakers I wear might not be appealing to everyone (i.e. Nike Uptempo or Nike Air Force 1).

TE: I tend to dress in basics most of the time, but lately I’ve been gravitating towards grandma-esque prints, which can either be chic or not so chic – I’ve noticed that most people go for solids and neutral or grayscale tones on a daily basis.

YHM: What would your ideal day look like?

TE: It really depends on my mood – either a day in bed, watching Netflix and YouTube, pigging out on popcorn and chocolate, or spending the day at the beach, going for a bike ride and curling up with a good book. The theme of my ideal day is definitely relaxation!

KB: A relaxing day on the beach with loved ones: going for a swim, getting some sun, jamming to good music, and sharing laughs.

Toni Esteban

Toni Esteban in Paris, France.

YHM: What are your long-term goals for the blog and also your personal life?

TE: With the blog, I’d love for us to just continue on and find our voice and brand, once we’re able to create a schedule that works for both of us. As for my personal life – there’s so much I am interested in and passionate about, and I’m still figuring out how to balance everything. I just know my definition of success and my life goal is to be satisfied and fulfilled with how I choose to live my life. I really want to be able to look back at my life and have no regrets and be genuinely happy, as cliché as that sounds.

KB: To be honest, my long-term goals are a little bit unclear right now. When you have so many different passions, it’s difficult to find something that can satisfy or fuse all of them. Is it cheesy to say that my personal long-term goal is happiness? But I know that for the blog we’re focusing on improving our content and becoming more consistent with our posts and from there, finding our voice and our brand.

YHM: If you could give one piece of advice to young girls and women, what would it be?

KB: Whatever it is you want, go for it. As you get older, you realize how valuable time is. So don’t be afraid of making mistakes, as these only make you stronger.

TE: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! I can’t stress that enough – and I say this from experience. I was on a completely different path in college and totally changed my mind about what I wanted to do just a little before graduation. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do exactly up until a few months ago and I’ve only just begun to slowly figure out where I see myself in the future. I think this day in age it’s so important to go after what will make you happy when you’re young because time goes by so quickly. This is the point in your life when you can really afford to be flexible with your decisions and path you choose to take, so you might as well go for what you really want to do.

YHM: Who are some notable women you look up to?

TE: Right now, I love Rowan Blanchard. Even though she’s quite a bit younger than me, she’s extremely mature and is well spoken on so many different issues – not just facing women, but everyone. She has a valuable voice and is not afraid to speak out, even though a lot of people tend to ignore younger people because they think that age makes you less knowledgeable about the issues the world faces. That’s a huge thing that resonates with me – I hated (and still do) not being heard because of my age, but I’ve realized with time that I shouldn’t let that stop me from sharing my perspective.

KB: One of my role models is Ellen DeGeneres. She’s not your Audrey Hepburn or Jacqueline Kennedy (nothing against them of course) and that is exactly why I think she’s so notable. Not only is she just one of my favorite people in the entertainment industry, but she’s kind, selfless, and intelligent. Also, she worked super hard to get to where she’s at today and campaigns for equal rights and anti-bullying. Plus she always reminds everyone that you don’t always have to take yourself too seriously. Laughter is medicine.

yhm-toni-katrina09

More from their European adventures in Paris, France.

YHM: What are your thoughts on feminism? Would you consider yourself a feminist?

KB: Everyone has completely different definitions of feminism, whether it be increasing and protecting women’s rights or debating the concept of “gender” entirely. For me, it’s more about decreasing stereotypical expectations of the male and female. Although we’re making moves, gender roles have been and still are ingrained at a very early age, even before birth, and it’s difficult to differentiate who we truly are and who we may be raised to be among the standards of society.

TE: The basic definition of feminism is the empowerment of women and belief that women and men should be equal – going off of that definition, I definitely would consider myself a feminist. Maya Angelou said it best, “I’m a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”

YHM: Were you ever told you couldn’t do or be something because you’re a woman? If so, how did you overcome that?

TE: Growing up, you see how everyone naturally pigeonholes people into gender roles and stereotypes. I can’t say that I’ve felt this personally, but I think girls were expected or taught to be quiet, not to raise their voice or not to be too opinionated because it wasn’t ‘ladylike’ – however now, thankfully, I think females are finally starting to have a seat at the table. The world still has a long way to go, but I’ve learned it’s important to not be afraid to speak up – one voice may not seem like a lot, but your thoughts and concerns do matter.

KB: Luckily I have never been put in a situation wherein I was told such, but there are certain struggles that occur on the daily with being a woman. I pray for the day that all women feel safe going home alone late at night or aren’t judged for wearing clothes that make her feel confident. It shouldn’t be that women have to stand up for themselves every single day for being objectified.

YHM: What’s something you’ve learned to embrace and celebrate about womanhood as you’ve gotten older?

TE: I’ve learned how important it is to empower other women. A lot of the time, women are naturally pitted against each other by society or the media because of appearances, status, and so much more, but it’s so extremely important to build each other up and genuinely encourage each other, rather than to criticize each other because of our differences. These differences should be embraced and celebrated.

KB: Growing up, I’ve always considered myself as one of the guys and never really took the time to celebrate womanhood or find pride in what made me a woman. Only recently I’ve learned to truly value how remarkable it is that women bear the gift of bringing new life into the world. We’re born with the instinct to nurture, to care, and to protect and having such characteristics bred into us is unmatchable.


By Sarah Jaihe Lee | Photos: Courtesy of Toni Esteban and Katrina Bartolome

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