Baby Products Market Still Buoyant as First-Time Parents Purchase Necessities

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The baby product market is one that has been actively and consistently performing quite well over the years. We have seen an incredibly strong interest and investment in this market because, at the end of the day, there is always going to be a significant need for the baby product market.

In light of the recent Covid pandemic, the baby toys market has been significantly impacted in 2020. However, key baby products have experienced continued interest. Where there are copious last-mile delivery services that have remained operational during the pandemic, necessities like nappies, strollers, changing tables and more have been able to be purchased and delivered. From the perspective of parents, such products are essential.

Anyone who has ever experienced the lead up to becoming a parent or guardian, or who has prepared to bring their new bundle of joy home, knows that there are a thousand and one points to prepare for. It can be overwhelming (to say the least). This is especially true for first-time parents. It can be challenging to figure out exactly what you need and what you can realistically go without. Preparing for a new addition to the family is often (if not always) an expensive process, so it never hurts to get all the assistance you can to figure it all out. There are so many baby products out there. Most of them are marketed exceptionally well. So, how do you know which baby products to invest in?

Over the years, there have been many great innovations in baby products, all of which have added value to the ever-growing baby product market that spans the globe. In saying this, not every baby product that makes it onto the market is a necessity. Telling the difference between the baby products that you absolutely need and the ones that, realistically, you and your baby can go without, can be a work in progress that takes time to figure out. This is an international market that continues to go from strength to strength, however it is by no means a market that is without its flaws. Every baby product out there will be marketed within an inch of its life. This is generally the case for any product in any market, to be fair, however because of the competitive nature of the baby product market, it can feel like this is a market that is operating to the max capacity all the time.

The baby products that every first-time parent needs start with the obvious necessities. These include (but are not limited to) a crib, a car seat, a stroller (you can now get multi-purpose strollers that include a car seat function), baby clothes, nappies, soft toys, bottles (these are handy to have whether you choose to or can breastfeed or not), and a baby monitor. Then, there are the additional baby products that are life savers for parents. From amber teething necklaces and rolling play mats to the Easywalker, and every genuinely useful baby product in between and beyond, having these baby products will make your life as a new parent – and, more importantly, the life if your little one – easier and more efficient on the day to day. Once you start doing your research, you can usually figure out which baby products are more hype than they are worth. Understand and accept that it is a learning curve – it is okay to not get it absolutely right every single time. This is especially true in the beginning.

At the end of the day, navigating the baby product market might feel like an overwhelming experience, to say the least, however it does not have to be. This is one of the most exciting and life changing experiences that you are ever going to go through, so take the time to enjoy the process. Acknowledge and forgive yourself when it gets tiring (and it will, especially if you are the parent carrying the child up until the due date). Navigating the baby product market has never been as easy and effortless as it is right now. Ask your family and friends who have kids, read online reviews, read books, and watch documentaries. All of it does a world of good in assisting you to navigate the process with relative ease (for the most part, of course there will always be challenges). 

When it comes to preparing for the arrival of a new little family member, it is more than fair to say that there are a lot of moving pieces, each of which is worth its weight in gold and which comes hand in hand with its own advantages and merits. However, even having said this, it can be a challenging process to figure out which products you need and which you can get away with. Ultimately, what it all comes down to is research. Ideally, this means a combination of online research, advice from family and friends, and personal attention to detail that will all hopefully help you figure out the right approach – and the best baby products – for you and your precious baby. Navigating the baby product market as a first-time parent can be a whirlwind, however it does not have to be. Make the time to commit to the process (and you best believe that it is indeed a process) and you cannot go wrong.

Will social media continue to perpetuate fashion trends in 2020?

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Social media is everywhere and we use it every day. It’s a platform for mass consumerism because let’s face it, 90% of what you see are ads or product placements. That dress your favorite influencer is wearing? Sponsored. Those gorgeous pearls that your friend was spotted wearing? Sponsored. If social media were a crowd, you would be able to toss ten pebbles in the air and manage to hit ten social media influencers or people who post sponsored posts or give social media reviews.

The perpetuation of consumerism is so rampant on social media that we barely even notice it anymore, taking it for granted and accepting that it is what it is. Teenagers are in the loop and are much more connected to current trends and aware of what’s going on than their parents. They know all the brands and they know what’s hot and they want it. It’s becoming a bit of a troubling platform because kids are harassing their parents to drop $600 on a belt and throwing a tantrum when they can’t comprehend the concept of money.

Aside from that, social media has had a hand in pushing the fashion industry to new heights. Today, little known home brand designers are able to get their pieces out there without having to go through the trouble of interning and learning the ropes in hopes of getting noticed and nabbing the opportunity of launching their own line. Today, if they can sew and create stunning pieces, there will be no lack of customers, regardless of who they are – if their works of art are made from quality fabrics and the piece is well made, people will pay hundreds for piece of clothing that’s unique and handmade. While it was okay back in 2006 to purchase something that everyone else had, it’s no longer advisable when you’re an influencer because in a world of so many social media accounts and feeds that are prettier than yours, you need every edge you can get to stand out.

Who can forget low budget cosplay? That social media account went viral thanks to its uniqueness. Pairing it with one of the biggest industries in the world was simply genius. While reports say that men’s fashion will see a dip in 2020, brands are confident they will be able to lead another wave of renewed interest, however, there are certain trends that fashion influencers want to drop, starting with the crossbody bag. Men bags were all the rage in 2012, bringing androgyny to the world of men. However, men slowly lost interest in the item because it was troublesome to carry around and let’s face it – men love convenience. The man bag was a convenient place for them to put their things, until they realized it was more trouble than it was worth.

How about the long line tee? Kanye West is a perfect example of influencer marketing. While he’s a celebrity per se, what influencers do is in line with what he does. By dressing a certain way and being a colorful character, you naturally attract the public to follow you, even if that means copying your long dress look. These shirts that reach past your knees might look swag on the street, but the truth is they make you look disproportionate and short.

There goes to show how social media continues to morph the methods of how fashion is disseminated. Instead of the masses simply waiting for large clothing manufacturers to drop their seasonal line and make do with what is available, shopping has become largely interactive. You can shop online, you can shop your favorite celebrity’s clothes, you can even shop your favorite tv show’s character’s outfits. Nothing is off limits anymore. Furthermore, it’s becoming interesting to see how the feedback from consumers is actively influencing manufacturers.

It is probably safe to say that social media will continue to influence fashion, whether it wants to be influenced or not. It’s the classic case of supply and demand. When the industry sees what the masses want, they begin mass producing it in hopes of capitalizing on that desire. For a moment there, the world was obsessed with unicorns – and the craze didn’t come from the catwalk, it didn’t come from Vogue either. It came from masses of Millennials looking for some magic to inject into the drab lives their parents had left for them, filled with societal pressures and financial struggles.

From upgrading men’s fashion and throwing variety into a highly saturated market, social media is exactly what a fast paced industry like fashion needs in order to keep growing in the right direction. 

Awakened but so Very Asleep (the Tragedy of Today)

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Through the internet and through social media, you could say that we are now at a time of unparalleled connectivity. We are aware of global as well as national issues and a click away from friends and family members. 

With technology and social media on the rise, the possibilities seem endless. However, could too much connectivity be (ironically) fostering more disconnection instead? When does social media become more of a detriment to society than a benefit?

For some of us, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is like coffee in the morning and we are now beginning to think about things like social media as an addiction, something that distracts from reality instead of heightening it. 

We are beginning to have to talk seriously about our kids, glued to their phone screens for most of their waking days (and nights). We are beginning to think about digital dependency and the effects of this type of addictive, compulsive behavior on mental health. 

A study found that the average Brit checks their phone as much as 28 times a day. Although smartphones can be a great help to people with busy lifestyles, the issue arises when this sort of compulsive behavior does nothing to add value to life and instead takes something away from your life. We now have to ask ourselves whether we are really just wasting our time when we could be doing so much more with ourselves.

Is this what we’ve become?

Though there is a lack of research in the field of social media and mental health, there are many studies showing that an overindulgence in social media can create feelings of unhappiness and isolation. You may have been there before. Scrolling through your Instagram feed and seeing those perfectly filtered photos. An age of narcissists that (again ironically) indulge in voyeurism to possibly drown out deep self-esteem issues, all while bringing down the self-esteem of others in a dark, depressing loop. 

You pay your dues to how other people see you in life, comparing, coveting…

It’s all deeply unsettling and tragically unhealthy, to say the least. 

Our lives become the stage show of others, reality TV replaced by a sick pseudo-fantasy reality (if that’s even a word). 

We scroll through our tweets, watching the numbers go up, craving acceptance while sinners and keyboard warriors and trolls lurk in the shadows.

Blue light (emitted from your smartphone) before bedtime contributes to poor quality sleep. Feelings of loathing and self-doubt creep in as you start comparing yourself and the crappiness of your life, your blotchy skin, your moles with the picture-perfect, statuesque beings beamed at you from your screen.

A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that there are many Facebook users who are suffering from “Facebook envy”, making them particularly depressed. When the users were made to take a break from Facebook, they were found to be more satisfied with their lives. 

By limiting the amount of time that you spend scrolling through social media, you can let real life seep in in all its imperfect and beautiful glory. 

Spend more time with your loved ones and on loving yourself. Being connected to people in the virtual world may actually be making you lonelier

Envy is not the only thing wrong with social media. This engine of connection may actually be causing us to drift apart and to not be truly present, lost in the moment (you must have seen those pictures of a table full of people all staring at their phones). Those people around you are real, they’re living, breathing, they’re there…

Social media marketing can also be a big contributor to a toxic culture of insane consumerism. Can you blame us for becoming compulsive buyers when we’re being attacked by products through so many different channels? From CBD stores to streetwear fashion, ecommerce has permeated the platform. 

It doesn’t just stop at buying things that you don’t need or the financial difficulties that can come with that. Some people have actually reportedly improved the quality of their lives after a digital detox and global research consultancy, Kantar TNS through a study found that millennials spend about 3.8 hours a day, a day in a week and about 49 days a year on their phones, with their priorities on social media rather than on other forms of media. There are also some people who are far worse off, with two days in a week and about a hundred days in a year spent on their smartphones, playing mobile games, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… 

Becoming conscious is a much-needed priority and (again ironically) after the great distance that human civilization appears to have crossed in our development as a species, our amazing abilities have only really gotten us so far. 

Look at the studies. They show us that social media may be contributing to a large number of the cases of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses among the youth. 

The battle may be for acceptance or it may be for nothing at all. Whatever the case, it could just be that the battle is in our own minds and with ourselves…

The Rise of Sustainable Tourism

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Last month, the last tourists were allowed to ascend Ayer’s Rock or Uluru, Australia’s most famous rock and a drawcard for international and domestic tourists. Uluru is now closed to tourists in respect of its traditional owners, the Anangu people, whose culture and law forbid people to climb Uluru. The decision to close Uluru comes after many years of debate between local indigenous communities and local government, and is one of the few times where Indigenious values have actually won over other (financial) interests. The decision was made by the Australian government, in extension of its support for the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) program, which enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to manage existing and creating new IPAs, in an effort to protect and conserve Australia’s rich biodiversity. Even if that means tourism revenue is lost as a direct result.

It is just one example of a growing travel trend we are seeing around the world – a trend where more value is being placed on ethics than on profits, where environmentally and socially sustainable outcomes are being emphasised over ‘experience vacationing’. It is the rise in sustainable tourism, and boy is it about time. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious: they want a holiday, but not if it is to the detriment of a local community or the local environment.

Millennials are driving the shift, fueling demand for more sustainable accommodation, tour agencies and group holiday experiences. They are also prepared to pay more for the experience, 73 percent of them are, in fact. They would rather not visit a major tourist attraction if they know its profits are used to further corruption within the government, and they will skip out on a walking tour of a slum community if they feel it will have a harmful impact on those residing within the slum. They would rather avoid visiting an elephant orphanage if they know the elephants are ‘rescued’ under false pretences and then abused.  Even if it the best location for wildlife watching, the new age conscious consumer is not interested in staying at an African safari lodge if it uses plastic bottles for drinking water, or if lodge profits aren’t used to better the surrounding community. They know what we want, and thankfully so, because the future is more or less in their hands.

It’s not just millennials driving the trend though, 105.3 million U.S. travellers are prioritising vacations that give back to the environment and community as much as they take, according to Sustainable Travel International, and 60 percent of leisure travellers in the U.S. are sustainable travellers. The UN even aptly named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, taking advantage of global momentum to further the efforts of sustainable tour operators, airlines, organisations and companies seeking to lessen travellers’ impacts on the world.  According to the UN, the fastest growing group of sustainable traveller is that which would rather travel to a pristine, remote area and contribute to conservation efforts there than go on an all-paid luxury holiday to a tropical beach. People want to come back from a holiday feeling reinvigorated and inspired, not as though they have laid on a beach for a fortnight drinking cocktails.

For a destination to be certified as sustainable by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, it must follow a very specific set of criteria, from supporting local businesses to conserving natural resources. Yellowstone National Park and Vail, Colorado, are two U.S. destinations on the path to becoming certified as sustainable destinations – but a place must tick a lot of boxes in order to make the cut. Beyond this particular certification, well-known destinations right around the world are doing what they can to negate the impacts of the hordes of tourists they welcome on a daily basis. Cinque Terre, Machu Picchu and the Great Barrier Reef are some of them, by limiting the annual number of visitors they receive, while authorities of places like Koh Tachai in the Similan National Park are prohibiting visitors altogether in an effort to conserve the pristine environment.

The thing is, if we wish to continue being able to explore all corners of planet earth, bathe in its waterfalls, swim on its beaches, walk on its mountains, we really do need to change the way we travel.

According to Sustainable Travel International, travel and tourism are responsible for 5 percent of total carbon emissions globally, contributing significantly to climate change, thus putting all these still-pristine destinations at risk of destruction. The World Tourism Organization expects the international tourism market to climb to 1.8 billion by 2030, and has confirmed that in the past 20 years alone worldwide destination seeking has grown by more than 50 percent. The tourism industry is not shrinking any time soon. The choices we make in terms of the food we eat, the agencies we travel with, the modes of transport we use, and the types of activities we engage in, all have significant impacts on both the physical and social or cultural environments in which we find ourselves while travelling. Even the dirt and dust we carry home with us after our travels to foreign lands can have monumentally significant impacts on the integrity of our home country’s ecosystem if introduced. It is no wonder we are all beginning to question how we can do things better while on the road, enjoying ourselves while not putting global communities or ecosystems at risk. With proper measures and by trying wherever possible to travel sustainably, we can negate our impacts and in some circumstances even restore environments to their pre-discovered state.

How English Evolved Into a Modern Language

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In many countries, education is considered as a duty, not just a mere right. It is often accepted as a fundamental resource for individuals and societies. Historically, over the past two centuries, there has been a substantial expansion in literary education over the globe. The global literacy rates have been increasing. In 2016, it was recorded that approximately 86% of the world population were able to read and write. In 1820, literate people accounted for only 12.0% of the population. Rising rates of enrollment in primary education and a continual increase in the growth of secondary and tertiary education are perceived to have been driving up the global literacy rates.

Currently, English is the preferred global language and the international language of commerce, science and other major areas, despite being ranked top 3 in the world’s most spoken language. There are more than 350 million people that speak English as a first language, with 350 million people conversing in English as a second language. English started to get popular many years after the English alphabet got its full 26 letters.

Literacy has a very long history. The very first written communication can be traced way back to around 3500 B.C. Inscriptions on the Kish tablet were observed by experts to be the earliest form of known writing. The tablet is inscribed with proto-cuneiform signs that are typically elementary symbols intended to convey meaning by means of their resemblance to physical objects. By 3000 B.C., the Sumerians had developed cuneiform script, known by many people as wedge-shaped script because the inscribed marks seem to have been pressed into clay tablets with a wedge. Gradually, these pictorial symbols were developed into smaller characters that were meant to represent the syllabus of the spoken language. Because of its versatility, cuneiform writing was also used to write various languages, including Elamite and Hittite. An actual alphabet, having symbols to represent phonetic sounds, came later from a different culture. Having been Influenced by cuneiform, the Phoenicians developed, around 1400 B.C., a set of symbols expressing consonants only. The Phoenician alphabet was widely used throughout Greece and the Mediterranean region as it only comprised of 22 letters based on sound as opposed to the countless symbols used in cuneiform. The Greeks, building on the Phoenician alphabet, added vowels around 750 B.C. It was sometime later appropriated by the Latins who had merged it with some Etruscan characters, such as the letters F and S. The Latins became the Romans, and the Roman alphabet looked very similar to our modern English today. It contains every letter except J, U/V or W.

When the Roman Empire landed in Britain, the Latin language was brought by them. At that time, Anglo-Saxons was controlling Britain, the spoken and written language of which were based on the runic alphabet. Throughout the intervention of the Roman Empire, Old English was developed. It was the combination of the Latin alphabet and runic alphabet. Around 1066 A.D. when the Normans invaded Britain, Old English was still being used by some of the lowborn. The clergy, scholars and nobility were conversing and writing in either Latin or Norman French, during which Old English was slowly being developed into Middle English, changing its pronunciation, spelling and grammar. After the end of the ruling of Norman, English started to become more prominent. In the middle of the 15th Century with the establishment of the first printing press in Great Britain, English became more standardized. Sometime later, the first English dictionary was introduced, known as the Table Alphabeticall. By the 19th Century, the letters J, U, V and W had been added, completing the English alphabet that we still use today.

Considered by many as a global language, English is widely used all over the world today. An English renowned linguist has once suggested that a language turns into a global language due to the influence of the people who use it. He mentioned that the popularity of English was due to the influence of the British Empire. In the early 1920, the British Empire had covered over a quarter of the world’s total land surface, including North America, Australia, Africa, Asia and many other areas. During that era, English was widely used. In addition, he also implied that British colonialism was also the reason behind the popularity of English.

In addition to being the preferred global language, higher education is often taught in English all over the world. For instance, Singapore, a multicultural country, has become the top three of an international annual ranking in relation to English proficiency. Despite being a linguistically diverse country where various languages are widely spoken, including Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English, English is taught in every school as a first language, and many tuition classes, such as creative writing classes for primary schools, are conducted in English.

Given its never-ending popularity, English will be used as the global language for many years to come. The English dictionary will likely to expand with the inclusion of many new words. The global literacy rates will continue to raise alongside an increase in the number of English language speakers. Such evolution of literacy will become part of the history of languages.

Mass Extinction Halted by Wine Industry

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It might sound far fetched, but Dr Olga Barbosa of Austral University said in a seminar that viticulture – or the cultivation of grapes – “can be a partner to solve the problem of mass extension”. This is great news to wineries and the wine industry as they are instrumental in enhancing species’ richness through driving biodiversity through their farms or wine estates.

She noted that our planet is entering what seems like the sixth mass extinction, which is caused by development and human civilization’s crass and crude way of dealing with nature. If it’s in the way, we cut it down. Even if it’s merely sharing our planet and not affecting us in our lives, we are affecting theirs by polluting the planet with toxins and plastic, effectively killing marine life by the millions every day. But the most hurtful thing we do to our planet happens in our daily life: driving a car, open burning, the cultivation of cows. They release up to 120kg of methane per year which is a “potent greenhouse gas”, according to National Geographic. Researchers are trying their best to modify their gut in order to put a stopper to this problem which contributes to 14% of global warming.

The scientist says that wineries could help mitigate climate change, as wine estates are both environmentally-sensitive and a wonder to the ecosystem. Since nature functions on some form of pollination – meaning that the world is inextricably linked with one another – the wine industry is able to provide natural pest control while at the same time, completing nutrient cycles to benefit their vine growth. In layman terms, what they need to do to improve their growth and produce will in turn, fertilize the earth in a biodiversifying manner. She calls this “ecosystem services” and noted how rich the soil of vineyards are.

She stresses that it is important that wineries should be promoted for the sake of their biodiversity in viticulture and she goes on to say that viticulture “should be a goal for the wine industry”. Her organization is looking into how they can enhance biodiversity which not only will help keep the world running, but also by sequestering carbon dioxide.

Agriculture has always played a large part in being both the problem and the solution to the greenhouse effect. By cutting into the environment and developing it for human use such as farms and wineries, it spoils the delicate ecosystem that supports life on earth. There are better ways that doesn’t include wrecking the planet and is regenerative instead. The problem with employing this all over is that there is no one size fits all program.

One has to consider the biological and sociological factors when transforming it into sustainable farming. Since every farm in every country is unique to its own, scientists have to create systems which are flexible and are able to support every different sort of setting. For instance, what is sustainable for a farmer rearing livestock in America is a lot different from what a farmer is doing in another part of the world, such as working in a paddy field in Asia. They will need very specific and different sets of systems to make their livelihood sustainable.

In this way, wine benefits not only human health but the health of the planet. By diversifying what is in the soil, it also enriches the taste of the wine itself. But the best part of it is that the environment will be the one to benefit from the nutrient rich land. It is also interesting to note how intrinsically linked the taste of wine is to the environment. Studies show that climate change actually plays a part in how it tastes. The heatwave of 1540 was so gruesome that grapes withered into raisins on their vines and created a pungent and extra sweet wine. Today, the wine rivals that of the one made from the harvest from that summer in 1540, telling us just how much global warming is upon us now.

Winemakers have been recording details of their harvest since the middle ages as when one harvests the grapes is the key factor in how the wines will turn out. Historians discovered that these careful records are instrumental in helping us determine the rate of change in climate. Depending on how soon the harvests are done, it tells scientists today what the climate was like during their time as grapes are sensitive to their environment. Too hot and they ripen quickly, too cold and it will take longer for it to be ready for harvest.

Scientists have been able to determine that with all the spikes throughout the ages, climate change is only seriously taking hold in recent times. During the “Medieval Warm Period” which lasted from 900 to 1300, central Europe was a lot warmer and it cooled down from 1500 to 1900, during what is called the “Little Ice Age”, however, according to these records, the weather has been consistently warm since the 1980s and in the last 16 years, the temperature has shot up. With everything the wine industry can help the planet with, it cannot control climate change and people have to adopt a more sustainable way of living if they hope to continue enjoying wine and life as it is.

How Weddings Became The Ultimate Event

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As far as special life events go, weddings are about as special as it gets. In fact, for so many people, their wedding day is the day that they dream about for years and years. This is, after all, the day that you ultimately come together with your favourite person in the world and bring your lives together in one big party that lasts the rest of your lives. The lead up to the big day comes and goes like a flash, and before you know it you are married and you are enjoying the party of a lifetime, with all the glittering bells and whistles to match. And then, before you know it again, the day has come to an end, and suddenly you are living the next big chapter of your life. When all is said and done, your wedding day is without a doubt, one of the most special – if not the most special – days of your life.

Celebrating the love and respect between you and your favourite person, with all the people and animals that mean the most to you in the world, is just about the most magical event you can ever hope for. There are many moving pieces that go into planning and then even enjoying a wedding. First and foremost, weddings demand months and months of planning, and there are hundreds – if not thousands – of decisions that must be made within that time frame, ahead of the wedding day itself. Quite often (if not always) these are the tangible ticks off the list that make the whole special day come together as seamlessly as possible. You can get a lot of elements organised in the lead up to the big day, but it is also important to enjoy the process and this will not happen if you are stressed beyond belief the entire time.

So, get through the planning process but take the time to genuinely enjoy yourself too. After all, this is the biggest party of your life. People are often so focused on making every element of this most special event perfect, that they do not stop to smell the roses nearly enough along the journey to the day. Then, there are the little personal moments and touches that play out on the wedding day that ultimately make the wedding day truly unique. From the speeches, to the first dances, to the playlists and the special moments between the bride, the groom, and their family members or other guests, these are all personal little moments and touches that make the wedding day so memorable. Some couples even go the extra mile, even planning ahead of time to organise to have the flowers from their wedding reception organised into bunches of thank you flowers that are keepsakes for the individuals who helped bring the day together from start to finish.

These are all the little personal touches that make this special event such an incredible time all around, for everyone involved. There is more of a focus on these personal gems than ever with modern couples, and this is the ultimate testament to the importance of enjoying the whole process and the day itself. At the end of the day, your wedding is the ultimate special event that celebrates you and the person you love. That’s it. It really, honestly is that simple. So often, people overcomplicate the entire process and sadly do not end up enjoying it in the moment. So, when it comes your time to plan your wedding, take a deep breath, take a step back, and enjoy the process. Even amid all the chaos, it all comes back to that one simple thing: your relationship. Special events happen all the time in people’s lives, but there is no special event quite like your wedding day. For millions of people, their wedding day is the event that they have been thinking about for years and years.

So, when that day finally arrives, it can be easy to go into overdrive and not allow yourself to truly be in the moment throughout the day. This is one of the saddest yet most common realities of a wedding day, and it happens all too often. When all is said and done, all that should really matter at the end of the day is that you and your partner had a magical day surrounded by the people and animals that matter the most to you. Everything else can be falling apart around you, but if you have the right company on this special event, nothing else really matters. And when you look back on your wedding day, what you will remember the most is the atmosphere and the individuals who made that atmosphere come to vibrant, exhilarating life. Everything else is relative.

The Rise of Ghost Restaurants and Kitchens

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Ghost restaurants, sounding intriguing, is a new foodservice concept that has been trending in the US.  With the number of Americans who have chosen to order food by means of delivery services instead of dining in increasing rapidly to an extent that the current restaurants sometimes have trouble filling the demand, more and more family-operated restaurants are being re-modelled to benefit from this growing popularity of ordering out. Concurrently, more restaurants chains are turning to ghost kitchens, virtual kitchens, ghost restaurants or virtual restaurants in response to such highly-sought services. Restaurants failing under these never-seen-before categories are tailored to offer take-out only mostly without storefronts and dining areas. Customers often order dishes from these types of restaurants via food delivery applications offering a variety of foods by different restaurants and have the food delivered to their specified locations.

Typically, a virtual or ghost restaurant operates just like the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant in the sense that foods are prepared once customers order them. A famous family-owned pizzeria in the US looks like a typical conventional restaurant with red chairs in the dining area and a black-and-white checkered floor. However, in the kitchen, the cooking crew prepares food for four later-established restaurants owned by the same business owner. These four restaurants do not have their own separate, physical spaces, and all the dishes that these restaurants offer are prepared in the same old kitchen and delivered via a third-party application while the pizzeria continues to serve their gourmet pizza to patrons that walk through the door. The owner set up the four restaurants, in a matter of weeks, earlier this year to make sure his business was ahead of this increasing trend. In addition to this operational remodeling by a family-owned business, a variety of major fast-food chains have also started to operate towards this growing trend on varying business models.  

Wendy’s has become the latest fast-food chain to bring up establishing their own ghost kitchens in the US by the end of this year in high food-delivery-demand areas without dining areas or storefronts as well as in areas in which the chain has yet to emerge due to high real-estate costs or other constraints. However, Wendy’s is not the only fast-food chain that is turning to setting up ghost kitchens to increase delivery sales by capitalizing on the increasing demand without having to fork out a large sum of money. 

Other major chains, such as the Halal Guys, Chick-fil-A and Sweetgreen have also started venturing into this trending market. However, instead of establishing their own ghost kitchens, they have partnered with a shared-ghost-kitchen provider, Kitchen United, to offer delivery from shared commercial kitchens. United Kitchen is a start-up that offers kitchen commissaries for restaurants that are planning to enter into the well-performing market by means of delivery or take-out only. This newly-established company has been backed by $50 million in funding from Google and other investors and currently has two locations in Chicago, Pasadena and California respectively. The company has formulated an expansion plan to set up 40 more shared commercial kitchens across the US. 

In addition to United Kitchen, Reef, which is a rebranded company that focuses on providing ghost kitchens, is operating on a different business model.  In lieu of only offering shared commercial kitchens like Kitchen United does to restaurants, Reef operates similar to a restaurant group, leasing ghost kitchens, in the form of trailers, to small restaurant owners while also offering cooks and workers on a fee basis to restaurateurs seeking for additional manpower. Reef places its shared commercial kitchens on the parking lots that the company owns. Currently, one of its parking areas is being occupied by three kitchen trailers leased to eleven different ghost restaurants. 

According to a food industry advisor, this online food ordering market is worth $26.8 billion, which is the fastest-growing source in relation to restaurant sales in the US. Digital orders are increasing approximately 20% each year despite only accounting for 5% of all restaurant orders. Setting up traditional restaurants generally involve high upfront investments and substantial overhead and operating costs. During their operation, these restaurants are also exposed to a higher level of competition. Approximately 26% of independent restaurants fail to survive in their first year. However, ghost restaurants or kitchens do not requirement substantial upfront investments and overhead costs, which in turn results in affordability for consumers. However, the only downside for consumers is that detailed reviews for ghost kitchen or restaurants are limited as most food delivery services only allow their users to rate restaurants with respect to their food quality by means of using a star-rating system. 

Taking into consideration these benefits and the growing demand for food delivery services, ghost restaurants and kitchens have become increasingly popular. Americans are getting more and more choices as the food delivery market undergoes rapid expansion, the extent of which is yet to be known. As the market evolves, these services are expected to become increasingly affordable and convenient for consumers. Given that most food delivery applications have yet to allow their users to upload reviews, consumers wanting to include wine as part of their food orders can check out the wine ratings by Sokolin before proceeding with the purchase.

Technological Impact Revolutionises Modern Home Design

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In the last decade or so, the world as we know it has gone through quite a revolution. This revolution has been driven forward, onward, and upward by digitalisation and technological advancement. Today, we live in a world that has been profoundly impacted by all this modernisation, to the point that practically every aspect of life as we know it is different to the way it once was. Even life at home has been given quite the digitally inclined revitalisation. In the past, homes have always been places of comfort and relaxation, and while this has not changed, the ways in which our most private spaces are set out has changed drastically. Like it or not, technological influence is well and truly here to stay, and the modern home is perhaps the most significantly impacted aspect of modern life to face this realisation. Home design has always been important, but now as technological influence comes into the mix, it has become more pronounced and more advanced than ever. Home design is about creating spaces that feel the best and that radiate comfort and efficiency.

Throughout the history of home design, that has been the underlying constant that no matter how much the home design trends atop it have changed and shifted, has remained steadfast. In a modern world where technology rules and the entire world is becoming more and more dependent on technological influence all the time, it has never been as important as it is right now for home design to incorporate technology into the mix in exciting and fresh ways. Today, home design incorporates home technologies like property-wide smart security systems and virtual assistants into the framework of the homes themselves, and that says a lot about where are currently and where we are heading in terms of home design. We crave the convenience and efficiency that home technology offers, and so it has essentially moved into place as our leading home design trend. More to the point, it is a home design “trend” that appears to be outliving all others, proving that it is more of a staple in home design today.

Technological impact has profoundly revolutionised modern home design by essentially taking all the core home design traits that people love, and somehow perfectly encapsulating them into the perfect approach to creating the perfect living spaces at home. Today, home technology is a coveted staple in home design, to the point that buyers and even renters are prioritising their options when looking at potential properties, by looking into the home tech capabilities or scope for potential in the home. If that does not say a whole lot about where we are in terms of expectations for modern home design, then what does? The sheer convenience and overall efficiency of home technology makes it the perfect modern candidate for leading home design staple not only now, but as we move forward into the next era in home design. While some home design trends come and go, it is safe to say that home technology is here to stay.

There is something thrillingly convenient about being able to ask your virtual home assistant to learn more about crawl space encapsulation in your home so you can consider it for further home improvement at your property. Home design is supposed to be perfectly simple, yet charmingly intricate. Home technology somehow manages to walk the line between the two ideals beautifully. Of all the home design trends that have shifted into the position of home design staples out there, home technology is arguably the most effective and the most prominent of all. Welcome to the next era in home design, where you can do it all with the help of the home technologies that are designed and personalised to assist you in making the most out of life at home, in every aspect. More than anything else, this is exciting and thrilling. Home design has never been smarter or more exciting.

The modern world that we are currently living in and navigating our way through has come to fruition largely on the tail of ongoing digitalisation and technological advancement. This is the reality, the truth of the matter. As advancements in technology continued to become more and more pronounced, every aspect of life as we know it has become more and more steadily focused on technological horizons. By incorporating home technology into the home design of modern properties, people are realising the practically limitless scope of potential that home design offers when it is strengthened through home technologies. Today, modern home design is more focused on home technology than ever. Going forward into tomorrow and beyond, there are no signs of this case slowing down any time soon. Home technology is the core of modern home design, and the best is yet to come.

Engagement Rings Are More Personal Than Ever

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As far as jewellery goes, you are never likely to own a piece of jewellery that is as important or sentimental as your engagement ring. This is the piece of jewellery that you wear for the rest of your life, and it is a piece of jewellery that symbolises so much, in such a tiny ring. There are so many different engagement (and wedding) ring styles out there, and they all have their own flare and appeal to the right people. Because your engagement ring is the bling you will likely (if not definitively) wear for the rest of your life, there is even more of an emphasis to have a style that you adore – after all, nobody wants to wear an engagement ring that they do not even really like. The industry that sells these precious rings has been going from strength to strength, having enjoyed a phenomenally successful history. It is a history that shows no signs of slowing down its trajectory of ongoing longevity, success, and quality, either. In fact, today, brides and their partners are more involved in the selection and personal design of their ring, than ever.

The bridal jewellery industry is one of the most profitable in the world. In 2017, Tiffany & Co alone sold more than $500 million worth of engagement rings. This is a phenomenal number, and it is one that continues to hold strong, even steadily climbing, with each new year. Jewellery is all about personal taste, style, and design, and nowhere else is this truer than it is in the case of engagement rings. People often spend weeks, even months, searching for the perfect engagement ring, or scouring for ideas to design one from scratch. There is just something unique about engagement rings…the awareness that not only is this a piece of jewellery, but it is a piece of jewellery that people will associate not only your initial engagement, but your status as a married couple, forever (at least aesthetically). In an industry where perfection is prized, but uniqueness is more so, getting the perfect engagement ring can be a time-consuming process.

Have you ever been blinded by the glare of the sparkle coming off someone’s engagement ring? There is something undeniably special about the cushion cut engagement rings, or custom designed bands that feature twisting vines crusted with diamonds. For anyone who has ever dreamed of what their wedding will one day look like, of what their engagement and wedding bands will look like, that first moment after seeing the ring for the first time can be overwhelming in all the best ways. Knowing that the person you love has gone to the effort of finding an engagement ring that they knew you would love, that reminded them of you, that they wanted you to wear for the rest of your lives, is a very special thing. Engagement rings are the most thoughtful piece of jewellery a person can have – nobody buys an engagement ring without seriously thinking about what type of ring they want to invest in.

Today, engagement rings are more personal than ever. Getting engaged is all about the couple specifically, and the ring is the marker of that transitory time between being in a relationship and becoming engaged. Modern brides-to-be are more focused on the thought behind everything than the physical aesthetic of the entire process – and that includes their rings. While every bride loves to have a ring that she adores to look at, there is more and more of an emphasis on rings that are not only beautiful to behold, but also remarkable in their meaning, the symbolism that was behind the choice in the first place. There is an undeniable sense of absolute joy when you find that perfect ring, or when you see it for the first time as your partner is proposing. It is a feeling that is difficult, if not impossible, to mirror in any other circumstances.

Your engagement ring is the most personal and sentimental piece of jewellery you will ever own. The engagement ring that you wear symbolises the promise of a life together that will (hopefully) make you both better and happier people. An engagement ring is special. An engagement ring is sentimental. And these days, an engagement ring is often (if not always) more personal than ever. The industry that sells engagement rings is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world. There is something exciting about the sparkle of jewellery, something special about the way it shines in the light. That is never truer than it is in the case of engagement rings. Modern couples are more invested in the selection and design process than ever, and it shows in the incredible and unique ring designs coming out of the woodwork every day. Of all the facets of the jewellery industry, engagement rings make up not only the majority of sales, but the peak of creativity. Engagement rings are more personal – and beautiful – than ever.