MEET OUR VINA: MO

Behind every great app is a technical goddess who can code her way to the moon. An OG member of our product team, Mo is the lead iOS engineer at VINA. She builds any shiny new feature that comes with every app update and solves technical challenges big and small. In a previous life (aka, the era before VINA), she was doing brilliant things at Twitter.

Okay, Mo. This is an easy one. Why do you love working at VINA HQ?

First of all, ALL LADY TEAM! This is SOOOO refreshing after about nearly a decade of school and work in the tech industry, where there are dudes for days. Working with women is just extremely chill and pleasant, and I am reminded of how grateful I am every time a friend comes to me with a workplace sexism issue.

I am not the type to naturally dominate the floor in a meeting, so it’s nice not to have to worry about how hard I’m leaning in every day. It’s also so much fun to work on an app that I enjoy using, that helps women enjoy their lives more. Hey! VINA is such a fresh concept.

I joined right around when the app first launched, and things have been really crazy-exciting the entire time. I’ve learned so much over the past six months while building out core features and having tons of ownership over a product that’s moving fast.

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Swagger via Mo Kudeki

We “hear” that you have a side hustle. Tell us all about it.

[Chuckle] … my side hustle is DJing and music production. Happy to use this interview as a shameless plug! I mostly do house, techno, and trap and spin at parties around SF. I grew up playing the cello. Once I moved here and started going to a lot of electronic shows and festivals, it gave me a musical outlet again that I desperately needed & combined it with my love for a good party.

I feel totally free to be myself lost on a dance floor, and the underground dance world feels like home. I used to throw a monthly party at Public Works. This year, I have been spinning at friends’ Burning Man parties and events while trying to take more time to master music production, which is both fun and challenging.

Let’s get silly. Guilty pleasure?

On my Hey! VINA profile, I usually say something like “dancing till dawn” for this question in the hopes that I’ll find another techno babe out there. But I think my guilty pleasure as of lately has been internet beefs. I had SO MUCH FUN the day when Kim dragged Tay. I KNOW they’re both PR queens, but the drama is so entertaining no matter how real! I hope there’s a secret video out there of Tay and Kim just kickin’ it and plotting the whole thing. 😉

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Cuteness via Mo Kudeki

Let’s hear you lady brag. Favorite thing about yourself?

I point my nose in the direction of fun (especially when making life decisions), and it’s led me to some great experiences. I try not to spend too much of my day/month/year doing things that I don’t wanna do, and I’m not at all afraid to enjoy my time on planet Earth.

You are out of this world chill. Okay, which 5 emojis describe you best?

👯💀💋🔊🙃

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Selfies with vinas via Mo Kudeki

Can’t get enough of Mo? Follow this babe on Instagram or send her something short and sweet on Twitter.

YOUR FIRST HEY! VINA DATE: MANHATTAN

Manhattan is the iconic home for a lady date, as made popular by the iconic vina crew of Sex and the City. Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha showed us a more glamorous way to handle what life throws at you and your vinas and the true meaning of sticking it out together.

We’ve got a list of vina dates to inspire the  kind of rendezvous that might make our vinas in the city proud. Get together, get out there, and get to it. The world is waiting to meet you both.

COFFEE PROPER

This is a “never gets old, still love you to death, we just met” kind of date. A coffee date is for first-timers and hundredth-timers. It never loses its necessary, classic, and functional appeal. To get caffeinated with your vina, our fave Manhattan spots have options for any kind of coffee lover. They not only roast a proper bean but have a vibe that helps you nestle in: Box Kite, Third Rail Coffee (sunny and sip-able), Cafe Grumpy (we love the name, and you’ll leave feeling anything but), Irving Farm (love, love, love), Two Hands (minimalist and essential).

MUNCH ON BRUNCH

Some meals are so crucial that they span across several hours. Let’s be real: brunch has a special place in your heart. So naturally, wen picked out some of our local vina go-to eateries to keep your tummy and talk-time satisfied: Coco&Cru (an Aussie inspired haven of delish),  Chikarashi (poke bowls that are a total dream), Egg Shop (egg sandos at any time of day, thank you), Baz Bagel in Little Italy (they take this bagel thing serious).

SEE SOME TREES

The beauty of Central Park is that it is central to everything. 😏 It’s easy to forget in a concrete jungle just how essential it is to lay beneath a canopy of green every now and then. Plan a vina date. Pack some snacks, take a walk, and find yourself some quiet to get lost in for a bit. If you want to be active about it, rent some bikes. Take a ride, and earn those snacks.

HAPPY HOUR

You can’t not happy hour in Manhattan. I personally would also order a Manhattan, but I’ll let you make that call. Some of our fave spots infuse drink specials with the a surreal setting: Cienfuegos (makes us feel like we’re drinking inside Frida Khalo’s imagination), Russian Vodka Room (the live pianist makes you think that you’ve stepped into another world), Cask Bar and Kitchen (moody, delicious, and right up our alley).

MUSEUM TIME

It seems silly to overlook museums as a vina date option with some of the world’s best museums in this part of the city. Scope out museums that offer free admission, or treat your vina and buy her ticket. Some obvious and not-so-obvi favorites are: The MOMA, The Museum of Sex, American Museum of Natural History, Fashion Institute of Technology.

TRAVEL TO LITTLE ITALY

Commit to a day in this insanely unique part of town, and give yourselves a little Italian vacay. Sip espresso outside and watch people stroll by. Wander around and shop the markets. End the day with a slow lunch (how very European of us) filled with pastas and cannoli. Because why not? Our go-to spot is Lombardi’s, a Little Italy iconic eat that opened in 1905.

SEEK A SLICE

When in Rome, right? The debate for the best New York style pizza could be an ongoing affair for the two of you. Suggest a standing invitation, and try a new spot every weekend. Need recommendations to start this epic vina tradition? These places will have you saying “cheese, please”: Rubirosa in Little Italy, Koronet Pizzeria (slices the size of your face), Patsy’s Pizza (opened in 1933 and still a neighborhood staple), Vezzo (super thin crust and creative with the toppings), Zero Otto Nove (everything about this spot is everything).

We would love to hear what you think of these vina date spots. Show us your Vina dates on Instagram by tagging your picture with @ilikevina!

(Featured photo via @brandymelvilleusa)

SMART & FUNNY: HOW TO MAKE MUSEUMS PEE-YOUR-PANTS FUNNY

Museums are the best place in the world to expand your horizons beyond the day-to-day culture and city artifacts that you can discover via Pokémon Go. They’re the #1 place to explore centuries of history, stories, beautiful art, and societal changes. They’re also my favorite place to get a little goofy with friends.

Whether you’re traipsing through the Louvre, your city’s modern art museum, or at your local community collection, here are a few of my (and my friends!) favorite ways to laugh and learn:

1. INVENT AN ART HISTORIAN PERSONA

Do your best impression of a snooty art curator/historian type. (No offense if you’re actually a snooty art curator-historian IRL, but everybody’s got to appreciate satire, right?!) A little inspo to channel your inner art critic… What does that particular shade of yellow in that afternoon haystack mean ? Was it actually inspired by the artist’s deep love for the famed explorer Bart Simpson? Use your imagination and commit to the bit.

2. DRESS TO THE THEME

Going to a black and white photography exhibit? Put on your best greyscale outfit! Going to see a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit? Don your fave floral dress and a flower crown! Pop art? Dress up as a Lichtenstein!

3. ART IMITATES ART

Now, this one is my favorite. It brings back one my favorite memories with my best friend (my sister!) where we reenacted artwork all through the Louvre in Paris – from statues to paintings! We laughed our way through one of the most prestigious museums in the world. While art can be inspiring, appreciating it doesn’t have to be stiff… unless you’re impersonating a statue, of course.

4. ART HUNT

Create a DIY scavenger hunt list! Statue of a naked dude? ✅ Group of 5+ cherubs? ✅ Still life that you’d actually see in your own home? ✅ Painting of a rainbow? ✅ Museum patron with a fanny pack, Hawaiian shirt, AND socks with sandals? ✅  Winner buys the post-museum lunch. May the keenest eye win!

However you decide to do it, vina dates at the museum are a creative way to spend your Saturday. It makes things extra easy when you run out of/get tired of those “getting-to-know-you” questions. Just point at a work of art and ask her what she thinks of it.

Have fun. As always, don’t forget your sense of humor! 😂

(Featured image via ohjoy.blogs.com)

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BFF STEALS YOUR STYLE

My advice: celebrate it!

In fifth grade, I had what I thought was the coolest, most unique lunch box. I was really proud of it. Little did I know, my dad simply bought the cheapest option at Target and probably thousands of little girls had the same exact one. So when my best friend showed up the next week toting the same bag, I was furious! Granted, I was an obnoxious 10-year-old with absolutely no handle on my emotions, but I really thought she was stealing my thunder. Since then, as the grown woman I am (insert eye roll here), I’ve come to realize:

A. You gotta do you. Regardless of what other people are doing, including your besties.

B. Competing with your vinas is both futile and exhausting. We should we lifting each other up, not tearing each other down for the little things.

When your bestie “steals” your style, take it as a compliment! I’m even all for planning matching outfits with my vinas. Just the other day, I went shopping with a couple girls I met on Hey! Vina, and two of us ended up buying the same shirt. Hey, it looked great on us both, and we decided to rock it together one day (for the ‘gram, of course).

Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have your own personal flair (for example, I’m very, very proud of my assorted pin collection), but you can celebrate when your vina likes something you’ve worn so much that she goes and picks one up for herself. What’s that age-old adage? Oh yeah, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 👯

What are your thoughts on having a style twin?

(Feature image via @tess_and_sarah)

WHICH OLYMPIC VINAS WOULD WE SWIPE RIGHT FOR?

Fierce females are dominating the Olympics in Rio – not only in medal count but in flawless performance and execution. While we have a thing or two to say about the caliber of broadcast commentary on female competitors (Refinery29 is a great mouthpiece for this), our focus is on celebrating these aspirational women, the many reasons we love them and daydreaming what their Hey! Vina 5 emojis might be.

Swiping right on these vinas:

SIMONE BILES – GYMNASTICS

What her 5 emojis might be: 🙌🏾💪🏾👯🏅💯

Commentators once called her the Serena Williams of gymnastics. Even the folks at Quartz philosophized whether engineered robots can outscore Simone Biles, since no competitor comes close. What we really love about this 17-year-old American prodigy is that she is a role model for a new generation of American girls who believe that gymnastics can be for anyone.

KERRI WALSH JENNINGS – BEACH VOLLEYBALL

What her 5 emojis might be: 🏐👋🏻🏖😎🇺🇸

Um, it took Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross only two sets and under 40 minutes to finish the game against China this week. As a three-time gold medalist at 37, this beach volleyball athlete doesn’t believe in slowing down. Kerri Walsh Jennings is the mentor vina to aspire to and learn from. She doesn’t allow for age to be a mental or physical limitation, which is dangerous in a sport dominated by 20-somethings.

IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD – FENCING

What her emojis might be: 💅🏾🗡🕶🙏🏾👑

What’s not to love about Ibtihaj? As the no. 2 fencer in the U.S. and no. 12 in the world, her exceptional talent in the sport is a given, but she is redefining the Olympic identity as the first U.S. athlete to compete in a hijab. Plus, she has fenced with Michelle Obama (with foam sabers) and has a fierce nail game on Instagram.

MAYA DIRADO – SWIMMING

What her emojis might be: 😆🏊🏡💼💸

For those seeking a level-headed vina with a wide array of talents, Maya DiRado is your gal. Abundantly gifted with two medals in Rio at 23, she could have a long career in swimming, but is retiring after this year’s games. Maya is looking to pursue a life outside of the Olympic pool. With a job at consulting firm McKinsey and Company and a new home waiting for her in Atlanta, she is really good at making her dreams come true.

FLÁVIA SARAIVA – GYMNASTICS

What her emojis might be: 💃🌺🌼🙋🏽🔥

Our internet consumption lives and breathes gymnastics during Olympics season, so it felt appropriate to top off this list with a small and mighty vina who has won the hearts of a big host country. This 4’4” Brazilian gymnast is a powerhouse beam and floor performer whose spirited routines have made her a household name. Active on Instagram and Snapchat, the flower crown filter is a clear favorite –  but really, whose isn’t? Her mantra is nunca desista, or never give up.

(Featured image via si.com)

YOUR FIRST HEY! VINA DATE: SAN DIEGO

For all you SoCal babes, boy do we have a treat for you! Since we know sometimes it can be hard to come up with something cool to do for your first Hey! Vina date, we did a little bit of research and rounded up some just for you. Check out our suggestions and comment your own ideas below!

GET CAFFEINATED AT BETTER BUZZED

With multiple, adorable, San Diego locations, Better Buzzed Coffee is the perfect place to meet up for a cup 0′ joe. This small-batch coffee roaster knows good beans, so grab a mug and your phone (trust us, you’re going to want to Instagram in here) and get to know your vina!

CELEBRATE ALL THINGS FUSION AT ROLLED UP

The sushi burrito has finally made its way to San Diego, and we couldn’t be happier. For when you’re craving sushi but want it to be more convenient and on-the-go, try Rolled Up in Hillcrest. Mmm…😋🍣.

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Pretttttty… (via Lion’s Share)

GET ROARING AT THE LION’S SHARE

Okay, we’ll admit it, The Lion’s Share is a weird place. It leans hipster, sort of swanky and sort of out-there, but it’s also not pretentious, which is why it made our list. If you’re looking for somewhere different from your average dive, this is the place to go. And, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, maybe give the Antelope Sliders 🍔 a try and let us know how they are.

FIND YOUR INNER LOST GIRL AT SUNNY JIM CAVE

For all you adventurous vinas out there, the Sunny Jim Cave Store in La Jolla might just be the place for you. This beachfront store might seem like any other oceanside boutique, but it is secretly the doorway into a hidden sea cave. Get a dose of adventure and history with your vina! It’s the only sea cave in California that’s accessible by land, and local history claims that it was once used to smuggle alcohol into the city during Prohibition.

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These vinas know how to celebrate a birthday (via @luchalibretacoshop).

TACO-BOUT IT AT LUCHA LIBRE TACOS

In all its gimicky goodness, Lucha Libre Tacos is the perfect place to grab a bite with your new vina. Mexican wrestling (aka lucha libre) paraphernalia adorns every inch of this taco joint, and you can even eat at their gold “table of champions” inside a make-shift wrestling rink. Plus, the food is well-suited for champions!

Did you know we have a whole series on the VINAZINE dedicated to vina dates? Check out vina date ideas in Boston, London, and Chicago – or see the whole series here!

(Featured image via theyallhateus.com)

THESE YOUTUBE BFFS PROVE TECH + FRIENDSHIP GO TOGETHER

Tech and friendship go hand in hand, like avocado and toast or free Costco samples and me on a Sunday afternoon. Innovations in this space have allowed for bicoastal friends to keep in touch or for transplants to find friends in a new city. On Hey! Vina, a swipe right could mean meeting your future maid-of-honor or your next co-founder. In terms of creating a digital space for BFFs, YouTube is also a go-to channel to broadcast your friendship.

By browsing hours of videos from YouTube’s most famous friends (my job is the best), I learned a few important insights about friendship in a digital world. Here are three ways to use tech to keep your friendship 💯:

DOCUMENT YOUR ADVENTURES TOGETHER: TO THE 9S – CASSIE & RICCI

Don’t be shy! Brag about the things that you love to do together. Do it creatively – chase down your city’s best wall art, and remember that laughter is the best soundtrack to your video. To The 9s’ Cassie and Ricci show us that sharing your favorite activities on your social channels can be a way to say that your friendship is here to stay.

TEACH OTHERS TOGETHER: THE SORRY GIRLS – KELSEY & BECKY

Share common passions? Collaborate together to teach an online community how to make/do/say anything. If two heads are better than one, two crafty friends – like Kelsey and Becky – can teach anyone how to make a DIY puppy tent or another glass terrarium (even people who have multiple Pinterest Fails under their belts like me).

CELEBRATE YOUR DIFFERENCES TOGETHER: THE FASHION CITIZEN – STEPH & MELISSA

Even twins Steph and Melissa know the importance of being individuals and celebrating each other’s differences in any friendship. The Fashion Citizen videos are dreamy mashups of this BFF duo’s varying fashion POVs and personal anecdotes. While the world might see your friendship as a two for one deal, creating a separate digital presence is how you can define your connection as exponentially special.

(Featured image via @tess_and_sarah)

MEET OUR VINA: MENAKA

Menaka was one of the lovely San Francisco vinas to participate in our photoshoots last week, and she’s basically our new Canadian bestie. We love her bright personality, her zest for life, and her rad personal style. After the photoshoot, we had a chance to get to know her a little better – now you can, too!

Hey Menaka! Introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Menaka Iyer. I’m the ripe age of 24, and I am a celestial damsel at the moment as I am transitioning from my previous career of teaching preschool and music.

How did you hear about Hey! Vina?

I heard about Hey! Vina through my one of my co-teachers at the preschool. She had mentioned that she went on some awesome friendship dates. It sounded like so much fun!

What has been your fave vina date so far?

My favourite vina date has been rock climbing with coffee and Thai to end it with a yummy bang.

What 5 emojis best describe you?

👯😚🍕🎇💓

What is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is eating doughnuts in bed while absorbing the magic of Disney!

What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My favourite thing about myself is my ability to make new friends.

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Can’t get enough of Menaka? Check our new vina babe out on her blog at www.passiondaisy.com or say Hey! on Twitter.

VINA BOOK CLUB: 5 AUGUST BOOKS TO SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Here in VINA HQ and beyond, vinas are reading the summer away – whether jetsetting to a new destination or commuting in for work everyday. The connection with a good book reminds us of the adventure of discovering a new friend. In today’s roundup, we have our top 5 August reads to share with your vinas. From your right-brain bestie who can’t put down Lean In to your extraverted BFF who is all over celebrity cookbooks, we have a book recommendation for every vina in your life:

1. FOR YOUR FOODIE VINA: CRAVINGS BY CHRISSY TEIGEN

Chrissy Teigen’s take on motherhood on Twitter is 140 characters of hilarity and #coolmom goals. Her cookbook is a delicious extension of that same homemade Chrissy Teigen brand – perfect for the vina who can’t get enough of celebrity gossip on Snapchat and has Google Alerts for the Kardashians. Another thing that we love about Cravings? It doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. Her recipe of French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes recipe can be made by anyone, even our middle school selves.

2. FOR YOUR #WOKE VINA: WE WERE FEMINISTS ONCE BY ANDI ZEISLER

Founder of Bitch Magazine and the original zine queen, Andi Zeisler, charts the history of feminism and empowerment in consumer culture, from Lena Dunham to Beyoncé to selling underwear as a feminist choice. This isn’t your average history book, vinas – Zeisler’s wit is spot on, and We Were Feminists Once will have you looking at internet culture in a new light.

3. FOR THE ADRENALINE JUNKIE VINA: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN BY PAULA HAWKINS

Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller is for the vina in your life who was absolutely “Gone, Girl” for Gone Girl, the best-selling novel and film. This novel and upcoming movie adaptation are made of the same stuff: the common themes of unreliable narrators and the aftermath of infidelity.

4. FOR YOUR GO-GETTER VINA: THE UPSIDE OF STRESS BY KELLY MCGONIGAL

Stress makes you better, faster, stronger. According to Stanford psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, this thing called stress can be perceived as a good thing, not just the unspeakable reason why we go to yoga class. Pass it along to your vina who is trying to take over the world with an Olympic body and as the perfect mother – all before noon.

5. FOR YOUR VINA WHO UNABASHEDLY LOVES TWILIGHT: ME BEFORE YOU BY JOJO MOYES

Yes, another book-turned-movie adaptation (it’s almost like we exclusively watch our books). It was just too hard to resist recommending Jojo Moyes’ love story on the power and limitations of falling in love. Grab some Kleenex – you and your vina will need it.

What’s your favorite book of the summer? Sharing is caring, vinas.

(Featured image via bloglovin.com)

THOUGHTFUL SOUVENIRS TO BRING HOME TO YOUR VINAS

For most of us, finding the time and/or money to book a flight far, far away is but a lofty dream. So if you do have the opportunity to travel, you are one lucky duckling. Feeling like doing something nice for your vinas back home? Get them something small, unique, and thoughtful along your travels. Trust us, they’ll appreciate the gesture (and be wayyyyy more willing to sit through your vacay slideshow when you get back).

Don’t know what types of gifts to get your gal-pals? Try out some of our ideas below:

FOR THE FOODIE

We all have the foodie friend. In fact, most of us probably are the foodie friend. Bring home a local, non-perishable delicacy for your food-loving BFF. Just make sure you leave room in your suitcase for some yummy goodies for yourself, too 😋.

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The online print store, Artifact Uprising, lets you print and send postcards with your own photos on them! The best way to personalize this gift, if you ask us.

FOR THE PHOTOG

Have an #instagood photographer in your squad? Inspire some wanderlust by sending them photographic postcards along your journey. They’ll appreciate the inspo and know you are thinking of them while you’re away.

FOR THE MUSICIAN

Every country (and even every city) has its own unique musical flair. Get a recommendation from a native of a good local band, make a trip to a music store, et voilá! You’ve got yourself the perfect souvenir for your musical songstress.

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This vintage Suka-Japanese bomber jacket, reminiscent of fashion from the 1940’s would make a great gift for your trendy friend. (via 86 Vintage)

FOR THE TREND-SETTER

Just like music, every place has its own style that contributes to its overall culture. Some cultures sell garments inspired by customs that go back generations. Your fashionable vinas will welcome an article of homegrown clothing that they can incorporate into their everyday style.

FOR THE HOMEMAKER

For the moms, the interior designers, or the ones that do it all, nothing could be better than some textiles or ceramics. We’re all on a hunt for pieces that make our homes unique and cozy. Bring home a handmade tapestry or a locally-made mug can add just the right touch to any home – all while supporting small business owners!

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via Etsy

FOR THE SENTIMENTALIST

There’s nothing sweeter than getting your sentimental friend something with a little heart and soul put into it. Your dewey-eyed friend will have tears in her eyes when you hand her a vile of sand from a far off beach, a heart-shaped stone from your romp in the forest, or handmade artwork with a story. The key here is effort and thought, not money.

(Feature image via krystalschlegel.com)