Fall(ing) in Love with #ExploreStLouis

I'll always be a Midwest gal. At one point, I thought that I would call New York City my forever home but quickly realized that I had a purpose for returning to my home state of Missouri. For me, that meant building a career and business(es) I loved in Kansas City, supporting local & small brands, and always being open to exploring new places and spots throughout the city.

While #KC is my home, I also have a soft spot for St. Louis. My mother grew up in St. Louis and most of my family on her side, which I am extremely close with, still live in the area. I have fond memories of packing up the car and making the 4-hour drive with my family to spend holidays in St. Louis. We would go ice skating at Forest Park, run wild at the City Museum, walk the brick streets of downtown St. Charles, and always find a fun market, festival or activity to do together.

When Explore St. Louis and the Midwest Influencer Network approached me about a trip to St. Louis to experience St. Louis Fashion Week and explore the city for a few days, I couldn't have said 'yes' faster. Even though I've been to St. Louis more times than I can count, there is always more to see, do and explore. And explore I did. I learned more about the city in 4-days than I knew possible. I was blown away by the community, entrepreneurial spirit and style of the city.

THE FOOD

 The charcuterie at Katie's Pizza & Pasta was seriously divine

The charcuterie at Katie's Pizza & Pasta was seriously divine

Without a doubt, I gained at least 5lbs from my trip to St. Louis. The food was just so good! Like, unreal amazing. I don't think I could pick a favorite spot if I tried and each restaurant was so different and unique in it's own way. I experienced the most amazing modern Italian dishes and at Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria - you can never go wrong when fresh burrata & baked bread, homemade pasta and savory sauces are involved. The lunch was hosted by The Normal Brand, which is a local menswear and accessories brand that focuses on pieces inspired by the Midwest. (side note: I gifted by husband with their 'Wax Canvas' hat and he won't stop wear it!) Indulged in one too many bun and dumplings at Lu Lu Seafood in University City, and made a pitstop at Jeni's Ice Cream for a sweet treat. 

 An intimate dining experience at Element STL

An intimate dining experience at Element STL

In the evening, the Midwest Influencer Network group gathered for intimate dining experiences that offered good food, cocktails and conversations. It was fun chatting with the local business owners, chefs and community leaders to learn more about St. Louis over delicious meals. The trip started with rose at Tiny Bar - literally the tiniest bar I've ever been to! We experienced the views of St. Louis and tasty bites at night at 360 St. Louis (a rooftop lounge & restaurant on top of the Hilton at Ballpark Village), tasted small plates inspired by comfort food hosted by Collections by Joya at Element  Restaurant and Lounge (the fried chicken was the highlight) and had personal discussions with Socially Jen and the Missouri Eating Disorder Council at Central Table. The trip ended with a casual evening at Ballpark Village with brews and bites, followed by a full meal at Budweiser Brewhouse and ended with a tour of the entertainment venue.

THE STYLE

 Kind of loving everything at The Vault

Kind of loving everything at The Vault

Of course, it was a no-brainer to make time to shop while in St. Louis. The trip happened to coincide with St. Louis Fashion Week, which meant all of the local galleries, stores and showrooms were a buzz with events and activities. While St. Louis may not seem like the place to shop, I was blown away be the diverse offerings from unique-to-the-market brands and local designs to high end designs (at a discount.) Plus, the overall sense of support in the local fashion scene was truly inspiring. There was a sense of collaboration and feeling of community. 

 Sushi & champagne is my love language (at Fauxgerty)

Sushi & champagne is my love language (at Fauxgerty)

The lovely team from Fun Tyme Limo was our 'shopping transportation' and the first stop was at a high end consignment shop, The Vault by Women's Closet Exchange. Stepping into the store was like walking into a celebrity closet - filled with hidden gems, designer handbags and coveted finds - all in a stylishly decorated white and gold store. Surprisingly, everything was at a deep discount and affordable for just about any budget! From there, we visited a variety of local boutiques and collectives. If you are all about supporting small and vegan - Fauxgerty is the place it be. The handmade faux leather jackets feel like butter and come in a variety of styles. We sipped on mini champagne cans, which made the experience. I also loved visiting Living Collective, a pop-up shop that offers unique-to-the-market brands that aren't typically found in the Midwest. The vibe was very eclectic and reminded me of a shop in the Central West End I would typically find in Brooklyn. Definitely a fun spot to stake out if you are in the city! 

 Exploring artist showcases

Exploring artist showcases

In addition to support smaller brands, I had the opportunity to visit Natuarlizer, a women's shoe store that focuses on style and comfort. It was incredible to hear from the design team on their process, the overall re-brand that the company has recently experienced and learn more about their fall/winter shoe trends. I walked out of the store in a pair of sleek black leather boots!

THE COMMUNITY

While my time in St. Louis was filled with fun activities, events and lots of dining experiences. The best part was meeting and connecting with other influencers from the local area and beyond. I came on this trip knowing two of the girls (one being my Go Blog Social business partner, Sarah), but left feeling a close bond with several of the women. Thank you to everyone from Midwest Influencer Network and the attendees for making this an unforgettable experience!

Stay tuned for more updates on St. Louis Fashion Week and more - coming soon!

(all photography by Ashley Kuenstler Photography)

Thank you to Explore St. Louis and Midwest Influencer Network for the opportunity to explore the city of St. Louis and experience St. Louis Fashion Week as an official influencer!