Describe a day in the life of Samia Grand-Pierre (left) & Lois Sakany (right):
Samia: A regular day starts with meditation/prayer, a few sun salutations then If I have to work at my visual merchandising job I head out to the city. I try to check a few emails on the go and do some Instagram posts. I come back to the home/office after work and peruse Google Reader and do some blogging. If I have the day to myself, I’m usually online posting, doing research, reading various digital publications about fashion, advertising and pop culture. That routine will also be sprinkled with showroom and tradeshow visits, various launches, store openings, presentations and runway shows.
Lois: I work entirely from home and I’m usually sitting at my desk starting at 7:30AM and I’m here until 5, 6 and sometimes 7PM and then I often work on one weekend day, too. I’m a big believer in working really hard (which is a strength though sometime I overdo it). I have multiple jobs but when my focus is TheSnobette, I look for day-to-day fashion stories we can cover by perusing Twitter. We also receive a lot of emails from brands pitching stories. We have a stable of names we’re always excited to feature but we’re always opening to feature someone fresh and new. Definitely we think it’s so important to attend and cover fashion events and trade shows. We are blessed to live in a city that is one of the world’s centers for fashon and it would be foolish not to take advantage of that.
What’s the history behind Highsnobette and TheSnobette – how did you get started with Highsnobette and what propelled you to start TheSnobette – and how do both brands reflect your personal aesthetic?
Highsnobette was a column on Highsnobiety called Chicks with Kicks predominantly focused on sneaker culture, streetwear and anything we thought was cool, interesting or just fun. I commented on one of Lois’ posts, about seven years ago, we exchanged a few emails and next thing I knew I was virtually introduced to David Fischer, who founded HighSnobiety and I started contributing. A few years went by and David presented us the opportunity to run a women’s site independently of Highsnobiety, and Highsnobette was born.
As far as aesthetic, the site became a reflection of our two different backgrounds and a shared love for individual style. For TheSnobette, the site Lois and I are launching this summer, we want to focus on the individual style elements we love, focus more on global women’s fashion with a streetwear edge and a few more surprises. Our aesthetic comes from a shared love of fashion informed by our background and also the shared consciousness of living in Brooklyn. We’ve been able to blend our love of athletic style with high end fashion as well as indie/underground fashion and design.
It’s empowering to see women making moves in the scene like you — how have the women in your life been instrumental in developing your hustle?
Samia: First and foremost many of my teachers were female and I know that I still take with me many of the lessons they taught. My sister and I grew up pretty much inhaling anything fashion related. That encyclopedic knowledge of fashion we shared has definitely helped me to have good historical references about style and culture. I have an amazing sisterhood of friends in college who helped me to learn how to manage my time (getting a planner)and master multitasking. Lois is one of the fiercest women I’ve known since moving to NYC. She raised an amazingly talented, smart and talented son (also quite the hottie ) and she’s at the top of her game in financial reporting so she’s definitely been influential in me stepping my game up.
Lois: Having met, interviewed or just watched the moves of women who have built something on their own whether blazing a new trail or building a business or movement is super inspiring. We live in an era when we don’t have to look far in the past to see a lot of amazing women who have broken through some very powerful barricades. They remind you to keep up the good fight and not to dare put down the torch. And I couldn’t possible recreate her charm and ability to build a good story, but I’ll always remember this one awards ceremony at which Diane Von Furstenberg gave a short speech and she concluded by telling the audience that ultimately each person has to be their own best mentor, which is true. If you’re waiting for the one person to save you or lead you out of the darkness, you’re doomed.
What do you think it takes to make it in this business, especially for women?
In any field owning your craft, knowing your stuff, is the golden rule and that is valid for men and women. Be willing to do the work, go to the events, meet new people and develop yourself as an individual and having a clear vision of what it is you want to do. Have a voice and a clear point of view. As far as the fashion and digital spaces go, most of the top fashion bloggers, stylists and editors are females.
Lois: Women are often taught from a young age to be sweet and agreeable but if you want to go somewhere as an entrepreneur and don’t want the life sucked out of you by vampires, you need to make peace with your fierce side and let her have a voice. What may feel mean or even aggressive is everyday, normal practices in the world of big business. I’m not saying be rude or a jerk, but be prepared to put your foot down and stand up for your visions and voice. People very rarely hand over power, it has to be pushed and fought for.
Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?
Samia: I think staying observant and curious helps me to have a clear vision of where style and trends come from. For example knowing that SATC Carrie’s little gold nameplate is the kind of jewellery many young women of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem wore decades before it made it to magazines and TV shows as a trend is something you can only know about if you’ve observed it.
Lois: Also, we both possess a lot of creativity so we have a good radar for what’s new and different. It helps tremendously to be in New York City because there are a lot of very creative people here and they’re often showcasing their ideas.
How has social media shaped Highsnobette/The Snobette? What’s your favorite platform? Why?
Social media has helped us to expand our reach and in many ways to get feedback from our readers. The readership of Highsnobette is made of many fashion insiders who don’t feel the need to comment or share their opinions but with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram we get a little glimpse of what our readers like. I’ve used most of the social media platforms but I have yet to have a favorite. I think they all serve a different purpose. My perfect platform would be a mix of Twitter, Instagram and Vine.
How do you keep track of personal & business goals, prioritize projects, and stay creative at the same time – even when you’re exhausted?
Samia: For me it’s been learning how to pause and disconnect. Shutting off the phone, and laptop, grabbing my journal and writing or of just talking long walks with no specific destination in mind. Just letting my mind soul and spirit be in sync is the key. If I’m scattered I can’t accomplish much.
Lois: For budget, I keep track of all my expenses on an Excel sheet. If Samia and I are working on a project, I track it separately. Outlook is huge for me to keep track of appointments and deadlines. I’d be lost without it. When I have multiple projects going on at once, it gets tough. On those days, a hand-written list sitting in front of me on my desk helps and I have a rule where I do the shit I want to the do the least first because leaving it hanging around mentally takes up a lot of space. I agree with Samia on disconnecting to keep up creativity. Sitting in front of a screen for too long really zaps my ability to generate new ideas.
What are your must-have tools or apps to run your day-to-day grind? What kind of gadgets would we find on your desk or in your bag?
Samia: I am a die-hard Blackberry fan but as much as I tried to resist my iphone5 works really well. Thanks to photographer/blogger William Yan, I’ve been able to get in on some cool apps like Camera-plus which takes picture taking on an iphone to the next level.
As far as my bag, I usually will have my iphone, my camera for events, a small notebook (Maison Kitsune x Calpino or Field notes) and a Quo Vadis planner. I use the calendar on my phone but I also like to write things down. Old school pen and paper will always be cool in my book.
Lois: It’s funny, Samia and I were maybe the last two people in the NY fashion world to have a Blackberry. We were teased regularly for it and we both finally crossed over within a couple of weeks of each other. I have a Samsung Galaxy, which I adore, my Blackberry is a distant memory, it was time to move on. I really don’t like carrying a bag but if I go to an event we’re covering I take a notebook, pen and my phone. I used to take a camera but the images on my phone are really amazing so that device as of late is sitting and collecting dust.
In a fast-paced industry where last-minute-anything can happen, what’s your fail-proof, go-to outfit that will last from morning meetings to evening events?
Samia: I think my fail proof changes from season to season and with my mood, how I’m feeling about my body at the time. For the most part a slim fitting black top with a v-neck and some dark high-waisted, wide-legged, made-and-crafted Levi’s jeans has been kind of my uniform lately. I pile on the accessories, some heels or lately my Nike Sky Hi dunks and the day look turns into a night look.
Lois: Pretty consistently throughout my life, I’ve been all about a good fitting pair of jeans in whatever the silhouette or wash that happens to be of the moment. I have always been a sneakers girl but really I feel better rocking a 2-3 inch heel and for summer 2013 I’m majorly into pumps. Right now I’m obsessed with my white pumps and have been wearing them non-stop.
How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?
Samia: I think it’s always important to be around people who have done what you do or at least know you and believe in you. It’s great to have professionals that you can go to for advice but I also find that cultivating great mutually supportive and encouraging relationships is vital. It’s good to be comforted after a career blow but having friends who can sometimes give you a tough talk to get you back on the saddle, or just be gut level honest I find to be paramount.
Many of the women and men in my life have played mentoring roles. Lois Sakany, my co-editor , and co-founder of TheSnobette.com, Marylin Figuereo (aka Salomé) a super cool make-up artist, longtime friends Irmane Desrosiers and Stephanie Gustave, Ouigi Theodore from The Brooklyn Circus, artist/designer Ayana Evans and Dylan Plater (a super talented footwear designer).
I’ve learn a lot about patience and kindness to myself from my Yoga instructors Jacoby, Roopa and Priscilla. And then there is this fabulous crew of NY females that I learn from just by being around them, looking at them do their thing flawlessly and perfecting their skill: Jules of Bijules, Katie of Good Peoples, stylist Rose Garcia, Kerin Rose of A-morir, Erin Magee of MadeMe, Farah and Dana of A Peace Treaty, artist Alice Mizrachi to name a few.
Lois: I agree with Samia on cultivating supportive and encouraging relationships. If you read back on my quote from Diane Von Furstenberg, you’ll know I’m not huge on the concept of mentors, it’s more about finding help and getting advice from good people who can help you navigate new territory. Meeting Samia was a huge blessing for me because she’s very steady, unshakeable and a deeply good person and she helps bring me back to a more humane version of myself. So I’d say surrround yourself with multiple people who are honest, positive and supportive and who inspire you to be a better person. And beware of the dream killers, especially the ones that occupy your own mind!
Define your idea of success.
Samia: That is something I am still figuring out. I think doing what you love is a part of it, being able to reach out and help/support others is another .The rest of that definition for me is still being written…
Lois: Feeling you pulled off a quality result, whether something as simple as a photograph or a well-written paragraph is my idea of success.
What’s your advice for other women entering creative fields or starting their own business?
Samia: Business owners especially in creative fields have to wear multiple hats. There was a time when you could just focus on your product/ service and the business would just operate on demand and appreciation but now I think having a presence virtually is almost a must at least in the United States. Word of mouth is still powerful l too so having good reviews on the web is as good as having a great reputation with your clients/customers.
Figure out what it is that is your unique talent, skill, product and focus on that, perfect it. Line expansion is also not always the way to go. If you make bags, for example it does not mean that you need to make shoes or vice versa. And collaborate instead of trying to do everything on your own. Find others who excel in the field that is not your strongest and learn from them.
Lois: Creativity is a given but having a mind for business is critical. Over the years I’ve seen so many people who are incredibly talented but they don’t have a person who can help them organize and grow from a business perspective and they end up going nowhere. Money management is everything. And on that note, beware of working for free. It sets up a bad precedence.
1. One Thing You Don’t Know (But Probably Should Know) About Me:
Samia: That I’m a native French speaker who is fluent in English, Haitian Creole and can get through in Spanish.
Lois: I love sports (esp baseball and basketball) as much as fashion and am the president of a youth baseball league n NYC.
2. Place That Inspires Me The Most:
Samia: Walking around downtown NYC
Lois: All of NYC, I especially love the diversity of my neighborhood, it jumps out to people who visit here and is amazing and powerful
3. I Feel Most Powerful When:
Samia: When I can extend kindness and give with no expectations in return. (It can be tough but it is possible.)
Lois: At my heart I’m a beat reporter so when I’m on the chase of a story, talking with sources, making connections and bringing it all together to deliver an unheard piece of news or interpretation.
4. I Love What I Do Because:
Samia: It gives me an outlet to showcase various aspects of style, and be in touch with people from all over the world.
Lois: It’s enables me to express the most creative side of who I am but just as importantly create a platform for up and coming designers we believe in.
5. Best Advice My Mother Gave Me:
Samia: Always look presentable when you leave the house, even if it’s to run to the neighborhood store. Wear pretty lingerie all the time, among other jewels of wisdom.
Lois: No verbal advice but as it relates to fashion she had great style and was all about making a statement that was subtle yet clear & a lot of times when I put on an outfit I feel like I am so my mother’s daughter, just the punk version.
Highsnobette is a women’s lifestyle magazine devoted to outside-the-box fashion, art and lifestyle trends. We’re known for bridging the gap between streetwear and couture and believe that a woman’s greatest asset is the gift of duality and complexity and females who can work those angles are beloved and admired by us. In the Highsnobette universe, four-inch heels and sneakers are just as sexy as tight jeans, a Fleet Ilya harness or a Chanel suit. What we like is what we like and we aren’t motivated by what’s supposed to be hot or trendy. Yes, just like the name, we’re snobs and unashamed of it.
Edgy fashion, style, streetwear, sneakers, music, art and other beautifulness found in life that inspire. From the OG editors of Highsnobette.com, Lois Sakany & Samia Grand-Pierre. Site Summer 2013!
Lois and Samia are founding editors for Highsnobette (launched in 2008 under the umbrella of top-ranked streetwear site, HighSnobiety) and founders of TheSnobette.com launching this summer 2013. Their areas of expertise include specialized marketing, event production, product seeding, influencer relations, advertising, creative services and beyond. Their specialty is providing brands with the opportunity to improve familiarity and appeal with fashion forward females. Clients include: G-Star, Kappa, Married to the Mob, Nike Jordan, Reebok, WeSC and many more.
– PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS
Creative directors for Sony’s Smurfette NYFW runway presentation: February 2013
- Designed and produced runway collection including 25 pieces
- Oversaw design production for three Smurfette jewelry, bag and scarf licensees
- Oversaw go-see and chose models for runway
- Provided direction and recommendation for all creative aspects of show: invitation, staging, p.r. agency
- Curated and managed invitation list of “influential’ attendees including bloggers, designers and photographers
Creative directors for Adidas Originals #WhiteSpaceProject: April 2012
- Curated and produced Adidas’s New York City White Space Project marketing event, whose goal was raising the brand’s profile among the female contemporary customer worldwide
- Note: New York #WhiteSpace video was most widely viewed of nine events worldwide
- Identified and negotiated compensation for influencers featured in video and in-store event
- Provided direction and recommendation for all creative aspects of show: wardrobe design, video direction, staging, planning of event
- Designed and produced wardrobe for video; coordinated samples from six clothing and accessory brands
- Curated and managed invitation list of “influential’ attendees including bloggers, designers, musicians and photographers for in-store event held at Originals SoHo store
Members of Projects Bloggers Project Las Vegas: February 2013, August 2012 and February 2012, August 2011
- Invited to attend and cover Project as members of Blogger Project, a select group of fashion bloggers and editors chosen by brand marketing expert Marcus Troy
- Photograph and cover upcoming launches from influential, trend-setting brands
- Analyze and provide coverage of breakout trends spotted on floor
- Coordinate and style Matchbox shoot including a variety of clothing and accessory brands
Member of Handbag Designer Awards Preliminary Judging Panel: April 2011, 2012 and 2013
- Tapped by Hangbag Designer Awards to attend judging event and participate in selection of final nominees
- Nominated two years in a row by show-sponsor Timberland to be a member of the panel
- Photograph and cover award event