Kristianne Molina

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Kristianne Molina Studio
Photo Credit: Kristianne Molina

Kristianne Molina

Jersey City, NJ

Artist


How did you get started in your craft – and how does your craft reflect your personal aesthetic? 

The Genesis of my exposure started at childhood. Going to practice and committing to art classes took discipline and became foundation for different facets of my life: art, athletics, writing, and relationships. I learned that knowledge and skill evolve which helped developed my aesthetics. I believe in aesthetics and then there’s style, they are mostly synonymous.

How have the women in your life been instrumental in your life and career? 

In a fundamental sense, women are instrumental to whom I have become.

I have a single mother that brought my brother and I from the Philippines and raised us in the east coast. My grandmother came to New York and worked at Zaro’s bakery for 30 years to help support eight of her children, mostly living in the Philippines.

I’ve met women along the way that I admired and they have helped navigate my way. It takes a village to raise a child and I was lucky enough to have strong women along my path. My high school art teachers were women and my varsity basketball coach was a woman. Most of my favorite artists are women.

At the Women’s March before inauguration I walked with my mother who last marched at the People’s Power Revolution in the Philippines and women artists in my community at Mana Contemporary. That was an empowering moment.

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?

Constantly learning and unlearning. Trends are so catchy sometimes I try not to get sucked into it like quicksand. When I start searching for something that doesn’t exist often I feel a need to create that nonexistent thing.

Some days I make responsive work to current events and try to learn more about the subjects. I feel connected in that way. When we read the news and hear about international affairs or cultural crisis it’s hard to feel connected when your reality is someplace else. Honestly take time to reflect and physically respond creatively from a genuine place.

I’m not sure if I am ever ahead of the curve haha.

At the Women’s March before inauguration I walked with my mother who last marched at the People’s Power Revolution in the Philippines and women artists in my community at Mana Contemporary. That was an empowering moment.

Kristianne Molina Studio
Photo Credit: Kristianne Molina

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)? 

I’m trying to be kinder to myself and its been helping with productivity. Doing the most essential thing, listening to my body, resting when I’m tired, and eating when I am hungry, and daydreaming. Activities we take for granted.

I try to ride the waves of full energy when I’m really fired up to work on a project, write down an idea, or problem solve an idea. That energy pushes me through exhaustion.

When we read the news and hear about international affairs or cultural crisis it’s hard to feel connected when your reality is someplace else. Honestly take time to reflect and physically respond creatively from a genuine place.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor? 

In Ryan Holiday’s book Ego is the enemy he calls this Plus, Minus and Equals. Plus is someone who is teaching you, Minus is someone you are passing it on to, and Equal is someone who is your match. You should have people filling each category.

Mentorship is essential. If you don’t have a mentor, find one. A mentorship is organic chemistry, and you can’t fake the funk. I believe a mentorship must have mutual respect.

I have mentors for different facets of my life. Relationships with people are like plants; some are watered more frequently than others.

Kristianne Molina Studio
Photo Credit: Kristianne Molina

In Ryan Holiday’s book Ego is the enemy he calls this Plus, Minus and Equals. Plus is someone who is teaching you, Minus is someone you are passing it on to, and Equal is someone who is your match. You should have people filling each category.

What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business? 

I believe understanding your perspective is important. Take some time to assess your resources and build with what you have currently. Own what makes you different. It took me a while to wake up to the fact that most days I am the only Asian in the room and being a Filipino was a marginalized Asian culture until the last few years.

When I decided to have my first child and chose to continue my creative work, someone had the audacity to say to me, “I thought you would give up once you got pregnant.” We’re living in the 21st century. Overall, I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow independently outside of my social roles, because that to me, it is a luxury.

Work hard and be nice.

Kristianne Molina Studio
Photo Credit: Kristianne Molina

Own what makes you different. It took me a while to wake up to the fact that most days I am the only Asian in the room and being a Filipino was a marginalized Asian culture until the last few years.

Place that inspires me the most… Nature, a library and the ocean, unfortunately all three are in detrimental states. But there is beauty in the transient.

I feel most powerful when… When I give to others and myself freely, and it doesn’t have to be monetary.

I love what I do because… It scares me and it frees me.

Best advice I have ever received… Take advice but don’t take advice. Don’t wait to be inspired.

Marinell Montales

131204_Marinel_9805_SMImage c/o Marinell Montales

MARINELL MONTALES | JERSEY CITY
PHOTOGRAPHER & FOUNDER OF DOWNTOWN, NATCH!

Describe a day in the life of Marinell Montales in one sentence.

I wake up, check Instagram and Twitter feeds, then my two go-to fashion blogs (manrepeller.com & whowhatwear.com before getting to The Warehouse Cafe — once there, I drink coffee, read/send emails, start/finish graphic design jobs, update Facebook pages I manage as a freelance social media strategist, drink more coffee, check downtownnatch.com, have a late dinner with boyfriend, and watch HGTV until I fall asleep.

How did you get started with Downtownnatch.com – and how does it reflect your personal aesthetic?

Back in college, a friend of mine, Rachel, started her own personal style blog and I was her photographer. But it was tough to keep it going consistently because we were both busy in school and I didn’t have my own camera (we were borrowing her dad’s point and shoot digital one), so that blog only lasted a few months. I got the shutterbug from that whole experience, so I saved up some money and bought myself a nice Sony NEX-5 and created Downtown, Natch!

Running a streetstyle blog is an opportunity for me to find inspiration and clarity of thought with regard to my own aesthetics. I pick up tons of design cues by photographing so many people, each with diverse styles, and some with similar styles that they’ve reinterpreted in a unique way. This keeps my aesthetic fresh and helps me stay away from having a cookie-cutter approach to my graphic design work.

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?

Man, oh man, it is not easy. Admittedly, I have yet to reach the top of this statistical bell curve, especially in the world of streetstyle blogging. You have your household names — The Sartorialist, Street Peeper, Tommy Ton — we’re talking about heavy hitters here that I can’t even dare to imagine being ahead of even if I take Downtown, Natch! outside the bounds of Jersey City and go international, which I don’t plan on doing.

On a smaller, geographical scale, however, I think it’s safe to say that more and more people are taking note of Downtown, Natch! But that makes staying relevant and ahead of the curve even more challenging. With overactive Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, everyone is drowning in each other’s enterprise, and trying to stay ahead of the curve ends up becoming counter-productive. Sometimes it’s good to put the blinders on and have that tunnel vision to just keep doing what I do for as long as it feels right.

Downtown Natch

Image c/o Marinell Montales

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)?

I don’t. Ha! I’m trying out this new thing where I set commitments instead of goals. A few months ago, I found this NYT interview with Hugh Martin where he talks about the concept of goals versus commitments. He made a lot of sense, and his advice really resonated with me. What I took away from it is that setting goals is like creating a bucket list of things that you wish you could achieve — they mostly lie sometime in the hazy future and are very vague. Committing to something, on the other hand, is like “a firm handshake”–you hold yourself accountable and reap the consequences of failing to meet that commitment.

So now I often ask myself “which projects can I really commit to?” This has been a good exercise for staying wildly, creatively ambitious without being delusional. So far, it has allowed me to keep myself in check, measure my accomplishments, know my limits, and stay true to my passion of creating and making things happen.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Mentors are definitely important, especially for creative folks like me. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of things and very difficult to police yourself as a freelancer, so having one or two people who can be your voice of reason and protective figures is one way to keep sane. I have three people whom I call mentors:

My former boss, Danae Ringelmann.

Danae is one of the founders of Indiegogo. During my time with Indiegogo, she instilled in me that being happy at work is fundamentally important. You have to like/feel connected to what you do everyday because your attitude towards what you do make your impact greater and your own personal happiness higher as well.

My boyfriend, John T. Trigonis.

I don’t know anyone else in the world who’s as determined as this man. If one of these days, he wakes up and tells me he’s going to be a storm chaser because it’s his new passion, I wouldn’t doubt him for a second. His approach to life is so fucking admirable that I have to use profanity to talk about it. He is my voice of reason. He gives me the mental push I need whenever I feel reluctant about jumping into new adventures and making crucial decisions. This guy is a prize, and I’m lucky I won him over.

My parents (okay, technically this makes the number of people I call mentors four, but I consider them a tag-team).

My mom and dad put the hustle in my genes. I’m a hard-worker because I come from a hard-working family. My parents don’t usually say much about my personal and professional choices, which doesn’t mean that they don’t care. I know that their quiet yet confident nod of approval is their way of telling me that I’m onto something meaningful. My mom and dad are precisely the pillars for which my self confidence is built on. They keep me going.

Mom&Dad

Image c/o Marinell Montales

What is your advice for women interested in getting into photography?

Commit to it! The initiative is not gonna come from anywhere but yourself, so just get up, go out, and start shooting photos. Even if you don’t own a camera, you can still use your phone’s camera and practice composition. Once you get the camera that you want and you’re willing to spend more money, take classes. If you’re an introvert like me, find tutorials on YouTube and teach yourself how to use it.

Every skill that I have now –– from graphic design and photography to social media marketing –– I learned by doing. It’s not about the resources, it’s about your resourcefulness.

Place that inspires me the most: Coffee shops.

Most cafes in Downtown Jersey City have that environment that is conducive to creativity and therefore attract creative minds. I love to eavesdrop and listen to what other people are dreaming up. I also enjoy meeting new people, and although I’m that person who wears a DND (Do Not Disturb) face to avoid small talk and other distractions because I’m usually a bit timid, I appreciate time spent talking to others and learning about his or her creative process, habits, plight, etc, because ultimately, it leaves me motivated and inspired.

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Image c/o Marinell Montales

I feel most powerful when: I stick to my guns.

Sometimes I can be very accommodating as far as executing my ideas when collaborating with other people, mainly because I want to avoid friction. This attribute that I’ve always known to a be a good trait to have turned out to be hurting my personal growth. When I say “sticking to my guns,” I mean having the power to say “no.” I learned that it’s okay to disagree with someone especially if it means refusing to compromise on something that speaks to your authentic self.

I love what I do because:I do what I love.

My idea of success is: personal gratification.

Since turning 28 this year, I was blinded by the idea of notoriety, so I made a personal goal to make it into some 30 under 30 list. (See what happens when you set goals?) And then I asked myself: “Self, why would you want anyone else to validate your achievements but you?” If everything we do is catered to appease others and solicit recognition, we’ll never achieve happiness, would we?

Best advice I have ever received: Don’t take anything personally.

Follow Marinell on Instagram and Twitter — and check out Downtown, Natch!

About Downtown, Natch!
Downtown, Natch! is currently Jersey City’s first and only streetstyle blog. In addition to photographing around town, Marinell is a freelance social media strategist and graphic designer. You can also spot her sipping on Intelligentsia coffee at The Warehouse Café.

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Image c/o Marinell Montales

Jelynne Jardiniano

JJ LITM c/o NJ.comimage c/o nj.com

JELYNNE JARDINIANO | JERSEY CITY
OWNER & FOUNDER OF LITM (LOVE IS THE MESSAGE)
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AUTHOR OF RESTAURANT FROM SCRATCH

How did you get started with your career – and how does your current role reflect your personal aesthetic?

It all started with a simple job that I got at the age of 19: hostess of a small seafood restaurant in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was taking a year off from college to rethink my initial plans to be a lawyer. During that year, I discovered my love for restaurants and returned to school and switched majors to hospitality.

Even though I have played (and continue to play) many roles in my business, I am a hostess at heart. I enjoy making people feel welcome and cared for.

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?

The marketplace is packed with noise on the topic of cultural trends and how to stay relevant. The pressure to implement the next best thing is a constant bug in the entrepreneur’s ear. I am obviously speaking from experience. But what time has taught me is this: first know who you are and stay true to that. Once you accept that, listen to the people who matter: your customers, your employees, your community. Staying connected is the act of being open and humble. And staying ahead of the curve, I believe, is achieved when we let the moment inspire us.

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)?

Time is essential. In this digital world of instant gratification, we forget what nature has always offered to teach us: the tree takes time to bear fruit. I believe that it is in our haste that we are most susceptible to losing track of our goals and suffering from burnout. Creativity cannot be forced.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

I find that anyone who inspires me (whether I know him/her or not) is a qualified mentor. I’ve worked closely with a few professionals in the field of restaurant operations and even had a life coach. And while I have taken much of their advice, I cannot say that there was one person who had my sole focus. You need other people to help develop perspective. But to have true impact, you must act out of your own sincere desire.

What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business?

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the process and take risks. Whatever the outcome, know deep down that there was nothing to prove, nothing to gain and nothing to lose. You came into this world complete, and you will leave complete. So why not make the world your plaything?

  • Place that inspires me the most… Nature.
  • I feel most powerful when… I’m on a horse’s back.
  • I love what I do because… I have creative freedom.
  • My idea of success is… When you can take delight in yourself, without needing a reason.
  • Best advice I have ever received… Pray.

Follow LITM on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @LITMJC!

About LITM:

An acronym for Love is the Message, LITM is Jersey City’s neighborhood destination for seasonal cocktails, American food and the local art and film scene.

Monthly art shows and film screenings are home to LITM, with over 100 exhibitions to date.

LITM
140 Newark Ave.
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 536-5557

Meika Franz

MeikaAMT

MEIKA FRANZ | JERSEY CITY
OWNER & FOUNDER
ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE

Describe a day in the life of Meika Franz in one sentence:

Wake up, feed baby, feed dogs, paperwork, pick vintage, steam/clean/ price/restock, eat, displays, manage employees, promote, put baby to sleep, answer emails, hang with husband, sleep well if baby lets me. 😉

How did you get started with your career – and how does your current role reflect your personal aesthetic?

As my family was in the sewing industry I have been involved in the fashion industry on some level for the past 20 years now. It was when I moved to London in 2004 however, to be with my now husband and business partner that I began working in vintage stores and found my ‘career’ in vintage. It has always been important to me to be unique and stand out from the crowd and vintage is a great way to do that as each piece is basically one of a kind.

Meika&BibaMeika and her daughter Biba.

How have the women in your life been instrumental in developing your craft?

I am fortunate to come from a family of many interesting, creative and strong willed woman. My great Aunt May, the teacher and principal at the MGM studios school in the 50’s, taught everyone from Mickey Rooney to Judy Garland, my great grandmother an actress/singer and pre-follies Ziegfeld girl, my grandmother, a sewing shop owner, my aunt, an inventor of sewing products and my mother another creative, from designer to singer. My life has been full of inspirational creative woman. Growing up with this inspiration definitely helped to fuel my drive and taught me that I can do anything I set my heart on.

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant,
connected, and ahead of the curve?

Vintage tends to attract a lot of trend setters so I can often see from my customers what is on trend for the moment as well as what is to come for the mainstream. I also sell a lot to the design industry so I can see what they are looking for to inspire their future collections and keep me aware of what lies ahead in fashion.

AMTshowroom1How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay
creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)?

Doing my best to maintain a balance of both my personal and business life helps to keep me driven and clear headed in setting and attaining my goals. The goal is keeping focused and positive, try not to think too much! The fear of becoming irrelevant and the excitement of attaining my goals drives me to keep working hard no matter how tired I am;) The creative process is something that I enjoy and is part of what drives me.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

I think mentors are very important. I have been very lucky to have several wonderful mentors in my life from family members, previous bosses, to past and present vintage store owners who pass down their tips and who offer advice to us. I know so many wonderful people I couldn’t choose just one.

2What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business?

Do what you love, live your passion and stay positive no matter what. Never stop learning, and when things get tough, use that time to figure out what can be done to make things better and put it into action. Also, surround yourself with inspiring people!

Meika&Warren

Meika and her husband Warren in front of Another Man’s Treasure in downtown Jersey City.

  • Place that inspires me the most… I think I would have to say England. I have always been inspired by its creative and colorful history; I even named my daughter after one of its legendary shops and clothing lines ‘Biba’. I feel English culture encourages self-expression and standing out in a crowd.
  • I feel most powerful when… I am not sure powerful is a word I would use, as I am always aiming to be better at what I do and I am easily my worst critic. However, seeing people wear the clothes that I choose and the positive feedback that I get about how the shop looks, and my eye for style definitely make me feel great .
  • I love what I do because… So many reasons! I guess I could start by saying now much I love clothes. Since I could talk I was writing songs about dresses and modeling every piece of clothing my parents bought me. Haha. It’s always been a slight obsession. With vintage you are seeing a quality that is rare these days in clothing, hand details like embroidery and beadwork that would take months or years to recreate today due to the lack of skills, as well as richness in fabrics, prints and colors unseen in modern clothing. I love the hunt of finding each piece and the story that sometimes comes along with it.
  • I also love helping people find themselves with the clothes, creating a look that they feel expresses and empowers them. I have seen many people come out of their shell with vintage. Also helping women feel good about their bodies as you can dress for your body shape with vintage, choosing from every style and cut ever made, rather than just the modern cuts of the moment. I could go on and on…
  • My idea of success is… Success for me is being able to do something I love so much and having the time to spend with those I love whilst doing it.
  • Best advice I have ever received… To enjoy every day because life moves so fast!

Follow Another Man’s Treasure on Instagram: @amtvintage and Facebook: amtvintage!

About Another Man’s Treasure:

Established in 2006, Another Man’s Treasure is a kaleidoscopic array of vintage fashions, accessories, shoes and jewelry for men and women from the 1900s to 1980s, with a focus on classic vintage, high fashion trends and designer finds. The shop also includes an intriguing mix of records, books, collectibles and other vintage oddities. Another Man’s Treasure has been featured in various publications including Paris VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Mexico, Cosmopolitan UK, New York Magazine, Lucky, Time Out New York, NY Post, Vogue.com, Elle.com and numerous other blogs, video/movie shoots, etc.

Another Man’s Treasure
353 Grove Street
Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
(201) 860-9990

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Julie Ramos

Logo Caviar Noir

JULIE RAMOS

Founder & Designer of Caviar NOIR Jewelry

What’s the history behind Caviar NOIR – what propelled you to start it (how did you come up with the name) – and how does Caviar Noir reflect your personal aesthetic?

I wanted to create a brand that was both luxuriously sophisticated and edgy at the same time. I utilize pearls and chains in most of my designs. The pearls remind me of caviar. It is elegant, sophisticated, and luxurious. The chains create a dark and edgy affect (“noir”). Designing pieces to create a balance is what makes it so interesting and appealing to look at. My style has always been pretty interesting. I like to play with the preppy look and the rocker bad ass look. Continue reading Julie Ramos