Noël Descalzi-Fiorentinos

Noel Fiorentinos


Thank you to Noël for sharing her journey as an entrepreneur on – and personally inspiring me to choose a healthy and active lifestyle. 

Tell us about Work it Out and how long you have been in business.

Work it Out is a healthy lifestyle studio that offers fitness classes and wellness packages that are customized specifically for our community. With two Hoboken locations, our studios are like no other. We’re far removed from the world of impersonal big-box gyms, our unique facilities and wide variety of classes and offerings let you set your fitness free, while throwing away thoughts of a lonely unguided road to health. We also offer a children’s gymnastics program that is organically intertwined within our model. We are approaching our 4 year anniversary.

How did you come up with the company name?

Let me give you a visual:

You’re getting ready for a night on the town with all of your friends. You had a hard week at work but it doesn’t matter because you look fierce and feel amazing. All of a sudden your most ‘fabulous’ friend yells out (with a Z shaped finger snap) “GIRLLL…you better Work it Out!” You take one look in the mirror and have all the confidence in the world.

What is your company’s mission?

Our philosophy is steeped in the belief that our diversity in our offerings will shape your body, energize your spirit, and empower your soul.

And what do you think sets Work it Out apart from similar businesses?

Set your fitness free has been a tag line of ours that we’ve embraced and lived by since our start. We gradually came to the realization that keeping up with our changing needs as women is a big part of maintaining that freedom. So we asked ourselves how we could support our client in their evolution, whatever direction it took. The answer was clear – by offering fitness that evolves with them. Whether you are working your tail off, getting married, having a baby, had the baby or have a growing child – We’ve got you covered. All of this paired with studios that exude positive energy. We go out of our way to make sure each person that attends class is happy and content.
How does your current role reflect your personal aesthetic?

In every sense possible – I’m the oldest of 3 girls, with 6 and 9 year age differences between both sisters which meant, I was always the boss. For about 15 years my household revolved around my gymnastics career. For the most part, Work it Out was built on two stages of my life: During and After Gymnastics. The fundamentals of our gymnastics program come from everything I’ve ever learned from my time with the sport, like hard work, goal setting, confidence building and perseverance. The adult classes come from everything I learned after it was over like understanding how to juggle real life and healthy living. Also – I’ve always had a creative side with particular taste. Classic, clean. I think that shines through in the visuals of the brand.

Who are the women who inspire you and how have they been instrumental to your career growth?

Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice Founders of SoulCycle. Also, Lauren Boggi Goldenberg Founder of Lithe Method. These women inspired me to start Work it Out 4 years ago. I was living in Manhattan and used to take SoulCycle classes in the original Upper West side studio and saw how magical bringing together a community of people was. I grew up in a gym environment and understood that working out could not be forced. There had to be something special that people identified with in order to keep them engaged and coming back. Their studios made me understand that your work out is personal and you need to connect with it in order to stay committed.

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

I’ve always had an eye for trends. For one, just taking a step into NYC and opening your eyes to the culture, the fashion, the risk taking, can help inspire you. Being aware of people, places and things around you. I’m very visual, so naturally I connect with Instagram. I love following personalities in my industries, all different types, from all over the world. I find it interesting how certain countries are so ahead.. I always feel this way about Australia for some reason. I keep Work it Out relevant by picking and choosing trends that inspire me and remixing them into something that makes sense for the brand.

With that said, how do you keep track of your personal and business goals? How do you stay focused (even when you are exhausted)?

I’ve found that I am a big picture thinker. If I have a clear vision of the big picture, it makes it easier for me to set smaller goals. Staying focused is difficult for me in an ever-evolving business because the big picture is always changing, depending on what opportunities come your way. It’s important to be nimble. Being patient, trusting your gut and making smart, well thought out decisions is something I live by. An occasional risk here and there is also important.

Do you have any mentors? If so, who are they?

The closet thing I have to mentors, are my start-up savvy friends. These are people that have gone through similar business obstacles and triumphs or are in the process of going through them.

A recent study found a lack of mentorship among young women. How important are mentors to you?

I lean on this group of people quite frequently. It’s comforting to have supporters in your corner that will give you unsolicited advice that you are not afraid to hear. I like that they’re relatable.

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

Go for it! Just know – it’s difficult to do everything on your own. There is power in numbers. Do your best to find a team that believes in your mission. Be patient. Also, mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t let them discourage you.

What place inspires you the most?

Central Park.

When do you feel most powerful?

When I bond and feel connected with my team.

Why do you love what you do?

Because it is an extension of me. There is something so fulfilling about creating a place that people love. It’s a part of their everyday lives and makes them happy. I feel indebted to them and a responsibility to grow it.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Concentrate on your team. A solid team equals a solid company.

Connect with Work it Out on Facebook, YoutubeTwitter, and Instagram!

Work it Out

Work it Out’s signature classes include: Ride, Zumba, Barre, Bands, Interval Training, Pilates, Toning, Go Mommy, and more. If you would like more information, please check out their site: Work it Out – and join Noël and her fitness loving team.

Hannah Garrison

Hannah Garrison


Best Advice I Have Ever Received: “Do what I love.  I know it sounds cheesy, but if you are doing something you love then you are helping the world turn.”

Hannah Garrison is the co-founder of Wear Your Music. She started out handcrafting bracelets made of recycled strings for family and musician friends. Her hobby eventually expanded into a profitable business whose philosophy celebrates music, style, and philanthropy. Wear Your Music bracelets are collected from earth-conscious students and budding musicians around the world, including used guitar strings donated by acclaimed musicians such as John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Joan Jett, etc.

Describe a day in the life of Hannah Garrison.

Can we start with the fact that I am mostly in bed by 9 PM? Yes, that’s what running a few businesses and having two kids under 4 will do to you.  My days start and end early.  My time is split between my home office and Wear Your Music office.  I love that the Internet has made all of this possible.  My days are busy, but also flexible. There is a lot of nursing the baby, many, many emails, lots of healthy food, a bunch of social media, number crunching, and the occasional burst of creativity to keep things fun. I love my life.

How did you get started with Wear Your Music – and how does it reflect your personal aesthetic?

Wear Your Music was my first baby.  I met my business partner on Craigslist before we knew there might be crazy people on there. =) I was a creative maker and he was a savvy businessman.  Now, he’s creative and I’m all business-y.  We rubbed off in each other.  But as far as aesthetic, it is totally reflective of me.  It’s jewelry for the person who doesn’t wear jewelry.  It’s simple, unique, elegant, and gender neutral.  I love subtlety – and it is that.

Wear Your Music

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

I’ve found that with women it can go either way.  Either you grate up against each other with evil or you lift each other up.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a village of women that lift me up.  In my life and career (which are so linked) there have been women who’ve shown me that it is all possible; that you can have your cake (work) and eat it too (family).  This subject is so fraught, but it is important too.  We bring our personal values along with us to our businesses, so we better be damn clear about what they are.

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

If you wear yoga pants you will always be relevant… No! Did I just type that? Crap! Yes, culture is ever changing.  (Oh no! Are yoga pants here to stay?)  But truly, I think the best thing I know how to do is to be in touch with all different types of people and all different ages.  I am friendly, and care about people in a genuine manner.  Different people are my go-to for different things.

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

Number 1) I am always exhausted. That means 2) I am über focused.  Like, laser focused.

I have to make use of all of my clarity so I need to work fast and efficiently.  I tend to pick a task that suits my mood.  If I am all drifty and far out, I write a copy, think, draw, and come up with ideas.  If I am fully caffeinated and settled in, I do numbers.  Picking a task that you are in the right state of mind for is key.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

I think mentors are super important.  I’ve had many people who’ve influenced me.  But I am on the lookout for a serious mentor.  So if you have one, send them to me!

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

Take care of yourself!  Self-care and work/life balance are really important. All the other shit matters, but it won’t happen without you – so you come first.  Eat breakfast, save some money, hire a coach.

Wear Your Music

Place that inspires me the most:

The passenger seat. Seriously, with someone else at the wheel and the world spinning by…

I feel most powerful when:

I launch something beautiful into the world.  I love seeing ideas come full circle. Birth. It’s magical.

I love what I do because:

What I do helps people. That’s what I am here for – to figure out ways to help each other and lift each of us up.

Best advice I have ever received:

Do what I love.  I know it sounds cheesy, but if you are doing something you love then you are helping the world turn.

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Quiana Parks

DJ Quiana Parks


DJ Quiana (Quiana Parks) describes a day in her life as, “… a roller coaster of art, music, and expression, but focus is the essence.” Although Quiana never has a set schedule, she has her daily rituals: fitness routines and above all – prayer.

Music started at home for Quiana and it does not come as a surprise that she would eventually follow her path as a DJ, “Growing up everything in my household came with a personal playlist: cleaning, homework, family time, summer gatherings, and everything else in between. I owe it to my parents for my wide span awareness of different genres and the development of my love to DJ.”

Quiana has been cancer-free for nine years, but when she was diagnosed with lymphoma – she remembers feeling completely numb, “I did not feel anything until I looked in the mirror. I would not look at it. But, when I did – that was when it really hit me… I hate chemo. Chemo was not my friend. I know it helped me, but it was more like a mean teacher there to help. I could not stand it.” It was a challenging time, but Quiana drew her strength and resilience from a higher source: God. She was not DJ’ing during her chemo sessions, but when Quiana overcame the battle in 2005 – it propelled her to start DJ For A Cure, a foundation that aligned her craft with a cause that she strongly believed in. DJ For a Cure aims to educate, support, and raise the awareness of cancer – by gathering DJs, visionaries, and survivors who use their creativity to empower patients and connect them through the power of music.

PUMA® and DJ Quiana Parks will kick off the summer with DJ For a Cure‘s 2nd event on June 26th in New York City (flyer below). There will be board games, prizes from Krink, music by DJs Austin Millz and Charles Browne, and hosted by DJ Kiss and Chef Roblé. Quiana will also be auctioning off one of her oil paintings as a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

DJ For a Cure Flyer

As a cancer survivor, what advice would you give to women who are going through the same thing you went through? Put yourself in the mind frame that you are cured. No matter how things look, there are two ways you can come out of a situation: feeling ugly – with a veil of fear OR having faith – and the beauty of never giving up.

Where can we learn more about DJ For A Cure? How can we help out? and – for more info check out the website and please donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!

How have the women in your life been instrumental in your life and career? My mother introduced me to music. My sister supports me in everything I do. My mentors DJ Kiss and Sapphira M. HIll guide me along the way.

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve? I just try to be myself and never worry about the trends.

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)? My sister Qyera keeps me balanced with all that I do!

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor? DJ Kiss and Sapphira are amazing and influential women who have helped me when Google could not, haha.

What place inspires you the most? Art Basel for their amazing music and artists.

When do you feel most powerful? When I am behind the DJ booth and everyone is dancing – even that one person in the room that you never thought in a million years would bust out a move, haha – that is when I feel most powerful.

Why do you love what you do? I get to live for a living.

Define your idea of success. Happiness.


Follow Quiana Parks on Instagram!

A Tale of Two Biddies




Describe a day in the life of Nik and Eboni of A Tale of Two Biddies.

Both of our days typically start really early. We try and get in some stretching or sun salutations and really reflect on what we’re trying to accomplish. Words of encouragement to ourselves in the mirror or writing out our gratitude mantras are super important to us. It’s a form of self-care to really prepare us to face this jungle of a city. During our commutes, we’re clutching coffee, looking over emails and exchanging ideas to one another via text, really mapping out A Tale of Two Biddies for the day. After work, we have school! Both in degree programs, Nik has a class twice a week and Eboni is taking courses online so we give attention to that and then it’s Biddie time. If we have an event, we refresh and head to that but if not we’ll work on what’s next for the blog and brand. Eboni’s job allows for her to work on ATOTB things during the day while Nik is the night owl and tackles a lot, burning the midnight oil, with a pot of green tea by her side.

How did you get started with A Tale of Two Biddies? How does your lifestyle publication and brand reflect your personal aesthetic?

We started the blog as a platform for “the unknown”; we wanted to shed light on the talented people we came into contact with. The small businesses we support (Small Business Spotlight) and more personally, to have a space that is ours to publish with no restrictions – to be our own boss. Since then it’s grown into so much more but the site and brand really reflect what we love or what we are into at any given time. It’s a big hub for any creative person to find new things to try and places to go. Even the blog layout reflects our personal aesthetic; we’re lovers of anything black and gold and that’s engrained in our logo and site design.

Define “biddie”.

“Biddie” is a slang word used mostly in the 90s. It describes a very feminine woman – sometimes sexual, often intoxicated. And like many slang words, we wanted to take back this word and use it for something positive.

YES, WE ARE VERY FEMININE. Yes, we’ve taken hold of our sexuality. Yes, sometimes, we’re intoxicated. But, a “biddie” is much more than this.

We have tangible dreams and goals. We’re all about pulling up our fellow (wo)man to help them achieve their goals as well. We love hard and we care about the world around us and its issues.


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

Cultural trends change so often that we think it’s important to do your own thing. When you find the thing that you love, own it and don’t stray just because society is moving a certain way. However, because of the blog we have, we know it’s important to stay abreast of everything that’s happening. We do that by being active users of our social media outlets, staying current with various blogs and being Tumblr enthusiasts.

How do you balance your personal and business goals and stay creative at the same time (even when you are exhausted)?

We feel like balance is super important to stay on track. We both keep daily to-do lists and utilize the notes and calendar app on our phones.

Nik uses her time at night before bed to meditate and reflect on her goals.

Eboni uses her early morning time to work on gratitude and putting goals into the Universe.


How important are mentors? Who are your mentors?

Mentors are essential to everyone! Find one if you don’t have one.

Nik’s mentors are her aunts. They taught her self-love, work ethic, pride, and the importance of education. Also Jodie Samson is a friend of hers, she was one of the first people who truly believed in her dreams and motivated her to work for them.

Eboni’s mentor is her mother. She’s always been a businesswoman and so wise about life, being creative and pushing until you reach your goals. She was one of the first people that told her she didn’t have to go the conventional route to be successful.

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

Don’t ever be afraid to take a chance. Your dreams should always scare you! Always remember that. You have to really just take that initial leap of faith and put fear in the backseat because the fear doesn’t go away, you have to find a way to push past it and believe in what you’re adding to the world. Don’t let people put you in a box either. Go for yours.


Place that inspires us the most:

Nik is inspired by Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There’s something about North 5th St Pier that reminds her that she has a major purpose to fulfill in life and never to let anything or anyone get in the way of that.

Eboni is inspired by the bookstore. It’s one place where she can take her laptop, spend the whole day, and get more work done than she would anywhere else.

We feel most powerful when:

We feel most powerful when we click publish and another article is published in A Tale of Two Biddies. We know that with each article, we’re supporting someone else’s dreams in some way, expanding our reach, introducing people to new things, making folks think, and changing the status quo. It’s a thrill.


We love what we do because:

We inspire people more than we think. Our drive, our consistency, professionalism, and our enthusiasm about what we do are uplifting to folks that rarely see two African-American girls in their 20’s doing. Plus, we’re breaking chains! We’re letting young girls and women anywhere know that it is okay to love and BE themselves.

Define your idea of success:

Our idea of success is happiness, peace, doing something you love, but also being able to give back to your community. Traveling, being free to be as creative as possible and bringing our friends along for the ride are also high on our list.

Best advice we have ever received:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mahatma Gandhi


A Tale of Two Biddies is a lifestyle publication and brand started by two young women on a quest for creative freedom and independence. We cover a variety of subjects such as art, culture, events, trends, food, music and much more. We aim to enrich our community by highlighting creatives within our reach, contributing to organizations dedicated to uplifting our environment and spotlighting all types of small businesses. We hope to spread positivity and a message that women can be multidimensional and the only thing stopping you from breaking from society’s box is that initial leap of faith. We hope you come away with from Biddie experience with a new way of thinking, new connections and unlimited inspiration.

Shawna Strayhorn

Shawna Strayhorn

Photo Credit: Amelia Alpaugh


How did you get started with your career? How does your current role as Director of Business Intelligence at Refinery29 reflect your personal aesthetic?

I graduated from Harvard in 2007. From there, I went into management consulting, a ripe business training ground. I quickly pivoted into e-commerce marketing and finally, just over 3 years ago, landed at Refinery29, coming onboard as the first marketing hire and the 13th employee. The ethos of Refinery29 is to cultivate personal style by mixing high and low and distilling down to only the very best. My personal style aesthetic draws on the same principals – mix designer with 125th street, vintage with so-this-season pieces. But, in the end, tie a look together with one eye-popping element, many times in black, and let the look sing.

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

I believe there are two types of people in the “world”: those that use the Internet to connect, explore, and discover in a true and deep way and those that do not, simply. What do I mean by true and deep — that is, a rejection of the rinse-and-repeat nature of social media that engages only with the ideas, people, music, style, and friends that one is already familiar with in the human world. What is the point? Why sit at a wellspring of information and culture only to redraw the lines of your locality time and again? I use a reader to comb through content voraciously, follow links liberally, and seek inspiration for essays to read and songs to listen, etc. In addition, my city and neighborhood are fully-formed pillars of inspiration; many New York men and women style with effortless cool and Harlemites embrace pattern and bold shapes. Lately, I have been drawn to album art for inspiration. The project of bringing music to visual life in a small square is lofty (i.e., seeing sounds) and limiting (i.e., fixed space).

How do you balance your personal and business goals and stay creative at the same time (even when you are exhausted)?

I let technology work for me and eliminate the white noise. I am laser-focused on what needs to be done now and, in doing so, free myself up to dream, to fellowship. I use an email app to keep my inbox at 0 messages as frequently as possible. I push email reminders to myself (i.e., drinks, dates, plays, networking events) and delay messages and to-do items until they are absolutely time-critical. I save music, files, inspiration images, and documents to the cloud. I consume my news from RSS feeds in one central place (Feedly). My approach is not to let how I do the work impede me from doing the work. Mitigate the friction, make it easy, and get to the good, creative stuff.

I do my best thinking in the mornings. I rise about 5:30 each morning and take an hour to read, answer emails, and do some of the big picture thinking that only a good night’s sleep can afford.

In my transition to business school, I faced the seemingly daunting task of committing my business goals to essays – a cathartic experience. In hindsight, I’m thankful for the exercise – my goals in 500 words double-spaced. Do I expect to pursue them down to the letter? No. But, the path as it stands, is mapped out. I expect detours.

Shawna Strayhorn

Photo Credit: Amelia Alpaugh

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Mentors are mission-critical. The best mentors, personal or professional, have a point of view that they want to impress upon you. It is simply not enough for a mentor to be someone “who achieves.” A mentor not only achieves, but also has a credo on how she gets the job done and the language and perspective to pass on her knowledge. My life mentor is Jennifer Nash, Assistant Professor of American Studies at The George Washington University. I met Jen at Harvard; she was pursuing her PhD and I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Define your idea of success.

Success is legacy – what positive thing will people remember you for and did it have impact beyond yourself.

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

My advice for those looking to get into fashion marketing is to have an editor’s eye for impeccable style and value, to sharpen your business acumen and analytical skills, and to be results driven.

Place that inspires me the most:

A specific place does not inspire me. However, I feel most inspired when I give myself time to think. It seems so intuitive. But, in the rush of life, time to “just think” is precious. If I have an hour, I’ll spend nearly 45 minutes thinking about the problem — what went wrong, what is up, what is down, and why. In a phrase, I like to put the problem back into problem-solving – don’t rush the solution. Get intimate with the problem, get what the real rub is, and get it right.

I feel most powerful when: 

I wear lipstick and arrive 20 minutes early.

I love what I do because: 

I have the pleasure of gazing upon stunning, beautifully composed images daily. I derive such pleasure from being able to refine and focus my taste overtime and to appreciate and prop up things that are beautiful and special to me. My most rewarding career experience is leading Refinery29′s growth efforts. Through aggressive acquisition efforts, I lead Refinery29′s audience development growing the email database by 200% in one year.

Best advice I have ever received: 

Your inner-circle should be filled with people who are willing, able, and esteemed enough to challenge you and tell you “no.”

About Refinery29
Refinery29, the largest independent fashion and style website in the United States, is a lifestyle platform that delivers nonstop inspiration to live a more stylish and creative life. In addition to its global and local newsletter editions and 24/7 original editorial content, Refinery29 connects over 10 million visitors every month and over 1.25 million subscribers with content, commerce, and community, giving them all the tips, tricks, and tools they need to live a more beautiful life – and share it with the world.

Marinell Montales

131204_Marinel_9805_SMImage c/o Marinell Montales


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 ( & 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, have a late dinner with boyfriend, and watch HGTV until I fall asleep.

How did you get started with – 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.


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.


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.


Image c/o Marinell Montales

Jelynne Jardiniano

JJ LITM c/o NJ.comimage c/o


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.

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

Meika Franz



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 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,, and numerous other blogs, video/movie shoots, etc.

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

dressesShowroom2 - CopyShowroom2

Anna Sian

Anna Sianimage c/o karmaloop


How did you get started at Staple – and how does your current role as Marketing Director reflect your personal aesthetic?

My career path was never a straight one. It’s been a circuitous journey, and a seemingly random one at that. But at each step I took risks, lived in the present moment and inched closer towards what I felt deep down was a better match for me. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth in Psychological and Brain Sciences. Not because it was my dream to become a psychologist or psychotherapist or really work in brain sciences at all, but because I took one intro class and felt that human behavior, and why people do what they do, was most interesting thing to learn about. Plus, my parents were firmly against me becoming a studio art major, so it was somewhat of a compromise. So I graduated with this seemingly impractical degree and moved back to NYC, where I was born and raised.

What followed in my post-college years were multiple part-time internships and jobs that each spoke to a different part of my personality, which when combined, somehow represented a more holistic version of my Dream Job. Over the years, I edited an art magazine, interned at a human rights non-profit organization and in fashion, freelanced in photography and volunteered with a Filipina women’s organization, and worked as a hostess and runner at Japanese restaurants to supplement my income. Eventually I landed a higher paying job as a marketing assistant at an engineering firm, but I wasn’t passionate about the engineering industry and I felt my creativity being stunted in that corporate environment. And then — as both a blessing and a curse — I was laid off. Unemployed for months, I floated around NYC until my best friend asked me if I wanted to join her band, Ava Luna, which was started by another one of our classmates from high school. I sang backup harmonies at first and later also played the keys. As part of Ava Luna I was able to tour the US and Europe, play at SXSW, the US Open and other memorable shows, but it wasn’t all glamorous and it wasn’t enough to support me financially.

I suppose I was in the right place at the right time when jeffstaple of Staple Design needed a new assistant and I applied, interviewed, and was hired. For the first year I was still playing in the band and begging jeff for more and more time off to tour; eventually I was getting burnt out playing late night shows and coming to work in the morning. I had to choose between the band or the job, and Staple felt like the right choice. A year later, the clothing brand started taking off and there was greater need for marketing, at which point I was promoted. It seemed like everything that I had done in my fledgling career leading up to that point started to make more sense for the marketing work I would begin to do at Staple. Marketing at Staple requires me to use what I’ve learned from the worlds of fashion, psychology, photography, publishing, the music industry and NGOs all rolled into one.

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

Cultural trends do change, like everything else. That’s why I don’t necessarily pay attention to trends. I think what keeps me and my work relevant to others is that I try to really listen to the things that truly interest me – if I myself am not inspired, then I can’t expect others to give a shit. What that means is constantly finding ways to travel outside New York or visit new parts of the city, reading, trying different food, supporting new artists, meeting new people and making unlikely friendships.

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

Luckily my personal and business goals require creativity.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Having a mentor is necessary. My main mentor is my mother, who worked her butt off to get from the Philippines to NYC, started her own business and non-profit organization, all while constantly learning and trying to be a better person with each day.

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

I haven’t yet started my own business, so I can’t offer any legitimate advice for that, but my advice to any woman entering creative fields is to take risks and say yes to exciting (albeit frightening) opportunities. The future will work itself out somehow, so be fluid – the only thing constant is change.


  • Place that inspires me the most… Crazy Legs Skate Club in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn… But honestly I’m most inspired every time I travel, and inspired again every time I come home to NYC.
  • I feel most powerful when… I am with my friends and family.
  • I love what I do because… My job allows me to be myself.
  • Define your idea of success… There’s little I can say here without sounding trite. But success to me is being able to do what you love while helping others.
  • Best advice I have ever received… Breathe.

Follow Anna on Instagram: @Annamal!

Steph Adams

StephAdams bw2


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

I studied graphic design and marketing for my Bachelor of Arts at Curtain University of Western Australia. I then started working in publishing as a Graphic Designer and Art Director over Vogue in Australia & London before starting my own business; Steph Adams Creative as well as my blog which is an inspirational blog on beauty, fashion & lifestyle. It’s also an outlet for other brands and clients to get noticed online.

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

I am travelling quite a lot and I find this helps to stay on top of trends as well as providing inspiration for new projects.

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

I try and live a balanced and healthy lifestyle to stay on top of everything. I definitely need my sleep if I want to keep up the creativity. Usually if I need inspiration, I will go for a run or walk just to clear my head.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

My husband has been a great mentor to me and my best friend.

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

That you really must love what you do before you go out and do it, because there are a lot of hard yards and nothing comes easy. Hard work definitely pays off.

Steph Adams Logo

  • Place that inspires me the most… Every new place you go to is inspiring in a different way, my favourite is the South of France.
  • I feel most powerful when… I’ve just had a boxing session.
  • I love what I do because… I help people build their brands and businesses and it’s what they are most passionate about and that makes me happy when I see others also achieving their goals.
  • My idea of success is… I think if you have your health and love what you do as well as having loving family and friends around you, then you are successful.
  • Best advice I have ever received… “You have a brain in your head and feet in your shoes, you can move yourself whichever way you choose.” – Dr Seuss

Follow Steph Adams on Instagram: @StephAdams2012 and Facebook: Beauty Fashion Lifestyle by Steph Adams!

About Steph Adams:

Steph Adams is a former-model-turned-art-director-and-designer who has been working in the fashion industry and collaborating with brands for over 20 years. She is the founder of Steph Adams Creative, a boutique design studio with a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle clientele -specializing in luxury and commercial branding. She also runs, a lifestyle blog that documents her musings on beauty, fashion, photography and travel. Her works have been featured on British Vogue, Vogue Australia, Elle, Net-a-porter, Conde Nast Traveller, Harpers Bazaar (UK & AUS), Grazia, Vogue Living, Marie Claire (UK & AUS), House and Garden, Gourmet Traveller, Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Fox Sports, Channel Nine, Donna Hay, Stylerunner, Ausmode, Styledby, Miss Moncur, etc.

Juliet Nwekenta


Officially launched in 2011, Dee Rosa is a celebration of London-based designer Juliet Nwekenta’s Nigerian heritage, lifestyle, and cultural inspirations through visually stimulating, intricate patterns and geometric shapes.

Describe a day in the life of Juliet Nwekenta, Founder & Creative Director of Dee Rosa:

My day usually starts with checking and replying to emails. I then form a to do list of what I want to achieve in the day. Sometimes it could be a day of drawing up new designs, or promotion and marketing, sometimes there are meetings, it really does vary. I also freelance occasionally as a music consultant and I just started DJing too plus I have a part-time job for now while the business finds it feet.

How did you get started with Dee Rosa – and how does your role as Founder & Creative Director reflect your personal aesthetic?

After graduating from University in the UK with an Advertising and Marketing degree, I just wanted to do something different. I always loved art/design and  was always drawing on the side plus I was a serious music head too. I decided to go down the music route, so I moved to NYC for a year to intern at a couple of recording studios after which I returned to the London and was A&R scouting and then more recently music consultancy. Continue reading Juliet Nwekenta

Isis Arias

Brand Marketer & Event Producer | Around The Way Cool Girl


Describe a day in the life of Isis Arias:

A day in my life is a constant variation of many things depending on what I’m working on. The average day consists of me waking up and staring at my iPhone, checking email, responding to texts, checking social media. It’s not the best wake method, I should really work on meditating more but it’s a force of habit. If I’m up early enough I tend to go for a jog or yoga, and then I’m in front of my computer for a few hours working on anything from emails to project plans, checking in on the marketing programs I manage, event research and logistic planning. The rest of the day tends to be scattered with conference calls, outreach and meetings, although I tend to try and schedule meeting days so I have more than one reason to head into the city especially since I work from home and mobile, so I’m often doing some of these things from the road!

How did you get started with brand marketing and events – and how does strategic and event planning reflect your personal aesthetic? Continue reading Isis Arias

Nola Darling

Jaquita Ta’le + Alex Lavelanet

Artists | Rappers | Singers

Nola Darling

Describe a day in the life of Nola Darling (Jaquita Ta’le and Alex Lavelanet):

No two days are alike, so it’s hard to describe a typical day, but it could go anywhere from:

Wake up/Emails and Internet/Late Breakfast/Audition/Meeting/Phone Conference/Dinner/Home/Write/Netflix/Sleep or…
Wake up/Gym/Lunch/Studio/Phone Conference/Trader Joe’s Run/Movies/Home/Netflix/Sleep

How did you get started as a rapping and singing duo – and how does your music reflect your personal aesthetic?

We first met during a high school summer program for Acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Serendipitously, we were both in the Lee Strasberg School for Acting (the dude who made “the method”) famous, and we lived directly across from each other in the dorms. Fast forward: we both ended up going to NYU for undergrad, and after graduation, (like many post-grads) decided to go on an international road trip. The twist is, while travelling around South Africa, London, and Amsterdam, we made a documentary (WORD?!) about international Hip Hop culture that featured local acts, as well as artists like Dead Prez and Aloe Blacc. While in Rome (ha ha) lounging at our hostel, our photographer/travel buddy LP made a beat that we geeked over and started writing to. It was kind of a lightbulb moment…like, “why aren’t we doing this?!” And the rest is history…

Our music is very reflective of our Pan-African upbringing and cultural influences (prep school, classic Americana, Hip Hop, film noir), and aesthetically, audiences can see glimpses of that in our work.

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? Continue reading Nola Darling

Sarah Meier


Creative Director, Pormada | Host, Top Model Philippines | Author, Unscripted

Sarah and Kaya
Sarah and her daughter Kaya c/o

Describe a day in the life of Sarah Meier.

It usually starts with roosters. If you’ve ever visited or lived in the Philippines, you’ll know that the primitive still suffices for the resourceful, and being woken up by cockadoodling and the 6am church bell will always be more poignant than any iPhone alarm tone. My days struggle to claim that they have any sort of routine, which is why I’m entertaining offers to resurrect my morning radio show host status; it gives me a valid excuse to dip out of manic Manila nights before people start making fuzzy decisions, and also propels my ass to the gym at a regular hour. Other than that, it’s a few hours at Pormada HQ, time on shoot sets, rocking the microphone hosting events, recording voice overs for fashion-related TV shows (I can now say Ermenegildo Zegna without hesitating), wine and cheese dates with friends, and a weekly 2-hour $10 home service massage. I have a beautiful daughter that likes bookstores, running around at the park, fine dining, manicures, and Jamba Juice, so her Dad and I switch off on dates with her to do those things after school. Continue reading Sarah Meier




Founding Editors of Highsnobette | Founders of TheSnobette | Stylists | Branding + Digital Strategists

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. Continue reading TheSnobette