Dearest Creative

KORI & KIRSTEN
Photo Credit: Meron Menghistab

Kori Dyer & Kirsten Pincket

Brooklyn, NY

Co-Founders, Dearest Creative


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

Kirsten from Florida, Kori from Philadelphia—it was always both of our dreams to live in New York. We met at VOGUE where we formed a working relationship and as we explored the industry together our bond grew stronger. From music, to fashion and beauty, our experiences have been rooted in cultivating genuine connections and crafting brands. That’s why we decided to build our own.

How have the women around you been instrumental in your lives and careers? 

Both of us growing up in a house of three sisters and incredible moms, feminine strength and independence was continuously instilled in us. We were both extremely lucky to have been raised in an environment where we were told that “you could literally do anything you wanted as long as you worked hard enough for it.”

From music, to fashion and beauty, our experiences have been rooted in cultivating genuine connections and crafting brands. That’s why we decided to build our own.

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

Although NYC is magical and has many advantages, it can get overwhelming to try to “keep up” with the ever-changing trends. Constantly moodboarding, reading, attending museums, seeing shows and creating just for fun is the most natural way to stay afloat and relevant. We also have an incredibly talented and successful group of friends who run the gamut in terms of career paths – which is very inspiring. Keeping the conversation with your community flowing is also a great way to stay connected.

Our initiative, Dearest, is a creative studio whose passions lie in human interaction and mindful communication. At the end of the day, we just want to work with brands we like.

Dearest Creative

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

Personally, it’s a constant battle to juggle multiple projects, keep up with family and friends, exercise, get enough sleep and also feel wildly creative at the end of the day. I think that keeping everything organized and in perspective is the most effective way to be productive and happy in all aspects of life. Our mission is to visually problem solve in a visceral way. We stay curious, keep learning and know that risk is our friend.

At the end of the day, we just want to work with brands we like.

How important are mentors? Who are your mentors? 

On a day-to-day basis, we are each other’s mentors. In a larger sense –

Kori: Emily Dickinson—the original riot grrrl created deep and dark poetry in isolation. My favorite: “Forever is composed of nows.”

Kirsten: I have always looked up to Charlotte Bronte (1 of 3 sisters also!). She was an incredible author, poet and feminist trailblazer.

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

Focus on your strengths. Don’t ignore your intuition.

Our mission is to visually problem solve in a visceral way. We stay curious, keep learning and know that risk is our friend.

Place that inspires us the most…

Kori: The Magic Tree—a giant whimsical Japanese hackberry in Green Valleys, PA. As a nature camp counselor every summer there, I’d read stories under this massive deciduous beauty which re-roots to create a fort-like getaway. It’s my definition of an escape where you forget your worries.

Kirsten: The Galleria Borghese in Rome, Italy—the most breathtaking place I’ve ever been.

We feel most powerful when…we’re collaborating with like-minded people.

We love what we do because…we get to create beautiful things for a living.

Focus on your strengths. Don’t ignore your intuition.

Best advice we have ever received…

Kori: Be so good they can’t ignore you.

Kirsten: Be grateful that thorns have roses


Kori: @korianndyer | Kirsten: @kirstenpincket | Dearest: @DearestCreative + DearestCreative.co

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Ariel Lopez

Image of Ariel Lopez c/o Innov8tiv.com

Image of Ariel Lopez c/o Innov8tiv.com

Ariel Lopez is a career coach at General Assembly – and founder of 2020Shift, a social enterprise that is designed to educate black and latino millennials on careers in the technology space. I was most impressed by Ariel’s work with 2020Shift – dedicated to setting students and recent graduates up for success, but most importantly filling the diversity gap with talent by providing resources and professional development. As an avid public speaker, Ariel enjoys sharing her expertise in digital media and technology and loves connecting people to opportunities. Luckily for Ariel, the things she loves the most is reflective of her day job, which allows her the freedom to cultivate her passion into profitable and innovative ideas to inspire others to pursue their career goals. 

ARIEL LOPEZ

CAREER COACH AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY & FOUNDER OF 2020SHIFT 

NEW YORK, NY

“I think it’s just about putting yourself out there. A lot of business connections have happened because of a tweet or a LinkedIn message. You have to find what channels work best for you/your brand and be active in them.”

How does your craft reflect your personal aesthetic?

My craft reflects the things that matter to me the most. I’ve always had a passion for helping people and as a coach I get to do that. 2020Shift is designed to help people elevate in their careers so I’m doing the same in that regard as well. I would also say I fell in love with tech as soon as I started working in the industry. It’s extremely important for me to be a catalyst to help others find success as well.

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

I would say my mom has been the most influential person in both my life and my career. My drive and work ethic are a reflection of how I was raised. My mom always said that you can be whatever you want to be and that your current circumstances don’t define your future. I held on to those words and it helped shape the determination that has carried me through my career thus far.

“In terms of finding a mentor, network as much as you can and don’t force any relationships; let them happen naturally. You’ll have a gut feeling on who should be a mentor or not.”

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

I think it’s just about putting yourself out there. A lot of business connections have happened because of a tweet or a LinkedIn message. You have to find what channels work best for you/your brand and be active in them.

2020Shift

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

I make a point to have vision boards for every year; you’d be surprised how things magically come into fruition. I also recently went Being Mary Jane-ish in my apartment – hanging up small affirmations. Success is definitely a mental battle; if you can stay positive and on track, you’ll accomplish your goals much easier.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Mentors are super important and I have a few. I have advisors that are mentors, students and friends. I’m usually giving people advice, but learn the most about myself in those conversations. In terms of finding a mentor, network as much as you can and don’t force any relationships; let them happen naturally. You’ll have a gut feeling on who should be a mentor or not.

“I have a love-hate situation with NYC, but it’s the most inspiring city in the world. When I wake up I automatically think: hustle. It’s becomes a way of life.”

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

Go after what you want and negotiate what you deserve (for those entering creative fields). For women starting their own business, keep your purpose and mission top of mind; that helps with riding the crazy roller coaster that is entrepreneurship.

Place that inspires me the most…

I have a love-hate situation with NYC, but it’s the most inspiring city in the world. When I wake up I automatically think: hustle. It’s becomes a way of life.

I feel most powerful when…

I’m teaching or speaking in public. I love engaging with people and hearing their feedback; it’s also an amazing feeling to hear, “You inspired me to do XYZ.”

I love what I do because…

I live in my purpose and I make an impact at the same time

Best advice I have ever received…

“You attract what you believe you’re worth.” I make an effort to shift my mindset to things that I want and believe I’m capable of doing.

Connect with Ariel Lopez on 2020Shift, General Assembly, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Quiana Parks

DJ Quiana Parks

QUIANA PARKS
NEW YORK CITY
DJ & FOUNDER OF DJ FOR A CURE

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? www.djforacure.com and www.twitter.com/djforacure – 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.

PRESS PLAY

Follow Quiana Parks on Instagram!

A Tale of Two Biddies

ATOTB

NIK ADAMS & EBONI MERRIMAN
NEW YORK CITY

LIFESTYLE BLOGGERS, 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.

ATOTB

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.

ATOTB

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.

ATOTB

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.

ATOTB

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

ABOUT A TALE OF TWO BIDDIES

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

SHAWNA STRAYHORN | NEW YORK CITY
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AT REFINERY 29

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

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

Chloe-Lynn Ordonez

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CHLOË-LYNN ORDOÑEZ

Founder & Designer of Clo Hair Bows + Clo Bow Ties

Describe a day in the life of Chloë-Lynn Ordoñez:

I wake up and snooze for 10 minutes. Before my alarm goes off again, either I’ll sleep or I’ll check Instagram, see what’s new on Feedly, and lightly scan my emails. I get out of bed and immediately make it — I feel that accomplishing something Continue reading Chloe-Lynn Ordonez

Lanie Alabanza-Barcena

LANIE “MISS LAWN” ALABANZA-BARCENA

Founder & Creative Director of Hellz Bellz + Belle of the Brawl (BOTB)

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Describe a day in the life of Hellz Bellz + Belle of the Brawl (BOTB)’s HBIC:

No day is ever the same and thank God for that. I’m the type of person who fears any type of normalcy so I welcome a little bit of chaos into my life with open arms… as long as it’s organized chaos. That being said, my days vary from designing in the office, to styling for other brands that I consult for, to running around town meeting with vendors, to mentoring and directing my team, to doing research and thinking of the next best thing.

What’s the history behind Hellz Bellz – what propelled you to start it (how did you come up with the name) – and how does Hellz Bellz reflect your personal aesthetic? Continue reading Lanie Alabanza-Barcena