Alnea Farahbella, Designer, Toit Volant

A global traveler with years of teaching and design under her belt, Alnea Farahbella has a wealth of experience to source from as she builds her new brand, Toit Volant. This master of all trades is a shining example of a boss lady who earned that status by practicing every facet of her business - design, pattern making, production and beyond! Today Lisa Says Gah checks out Toit Volant's downtown LA studio for a peek behind the scenes and a chat with Alnea about originality, understanding the culture of fashion and loving creative chaos. Enjoy! 

LSG: Hi, Alnea! Before we jump in, what is the story behind your company's title? What does Toit Volant mean? 

Toit Volant means "Flying Roof." The name is symbolic of the nomadic perspective my partner and I share. We both have lived in different parts of the world, experienced various cultures and ways of life, and speak multiple languages. We thrive on diversity. Toit Volant is a living journal of our experiences.

LSG: Now that you are settled in LA, tell us about your studio space and neighborhood! 

We’ve been in our studio space since June 2015. We are in the middle of downtown LA. It feels like New York in the 1980s with the garment market so close by, but it's changing fast!

It is important for my partner and I to support the local manufacturers in Los Angeles. We are a "Made in US" brand. It gives us better control of our quality because our makers are five minutes away. We check in on our production every step of the way. 

Also, it’s so good to be able to pop out of my studio to look for fabric, trims and materials. We are in the thick of things. I love being central while having space for the creative chaos. I am proud of the creative happenings that take place in our hideaway. We drape everything. We are not a buy “vintage” and copy that garment type of brand. 

LSG: Can you walk us through your path? What initially drew you to fashion? 

Oh, where do I begin? I’ve always loved fashion. Let me know try to summarize it with a bit of a fun timeline.

Second Grade: Bought my first pink jumpsuit with a black bow-tie for picture day. 

Influence: My grandmother who had everything made because she couldn’t afford to shop. 

High School: I took my first sewing lesson. Everything I made back then looked crafty and homemade, but I’m still making similar shapes. 

Leaving the US: I went to live in Japan. This was when the connections between fashion, art, design, and education started to make sense to me. I admire the commitment that Japanese women have to fashion. I started teaching design workshops, and then I launched my first brand in Japan. I was so stimulated by the exposure to different cultures and styles.

Meeting My Partner: We met in Vietnam. I loved his style which was straightforward and committed in contrast to my oversized pieces and layering. My mind started combining our styles, and this was the beginning of Toit Volant.  

Return to the US: I had been teaching overseas for nearly a decade and riding motorbikes with my little Shih-Tzu dog named Tiger. It was time to return to The States. When I came back to the US, I worked and lived in New York, teaching fashion with Shelley Fox for the MFA Fashion Design & Society at Parsons New School. This is where I found my second wind for fashion. I was in love with the process of making again. I wanted to have a studio and a chaotic creative mess, and that's why we moved out to LA. We also needed sky and the sun. We left New York in July 2015, drove cross-country in our old mini-cooper with Tiger in our lap and never looked back!

LSG: What inspired you to branch out independently and pioneer your brand?

I was bored of seeing the same things on different women. It was un-inspiring. You can obviously see how designers are copying each other. I hated hearing my students talk about their internships where the designer bought a dress and brought it back to the studio to copy. Yes everyone is doing it, but it doesn’t make it right. Also, I honestly believe that, especially at a contemporary price point, you should have ethical designer practices for the development process.

LSG: Who do you imagine wearing your designs? 

I’ve seen so many incredible women in my travels. It is always character and charisma that inspires me. You can tell she’s wearing the dress; the dress isn't wearing her. You can tell when a women’s style is authentic - when she still believes in culture. I appreciate women who understand my esoteric references in the modern context, who understand fashion and are looking to support independent brands. 

LSG: Can you describe the feelings you want a wearer to experience in your work? 

That they are different and cool for supporting our brand instead of brands that copy other designers. I would love for my work to evoke diversity and culture. 

LSG: How does your environment / community influence your collections?
I have always been surrounded by phenomenal women (friends and family) that have their own style and stand up for creativity and individuality. They remind me to stay true to myself and what I want to share. I get sad when I see women confused and influenced by the mainstream, they look like random celebrity clones. 

LSG: Do you work alone? If not, tell us about your team.

Certainly not. This business is about having the right team. My partner’s unconditional support and confidence in my skill is my driving force. Without his support, this brand wouldn’t have the identity it has. My assistant challenges my design decisions. My production team makes me laugh when they point out I didn’t label any of my patterns because they know I make all the patterns in-house. It's a team effort. 

LSG: Where do you source inspiration and how do you organize it? 

Words are important to me. They are my triggers. Corny as it sounds, I find a lot of inspiration in beatnik poetry and literature. Translating words into shapes, associating emotions with colors. Most of the time conversations with friends trigger inspiration. Lots and lots of walks and people watching are good sources. I keep everything in a design journal. I’m not very good with gadgets. I’m old school, and I’m stubborn about this part of my life.

LSG: What themes are influencing your work right now?

Culture and ethnicity are always influencing my work. The question of how to dress with style and character influences my world. 

LSG: Can you tell us about your process of designing a collection? 

I start with words. I'm obsessed with haikus and random sayings. This always leads me to find an image that relates to those words. Then somehow I find these women in books or my archives of photographs from my travels. Then I start to take them around with me everywhere and ask myself what would they be wearing if they were here. My process can easily be compared to a writer building a character.

I feel like I’m alway designing. Designing dresses is so fun! I get giddy when I start to see my ideas morph into creations. There are two collections per year that we produce, but  like to think that our dresses are seasonless.

LSG: Materials obviously play a huge part in your line. Can you tell us about why you choose the ones you do? 

I’ve always loved uniform materials. I love that that they can hold shapes. Growing up, I wore those black crisp cotton/polyester Dickies pants. I would even make them into skirts. You’d wash them over and over yet the shape was still there. Durability is important as I move so much in my day. I can’t wear things that make me feel like I’m being encased in plastic wrap. I like utilitarian looks. Pilot and gas station jumpsuits are amazing. Astronaut jumpsuits are crazy cool. Military stores have the best bomber jackets. I wanted to put in a little bit of art and style into these utilitarian garments. 

LSG: Starting a business and working for yourself is scary, a lot of people talk about it but never do it. What do you think holds people back?  

Fear and discomfort. Everyone works hard to attain the particular lifestyle they have. Starting your own business means letting go of this to some extent. It is hard to live with limits; no one wants to feel like they’ve failed. Discomfort and downgrading your lifestyle is never fun, but there is this thing called satisfaction and contentment at the end of the day. It is very different owning your own business. 

LSG: Describe the first year of going independent. What was your mantra to get through hurdles?

We haven’t even finished our first year but "keep on keeping’ on!" This time is all about learning from mistakes. 

LSG: As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company? 

If you don’t have the dream funds available,  then learn the skills that will save you the most money and that you know you can do well. Be authentic and be yourself. Try to understand that there will be plenty of challenges along the way. One needs to learn to stay calm and always think of alternative solutions because you will have an infinite amount of challenges. If you keep this in mind, then the hard work is worth it. The price of freedom is high, but it is incredible when you have control of your work. 

LSG: What are a few things you love that have nothing to do with fashion? 

A hike, one that is a bit more raw, where you feel like you are on a good adventure.  Sitting on our patio in summer, with the two dogs, ice coffee and nothing to do. Driving along the coast and going for a walk on the beach - always so nice when it's empty. A beautiful summer swim and taking a nap after. This is the ultimate. 

LSG: Tell us a little bit about your routine. Five things for a stress-free day?

1. A good walk with my dogs.
2. Ice coffee in the morning with coconut milk.
3. Long stretches in the evening.
4. A Good playlist.
5. Telling my partner a funny story.



Natalie Brookshire, Floral Designer, Natalie Bowen Designs

What was once commonplace in the world of professionalism and craft is now unusual. Today, we seldom find a person with family ties to their career that span several generations.  Natalie Brookshire, ńee Bowen, is a rare bird. The granddaughter, daughter, and niece of women with majorly green thumbs, Natalie is more than a natural in the plant world. Honing her expertise and business acumen has been the major lesson. Today Lisa Says Gah romps around Natalie's SoMa studio for a chat about blending creativity and career, never looking back, and top tips on how to compose the perfect flower arrangement! Enjoy!


LSG: Hi, Natalie! Can you tell us about the events leading up to the launch of Natalie Bowen Designs?

 When I look back at my path, it seems pretty direct. I chose a career out of college and just went for it. I’m grateful for this sense of direction, as not all paths are this clear. In college, I was in the Hospitality Management department and then the Design department. When I graduated, I had a dream of having a flower shop one day like my Grandma did, and I quickly got a job at a beautiful store in Hayes Valley (Rose and Radish). Once I worked there, I realized that I love flowers, but the retail life is not for me. 

LSG: You are three generations deep in the world of plants and flowers. What was growing up in that environment like? Can you share your first memory of feeling connected to flora?

My Grandmother, Mother, and Aunt, were all avid gardeners and at some point, each had a career in the plant-based world. Being around women who connected over their love of flowers, meant that our time together was spent visiting botanical gardens and talking about flowers. Every year on our annual trip to Mendocino, we would walk around the quaint town, and I would overhear them talking about the beautifully looked after gardens. At an early age, it was impressed upon me that some flowers are more special than others and that it takes dedication to have a garden. When I was little, it all seemed a little boring, but now as I get older, I find myself falling in their footsteps. 

LSG: When did you know this was the career for you? 

When I was in college, I had a very unrealistic idea of what being a flower shop owner looked like and decided I wanted to give that a try. I have never looked back. Not for one day. I’m 100% committed to this, and if it does not work out, I’m screwed. There is a saying about putting all your eggs in one basket, but I’ve never followed that philosophy. 

LSG: Describe the first event you did flowers for professionally.

The very first event that I did flowers for was a wedding for a friend of a friend. I remember that my Mother came and helped me work on the wedding and packed her car with flowers from her yard. I was insecure about making the bouquet, so I insisted that the bride order her bouquet from another florist. I then made her tossing bouquet (such an old tradition) and realized how much I adore making bouquets. Since that day, it is one of my very favorite parts of doing flowers for a wedding. I lost money on that wedding but gained a lot of confidence. 

LSG: What does a typical work day look like for you? 

Each day varies a lot for me. The one thing that is the same from day to day is that I drink at least two cups of tea, and I pack my days in and don’t stop moving from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep. On market mornings, I try and arrive no later than 6:30 am to the flower mart, and I never get out of the market without spending less than two hours. Most days I spend some time at my SOMA studio where I do flower production, have meetings and work on projects. I’m also super social, love to cook, do yoga, workout, garden, scheme, meet, plan and do it all! 

LSG: What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields? What does it mean (to you) to combine creativity and work?

To those trying to “make it” in a creative field, I suggest that they identify what that actually means to them before anything else. Does this mean making money? Does it mean having 100K followers on Instagram? It is also important for a person who is starting off to know if they are embarking on a passion project or making a career move to support themselves. For me, combining creativity and work means making a career out of my passion, but this isn’t just for fun. I have to work; I have to earn money to support myself, and I have to feel creatively inspired while doing so. I often weigh decisions to see if they are supporting me creatively or financially and decide which I need most in my life at that time. Luckily, the two overlap often enough. I sometimes find myself being envious of those I know don’t need to make money while following their path, yet being able to support myself doing what I love is something I am very proud of. 

LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? 

I find inspiration all around me, and I don’t organize it very well. It’s all stored in my brain, which is pretty funny when I say it out loud. I have a lot of very creative friends, so I often draw inspiration from something as simple as a conversation with a pal. My husband is an architect, so many of our social activities involve art and nature.  

LSG: Tell us about your studio space. What was the process of fixing it up like? Do you host events here?

I had a studio in the Dogpatch for years, back when nobody knew where the Dogpatch was! After years of schlepping up to the third floor, I started looking for a space that was on the ground floor. When we found this space, I was smitten with the fact that it had an outdoor space and were only three blocks from the flower market. The space was in total shambles, and I had a hard time imagining it ever not being a total dump. Luckily, my husband is an architect, and he came up with a plan to make it as good as it could be while doing the bare minimum. We don’t own the building so a complete gut and remodel was out of the question. We covered the wood paneling up, painted, wallpapered, streamlined the doorways, pulled up the linoleum, painted the facade and planted a garden. Building a space from scratch that we can be creative in is the true dream. 

The garden is one of my favorite corners of the studio. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have that space. We love to have impromptu cocktail parties back there, and I’d love to do even more hosting in the future. It’s a special little secret garden, and I want to share it more often. 

What is your relationship with fashion like? How do you see fashion intersect with your craft?

I love fashion but sadly being a florist is not a glamorous job. Doing what I do is rough on clothes, and they often get stained easily, but I love to feel good in what I am wearing. My go-to for market days is a pair of white jeans. I think they look crisp and put together, and all I have to do is bleach them to get them sharp again. I buy them two at a time from Zara. What I really love is dressing up. I recently realized that my closet is filled with more formal clothes than anything else. If you asked me to a cocktail party every day this month I’d have a new outfit, but I can barely find something to wear on a daily basis. Other than white jeans, of course. 

LSG: What are requirements when it comes to an article of clothing? Do you have separate wardrobes for work and life, or are the two one and the same?

I have at least three wardrobes. I have my work clothes for studio and production days which are casual, durable, practical outfits (insert white jean look here). I have my weekday clothes for meetings and non-production days which include a lot of loose fitting clothes and always flat shoes (Freda’s on repeat). Then, I have my cocktail and dress up clothes which consist of pieces I have been collecting over the years. I swear I will always have a place to wear a backless orange jumpsuit! 

LSG: Five things for an inspired day. 
1. A good night’s sleep. I wake up before the sun rises most days. 
2. A matcha tea latte with cashew milk. Made at home.
3. A great flower market morning. Spring is my favorite season.
4. Good hair and red lips. 
5. Seeing someone who inspires me and having a moment of connection with them. 

LSG: Favorite public green space or garden?
The Berkeley Rose Garden. It reminds me of my childhood. 

LSG: What are you reading at the moment? 
A book called “The Presence Process.” I have been meditating consistently for over a year, and I am trying to deepen my practice. I’m also always reading Vogue, W and Bon Appétit - and the website Mystic Mama. 

LSG: Next vacation plan?
Palm Springs, Cuba, and Mexico City are on our Spring travel list. My husband says travel is my biggest indulgence, and he isn’t wrong. 

Natalie's top tips for at-home flower arranging!

(Check out the slideshow below!)

1. Find the right size vase for the flowers you have to arrange.
2. Clean your flowers. Remove the leaves below the vase line.
3. Give your stems a fresh cut at an angle.
4. Arrange with the idea that you are creating little moments within your design. Let your eye rest and move throughout your arrangement. 
5. Make sure your arrangement has enough water and refill it every few days.
6. As the flowers die, remove them, and enjoy the remaining blooms! 



Natasha Ghosn, Jewelry Designer, Mondo Mondo 

We are majorly saying GAH to Mondo Mondo, the eclectic, sculptural and surreal jewelry line of ethereally creative Natasha Ghosn. Mondo Mondo, meaning "world world" in Italian, is the perfect title for this otherworldly wearable art. Trained by local artisans in Mexico, Natasha has expanded on her foundation of traditional craftsmanship to grow her collection in continually unexpected ways. Today Lisa Says Gah chats with this dreamboat at her quaint cottage nestled in the fragrant citrus trees and giant cacti of Angeleno Heights. Natasha has honed her craft and built her business by staying committed to authenticity. Read on to find out how. Enjoy!

LSG: You live in our idea of heaven. Tell us about your studio space, neighborhood and home. 

Thank you, this is definitely the cutest place I've ever lived in. It's like a doll house! Right now my studio is the basement floor of a three-story back house I share with my boyfriend in Angeleno Heights. It's about 120 years old and all wood on the outside. We have a porch and a garden and a black cat named Maria. The whole experience reminds me of a Miyazaki movie. The neighborhood is changing a lot, and I wonder how long we will last here but, for now, I try to soak it in while the getting is good.

LSG: Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now? What initially drew you to jewelry design/making? 

I grew up in Houston, Texas. I went to art school in Chicago then moved to New York and worked at Bess NYC for many years during which we opened a location in West Hollywood where I relocated to run the shop. They were known for heavily studded punk clothes, but their jewelry was off the chain beyond genius.

When I was in New York, I tried taking some jewelry classes, but I was frustrated by the slow pace of the classes and became discouraged. A few years later I found a gem of a jewelry school in Mexico where my mom lives so I would go down there for extended stays and take classes every day. I learned the basics of metalsmithing and was able to set up a bench at home in LA where I taught myself the rest of the way. Once I got into working with wax things opened up for me. Before I made jewelry, I would make these really intensely detailed drawings, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that that skill translated well to wax carving.

LSG: What inspired you to branch out independently and pioneer your brand?

It's something I had always wanted to do but would talk myself out of. I felt like a misfit in the art world, but it was easy to write off fashion as a frivolous and unintellectual. I think once I stopped being self-deprecating about it I was able to find the mediums that spoke to me because my heart was fully open to it. I always wanted a little world that was mine to explore. Mondo Mondo means "world world" in Italian. There's a cinematic ring to it. Movies are like little worlds. 

Even though it's insanely hard work I'm so happy that I followed this path. I think we have entered a time where fashion is fascinating and free again. There's so much humor and poetry in it. I love it!

LSG: Your work is artful and daring while still being completely wearable. Who do you imagine wearing your designs? Do you have a muse(s) in mind? 

I really appreciate that you feel that way. At the end of the day, practicality is so important to me which is why I didn't pursue an artist career. I feel really comfortable in the design world and find its parameters to be liberating.

As far as muses, I think about Joni Mitchell and Terence Mckenna a lot. John Cassevettes, Joseph Campbell, Bette Davis, Dick Cavett, Fran Lebowitz, Richard Brautigan. None of them are necessarily fashion people, but I think a lot about their modes of working and their dedication to authenticity and style.

LSG: Can you describe the feelings you want a wearer to experience in your work? What do you wish your pieces to evoke?

That's hard to say, I think it's more of a dialogue between the customer and I. It's really enlightening when someone tells me how it makes them feel. 

LSG: How does your environment / community influence your art? 

I actually have to turn inside and put blinders on when I'm deep in design mode. I spend a lot of alone time and oscillate between consuming tons of imagery or looking at nothing, just drawing and messing around with casting wax. With the perfume same thing, just a lot of intense smelling.

LSG: Do you work alone? If not, tell us about your team.  

So far it's just me and my caster. Sometimes my boyfriend helps me when things get really backed up. This year I'm learning a lot about my work capacity and the importance of asking for help. I'm looking forward to growing my team in the near future and seeing what that could look like.

LSG: Materials obviously play a huge part in your line. Can you tell us about why you choose the ones you do? Silver, white bronze, mood stones...

Like I said I love practicality, so I'm always thinking about the weight of the piece, whether it would be comfortable to wear and affordable without skimping on quality. Shaina and I did the Phaedra earrings in white bronze because it doesn't weigh much and we wanted a silver tone without using plating. I love to incorporate color with synthetic glass stones and the acrylic mood stones. 

LSG: Starting a business and working for yourself is scary, a lot of people talk about it but never do it. What do you think holds people back?  

It's hard to say because it depends on what kind of business. For me, I was afraid of putting myself out there as the sole person responsible for the success or failure of my business. It's not cheap either; you need a lot of extra time to be creative and develop your ideas which means time not working at a job or getting paid.  It's easy to talk yourself out of something because you think too many other people are already doing it -which is probably true, but if you love something and can stick with it, space will open up for you.

LSG: Describe the first year of going independent. What was your mantra to get through hurdles?

I put a lot of energy into developing my ideas and growing my skills for jewelry and perfume making. A lot of quiet time and soul searching. I was totally focused on proving that I could support myself through my art.

LSG: As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company? 

I still feel pretty green about being a business owner, but I'd say don't take enormous risks but do take small risks and try to learn the rules before you decide to break them. Or don't. I think there's an art to knowing when to be conservative and when to put all your cards on the table. I believe that's called intuition. It's really personal for everyone! 

LSG: What are a few things you love that have nothing to do with making jewelry? 

Smelling perfume, making perfume, watching old movies, the idea of reading.






Model Call - Q&A with LSG Ambassador Emily Labowe

Emily Labowe is our lovely lady of the moment. Beautiful, interesting women like her are a big part of what helps LSG create artful imagery and show off the designs we curate for you. More than just a pretty face, today Emily has a quick chat with us about life in LA. Enjoy!

LSG: First thing on your mind when you wake up?


LSG: What are your favorite beauty products?

Cetaphil lotion? Does that count? And CK One perfume, oh and Jason Chamomile body wash. 

LSG: What’s your sign? Do you care about astrology?

Leo. I used to be obsessed with astrology, but not as much. But I do own the Astrotwins book...

LSG: Five things for an exciting day?  

Sushi, Disneyland, massage, mint chip ice cream, air hockey. 

LSG: What’s typical night out like for you?

Staying at home. 

LSG: Describe your ideal vacation?

Thailand, young coconuts, pad thai. 

LSG: Favorite supermodel?


LSG: Guilty pleasure?

GUY FIERI and sour candy.

LSG: What superpower would you choose?


LSG: What do you do when not hanging out with LSG?

I go to school and study social anthropology and film. I also work as an intern at the  Sundance International Feature Film Program and was recently signed with M Model Management! 


LSG: Time for a “Lady brag” - describe a proud moment.

I played tambourine on stage at a show with my boyfriend's band. This was a big moment. 

LSG: What should we do while in LA?  

Go on a hike at Runyan Canyon and then grab coffee at Dinosaur in Silver Lake. Then go shopping at Mohawk General. For lunch, step in Blossom next door for a big bowl of chicken pho and fresh Vietnamese summer rolls. I would say check out Amoeba Records but you already have one in SF so instead, go to LACMA and check out the Rain Room. Start the evening rollerskating at Moonlight Rollerway and eat a bunch of sour straws, then get drinks at Bar Stella (get the "Sophia"), and then go across town to Gjelina in Venice for a late night dinner. Finally, go to Humphreys for frozen yogurt, it's a valley monument and its amazing. You'll be in a food coma by now so go to sleep. 

LSG: Embarrassing moment?

Yesterday. I saw someone I thought I knew at a bar coming towards me and I reached my arms out for a big hug. When he got closer, I realized he was looking at me really weird and was actually going to say hello to the person behind me. But it was too late to back out, so I went for it anyways and gave him a hug -  he didn't say anything he just stood there really awkwardly, and I ran away. 

LSG: Current music mood?

Courtney Barnett, Beach House, Ty Segall, Christopher Owens, Bleached, Mac Demarco, No Parents 

LSG: First fashion memory?

The first day of school in first grade. I spilled ketchup all over my new dress, and I was so depressed I pretended I was sick so I could go home early. 

LSG: What is your personal style most influenced by?

Lately my boyfriend. I live in all of his sweaters and old tees, even his trousers, I love how they fit. Also, 90s Liv Tyler and Mazzy Star. 

LSG: What do you like about the LSG outfits you are wearing?

I love everything! Especially the Caron Callahan pantsuit and the MiH white pants. The high waist is so flattering, and the wide leg is super airy and comfortable! 





Rachel Jones, Industry of One & Jonesy

Rachel Jones is one of those people doing a million cool things and doing them all really well. As one-half of the husband and wife duo behind lifestyle periodical, Industry of One, Rachel brings you the low-down on many an inspiring individual. And as the owner and designer of her somewhat eponymous underwear line, Jonesy, she literally has your ass covered - in soft stretch jersey that is. We don't know about you, but if you're anything like us, undies and info are crucial, making Rachel an instant favorite. So when the LSG team was last in New York, we took a moment to catch up with this gem in her eclectic Fort Greene home. Read on and find out what Rachel has to say about fostering curiosity, the reality of entrepreneurship and the best spots in Brooklyn for shameless Instagramming. Enjoy!


LSG: Hi, Rachel! Thanks for having us over. Tell us about the area. What went into creating such a cool and unique space?

I have lived in Brooklyn for nearly six years, and made the move to Fort Greene from Bushwick two years ago after getting married. I like to joke that I now live in the ‘burbs of Brooklyn given the number of toddlers and dogs you encounter, but it is truly a beautiful neighborhood that is diverse and rich with culture. My church, majority of friends and favorite restaurants all fall within a stretch of a couple blocks and avenues, so I love nothing more than to stay put within our square mile of Brooklyn, much to my husband’s chagrin. It’s definitely less scene-y of a neighborhood, but if you have a memory for supporting character actors in critically acclaimed dramas, this is your place to run into them!   

My husband has always had more of an eye for design (something that took me some getting used to!), so when we moved into together, he provided most of the key pieces (many which he’d purchased from our local flea market). Other items have been sourced from Etsy, or JOINERY, an amazing home goods store located in South Williamsburg that recently shuttered its retail storefront. I am more prone to spontaneous home improvement projects, so I’ve been responsible for things like painting our kitchell wall, fireplace, and bathtub. Recently, I’ve been falling in love with items from Schoolhouse Electric (where we bought our living room mirror from) and the In Bed store. Linen sheets are on my birthday wish list!

LSG: Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now?

I have a non-design background, so my trajectory has been interesting to say the least! In 2011 my now husband and I launched a lifestyle blog called Industry of One. Via that project we profiled entrepreneurial makers and creatives across the US. Adam did all of the photography and I handled the interviews and writing. We were looking to connect and learn from people we admired online, but I don’t think I realized what an education the experience was until I got the bug to do something of my own a couple years later. After watching talented, but relatively normal people launch projects and companies of their own, I had a grasp of what was required, at least at the most basic levels. Then, rather serendipitously, I had the idea for JONESY in early 2014 and from there, started researching, networking, and working with a local production partner to create prototypes.

My career background is traditionally in advertising and tech, so I’ve always felt more comfortable on the digital front. Clothing production is extremely manual and laborious, so there has been a huge learning curve in marrying those two worlds together.

LSG: Tell us more about Industry Of One. How did that start and what’s the story behind the title?

Adam originally came up with the concept and title. The idea being, of course, that many artists and creatives are essentially companies of one person. Put that way, entrepreneurship can sound like a rather lonely endeavor, but I think it’s also a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness that one person can contain. Now, as a founder of a company that consists of one and half people, the concept feels all the more relevant to me.

I’m not a very gushy person, especially when it comes to talking about my primary relationship (my husband) online, but I am extremely grateful that I began dating Adam at that time. Up until that point, my early 20s were primarily about having fun and enjoying life, not bad things necessarily, but collaborating on that project with Adam gave me an ambition I didn’t know I had. Or maybe it just exposed it to me.

LSG: What took you from running a online publication to designing underwear? How do the two crafts intersect?

Both require a shameless amount of curiosity! Interviewing people is very much about having the gumption to ask personal and thought-provoking questions. And, I think, it’s also about trying to understand someone else’s world. As a newcomer to the design/production world, the best resource I have is the ability to ask questions. It can be embarrassing to not know the correct word for something, but, at the end of the day, I need to understand the process and my product better than anyone else. I can’t blindly rely on my production partners to show me the way.

Pitching articles to online magazines also forced me to put myself out there. Building a brand online requires a variety of collaborators, whether they’re photographers, or bloggers, or retail partners. Being able to create a compelling story around something and figuring out how to partner with people (because you can’t wait to be “discovered”) is a huge part of what I try to do.

LSG: Jonesy is so simple and streamlined. One design, two colors. Are you planning to expand the line to stick to your minimalist approach?

Yep! Samples are underway for a new style of undie and bralette. I’m hoping to roll out very soon, which I’m super excited and impatient about.

Given that JONESY is funded completely by my husband and I, my approach has had to be very deliberate and intentional. It feels excruciatingly slow at times, but this strategy has forced me to focus on testing my products and proving that I have a customer base before launching a full scale line.

LSG: Who do you envision wearing Jonesy, do you have muse/lifestyle in mind?

I have no specific muse; for me, it’s more about creating something that is effortless and not overly sexed up or artificial, which in the end seems less sensual to me. New York City, like a lot of other US cities, exposes you to a huge hub of cool, interesting women who are pursuing their careers and figuring out their talents. Discovery, whether it’s style or career or relationship-related, is much more alluring to me and being able to to create a product that integrates with that journey of self-discovery is the ultimate goal.

LSG: Starting a business and working for yourself is scary, a lot of people talk about going independent but never do. What do you think holds people back?  

This might be overly cynical of an answer, but I think, that largely, it’s a money issue. Entrepreneurship, at least for most people, comes down to having access to money and financial stability, at some level. And that’s definitely a luxury that a lot of people can’t afford! That being said, it’s not just about having access to a pot of gold. Most designers and makers that I know hold second jobs, or occasionally freelance. It’s a matter of cobbling together streams of income, but, yes, you do need a financial buffer to set out on your own.

Entrepreneurship is also a journey of taking risks over and over again. Some people start a business and “make it,” but for many, it’s a matter of doing something, learning and maybe failing, and then trying something else.

LSG: As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

Start asking questions… especially tough questions! Start collaborating on small projects with friends. Confidence is a muscle that needs to be practiced.

LSG: Do you get downtime?! What does your ideal day off consist of?

Weekend days are my favorite. Our park has off leash hours, so I’ll meander over with watermelon juice and an almond croissant sometime before 9AM to join my dog owner friends. Then, it’s a day of walking around Brooklyn, visiting my favorite stores (Primary Essentials on Atlantic is one of them), maybe walking down to the waterfront, and sipping things here and there. A perfect evening for me includes a movie, my couch, and, more likely than not, a big glass of wine. Oh to be in your late 20s :).

What should we check out while in New York City!??!

The Sisters restaurant in Fort Greene is amazing, and total Instagram bait ;). St. Mazie, a bar in South Williamsburg, is also a beaut. And lastly, you can never go wrong with Nitehawk, an independent theatre, that serves cocktails and food during screenings. It combines three of my favorite things: fancy sandwiches, cocktails, and being lazy.


Check Out Industry of One & Jonsey




Ari Bird, Artist

Ari Bird likes to arrange things. Like most aesthetically orientated people, we understand this impulse, the drive to move things around until they're just right, but Ari has it down to a literal art form. From tiny packages to huge assemblages, her work invites interaction - unwrap, open, touch, unravel, attempt to reassemble or abandon. Though varied mediums, Ari urges us to consider the lifecycle of human relationships and the vast areas in between intimacy and withholding - the close and the concealed. Regardless of your art degree status, Ari has some great advice for anyone pursuing a life of authenticity and fulfillment. Read on to see what she has to say about the importance of getting lost in your work, choosing your community wisely and how feminism might just heal the world. Enjoy! 

Hey, Ari! We love your work! It is so corporeal and thought-provoking. Let's jump right in. When did you know a career in the art world was for you?
Ever since I was a kid, my main way of connecting with others has been through art. And it's clear how satisfied I am when making art is the primary force in my life - so now I’m cursed to prioritize art above everything else so that it CAN be my career! It’s also a personal necessity - not to sound clichéd.

What kind of feelings do you want people to explore when interacting with your art? 
Ultimately I want people to feel safe and comfortable. I want others to feel understood. In a culture that is inherently isolating, I believe it can be radical to encourage connection and understanding through art. I think artists can do that by making themselves vulnerable and letting go of ego. Maybe it’s idealistic to believe that artists can have that sort of impact on culture, but it keeps us going! 

Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? 

Because inspiration is all around us and input is everywhere, it’s crucial to curate that inspiration to minimize, organize, reduce or filter certain things out to make a digestible narrative or environment. I have strong impulses to alter objects, shapes, or conversations until they feel balanced and ‘in place’ to me. So in many ways, it's intuitive. 

Tell us about the mediums you choose to work with and why?
I work with lots of paper, paint, pencil, and ink. My paper collection includes all types: Vintage Time magazines, handmade Japanese paper, 80's printer paper, old maps, etc. I also enjoy incorporating mass produced objects that I’m inherently drawn to. Recent examples include a plastic hotdog keychain from the dollar store, rope from the hardware store, and white wire grid panel. Usually, I am drawn to using objects and materials for distinct reasons - because of the texture or the way it feels or its history or the way it interacts with objects around it.

Can you speak to your work's use of scale? 
Currently, I work incredibly small (like little pieces of art in tiny baggies), or I do huge works on paper. I like working in both extremes because a goal is to draw the viewer in, to encourage them to take time to process different layers and content, and to bond with it emotionally.
How do you feel about the label "Woman Artist?" Are there "Male Artists?"
Though I’ve been minimally exposed to the 'real art world' (whatever that is), I think it’s commonly understood that the 'art world' is fairly fixated on the false idea that it’s okay to continue under-representing minorities - as it has done historically. Especially in relationship to commerce and visibility- and sadly both these components directly impact an artist’s ability to continue producing. To bring it back to the question, I think it's rare to hear the phrase 'male artist' because it's...kind of assumed. 'Woman artist' is a more often heard phrase because we continue to be a rarity. That being said, there are many friends in the arts who respect all people, and I think it's my responsibility to surround myself with the type of artists I want to be around. 
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Is gender a part of your work? 
I am a feminist! Gender and identity are inherently part of my work, as a person who has experienced ‘otherness’. Ultimately, feminism for me is about challenging and eliminating confining gender expectations. These are restraining to our culture as a whole, and there are just as many boys and men who suffer from these outdated expectations. I also believe that if a society embraces gender inequality, it will most likely continue to accept all forms of oppression - such as racism, homophobia, and classism. Because all these forms of systematic oppression are linked, it’s vital to be a feminist.
Embracing the inherent "femaleness" of my lived experience is also a part of feminism for me. I don't need to be less female to stand for equality. I don’t think there is anything wrong with portraying my narrative by using pastel colors, Lisa Frank stickers and other objects associated with craft since those are all materials I’ve grown up with. 
What is your relationship with fashion like? 
Shopping at thrift stores for the perfect weird specific outfit/altering clothes might have been my first form of rebellion. Fashion was closely linked to the music subcultures that gave me defining experiences/identity as a teenager.
What are requirements when it come to an article of clothing? Do you have separate wardrobes for work and life?
I most respect an article of clothing when it’s made out of natural, high-quality material and when it has an excellent, proper fit. Right now, I like having a smaller wardrobe that I don’t have to think about. I wear all my fancy skirts/dresses to the studio when I want, and don’t really care. I figure “What’s wrong with feeling fancy and making art?”.


What brought you to The Bay Area?

I grew up in San Diego, studied art at UC Santa Cruz, and then moved to San Francisco after school. Now, I live and make work in Oakland. 

How do you feel about the art world here? 
I love my friends in the Bay Area art community. I have a solid crew of friends who have an impressive work ethic, kind/interesting personalities, and who are producing inspiring work. Having a community of artists who I trust and want to collaborate with is vital! I feel so in love, still, with the Bay Area. Both with San Francisco and Oakland. There continue to be rad inspirations - buildings, people, spaces, creative projects - all around, even after five years of living here.

What do you have to say to those working in creative fields?

I also think devoting time to process is key. Go to the studio and make art regardless if you don’t feel productive or if you’re feeling shitty. Practice the drawing or the process or the mark-making until you feel satisfied. Let yourself get lost - that's a vital part. The studio is my safe space; It’s the place I get to process, create worlds, and make a mess and then clean it up. Make sure your creative space is so comfortable, safe, and uplifting that you quickly forget about the hours you spend there.

If it’s your passion, you will inherently put it first. And that will overcome any obstacles that emerge. Maybe alter your perspective so that you don’t see ‘obstacles’ but… more like challenges that you get to navigate through creatively. Wait, one more - failure doesn’t exist at all. It’s always an experience to learn from. (Can you tell these are things I have to remind myself every day??) 
When you're not in the studio?

I really enjoy hiking around in nature alone. I love southern California - Chaparral woodlands, little beaches off the 101, or the Santa Cruz redwoods. Places you can imagine there isn’t anyone around for miles - even though none of California is actually like that!

See more of Ari's work HERE



Lindsey Mortensen, Designer, Larsen & Lund

Lindsey Mortensen has a dreamy company story when it comes to one of the most important aspects of starting a business - funding! And not the kind that involves mountains of debt. Her leather goods company, Larsen & Lund, got its start in 2013 when Lindsey ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and received more than double her initial funding goal! We love the fact that Lindsay represents equal parts business savvy and creative force - so we asked her a to share some secrets of success with you! Read on to find out what she has to say about learning to love a challenge, accepting the imperfect, and facing those pesky new business nerves. Enjoy! 

Hi, Lindsey! Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now?

I feel like my path has always pointed in the same general direction, but it’s definitely been a bit windy. When I was young, I was really into art and fashion and ended up going to art school and majoring in Fibers. It was a textile program that was under the umbrella of the Sculpture department. That experience really created a foundation for me to think sculpturally and see value and meaning in material choices.

Can you tell us about getting up-and-running with the aid of Kickstarter? Would you recommend this approach?

Launching with Kickstarter was great, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in starting a business! The video component is really important (if not the most important thing) with Kickstarter. I had a lot of help creating mine. A close friend, who is a talented film director here in LA (and had already shot videos for other successful Kickstarter campaigns) really went the extra mile to help me out. It was because of my Kickstarter that I was able to do two production runs without having to front all of the cost myself.

Starting a business is scary, and a lot of people talk about starting one but never do. Where did you find the confidence and drive to take the plunge? 

I won’t lie. When I started my business, I was terrified. I’m very much an introvert, and when you start a business, you become so exposed and vulnerable to the outside world. You open yourself up to judgment and criticism. It can also be overwhelming because you quickly realize how many hats you have to wear. You have to be ready to learn a lot of new skills (quickly!) most of which are totally foreign! It took a little time, but I found myself loving the challenge of having to get outside my comfort zone and put my product (and myself) out there. I decided to take the plunge after being creatively unfulfilled at a day job and feeling compelled to express an aesthetic and vision that had been bottled up for too long.

As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

The beginning is the hardest, so just start. Even if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Once you’ve created a little momentum, it gets easier.

How do you envision the lifestyle of your brand?

I got my start in fashion in New York, and I will always be pulled in by the sense of elevated and sophisticated fashion in that people in that city have. But I left NY and have been living in Los Angeles for the past seven years and have never lived anywhere longer. Maybe it was inevitable, but I feel pulled in by the relaxed, laid-back sensibility that LA has. I think Larsen & Lund is a reflection of that hybrid of New York’s sophisticated fashion sensibility and LA’s effortless one.

Tell us about the process of designing a collection. Where do you start?

Almost all our new developments start with the material! I think the most successful and beautiful products are those that are the perfect balance between shape and texture.  My design process starts with a need. I think about what products are lacking in my life, that would make life easier or more efficient. I usually already have a material in mind, and then start sketching out ideas. Once I have a clear idea of a silhouette, I then move onto having a prototype made. It usually takes about three samples until I can get it right.

What is "Wabi-Sabi" and how is it presented in your brand ethos?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is “a philosophy of aesthetics that emphasizes the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” I decided from the company’s beginning that by using a natural product like leather as my primary material, that I was going to accept a certain level of imperfection in the material as being part of its intrinsic beauty. There is a uniqueness to a flaw or imperfection that can be beautiful. I try and embrace that. 

Often the fashion industry is dubbed as superficial by outsiders, but SO many intelligent young women are actively pursuing careers in fashion-related fields. Why do you think fashion holds such a captive audience of thoughtful young women?

I think it’s because those women (myself included) don’t see fashion as superficial but simply as a piece of a larger aesthetic puzzle. There has also been a growing trend of transparency and social-consciousness that women are responding to. Fashion has become a component of an expression of a unique lifestyle that can be a reflection what we value. 

Where do you source inspiration and how do you organize it?

I went to art school, and I try and stay in touch with that world as much as possible. So much of my inspiration comes from either art that I love or artists that I’ve recently discovered. But most recently I’ve been really inspired by ceramics. I started taking classes over the summer (a late start to a Xmas present!) and have had fun exploring and researching shapes, glazes, and clay types. I’m excited how my classes are going to inform the new pieces I’m working on!





Sara Combs, Artist, DesignComb

Welcome to the dreamy town and country life of artist Sara Combs. Sara was kind enough to let us hang out in her S.F. residence, and we couldn't help but fall in love with this lady's eclectic pad resplendent with cacti and the kind of flea market finds one can only dream of (Hello, Matisse?!?!). And just wait till you check out The Joshua Tree House that Sara and her husband recently whipped into shape - weekender's HEAVEN. From playful watercolors to intuitive design, it seems like everything that Sara touches turns to aesthetic gold, so today we try and discover the secret behind this babe's fountain of creativity. Read on!


Hey, Sarah! Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now? Tell us about your first steps in California?

After graduating from art school (Maryland Institute College of Art), I had an urge to move to California even though I’d never been before. As luck would have it, my boyfriend (now husband) got a job in San Francisco before we even made the move. That job made the decision of which city to live in easy, and we spent the next week driving cross country with our two cats in the back seat.

My very first steps in California were on Mission and 6th as we pulled off to the side of the road to unpack our new apartment (a Craigslist find). A homeless man welcomed us by yelling ‘You don’t belong here!’ as we turned the key to our new ground level apartment. Though a bit of a rough start, I’m so happy to call California home seven years later.

You’re a little bit of a black sheep in your family. When did you know a career in the art world was for you?

I honestly didn’t even know that art was a career option until high school. I had an amazing art teacher who got me excited about all of the possibilities. I remember it clicking in my mind that everything around us is designed… every product, every sign, even every experience. I quit playing volleyball my sophomore year of high school so that I could come home earlier to paint. I was incredibly lucky that my non-artist parents supported that direction, and even encouraged art school.

What is your mission with DesignComb? How did it get started and where do you see it going?

When I moved to San Francisco, I started a jewelry line called Gold & Citrus. I wanted to inspire people and show them how the jewelry could be styled, so I started a blog that was originally called StyleComb. That evolved over time as my focus became more and more about design… I wanted a place to share designers that inspired me, and to share some of my design work as well. DesignComb has now evolved even further since I left my full-time UI/UX job to create a design studio with my husband, Rich. We now design both web and app experiences for start-ups and mid-sized companies who are looking to create new products or rethink existing experiences.

This year, we’ve started thinking about what other mediums we could use to create experiences. With a strong urge to take a step away from our computers, we’ve also started an Airbnb business. We took a majority of last Summer to buy and renovate a Joshua Tree home. We thought of the experience in the same terms we use to design apps. When we got the house, it had been previously rented as an Airbnb. There were little post-it notes all around the house saying 'don't touch this switch' or notes like 'this doesn't work' on the ice maker. We made it our goal to remove all of the post-its by solving the problems that existed rather than informing everyone about them. I think design should be quiet in that way.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

One thing I love about freelance life is that I’m always working on a variety of projects at once. Lately, my time has been split between communicating with and designing for UI/UX clients, working on pattern and illustration work and planning for future product lines, and managing our Joshua Tree Airbnb.

Since I don’t have a dedicated studio space right now, I spend a lot of time at coffee shops. I love the change of scenery, and feeding off of the creative energy at places like Saint Frank in Russian Hill.

Tell us about the mediums you choose to work with and why? What was your process when creating the “Gah!” images for us?

I’ve realized that I love creating experiences, and I use a lot of different mediums to do so. This can make it difficult to explain to people exactly what I do though, ha!

Some of the experiences I design are digital… for example, a client may need me to design the best online shopping experience. For UI/UX work, I use Sketch, which is an awesome program for this type of design.

An experience I created for Lisa Says Gah was about opening a special gift with a Lisa Says Gah item inside. For that experience, I illustrated a wrapping paper patterned with little ladies wearing LSG items. I painted this using watercolor for a loose, playful effect.

Another medium I’ve used recently to create an experience is Interior design. I’ve always been interested in how our surroundings can affect our mood, and this year my husband and I bought a house in Joshua Tree. We’ve since renovated and designed it to be what we think of as the perfect desert retreat.

Can you speak to your relationship with creative struggle?

For me, a huge struggle is staying focused. Though I’m always working on many projects at once, I’ve been teaching myself and making a point of focusing on one task at a time. It’s so easy for me to get distracted… so often I start a project and find myself working on another one an hour later with both projects only partially complete. I’m a master of starting, but not of finishing. It takes a lot for me to wrap up those final details, and learning how to focus has been key for me.

I also think it’s incredibly important to allow yourself space from projects. Sometimes if I hit a creative block or road bump, taking a walk and getting away from it for a while is the best thing. In the moment, it feels counter intuitive… like I’m extending the process. But creativity does need time and space to breathe.

What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields? What does it mean (for you) to combine art and work?

I think it takes a blend of emotional and non-emotional decisions to combine art and work. By that, I mean that there should be quite a bit of emotion in what you do. You should have a passion for it, and a need to create this kind of work. But, I’ve learned that it’s also important to inject some non-emotional decisions in order to make it a business. Most of the decisions I’m talking about are the ones involving money. After all, that’s what makes it a business, right? Once you decide what your rates are, the only thing to be negotiated is your scope of work.

Tell us about your home in SF. Is there a story behind all the STUNNING original artwork gracing the walls?

Yes! The Alameda flea market is one of our favorite places to go. Probably half the things in our apartment are from there, and almost all of the artwork. For a while, the Sunday flea market was one of my favorite dates with my husband. We had one specific vendor who was a favorite… He had met Matisse at three years old and had a wealth of art history knowledge. We would visit him at the flea market once a month both for stories and, of course, to buy some drawings and paintings from him. Eventually, our collection grew… and our apartment did not. So now our walls are covered!

Joshua Tree House! Tell us all about it! What sparked the idea and how did you make it happen? How do you envision it evolving?

It began with a month long cross county road trip. We got in a routine of driving a few hours each morning and spending the rest of the day hiking a National Park along the route.

This was our first time to Joshua Tree, and it felt different than all the rest of our stops. Something about this place pulled us in and stayed in our thoughts. We found that real estate there was quite affordable, and exactly one year later we found ourselves looking to buy a home in Joshua Tree. As soon as we stepped foot onto the property of the Joshua Tree House we knew it was special, and the perfect place to share with others who needed a place to reset, reflect, and create. We bought it directly from the owner (a Craigslist find - again!), and spent the Summer painting, renovating, and furnishing the space.

We’ve now been renting it out on Airbnb for about two months, and it has been so incredible to share our house with photographers, painters, musicians, designers… and the list goes on! We’re quickly finding that this home is going to be much more than a vacation rental, and we already have some exciting plans for the space for next year.

Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it?

Different cities and towns offer me a lot of inspiration. I find that having a fresh perspective of a place definitely helps with this. Going somewhere new is incredibly inspiring… I find myself noticing small details in the architecture, the landscape, people’s personal style, etc., and that all somehow finds its way into my work. After living in San Francisco for years, I left for the majority of last year to experience living in Brooklyn and travel Southeast Asia. When I came back after all that time, I had a whole new appreciation for the city’s aesthetic and found myself snapping photos at every corner. I especially love San Francisco’s color palette, and I actually created a whole series of patterns inspired by San Francisco earlier this year.

I wouldn’t say that my inspiration is especially organized, but I do refer to photos on my phone quite often, including screenshots I’ve taken of artist’s Instagrams that I find inspiring. Of course, Pinterest is also a great place for organizing inspiration.

What is your relationship with fashion like? How do you see fashion intersect with art?

My favorite kind of design has always been functional. I believe in function over form, but with fashion I expect both. I’m not interested in suffering for fashion, but I also won’t let myself go near certain items (like Crocs). I don’t even want to know how comfortable they are!

I love that fashion can influence your mood, like any good piece of art. There is so much to experience with fashion… how a piece of fabric feels against your skin, or the way it moves with you. I also love the way my purse sounds when it clicks shut. It’s those details that bring joy to mundane everyday activities. Simply opening and closing my bag is an enjoyable part of the day. Who would’ve thought?!

What are requirements when it comes to an article of clothing? Do you have separate wardrobes for work and life, or are the two one and the same?

My wardrobe is all one and the same, but it has certainly changed since I’ve been contracting full-time. Now that I spend most of my time either working at home or in coffee shops, it’s become much more casual than when I was going into the office every day. I love a piece of clothing that can keep me either warm or cool depending on the season, be styled multiple ways, and feel right for my body.

We know that an artist's work is never done but when you take breaks, where might one find you on a sunny day off?!

When we’re in San Francisco, one of my favorite day trips out of the city is to Sonoma. I don’t have a bad memory there… just sunny days and a bit of day drinking. ;) If it weren’t already obvious, I also love Joshua Tree, and the National Park is another favorite place of mine to explore.


Is there anything special in your studio/home neighborhood that we should check out? How about in Joshua Tree?

I live in the Marina in San Francisco, and have found that more and more interesting things are happening at Fort Mason. They host Off the Grid every Friday through the warmer months which is where a lot of our local food trucks park in the same area to make an event out of the evening. They also recently hosted West Coast Craft. In general, I feel like that area has had a lot of gallery shows recently and seems to be supporting the art community which is pretty cool! I also love Causwells which is a great little restaurant with the most delicious lavosh and house ricotta. I like to pair it with their Viogner - my current wine obsession.

My list of Joshua Tree recommendations could get pretty long, but some of the highlights are brunch at la Copine, hiking Joshua Tree National Park, concerts at Pappy & Harriet's, getting a sound bath at the Integratron, walking through the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum, and drooling over the beautiful goods at BKB Ceramics.




Claire Knebl, Managing Editor, Glossier

As you more than likely know, Glossier is the glow-getting, ultra-straightforward product line born from Into The Gloss. One of those companies with a major cool girl (and boy) vibe, Glossier knows that a brand is only as good as its ambassadors and is definitely set in that department. Case in point - Managing Editor, Claire Knebl. This babe is worthy of some serious career envy, so we thought we'd take you inside the NYC "Gloffice" for a peek into her work routine and some insight on just how important those college internships can turn out to be. Enjoy!

LSG: Tell us about your role at Glossier. How did you land this job? What do you love about it?

I joined the team during the summer of 2014, right before Glossier launched. I'd been a longtime Into The Gloss reader and knew that products were in the works, which was really exciting to me. We're a beauty brand that's rooted in journalism and storytelling, which is where my role comes into play. I'm the Managing Editor at Glossier—I handle editorial operations, work on content strategy, and work on initiatives to bring ITG and Glossier closer together in meaningful ways. The convergence of content and commerce can be tricky to get right, but it's a challenge that I enjoy.

LSG: Describe your typical workday.

When I get into the office, I look over analytics from the night before and check in on all the stories we've published that morning to see how our readers are engaging with them. I take tabs on where we're at as a team workflow-wise and handle anything else that's come up. Then we have an editorial team meeting, which is a nice way to kick off the day. After that, I usually have more meetings with the edit team or with other departments—working cross-functionally is really important to our goals company-wide. I like to get outside as much as I can too so I'm always into coffee meetings when time allows. There was a time a few months back that I was at Maman, near our office, a ridiculous number of times in one week. I think it was 11 times. Anyway, in the afternoon, I try to work on slightly bigger projects, update our content calendar, or write. I keep track of my to-do list using

LSG: At age six what did you see yourself doing career-wise?

I'm not sure about age six, in particular, but until I was 10 years old, I split my time thinking that it would be really cool to be either a marine biologist or an orthodontist.

LSG: Where did you go to college? What skills from college do you use the most at work? How important do you believe higher education to be?

I studied Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU - where I concentrated on the business side of media—something that is applicable to my job every day. I also took a lot of journalism and writing courses—the habits I picked up in those classes are really valuable, both in terms of writing for the site but also when it comes to approaching communication clearly. Beyond coursework, I started interning in Teen Vogue's Fashion News department during my freshman year, which was invaluable to kicking off my career. I also interned in other departments at Teen Vogue and spent time at Vogue and T at The New York Times. Receiving training and education in whatever industry you're interested in is important—some accomplish that through school, for some it's interning or working, and for me it was a mix of the two. For others, it might be starting your own thing—figure out how you learn and also what you need to learn, and take it from there.

LSG: Sometimes people land their dream positions then burnout or plateau. How important is growth and change after you get your foot in the door? How do you keep it fresh and stay inspired?

Luckily the nature of working at a startup is that something new is always happening, so it's pretty easy to stay inspired—there's always a new challenge to address. Also take time for yourself and go on vacation or staycation once in awhile.

LSG: How do you separate work and life? Do you consider yourself a workaholic? How do you unwind?

I'm someone who has always liked to work and I've been lucky to hold jobs that I care about deeply. That being said, my free time is limited, which makes me really value it - it's usually pretty easyfor me to unwind; it happens pretty automatically. I try to schedule weeknight plans pretty regularly—that helps me make it out of the office at a reasonable hour and prioritize having fun IRL.

LSG: Describe your personal style. What is it most influenced by?

I like pretty straightforward things without a lot of pattern. I pay attention to what's trending or whatnot and will try anything but tend to stick to whatever is most flattering on me. I'm not a huge inspo person—I don't have a folder filled with screenshots of style I find inspiring or anything like that, but my background in fashion exposed me to lots of different style points of view and helped me develop my own early.

LSG: Did your style change when you got this job? How so?

Not particularly! If anything, I can dress more casually now, and there are definitely times I wear my Glossier gray sweatshirt and black jeans and call it a day, but for the most part, I wear a lot of skirts, sweaters, simple dresses, leather jackets, etc. I love my Acne boots and that they can be casual or dressy if they need to be. I don't like shoes that are too high, but I like a little heel.

LSG: Best perk or opportunity you’ve come across in your career (so far!)? 

I love traveling so any time I get to do that as part of my job is exciting. When I worked at Teen Vogue, they sent me to to Hawaii for a few days for the Pipe Masters, which was really fun. Bumping into celebrities is part of the job and part of living in New York, too. One time I was supposed to interview Diddy (I love him!) and ended up not being able to go, which was a bummer. Overall, I’m most inspired by the people I work with and by the results we’re able to produce together.

LSG: Any advice for aspiring writers and creatives looking to get into the fashion business? What is the most important first step?

The first step is always hustling. The second step is usually also hustling. And by hustling I mean working hard, forming a point of view, doing your own thing to stand out, putting yourself out there, making connections, and being respectful. Take calculated risks.

What should we check out while in New York?!!?

In New York, you should hang out, sleep in, drink good coffee, go to the Whitney, go out to eat a lot. There are plenty of good places. I like Frankies 570 always and The Farm On Adderley, which is in my new neighborhood, lately. Alternatively go to Battery Harris if it's nice and sit outside with frozen dark and stormies. Go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden too. If you're into shopping, and I'm guessing you are, try Totokaelo's new store. Get a manicure at Tenoverten.

   GLOSSIER               @CLAIREKNEBL             INTO THE GLOSS




Nicole Kliest, Style Director, Who What Wear

Looking for your next career crush? Well, here she is. Meet Nicole Kliest. Nicole is not only the ultra-profesh style director of Who What Wear (that massively successful online style platform you've surely heard of), she is also a warm, hilarious, and knowledgeable person more than willing to give you a few tips on working in the world of digital media. Today Lisa Says Gah takes you to Nicole's sunny West Village stoop for a career chat covering the importance of reaching out to professionals you admire, taking the time to excel once you have a foot in the door, and the power of a glass of wine... or two! 


LSG: Tell us about Who What Wear. How did you land this job? What do you love about it?

Who What Wear is a digital platform for individuals who love fashion to go see and read about inspiring trends, people, and clothes. And to shop! I got the job because of a connection I made while I was interning. I was interviewing on a red carpet, and I made friends with the girl next to me. She happened to be an intern at Who What Wear and we exchanged information. When I saw a job listing at the company for a photo editor position, I reached out to her with my resume and cover letter and she passed it along to my now employers. A little over five years later, I’m still with Who What Wear and am now the style director! My favorite aspect of the job is that I’ve been able to wear so many hats, which is something that usually comes with working at a startup company.

LSG: Describe your typical work day.

A typical work day for me begins with sorting through emails and prioritizing tasks at hand. In addition to my responsibilities as a style director, I also post around 20 pieces of content on the site weekly so figuring out how to balance that with broader projects is important. There are a lot of nooks and crannies in my job so thankfully every day is different!

LSG: At age six what did you see yourself doing career-wise?

I used to make family newsletters on Word where I’d report on the latest happenings in our household. I was homeschooled so I had a lot to cover! My sister’s latest grounding, what was for dinner, those types of important things. I think I always wanted to be a journalist in some capacity.

LSG: Where did you go to college? What skills from college do you use the most at work? How important do you believe higher education to be?

I went to Pepperdine University for journalism and creative writing. I access the skills I learned during those four years all of the time. Having that structure helped me mold my interpersonal and professional skills and helped me to stay accountable for my education. However, I think that choice is a personal one. My father didn’t go to college and has been an incredibly successful firefighter for the last 35+ years. I think it depends on your personality and what you want to get out of it.

LSG: Sometimes people land their dream positions then burnout or plateau. How important is growth and change after you get your foot in the door? How do you keep it fresh and stay inspired?

I’ve actually never been the type of person that has a dream job in mind. I care most about making sure I never stop learning and traveling (even if it’s an hour away!). The more you see the better you’ll be at your job because you can draw from a more global perspective—that’s how I keep myself inspired. That being said, I am grateful for the growth I’ve had in my company and I feel pretty fortunate for the things I get to see and do with my current role.

LSG: You have had a few titles at Who What Wear. How long do you think it is productive to stay under one title? Any tips for climbing the proverbial ladder?                      

I was a photo editor for a little over three years, but during that time I began to work in areas that extended beyond the traditional role of photo so I eventually became a senior editor. After a couple of years with that title, I was promoted to style director. I think it’s important to spend time honing in on your position and really mastering it. If you’re only concerned with climbing up the ladder you may miss important steps that are necessary to make the next job successful.

LSG: Do you feel like women's roles in the workplace are still a topic to discuss or is that an issue of the past?

It’s certainly an issue of the present. I think my situation is unique because I work in a female-driven environment, but that doesn’t take away from the issues of inequality that women deal with like compensation, high-profile positions, maternity discrimination, and other similar topics.

LSG: Best perk or opportunity you’ve come across in your career (so far!)? Have you met your "career crush," had an amazing mentor, bumped into a favorite celebrity, gotten killer swag...?

Travel! I can’t begin to describe how grateful and happy I am to have had the opportunity to visit places because of my job. I’ve been to Colombia, Tennessee, Canada, the British Virgin Islands, and even Louisiana!

LSG: Any advice for aspiring writers and creatives looking to get into the fashion business? What is the most important first step?

Email the people you admire and ask for insight. I think it’s easy to put successful career figures on a pedestal, but you’d be surprised to find out how many people are willing to help you if you just ask. On a more granular level, I’d suggest contributing articles as often as possible so you can build your resume. Even if you’re getting paid $50 to do so (or not paid at all), it’s still benefiting you.

LSG: How do you separate work and life? Do you consider yourself a workaholic? How do you unwind?

I’m most successful at separating work and life when I’m challenging myself to be a dynamic person. It’s very easy to get exhausted from work and put the rest of your life on the back burner while you catch up on Netflix, but I feel the most balanced when I’m doing things like taking a yoga class after a long day at the office, stopping at a gallery on the way home, or even getting up extra early to sit in the park and meditate with a cup of coffee. I do work a lot and at a fast pace, so having these tools for relaxing and unwinding is so key. Also, a glass of red wine goes a long way.

LSG: Describe your personal style. What is it most influenced by?

I dress sort of like a French-inspired tomboy. I love minimalist separates with interesting cuts and details, my Levi’s 501 jeans, and a red-orange lip. I draw influence for my personal style from ladies like Jean Seberg, Elin Kling, and Phoebe Philo, and also have a Pinterest board full of outfit ideas that I go to when I’m feeling stale.

LSG: Did your style change when you got this job? How so?

Oh gosh, yes. I cringe when I think about some of the outfits I wore when I was first hired. But I think that’s sort of the fun of growing up and into your own style. It’s a personal process and it should be fun. My look has definitely become more minimal and (hopefully) refined. That’s not to say that I don’t love and adore women who dress colorfully and flamboyantly—some of my favorite people to feature on the site dress far differently than I do.

LSG: What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I hope to be working in a role that keeps me happy, inspired, and challenged! That’s all you can ask for!

 LSG: What should we check out while in New York?!!?

Washington Square Park on a Sunday afternoon! There’s live piano and a jazz band and it’s seriously the best way to end your weekend.





Amanda Niello, Writer, "Thanks I Have Cancer"

Meet Amanda Niello! Amanda is our super inspiring friend with an equally inspiring blog called "Thanks, I Have Cancer." Her visual and written online project is revolutionizing the way we think about breast cancer by candidly documenting what it's really like to be a young woman faced with such a life altering situation. Amanda is a shining example of the powerful healing properties of maintaining a lively spirit, and most importantly, a sense of humor! Today Lisa Says Gah brings you an in-depth conversation with our favorite Warrior Woman of the moment. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Amanda!!! Thank you SO much for sharing you story with us. Let's jump right in! You are obviously way more than the cancer you are experiencing right now. The spirited tone of your blog expertly communicates that, yet your current day-to-day is about beating this beast. Can you give us some background on you sans-cancer? Passions, career, adventures?!

It’s interesting how being sick all the time makes you realize what you miss most about normal life. I’d say the things I miss the most are being able to travel whether it’s a road trip or somewhere overseas. I’ve had some great adventures with my boyfriend and family, so once I get better I am going to try to go on as many adventures as I can and really take advantage of feeling good. As for my career, I’ve decided to go back to school. I realized I don’t want to be caught up in a job that I don’t love anymore, and life is too short to not live out your dreams! I’m hoping to attend The Academy of Art in the spring. I’ve always been obsessed with fashion so I’m hoping I will be able to make a career out of that!

LSG: Cancer is not something most 29-year-olds have to think about. Would you mind sharing the story of your diagnosis with us?

It was last October when I felt a lump in my right breast while doing a quick self-exam, but I decided it was nothing and ignored it. It’s so difficult to tell for younger women because we all have lumps and bumps and how are we supposed to know if we should be worried about these kinds of things or not?!  My boyfriend ended up feeling the same lump in February and urged me to go to the doctor. I had just moved to New York in August so I didn’t even have a dentist, let alone a lady doctor! I had no idea how to go about finding someone to check me out for possible cancer, so it was a stressful couple of days. I finally found a walk-in clinic and had the lump examined.

The minute the doctor felt it, I knew from her worried facial expression that it wasn’t good. She put in an order for me to have a sonogram and a couple of days later I was in the radiology room with a ton of cold gel on my boob and a little probe thing sliding around on the lump (it was very uncomfortable to say the least). Another doctor was called in to look at the images, and he announced very firmly that I needed what I was most afraid of - a biopsy. I was so terrified of getting this procedure done, but there was no way out! I had the biopsy, which wasn’t as bad as I had thought, even though I fainted right before! Not a fun afternoon.

I’ll never forget the night I got the news. It was around 7:00 on a Monday evening. I was taking a nap when my phone rang, and little did I know that my world was about to be turned upside down. I actually ignored the call because I didn’t recognize the number, but when I listened to the message from my doctor and she said “it’s an emergency”, I knew right away that it was cancer.

I called her back and left a voicemail on her machine, which it only took her about 3 minutes to call me back, but it seemed like 40 years. I got myself so worked up, I was sweaty and shaky and felt like I was going to explode! When she called me back and used the C word, I went completely numb. As you can imagine, a trillion thoughts ran through my head and I just had no idea what to say or do - it was horrible. I can easily say, in that moment, I had never felt so alone in my whole entire life.

After the call from hell, I immediately called my Dad, who has always my go-to person when something bad happens, and somehow, he calmed me down and made me feel like everything was going to be ok. If you don’t have someone like this in your life, I recommend getting one right away. My doc got me set up for an appointment with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan the next day, and from there is where my journey to get better started! I met with some doctors at Sloan, which is one of the best cancer centers in the world, but decided that it would be best for me to move back to San Francisco to be closer to my family while I go through treatment and surgery.


LSG: Tell us about your decision to start the blog and "go public" with your process. What types of unexpected benefits have arisen from your work with it?

I’m not a super private person and I figured that this diagnosis gave me a really great platform to spread the message that if you feel like something isn’t right, go get it checked out! I feel so lucky that my boyfriend, Tom, pushed me to get the lump examined. If I had let it go any longer, it would have kept growing at a pretty rapid pace and traveled into my lymph nodes, so I really wanted to share the message that we aren’t invincible like we think we are!

The first unexpected benefit that I discovered through my blog is that I love writing. It feels really good to get my experiences out on “paper”, and it helps me to understand what exactly is going on in a more concrete way. The last few months have been VERY emotional, so it helps to write everything down and re-read it, and let my mind process what is really happening. It’s also been a great way for my family and friends to check in on their own time to see how an appointment went, or where I am with treatment without having to repeat myself a million times, although I honestly don’t mind talking about it over and over, that’s kind of cathartic too. I have also had a lot of people reach out to me to say thank you for being so honest about what is going on and sending a lot of encouragement, so that’s huge, especially when I’m having a hard week. The support I have gotten from the blog alone has been insane and I feel so thankful for all the people following along with me while I’m on this crazy journey.

LSG: Who do envision reading it?

The blog was originally intended for my family and friends to follow along with what’s happening, but I was also hoping that there would be some young women reading my story who might feel inspired to take better care of themselves, or like I said before, go get a lump checked out or whatever it is that doesn’t feel right. I had someone tell me they are reading my blog because they have a close friend going through the same thing I am, but isn’t as open about her diagnosis, so it’s helping her to understand what her friend is going through - I really liked that.

LSG: In your blog, you talk about the fact that you are going to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. (So essentially you get new boobs! - one way of looking at it) What are your thoughts and feelings on this?

That’s exactly right! I’ve always wanted smaller boobs so that’s a silver lining for me - new boobs! I’ll also be getting a nice lift too, so I’m pretty excited about that. I never thought I’d have any plastic surgery done to my body, but this is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
I originally qualified for a lumpectomy and that’s what everyone thought I was going to go for, but I decided I don’t want to wake up every morning feeling afraid that there’s a possibility of going through breast cancer again, so I’m gettin’ rid of the girls! I’m excited because my surgeon is one of the best in the game. She helped with Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy surgery, so I am in good hands!

LSG: You have a lot of "lady" things to think about now, boobs AND ovaries! Having children (or not) is a big decision for most women. Chemo pushed yours to the foreground. Can you tell us about your decision to freeze your eggs?

I didn’t think I would have to think about kids for a while, but I was forced to when I was diagnosed, and I had no idea freezing my eggs was going to be a precaution I would have to take before starting chemo! I decided it would be smart to do, just in case one day I want to have babies but am not able to because my ovaries shut down permanently, which can happen from chemo; it’s a small chance, but it was also a small chance that’d I’d get breast cancer at my age so I decided to go for it!

LSG: You've had to go through SO many things that you probably thought you couldn't handle - has this process made you a stronger person? Have you been surprised by your resilience?

Absolutely. There are some really scary things I’ve had to go through, like getting my port placed - I was awake for the entire surgery! I was so terrified of the process (having a tube fed through the jugular vein all the way to my heart is no joke) but after it was done, I felt so brave and really proud of myself. Every little hurdle I have jumped over, like the port placement, or a biopsy or a chemo session, has definitely made me feel like a stronger person, and prepares me for the next scary procedure or appointment in a more confident way.

There are some days, though, when I just want to fall to the ground and cry my eyes out (which I’ve done a few times) but after that, I know I have to pick myself up and keep going. I think I have been pretty resilient in that way, or at least I’m trying!

LSG: You have the support of your amazing family, and I'm sure this has brought you guys even closer. You mention that we all (sick or healthy) could be a little better about accepting support. What other lessons like this have you observed?

This has absolutely brought my family closer, it’s been really amazing. My dad, sister, brother and boyfriend have been so supportive and by my side every single step of the way, I feel really lucky to have them. It’s been really interesting to see who of my friends have been there for me and who hasn’t. I’ve been hurt by a few people who I thought would be by my side but instead disappeared, so a big lesson I’ve learned is to let those hurt feelings go. Everyone is different and some people just can’t handle sickness so I’m learning to forgive and forget - that’s a really freeing concept that is hard, but essential.

LSG: As much as this process of chemo is about regaining your health, there is a lot of loss involved - hair loss, weight loss... Can you speak to your relationship with attachment before and after beginning chemo? Is it easier to let go of non-essentials? Have you become a bit zen?

These days I try not to get as worked up over small things as I used to. I think the forgive and forget philosophy is a big one for me because I’ve realized all the small and petty things that can happen in life really don’t matter that much after you’ve gone through all the losses you mention. Losing my hair has been pretty traumatizing, but I try to remember that the hair loss means the chemo is working, and I’m on my way to being cured, which is the most important thing I could ask for. It’s been hard because I don’t get to do a lot of the things a normal person gets to do every day, like have a cocktail with friends, and some days it’s impossible to even get up and go for a walk, so on the days that I feel good, I savor every moment and really take advantage of feeling “normal”, so there’s really no time to get upset about anything, therefore I have become somewhat zen!

LSG: Showing (though your energy and your blog) that people with cancer are still capable of laughing, living and making fun of themselves is HUGE. You are actively challenging how "patients" are perceived. What is the most important thing you hope people take from your experience?

It can be quite hard to see the silver lining or humor in cancer, but that is something I decided I would be doing a lot of from the minute I was diagnosed. One reason is because I didn’t want anyone to worry too much about me and I wanted to try really hard to go through this with a smile on my face. The mind is a really powerful thing and your body believes what it thinks, which is a scary concept but also really important to understand. As sick as I’ve been at times, I knew it was important to try my hardest to be positive and believe there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s helped me in my journey to getting better. I hope some people will be inspired to think positive thoughts and see the silver lining in times that are hard because it really does make things easier. That being said, I think it’s just as important to be honest about how you feel, and if there’s a breakdown on its way, that’s totally fair. It feels really good to cry or throw something or punch a pillow when things aren’t going your way, so I say punch away! And then get your eye back on the prize.

LSG: Looking back on your treatment, is there anything you would have done differently in order to make yourself more comfortable or to make the experience less traumatizing?

It’s impossible to prepare for an experience like the one I am going through. The doctors said it was going to be tough, but I had NO idea. Looking back, I probably should have joined a support group for women going through the same thing I am. There have been so many times that I felt really alone and thought no one could understand what I was going through. Now I get why there are support groups out there, to make us feel not alone! That kind of support would have made things easier not only for me, but for my loved ones as well. It has been a heavy task for my peeps to take care of me so to take some of that pressure off of them it probably would have been good to be part of something like that.

LSG: What are you most excited to get back to after you're in the clear?!

To be completely honest, I am really excited to have a big old glass of wine and maybe a night out with my friends. I miss being able to just let loose and have fun!!!




Roxana Salehoun, Swim Designer

There is something otherworldly about Roxana Salehoun. Stepping through arched vines into her jungle of a courtyard, one experiences instant sanctuary. Ensconced in Old Hollywood charm, this swimwear maven creates inspired designs previously unimagined. Today Lisa Says Gah invites you to eavesdrop on our chat with Roxana - over Persian tea served on delicate Victorian china with saffron encrusted rock sugar. Gah! Enjoy! 


LSG: Hi, Roxana! Your studio is beautiful!! Can you tell us about your space?

Thank you ;) It is my home as well. I wanted to have a space for customers to come by and try on suits. Fitting for swimwear is so intimate, and I find it most comfortable when you can have a one on one fitting and get honest feedback. I have been in this place for a little over a year, and it is finally coming along... it's a work in progress.

LSG: How did you find your way here? 

I grew up in Dallas, Texas and went to school at Parsons in New York City. After graduating, I moved to San Francisco where I lived for three years before moving down to LA. I worked for a couple different companies in SF, including GAP, which was my main reason for moving there. I have been in Los Angeles for two years now.

LSG: What inspired you to take the plunge into independent work and pioneer your namesake company? 

 I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I've had the vision for this line of swimwear since graduating from Parsons - It was dead winter in New York and all I wanted to do was move to an island and make bikinis. I still have all my old sketches and the first bikini I made for myself. After about a year of sourcing and developing the basis for the brand, I moved to Los Angeles and launched the line.

LSG: Materials obviously play a huge part in your line. Is that where you start when creating a new piece? Tell us about the process of designing a collection.  

I am constantly designing in my head but when it comes time to start a collection, I narrow down and finalize my colors. It is very easy for me to get carried away so I find if I focus on a color story and theme I can create a more cohesive collection. All of my designs start out as rough sketches. After patterns are made, we do about 2-3 fittings for each style as every time we change the fabric (or even just color) we must re-fit. Once all my fits and colors are in place, I edit and finalize all trims and hardware, and begin to make samples.

LSG: What inspired you to incorporated such creative and unusual materials into swimwear?

The brand was built on the idea of seeing the suits as outfits with the applique and charms and textures being the accessories. I find inspiration from everything but mostly from the women around me - no matter what size, shape, style, or age.  Whether I know them or I'm just observing . It makes me happy when I see a woman who has taken pride in dressing and taking care of herself. One of my favorite things to do is to watch someone get ready and do their hair and makeup before going out, especially when I am staying in, it relaxes me. Growing up, I remember watching my mom get ready for parties, and then later roommates and friends. It's so fascinating to me- to see their ways and rituals.

LSG: Being self-employed requires some major discipline. What advice would you share with people just getting into self-employment or working from home? 

Keep yourself motivated by being active. I love making to-do lists... I list everything single thing I need to do. Also, because I am not the most organized person I try to make an effort to regroup and clean up my office for a couple of hours once a week. I find that being organized is the key to keeping you focused. There is a lot that needs to be done outside of business matters, so if you need to take a break to take care of other things, you should- it's a nice way to keep moving.  It is easy to get consumed by work, and you have to remember to take time for yourself too. 

LSG: Is it important to have a routine? What is yours? 

I have a mini - routine that I find helps me start my day. I wake up and immediately make my coffee and put on workout clothes. I go for a little run/walk around the neighborhood, usually 30 min to an hour but even if it is only for 15 minutes, I go. It helps me mentally so much to get air and exercise. I come back, reheat my coffee, have breakfast and get to work. When possible, I take a midday nap because I usually need it. And after the nap, I have to have some tea. Then get back to work!

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company? 

To trust your vision and see it through. Of course, work hard and be persistent, but also trust in the natural flow and you will find that things happen as they will and as they should. It's also important to remember that nothing is set in stone, there is always time to grow, evolve and change so just start. 

LSG: Is there anything in LA you recommend we check out while here?!!? 

Check out the Persian Square/Tehrangeles neighborhood for a delicious meal, and be sure to have the traditional ice cream of saffron and rose water for dessert! 






Delfina Balda, Designer

Delfina Balda makes us feel like underachievers in the best way possible. This psychologist, turned sommelier, turned designer is the living, breathing definition of a modern-day Renaissance woman, and her work says it all. The result of Delfina's cumulative life experience is a stunning line of artful clothing, but this magical thinker starts the design process pretty far from that. We are currently obsessed with the abstract, totem-like drawings or better yet, "impressions" that she begins each piece with. So today Lisa Says Gah brings you inside Delfina's Brooklyn studio for a look at those special drawings and a chat with the lady herself. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Delfina! We know you started off independently and made a pretty big leap into fashion. Can you tell us what kind of stops were on the way to where you are now?

I guess you could say it started when I was a teen and read about Parsons School of Design in a magazine. I remember talking to my mom and bringing up the subject of moving to New York to study fashion - she asked me if I was crazy! So that was on pause for a while. After high school, I went to  school for psychology, and later for psychoanalysis. And soon after that, for wine! I'm a Sommelier. Those years were for academia, discussing Freud and learning to sip and spit. The big departure was moving to New York from Buenos Aries to work in design. 

When I look back even farther, some earlier stops on the path to designing were observing my parents sense of style. My mum's outfits we're always black and classic while my father dressed very bold and elegant. Unwittingly, my style was a combination of the two as a child. My first communion outfit made a huge impression on me and I still remember it perfectly. It was an off-white, long-sleeved tunic with a rope belt that I wore really high with white tights and white leather moccasins. It was so contemporary! I felt somehow holy and fashion forward at the same time. Another early fashion memory was a Hawaiian costume that my mum made me for school. It consisted of a ballerina suit with a cutout skirt in blue raffia. I remembered thinking, I could wear this in real life! 

LSG: Materials obviously play a huge part in your line. Where do you start when creating a new piece? Tell us about the process of designing a collection.

It's a process that requires a lot of thinking and focusing, but at the same time the ability to keep your mind loose. I'm mostly attracted to fabrics, texture and colors, so every collection starts by sourcing fabrics and thinking about new color palettes. I let the materials determine how they will be used; their characteristics should reach their best expression in their ideal silhouette. We challenge ourselves, with each collection, to push certain aspects of creation. We think and re-think each piece, asking how they are fulfilling what we want to achieve in regards to innovation, identity, and emotions. It is an intense and gratifying process.

LSG: What was the first piece you created and sold?

The first piece was a tunic; I actually started with a full collection of tunics, one silhouette that came in many different fabrics and prints. It was just after a trip to Tulum and I came back to NY in a tropical mood. I wanted to extend that state of mind in the city. The tunics were a huge success but as part of my creative process, I kept looking for more inspiration. The tunics were the beginning of developing the direction of the brand into ready­-to-­wear.

                                                               Preliminary "Totem" Sketches 

                                                               Preliminary "Totem" Sketches 

LSG: Your designs are artful and daring while still being completely wearable. How do you envision the lifestyle of your brand?

Our motivation is to find, in any experience, a genuine form of expression. So the purposed lifestyle is a dialogue that pierces all the layers of life. Design and art are important, but so is that simple spot where nothing is sophisticated.

LSG: Starting a business and working for yourself is scary, a lot of people talk about going independent but never do. What do you think holds people back?

Reality. To do it, you have to loose your mind for a bit and actually believe your own mantras.

LSG: As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

Be patient. It takes time to build a solid foundation and along the path, you will be tempted to run away. Don't let downfalls interfere with your motivation, just keep focused and keep working. Take care of the relationships with the people that are good partners for your business. Be flexible and remember that everything is a negotiation.

LSG: Your studio is amazing! Tell us about your space. 

We are lucky to have this studio! We love it here. It's located just across the street from Mc Carren Park and has beautiful light, high ceilings, fresh air and a wide open view. It's the former studio of our dear friend Lucio Castro. In New York, I design the collection with my amazing assistant Mac. We come from two different worlds but meet in the middle to tell an interesting story for the collection. 



LSG: What should we check out while in New York!??!

BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), they have a really well-curated program from concerts, to dance performances and good movies. And afterward, drinks in the beautiful neighborhood of Fort Greene.

Food wise, ACME in Greenpoint produces the best smoked salmon for all of the top restaurants in NY. On Friday mornings, they open for a few hours to the public, and you can get delicious, fresh, delicatessen fish at wholesale price. It helps that is just a few blocks from our studio! Suzume is a tiny Japanese place right by my house in Williamsburg, recommended for cocktails, special pieces of sushi and atmosphere. Also, the couscous at Cafe Gitane in Nolita! And, if time allows, go upstate to the Catskills for a secluded experience.

LSG: Do you get downtime?! What does your ideal day off consist of? Real or imagined.

Yes, I started to find downtime in the last year or so but before it was impossible to disconnect. I'm always looking and thinking of how to interpret the inspiration I find everywhere though. It doesn’t really feel like work. An ideal day off would start off by walking my dog around the neighborhood, a yoga practice, lots of water drinking, going to an exhibition, and ending with drinks, dinner, and a good conversation!





Ashley Hildreth, KronnerBurger

The new KronnerBurger over in Oakland's Temescal area is on the tip of everyone's tongue. Literally and figuratively. We can't even begin to discuss the most talked about burger in town without mentioning the ever-so-spirited Ashley Hildreth.  Wondering about the devastatingly beautiful design nuances in your favorite new burger joint? Well, you have Ashley to thank for that rose quartz bar, the delicately hand hewn ceramics and those rich plum textiles. Now, you can have the best of both worlds - because everyone loves a burger, even the visually conscious. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you behind the scenes of a busy restaurant for a quick chat with Ashley about sticking to your concept, engaging your community (first and foremost), and striving for genuine personal expression. Enjoy! 

LSG: Hi Ashley! Tell us more about the name of your company? What did the process of choosing it look like?

My partner's last name is Kronner. A friend of his started calling any burger he made a KronnerBurger years ago. After several pop-ups our friend, Samantha Strand, committed the name to posters with a logo for an extremely unsuccessful "art show" where there wasn't any art aside from the hamburgers. 

LSG: What were you working on before going into the restaurant biz? What inspired you to collaborate on KronnerBurger?

I have always worked in restaurants. I started working for the Slanted Door group and eventually managed Heaven's Dog. After the Slanted Door, I managed the Boot and Shoe Service, here in Oakland. When I met Chris (at a party a block away from where we would eventually open the restaurant and live), we were both looking for an opportunity to start something new, KronnerBurger is the result. 

LSG: Can you describe the lifestyle surrounding your restaurant? What part does community play?

Nearly everything in the restaurant was built or created by someone we are close to; we know most of the people that grow the vegetables and raise animals that we serve. From the lights to the tomatoes, our community has played and continues to play a huge roll in everything that we do. 

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company? What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss?

Stick to your concept. 

I don't think there is mastery of anything. Be confident in your decisions while remaining ready for any opportunity to learn. Surround yourself with people whose skills complement yours.  Delegate while remaining present. Be open and gracious. 

LSG: What do you miss the most about the days before business responsibilities?!

I miss the simplicity of being able to leave work at work. 

LSG: You and your space are always on point visually. How do you approach the intersection of the fashion/design and food worlds?

Striving for genuine personal expression. All of the small things are stimulating and important in some way. The glassware, the plates, the tables, the rose quartz bar, the plum colored aprons, the bathroom. All of these details were selected thoughtfully. The hope is that the small choices that reflect my personal preferences will create a dining environment and experience that the guests will want to return for and be inspired by.

LSG: Last, but not least! What's next?

A scholarship program to send dogs to art school. (-;






Jen Szeto, Blogger, Window of Imagination

Jen Szeto is a blogger who doesn't blog. But never fear! All of her sartorial genius is brought straight to you via many a stunningly statuesque Instagram post.  After deserting numerous web pages for the joy of living IRL, this virtual nomad found a home in Window of Imagination - her travel inspired fashion feed. And boy, are we glad she did. Not only is Jen a joy in every way (warm, hilarious and charmingly foul-mouthed) but she has some majorly wise words for anyone on the brink. Today Lisa Says Gah grabs a cozy coffee with Jen at The Mill and dishes on sticking to your convictions, having passion in all pursuits and going forward with a full heart. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi Jen!! Tell us a little bit about your life outside Window of Imagination.

Hello! I live in the Mission with my fiancé, Colin, and our 2010 Honda Element, "Bruce." I’m a Freelance commercial advertising Producer by day; professional daydreamer, wanderer, and “Windower” by night. I’m an OG Bay Area native and have been residing in SF for 13 years now. 

LSG: What inspired you to present your personal style digitally?

I’d always wanted to start a personal fashion / travel blog but never mustered the energy to create a full-blown site. I already had a few failed blogs under my belt (one was about my relationship with Colin which creeped him out, and two others never made it past “Hello, welcome to my blog”), so I was hesitant to put my efforts into another one. In 2013, after returning home from my first trip to Paris and feeling inspired by all the well-dressed women that littered the city, I decided it was time to start documenting my personal style. Instagram was the hot new thing at the time, so I turned to my seldom-used personal account to capture my OOTD flat-lays and quirky poses. What started out as a half-joke quickly turned into a hardcore hobby after I had gotten some surprisingly positive attention and feedback from it. In May 2014, I decided to break off from @jenszeto and start another account that was solely focused on artful fashion, travel, and landscapes.

LSG: How did you pick the name?

I was lying awake in bed at around 2 am and decided I wanted to start the account right then and there. I was cycling through a bunch of fashion related names but found all of them were already taken. Then, I fell asleep. But I quickly woke back up and started staring out the window trying to come up with more names. Then it dawned on me, I'M ALWAYS STARING OUT OF THE WINDOW. Sounds weird, I know. But as a kid, I would have these intense zone-out sessions where I would stare out of a window and get lost in my brain for minutes at a time. I’d just let my mind wander and meditate, do whatever it needed to do, and then snap myself back into reality. I remember doing this multiple times a day, and I looked like Kylie the Possum from Fantastic Mr. Fox every time. But I realized the window was the portal to my imagination, where all the magic happens. And that’s how 'Window Of Imagination' came to be. 

LSG: How long did you roll the idea around before getting started?

Oof. That depends on how far back you want to look at the timeline. I can remember being into fashion since I was an awkward kid with crooked teeth and pigtails, but blogs didn’t exist when I was nine. Realistically, though, I’d say on and off for about six years. I remember when bloggers started popping up and gaining a lot of unique buzz back in 2007, but I was intimidated and never devoted the time or energy to start my own. Thank Baby Jesus for Instagram!

LSG: What have you seen result in the most growth?

Individually, my combined fashion & travel photos get a lot of love. I guess people like to escape and see new things as much as I do. 

On a whole, consistent vision. Instagram is an interesting psychological mind-fuck of a platform where you have to capture your audience’s attention and tell a whole story in a 1x1 square + short caption in under 5-10 seconds (which I assume is the average time a person takes to make a judgement call on your photo before moving on to the next). Don't get me wrong— I love it, but I knew going in that I had to be creative, concise, and impactful. I’m lucky to have Colin as my backbone and tell me when I'm off-brand, and I was fortunate to be able to practice my photo editing skills through my personal account before starting Window Of Imagination. So, once I "dialed in my presets" for Window, I stuck with it and haven’t wavered much from it since. 

LSG: Biggest lessons in the first year? 

The first three months will feel hard to keep up, but stick with it. Overshoot content so you have something in your back pocket for days when you're going through a creative block. Obsession and attention to detail are essential to success. 

LSG: What kind of advice would you give people thinking about starting a blog / Instagram? Mistakes to avoid? 

If you have an awesome idea that’s burning a hole in your head, take the risk and put it out there! Don’t be afraid of judgment; critics are key to helping define your vision. And don’t be afraid to lean on your community, they're out there and will support you. Whatever you do –  be strong in your convictions, be passionate about your pursuits, and go in with a full heart. 

LSG: Tell us about your LSG shop picks! Why did you select what you did, and where would you wear this outfit? What do you love about each piece? 

It was hard to choose because I wanted to wear everything! For the first look, I went with the Demy Lee color block sweater because I've been wanting to infuse more color into my wardrobe and thought this piece struck the perfect balance. And it's softer than kittens! I thought it paired well with the Demy Lee swing skirt, which is equally soft and classy.  I love the high-waist cut, and I'm going through a major skirt obsession right now, so choosing this was a no-brainer. This look would be perfect for work or daytime gatherings. 

For my second look, I went for the Helena Quinn jumpsuit because jumpsuits make me happy and this one teleported me straight into the 70s. I love the low back and wide leg details, I'm a sucker for both. This jumpsuit definitely deserves to be on a dance-floor!





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Amanda Blake, Designer, Calder Blake

Amanda Blake has an insatiable drive to create beautiful, simple things from quality materials. Taking note of artists and designers who work with the spirit of an object, Amanda has built Calder Blake, her line of elevated basics, on the ethos of transformation. Today this multifaceted mama talks to Lisa Says Gah about finding the perfect blend of confidence and experience to start your own business. We visited Amanda in her new Los Angeles brick and mortar shop! Enjoy!

LSG: Hi Amanda! Thanks for having us! Let's jump into it! What has your career path looked like? Tell us about the inspiration behind pioneering Calder Blake?

When I was 17 years old I went to Parsons School of Design in New York City for Fashion Design.  My career path has been pretty straight forward, I went to school for fashion design and have designed for many houses since I graduated. I’m from the East Coast and began my career in NYC. At the end of 2001, I wanted to shake things up for myself, so I packed myself up in a Uhaul van and drove across the country to Los Angeles. I had never lived anywhere other than the East Coast, and I never thought I would be in LA for more than a year -  it will be 14 years this November!

When I landed in LA I met Joie Rucker who had just launched her line “Joie” and we hit it off right away. For the next 3 years, I was her right hand. After this, I started becoming a “go to person” for launching brands, and also did consulting on refreshing established brands. When I decided to start a family, I took a break from design, in the formal sense, and took the time to enjoy being a mama to my daughter Calder.  

The culmination of new-found strength I felt in being a mama, and the experience I had launching brands for other people pushed me into starting my Calder Blake. My experience with Joie is a big part of what gave me the “chops” to go out on my own. I’m a big believer in following your gut and mine was saying that it was time to launch something of my own.  

I felt the market's lack of elevated knits, and I had something to say about it. I created straightforward basics with special subtle details that wash and wear well giving them the ability to live in your wardrobe season after season. When women responded positively to what I started to put out there, I knew I made the right decision.  

LSG: We know there's a cute story behind it, can you tell us more about the name of your company? 

When I started designing again, I was in my studio and happened to be writing my daughter’s name out and thought to myself, "hmmm… that would look nice on a label and would work well for a multifaceted brand." I decided to get some labels made up with the thought that if I scrapped the idea I could always sew them in my daughter’s clothes. I also felt that the experience of giving birth to my daughter gave me a new found confidence that inspired me. It was a transformative time for me and deciding on the name was a very organic process.  

LSG: You live in Venice, how does your environment and community influence Calder? 

I have lived in many areas in Los Angeles, but yes, the Westside beach communities have been the best for me. Living in that area is a constant reminder to strive for work/ life balance.  Having the ocean and mountains so close allows me space to explore and I feel inspired. I need that. In Los Angeles, you spend so much time in the car but being in Venice, I can keep up my love of walking and biking.  As for the community, I have found a wonderful circle of friends from all over the world, working in all different creative fields that inspire me on a day to day basis. Surfers, musicians, sculptors, filmmakers, photographers, designers, all with a very metropolitan edge softened by the California ease and sunshine.   

LSG: Who is the woman who wears Calder Blake? 

Calder is for a woman who is comfortable in her skin. She is smart, loves all things natural, strives for simplicity and has a discerning eye for beautiful design. She likes to feel laid back yet polished. I never have one muse in mind; I combine the best elements of many different strong and multifaceted worldly women for inspiration.  

LSG: How do the materials you choose inform your work? 

The materials are the foundation of the design.  I always like to keep the motto "form follows function" in mind. For me, a fabric has to be natural and mostly made of cotton, all of my materials are made in the USA and the character of how they drape and wear dictates the design. There is just something so special about the entire process of my clothing - it's knitted, dyed, designed, cut, sewn so close to me.  I am always inspired by the craftsman that work with the materials and their surroundings. I like to work with those limitations allowing that process to be part of the final look.  

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a fashion company? 

Be smart, but take the jump. Lean on your community and be kind and appreciative to all who help you along the way.  Smart partnerships with those involved in your business are the backbone of success and the key to getting off the ground. Lastly, surround yourself with family and friends that tell you “Keep going! We love it!”

LSG: What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss? 

When you are your boss, you are everything from the Designer to the CEO, CFO, shipping, customer service, housekeeper, hostess, etc.  Soak in all things that you strive to do and find a way to apprentice so you know first hand know what it all entails. The key things to master are the areas that scare you the most…once you tackle those, you will find the confidence you need. And lastly, patience and resilience – it will take longer to get off the ground than you think so have patience and determination to stay the course.

LSG: What's on your bucket list?!?

There is way too much to list! But lately I've been fantasizing about pulling my daughters out of school and travelling around the world with them for a year when they are teenagers. If the year turns into more, we can just keep going!!






Aleksandra Zee, Woodworker

Aleksandra Zee knows her way around a power tool and isn't afraid to show it. It's nearly impossible to talk about this skillful woodworking lady without bringing up just that - the fact that she is a lady. When most people think of bandsaws, drill bits and two-by-fours the image they conjure of a tool-wielding individual is probably not one that quite fits Aleksandra. But thanks to gutsy dames like her, that image is being swiftly redefined, and we couldn't be happier. Aleksandra is a badass artist in her own right, and the first thing considered should be her amazing work, not her gender. Stepping away from a serving job and investing in a studio space with her best friend Katie (also a woodworking genius), this brave babe has taken the leap. Aleksandra is more than on her way to a career that most artists can only dream of. Today Lisa Says Gah takes you inside Aleksandra's sawdust covered East Oakland studio to hang with her precious pup Jack and see what it's like when your 9-5 and creative outlet is one and the same. Enjoy! 

LSG: Hi, Aleksandra! Thanks for inviting us out to see your space. Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now? 

I am originally from Southern California, and I moved to The Bay right out of college for a job as a display artist at Anthropologie. I worked there for about three years, really diving into woodworking and installation art. After those years, I made a decision that instead of trying to make a name for myself within a company, it was more important to my creative soul to make a name for myself as an artist. So I quit. 

My first studio was in the basement of my apartment, and I worked there every free second I could when I wasn't waiting tables. My craft began to pick up, and take new form after I focused on honing my energy. I quickly realized that I needed a bigger space.

After the basement studio, I moved into a studio on Market Street with my best lady friend Katie Gong. She is an amazing woodworker/furniture maker, and she was the one that hired me at Anthropologie and taught me the basics of woodworking. We shared the Market Street studio for about a year and a half. During that time things picked up enough that I could quit being a waitress and pursue woodworking full time. Last January, we got the opportunity to move our shop to the most amazing warehouse in Oakland and that's where we are today. I get goosebumps every time I walk into work - I still cannot truly believe that this is my 9-5!

LSG: When did you know a career in the art world was for you?

Ever since I was a child I knew that making and doing with my hands was a passion - if I didn't create, I felt off and unsatisfied. 

LSG: Why wood?

I fell in love with working with wood back when I was creating displays for Anthropologie. I adore the imperfections and all of the beautiful different types of wood. It's amazing how you can manipulate it, or just leave it completely raw. I love being constantly challenged by my material. 

LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? Can you take us through your process and concept? 

I find so much inspiration when I travel. From day trips to the redwoods, to sitting in front of the ocean or longer trips to the desert. I love being outside, nature and its colors and patterns and textures truly inspire me. The ocean and the desert have my heart, and I'm always filled with so much inspiration when I am near either of those places. 

LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with creative struggle? 

The creative struggle is an everyday thing. It manifests itself in so many different forms, from self-doubt, fear, problems with materials, deadlines and being emotionally elsewhere. I can’t say that I don’t have my days where all of that comes crashing down, but honestly I have brought the practice of meditation into my daily routine, and that helps me remain present. Being present within my mind, with my material, in my workspace always helps and lends to my productivity and overall making of work that is successful. What I create is made up of smaller bits that make a larger product, and in that process I create muscle memory. When really focused on working, I get to leave my whirring thoughts for a bit and become fully present with what my hands are making. 

LSG: What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields? 

Never stop making, doing, and pursuing what you love. No matter how hard it seems, those tiny successes are all the more worth it when you work your ass off for them. 

LSG: What is your relationship with fashion like? How do/do you see fashion intersect with art? 

Fashion for me is functional, simple and clean. I am drawn to neutral colors and simplicity. For me, my most favorite items in my closet are my vintage Levi’s and my Outlive the Bastards denim shop coat, basically all denim on denim. 

LSG: What are requirements when it come to an article of clothing? Do you have separate wardrobes for work and life, or are the two one and the same?

The two are for sure one in the same. It is important to me for my clothes in the shop to be comfortable and durable, but also articles that make me feel good. I love wearing all denim, overalls, vintage Levi’s, my denim shop coat. The only thing I try to keep out of the studio is any black. The studio is full of sawdust, and that just makes a mess, so when I do get a bit dressed up and not in the studio it's all black for me. 

LSG: How do you feel about the art world of the Bay Area? Why do you chose to live here?

I love the community of artist in the Bay. I feel so fortunate to live and work in a community of artists that not only support each other but share opportunities with each other. Meeting an artist that I am inspired by only opens more doors to inspiration and collaboration and new exciting opportunities. The mentality of makers in the Bay is like none I have come across, and I am so lucky to be a part of it. 

LSG: We know that an artist's work is never done but when you take breaks, where might one find you on a sunny day off?!

I love to be in front of the ocean. I grew up in a beach town and being near to the ocean every day is something that is a part of me. My boyfriend and I adventure and take our pup Jack out. We are always chasing those days when we can escape and go be outside. 

LSG: Is there anything special in your studio/home neighborhood that we should check out? 

You should check out my studio mate Katie Gong, she is an incredible woodworker/furniture maker. She inspires me every day to try new things and keep working hard. Here is her website! 


Aleksandra Zee




Joanna Williams, Founder, Kneeland Co.

Stepping into Joanna Williams Atwater studio in Los Angeles is like stumbling upon a mythical market. This lady is the proud owner of Kneeland Co., a visual resource of rare textiles. Scouring the world, Joanna provides inspiration to many a well-known creative company. Luckily for us, she realized that individuals wanted a piece of the pie too and has thoughtfully curated a magical blend of vibrant treasures - all available for our purchasing pleasure online at  Kneeland Mercado. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you inside the mind, and vibrantly colorful studio of Joanna Williams. Enjoy! 

LSG: Hi, Joanna! Can you share the basics of your educational and professional background with us? Where are you from? How long have you been in the LA Area? 

I went to college in Houston (where I grew up) and received a degree in PR from the University of Houston in 2001.  I thought I wanted to work in PR or advertising for fashion brands until I actually started and quickly realized that it wasn’t creatively fulfilling enough for me.  I moved to LA almost 14 years ago and after a brief stint in advertising I started to work for a trend forecasting company that was based in NYC. I was the West Coast Trend Correspondent for three years and traveled all over the West Coast and around the world reporting on fashion and lifestyle trends.  I then started working freelance, doing some consulting for various brands and got into a little bit of fashion and culture writing for different publications.  While I was consulting 3 days a week for a big corporate company I decided to launch my business, Kneeland Co., specializing in vintage textile sourcing for designers.  That was five years ago!

LSG: Tell us a little bit about Kneeland Co. and branching out into Kneeland Mercado. What drives you to take on so much creatively and professionally?

Kneeland Co. started as a vintage textile studio and has since grown into a consulting business that includes a research library for designers and a vintage shopping service for major brands and designers. In the beginning, I was scouring the globe sourcing everything from vintage prints to embroideries and embellishments for companies and I wasn’t selling anything to the public; only to the trade. I started bringing back all kinds of objects and home goods for myself and I had the idea to start an online store that could be available to the public. While I do enjoy having Kneeland Mercado, the textile and consulting business takes up the majority of my time. I wanted to create and build a business doing what I’m good at, which is discovering beautiful things and having an outlet to share them with others whether it’s creatives or anyone wanting something special to display in their home.

As far as what drives me to take on so much creatively and professionally, I think part of it just stems from a natural ambition I’ve always had. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to do some something creative and I was always very interested in both fashion and music. Those two things along with an older brother and a very influential older cousin are what had the biggest impact on me. I also find it very inspiring to live in this day in age where you can create any kind of job or career that you want. The sky's the limit! And of course once you have been operating and running a business for a while you want to push yourself into new territory and dimensions.  

LSG: Travel is obviously a huge part of your inspiration. Where did you last visit and what's next on the list?

I mostly travel for client appointments, but I do get to travel for the store and to source for the textile studio. The last place I visited was NYC and I’ll be going to Mexico City in September as well as Paris.  

LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with History and the way objects can connect us to it?

Working with vintage and antique textiles definitely gives me a sense of appreciation for history and craftsmanship. I think it’s important to preserve these truly special works of art, especially because they are unique and will never be made again! The same can be said for objects. It’s important to know where things come from - how they originated, what their influence was, and how they will continue to influence and inspire creativity.

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

Don’t let yourself be influenced by how someone else is doing something. The way someone runs their business has nothing to do with you and your vision. Stick to your instincts. And do something that scares the shit out of you at least once a week. Perseverance is key.

LSG: What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss?

Master the skill of learning how to deal with rejection.

LSG: How do you think San Franciscans and Los Angelenos approach style differently? Weather is a factor, but what about the general ethos of each city?

I love both styles equally! I love seeing a cool girl in SF who has a good sense of layering because it’s all about the layering in a city with erratic weather. I think San Franciscans have a looser attitude about getting dressed whereas Los Angelenos like to impress people. It makes sense considering the history of Hollywood and the influence it still has on fashion.

LSG: Is there anything in LA you recommend we check out while here?!!?

Casbah cafe’ in Silver Lake for a cup of chai; Taix in Echo Park which is an old school French restaurant with the best martinis in town; Collection LA - my favorite vintage store; Jon & Vinny’s in West Hollywood for a mind-blowing breakfast; and Arcana Books in Culver City.

LSG: What is the last book you read and loved?

Kim Gordon - Girl in a Band

LSG: What are you obsessed with right now? (Anything! Food, shoes, music, exotic carnivorous plants...)

Mint green nail polish, vintage music t-shirts, the band Thee Oh Sees, the television show Friday Night Lights, an incredible Italian interiors magazine Cabana, and I’m always always always obsessed with shoes.




Sissy Sainte-Marie, Stylist

Sissy Sainte-Marie is the real deal. In an industry that many find impossible to break into, this in-demand stylist is killing it. And the best part of Sissy's success is that it truly reflects the hard work she puts in. This talented creative styles from the heart, avoiding repetitive fashion through authenticity. We have a major crush on her wardrobe and think you will too! Today Lisa Says Gah brings you inside Sissy's stunning Los Feliz home for a convo that gets real about dealing with rejection, rejoicing over triumphs and stopping to smell the roses. Enjoy! 

LSG: We love that you love vintage. Can you speak to the connection you have with it? What is your philosophy around the incorporation of vintage and thrift finds into modern styling?

I’ve been addicted to thrifting since 15. Although I don’t have the time to comb for treasures these days, I appreciate people who do.  I love to pull from Persephone Vintage and Scout.  What they carry looks current. I don't like retro. I’m not into imitating the past. The more I grow as a stylist, the more I like my work to look modern, relevant and timeless. Sometimes I like to style with something just because I like it, not because it’s current season, or trending, or a big name, or a magazine’s sponsor. Styling with vintage allows that freedom. But vintage isn’t my top priority - I get excited by the new and love to get my hands on the latest stuff. 

LSG: You have that magic ability to make fantasy wearable. Your mind must constantly be whirring with inspiration, where do you find it and how do you organize it? 

Thank you! Indeed, my mind is constantly whirring with inspiration. I used to fight it, but now I let it consume me. Lucky for me, I’m married to a photographer, and we are constantly inspired together. We can produce shoots frequently.  I’m more organized than ever these days. I used to hoard books, images, magazine, spend endless hours on & Pinterest, but lately I’ve given that up. My new approach is to flow from the heart, as silly as that sounds. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I do want to be original. I want to be relevant. I want to stay ahead without being overly influenced. Things get hackneyed more quickly than ever today. I have to trust I can go to my creative well and source inspiration from whatever I’m feeling authentically drawn to at that moment. 

LSG: A lot of young people interested in fashion desperately want to be a stylist. What does the reality of succeeding as a stylist actually look like? 

It looks like a lot of hard work, being conscientious, long days, heavy lifting, deep knee bending, tucking in shirts and tying shoes for grown adults, being rejected for loans by tacky showrooms and PR companies, being sensitive and making people feel comfortable and beautiful in their clothing, working and communicating well on set with a team, knowing when to check your ego and when to assert your expertise, jumping up and down when your work gets published, feeling over-the-moon when you’ve helped make a beautiful timeless image, crying tears of joy the first time you get to pull Celine, crying tears of agony when Acne says, ‘not this time’. You will run the gamut of emotions with every project. 

LSG: How would you recommend someone with that career goal approach the field? 

Assist an established stylist first to learn the ropes. Don’t take the baptism-by-fire route like me.  Question whether catering may be more enjoyable. haha

LSG: Being self-employed requires some major discipline. What advice would you share with people just getting into self-employment or working from home? 

I’m a workaholic. And I suffer from anxiety. And perfectionism. Not a good combo. Many times, early on, I was ready to give up the pursuit of becoming a successful stylist. One job was particularly taxing emotionally, and I told the makeup artist on set that I wanted to give up because I thought I had an anxiety disorder. He casually replied, “then get ordered,” - just like that - and continued brushing the model's brows or something. He probably doesn’t remember saying it, but for me, it was an ah-ha moment.  I did get ordered after that, and it helped me tremendously.  In addition to being tidy, I have to make time to remember to have fun and enjoy life. I’m still pretty new to this career. I spent the last three years building a styling career by saying yes to almost everything that came my way. Every job was a first-time experience and I was learning something brand new constantly. I never got to feel completely confident and at ease going into a project.  Because of that, I was under a tremendous amount of stress. I never felt I had room to mess up because when you’re a stylist, a whole team of people depends on you to come through and be professional and do an excellent job.  But also, you’re at the mercy of showrooms approving pulls & deliveries making it on time. 

A couple of months ago, when my husband and I booked a job in Maui and took a week of vacation there - a real vacation - I was like “Ooooh, this is why people in LA go to the beach so much. This really is relaxing. I’m enjoying being a human being. I’m actually in the moment” When I got back to LA, on my first job back, I almost had a breakdown it was so stressful. But I had been living under that constant tension and stress for like 1,000 days straight and it was not good for my body or my mind.

My advice would be to literally take the time to smell the roses, enjoy a sunset, a loved-one, a flickering candle, a song, a book, nature, doing nothing, a day trip. The world won’t stop spinning if you take a time-out. But also, it kind of will, so mostly be a relentlessly hard worker and be crazy dependable between breathers. 

LSG: What are you obsessed with right now? 

I am obsessed with weight lifting believe it or not. I guess I like to believe life is fair. I worked really hard to become a stylist and I’m happy with the results. I’m now dedicated to following a formula to physically change my body and it makes me feel strong and gives me a sense of order and fairness. With styling, a lot of the time, I’m at the mercy of others. But with training, with building muscle and eating right, it’s all up to me. I like knowing I can rely on myself to live up to a challenge and be disciplined.  I’m also obsessed with cooking. I want to do a Julie and Julia move and make every recipe in the cookbook Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano. I also am obsessed with statement earrings at this moment. And a new look I’m going for in my styling - I’m calling it “space-age-casual”. 

LSG: How do you think San Franciscans and Los Angelenos approach style differently? Weather is a factor, but what about the general ethos of each city?

I’d like to know! It’s been waaaaaay too long since I visited SF, a city that was so inspiring to me when I was younger. I’ll have to come visit. But if the Lisa Says Gah team is any indication, I’d say SF is wiping the floor with us. You 3 are super chic! 





Olga Montserrat, Blogger, 12:04

Today we have the pleasure of introducing Olga Montserrat! Olga is the local talent behind 12:04 - your new go-to blog for refined style paired with heartfelt substance. She is not only an online resource for visual inspiration and fashion tips but an in-demand Art Director of the highest regard! This badass Bay Area career lady has worked with everyone from The SF Giants to our favorite feminist fashion mouthpiece - Man Repeller! We grabbed a drink with Olga at the ever-so-elegant Trou Normand to hear what she has to say about building her blog and now we're in serious awe! Read on and you will be too! Enjoy!  



LSG: Hi Olga!! Tell us a little bit about your life outside the blog.

During the day, I’m a Senior Art Director in advertising with an expertise and emphasis on social media. By night, I’m a freelancer in the East Bay, a blogger, an owner of a giant cat named Suitcase, and occasionally a painter.

LSG: What sparked the idea for your blog?

In my professional life, I act as the gatekeeper for brands to curate and maintain what their message and look is on social media — which is essentially a never-ending exercise in restraint. All that discipline left me with a yearning to let loose and be creative in my own way. So one late night in 2006 I signed up for my blog and just started posting. 

LSG: How did you pick the name?

Ha! I put 12:04 down as a placeholder until I came up with something else brilliant. Of course that never happened, so the original name stuck. 12:04 is my birthday, December 4th.

LSG: How long did you roll the idea around before getting started?

About 2 seconds. To me, style is a personal form of branding that can be experimental, fun, or uniform. It's a practice that deserves the same editing and discipline I apply as an Art Director to brands I work with. So, my decision to start a blog was almost instant because my interest in fashion aligned with what I love doing in my professional life.

LSG: What have you seen result in the most growth?

Two things, mainly: I believe my personal style is a never-ending process that grows and evolves throughout the years, so my own personal style has resulted in the most growth. When I first started out I would chase trends listlessly, which was fun, but now I know my body and what really works for it. When I incorporate a trend into my wardrobe now, it’s done in a more edited way that still feels unique.

Blogging is something I do in my free time, so for me the other area of most growth has been my ability to appreciate my family and friends. I’m a very lucky girl in that my friends and family are die hard supporters and have been kind enough to take my photos when my husband can't. I’m married to my best friend, photographer, and partner in crime, Nick, and together we collaborate on a lot of creative projects, including my blog. I’ve also met a lot of talented people through blogging and have received a lot of emails and comments throughout the years of people supporting what I’m doing. Those comments from readers and my personal relationships have been the most rewarding.

LSG: Biggest lessons in the first year? 

I’ve been blogging for way more than a year, but the biggest lesson I've learned from blogging is to be authentic. Honestly, just do you. it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing because blogging and social media is all about pretty visuals and #goals. I think blogging is most fun when you can ignore all that and just be yourself. I used to be so worried about being relevant in so many things that it sucked all the energy and fun out of blogging. I let go of all that and I just focus on posting whatever I want, whenever I want. Blogging isn’t my business and doesn’t pay my bills, and I really like the independence and the freedom that comes with that. I can focus on keeping 12:04 about my style and my creativity. 

LSG: What kind of advice would you give people thinking about starting a blog? Mistakes to avoid? 

First of all, don’t overthink starting a blog. Just do it!  There are so many platforms right now that make it easy to sign up and start posting to a beautiful template. So go for it! My second piece of advice is going to make me sound like a broken record, but it is so important: just be freaking authentic. These days blogging can seem so business-oriented and at times homogenized. My personal favorite blogs are the ones that are creating cool and unique content, like mixing and matching fashion in a really novel way — kind of like street style used to be in the heyday of Tommy Ton.

LSG: Tell us about your LSG shop picks! Why did you select what you did, and where would you wear this outfit? What do you love about each piece? 

I chose a couple pieces that I felt would enhance my endless pursuit of Gamine style. I really liked the whimsical bows on Sonia by Sonia Rykiel button up balanced by the severity and dressiness of the structure. That combination of hard and soft appeals to me as a self-proclaimed tomboy.

I am obsessed with the cut of the Nude Label bodysuit paired with the full Demy Lee skirt. I’m surprised I went for it because it’s just so unapologetically girly, which is unexpected for me. The balance of the tight bodysuit and the lady-like skirt is just such a classic combination, it reminds me of graceful ballerinas in Degas paintings and Audrey Hepburn. Who wouldn’t want to try that?

I also picked out the Martiniano Glove flats. They’re incredible - the equivalent of high-waisted jeans in the way that they cover most of your toes. I can totally see myself wearing those with practically anything in my closet, from boyfriend jeans to mini dresses. Finally, that delicate Sonia by Sonia Rykiel silk dress is just the most beautiful shade of green - it's perfect all on its own as a minimalist piece, but I liked toughening it up with a ton of intricate necklaces stacked on top of each other. Again, that balance of feminine and tough is what I love to aim for.        



Art direction: OLGA MONTSERRAT






Kate Brien, Stylist, View From The Topp

You know Kate Brien from the wild success of her shoe-showcasing Instagram, View From The Topp, but did you know that she also styles for the likes of Vogue, Lucky and J Crew?? As a stylist, Kate is often working with the vision of her clients in mind, and while this is essential for advancing in her career, she felt the need to craft something of her own. Thus came View From The Topp! Kate digs the anonymous aspect of her foot facing feed, but there is a lot going on above the knee! Today Lisa Says Gah chats with Kate poolside at The Line Hotel in LA to bring you a peek at her day-to-day as a stylist. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Kate!! In your line of work, you must constantly be thinking about what's next. How do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from all around but, honestly, a lot of it comes from my friends. I try to surround myself with people who work in different fields than I do - it makes me think about things from different perspectives. One of my best friends is a dancer, one works in food, one is a photographer, and another is in politics. I’m always learning from them which keeps things changing and inspires me to do new and different things.  

LSG: A lot of people want to be stylists and glamorize the profession, what is it actually like?

A lot of hard work and waiting around for checks!  

LSG: How would you recommend someone approach the field? How did you get started?

Intern and assist!  The fashion industry has a lot to do with connections, and the best way to make them is by working with people that you admire, which often means taking a job and doing it for free. I interned for all four years of college in different areas of the fashion industry to figure out what I wanted to do. My first internship was in PR at BPCM, then in design at Alexander Wang and finally for stylist Kate Young. After graduating from NYU and getting a degree in fashion design from Parsons, I moved to Los Angeles to assist stylist/Vogue contributor, Lawren Howell.  

LSG: Being self-employed requires some major discipline. What advice would you share with people just getting into self-employment or working from home?

I think it’s important to create some structure for yourself. I try to plan my days out and write a lot of lists to make sure that everything I need to do gets done. It’s also nice to give yourself breaks, especially if you work on your own. I like to plan lunches and meetings to break up the day so that I am more productive in the time between.

LSG: Is it important to have a routine? What does yours look like?

Yes! A typical day starts with a walk with my fiancé and pup to get coffee followed by either yoga or pilates.Then I come home, go through emails and make a list of the things that need to get done by the end of the day. If I have a styling job coming up that means requesting looks, scheduling/going on pulls, and doing research or creating mood/inspiration boards. If I’m working on a View From The Topp collaboration, I could be putting together outfits, sourcing rugs and scouting grounds or shooting looks. On weeks when I don’t have a lot going on I try to spend time updating my website and looking for inspiration - whether that be at an art gallery or on Pinterest.  

LSG: Is there anything in LA you recommend we check out next time!?

The star show at The Planetarium!  

LSG: What are you obsessed with right now? 

The band Harriet, Shasta Daisies, Elad Lassry photographs, and macrobiotics. And my 4-month-old niece, Franny!





Emily Proud, Painter

Stepping into Emily Proud's home studio is like wandering into the Atlantis of San Francisco real estate. You hear a lot about places like this, but never see them, so you decide they don't exist. Well, ladies and gentleman, they do! Smooth white walls leading up to high ceilings, bay windows throughout, a fireplace ensconced in subtle Victorian moulding, and (GASP!) a lush backyard outfitted with a trellis covered chair swing and countless wildflowers. It's no wonder Emily produces such stunningly ethereal work. Watercolor is one of the hardest materials to master, and master it she has. Playing with levels of pigment saturation and value, Emily translates everyday observations into visual shorthand while cherishing the decisive nature of the medium and experimenting endlessly. Today Lisa Says Gah takes you along as we bask in the sun of Emily's dreamy backyard and chat with her about The Bay Area's art community, bursts of creativity, and finding your daily uniform. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Emily! Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now? Are you a Bay Area native?

Yes, I am a Bay Area native! I was born and raised in San Francisco. I was lucky to grow up in a place that appreciates art and has a lot of resources. As far as my path goes, I liked painting as a kid, and I had family and teachers who encouraged me. I took art classes in high school and went to UCLA for art school. I graduated in 2008 and worked at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for four years. In 2012, I started to take painting more seriously and ended up where I am now. That’s about it!

LSG: When did you know a career in the art world was for you?

I just decided as a kid that I wanted to be an artist and never questioned it!

LSG: Tell us about the materials you choose to work with.

I’ve worked with a little bit of everything over the years, but watercolor is my favorite. I prefer the immediacy, and I like the touch, weight and even the sound of working on paper. I also like the idea of becoming knowledgeable of one thing. It would be cool to learn how to make my own watercolors and paper. 
LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? Can you take us through your process and concept?

A lot of my paintings are inspired by something I saw that just struck me a certain way. They also showcase properties of watercolor that I find beautiful. I usually go straight to paper to hash it out, not expecting to get it right the first time. I may have to go through a few iterations before I create what I was going for. My process is slow, so I’m usually working on a few things at a time. 

LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with creative struggle?

My creativity comes in bursts. There will be a week that I make a bunch of paintings and another that I hardly make any. I’ve just learned to accept this and roll with it. Deadlines are great in my book when it comes to staying motivated.

LSG: What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields?

I would say create an Internet presence. I think that’s helped me the most in getting my work out there.

LSG: What is your relationship with fashion like? How do/do you see fashion intersect with art?

I looooove fashion. I really do. I’ve always taken clothing pretty seriously and enjoyed being creative with it. As I get older, I’m more and more interested in finding a uniform that works for me and less interested in experimenting with weird thrift finds like I did in high school. I change my hair quite often, though. Fashion is just another great way to express yourself like art is. Have fun with it!

LSG: What are requirements when it comes to an article of clothing? Do you have separate wardrobes for work and life, or are the two one and the same?

I’m super picky. Comfort is big. I can’t handle a lot of fast fashion because it’s made of crappy materials. I will go into the men’s section and fondle the fabric and construction and get so pissed because it’s so much better. I would never wear stilettos. I am drawn to androgynous looks. In middle school, my mom would beg me to dress cuter because I preferred baggy cargo pants!

My clothing from studio to nighttime doesn’t differ too much, but I have noticed that a lot of the “flair” in my outfits comes from a fun coat or a swipe of lipstick. None of which I’m usually wearing while I’m painting, so I guess I feel a little bit more complete when I’m out and about. 

LSG: How do you feel about the art world of the Bay Area? Why do you chose to live here?

I really like the art community in the Bay Area. People have been very kind and supportive. It’s small, but I think that suits me best because I’m a homebody. I mostly chose to live here because my family and my friends are here but at the same time I don’t think it would have lasted if it didn’t have art.    

LSG: We know that an artist's work is never done but when you do take breaks, where might one find you on a sunny day off?!

I am all about time off. I am religious about it, actually. My favorite place to relax is Sonoma. I also like the park, or participating in anything that involves eating and drinking. 

LSG: Is there anything in your neighborhood that we should check out?

I have a pretty awesome backyard (thanks to my upstairs neighbor who likes to garden). I like having tea out there sometimes in the morning. I live on a beautiful tree lined street in the Mission that has all kinds of fun things in walking distance, including Urban Putt, where I will school you in mini golf- just saying!





Clare Vivier, Designer, Clare V.

When we heard that Clare Vivier was in San Francisco, we couldn't help but jump at the opportunity to sit down with this accessories queen and talk fashion. Not only does Clare design with the modern woman in mind, but she also has a wicked sharp intellect and some of the best personal style in town. She met us on the fly at our neighborhood favorite, 20th Century Cafe, for a quick pot of tea and a chance to hear her thoughts on dressing as an art form, getting down to business and how noticing the lack of something in the market may just be what you need to succeed. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you tea with Clare v. Enjoy!!

Photo cred: Katrina Dickson

Photo cred: Katrina Dickson

LSG: Hi, Clare! We know Paris and San Francisco are involved. Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now?

I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and went to college in San Francisco at USF. After school, I lived in Paris, and that's where I met my husband. We moved back to the Bay Area, and we lived in Oakland for a few years before moving to LA. I was working for French TV, and I was looking for a chic laptop case to use for work, and couldn't find one - that's where and when the line was conceived.
LSG: Starting a business is scary, and a lot of people talk about starting one but never do. Where did you find the confidence and drive to take the plunge? What do you think holds people back?  

I had a clear vision of what I wanted to create, which gave me the drive to go out and start it. I knew what I wanted and couldn't find in the market, and felt that there was an untapped opportunity to create something special. It's easy to get discouraged by the challenges and hardships as you're starting and growing as a business, we are always adapting to new challenges that present themselves. But that's also what keeps it exciting!

LSG: As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

Find a way to intern at a larger company in the field you're interested in. It throws you in head first, and you're exposed to so many different and important parts of the business that way. It'll give you a better sense of whether it's right for you and give you an invaluable experience to start off with. Also, be honest with yourself about what you’re good at and find other people to complement your strengths and weaknesses as you start to build your team.

LSG: All of your designs are stylish AND practical; a combination often sought and rarely found. How do you envision the lifestyle of your brand?

We're always careful to design for the modern woman in mind. Much like me, she's working, she may also be a mom, she's going out, she travels, she has a very full life, and we want to complement and accommodate that as best we can.
LSG: Materials obviously play a huge part in your line. Is that where you start when creating a new piece? Tell us about the process of designing a collection.

I work with a great team, and we start with an inspiration that comes through travel, research, reading - anywhere! We're presented with materials to work with, and we begin creating a collection that speaks to the season and the inspiration. It's a process that our design team is a part of, and as the days and weeks go by; it's exciting to see it take shape and look whole.

LSG: Where do you source inspiration and how do you organize it?

I always have a big board in the office that is full of all different types of inspiration. It can be anything from a vintage bag we've found to pieces of fabric, pages from international fashion magazines and different fonts. Anything that sparks some idea and serves as a reference as we design the collection.

LSG: Often the fashion industry is dubbed as superficial by outsiders, but SO many intelligent young women are actively pursuing careers in fashion-related fields. Is the perception of superficiality changing? Why do you think fashion holds such a captive audience of thoughtful young women?

I think the industry has dramatically changed over the years, which is an exciting thing to see and an exciting time to be a part of it. Between the advances in technology that are driving sales, to the new labels that seem to be orientated toward an intelligent young woman - like Horses Atelier, Jasmin Shokrian, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Rachel Comey, and even more established lines like Acne, and so many more to name - not lines for flighty girls. What I love is that these are obviously intelligent collections reflecting a strong consumer.
There are also so many great women designers right now running their companies and there is no way to get around the fact that when it comes down to it - it's business. The reason I think fashion holds a captive female audience is because I think girls like to dress up - we like to adorn ourselves. And as you get older, you realize that fashion can also be an art form and a business.
LSG: What’s on your list while back in San Francisco? Any spots you try to make it to whenever you’re in town?

I always love shopping on Hayes and Fillmore. And I can't visit without stopping at The Mill on Divisadero for toast and coffee. And I always intend to stop and get a burrito in the Mission -  I used to survive off them when I lived there!



Sarah Kissell, Jewelry Designer, Pure Magenta

 You're familiar with the squiggle design currently gracing many an avant-garde item, right? Well, we have Sarah Kissell, the multitalented Art Director behind Pure Magenta to thank for that quirky thought-provoking symbol. This lady single-handedly revived the energetic squiggle, popular a few decades ago, and made it more than relevant. So relevant in fact, that we now have the pleasure of blinging out our lobes in her new Squigg Earrings. Today Lisa Says Gah gets the scoop on this wild creative and her mysterious interests - heads up, you may find yourself oddly interested in white contact lenses by the end. Enjoy!  

LSG: What inspires your new jewelry line? Why squiggles?!

Sarah Kissell, my namesake jewelry line started as an experiment and extension of my daytime work as an Art Director. Initially, I wanted an opportunity to play with elements tried and true to my personal vision, but brought to life in 3D and rich materials. The line is a playful expression inspired by proportion, severity, and the spirit of the 1980s. It's still an infant concept, but will experiment mainly with shape, scale and gold. 

Squiggles have become an unintentional mark of my identity. It’s a commonly found gesture in the design world, which over the years became a signature of mine—so much so I decided to put it permanently on my body. I enjoy the mark for its ups and downs, its exact yet free nature, similar to life in a way—constantly in progress and to be determined.

LSG: What do you do when not making really cool art and earrings?

I spend my daytime as an Art and Creative Director. For the last four years, I was the founding Art Director at Nasty Gal, based in Los Angeles. When I’m not working on crafting brand identities, I spend a lot of time on my manicures. Like creating jewelry, my nails have become another accessory and devoted extension to my identity. I’m a minimalist at heart, so I pay special attention to the small details. 

LSG: Current bizarre obsession? 

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have an abundant amount of bizarre obsessions. Writing about them makes them less bizarre, though, so let’s just leave a little mystery as my mother always said. Currently, I’m obsessed with latex clothing and desperately wish I could pull off wearing white contact lenses. 

LSG: What's next?

I’m currently working on a fetish Ikebana video series called Seeking Arrangements with my friend Scott Grover. My day job requires me to be on point, leaving little to no room for error, so I like to use my personal time to experiment, test, and play. Often time our industry places too much emphasis on the result rather than process, so I’m enjoying the project as an opportunity to make for the time being. 

I’m continuing to expand conceptually and working on adding more shapes to the jewelry collection, which will reveal itself slowly as I’m in the progress of an exciting move to NYC. 






Heather Day, Painter

Heather Day doesn't plan paintings. Each one captures the moment of its creation and becomes an essential aspect of the story she tells through art. Experimenting with layering of materials and the action of painting itself, this Bay Area artist is getting her work out there - something many struggle to do. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you inside Heather Day's sun-drenched studio to hear what she has to say about dressing comfortably, turning sound into imagery, and how believing in yourself is the first step towards success. Enjoy! 

LSG: Hi, Heather! Thanks for having us! What brought you to the Bay Area? 

I’m originally from Hawaii, but moved around quite a bit as a kid. I spent most of my childhood just outside of Washington DC, and I went to an arts high school in Chicago.  I studied painting and art history at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Shortly after graduating college, I made the jump and moved cross-country to San Francisco. I have lived in the bay area for almost three years! 

LSG: When did you know a career in the art world was for you?

I have been seriously pursuing painting since high school. I’m sure a lot of artists can probably relate to this, but there was always a lingering question on whether or not it was a sustainable career. I always had other career options on the back burner. 

LSG: Tell us about the mediums you choose to work with and why?

My primary medium is acrylic paint. I also use pastels, graphite, thread, and charcoal. My newest favorite medium is spray paint. As the scale of my work has gotten larger, I have also been forced to shift materials to maintain the level of energy without losing the mark in a larger sized canvas. 

LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? Can you take us through your process and concept? 

This question is difficult. My first thoughts, when someone asks this, is "well, do they want the taxi ride pitch or the real deal?" I’ll tell you what I’ve been thinking about lately.

I’m inspired by everyday abstractions and how those moments relate to personal relationships. I’m constantly taking note of color and texture and thinking about how that would translate into painting. My work isn’t very complicated. It’s simply about the act of painting. Making a mark and reacting.

LSG: You mentioned being influenced by sound, how does that work? 

Sound is a new concept in my work. Rather than seeing a texture on a wall. I like to think about how sound can translate to color or something linear. 

LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with creative struggle?

The biggest creative struggle for me is when I’m working on a large canvas, and the piece is about half way there. Sometimes I freeze, and I’m not sure what to do next. It’s so easy to fall in love with a mark or how the paint pours onto the canvas. The question for me is always how to take it to the next level without overworking the painting. 

LSG: What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields? 

So many things! Confidence is key. You need to stand behind what you do 100% before you can convince others and make a living doing it. 

LSG: What is your relationship with fashion like? How do/do you see fashion intersect with art? 

My relationship with fashion has always been rather minimal and neutral in color. I’m constantly concerned about color and composition. I’d rather not think about it when approaching fashion. It’s distracting. The simpler the clothes, the better. 

LSG: What are some of the most important things you look for in a clothing item when shopping?

 Comfort and confidence. I want to feel good in what I’m wearing.

LSG: Why do you choose to live in SF but have a studio in Oakland? 

When I first moved to the bay area, I was living in Oakland for the first year. I moved to San Francisco expecting to eventually move my studio here too. That changed as I started looking for studios in SF. The spaces don’t compare to what I have in Oakland at Norton Factory Studios. It's a blessing in disguise. I enjoy being part of the art scenes in two different cities and appreciate the growing art community in my studio.

LSG: Is there anything special in your studio’s neighborhood that we should check out? 

Yes! There is a brewery that just moved in next door. It’s called Ale Industries, and they have a rad happy hour. 

LSG: Where might one find you on a sunny day off? 
A day off? That sounds amazing! If it were 75 degrees and sunny, you’d probably find me picnicking with friends at Dolores Park or biking along the coast.




Ellen Van Dusen, Designer, Dusen Dusen

San Francisco just got way cooler and Ellen Van Dusen is to blame - and her little dog (Snips) too! We say "blame" because we're going to feel a loss when Ellen heads back to NY, after reading this, you will too. In town for a Workshop Residence, this lady really has the brains to back up her creative vision. The queen of contemporary patterns, Ellen bases her process on neuroscience and the evolution of vision while taking inspiration from her contemporaries in the art world. Way more than fashion, these designs have rare depth just like their creator. Today Lisa Says Gah spends some time with Ellen at her (temporary) Dogpatch district studio, so you can take a peek behind the scenes. Enjoy!  

LSG: Hey there! Let's jump right in, shall we. Can you give us an idea of the path you've taken professionally?  

I don't have any formal professional training, I’ve been wingin’ it since 2010 when I started my line. I did a design your own major program in college where I studied the visual process from different disciplines. I focused mostly on the neuroscience and evolution of vision, and how that relates to our perception of art and design. Right out of college I worked for a clothing designer, Mary Meyer and learned a ton. After about a year, I went out on my own and started Dusen Dusen.

LSG: It might seem pretty obvious, but can you tell us how you decided on the name of your company? The reiteration is interesting. 
My last name is Van Dusen, and growing up a lot of my friends called me Dusen. Because the line is based around repeat pattern prints, I liked the repetition of Dusen Dusen. Plus it has a nice ring to it.

LSG: We know you live in The Big Apple. How does location inform your process? 

Being in New York definitely has an influence on the types of things I am making. What I love most about living here is easy access to what’s happening in art and culture. I go to galleries and museums regularly and stay up to date on what’s happening in the art world - I really enjoy it. Engaging in such a dynamic community of artists and makers provides a lot of the inspiration for my prints.

LSG: What "type" of person do you design for?  

I usually just think about the things I imagine my friends wearing. I like my clothes to be easy and comfortable, but still to stand out and be a little bit weird. So, laid back, weird, cool, comfortable. That is how I would describe my ideal customer! I want her to feel confident and cool - not like she is going overboard but still unique.

LSG:  How do materials inform your work? 

I like the fabrics I work with to have that same easy quality as the silhouettes. I like natural, light fabrics that have a good drape and that feel nice against your skin.

LSG: There can be an air of mystery around a finished piece. What is the process of designing really like? 

I usually start by looking at a lot of art and music - soak up the things I like and design from that point. In my SP15 collection, I looked to Johnathan Lasker, Daniel Buren, and Giacomo Balla before sitting down and getting started. But it’s not all design! I think when starting a fashion line it is easy to underestimate the amount of time you need to dedicate to the business end. The design process is only a small part of my job, and it’s good to be prepared for and understand that before diving in.

LSG: What would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss? 

Time management! It is never worth it to procrastinate. Also, being able to pinpoint the most important thing that needs to be done and making sure it is done well.

LSG: Can you give us a brief overview of your bucket list? What are some “musts”?

I am dying to see a great white shark (from a boat, not while swimming). There are shark tours in SF out near the Farallones but it’s not shark season at the moment, so I didn’t get to make it happen. I’d like to figure out how to make hard candy, someday I hope to grow a really huge, good watermelon, and I would like my dog to get first place in a costume contest. That’s all for now!

Interview by Olivia La Roche 


Dee Larsen, Designer

Dee Larsen is a fashion badass. Born and raised in The Bay, this Nasty Gal Veteran is beyond experienced and currently making a name for herself as the Collaboration Queen! Just in case you're in doubt, we'll drop this little tidbit on you - Dee studied at the same school in Paris that Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld attended. GAH! Jealous? Well, you shouldn't be because this lady is about as down to earth as they get and friendly to boot. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you all the way to LA for a look at Dee's career and the advice she has for those interested in a similar route. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Dee! Can you share the basics of your background with us? Where are you from? How long have you been in the LA Area? 

My early years were spent roaming around the Bay Area. My parents were never married, and both lived very bohemian and transient lifestyles. I cruised around on dad’s motorcycle through the South Bay and spent a period with my mom in Oakland. But, it was San Francisco that I fell in love with, and I made it my goal to end up there. I spent summers in high school taking the art and fashion courses the Academy of Art offered then applied for a scholarship and moved straight to S.F. the day I graduated high school. Throughout my life and during college I never really left the West Coast, so when I had an opportunity to study in Paris, I hopped on a plane and spent a year there. After that, I came back to SF and my friend Sophia Amoruso, who I’d met when the early days of internet stalking on Myspace, told me she was moving her company (Nasty Gal) to LA. She made Southern California sound so seductive that I couldn’t resist packing my bags and migrating down. I got another call from her when I arrived telling me she wanted to launch Nasty Gal’s in-house label and asked me to join the design team. I didn’t hesitate. That move was almost four years ago, and I’m still in LA!

LSG: Your latest project is with Kendall and Kylie Jenner for Topshop. Collaboration seems to be your specialty. How has working so closely with brands and individuals influenced your career? 

I just don’t see why you should limit yourself to one dimension of thinking. People are what inspire me most of all, and we live in a culture so filled with different backgrounds and points of view. The best results come when you’re bouncing ideas back and forth with people who inspire and challenge you. 

LSG: Do you have any personal/professional side projects? Can we expect a namesake line anytime in the near future? 

I stay busy when I’m not at work! My friends keep me inspired, whether it’s collabing on photo projects or sketching, painting, cooking, etc.
Creating my own line is something I definitely want to do. I have a concept I would love to work toward. However, I do like the anonymity of how I work now, so my project would have its own name and identity separate from mine.

LSG: A lot of young people are interested in fashion and fantasize about being a designer. What does the reality of succeeding as one actually look like?

 I think what’s most important is never to be complacent and always be willing to get your hands dirty. Also, be aware of all the opportunities out there, especially considering how powerful social media is today - we all have access to it. Send out applications all you can, build your portfolio/website/Tumblr/Instagram/Pinterest and keep it updated and the content flowing, and network.  Utilize the tools you have available to you.

LSG: What advice would you share with people just getting into a career as a designer? 

Take risks and opportunities as they come and know your worth, but never be above doing anything. Most people don’t want to work with an asshole. Be kind. Be humble. And don’t stress yourself into a waking coma, because then you’ll become an asshole whether or not you intend to.

LSG: How do you think San Franciscans and Los Angelenos approach style differently? Weather is a factor, but what about the general ethos of each city? 

Well, San Francisco has certainly changed a lot since I left. With the expansion of Google, salaries and rent have increased and pushed most of the younger, artistic, gutter-punks and heshers out of the city and into Oakland and beyond. When I was there, it was still expensive, but we would pair clothes we bought by the pound in the Mission with the then-so-exciting arrival of H&M. And sometimes splurge on contemporary and fashion forward finds at places like Harputs Market. But the climate is so different, always so windy, hazy, and cold that at the end of the day you just want to be warm and comfortable while you’re taking the Muni. LA’s vibe is a lot more relaxed, a lot warmer. Here people seem to be most concerned with the quality of life and health. They have fun with fashion, and want to look and feel good. It seems more of an effortless cool. Cool, but not too cool.

LSG: What are you obsessed with right now? (Anything! Food, shoes, music, exotic carnivorous plants...) 
I’m obsessed with Amy Schumer and @fuckjerry/ Amy Schumer is a badass, a genius, and the type of female I admire. Unabashedly herself. I’m also obsessed with food, music, and travel.  

LSG: Is there anything in LA you recommend we check out while here?!!? 

There’s so much in LA to see! I recommend you take a drive through beautiful Angeles Crest, walk around the Arts District and grab a bite at Zinc or a drink and honey glazed brussel sprouts at Cerveteca!
LSG: Last but not least! What is your astrological sign and do you care at all about it? 
I’m something on the cusp of Scorpio and Sagittarius? I have no idea what it means, and I’m not sure that the alignment of the stars on the day of my birth has anything to do with my personality. I’d attribute that more toward how I was raised and life experience. Horoscopes are fun though. I love to read about all the times of year I’m going to run into an obstacle, make or lose dollars, or find unexpected romance in a far off and exotic destination.




Angela Tafoya, San Francisco Editor, Refinery29

Angela Tafoya is the reigning queen of San Francisco's burgeoning fashion scene. As the local editor for Refinery29, her job is to know about everything cool before anyone else does, and then make sure we all hear about it in a fun engaging way. This style maven sees S.F. as THE PLACE to start for new fashion-focused folks. Her advice is to build it here and expand with your cult following in tow. Today, Lisa Says Gah has the privilege of bringing you this beauty's amazing style and insight - all tied up in the pretty package of her one-of-a-kind eclectic home. Enjoy! 

LSG: Your home is beautiful and SO unique! What is the history behind this alternative living space? How did you find it?

Thank you! We actually heard about the space through friends who were relocating to New York. It was previously Gallery Hijinx and has had many lives before that — including a plant store. We took out the removable walls and added a few things to make it super liveable — like more shelving. Apparently, the space survived the 1906 quake, so it’s definitely super old and has little charming features like the farmhouse sink. We love it. Being ground level is a little interesting but we wouldn’t have it any other way! 

LSG: What’s the best part(s) of living in the Mission?

I love the Mission for its amazing, colorful murals and unique architecture. But, it’s also nice having so many great cafes, restaurants, and shops all within walking distance. Walking around my neighborhood is one of my favorite ways to unwind; I feel like I discover new things each day. 

LSG: When did you make the leap to San Francisco? What was your initial take then, versus now?

I moved about six years ago. I lived in the East Bay before moving to S.F. Coming from LA and growing up in the Central Valley, the warm days were definitely something I missed. At first, when I moved I didn’t realize the Bay had such a small, but impactful, fashion/design scene, so coming from a city with so much going on, I was a little confused on where or how to find it. But, now, I’ve not only accepted the mild weather, but also realized just how active the style hub is and I feel like it’s just getting larger and stronger.

LSG: What’s with the S.F. fashion scene? Why do we get such a bad rap?

Well, obviously it’s much smaller, and there is much more of a focus on how things are made, who you’re buying from, and the narrative the brand tells. I think S.F.’ers approach shopping a little differently in this sense. As for the whole “bad style” thing, I think it stems from the Bay Area’s love for comfort and for the fact it is such an active city.

LSG: Refinery29 is arguably San Francisco's most influential resource for all things fashion/lifestyle. From an insider's perspective, how do you see the future of fashion here?

Like I mentioned above, I think it’s definitely getting savvier. There has been such an influx of people from other cities moving here, generating ideas, starting cool companies. I think this definitely impacts the level of style and taste around the city.

LSG: You primarily work from home. How do you structure your day to avoid over or under working?  

What’s great about my position is the fact it’s so broken up with shoots, meetings, writing etc. I typically start my days at 7:30 a.m., write my first post or work on stories for the next day, and then later in the afternoon schedule shoots and meetings. I think one thing that really helped me organize my days, was setting up a designated space. Even though I work from home, I still wake and up and go to my desk whenever I’m working. It gets me in work mode versus lounging on the sofa or working from bed. I do think it’s important to have a routine. Before I start work, I wake up about a half hour early to make coffee, get dressed, and then I kind of break up the hours of my day, and keep a to-do list. I prepare this every night before I start work the next day. Obviously, this doesn’t always happen, but when I take the time to make sure it does, I’m SO much more productive.

LSG: Do you have to carve out time to relax and recoup? 

I do have to remind myself to step away at times. Information moves so fast, and being constantly connected makes it easy to always be working. I feel lucky to live in a city that values work-life balance though. And, one of the greatest things about S.F. is the proximity to nature. It really helps me relax. 

LSG: What is the last book you read and loved? 

Okay, I will admit it that it was #GIRLBOSS! It was a great, quick read and definitely full of surprising tips and career information. 

Interview by Olivia La Roche 


Alexes Bowyer, Jewelry Designer

Inspired by the rich history of metal and gold work in her ancestral home of Colombia, Alexes Bowyer has been exploring jewelry through varying processes and techniques since 2005. Her work is all created in San Francisco and seamlessly combines themes from American youth culture, architecture and art history. Alexes employs an intuitive awareness of the human body to create unexpectedly wearable designs. The resulting contemporary jewelry line is a fusion of eclectic points of reference and is both challengingly modern and timelessly elegant. 

LSG: Hello! Thanks for having us! Your home is stunning and obviously full of vintage and unique items! Where do you source decor?

One of the benefits of growing up in The Bay Area and staying here is remaining close to family. Most of my antiques are from relatives locally or in Colombia. The rest is from a lifetime of thrifting and rummaging flea markets. I am always on the hunt and bring home something new almost everyday, which means I’m also constantly getting rid of stuff. Its a double edged sword. 

LSG: What inspired you to branch out independently and pioneer your brand?

I always knew I wanted a career in the arts but it took some experimenting to get where I am now. I studied art history in college and I’ve always been a practicing artist, painting, drawing and dabbling in many fields. My professional background is now in metalsmithing, I have been working in metal for 10 years at this point. About a year and a half ago, things got really serious and I translated my knowledge into a business. I wrote a plan, created a website and began marketing myself - things have just kept propelling forward from there. 

LSG: How does your environment / community influence your process?

I am inspired by the people I know and the intricacies of the relationships I have with them. My friends all have amazing and varied personal style but what really contributes to my work are the unique paths that my friends take in life and how by knowing them I am brought into worlds I wouldn't see on my own. I design with that in mind and try to find an effortless way to translate an idea in my head to the physical realm.  

LSG: Who is the person who wears your designs? Do you have a muse in mind? 

I create for the type who seeks quality and craftsmanship above all else, someone who is passionate about dressing and adorning themselves as a form of self-expression. My friends are my muses, each piece is named after one of them. I do this because it transforms my work into a physical manifestation of the connection I have with my community and that’s something I want to share with my customer.  

LSG: Can you describe the feelings you want someone to experience in one of your designs? 

I want whoever is wearing my jewelry to feel powerful and enhanced. I want my work to become a second skin, something you feel naked without because it’s comfortable but also because its become part of your self-expression. 

LSG: How do the materials you use inform your work? 

In many of my designs the metal speaks for itself. I like to look at the material I am working with and see what it tells me it would like to become. When I work with gemstones for one-of-a-kind pieces, I design around the individual beauty of the stone to showcase it in a special way. I don’t force a material into an idea, it’s the other way around - I form ideas to support the material. 


LSG: Can you tell us about your process of designing a collection? What are influential themes embodied by your current collection?

I sketch a little bit but mostly I design with tools in hand, modeling and making mock-ups of things and then taking it from there, tweaking and improving a design until I feel it’s right. The signature of my collection right now is the orb. It all started with trial and error like most things do. I was playing around with a horseshoe shaped pendant with an orb on each end and it wasn't working. I started twisting and reforming it to see what was possible - that’s how the Selene ring was born. From there I fell in love with the circular shape and started exploring the ways in which I could expand on it. It morphed into a cohesive collection on its own.


LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in  starting a fashion company? 

You need to put yourself out there but don’t take every opportunity that is presented to you. As a young designer I think it’s important to stay true to your visual philosophy and focus on authentic connections rather than pursue notoriety at any cost. Cover all your bases, know how to do every level of work involved in your business and focus on making the things you feel need to exist. Most importantly find a way for your work to be in harmony with the rest of your life because after you start a business your work is your life!

Interview by Olivia La Roche


Laura Schoorl, Designer, Pansy

Laura Schoorl has spent her creative career building out her wardrobe and simultaneously improving ours. This self-proclaimed "hippy at heart" is successfully running not one, but two Bay area businesses and making her mark without leaving one environmentally. Pansy is Laura's lovely line of organic underwear, and she also has a namesake collection of  uniquely wearable clothing and leather goods. This local lady has discovered that coveted balance between industry and artistry. Today, Lisa Says Gah has the pleasure of bringing you a peek behind the scenes. Enjoy! 

LSG: Hi, Laura! Thanks for having us! Can you shed a little light on your career path? 

I was born and raised in California and I've lived here my whole life. North, South and back North again. I lived in the Bay for the first time while I was going to school at UC Berkeley then moved to LA and came back a few years ago. 

I started working as a designer when I moved back to Oakland. I studied rhetoric and planned on pursuing a law career - until I decided to retire at 25. I tinkered around as a sandal maker and then started making leather bags. I've been doing that for a couple years now. I also started Pansy with my dear friend and fellow sandal maker Rachel Corry a couple years ago. It was my first time pursuing a venture on a grander scale. After that, I launched my clothing line. 

LSG: Your studio is beautiful!! Can you tell us about Ogaard and your space here?

It's getting there. I'm excited to reorganize and make it more inviting. Ogaard is a gallery and studio space run by Tessa Watson. Tessa is the best. She is a constant innovator and connector. Her curation of the gallery tends to be a collaboration - she works closely with every object that comes into the space and gives perfect guidance to each artist she works with. I am grateful to be a part of such an inspirational space. 

LSG: What inspired you to take the plunge into working independently and pioneering your brands?

I like being the boss of it all. I am very comfortable with taking chances and exploring new possibilities. If I get an idea in my head I tend to follow through.

LSG: Can you speak to the differences between Pansy and your namesake line?

Today, the difference is one of name and scale. Pansy feels like its own entity. It is my sustainable underwear project. I like that it is more contained in its ambitions. I also feel perfectly comfortable with making thousands of undies. Underwear is a use object and there will always be a need. My line is a bit of everything that I dream up and feel like making. It's an outlet for my idle hands. 

LSG: Can you describe the lifestyle of your brand?

I truly just make the things I want to exist in the world. So I would have to say the lifestyle is mine. Hot chocolate for breakfast and nachos for lunch. Saying yes too much. Overwhelmed with the possibilities of life. 

LSG: How do the materials you use inform your work?

Materials are everything. Most of my energy is spent on sourcing the best (environmentally conscious, sustainable and ethical) materials possible, I have an insatiable guilt around making things. I am an incurable Californian hippie at heart, and I am constantly trying to reconcile creating more stuff. 

LSG: Can you tell us about your process of designing a collection?

I design the clothes I want to wear, which may seem self-serving and it totally is. I have spent the last few years building out my dream wardrobe. 

LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it?

I am always absorbing the world around me and that comes across unconsciously in my designs. I do take lots of photos, but I rarely look through them. 

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a fashion company?

Intern in the field you'd like to pursue and get an intimate idea of what that life looks and feels like - to see if you'll truly enjoy it. Then just start making things.

LSG: What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss?

You need to have a tireless work ethic. It also takes truly loving what you do. You'll never stop working so you shouldn't be doing it for any other reason than an innate desire to create.

LSG: Can you give us a brief overview of your bucket list? What are some “musts”? 

Being pregnant, I want a couple cuties in the next few years. This year, I want to go to Japan.  I also want to try out for a higher division in my women's soccer league. 

LSG: Is there anything special in your studio’s neighborhood that we should check out?

Berkeley Farmer's Market on Tuesday afternoon, my favorite. Right now, there are the best blueberries!

Interview by Olivia La Roche 


Gina Esposito, Designer, Nu Swim

Gina Esposito has managed to do what many of us only dream of. Discontented by her work-a-day routine in mass market fashion, she made the bold decision to dive into running her own business. The result is Nu Swim, a San Francisco-based line of innovatively simple swimwear. Gina has advice that just might change your life if you, like many of us, are on the brink of something great. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you a look inside the mind of this design pioneer. Enjoy!    

LSG: Hi Gina! Let's get right down to it! Tell us your story, what inspired you to pioneer Nu Swim?

I studied women's fashion design at FIT in New York and started my career just before graduation in 2006. I worked as a designer for a few companies before uprooting that life and taking a leap. I moved to California in 2008 and started designing and working with a few companies out here - Old Navy, Gymboree, then Levi's for 4 1/2 years. At the end of 2013, I started freaking out - I was going to be 30 and wasn't doing what I wanted to be doing. I was (and am) very grateful for my professional path, but I always knew I wanted to work on my own and do something powerful. I never intended to work in mass market fashion, it's just what I landed in. I thought a lot about working on my own line, but nothing ever came to fruition. I was having fun, working hard, but I didn't quite know who I was yet - which is great because it brought me to where I am now.

So, anyway, I am a swimmer, have been all my life - my father was a professional swimmer, and even though we are not close, it was ingrained in me at a young age. I’m sure that the first day I was allowed out of the hospital, after being born, I got a nice dunk in the ocean. I grew up on Long Island, spending every possible moment at the beach and swimming in all forms of water. Years of swim team, 6 years of ocean lifeguarding, cutting class (sorry mom!) to go on dark winter ocean drives, you name it. I always wanted a swim line along with my own clothing line, but when I finally realized I should start with the swim line, I had a lightbulb moment. I was sitting on my couch, grumbling about turning 30 and I realized everything all at once and took charge - look what came from that! It's all happening. All of the festering became productive and my ideas finally became reality!

LSG: Wow! That's fabulous. So, what's behind the name of your company?

Nu means nude in a few languages. I wanted it to speak for the brand in a way that means no extras - no padding, no crazy strings or inauthentic looking details - nude in that way.

LSG: How does your environment / community influence your process? Can you describe the lifestyle of your brand?

I'm from New York but have lived in California for almost 7 1/2 years. I have always been a California girl at heart, but I still have strong New York values. I feel a weird sense of happiness when I land in JFK and see everyone yelling at each other and gabbing away, it really inspires me. I feel oddly happy and even shed a few tears when I get there. There's absolutely nothing in the world like it, and it's so important for me that I'm from there. I have to feel that combination of feelings every few months - those crazy personalities really work me. On the other side (literally): I also love California, everyone is so positive - I feel people are genuinely trying to live a simple, blissful life. I am extremely inspired by the nature and strange architecture out West. There's nothing classic about it. The colors of the houses, the bizarre square shapes with no insulation and old glass (sometimes plastic) windows - Mediterranean and mid-century homes are showcased here in a great way. The landscape is green all year round and I can pick plants and fruits from my neighbors yards, go for long drives through the mountains, find places to swim, take trips to the desert. The lifestyle of Nu Swim is connected to California's eternal sense of adventure combined with the straightforward, no-nonsense of New York.

LSG: How do you want people to feel in one of your suits?

Comfort, maybe a little power, different, inspired - like they made a good, new choice.

LSG: What's it like to design a collection?!

Well! There are so many parts, I don't know where to begin. I collect a lot of images, so it's about editing and looking at color to get a feel for what I want to develop. So many ideas pop in and out of my head. When I've narrowed down a story, I continue to edit my designs and ideas. Then I start working out the function of the garment I'm creating. Then comes pattern making and sample making. Then more editing. When things are solid, I head to my factory to make samples, then I do fittings, look at the numbers, figure out what I need to take out or add, then more sample making, etc, etc.


Then it’s time for production which is a lot of waiting - but in the meantime, you're still going, creating marketing plans and budgets and, my gosh, what else? I guess at some point you're done and you launch and sell - all while doing everything else over again, and trying to stay organized. It's pretty crazy, but fun, and is always completely different from where you began. As much as I'd love to be, I'm not a strict conceptual artist, so it's hard for me to embody one theme. I usually start from a place, and the next piece of information that comes into my brain will inform the last. Nothing ever goes away, so it is usually a mash-up of all of my brain parts, which I think is also called A.D.D.

LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a fashion company?

Running your own business can be psychologically daunting. I would suggest starting every single day by making your bed and going for a nice walk. Try not to bring your phone with you - let your list flow in your head without any distractions. Starting your day off with these two organized accomplishments will really inform the rest of your day. Also: patience, confidence, organization, being yourself.

LSG: What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss?

Well, #1 is patience. If things aren't coming to fruition, don't rush to try and make it work, let it run its course in the right direction, you will be glad you waited because the end result will feel correct and inspire your next move. Organization. Practice. Take your time. I would say that working for a few different types companies in your field is extremely beneficial. Don't be overly confident - you need the experience in whatever form that may be. Let your feelings be natural but don't get too discouraged, it's all worth it. Respect and take in the criticism you receive. It will be beneficial to you in the moment and down the line.

LSG: Can you give us a brief overview of your bucket list? What are some “musts”?

Bolivia, New Zealand, China, Japan. Build a house.  Learn to surf again. Get the courage to swim with whales. This year I mastered swimming and dunking in extremely cold water, absolutely life changing!

Interview by Olivia La Roche 


Sarah Law, Designer, KARA

Sarah Law, the New York-based founder of accessories label, KARA, sees open space as a perfect beginning. She encourages you to take yourself less seriously and when faced with an opportunity, she recommends you "go ahead and just do it". These deceptively basic bags have quickly risen to the top of our wish list and we think you're going to feel the same. Taking inspiration from varied and opposing sources, Sarah connects fun and functionality with a sensible and innovative trademark. Today, Lisa Says Gah chats with this cosmopolitan lady about Kate Moss, communication skills and grabbing your bag and getting on with your day! Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Sarah! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today? 
I went to Parsons School of Design and was hired by Patrick Robinson to design women’s accessories for Gap after graduating. I worked there for 3 years, then left to start my own company. It took me about a year and a half to work on the concept, develop the product and set up the business. We officially launched in stores in August 2013. I have always dreamt of making things and being able to make a living from making things, so it has been a real privilege to realize that dream.

LSG:  KARA is such a unique and catchy name for a company. How did you come up with it? 
The name KARA comes from the Japanese word ‘karaoke’, which means 'empty orchestra'.  I chose this name because it represents the idea of open space to express yourself and be creative - without taking life too seriously.  Also, coming from an international background, I wanted a name that was easy to pronounce in different languages.

LSG:  Where do you find inspiration? 
My environment and community have a huge influence on my process. A lot of my inspiration comes from the women around me. They tend to be other business owners, women who make things or work in a creative industry. I like people with a clear point of view on the world around them, their role and how they live in it. As someone who has always lived in cosmopolitan cities, being in an urban environment has a big effect on the design process and the product - it shapes the lifestyle of the brand. The products are simple, modern, and versatile.

LSG: Bags are such an essential part of everyday life. Who do you design for? 

The KARA woman has a strong sense of personal style and enjoys the process of curation, finding new brands, and unique items. Her interest lies in beautiful design and independent labels rather than heavily branded luxury products or ‘it bags’. I would like my customer to experience a feeling of ease. When designing my bags, a large focus is placed on functionality. So as she goes about her day, I don’t think her bag should be on her mind. But rather, just a feeling that she is able to comfortably fit whatever it is she needs and, therefore, focus on other more important aspects of her day.

LSG: How do the materials you use inform your work?
Our signature material is pebble leather, with enterfino lambskin leather being our secondary material. Each season we develop a novelty material such as rubberized mesh or shearling to name a few. When exploring new materials we start by folding, molding and crushing it to see how it reacts and holds shape. Depending on the weight of the material,  we will decide which part of the bag it works best in and if it needs extra support or can hold its own.  Novelty and narrative are beginning to play a bigger role in my work. These days we are spending more time to source materials that replicate a certain feeling or sensation.

LSG: Can you tell us about your process of designing a collection?

The process starts from a central theme or inspiration, which can come from almost anywhere - artwork, friends, or just life in general. We then build a color palette and research different material options. We use the properties of the materials to decide which silhouettes and parts of the bags they will go into.

LSG:  As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a fashion company?

The best way to learn is to go ahead and just do it. Of course going to school and learning your craft is of utmost importance, however, there are countless things you just can't learn until you have to do them on your own.


LSG: What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss?

One thing I didn't anticipate, or rather didn't think about at all, was the fact that even though I am a fashion designer, I spend a large amount of my time managing the company. I have a team of seven lovely women that work for me and I would say that the most important skill, thus far, has been learning how to articulately communicate my vision. Practicing your communication skills will be invaluable. 

LSG: Can you give us a brief overview of your bucket list? What are some “musts”?       
- Camping in Patagonia
- Surfing in Costa Rica
- Have a child with Issey Miyake
- Make a replica of the famous sheer dress that Kate Moss wore (with Naomi Campbell) in that one picture from the 1990's - and wear it in public! 

Interview by Olivia La Roche 

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Sarah Simon, Managing Editor, The Thing Quarterly

Sarah Simon is our new muse and one of those once in lifetime women - amazing at everything she sets her mind to. A Los Angeles native, Sarah has made the Bay Area her home and boy, has she done a good job of that. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you a look in to the picture perfect details of Sarah's space. From travel adventures to creative endeavors, this is a truly curated life. We are saying GAH to this lady and you will too. 

Sarah is wearing our Electric Feathers Top and AMO denim Babe jeans. 

Sarah is wearing our Electric Feathers Top and AMO denim Babe jeans

LSG: Hi Sarah! Thanks for having us over! This is a beautiful area of Oakland, what’s the neighborhood called?

This is Grand Lake.  This house sits on top of a funny little hill triangulated by Grand Ave and Lakeshore Ave.  Lake Merritt, the country’s very first wildlife refuge, is a short walk away, so all kinds of birds pass through.  There’s also a lot of sun here, so you can find all kinds of plants growing - roses, wisteria, paperwhites, lemons, oranges, figs, plums, avocados, loquats...

LSG: Your house is stunning. Can you tell us the story behind it?  What are some of your favorite places to source decor?

The house is Spanish Colonial Revival and was designed in 1917 by an architect for himself and his family to live in.  It has really good California vibes - we try to keep all the doors and windows open as much as possible.  I fell in love with the house the moment I stepped inside.  When I was a kid I would draw floor plans of my dream home, and the blueprints for this house may as well have been lifted from my drawings.   All that’s missing is a swimming pool with a water slide in the courtyard.  I can’t take all the credit for the décor - it’s a wonderful joint creation between me and my two housemates/soul sisters.  But I think we all try to surround ourselves with things that have history and carry stories. Almost all the decor is second-hand - either passed down from family or friends or scored at flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales.

LSG: You have a really cool job at a unique company. What is The Thing Quarterly all about? What makes you passionate about working there?

The Thing Quarterly is an art periodical in the form of objects.  We work with a different artist every three months to produce an issue, which takes the form of a different useful object each time.  It’s kind of a dream job - I work with a small team of amazing people, most of whom are working artists, and we get to collaborate with some of our favorite artists, designers, filmmakers, and musicians to produce our issues and projects.  It’s fascinating to learn how someone like Tauba Auerbach or John Baldessari works and then figure out how to make the things they want to make - clocks, dice, umbrellas, pillowcases...  Each issue is completely different and I am constantly challenged and learning new things.  

LSG: So, we know you are a very multifaceted woman. You have a few projects going. Can you tell us about your musical path and how the band Magic Magic Roses came to be?

Magic Magic Roses is a folk/country band my friend Kate Sweeney and I started in 2008. We started off by playing Jimmie Rodgers covers and then slowly began writing and playing our own songs.  We recorded our first album on a four-track in my living room.  By the time we recorded our second album at a proper recording studio we had a drummer (Sam Berman).  Now we’re a four-piece with bassist Damon Bennett.  So official!  Aside from recording and going on a couple of small tours, it’s been very low-key. Kate teaches 4th grade and my days are spent at The Thing - but it’s been a really important part of my life.  We’re planning on recording a third album this summer!

LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with fashion? How/do you see fashion intersect with art and music?

When I was in high school I learned how to sew, drape, and make patterns - and this still helps me recognize good garment construction and appreciate interesting design.  I also recently spent a summer learning how to spin yarn and weave at my aunt’s farm in Vermont, so I appreciate textiles that carry the mark of the human hand - I love finding little imperfections in weavings or places where vintage garments have been altered to suit some past occupant.  Fashion can carry meaning as much as art or music carry meaning.

LSG: What are some of the most important things you look for in a clothing item when shopping? How does something need to make you feel for you to consider it?

I’ve recently decided that from here on out I’m only going to buy clothes that I can wear for the rest of my life.  I’m drawn to clean shapes and lines - and comfort.  I look for clothes that I can move in.  I wear a lot of black and navy, mostly because I’m particular about color.  This is going to sound a little woo woo, but when I do wear colors I wear them to channel different energies.  I wore a lot of red after my last break up.  Sometimes I wear all white to feel like a prism refracting all the colors.

LSG:  (Now for the lighter stuff!) Where might one find you on a sunny day off? Is there anything special in your neighborhood we should check out?

I’m a true LA girl.  I  love the sun.  I try to spend as much time as possible on our deck at home - it’s great for morning yoga or reading or napping or crafting.  I’ve been dabbling in ceramics for the past year and I try to spend some time making pots every weekend.  If I’m not at home, I’m usually on a hike or at the flea market with my boyfriend.  He goes every Sunday like it’s church.  Saturday mornings I like to walk down to the Lakeshore farmer’s market.  There’s also a mini redwood forest a couple blocks away.   

LSG: A little birdie told us you recently went on a Nile cruise in Egypt! That sounds amazing. Where would your next dream trip take you? Top 3 destinations on your wishlist.

Yes! I recently sailed down the Nile with a group of friends and family. The boats are owned by my boyfriend’s incredible aunt and uncle, and I’m actually helping with the redesign of their very 1990s website (  There is obviously so much history there - but you can really feel it.  I loved marking the hours by the calls to prayer, which would kind of float over us as we floated down the river.  It was all very surreal.  Next dream trips?  Japan is at the top - especially Naoshima island.  Also northern Europe - we’ve been talking to friends in Copenhagen about going on a canoe/camping trip around some islands out there.  And Greece – I think I’d really vibe with those blues and whites.

Interview by Olivia La Roche 


Olivia La Roche, Writer, San Francisco

Olivia La Roche is a fashion writer based in San Francisco’s Mission District. Interested in exploring the cultural significance of fashion and its power to captivate and educate, she takes an alternative approach to her craft. Today Olivia invites Lisa Says Gah to take a peek at her home and some of her favorite spots in the neighborhood. Enjoy!

POSTED March of 2015

LSG: Hi Olivia! Thanks for having us in your home. Tell us about yourself, what do you do?

Welcome! I’m really happy to be connecting with like-minded fashion professionals in San Francisco. We’re here but it’s not like New York or LA, and conversations like this are really important to foster a thriving fashion community. I am a bit of a  jack-of-all-trades when it comes to working in fashion. I had the pleasure of collaborating with the talented team at Lone Wolf Magazine to bring issue 11 to print and am currently writing for the Lone Wolf  Blog as we are between issues. I also do freelance copy and content production for creative companies, which is a lot of fun.

LSG: Your room is so cozy! Would you consider this to be your creative space?

Thank you! I do. I have always been sensitive to my surroundings (perhaps overly so) and my room is a reflection of that. It is my personality externalized and mirrors what’s going on in my life, what’s inspiring me and what I need to feel good while living in a hectic city.  It’s my sanctuary. Also, in a more literal sense, it serves as my studio – you can see the giant easel taking up that corner; it’s not just for show. I have an art degree and still paint when I can find the time.

LSG: Tell us about Lone Wolf. How did you land this job? What do you love about it?

When I started getting into fashion publication seriously, I was thinking of starting my own magazine. I was knee deep in planning and research when two people who know me really well discovered the magazine and independently sent me the link. They both said that it was basically the magazine I would create. It was amazing to see exactly what I wanted already up and running and doing well. I decided that being part of Lone Wolf would be an invaluable learning experience and it has been.

LSG: At age 6 what did you see yourself doing career-wise?

It's funny you ask because I was thinking about that the other day and had this really amazing moment of “oh yeah, I’m kinda doing that!” when I remembered what I wanted at that age. I used to snatch copies of Vogue from my aunt and sit at my mom’s desk with a red pen marking them up as if I was the Editor in Chief. I pretended the issue was just about to go to print and I had the final say. Don’t ask me how I knew anything about the workings of a magazine at that age but I knew I wanted to part of one. While I’m not an Editor in Chief (yet!), it feels incredible to be in the working environment of my dreams.

LSG: Describe your typical workday.

I mostly work from home, which has its ups and downs. It can be hard to motivate at times but when I am on deadline I turn into a machine. Some days are a blur of writing. I cut myself off from the world, get pretty disheveled and drink lots of coffee. After I turn something it feels like I’m coming up for air. When I go to the office, I like getting really polished because I have a lot of great clothes, and never have enough excuses to wear them.

LSG: You’ve lived in the Mission for 6 years now. What attracted you to this neighborhood, and why have you stuck around?

When I was moving to San Francisco, the Mission was the only neighborhood I considered. At the time, it was just starting to generate buzz and I was attracted to that “up and coming” vibe. It was being compared to Brooklyn and I saw myself as the “Brooklyn type”.  Now the neighborhood has changed a lot and so have I. I’m not focused on being any “type” but I still love where I live and haven’t encountered anything that would call me out of my current spot. Sometimes I think a change of neighborhood would be positive, but you just can’t beat the microclimate and varied offerings of the Mission. It’s such a wonderful mix of people, plus the view out my window is of one of the oldest sequoias in the city and we’ve grown attached.

LSG: Which places do you frequent most? When you’re not in the Mission where can you be found?

The places I frequent in the Mission mostly coincide with my walking routes - 24th Street has many gems. Press is a great vintage bookstore and magazine/stationery resource; its right next to Sidewalk Juice where I get my green juice so I usually stop in and see what’s new. Most of my friends have gotten birthday gifts from Press this year, so maybe I need to switch it up! Just a block or so from there is this total hole-in-the-wall fish market called Basa Seafood. You would never think to go in, but they actually make some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. It has zero ambiance, so I usually pick up a platter of sashimi and have friends over. It’s really affordable, which is almost unheard of in San Francisco and is great if you’re feeding a big group.

Downtown is a fun change of pace from the Mission - I like being in the thick of things. My friends and I get together to try new restaurants and one of my latest favorites is Trou Normand. The food is amazing but the space is so beautiful they could be feeding me cereal and I wouldn’t mind. Highly recommend.

LSG: Describe your personal style. What is it most influenced by?

I see personal style as a tool to navigate the world. I dress for my mood and what I know I am going to be up against on any particular day. I rely on how putting something on makes me feel and that’s the main influence on my personal style. Clothing can communicate so much - it can be a coat of armor or an invitation. I love the psychology of dressing. Comfort is important so I tend to lean in a menswear inspired direction. I love long overcoats, silk shirts and suiting with simplistic lines. My mother describes my style as “severe” and I actually like that - believe it or not.  Although, I have been more playful lately, incorporating some fun and feminine pieces. I just got a baby blue moto jacket and that’s been changing things up. It felt really good playing dress up with Lisa Says Gah, all the beautiful silks and knits made we want to explore a softer side of myself.

LSG: How do you unwind?

I take a lot of baths. It’s like hitting the reset button. Sometimes I take these “ultra baths” where I basically camp out in the bathroom – bath salts, clay mask, wine, and snacks. I even put my laptop on a little stool and watch a movie. It’s pure hedonism and is pretty embarrassing if someone walks in!

LSG: Any advice for aspiring writers and creative’s looking to get into the fashion business?

Don’t settle! You see people who have the careers of your dreams so obviously it’s possible! Why not you? Get a foot in the door any way you can. Go on informational interviews, take people you admire to coffee. Ask for help. Get a mentor. Go to every event you can and look people in the eye and introduce yourself - that's how it all starts.

Designed and constructed in Spain by Ana Alemany and Clara Ropero, Nude Label takes basic to the next level through a flawless combination of classic lines and modern material. These uniquely simple pieces are created to accentuate the natural beauty of a woman’s form through the use of soft cotton, a balanced color palette and conscious craftsmanship. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you a little chat with the dynamic duo behind the brand. Enjoy! 

Image via Grit Magazine

Image via Grit Magazine

Image via Grit Magazine

Image via Grit Magazine

LSG: What does sensual mean to you?

Sensual for us means to be comfortable and confident in your own skin.

LSG: What are your favorite pieces from the collection? What makes it special?

The Cut Out bra is our signature piece. It is an item that you can wear for every day life and fits really well to different kinds of bodies. We wear ours almost every day. :)

LSG: Describe your personal style and how it influenced the brand.

 Minimal and basic. We both feel really comfortable in basics. Plain t-shirts, skinny black jeans, and jumpers are essentials in our wardrobe. We mix them together with some special items that give us personality. 

 LSG: What does a normal work day look like for you?

First thing we do in the morning is make a “to-do list” so we can make sure that at the end of the day everything has been done. After this, we go through the mail with a coffee in our hand. The rest of the day really depends on the stage we are in. Some days we spend the afternoon preparing orders, while others are focused on production and so on.

LSG: Tell me about your studio/ creative space?

Both of us work together in a lovely house-studio close to the city center. The space is bright and quite big. We are sharing it with a girl working in fashion too, a guy who lives in the house, and a black cat we adopted a few months ago. Since we spend a lot of time at the studio together we all have become very good friends. The good company makes the long days of work easier.

LSG: How do you unwind?

It is difficult to disconnect when working on fashion and especially when you are the business owner. To unwind we have different activities. Ana is into pottery, while Clara enjoys swimming. Apart from this, we both enjoy the company of our friends and family on weekends.

LSG: What are your favorite places to shop/eat/drink in your town?

Ruzafa is our favorite neighborhood in Valencia. It is an area full of bars, restaurants and interesting stores. 

Now time to unwind! x Ana & Clara

LSG: Your brand is based in Spain. How does your environment inspire your creative process?

Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain

We are based in Valencia, Spain. Valencia is a very sunny and calm place where we can work peacefully and focus on our brand.

LSG: What is your background? Did you study design?

We met at Uni in Spain where we both studied fashion design. After graduating we moved to London where we specialized in different areas of fashion. Ana focused in production while Clara continued to study marketing and communications.

The idea of starting a project together came to us while we were in London. We started to develop the idea of the brand with the core values of The Nude Label. When we had the concept clear we decided to move back to Spain. We started looking for fabrics and started working on designs with our producers.

LSG: What made you pursue designing lingerie? How did you get here?

We decided to get into underwear as we feel like there was a lack of basic and nice underwear in the market, we just wanted to wear underneath the same kind of clothes that we were wearing on the top.

LSG: Do you have a specific girl in mind when designing?

We don’t have any specific girl that we design for. We design pieces that we would like to wear.

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Crafted for individuals making bold statements in both life and wardrobe, this progressive line of clean and minimal designs has been continually morphing since its launch in 2006. Just Female is based out of Copenhagen and successfully blends elements of both Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics while highlighting the soul of each chosen material. Today Lisa Says Gah finds out more about the people who bring you the brand. Enjoy!

LSG: Where are you based? How does your environment inspire your creative process?

Just Female is based in Copenhagen – right by the industrial harbor. The big open office space and the bike ride to work along the seafront inspires us creatively to work with the architecture and nature around us.

LSG:  What is your background? Did you study design?

Mia, the designer, studied design at The Royal Danish Academy. Coming from an extremely diverse background Mia doesn’t hesitate to use color and to create prints that really stand out. She is extremely fixated around materials and their importance. Silks, viscose, tencel, denim and shearling are her favorite to work with.

LSG: What made you pursue designing clothes? How did you get here?

At the age of nine Mia found herself at the library bookshelf with the fashion magazines and books and she kept coming back ever since. After High School she entered a pre-design school and was later accepted to the Royal Danish Academy School of Design. During her studies she lived in Japan and interned at companies in Stockholm and London.

LSG: Do you have a specific girl in mind when designing?

The Just-girl is edgy and cool. She’s not afraid of wearing matching 2 piece sets or making a bold statement in maxi-length trenchcoats. She values quality and finesse on raw styles like the Chin Shearling Jacket.

LSG: What are your favorite pieces from the collection? What makes it special?

Favorite pieces right now coming up for the summer drop is the Afrodite Dress and the cool Ziggy Long Shorts. The dress really is a perfect throw on for Summer with a pair of new sneakers and the long shorts are just a wardrobe stable with a loose black top for nights out and a regular white tee for those summer days.

LSG: Describe your personal style and how it influenced the brand.

In general we think of our personal style is uncomplicated and easy to wear and something you can use for work. With a change of shoes you can wear for a dinner in the afternoon.

LSG: What does a normal work day outfit look like for you?

A pair of jeans and a cool knit jumper, or a jersey tee.

LSG: Tell me about your studio/ creative space?

We work together in a team, sitting quite close together with a beautiful view of the sea. We have all our lovely garments very close to us so we can work very easy with it and develop the best styles always keeping the mood of the season in mind.

LSG: How do you unwind?

By cooking at home for family and friends. Right now Japanese food is what is trending in the kitchen, but next up is some Turkish dishes we tried on our last trip to Turkey.

LSG: What are your favorite places to shop/eat/drink in your town?

We love coffee at Just Female and always go to Original Coffee in Copenhagen. They are located a few different places, but the one in Bredgade is our favorite. We love nights out and at the moment we are sooo into Mexican food- and Condesa is where you have to go. And it turns into a club-like feel once dinner is finished.  We all love shopping, and for the most part the shop shoes – Notabene for amazing cool boots and Naked for the best sneakers!


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