1. I was fan of yours in the MySpace heyday. It always felt like you kind of built a fan base just out of being funny and relatable, and having a good ear for music & eye for style. Did you ever have pipe dreams that weren’t within the design world (music, TV, PR, etc.), or was this always kind of the game plan?
It essentially was always the game plan. When I was little I would sit in my concrete basement for hours cutting out outfits from Limited Too magazines and pasting them onto paper and into new outfits that I thought worked better, making all of my outfits into an entire book. At age 18, I decided to go to fashion school to study the business aspect of it. When I was 20, I worked for a PR firm and took a few Psychology classes. I’ve always had a lot of different passions and hobbies that I’ve pursued, but what I do now definitely makes me the happiest and satisfies me the most. My entire life I’ve always knew that I wanted to work for myself. It just felt right.
2. What were the hardest obstacles in being young and starting a business? Do you feel like people doubted your level of dedication because of your youth?
Funding the project on my own was one of the biggest obstacles. I had been saving my tax return from my previous streetwear retail job at The Hundreds and also selling some of my own designer clothes/bags on the side — straight from my closet. I continued to keep flipping and built it off that. I don’t think people necessarily doubted my dedication, since the proof of my hard work was there for them to see. Luckily, I received a lot of positive support early on to keep motivated.
3. Do you work with a lot of creatives—designers, videographers, photographers stylists—to market your product? Is collaboration a source of inspiration for you?
Everyone I work with has such a creative, unique mind. Each of them inspires me, day after day. For example, my boyfriend Mark Shami is a jeweler/jewelry designer/videographer, his sister Kelly is an insanely talented graphic designer, my best friend Lisa Caprio is a hair & makeup artist, my friend Marcelo Gaia is a stylist. When you get all of us in a room together it’s just pure magic. I love working with friends, the vibe is natural and fun — and in my opinion that’s when the best ideas come to life.
4. It seems like you send along personal touches with all the purchases—whether it’s the tag printed inside with your branding or a little card—how important is all that in building a brand?
I am such a sucker for detail. It makes me feel that much closer to a brand. Especially being an online retailer, you want to strategize the best possible ways to give your customer the closest feeling to an in-store experience. If my tags made you giggle or crack a smile when you opened your purchase, then my mission is complete. In my eyes, a little bit of detail goes a long way. It’s like “hey..awwww, they care and they don’t JUST want my money..yay” *nuzzles into clothes*
5. You’ve always been successful at building a “personal brand,” before that was even a term people our age were aware of. Do you think of yourself as a brand? How do you separate yourself from your work?
I always say, we are all basically our own walking breathing billboard advertisements. It’s up to that person how they want to utilize what is around them and the tools given to us. Some people don’t necessarily look at them as tools though, which is interesting. For example, some people look at Instagram as strictly a platform to post photos of friends, family, what they have done, seen, or ate. Which is completely what Instagram is originally meant for. On the other hand, some people look at it as an outlet to grow a business and start a career. Everyone’s outlook is different, and that is totally okay.
6. You’re very very Chrissy Teigen-esque in terms of being off the cuff online—I’ve always admired how you come off both down to earth and confident at once. Do you have to think about your choices (re: what you put out there, what you say) more now that your name is associated with your business?
Thank you! Unfortunately, yes. I have toned it down a tiny bit, but I also think that has come with me growing up and maturing (but only roughly like, 5% more mature now). For example, I used to curse A LOT on social media and surprisingly I have come to realize that that just isn’t too cute. I want to be respected but also want to show my silly, fun, and carefree sides in the right/proper ways. Like, “Ohhhh..she funny but ohhh oh wait she mean biddness.”
7. How important is Instagram, in terms of promotion?
Instagram is extremely beneficial to our company. Along with our website itself and word of mouth, it is a crucial generator of sales and also goes a long way in giving the customer more of a visual experience. Theres only so much story a general product shot can tell. Instagram offers readers and consumers immediate interaction and a better understanding of what we stand for.
8. Do you know if Drake has seen your ‘Champagne Mami’ stuff?
Drake liked one of my Champagne Mami posts on Instagram. I was like, “Damn…okay, that works.”. Following that, I reached out to his team and made him a DG personalized custom Six God Bomber Jacket.
9. How much has your business grown from launch to present?
All of the companies I currently work with are companies I have looked up to for years. I’m really proud and grateful that things are going in that direction. My brand has seen huge growth since the launch but even though I’m so thankful for the progress, it isn’t nearly where I want it to be just yet. I have a bigger vision in my mind – I’m working on it.
10. Do you ship Drake & Rihanna as a couple?
Yes and yes. Although, my dream girl for Drake would have to be a concoction of Rih’s baditude/sass, Jennifer Lawrence’s personality, and Beyonce’s…just…everything.
11. Where’s the best burrito in NYC hiding?
Ugh, I’m still scouring the city for the perfect burrito but one of my favs has to be from Mission Cantina on Orchard. When it comes to tacos and atmosphere, I love Tacombi on Elizabeth. That’s one of my favorite restaurants in NYC.
12. You love WWE— which wrestler’s hypothetical clothing line would you want to collaborate on?
I love WWE but I’d have to take this one back to the WWF days and go with Sable – LATEX, LEATHER, AND CHAINS ANYTHING. My second option would be some Mick Foley/Danielle Guizio collaborative flannels.
13. What was your most embarrassing MySpace fashion moment?
Probably anything that had to do with side bangs and off to the side belts, oh and maybe bows and…okay actually, just everything in general. I’m probably most upset that my even worse phases didn’t make the cut of surfacing Internet days (such as punk, guido, ghetto fab, goth) I used to wear Korn, Slipknot, Nirvana, South Park t-shirts to school in 4th grade pre-MySpace.
14. What advice would you give to yourself at age 19?
Stop riding on the back of garbage trucks throughout New York City.