Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from New York. I lived in a small town in Austin, Texas while Studying at The University of Texas.
I’m glad we finally have the chance to speak because I think that your story is pretty cool and inspiring. At 22 years old you’ve started your own company, La Femme New York. Can you tell us a little about how you started La Femme?
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work in the fashion and beauty industries. I just didn’t know as of what capacity that would be. I found my way into PR because I was working for so many women in their early 20’s that had owned their own company’s and were working for themselves. When I decided to start my own agency I didn’t tell anyone. I told some people about the idea of it but never went into depth about my intentions. I came up with the name La Femme New York by just being in a vintage magazine store looking through 90’s versions of what The Gentlewoman is today. I settled on La Femme because I knew that I wanted to solely represent women and women-owned businesses. As of now, we’re catering towards the fashion, design, and beauty industries.
You’re also a model at Wilhelmina models, how did that come about?
I started modeling when I was about 14. I modeled until I graduated high school and moved to Texas for school. It all came about when I was interning for a PR agency in 2012, during New York Fashion Week. I was mistaken backstage for one of the models. After the show, I was handed a card by a model agent and one thing led to the next.
What are some of the challenges being a black woman and business owner in the fashion and beauty realm?
Fashion is one of the hardest industries to breakthrough and being a black woman on top of that makes it even harder. No one wants to be the token black girl and I think black women are still misrepresented within the fashion industry. When I was working as a model there would be many makeup artist and hairstylist that had no idea how to style my hair or do makeup that complimented me. Now, being a black woman, owning a black-owned business is very empowering for me. It’s empowering because I never have to go into an interview again wondering if I’ll get the job or not, because of the color of my skin. The most rewarding part is being able to work for myself and provide opportunities for others and not having to worry about being looked over because of my race.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about school. I’m still a student, working on my masters in advertising. I’m passionate about brand development and communication. I’m passionate about furniture design. I actually used to have a blog entirely dedicated to Furniture design and design spaces. I also love public spaces. It’s kind of weird, but I love walking around the city with my friends. Exploration is also a passion of mine.
“I love reading. Right now, I’m reading mostly old Acne Papers for inspiration. Their features are great, and so perfectly put together. This is how my desk looks on a typical day. The pin is good luck, I found it at LaGuardia Airport on the floor, I walked past it, then circled back to pick it up. It’s so me.”
How would you explain your personal aesthetic?
Fashion-wise, I would say that my personal aesthetic is very minimal, modern, and easy. Comfort is a major thing for me. I went through a phase where I always dressed super extravagant, but now I’m fine in just jeans, a T-shirt and a great shoe. My personal aesthetic is also very apparent in my professional life as well. If you look at La Femme everything is very modest and black and white. Everything in my life is black and white ant the moment.
What advice would you have for other young people that are trying to figure out their career path?
My advice would be to stay in school. There were so many points in my life where I wanted to drop out of school and move back to New York, but staying is worth it. I would also say to not solely rely on school. School's a great tool and you'll learn so many things, but it doesn’t teach you everything. Experience is crucial. Keep persevering. Keep applying for jobs and internships. I received so many rejection letters and emails and I never gave up. Use the rejection as a tool to go even harder. Get back on the saddle and keep reaching out. Mentors are very important and beneficial. I’ve benefited more from having great mentors than I have from working internships. Constantly reach out to people in your industry and also outside of your industry. Don’t limit yourself. If you see opportunity, take it.
Do you think it’s important to have a personal aesthetic?
Yes, definitely because it sets you apart. There are people that will hire you just based on that. Having your own look and standing out from the rest of the hundreds of people they see a day.
“I like to remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes, especially when you work in such a fast-paced setting”
Who are some innovators that inspire you?
Steve jobs, Emily Weiss, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. Excluding Steve Jobs, all goes back to women owning businesses and being influential leaders in business. I love how Emily Weiss started her business on her own and how she has grown it into something so unique and valuable. Any woman that has started her own business is an innovator to me. Women that are breaking barriers and shaking up the boys club of business are all innovators.
What makes you innovative?
I make my own rules. That’s what makes me innovative.
Lastly, Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Professionally, I see myself having my own office for La Femme. Preferably on the Lower East Side or downtown Manhattan. I want to have a showroom/studio/office all on one floor with a staff of about 5 women. When I started La Femme the goal or vision was to have it be a New York based company. But, as I’m growing and now representing clients in London, I see it being more global. As far as my personal life I see myself married, possibly with a child. I don’t know. But I know that I want to still be doing what I’m doing now and on a larger scale and still being passionate about it.
- Innovative Aesthetics would like to give a special thanks to Alyssa Neilson for sitting and talking with us.