Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Interview: Liane Weintraub, Tasty Brand

It's no wonder my 10th Interview series takes you into the world of Tasty Brand with CEO, co-founder and mom on a mission, Liane Weintraub! From journalist to entrepreneur, Liane has built an uber sweet empire with her organic snack food that sells both domestically and internationally! Find out why Liane takes it to heart when it comes to educating and feeding children, partnering with like-minded organizations, and finds eating healthy to be a piece of cake! Her brand provides tasty products ranging from soft chewy fruit snacks in awesome and addicting flavors to their bite size chocolate chip cookies, and the newest kid on the block...Tasty Brand sandwich cookies! Kids worldwide are crazy about these tasty treats, meanwhile parents can feel at ease knowing that they are certified USDA organic and verified non-GMO!! Liane's mission is clear! This supermom is a rockstar role model for kids, parents and communities alike. In my books, a perfect 10!! 

Kymberly Marciano: How has your career in journalism inspired Tasty Brand and what it is today?
Liane Weintraub: My interest in current events and my training as a news reporter definitely inspired our company and feeds into what we stand for and the choices we make daily. A lot of what we do was inspired by headlines related to the tainted global food supply, and my coverage of Big Agriculture, genetic modification of crops, childhood obesity, juvenile allergies and other such significant health and environmental issues facing us today shaped our commitment to protecting children and their world from the hazards created by previous generations. This is an integral part of Tasty Brand’s mission.

KM: How did you meet your business partner Shannan Swanson?
LW: Shannan & I originally met when she was working as a chef alongside my step-brother at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Granita in Malibu. From then on, we became close friends. Before we started a business together, we had shared many years of friendship and collaborations on charity events, etc. Also, we had a ball cooking lots of meals together, so a passion for food was always something present in our relationship.

KM: What’s it like running a business with your best friend?

It’s definitely interesting! Our friendship has really been tested as a result of being business partners, and going through all the tough times and stress together, but our friendship has strengthened after weathering the storms as a team. Also, since our business was inspired by our children, that is a very important bond we have in common.  We started having kids around the same time, and they are now a big part of the motivation behind Tasty Brand.

KM: How do you juggle being a mother of two, wife, and an entrepreneur?
LW: Sometimes there are conflicts between work-related travel, yet my children are very much aware of what I do and why I do it, and I would say that my entire family (my husband included!) support the choice I have made to be an entrepreneur. They know that I passionately believe in what Tasty Brand stands for and that, in addition to working to build a successful business, we are trying to create products that embody the values and characteristics consistent with what we believe in. 

KM: What is the creative process when coming out with a new treat? Walk us through it.
LW: The process really differs from project to project, but first there is some sort of inspiration that either comes from myself & Shannan (we are weirdly psychic, so often we have the same ideas at the same time!) or from a suggestion from someone else – a consumer or a retailer. For example, our newest product line is organic sandwich cookies (like a non-toxic “oreo” style cookie) which we started brainstorming when our current cookie factory bought equipment to make that type of cookie. Then, coincidentally, the head buyer at Whole Foods came to us asking if we would consider researching just that item – total kismet! As a result, a year later we rolled out a full line of 5 flavors of cookie exclusively at Whole Foods!

The process looked something like this: first Shannan & I dreamt up all of these cool, retro, bake-shop inspire flavors that we could envision making into a cookie. At that time, we were just “what-iffing” but as soon as the buyer asked us to get serious about it, we got down to brass tacks. Some of our dream flavors were a bit obscure (green tea, for example) to start out with, so we worked on developing the top 6 or 7 ideas, which eventually turned into 5 flavors we put into production.

R&D is the most important aspect of the process because getting the flavors just right is key. Of course people buy our products because they’re safe & healthier than the conventional alternatives, but they have to taste AMAZING! (Unfortunately a lot of organic items don’t.) We spent a lot of time on flavors, tasting way too many cookies.  Both of us have pretty well-developed palates and getting each flavor profile just right is key – no one wants an artificial tasting strawberry or banana cookie! Then we have to pay special attention to sourcing ingredients since all our products must be certified USDA organic and verified non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project.

To me the really fun part is when we dive into package design. Again, Shannan & I are usually on the same page in terms of the visual aspects of our brand, so the design process is generally a lot of fun. We work with an amazing designer, Susan White, who knows our brand attributes inside & out, so the 3 of us have a great connection. Even though we will undoubtedly make tweaks & changes, we are all delighted with the look & taste of these 5 new additions to our product line.

KM: What do you find to be most challenging about eating healthy?
LW: I actually do not find eating healthy to be all that challenging! I am not someone who is particularly attracted to fried foods or heavily-processed foods, so I guess that’s lucky. The part that I find very difficult is determining which products that claim to be healthy are, in fact, good for you. Reading labels is so important and unfortunately many companies are very good at using packaging design and certain marketing terms such as “all natural” to give consumers misleading ideas about their products. Even as someone who has been in this business for years, I have difficulty with it, so I can imagine it would be very challenging for anyone who is relatively new to making better food choices.

KM: Any tips for parents whose kids won’t eat their fruits and vegetables?
LW: The single most important thing in terms of raising kids who enjoy eating fruits, vegetables & other healthy choices is to walk the walk! If they see their parents eating those things, they will more likely grow up thinking that’s just what everyone eats & what they should eat, too. However, if there’s a big struggle in the house over fruits & vegetables and children are “rewarded” with “treats” for eating their veggies, they are likely to come away thinking of them more as an unappealing part of the meal that must be tolerated in order to get to the “good stuff!”

I also have a strong belief in the intelligence of children and their ability to understand basic facts about health & nutrition. Instead of simply telling a child that he/she must east fruits & veggies, parents should consider explaining in some detail why this is important & what plant-based foods do in our bodies. If kids think their bodies are wonderful machines and they have a responsibility to fuel themselves the right way, chances are they will actually make healthier food choices on their own.

KM: Of all the Tasty Brand snacks, which do your kids love the most?
LW: It varies. At the moment, my kids are absolutely obsessed with our new sandwich crème cookies. They are still a novelty (they have had gummies in the house for a while, so the excitement level has relaxed) and they and their friends literally cannot get enough of them!  My daughter is crazed for the vanilla cupcake & chocolate layer cake flavors while my son is mad about the strawberry shortcake & banana split flavors.

KM: I hear that you are a self taught cook! What’s your absolute favorite dish to make?
LW: Yes, I love to cook – it is definitely one of my main hobbies. I am not a “chef,” and I have never attended culinary school, but I’ve picked up a lot of techniques along the way. I also love to travel because I enjoy soaking up different cultures and cuisines.  

KM: What was the hardest dish for you to learn?
LW: I tend not to use recipes, and just cook from my gut, so I have a hard time with baking or making dishes in which all the ingredients have to be carefully measured. I also struggled with meringue for a long time, but I think I may have finally mastered it!

KM: As a philanthropist,which charity/organization is nearest and dearest to your heart?
LW: Well, there are many. Anyone helping children and animals has my undying admiration and gratitude. I am in awe of the work of Mercy for Animals and I love what Baby2Baby stands for. Also, Tasty Brand has a wonderful relationship with Feed The Children, a fantastic organization doing necessary relief work around the world and feeding hungry children here and abroad.In addition, the arts play a very big part in my life and I have always tried to support arts charities. In fact, I founded one called Center Dance Arts, which is focused on bringing the world’s greatest dance companies to perform at the Los Angeles Music Center.
KM: What can we expect to see from Tasty Brand in 2015?
LW: Our new sandwich cookies have literally just debuted at Whole Foods Market stores across the country & so far the feedback is GREAT & we think we have a real hit on our hands! We are busily working on R&D for other new products we hope to launch in the near future, so look out for Tasty Brand!!

Don't forget to follow Tasty Brand on Facebook and Twitter! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

KMP Interview Series: Mischka Aoki

For my 8th Interview Series, get ready to be inspired by the fashionista herself, Winnie Aoki, Designer of Australian label, Mischka Aoki. The brand made its mark on the international scene back in 2009 when her daughter Mischka was born and since then her high end collections have been showcased at kids fashion week NYC, London, and Perth. The new Fall 2014 collection is a show stopper with the use of luxurious fabrics, hints of fur, sequins, tulle, feathers and more! Mischka Aoki invites us into a world fit for a princess, full of glamour and sparkle! Enjoy! 

Kymberly Marciano: As a business woman and mother, walk me through your morning ritual. What are the first five things you do when you get up in the morning?
Winnie Aoki: I love this kind of fun question Kymberly! Okay in short, let me sums it up in 5 words, BlackBerry, IPhone, Shower, Kids, Inspired.

KM: Would you say that having a little girl has inspired your work?
WA: Mischka Aoki was created from my love-of-style and fashion. And yes it all started when my daughter Mischka was born and I couldn’t find anything that - to me - looked stylish & different for her to wear when we were out. I ended up designing and making dresses for her, and that's how everything started. So I guess yes, you can say this is all inspired by her? 

KM: At what age did you discover your passion?
WA: I always have had the passion for fashion in my life, but ‘Mischka Aoki’ was started 5 years ago when my daughter Mischka was born. It was started out just as a hobby and I never thought I would enjoy it so much.

KM: The images from your Spring Summer 2014 look book were beautiful! From where did you draw your inspiration for this collection?
WA: The images from our SS14 collection was inspired by the beauty of the Versailles garden. My inspirations generally came from places that I visited, people that I’ve met during my travel and the different culture that I’ve experienced, just to mentioned a few. The current SS14 collection was mostly inspired by the beauty of the Versailles garden.

KM: "The Crown Princess" Swarovski dress, from your Spring Summer 2014 collection, is seriously stunning. When you begin a new design, do you find yourself sketching or constructing them by hand?
WA: Normally when an idea comes, I would roughly sketch it on paper. However on this particular dress, I remember that I started with a blank plain gold dress in front of me, and then I started by playing with the many different Swarovski shapes and sizes, It took me literary days just to place and pins thousands of crystals on to the dress. And when everything looks perfect, the sewing begin from there.

KM: What would you say is your favorite fabric to work with, and why?
WA: I always love working with intricate things because they are beautiful and it has huge amount of details. So I have to say embroidery fabric is what I love to work with the most.

KM: From hand painted lace and layers of tulle, to hundreds of delicate handcrafted flowers, there is no detail that goes without great attention. Your video, The Making of the Spring Summer 2014 Collection - left me speechless. How many hours do you estimate go into making one of your dresses, from start to finish?
WA: Most of our dresses have huge amount of details, where they require hundreds of hours of hand work, some dresses require weeks to make. We love all intricate things and enjoy adding little details to every dress, and I think this is what makes us different. I personally think every little girls deserves special attention and deserves to have a very special dress.

KM: A beautiful lace look from your collection was featured in La Petit Magazine issue 14. Tell me about this dress?
WA: The dress is called “Grace, Gold & Glory” from our Fall Winter 2013 collection, we use a very beautiful brocade of gold metallic flower, with layers of tulle for the skirt, it is actually one of our best seller dress for the season.

KM: What was your favorite backstage moment from PetitePARADE this year?
WA: Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to attend the show myself this time around, but I heard that all the girls had a lot of fun backstage before and after the show. I was backstage at petitePARADE a few years ago, besides of all the craziness that happened, it was definitely a lot of fun! Watching these beautiful girls enjoy being surrounded by media, is definitely one of my favorite moments. They love to be the center of attention and it really was a lovely moment to watch.

KM: Your show at PetitePARADE this year consisted of some Swarovski crystal dresses, wow! Which was your favorite?
WA: The Queen of Rock, which was our closing dress. I think the dress is amazing and definitely will make a girl stand out from the crowd.

KM: What was the first article of clothing you ever designed? Have gorgeous couture gowns always been your one true love?
WA: It was “ One day in Paris”. My first dress which happened to be quite popular and even now 4 years later that dress is one of style that people still request all the time. I personally love everything ‘couture’ and luxury so I thought if I am doing this, why not make it a luxury line where everything is unique and one of a kind.

KM: What's your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
WA: The moment when you found out everything fits together. The idea, the fabric and the final output.

KM: Your creations are magnificent works of art! Have you ever considered designing a collection for an older demographic?
WA: Thank you Kymberly! You are too kind. We receive many requests from our customers all the time, and every now and then I would do a one of a kind piece for a very special client, so I wouldn’t say that I haven’t considered designing a collection for adults in the future, but children’s dresses are where I am concentrating for now.

KM: Where can we find these beautifully handcrafted gowns?
WA: Mischka Aoki can be found in high end department stores worldwide including Bergdorf Goodman New York,Harrods London, Harvey Nichols London, Harvey Nichols Kuwait, Harvey Nichols Baku, SelfridgesLondon, and exclusive boutique and online stores around the world.

KM: Tell me about the most proudest moment of your career.
WA: Receiving appreciations from people, press and stockist is one of our finest moments, it shows how people appreciate the amount of work, the hundreds of hours that we have to put into each and every single dress. It’s what makes it worthwhile. As well as the ability of showcasing our creations at all the high end department stores and prestigious boutiques around the world.

For Fun:

KM: What are your top five must-have beauty products that you keep with you at all times?
WA: Moisturizer, moisturizer, moisturizer moisturizer, moisturizer!! Can we count that as five?

KM: If  you were stranded on a desert island, what are the three things that you couldn’t live without? 
WA: Ahh.. this is a though question Kymberly! I have to say, my phone, sun glasses, and my high heels! People who know me know I can’t live without those three, even on a deserted island.

KM: Where can we find you on Social Media? What are your handles? 
WA: We are very active on Instagram, so please follow us at @mischkaaoki for daily updates on what’s happening with Mischka Aoki.

Connect with Mischka Aoki on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube

hursday, February13, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Interview: Julianne Goldmark and Emily Matson founders of Emi-Jay Inc.

Prepare to be truly inspired as I kick off my February interview with a dynamic duo of fashionable entrepreneurs who have taken the accessories world to a whole new level with their must-have, addicting and oh so colorful hair ties! Introducing Miss Emily Matson and Miss Juliane Goldmark, co-founders of the celebrity coveted Emi-Jay Inc. These two beauties are not only brilliant and extremely driven, but are pros at running a multi-million dollar company while still in college. These ambitious teens are said to be influenced by the sophisticated style and entrepreneurial spirit of the Olsen Twins, the popular headbands on the show Gossip Girl, choose Starbucks over Coffee Bean, and their favorite movie is, of course.... The Devil Wears Prada! While these besties have a lot in common, read on and discover what differentiates them from each other.

KYMBERLY MARCIANO: Lets start with who is Emi-Jay?
EMILY MATSON: Emi-Jay is the business that we started when we were in middle school that began from our shared passion for fashion and the name is our two nicknames combined.

KM: You two were pretty sophisticated gals to start a company at the young age of 13, so what sparked the concept behind fashion-forward hair ties? Why hair accessories?
EM: We began to notice a growing trend of hair accessories among our friends at school and on TV shows such as Gossip Girl. However, everything on the market was far beyond our price range and too impractical or extravagant for girls our age. With that, we decided to try creating pieces of our own and went to Downtown LA's Garment District to buy materials. We then sat on Julianne's bedroom floor experimenting with our findings, a hot glue gun - and that's where it all began!

KM: Where does your love for fashion come from? Any big influencers?
EM: We have always been bonded by our mutual love for fashion; ever since middle school we would spend our weekends looking through Teen Vogue and shopping together, which is where a lot of our inspiration originally came from. I think we have always been influenced by the Olsen Twins for their entrepreneurial spirit and sophisticated style.

KM: Who are your favorite designers?
EM: We have always been inspired by the classic designs of Chanel, but for everyday wear, we love Zara, Rag & Bone, Vince, J Crew, Topshop, Iro and Isabel Marant to name a few.

KM: What kind of girls are wearing your designs?
EM: Initially, we made our products to be worn by ourselves and our friends at school. However, 5 years later, it's amazing to see that our hair ties have become such a versatile accessory; anyone can wear them, not just girls!

KM: Do you pay a lot of attention to your own personal style on a daily basis?
EM: Absolutely! Our passion for fashion is still a huge part of our lives, and therefore we always make sure we present ourselves in a presentable and put together way on a daily basis.

KM: Can you describe the process of taking your inspiration and turning it into a tangible fashionable accessory?
EM: The accessories we originally made on Julianne's bedroom floor were far more elaborate than the simple hair ties that we sell today - we had to consider how much time and money were going into these beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces and adjust that to make something more versatile and affordable, resulting in the products we sell today.

KM: You have collaborated with a lot of cool lines. What was one of your favorite projects to work on so far?
EM: We have been so lucky to have done such amazing collaborations - one of our favorites to work with is definitely Splendid. As another LA-based company, we share a lot of the same principles behind our brands, which makes collaborating with them so enjoyable! We had the opportunity to visit and tour their headquarters in Downtown LA and pick out color combinations for upcoming seasons, which was so much fun.

KM: What were some of your biggest obstacles when you first got started?
EM: The biggest obstacle when we first got started was our age. As teenagers, it was difficult to be taken seriously when trying to pitch and sell our products. Although we're still young, we've built a brand that gives us credibility, and people now recognize us for being young entrepreneurs, which is an amazing feeling and a compliment in itself!

KM: Would you say one of you is more creative and the other more business?
JULIANNE GOLDMARK: I think we’re both creative in the sense that we equally come up with new ideas, but Emily definitely has a thing for editorials and with pieces we may have to write and I’m more interested in marketing. We both love design and fashion but at the end of the day my favorite part is definitely on the business side.

KM: One of you lives on the west coast and the other the east coast, how does that work?
JG: A lot of emails! We definitely make a lot of phone calls and have emails going back and forth daily…But I’m also in New York a lot and Emily comes home for breaks often so it works out pretty well. I’ve already gone to NYC 8 times in the past year so it’s definitely been a ton of traveling on both of our parts to make it all happen!

KM: How do you balance studying and normal life with design? 
JG: In high school it was much harder to juggle all of it since we were in school for long hours, where now in college we get to pick our schedules. I made it so I only have classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which leaves me Thursday and Friday for work days. Even on school days though we’re usually always working on something! School has always come first for us, but right now I’m personally trying to focus a lot more on work.

KM: I see you have a Spring 14' launch coming soon! What is the next collection you are working on?  How far in advance do you and Emily design and create?
JG: We’re launching our new “Skinny” hair ties. They’re basically mini versions of what we have now in great colors. To set our brand apart from competitors we try and stick with trends for seasons…So different prints, colors, etc. are planned pretty similarly to regular fashion labels. Right now it’s January and we’re working on Fall/Winter which is so fun!

KM: You have so many collections that are themed, and I'm sure inspired by trends, seasons, etc., can you give us an idea about what's next for Emi-Jay? Any desire to go global?
JG: We actually also just launched an Emi-Jay site in Asia which is pretty cool. We’re also working on more collaborations like we’ve done with Splendid and SPANX, really trying to expand as much as possible. In addition to all of this we’re in the midst of completely re-doing our website, so that will be a nice change!

KM: What was the most exciting moment for you two as designers so far? 
JG: I honestly can’t think of just one moment! We’ve gotten to do some really fun things. We did a shoot with Oprah Magazine and Seventeen Magazine, which comes out in March! The best part is definitely all of the relationships we’ve built over the past several years and getting to work with such successful people along the way and gaining so much from them.

KM: The fashion industry is fiercely competitive - how do you stand out from other brands?
JG: As the original hair tie company, we keep our quality at the best we possibly can. While most of our competitors use inexpensive materials from out of the country, all of our collections are produced here in the US from the best materials out there. We also keep up with trends and forecasting for each season, which is not too standard for a hair tie company. Our most prized characteristic though is definitely the collaborations we’ve done with well-known brands and being sold in stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, etc.

KM: Your collaborations are with very specific brands, do you have a specific criteria for partnerships?, Who's next or is there a brand you are dying to do a collaboration with?
JG: We typically like to collaborate with brands that use similar aesthetic to ours! SPANX and Splendid are two brands that we’ve both owned apparel from and have a strong presence in parts of the fashion world. I can’t say too much but we’re in the midst of actually working on some stuff with GUESS and some other really awesome companies!

KM: What's after college for you two?
JG: I honestly couldn’t tell you…! I hope to be doing something related to lifestyle, fashion and business once I graduate college. You never know, maybe I’ll start another label one day or just ditch fashion all together! I have no idea, we’ll see. But I definitely hope that by then my company has grown even more than it has already!

KM: It's hard not to notice since we first worked together how much you have expanded and now have Doodle and Spirit! I'm guessing you two are in sororities now? WOW. Tell us about that? 
JG: We’ve added a few divisions to the brand, which were essential! Doodle is our kids line, and SPIRIT is our high school/college/greek life/team division. We also have a lot more to come with our new website! I’m actually not in a sorority and Emily isn’t either but most of my friends who go to big football schools are and the hair ties are a huge hit for tailgate attire and sororities as well!

KM: Emi-Jay has partnered with Step Up Women's Network Young Luminaries program. Tell us about that. Is it exclusive?
JG: Our partnership with Step Up Women’s Network just ended because the sponsorship was for the 2013 school year. We’ve worked closely with the organization for the past year and had great experiences, but now that the partnership has finished we’re working with other charities. We think its important to build relationships with great organizations such as Step Up and others we’ve worked with like Operation Smile, but being able to get a taste of a bunch of different charities and programs is something important to us, so that we get to help an array of causes.

KM: Your brand donates 20% of profits to charity, which other ones are you tied to? What made you choose these types of causes?
JG: We’ve worked with many different charities! Everything from Susan G Komen to Operation Smile and Project Knapsack which benefits children in Africa, and Step Up as well. 20% of our profits go to whatever charity we’re working with at that moment in time. Operation Smile was an organization my parents had worked with closely in the past so I wanted to be a part of it too. Project Knapsack is a great organization started by a family friend that helps children in Africa to obtain the necessary tools like pens, backpacks, and paper to attend school. All of these were causes not only close to my heart but things I found very interesting and important.

KM: What advice do you give to young girls who also have big dreams like you?
JG: Surround yourself with good people! Besides all the cliché “stick with your dream” stuff that’s actually true, I’d honestly say to surround yourself with positive and supportive people and by that I mean both family AND friends! This whole process has really taught me the value of a friendship based on who supports you and who doesn’t.  Having such positive influences in your life can make so much of a difference. If it wasn’t for my supportive parents and friends I doubt that I would’ve stayed as motivated! 

KM: Now, A few favorites please! 
Emily’s Favorites
Place: Paris, France
Song: Can't pick just one! 
Actor crush: James Franco   

Julianne’s Favorites:
Place: Tough one…My family has a place in Mexico
that is absolutely gorgeous and definitely one of my favorite
places to be with friends and family. But I’m also a homebody
and have a weird obsession with LA right now. With
all my friends missing home in college it makes
me really happy to live in such an incredible city!
Song: Whatever is current! I can’t pick just one. I love 
everything from Kanye to Avicii, Miley, the list can go on…
Actor crush: Liam Hemsworth 

Follow the Emi-Jay girls on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Interview with Andrea Bernholtz of My Bijoux Box

For my 6th interview series I sat down with long time friend Andrea Bernholtz, founder of the new, popular e-commerce accessories website My Bijoux Box. That's right ladies, these jewels sparkle, dazzle, and shine and are ready-to-wear, just like fashion straight off the runways! The designs will compliment any mood or style crush you are having, and lucky for us, this fashion guru has made it as easy as 1, 2, 3 to achieve a new look. You cannot go wrong with Andrea's "My 3 Way" style guides or her weekly picks. Lets hear what the style expert had to say about her past experience as President of Rock and Republic Jeans, the inspiration behind my bijoux appeal, and how she relates to her customer's unique style taste.

KYMBERLY MARCIANO: You were in apparel for years, denim to be exact, why jewelry? Why e-commerce? Any challenging moments making the transition?

ANDREA BERNHOLTZ: The apparel industry and now my jewelry business really is a natural progression of the fashion industry. After years of success in the denim world, I realized that we were so focused on a very limited demographic and that is why when I launched My Bijoux Box I made certain that our price points and styles would speak to the fashion client and the everyday consumer. I wanted price points that people could really get their hands on and feel free to experiment and find their own personal style. Our average price point is right around $40 and in order to give our customers the most value for their dollar we determined that it would be best to sell directly to our consumer and the best way to do that is via e-commerce.

KM: Who is the Bijoux customer?

AB: The Bijoux Box customer is the women who wants to be in style without having to try to hard. She needs fashion and her personal style to be easy and in an instant. The My Bijoux Box customer looks to us for inspiration on how to wear jewelry in a fresh way that reflects her confidence.

KM: What’s the main inspiration for your line? Who is actually doing the designing?

AB: My inspiration for the curated collections of My Bijoux Box is really my friends and family. I see how busy women are today and how hard one has to work to get ahead. I don't want the women that I know to feel like they need to sacrifice their ability to look and feel good about themselves because it's too costly or too contrived. I curate collections from my artisans and suppliers that can first give my customer "easy to wear style" and secondly at an affordable price point that I know my customer is comfortable with.

KM: In your opinion, what is the single most important thing to consider when accessorizing an outfit?

AB: The single most important rule about accessorizing is that you NEED TO DO IT! Many people take that last fishing touch for granted or simply overlook it. Accessorizing is truly the icing on the cake and the best way to show your personal style. It is probably the most fun part of getting dressed and in haste women tend to overlook it. The more you start to accessorize the easier it becomes and the more you learn about what a difference it can make for you.

KM: What are your style influencers when starting a new collection?

AB: I have always been influenced by the great Gabrielle Coco Chanel and where you will see her inspiration in my collections is that she had amazing personal style that has iconic status throughout generations. She is known for wearing and layering great accessories to best define her style. I have personally been passionate about the importance of accessorizing and now I would like to share with my customers the same joy of defining your style with jewelry.

KM: What trends does Bijoux Box Spring/ Summer 2014 collection highlight?

AB: The fashion industry is constantly chasing trends. Whether it be skirt lengths to skinny jeans versus a boot cut. It is enough to boggle a customer and make them feel like they might not be on point or in style. At My Bijoux Box we have a saying and that is "whats on trend is YOU... just be YOU!". Now that being said, it does not mean that we are not inspired by the natural evolution of good design. We seek inspiration from fashion, music and film as a way to guide our customers to progress and move forward.

KM: Describe your current designs in three words.


KM: As a personal friend I know you have a huge heart, how does this translate to your new company?

AB: We have recently been fortunate enough to be involved in some philanthropic selling events that have given us the opportunity to speak to our consumers in person and raise money for different charities and we have absolutely loved the interaction and being able to help causes that are dear to our heart. We would love to explore more of these philanthropic opportunities and participate on a larger scale in the near future.

KM: Name five things that every woman’s jewelry box should contain.

AB: Diamond studs, a vintage mans watch, opera length pearls,  a statement necklace for a pop of color, and an armful of bangles!

KM: What are the top 3 things you bring with you from your experience as President and CD of Rock and Republic jeans?

AB: Understanding who my customer is and what she wants from me! My industry connections with suppliers, vendors, and manufacturers enables me to get the products for my customers at prices they can be comfortable with. And knowing how to create a brand that is aspirational yet totally attainable.

KM: It's New Years Eve, you have a date... what holiday items are a must-have? Think city, tropical, think nature!

AB: My go to rule for creating your own personal style for any occasion is to LAYER and STACK and tell a STORY. Pick a theme and layer on your necklaces, bracelets and rings to reinforce that theme. You mentioned CITY and I always think sparkling so I would recommend our diamond dazzler necklace in gold.

AB: For your TROPICAL vibe, we have a lovely shorter, pop-of-blue necklace like the ocean called "The Friendship".

AB: For your NATURE spirit, we have a long horn necklace that is refined primitive elegance named "Chic Power"!

AB: On your wrists wear one of my favorite bangles called "Can't have just one..." 

AB: Now dazzle your fingers with this stunning turquoise statement ring called "Forever Mine"

AB: Lets finish off with some turquoise filigree earrings called "Daytime Luxury"

AB: So the look will be simple, understated, seaside elegance, wear it with a sexy chic white dress and you are ready to ring in the New Year!      

Interview: Courtney Whitfield for Tom's Gift to Give

Happy New Year! My January interview is an inspiration for all of you teens! Meet Courtney Whitfield of Moreno Valley, California. This lucky gal put the typical teen life aside to help others and we are in awe. Courtney reached out to us when she entered the TOMS ShoesTicket to Give contest last summer asking for our support. I am happy to report that the KMP team tracked her journey every step of the way. As one of the fifty winners Courtney joined the TOMS team on a Giving Trip where she traveled to an unknown destination to give the gift of shoes to children in underprivileged communities. My respect and gratitude goes out to this selfless young woman who wanted to make a difference and took action to do so and the organizations involved who made it possible. Hear how this experience impacted Courtney, changed her life, and meanwhile has become an inspiration for all!

Kymberly Marciano: Please share with us why you wanted to do this. Was there a specific reason?
Courtney Whitfield: I love what TOMS does and always have but more specifically, I have an extreme passion for children. I guess you could say it began when I was a child myself. Although I do not remember the story, my mom often reminds me of it... when I was very young I was watching one of those commercials with the "starving children in Africa" digging through the trash looking for food. I took my freshly made tuna sandwich, put it in a plastic bag, and threw it away. When my mom saw me do this she was so surprised and asked why I did it. I said because all of the kids on T.V. didn't have food and I had hoped they would find a clean sandwich wrapped up for them in their trash cans. This was a teachable moment and learned to be thankful for the food I have and that I should eat it instead of wasting it. Looking funny! All the way from Moreno Valley, California, I was determined my trash would make it to a child in a third world country who could enjoy my favorite tuna fish sandwich. Oh the hope of a child!

KM: You told me you are 19 years young, so what inspires you?
CW: Kids! I have two nephews and a niece that have always been a very big part of my life. Eleven days before I lost my mom to cancer, my youngest nephew was born and it was a simple reminder that God gives and takes away. Once I began living with my sister and her family, these three kids were easily the most inspiring things in my life. Seeing the faith and hope that kids have about life is just such an amazing thing. 

KM: I know the destination was kept secret initially and you had only 7 days, so tell us about the locations you served?
CW: I was primarily in Lima, Peru. Amazing! I also traveled along the coast visiting other locations such as Pachacútec, Callao, Cañete, Chincha, Ica, and Pisco. At first it was surreal.

KM: With whom did you travel?
CW: I had the privilege of going on this trip with 11 of the 50 "Ticket to Give" winners, as well as two great TOMS photographers, one hilarious TOMS employee, an amazing interpreter, two wonderful TOMS/Coprodeli partners, and the most skillful bus driver in the world (Seriously, driving in Peru can be deadly).

KM: How exciting! In 3 words describe the TOMS team, any faves?
CW: Caring, Hilarious, Amazing! This is almost impossible though; Heidi, Kirk, and Lizzy are seriously some of the most amazing people I could ever imagine meeting. I feel blessed.

KM: How about training? Any valuable advice? 
CW: There was not really any specific training, there was a week where TOMS flew us down to Los Angeles to visit their headquarters where we had a bit of preparation, but for the most part every employee had the same thing to say "Do not go in with any expectations and focus completely on the moments that you are in." And they could not have given better advice.

KM: I imagine it was a culture shock, can you describe a typical day for the volunteers?
CW: Hard Work! This was by no means a fun vacation, but was easily the most amazing and life changing week I have had in my 19 years of existence. The days were long and the moments were great! There was tons of shoe distributing, playing with kids, and the most amazing food EVER!

KM: Did you work with children, families, & villages?
CW: We mainly worked with children through the Coprodeli school system. The Coprodeli group works very hard daily to give these kids a normal childhood, I had no idea how difficult it can be for these kids who take on so much responsibility at such a young age, to see the kids in this way really touches your heart. It was incredible to work closely with the volunteers who do what we did for a short week, EVERYDAY, which still blows my mind! 

KM: As the baby of the group, was anything a surprise for you?
CW: Everything was such a surprise, this was my first time ever leaving the country, and I had no idea what to expect with anything. It was amazing to see how similar all kids are, how they all have that desire to just have fun and be a kid... regardless of the clothes on their back or the money in their pockets.

KM: What was the most powerful part of your trip/experience?
CW: As simple as it is, playing with the kids. I will NEVER forget the connections that I had with those children. It was very powerful the way they look at you, look up to you, and treat you like a celebrity. I feel so blessed.

KM: Would you do it again?
CW: In a heartbeat. I want to take everyone I know with me, this is seriously something that absolutely everyone needs to experience. I will definitely be back and cant wait!

KM: What's in store for you in 2014? And what advice can you give for other teens who have dreams or goals for making a difference?

CW:  For 2014, I really want to focus on the little things. When making a difference, I realized that it does not have to be something huge because ALL small things lead to something HUGE. I will focus on the homeless problem here in Chico and do my best to reach out to people when I can given I am a full time student. Everyone should consider that there are endless problems in your own backyard, and after my experience with TOMS, I would like to focus on what I can do in mine first! I plan to save up because I would LOVE to make another trip to Peru or another destination with the amazing TOMS team in the next year or so! 

-XO Courtney

Friday, November 1, 2013

 Interview: Patricia Dente Haimes of "Little Bu" Nail polish

My 5th interview series highlights a woman of many talents! A former beauty publicist in New York City, Patricia Dente Haimes established herself as a beauty guru working with brands such as Chanel, Estee Lauder and Smashbox Cosmetics. After venturing to the trendsetting UK, Patricia became the founder of Little Bu, non-toxic nail polish for sophisticated girls, and has literally Nailed it!

My exclusive shipment of Little Bu arrived a few days ago, and I can't wait to experiment with the newest addition, the "paint on, peel off" polish! Inspired and named after spirited little girls who embody the brand, it is consistent and rich in an array of colors, washes off easily, making it versatile and mess free, perfect for the gal on the go. Little Bu is ahead of the curve with its kid safe  & eco-friendly formula, has no smell, is non toxic and has gotten the seal of approval from expectant mothers, tweens and teens. 

Tune in below and get to know the leading lady behind the lacquer and hear what she had to say about what inspires her muses, her journey, and the excitement over at the Little Bu brand! 

Think of your favorite color as your new best friend, and Which hue's your Bu?

KYMBERLY MARCIANO: Who are your customers, and who do you want to appeal to?

PATRICIA DENTE HAIMES: Our customers are sweetly sophisticated little girls who like to play with nail color. We are fortunate to have a client base of parents that believe in non-toxic products for their children.

KM: What is the inspiration behind the brand?

PDH: As a true city girl in New York, manis and pedis were always a weekly ritual to relax and catch up with friends.  On one occasion I started to realize there was an influx of sweet girls having their nails painted with traditional nail salon polishes. Their faces would light up when their color was applied, and I thought I could replicate this experience with a safe, non-toxic alternative that also offered them fun and trendy colors. 

KM: Why did you choose to create a vegan nail polish?

PDH: Our Little BU nail polishes are not only non-toxic but vegan friendly. We wanted our products to be free of any animal by-products or derivatives in order to offer the safest formula possible.

KM: What makes you different?

PDH: Little BU stands a part as we believe in style without harsh solvents. I’ve honed into my beauty industry experience working with the top players over the past 15 years to create formulas that deliver a glossy finish with sweetly sophisticated shades that mothers event want to wear!

KM: Will we see more of BU in the states? If you could collaborate with any kids fashion brand, who would it be?

PDH: Since our launch in 2011 and our participation in the Petite Parade NYC kids fashion weekend, we have grown a large fan base that is ready for us. We are looking to move into the U.S. market by mid-2014.

In the U.K. we have collaborated with Ralph Lauren Kids, SuperTrash Girls, Juicy Couture and Ruff & Huddle to create exciting events for kids. It would be a dream to work with Stella McCartney Kids or Little Marcy by Marc Jacobs. Both labels have such a free-spirited, whimsical approach to kids fashion that it would be fun to collaborate on designing clothes for our BU girl and playful nail colors.

KM: How do you find your muses? Ho often do you showcase a muse?

PDH: Our muses are girls that inspire us with their spirited personalities. They are international girls from LA, NY, London, Paris and we hope to continue to find more girls that represent the brand in different geographical locations. When a muse is selected, her profile and photo go up on our blog and she’s invited to host some of our events with her friends. She becomes a part of the BU world!

KM: What colors are Little BU's favorite for fall/Winter this year?

PDH: Our favorite Autumn/Winter colors for this season include vibrant pigmented combinations of orange, pink and reds. Our new paint on, peel off polishes come in these popping color combinations and can also be seen in the new collections by Stella McCartney Kids, SuperTrash Girls and I Love Gorgeous.

KM: What colors inspire you for Spring Summer 2014?

PDH: Our new Spring/Summer 2014 collection will be a mix of our wash-off and peel off polishes with a fresh take on cool toned colors.

KM: Why did you choose to make a wash off nail polish? What is the wash off process? How long does it last?

PDH: I created a wash-off nail polish because I noticed there was a need in the market for a polish that did not linger on kids nails and was safe, non-toxic and odorless.  You can use Little BU alone or with our Top Coat. The Top Coat will extend the polish longevity for a day or two. To remove, you just wash your hands with warm water and soap!

KM: What color is perfect for a little girl's busy day of school, play dates and a daddy daughter date night?

PDH: Some schools do not permit nail polished fingertips, so I would suggest our best seller, Cecilia for a busy day of school. It’s a pale pink with a touch of shimmer.  On a play date, have fun and go bold with Little BU in Alexi, an intense deep pink with shimmer or Olivia, a creamy Tiffany blue. Our polishes wash-off so it’s okay to keep changing!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Interview: Veronica M. Toub, VMT "The Voyage Travel" Airstream

For my 4th interview series, I am beyond excited to feature a woman of many talents and who is my friend: Veronica M. Toub of VMT Los Angeles! I had an incredible, fashionably unique experience with this stylist, designer and curator of The Voyage Travel, which happens to be the most unique airstream for international fashion and custom-made accessories. Her attention to detail, flare about intricate craftsmanship and keen eye for design execution automatically hooks you when being introduced to this tres chic brand. It's an experience quite like no other—and knowing that when The Voyage Travel is en route to the next wanderlust-driven destination, there's going to be tepees, a memorable event, and open doors inviting you into wondrous fabrics and unique pieces from all over the world. She simply wants you to walk out the door happy with your experience—a feeling of pure inspiration in a multitude of dynamics. I caught up with Madame Veronica when I visited her and her team to get custom fit for one GORGEOUS dress I now have as one of my favorite pieces. Here's what she had to say:

KYMBERLY MARCIANO: In a few sentences, describe the heartbeat that makes up the VMT Los Angeles brand for our readers.

VERONICA M. TOUB: The VMT AIRSTREAM is named “Voyage Travel” or rather 
“Egayov Travel," which represents my initials and the logo of the brand. Embracing the idea of mobility, I was struck by the chic modernity and freedom embodied by the classic vintage Airstream – it was the perfect vehicle for me, having had spent my whole life traveling. I acquired a 31 foot Sovereign model, ca 1973, which has been ingeniously retro-fitted to become a sophisticated nomadic shopping experience.


KM:  You design jewelry, you design signature pieces, tell us, How did you get to the point to collect objects of wanderlust to share, rather than just for personal use?

VMT: I have always been inspired by the beauty and history of other cultures, and I wanted to combine all of my travel experience, the textiles, jewelry, and artifacts I have been collecting over the years into my designs. Fueled by my desire to share my finds and vision with others, VMT was born.

KM: What are your top 3 most inspiring places you've traveled to? What are your top 3 places you are dying to travel to and haven't yet?

VMT: Bali, Visiting the Adriatic Islands in the summer on a sailboat, Being with my family in the mountains of Gstaad Switzerland, and being with my family during the summers in South Hampton Long Island. The Great Wall of China, Matchu Pichu and the Amazon.

KM: Your pieces are customizable, one of a kind beauties. You also carry collections of fabrics, with vintage pieces that are timeless. Run us through the process of     creating individual pieces that suit each client…what was it like when you and I worked together? custom tailoring is a dynamic you offer with your team. 

VMT: When collaborating with people one on one I am given the opportunity to design with my clients unique personal style in mind and challenge them to push their boundaries. My passion is sharing my sense of aesthetic – everybody that I create something for, in a way, is getting a part of me and my history.

KM: What are some of the charitable dynamics you collaborate with and help? We've read that you attach yourself to a few amazing ones.  If you had the chance to collaborate with a charity you haven't attached your brand with yet, what would it be in addition to Africa School House?

VMT: Over the years I have worked closely with many charities that are dedicated to helping women in crisis and their children and families. The Africa School House in particular  is a charity that I recently collaborated with by bringing in my Airstream to a private shopping event in Los Angeles early this summer. It has always been very important to me to help the people around me in any way that I can, and being given the opportunity to combine the passion I have for VMT and helping others was a truly paramount experience.

KM: Tell me about some of your favorite things you sell in the VMT Los Angeles Airstream, and what style inspiration you are most drawn to! 

VMT: My inspiration is drawn from every place I travel to and every person I meet.  All of those experiences are represented in my collection.  I love each and every piece I create but some of my favorite pieces are The Veronica Caftan in ink blot with the Elih Vest, The Arrabella Kaftan, the Darius Bracelet in rose gold, named for my son. I adore the the etched hex coin lariat, the zipper in rose gold with a diamond tab, and my hex pave diamond chain earrings.

KM: Where do you see your brand going?

VMT: We are currently getting ready for our September launch and right now we are ready to move into large luxury retail department stores on a national level. Being a Los Angles based designer I feel it is so important to be represented both here in Los Angeles and in New York, where I spent a tremendous amount of time over the years.

KM: Finally, what is the biggest accomplishment you've made with the friends and family event? 

VMT: My friends and family event afforded me the opportunity to not only give back to my friends and family and to a charity, African Schoolhouse that I care very much about. Additionally, I feel it was important because everyone has supported me and have watched with anticipation my progression of my venture into this world. I have been able to really realize my vision and I wanted to give back and share what I have created with everyone who has helped me along the way.

Be sure to LIKE VMT on FB and TWEET TWEET with VMT on Twitter

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Interview: Gigi Hadid, GUESS Girl

Photo credit: Yu Tsai

In my latest interview series, I zoom my focus in on a very special young lady I've had the pleasure of knowing her entire life. - Gigi Hadid! For many years she angelically twirled around in front of my lens for several Guess Kids campaigns as well as timeless editorials, but most importantly I got to know her off camera. This emerging star encompasses pure balance when it comes to her new found freedom graduating high school and the beginning of a promising career. Get ready to hear about her love of horses, family values, advice she has for the creative youth, and what her plan to conquer The Big Apple looks like in an up close & personal visit I had with her just before she jet set off to London—calling Gigi my muse would be an understatement, I love this girl inside and out!. Read on as I share some of our favorite moments together......


KYMBERLY MARCIANO: You've been photographed since you were a very young toddler and have shot numerous editorials and fashion campaigns with me as a child and teen. As someone growing up in front of the camera, how has this made you who you are today?

GIGI HADID: I think the most important thing that I’ve taken away from my experiences growing up in front of the camera would be how much I value the relationships that I create with people. I’ve always said that my favorite part of my job is the friends that I get to make every day. From an early age I was always the one hanging out with the crew during lunch break; I try and leave every set making sure that the crew is leaving happier then they came. When I find people on set that I connect with, I really try to stay in touch with them in the future.


KM: Tell our readers your experience as the face of Guess Kids and now the face of Guess as a young woman?

GH: Starting with Baby Guess, and now releasing my third Guess Jeans campaign, everyone, from you, the CEO to the makeup artists and all that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years through Guess, are like a second family to me. I’ve had the honor of shooting with incredible photographers and some of my best friends in the industry are models that I’ve shot Guess campaigns with; I truly learn something new every day that I’m on set with the Iconic company. I will forever be grateful to Guess for everything it’s done for my career as well as the relationships and experiences it has brought me that I will cherish for my whole life.

KM: Your mother Yolanda is Dutch, was a former Ford model, and now has her own TV show, and your father Mohamed is an impressive developer with a great eye in the world of art, what are some of the main inspirations you draw from your parents?  Name some key points on what they have instilled in you...

GH: Both my parents have worked very hard their entire lives for the lifestyle that they both live today. My dad was born in Palestine and immigrated at a very young age. Working his way up, he went from a child that didn’t know a word of English to being an Architecture student with a full-ride scholarship to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My mom grew up on a farm in Holland, and was discovered by Eileen Ford when doing a friend a favor by filling in for a sick model (her first time on heels). Soon after that she left home to work in the fashion industry, sending home money to support her family in Holland. I think the most inspiring thing about my parents is that they came from nothing and through hard work and determination they both reached their goals. They’ve blessed me with many things, but the most important thing they’ve shared with me are the stories and lessons of their experiences. They worked hard so that they could support their family but they’ve always taught me the importance of making a name for myself regardless of the past success of my family, be financially independent, and using my success to help the less fortunate.

KM: You ride horses, love the countryside, just graduated & heading to NYC in the fall! How will you balance your time in nature and in the city? Where do you like to be more? 

GH: I’ve grown up with my horses, and on the beach. Nature will always have a place in my heart and will always be my “happy place.” For me, the city is a place that motivates me. When I’m in New York, or any work environment, I feel like my dreams have no boundaries, and that’s what I love about the city. With that said, the beautiful thing about my job is that I am never confined to one place. My career entails travel and learning about the different countries and cultures that become our office space every day. I know that I will get a wonderful mixture of city and nature throughout my modeling career, and I hope to one day be successful enough that I can buy a ranch or beach house somewhere and get back to my roots.


KM:  Do you still own a horse? Name, please!

GH: Unfortunately, I’ve had to put riding horses aside, for now. I’m focusing on my career right now, as well as my first year of college, starting Fall of 2013, where I’ll be studying criminal psychology.

KM: Let's dive into some pop-culture: favorite actress? model? fashion brand? music artist?
GH: Don’t have a favorite actress…

KM: Favorite model: 
GH: Candice Swanepoel

KM: Favorite Brand: 
GH: Rag & Bone

KM: Favorite Music artist: 
GH: I don’t have a favorite artist, or a favorite kind of music for that matter. I really enjoy and respect every kind of music. Recently I’ve been really into Country.

KM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

GH: In 5 years, I’ll be 23 (my lucky number). I hope to have graduated college feeling like my four years of school was worth it in terms of how much I learned academically and personally. I hope to still have a successful modeling career and maybe be in love with someone great.

KM: If you could give any piece of advice to someone young out there that aspires to be a model, what would you tell them?

GH: There are millions of beautiful girls in this world. You need to find something about you that makes you more then just a pretty face, because at the end of the day, that’s what will make you stand out. Also, know that, among many of the positives, a big part of being in the modeling industry is getting rejected. You can take advantage of those things by taking them as positive feedback and trying to learn from every experience you encounter, positive, or not. Know within yourself that you are beautiful no matter what, so that any words that criticize you or try to tear you down can be used as lessons and motivation.

KM: Can you give us some beauty tips, beautiful! What are your favorite things in beauty, and tell us what your angle is on beauty on the inside?

GH: I feel the best when I feel beautiful without any makeup on and I can just throw on a bathing suit and a t-shirt and feel good about myself at the beach. I would say my biggest beauty tip would be to take care of your body and your skin. Get a good workout/skin care routine going because when you are feeling healthy and naturally beautiful, it shows. Confidence is what makes beauty shine through. That confidence ties back to what’s inside. Everyone is beautiful in his or her own way, and every one should know that and show that. Be confident first in how you treat others, tell people interesting things about you that maybe the eye can’t see- let your inner beauty shine through and it will only increase the outer beauty that you already have.

KM: Are you the kind of girl who goes for Tofurkey or Double Cheeseburger? 

KM: Is there a lucky guy?

GH: I’m currently single, I’ve gone on a couple dates, but I’m just trying to focus on my career and school right now. Maybe once I’ve settled in with those things I can settle in to a relationship.

Gigi Hadid is represented by IMG in NYC/London & Fashion Model Management in Milan. You can follow her on Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, and Facebook. For even more on Gigi you can visit her website right here: Here are some of Gigi's latest editorials below that she is excited to share.

Photo By: Andrew Durham 
Photo By: Ashlee Noelle 

Photo By: Rony Alwin 
Photo By: Steven Chee

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Interview Series: DJ Kai Song

For my second sit down interview series I chose a VERY special and inspiring kid that I had an encounter with last fall at thePetite Parade & Vogue Bambini kids fashion week. He caught my eye immediately with his BIG headphones and a true zest for all things music..he is, DJ Kai Song! His charisma and passion for music is the real deal, mentored by his father Lars from a very early age, DJ Kai Song  lights up the room with his superstar mixes!  I decided to get a look inside his world, what inspires him and what he plans to do in the future...HE Rocks!

KYMBERLY MARCIANO: First and foremost, what do you want to be when you grow up?! 

DJ KAI: A professional DJ/music producer/singer.

KM: What was the first song you can remember listening to, and how did it make you feel?

DJ KAI: Yellow Submarine by The Beatles. It made me feel happy and made me want to sing.

KM: How did you learn to be a DJ?!

DJ KAI: My papa is a DJ and he owns a DJ equipment rental company, so our house was always full of DJ equipment.  When I was 2,3 years old I started playing with the DJ-player and mixer and then I asked my papa about it and then he taught me.

KM: What's on your current playlist?

DJ KAI: Tiësto: United, Zedd: Clarity, Krewella: Alive

KM: What would be a day in the life of DJ Kai like? You seem busy! 

DJ KAI: Well, I get out of school at 3 and then I have either soccer or singing or piano or music production class or Taek-Won-Do. In my free time I prepare for my DJ-gigs and on the weekends I usually have a gig. I also like playing with Lego.

KM: Tell us a bit about the kids fashion shows you got to perform at this year?

DJ KAI: I dj'd New York Kids Fashion Week, I dj'd for Swarovski and Target and brands like Mischka Aoki and Imoga. It was really fun, because it was different from my normal gigs.

KM: Is DJ the sport of choice, or do you love getting out there and playing? 

DJ KAI: I love getting out there. I play soccer, Taek-Won-Do, football, tennis and I love snowboarding.

KM: What are you working on right now? We always like to follow and support!

DJ KAI: I'm preparing for a DJ-gig next week at the Blue School fundraiser. I'm really looking forward to it, because I'll get to see my old classmates and teachers. I'm also taking piano and music production lessons and want to put out my first record this year.

KM: If you could give some advice to other creative kids, what would it be? 

DJ KAI: You have to have passion for what you are doing. And practice a lot :)

KM: And finally, who is your favorite DJ!? 

DJ KAI: Tiësto. I'm also a big fan of Swedish House Mafia.

Check out DJ Kai Song's latest mix album!

And don't forget to get social with him!


*Be a part of Kymberly Marciano Photography on Facebook for your daily dose of inspiration!*

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Interview Series: Alecia Spendlove of Alexandra Rain

Introducing my monthly interviews!!!!

There are so many individuals who inspire me, woo me and encourage me to tap into my personal network and as a result I have decided to do an interview series launching right now!

As a mother of 4, a photographer, producer, art director and philanthropist, I am thankful for the colorful people in my life who inspire me on a daily basis...connecting with creatives on a personal level is right  up my alley!

My first interview EVER showcases a incredible mom! She is a beauty inside and out, a mother of 2, wife to a music mogul, former model, and now has taken on parenting like no other: she is Alecia Spendlove, the creative mind and founder ofAlexandra Rain, a new hot kids brand that is on KMP's radar—with an app you can find on itunes, a music video soon to be released along with an e-book. Quite extraordinary!

Kymberly Marciano: To get us started, and for those who may not know, tell us a bit about yourself in a few short words.

Alecia Spendlove: I grew up in a small town called Mt. Juliet, twenty miles east of Nashville, Tennessee. I loved my southern upbringing. My family is still there and I enjoy seeing my friends when I go home as well. We usually visit during the hot humid summers. My kids love visiting with our family, catching lighting bugs, and a good ole’ Tennessee thunder storm! I’ve been in California for almost twenty years now. I have to say I love it and it is definitely my home  for now.

KM: What was the main light bulb/inspiration that led you to start Alexandra Rain supermodel extraordinaire? 


AS: I’m always looking for ways to help teach my kids to stand up for themselves and be kind to others. With my background in modeling and my current job as a mom, I thought it would be fun to create a fictional character that likes to MODEL her fun fashion-style, but most importantly loves to MODEL kind, positive behavior to others. While the book series seems “girl focused”, there are a lot of strong boy characters as well. Her brother, Brandon will be a more positive force as the series grows.

KM: As a first time author, what were some of the challenges you faced in developing these well thought out characters, and how did you overcome? 

AS: I had never written anything before, but I knew I had an important message that I wanted to convey. I started taking writing classes at the Writing Pad in Los Angeles and that has really built up my self-confidence. I have a broader idea of character development and I’m often dreaming about how I can enrich all of the characters in the Alexandra Rain series. I also have a great writing partner, Nick Bonomo and we are constantly bouncing ideas off of one another. 

KM: AR looks like it's already an empire and belongs on Nickelodeon or Disney! Anything we should know?

AS: One of my greatest joys is watching children sing the Alexandra Rain songs and and play with the app. My current focus is the upcoming release of the picture book and e-book. I think Alexandra Rain would make a wonderful animated series. It’s exciting to dream of where the series will go!

KM: What's your favorite moment during producing content? You have an app available on iTunes and a music video—did you write that song as well?

AS: After writing the book, I felt so inspired to expand the brand. I began writing the lyrics to “Super Model Extraordinaire” and humming the tune. My husband, Randy, is a music producer and musician. He immediately brought the song to life with music and laid down the track. Producing the music of Alexandra Rain has probably been some of my most happiest moments. The music video shoot was like one giant play date. All the girls had such a great time and did an amazing job.

KM: Give us some secrets on how you juggle such a busy schedule with kids and work? We always love learning about new methods!

AS: I’m definitely retired when it comes to my modeling career. It was too hard to juggle with the kid’s schedule and I’m first and foremost a stay-home mom. I do most of my writing while the kids are at school or at night. I love being there for my kids and I also enjoy expressing my creativity through the book series of Alexandra Rain. It’s a fun project to share with the kids. After all, they are my best audience!

KM: You are a model mommy! Tell us a bit about your modeling career and the positive notes you took from it as a mother…and how that translates to your writing.

AS: I’m only 5’6” tall, and I didn’t think I had a chance at having an actual modeling career. I loved the creativity of modeling and I had the drive and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I was told “no” a lot, but I kept going. I met Tanya Blair in Dallas, Texas and she gave me the opportunity to join her agency. I became one of her top models right away. I did a lot of print work and commercials there. I later moved to Los Angeles, where I met Nina Blanchard. She saw my potential in the commercial and lifestyle market. I owe both of those ladies my career. They have both since passed and are both legends in the modeling industry. I really feel it was my inner spirit and drive that helped me sustain such a successful career for so many years. Inner beauty really does count! My modeling career feels like another lifetime, and I have many fond memories.  National advertising campaigns include: Clairol Herbal Essence, Crest White Strips campaigns and Aveeno Skincare to name a few.

KM: Are you working on anything right now that we can look forward to? Yes, we're on your radar! 

AS: I’m very excited to introduce our first Alexandra Rain, E-book and picture book coming soon! We’ve been updating our website and we will be sending  out our first newsletter. It includes great “Modeling Tips for Kindness” to share with your kids and our very first “Model Spotlight”. We want to highlight kids modeling positive behavior in the world. I have so much I want to do with Alexandra Rain. More music videos, more songs and even a musical. Most of all, I want to promote a fun, positive message to young kids everywhere. “It’s fun to model fashion, but it’s even more fun to be kind and model your inner goodness to the world!” As Alexandra Rain would say:  “Compassion and Love are my most beautiful accessories!”

Playing Favorites: 

Favorite Photographer: 
AS: Kymberly Marciano, of course : ). I also love Brian Bowen-Smith.

Favorite Food: 
AS: Mash Potatoes. I’m southern, what can I say!

Favorite Destination: 
AS: Big Sur, California. We were married there and it’s one of the most beautiful, serene places I’ve ever been. It’s like being surrounded by a forest and standing high on a cliff while the ocean crashes against it.

Favorite Quote: 
AS: I’m a big Audrey Hepburn fan. Talk about style and substance! “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;  For beautiful lips speak only words of kindness;  and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

Favorite Must Have: 
AS: The Tao of Inner Peace written by Diane Dreher...It’s usually by my bedside table and I can always find a quote to help me with my day.

KM: It's been wonderful to interview you, Alecia! One last question: do you blog? 

AS: I am currently a contributor for the parenting blog, Moonfrye. It is so much fun to share my life as a “Mommy” with them. Check out my blog posts here

*Be sure to follow and like Alexandra Rain!*

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