Posts in designer spotlight
Designer Spotlight x Studio Mari
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Studio Mari is a Los Angeles based jewelry studio by Mari Beltran.  Each piece is first created by Mari by hand before being cast by local artisans.  Her designs are sculptural, distinctive, and timeless.  I had the honor of photographing some of her pieces (analog and digital).  

The Joan ring came to me at a very pivotal time in my life, and it has become a staple object that reminds me of my own tenacity and individuality.  The description reads:  “this ring is all about the swerve - veering off course to find new adventures.”  When I slide it onto my ring finger, I consciously take-in the act of bravery of diving into the unknown to start anew in New Mexico.  It's only fitting that Mari’s work is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe.  

The Crescent rings are incredibly versatile, and I love to wear them both together and separately.  They are inspired by the waxing and waning of the moon, and I always feel this in the feminine power they exude.

I am excited to see what Mari continues to create as her studio grows and evolves.

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OZMA Interview

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by one of my favorite brands OZMA of California - a female-owned, sustainable and ethical clothing company based here in Los Angeles.  Scroll down to read the interview.  I'm wearing the Matador Romper in Natural - shop here.

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You live in Topanga Canyon! Tell us how living there has affected you creatively?

I have access to nature - it's all around. I've been jumping into the ocean nearly every day, and for me, freedom is what inspires me to create. I don't think there's anywhere I feel more free than in the ocean. It's such a cleansing, purifying act, and I feel completely at home in the water. I once was told that in a past life I was a mermaid, and that in this life I finally got my legs. I think it was probably symbolic, but I often feel like that - as if I'm somehow missing something that everyone is clued into. But I also feel like that's part of being creative - feeling a bit "out of it" in the world, yet so, so at home while creating. So jumping in the ocean has allowed me to be more free in the type of work I'm making because it opens up the space for me to tap into that "true essence" part of myself.

 

You've mentioned that your place is pretty tiny. What's your best advice for those us with less square footage in our lives?

The most obvious answer is to own less. I think more importantly - to create spaciousness within. I sometimes feel like I'm going mad in my current space. I've lived in small spaces for the past 6 years, and my current space is absolutely the smallest, at just over 300 sq. ft. When I feel like the walls are caving in and I want more room to move around in, I go inward and ask myself what my insides need. Sometimes it's as simple as "I'm here and I love you", but sometimes I need to really talk to my inner self and see what's going on underneath it all.

 

How would you describe your fashion sensibility?

Easy, simple, laid back, androgynous. I like mixing masculine and feminine, and sometimes I feel the sexiest in a button down and pants.

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What inspires you?

Nature, chairs, old coffee table/art books, people who are free to be exactly as they are.

 

Were you always interested in interior design?

Yes. I was always interested in my surroundings and how space affected me. I got really into interiors during my senior year of college. It became almost an obsession. In my spare time I would drive around and go to consignment shops to find old pieces. I love furniture so much.

 

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How does sustainability play into your life?

Sustainability has played into my life since I was 15.  When I found out about global warming, I started an environmental club is my high school.  Once I went off to college, I felt so powerless over everything and sort of gave up trying.  Now I know that we do make a difference as individuals, and in order for the collective to be influenced, we have to make big strides independently.  I gave up fast fashion a few years ago, and I pretty much only shop independently/vintage.  This is very important to me.  And with my philosophy on bringing objects/items into my life/space, I am extremely discerning about what I acquire.  I call this mindful collecting.  We mindlessly consume, and our culture/media trains us to do so.  We have to change the narrative.  The work that I do is really about grounding within ourselves so that we can let go of our attachments to the physical world (emphasis on attachments, as we can't let go of the physical world).  This doesn't mean you have to move into a tent in the woods.  It’s truly about being mindful of the space and objects we surround ourselves with.  We can change the stories we tell ourselves about what we need.  We don’t need anything physical other than food/shelter (meaning, we wouldn’t die without clothing or our beloved objects).  However, we can accept the society we live in and approach how we operate differently.  Yes, by shopping mindfully, but also by strengthening our inner selves so that we can shift our relationship with objects from symbols to tools.   If a piece of art moves you, that piece of art becomes a tool for connection.  Otherwise, you just have art on your wall because “it goes there” or because it's worth something (and is therefore a symbol of money or stature).  You can read more about this concept here.  This method is so much less overwhelming than overhauling your entire life and becoming a radical minimalist.  I'm not suggesting to NOT radically change, but I think it's important to be realistic.  I’ve found that people aren't going to be open to making any strides if they feel overwhelmed.  I still use paper towels.  There are absolutely areas where I need to do better.  I'm working on it.  But I'm transparent about it.  Not because I think being honest gets us off the hook, but because it's better to be honest then to paint a false picture.  Sustainability is trending right now.  I've been reading interviews where people say that they care about where garments come from/how they're made, and then I see these people tagging Zara in their photos.  This is what's problematic and why I feel we really need to change the narrative.  People care about the environment, but not to the extent that they are willing to inconvenience their lives.  Hence my relationship with paper towels.  But answering this question is getting me fired up and ready to end my relationship with them for good.  The more open we are, the more we can inspire change in ourselves and others.

 

Got any good advice for us on best plants to brighten up a home?

Rubber plants are my favorite because they are the most low maintenance, and they're pet friendly. Some plants ( like aloe) are toxic to pets. I also love bringing in flowers from outside. When at a floral shop, I always pick up baby's breath and eucalyptus.

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Thrifted decor or new?

Thrifted.

 

Favorite all time song?

This question is too hard! First thing that comes to mind right now is: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell. The second/jazzy version. It's like she has this new ( sadder, yet deeper) perspective on life, and you can hear it in her voice. Perhaps that she's been let down in ways, but it created the most moving song. If I ever want to cry, I'll get in my car, roll the windows down, and aimlessly drive, and blast this song.

 

Favorite hole in the wall destination in LA?

Hmm. Stories. Does it count as a hole in the wall? It's a bookstore in Echo Park. I love going there and sitting on the benches and opening random pages of books and reading them. I always fantasize about what books I'll end up reading, but I usually feel satisfied just reading bits and pieces in the store and leaving with a lot of unanswered questions ( and no physical books).

 

Read more on OZMA's journal

Interview by Jasmine Bouzaglou

Photography by me and inspiration imagery by Robert Mapplethorpe

Designer Spotlight x Alexa de la Cruz
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Alexa de la Cruz is a jewelry designer, a mother, and an awe-inspiring human.  When a photo of hers pops up on my feed, I am always lured in - to her captivating charm, her slow home life, and her journey with motherhood.  I feel like she could move mountains with her stunning beauty.  It radiates from within.  I had the pleasure of photographing the Escalón Signet Ring from her collection.  She chose a green jade for the stone, and it is such a peaceful, dreamy color.   Her jewelry is truly unique and made impeccably with acute attention to form.

Here is an excerpt from her website:  Each piece is handcrafted in Mexico City by the hands of great artisans. Inspired by organic forms and traditional Mexican silversmithing, creating sculptural, timeless pieces to be worn by the modern, sophisticated woman.

Shop her collection here

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In Her Shoes x St. Agni
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KNOWING WHAT YOU DO NOW, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

"To dive in. To be bold and fearless and unapologetic in my own skin. To not be so afraid to completely draw outside of the lines. I drew on the border, teetering on the edge, but I would tell myself to go way past that border. I’m so sick of ‘should-ing’ on myself - no more!"

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WHAT ARE THREE THINGS THAT ARE INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?

"Boundaries. Less Stuff. Old art books. Also as a bonus - chairs (always). "

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WHICH ELEMENT OF YOUR WORK DO YOU THRIVE OFF THE MOST?

"Childlike creativity. Being able to create from that space of total intuitive drive. It’s the thing that scares me the most, yet I trust it more than I fear it because it only gets me closer to my truth. I really love creating in secret. Alone. When no one is near, and I can create without self-judgement. "

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WHAT DOES BEAUTY LOOK LIKE TO YOU?

"To me, beauty without intention really isn’t beautiful. It feels empty. We can emphasize the marriage of beauty and intention by realizing that they are the same. That beauty comes from mindfulness, from nature, from slowing down, from our hearts. Beauty looks like truth."

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I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with and being photographed by the lovely Claire Cottrell a few weeks ago for St. Agni - a Byron Bay based ethical fashion company specializing in shoes and clothing by Lara & Matt Fells.  Their pieces look seamless because they are not only beautifully and thoughtfully designed, but also easy and wearable.

You can find my interview - which includes my career path, music I'm listening to, my morning ritual, and more - on their journal here.  I'm so grateful to be apart of their In Her Shoes series.  

Photography:  Claire Cottrell 

Interview Intro:  Erin Watts of The Atelier

Clothing + Shoes:  St. Agni