All Posts in People Who Inspire

January 9, 2015 - Comments Off on Stories & Style: Get to Know Author/Comedian Elna Baker

Stories & Style: Get to Know Author/Comedian Elna Baker

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If you haven’t already heard, we’re hosting an exclusive event at Bene Rialto in Manhattan on Thursday, January 29th from 6:30pm-9pm. Aside from meeting Nicole and having the chance to try on pieces from the Eva and Candy Collections, we’ll have delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine for you to enjoy while taking in  fashion-focused, personal, storytelling performances from three amazing women—NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Comedian Elna Baker, and Author/Comedian Sara BenincasaWe’re going to be sharing a little background on each of our guests over the next couple of days.

Meet Elna Baker. She's a published author, comedian, and "This American Life" storyteller. That tells you something, but the fact that a headline describing Elna reading "Imagine Carrie Bradshaw as a Mormon" pops up on the first page of her Google search results says a lot more. Her amazing book title alone—"The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance"—is a great indication at what you're treating yourself to with Elna. Here are a few words from others that dig a little deeper:

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January 8, 2015 - Comments Off on Stories & Style: Get to Know NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg

Stories & Style: Get to Know NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg

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If you haven't already heard, we're hosting an exclusive event at Bene Rialto in Manhattan on Thursday, January 29th from 6:30pm-9pm. Aside from meeting Nicole and having the chance to try on pieces from the Eva and Candy Collections, we'll have delicious hors d'oeuvres and wine for you to enjoy while taking in  fashion-focused, personal, storytelling performances from three amazing women—NPR's Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Comedian Elna Baker, and Author/Comedian Sara BenincasaWe're going to be sharing a little background on each of our guests over the next couple of days.

Without further ado, meet Ophira.

Aside from having one of the most beautiful names we've ever heard, she's the host of NPR's trivia/puzzle/game show, "Ask Me Another" (a "half raucous pub trivia, half comedy talk show with witty banter, celebrity guests, and live music blended in," to borrow some of Ophira's own words). Aside from her gig as a podcast personality, she's also a published author and stand-up comedian (with plenty of written accolades to boot). Her debut memoir, "Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy," is—according to Esquire—"a history of her bed-hopping adventures, including, among others, a one-night-stand with a cat doll fetishist and bathroom sex with the lead singer of a U2 cover band." If that doesn't reel you in, I'm not quite sure what will. (Maybe the fact that we'll be giving away a signed copy at the event.)

She has appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Comedy Central, VH-1, the E! Channel, CNN, and more. Her comedy album, "Bangs!" was released last October—one lucky person will also get a signed copy at the event. Here's a peek at what you've got to look forward to on the 29th:

December 6, 2014 - Comments Off on Women Who Inspire: Infomous’ Chief Operating Officer Scarlett Sieber on Being a Woman in the Tech Scene, Gaming, and Creating a Community on Twitter

Women Who Inspire: Infomous’ Chief Operating Officer Scarlett Sieber on Being a Woman in the Tech Scene, Gaming, and Creating a Community on Twitter

IMG_7937_Scarlett Sieber in our Eleanor Top

Meet Scarlett Sieber, Chief Operating Officer at Infomous—but that's not all.

Scarlett is a lady who wears many hats—from her day job as COO at a tech start-up to an avid tweeter with an impressive community of entrepreneurial followers. Scarlett has been in the tech scene for three years, but the impact she's already made will long outlast the little time she has already dedicated to her various outlets. Aside from her full-time gig, she's constantly attending networking events, participates in the prestigious Start-Up Leadership Program, and manages to find time on the weekend to play video games with her boyfriend—more on that later.

We grabbed some time with Scarlett to talk about all of her activities, and the hobbies she manages to fit in during the free time she makes the most of. Tune in to learn what Scarlett has to say on the state of the tech scene in New York City, her advice for starting a business venture, her growing Twitter following, and more:

The Daily Grind

I manage and oversee a team who helps with the design and development of our website, including a marketing analytics and a web development intern. Let's say we're walking through a Monday morning. We always have an hour-long strategy meeting to discuss the high-level goals for the week. We'll put a goal up on the board and try to achieve it by the following week. After that, there are always a lot of sales calls. On any given day, I'll have between two and three sales calls with prospective clients. A lot of that is also about follow-ups, going through and making sure we reconnect with the people we talked to the week before and send them the appropriate documents—marketing documents, proposals, or whatever is applicable to that specific client.

I spend a lot of time applying us for different competitions. It's time-consuming, but really fun. Specifically within the last six months, we've been looking for funding. So it's been a lot of investor stuff—researching investors and the companies they invest in, looking at the portfolio companies and seeing if they are the right match for us and getting as much information as we can about them.

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October 15, 2014 - Comments Off on Q&A: Animator/Filmmaker Christen Smith on Passion Projects, Getting Inspired, and a Freelancer’s Wardrobe

Q&A: Animator/Filmmaker Christen Smith on Passion Projects, Getting Inspired, and a Freelancer’s Wardrobe

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Meet Christen Smith, Animator and Filmmaker.

Christen does a lot of things. Between working on her in-progress animated short "Mild West" and running a holiday card business with her sister Joy, Christen freelances for a wide range of companies—currently an advertising organization. She's also worked on children's TV shows as an editor and animator. Among all of this, she manages to keep her ties to the swing dance community—while also pulling creative inspiration from her dance instructors.

We spent some time with Christen to chat about her neighborhood (Upper East Side), how she's transitioning her wardrobe to fit a new career phase, and living with her sister in an apartment that houses its own piano—which makes sense, considering Christen is classically trained in both the piano and violin. Read on to get to know the lady in the Elena Dress and hear what she has to say on style, freelancing, and working with anti-trafficking organizations:

Work Life

How did you choose animation/film direction?

My sister Joy and I grew up watching Disney movies. We also loved to draw. So we would pass the time by inventing our own worlds and drawing them out. We would create characters and bounce them off of each other. As I was considering a career and where to go to college, I just wanted to work for Disney. I wanted to draw and be an animator. I ended up at NYU's film school, where they had an animation department. It was an amazing experience to learn about filmmaking. That education wove into my imagination and helped me realize the way I wanted to express my ideas. Animation and filmmaking became this great way to combine a lot of things that I like. I can still draw, but when I'm an editor, I have a hand in structuring a story and how it's told. I have a music background, so that always comes into play, too. All of these things that I love—it's a great way to combine it all.

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September 16, 2014 - Comments Off on Q&A: Rokkan’s Melyssa Brown on Working at an Ad Agency, Caring for Her Baby Corgi, and Fitting Her Figure

Q&A: Rokkan’s Melyssa Brown on Working at an Ad Agency, Caring for Her Baby Corgi, and Fitting Her Figure

Melyssa-Lead1Melyssa wearing our Edie Romper in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn

Meet Melyssa Brown from Rokkan

Melyssa spends her days working as a marketing and communications manager at an ad agency called Rokkan, which is located in Soho. At night, she takes on freelance consulting and writing gigs. Melyssa handles the social channels for the organization, while also jumping in on creative projects and strategies for the brand—something she absolutely loves about her job. (Fun fact: She actually made her way to the communications world via neuroscience—more on that later.)

We got the chance to shoot Melyssa in the Edie Romper—with her adorable 3-month-old Corgi pup, Ein—in their natural environment at Fort Greene Park (more on why that's her favorite spot for relaxing later on). We chatted about her day job, what she looks for in fashion, and how she views the gender breakdown within the advertising industry. Read on to see what she had to say:

Melyssa's Adorable Corgi Pup, Ein

She's pretty much taken over my whole Instagram feed. I wouldn't post her to Instagram until I created a hashtag for her. (It's #einstagram.) Her name is Ein, short for Einstein. Actually, this is dorky. I really like anime and there is a seminal anime called Cowboy Bebop that really popularized that form of animation and entertainment in the US. Think early 90's Cartoon Network, late-night. (They were the only type of people who would air this type of stuff.) There is a corgi in this anime who is a hacker dog. His name is Ein, which is German for "one," or short for Einstein. Sort of an homage to this character and also to the fact that little Ein is brilliant, so she really fits the name.

A Day In Her Shoes

Weekdays: Depends on Ein, as she has this knack for getting up at 4am on the dot every morning (trying to get her away from doing that). She does have an excuse: She's a baby, and with that, has a baby-sized bladder. My alarm goes off at 7am, so theoretically, I get up at 7am. I get dressed and we go for a jog around the block. I come back in and we eat breakfast - I usually have yogurt and granola with some fruit. I put Ein in my room or in her crate so she can calm down again and adjust and then I hop in the shower. I get ready for work and we go out one more time before I leave.

To commute to the office, I walk to Atlantic terminal. Depending on how fast I walk and how late I am, it can be anywhere from a 6 to 10 minute walk. I usually head out around 9:30am. I theoretically work 10am-6pm, which may or may not happen because it's advertising. I work all morning, which consists of meetings or planning, and, of course, emails. Then, I just work the rest of the afternoon. I'm typically off at 6:30pm or 7pm. I might go to Zumba or yoga, out for a drink with some of my co-workers, or networking with a reporter. Then I'm home!

That being said...

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August 21, 2014 - Comments Off on Q&A: Google Glass’s Janine Gianfredi Shares Her Shopping Considerations, Favorite Outfits, and Thoughts on the Future of Wearable Tech

Q&A: Google Glass’s Janine Gianfredi Shares Her Shopping Considerations, Favorite Outfits, and Thoughts on the Future of Wearable Tech

Janine_Elena5Janine Gianfredi on top of the world in windy San Francisco, wearing our Elena Dress

Meet Janine Gianfredi from Google Glass

Janine Gianfredi travels around the world spreading the wearable tech love that is Google Glass. As Head of Brand Marketing & Partnerships for the tech giant, Janine needs to make an impression wherever she goes. Most recently, she found herself in London for a Glass expansion campaign and a fashion event. Shortly before that, she attended an advertising festival on the beaches of Cannes. Toss those destinations in with the couple of times she's been to Italy this year for work meetings and you've probably got a pretty scenic visual playing out in your head. When it comes to fashion, Janine plays close attention to what she buys, where it was made, and how comfortable she feels, and is always empowered through her personal style.

Janine might be a familiar face to you— we previously profiled how we reclaimed her wedding dress and turned it into an evening gown. While she's currently based in San Francisco and works in Mountain View, California on the Google Campus, Janine is an ex-New Yorker who still manages to wear a bit of black here and there. We caught up with Janine between trips to ask a few questions about her daily itinerary and what she looks for in a work wardrobe. Read on to see what she has to say.

A Day in Her Shoes

Waking Up: I probably travel two weeks out of every month. On those trips, it's common to leave on Monday morning and return home on Friday. I'm packing up for the week to go to New York, or lately we've been going to Europe quite a bit. No complaints there! (It's been a really great roster of places.) Those weeks are very different because I'm usually staying in a hotel and I'm not far from where I'm working for the week.

When I'm here in San Francisco, I get up at about 5:30 in the morning, which is a good two-and-a-half hours earlier than when I lived in New York. I hop in the shower, but definitely don't wash my hair every day because it dries it out. I get dressed and head down to hop on my shuttle around 6:30am, which takes me from SF to Mountain View in just under an hour.

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Morning Rituals: I get to campus around 7:30am, and the first thing I do is visit the barista for a latte—less for the caffeine and more so for the ritual. I sit and read emails or articles while I eat breakfast, and I get to my desk around 9am. From 9am until 4:40pm I have a pretty hectic day—a ton of meetings. I have a stand-up desk now—I don't sit anymore, which also makes me not really wear heels as much.

Don't Skip Meals: I do not miss meals ever. I am very, very good about eating three meals a day with snacks. I eat lunch every day around noon and I try very hard not to eat at my desk. I try to grab somebody and get away even just for a few minutes. My meals are very veggie-heavy. I usually avoid meat for breakfast and lunch and save it for dinner if I am eating it.

Work/Life Balance: I usually get on a shuttle around 5:30pm or so to arrive back in SF by 6:30/7. My husband George picks me up a lot of the time from the shuttle because I'm usually too tired to walk home! Since we moved here, we actually cook quite a bit for dinner. When we were in NYC, we barely ever did, but now we're really good about it. We have more space to cook, so it's easier. I also try very hard not to work when I'm home. I put in a long day and then I'm done with it. A lot of times at night we'll watch a show or read a book. I try to be in bed by 11pm to get up again at 5:30.

Weekends: I could work out here during the workday, but I choose not to. Part of it has to do with getting sweaty. I take way too long to shower and do all of that stuff. It just doesn't fit well into my day, so I tend to save it for the weekend. It may not be the best, but it's what I do. Friday nights I try to get to a yoga class, and we'll often meet up with friends for dinner. Saturdays we jump in the car with the dogs and go to Crissy Field. We try to be outside and just chill out. I do a pretty good job of not doing work on Saturdays or Sundays. I'm actually in the habit of not looking at emails until Monday morning now.

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September 6, 2013 - Comments Off on Profile: Evita Arce, Dancer and Choreographer

Profile: Evita Arce, Dancer and Choreographer

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Evita Arce wearing a Nicole Lenzen dress and vintage gloves,
photographed by Ned & Aya at Brooklyn Farmacy

I sat down with internationally renowned swing and jazz dancer, choreographer, and instructor Evita Arce in New York, in between her travels to Malaysia and a 6-week tour to teach and perform in Europe.

I have had the great fortune of collaborating with Evita on costumes for her dance company's performers and took this opportunity to ask more about how she became the incredible dancer, artist and all-around inspiring woman she is today.

Nicole: Evita, how long have you been dancing?

Evita: I have been dancing Lindy Hop for 15 years. I started when I was 18 and I’m about to turn 33. But before that I did other dance styles, mostly of Latin origin. I was in my very first dance class at age 3.  And it wasn’t one of those my mom put me in--I wanted to go.

Nicole: Did you want to become a professional dancer?

Evita: I never thought I would ever be a professional dancer. I never ever, ever, ever even wanted to because I always assumed I wasn’t tall enough or thin enough. So never did that enter my mind!

Dancing was always for fun, like a pastime. Then it just so happened that I was doing what I loved all the time and that led to people saying, "Well could you teach? Could you perform? And so on."

It’s so cliché because people say follow your heart and you’ll end up doing what you love. But if you actually do what you love all the time, it sort of takes over. And that’s what happened--now I’m a full time dancer.

Evita_Arce_Nicole_Lenzen_lace_dressEvita Arce wearing Nicole Lenzen, photographed by Ned & Aya

Nicole: Who are your inspirations?

Evita: Well, when I was a kid my uncle was an incredible artist and he should have traveled the world and left his tiny city to go and do bigger and better things with his life. But he never did.

And I remember thinking back when I was a kid, “You’re so talented and you could and should be more.” So that was a little bit of a push to reach for higher and bigger things in life, like stepping out of my hometown.

Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas, they were and still are my mentors and teachers. They live in London and are Lindy Hop dancers. I auditioned and worked with them and that’s actually where I met Michael Jagger, my dance partner.

Nicole: Yes, tell us more about your dance partnership.

Evita: Michael and I have been partners for about nine years but we’ve known each other for over ten. We love and hate each other extensively. He’s like my big brother, business partner, soul mate, and best friend--everything.

When I work with someone else, it makes me realize how well matched I am with Michael. I can learn and enjoy other people’s ideas but it helps me to see how right the collaboration is between us.

Nicole: How would you describe your style of dance and what distinguishes you from other dancers in the same community?

Evita: We do swing and lindy hop. But the two things that I think really set us apart are that we are much more theatrical. We like to use props and take on characters; it’s not just an athletic thing based on speed or tricks. One example of this is our most famous dance pieces called Singing in the Rain. That one is like a musical - theatre through dance.


Evita Arce & Michael Jagger perform Singing in the Rain,
film produced by Jeff Bond & Eileen O'Donnell

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May 18, 2013 - Comments Off on Profile: John Warren, Furniture Designer

Profile: John Warren, Furniture Designer

John Warren Designs

Photo by Saunders Moore

SOWA Vintage Market

Photo by Saunders Moore

A few years ago while strolling through the Brooklyn Flea during its first season, I met a furniture designer from Boston named John Warren, and his partner Stephanie. I was immediately attracted to his design aesthetic and creative use of repurposed materials. My studio was in dire need of a cabinet for organizing fabric swatches and sewing supplies, so I decided to commission John to create a custom piece.

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For the cabinet, I specified the dimensions, as well as a general color palette, and some types of materials and details I liked from John's previous creations. I knew that I wanted ceiling tin to be included in the mix, as well as the ability to hold a couple rows of locker baskets–also sourced from Stephanie and John–inside, as they are perfect for cataloguing fabric color cards.

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I then gave John creative freedom to design and construct the cabinet. To my immense satisfaction, he came up with the most beautiful asymmetrically curved shape for the doors, and incorporated vine-patterned metalwork from discarded schooldesks. As a couture clothing designer I tend to have incredibly high standards. I was floored by his craftsmanship, especially the precision with which he cut the wood to match the jagged edges of the metalwork pieces.

John Warren Designs

It was such a pleasure to work with John on my one-of-a-kind cabinet that I wanted to share with you more about the details that went into the piece, how he got his start in craftsmanship, and about the vintage market called SoWa that he and Stephanie now run. To do so, I went up to Boston to see John and Stephanie in their element at SoWa. Here's a bit about how they are keeping Boston hip and bringing vintage back.

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