Stylishly unstylish

“Stylishy unstylish” is how Bethany describes her look. She’s all about finding her comfort zone, which starts with a great pair of sneakers and a great pair of jeans. She has about 30 pairs of jeans, but finds that she only wears the same 3 pair. It’s AG denim in blue, black & white.

“Stylishy unstylish” is how Bethany describes her look. She’s all about finding her comfort zone, which starts with a great pair of sneakers and a great pair of jeans. She has about 30 pairs of jeans, but finds that she only wears the same 3 pair. It’s AG denim in blue, black & white.

Bethany stays true to her comfort zone, even in the harsh Minnesota winters. You’ll see her wearing all white and open toe shoes when it’s 20 below! That’s partially because she can take the skyway to work and partially because she loves wearing white in the winter.

When she’s shopping for clothes, she invests in key pieces and then mixes in Zara & Target for basics. She prefers shopping an edited collection like Bergdorff 5th floor or D.Nolo, over digging for clothes (like my sister) at TJ MAXX or Off 5th. She wants to express optimism and open mindedness in her style. When she’s presenting work, she wants to appear cool and confident. “Clothing should never distract from the work. You should look like you know what you’re doing.”

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One of her first memories as a kid was knowing that she wanted to do what her dad did, but better. Her dad had a graphic design studio and she remembers holding down silk screens when she was only 2 years old.

Her roots are in the midwest, she’s from St. Louis, but has spent a majority of her time in New York City. She went to art school at Cooper Union and studied under some of the greats: Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Jessica Helfand and Lou Dorfsman.

Paul Rand was 81 years old when she was in his class, but she still carries some of the best advice that he shared. He would always tell the class to get off of the computer and get back to sketching because something gets lost between the hand and the computer. This advice was specific to Typography class where his philosophy was that type should just fall together like salt and pepper. When you start designing on the computer, you lose the opportunity to make mistakes and some of the best work comes from making mistakes.

Lou Dorfsman talked about being aware of culture. He would tell her to think about what’s happening in the world and infuse it in her work. It’s difficult to be that overt in your work when you’re creating for a mass retailer, but the spirit of that sentiment resides in brainstorming sessions.

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Bethany spent the first part of her career working in the luxury market. One of her first jobs was at a design firm with clients like: Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Cole Haan and Coach. Then she shifted to mass retail with a position at Global Brands Group, where they built brands for companies like Kohls. Have you heard of JLo for Kohls?

Then in 2015, out of the blue, she got the call for a dream job at Target, which is where she is today. Bethany is a Creative Director on the style business. Specifically, she directs the TV advertising. Ads that make you pause your DVR like this one and this one.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest
Ina Garten. She seems so fun! I would cook for her and maybe get some tips!

Would you like to be famous?
Not really. I like my life and don’t yearn for popularity and recognition. If I was famous, I’d like it to be for doing what I do best – good, fun, optimistic creative direction.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Yes, especially if it’s something I don’t want to do. I want to be as prepared as possible. I don’t, however, rehearse to order a pizza.

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What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Waking up at a beautiful place like a vineyard or on safari. My boyfriend, friends and family are with me. We have a long lunch under a tree and drink rosé. I don’t even like rosé, but it sounds romantic. I’m wearing something casual and incredibly chic. Maybe we wind down by a stream. Just having time to reflect on the day would be perfect.

When did you last sing yourself? To someone else?
This past weekend. We went to the Hollywood Bowl. My boyfriend and I sing in the car.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
I want both. I want the mind to figure out how I can have both.

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Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I hope it’s sudden and I hope people celebrate and have a party.

Name 3 things you and your boyfriend have in common.
We’re both Cardinals fans, food (I cook, he eats) and we both love outdoor adventures.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my family would have been more open. I grew up Catholic and so they were really reserved.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To be more relaxed without medication! I’d also like to be more organized. I’m not good with paperwork. I need help!

Acting natural

There I found myself in front of the camera, wondering if I should be bending my knee a little…

There I found myself in front of the camera, wondering if I should be bending my knee a little…

When Mary asked if we’d join her in sharing women’s style and stories, I jumped at the idea. Of course! I love hearing people’s stories. Key word, right there. Hearing. It didn’t occur to me that my story would be a subject matter and it just might involve having a picture (and a few wardrobe changes) taken. But hey, what do they say about the infamous comfort zone? We set the photoshoot date and while there was a little pit in my stomach, I knew it was good. That is, until the night before. I was picking out outfits, which should have been easy because it’s what I wear every day, right? Holding up combos in front of the mirror, I for some reason found myself asking, ‘I wear this, right?’

And that’s where it began.

The questions seeped into the following day’s shoot. Is that how I stand? Does this look good? Where should my hands go? That’s really how I smile? Should I hold my sunglasses? Am I walking weird? Thoughts on bending my knee? Oh, maybe straight is better…

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Before I knew it, things I’d never even given a second thought to, were making me second guess myself. Act natural, I told my racing thoughts. But that’s when it hit me. Could those words be any more of an oxymoron?

Being in front of a camera can so easily pressure us to put on a show. Act a certain way. Dress a certain way. Look a certain way. Do a certain thing. Not do another. Be a somebody, when in reality, all we really want captured is ourselves.

After what felt like some rough moments, I found myself saying to our photographer, just get candid stuff. Instead of trying to pose, it felt more normal to have a conversation and what ended up happening was so welcomed. I got to hear stories again. Anna talking about her latest adventure with the cats. Michelle talking about her journey with photography and the last wedding she shot. Liana with her sense of humor all over everything. It was natural and I began to feel it.

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In bringing all of us women together, Mary’s removed the word “act” from our stories. We have the opportunity to open up and just be ourselves, trusting we’ll be loved for it. I respect the women who’ve gotten in front of a camera, shared their story and owned their style. Because hey, when it comes down to it, we should be proud! Proud of each other, of ourselves and whatever we decide to put on. (and yep, proud of however that knee bends)

Article written by: Kiera Jacobson

Rock & roll chick

Jill is the coolest chick at the office. Like, seriously. I’m confident that everyone would agree with me too.

Jill is the coolest chick at the office. Like, seriously. I’m confident that everyone would agree with me too.

Her style has changed a lot over the years. She was the girl in the 80’s with the HUGE hair. She said her hair filled the whole frame of her college photo. She rocked the off-the-shoulder trend, big sweatshirts, leggings and always accessorized with a bandana. The bandana was either around her wrist or her ankle, but it was her statement piece.

She credits her mom for making her the stylish woman we know today. When Jill was little, her mother made clothes for Jill and her sister and she mostly sewed dresses. The fact that they were MATCHING dresses hindered Jill’s individuality, not to mention her tomboy ways. She was always playing outside, climbing trees and racing bikes with the boys in the neighborhood, so dresses didn’t really work.

“I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t care about what I wore.”

Today, she feels most comfortable in her edgy, rocker style. She loves it because she thinks that it contradicts her personality. She’s actually very quiet, reserved and understated. Her style allows her to be outgoing and badass in a way that draws people in. It’s her social currency, which is really cool. See, Jill is a very shy woman and typically won’t be the one to make the first move. But because of how she dresses, people will approach her and want to talk about her clothes and that makes it easier for her to engage in conversation.

At first glance, you might think Jill will kick your ass, but once you get to know her, you realize that she’s one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

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I’ve known Jill a long time and have a soft spot in my heart for her because I love working with her. We recently reunited on the digital design experiences for new brands at Target (plug & plug) and it was a total blast!

It took a few tries before she found graphic design. She started in architecture because she was always good at math and physics. Then, she switched to fashion design, thinking it would lead to a career in costume design. When she transferred to the U of M, she found graphic design and technology and it stuck.

Her design career and her husband’s career in law enforcement, provided them the opportunity to live in other cities. They spent 7 years in L.A., where Jill worked for Disney, Sony Pictures and Mattel. Then, Target snatched her up about 12 years ago. Jill spent the first 7 years art directing the Target kid’s catalog. Now she primarily art directs digital experiences.

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Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest
Iris Apfel. I admire her because she’s doesn’t care about conforming. She still has attitude and style well into her 90’s! If I live that long, I hope I’m like that.

Would you like to be famous?
Not while i’m alive. BUT I want to be remembered for something great that I did while I was here.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Nah, never

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Bacon & boating! Starting the day with bacon for breakfast, then spending the day with my hubby and my dogs, boating & wake surfing. I spent my last birthday just like that, only I also got a haircut and saw Wonder Woman.

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If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
F**k, that’s really hard because I’ve seen both. Mind, I guess.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Not really, but I’m not afraid to die. Hopefully I’ll die with my boots on (this is a reference to a movie i recently saw with my hubs – he’ll get it.) – doing something I love or protecting someone I care about. I just don’t want to live long enough to lose my mind OR body!

Name 3 things you and your husband appear to have in common.
Even though we have very different jobs and skills, we mostly have the same interests and opinions about things. We both love working out, being outside, camping, water, cars… oh, and he’s a for-real badass!

We also balance each other out in many ways. For example, I’m the techy one becuase he’s technology challenged, and he’s the money guy. I’ve never balanced my checkbook.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My health.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change anything. My parents cared about me, we had everything we needed and I feel like they taught me good values.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
The ability to fly.

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Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
There are a lot of things. I’d like to go hang gliding. I think I want to be a bird because I love water and air. I’d also like to travel to Iceland or Australia, but I don’t like the traveling part. I like the idea of being there, just not the getting there.

Back to style. How do you create your look?
I like to mix girlie with edgy. Like a pink fur coat with a Slayer tee, a blush sequin skirt with a camo jacket, or a floral satin robe with a Led Zepplin tee.

I don’t care about labels or brands, I just like what I like. Right now, I love what Gucci is doing, but they are cost prohibitive, so I improvise by customizing more affordable options that I get from Target or Marshalls. I love a good bargain, like finding a statement piece, or a piece I can make a statement with, for a super low price. It totally gives me a rush! I also often shop in the men’s and kid’s departments because you never know what kind of treasures you’ll find. For example, I have a Levi’s trucker vest that I sewed fur sleeves onto. The sleeves are from a fur coat that I bought in the girl’s department at Target for $8.

My patch jacket (featured image) is actually a men’s Levi’s trucker jacket that I got on sale from Urban Outfitters years ago. I recently added all these patches, but it took an entire year to collect just the right ones and get them well-balanced and in the right places. I couldn’t bring myself to start sewing them on until it was absolutely perfect.

Editorial note: The patch jacket is so beautiful in person! If you see Jill wearing it, make sure to stop and admire the craftswomanship.

Maternity clothes scared me

When Alyson was experiencing pregnancy for the first time, she was scared that she was going to lose her style. She remembered judging other women when they became mothers because she noticed formerly stylish women becoming less concerned about it after they had kids. She didn’t want to change, but wasn’t aware of the impact having kids was going to have on her life.

When Alyson was experiencing pregnancy for the first time, she was scared that she was going to lose her style. She remembered judging other women when they became mothers because she noticed formerly stylish women becoming less concerned about it after they had kids. She didn’t want to change, but wasn’t aware of the impact having kids was going to have on her life.

While she was pregnant with her first child, maternity clothes scared her. There wasn’t anything that she felt like she could wear to feel comfortable in this new body. Luckily, the looks that were trending were flowy dresses, elastic wastebands & harem pants. She made those items work and was able to feel like she wasn’t losing all of her stylish self.

When you’re a creative person who cares about aesthetics, it’s difficult to turn off that curator part of your brain. Everything has to be “just so.” It’s really stressful and I’m sure other creative people can relate to that feeling. It comes with the territory of being a designer.

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Now, having birthed 2 children, she’s realized that she doesn’t have the mind space, time or money to devote to thinking about her clothes. In the past, she would curate a capsule wardrobe with a few expensive items, but that doesn’t suit her lifestyle anymore.

Her current style approach is “grab and go”.  She builds a decent base with a few pieces that can transition in and out. She focuses on denim that makes her feel good because it can mix and match with anything very easily. Jeans are durable, classic and you don’t have to wash them very often, which is another time-saving feature.

In addition to raising 2 kiddos, Alyson is a Creative Director at Target. If you’ve seen inspirational fashion imagery from Target, Alyson was most likely the creator.

She started her design journey at Iowa State University, where she studied graphic design. She felt lucky from the start because she knew she wanted to do something in that field.

After graduating from ISU, she landed an internship at Olson. She felt like she was nailing it and when fall arrived, was ready to hit the pavement and find her first design job.

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In reality though, it was harder than she anticipated. In order to pay the bills, she was working as a nanny while attending portfolio reviews. She was disappointed during this time because she wasn’t seeing any of her hard work come to fruition.

She hit her low point one night biking home to Uptown after an interview in Downtown Minneapolis. She was wearing her beautiful interview suit, with her portfolio in her bike basket. It was happy hour on a nice fall evening and she got pulled over by a cop for biking on the sidewalk.

Alyson eventually landed at Target 10 years ago. She loves the challenge of shooting fashion at Target. “When you have a $10,000/day model wearing a Gucci dress with Annie Leibovitz as the photographer, that shot is going to be gorgeous, guaranteed. When you have a $4,000/day model wearing a dress from Target and you make it look awesome, that is amazing. That’s a challenge and it is so fun!”

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Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love history! I love knowing my own history too. I grew up reading those books and falling in love with the illustrations by Garth Williams.

Would you like to be famous?
Yes, for invention.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
For sure, especially if it’s something heavy. Context to the conversation matters.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Being with my family, in the summer, on the water with good homemade food that I had time to prepare.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
Never! People told me all the time that I had the worst voice ever, so I don’t sing.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Mind, for sure

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
No idea, do you?
Yes, I think I’m going to have a stroke.

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Name 3 things you and your husband appear to have in common.
Our sense of humor (he’d disagree), compassion and we both value putting our best foot forward.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My husband, he’s a much better person than I am.

Is there a woman in your career that was your mentor or that you looked up to?
Yes, Anita Calero. She is a photographer/stylist/all-around amazing human being. I met and worked with her early in my career and she really shaped me as a creative. She gave me confidence early on which gave me strength and energy to keep doing what I love. As a young art director, it was intimidating to walk on to set and give a whole photo crew direction. Anita instilled the passion, assurance and confidence I needed to grow early as a creative.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Patience

I have 25 lipsticks in my purse at any one time

Liana is one of the most stylish people I have ever met. Her high standards for design and aesthetics is visible in everything she touches. From her wardrobe, to her beautifully designed home, every last detail is thoroughly considered.

Liana is one of the most stylish people I have ever met. Her high standards for design and aesthetics is visible in everything she touches. From her wardrobe, to her beautifully designed home, every last detail is thoroughly considered.

Imagine my excitement when I first met this woman and was assigned a desk next to her. We would literally squeal at each other and talk about the clothes we had curated for the day and why. I know it may sound shallow, but it’s fun, inspiring and gave me that little boost I needed to get through some tough days.

Liana can be inspired by a person, a moment or even an article about fashion and design. Her favorite time of the year is Fashion Week (mine too). Paris Fashion Week is top of the list. There’s nothing better than cozying up with a glass of Rosé and scouring the blogs and Instagram for runway shows and street style photography.

She can become obsessed with one fashion moment and just have to have it. Her obsession last year was robes. Even if it doesn’t “work” on her body, she loves it and has to try it.

A lot of Liana’s style sensibilities come from her Lithuanian culture. European women care about appearance and are the best dressed in the room. Even if you’re going out to push a stroller, you look like a million bucks.

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Liana is a design veteran. She’ll hate that I used the word “veteran” but I think it’s important to show the industry, and other creative women, that design, creativity, smarts and style transcend age. She has worked in agencies, corporate design groups, nonprofits and freelance. Some of the organizations where she led creative include: Honeywell, Miller Meester Advertising, Room and Board, The Minneapolis Institute of Art and currently, Target. She said that once she found retail, she found home.

For this project, I was excited that she wanted to participate because we got to sit down one-on-one and discuss topics other than work and clothes. One thing that really touched me is learning more about her experience as a mother. Liana is one of those women that does is all: career, marriage and motherhood…with great style.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Barack & Michelle Obama

Would you like to be famous?
No. I’d like to be successful and happy, but not famous. When I was starting out in my career, I wanted to be a famous designer. The more I met famous designers, I realized the “fame” part of that life wasn’t for me.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Yes, I rehearse and take notes on every call. If I don’t rehearse, I don’t communicate everything I need to.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Being outside and doing something active. Sometimes I want to disconnect and be on my bike. Other times, I want a day of pampering with my friends that concludes with dinner and drinks.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
In my car, I sing along with the radio all the time. I sang “Happy Birthday” to my daughter yesterday.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Body. I think it would be very difficult to be sharp mentally and be constantly aware that my body can’t keep up.

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Name 3 things you and your husband appear to have in common.
We’re so similar, yet so different. We both love the outdoors. The love we have for our kids and what we want for them.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My husband, Leo, my kids, health, family, friends, all of it. Overall, I just feel grateful. I’m very lucky.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to sing. I’m extremely passionate about music and would love to belt out a song with an amazing voice.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
Yes, travel abroad more. Expense is a barrier because our families live in a different state, so our vacation time and budget gets allocated to trips to see our families.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Being married for a really long time.
How long?
A long time.
My kids are also one of my greatest accomplishments. We were at my daughter’s college graduation last month and a friend congratulated me. At first I was taken aback by the praise, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought: “Yes, I did that.”

What is your most treasured memory?
The birth of my 2 children.

What is your most terrible memory?
When Sofija was alive for only 36 hours. After we brought her home, she spiked a fever and we had to bring her back to the emergency room where they quarantined her and also gave her a spinal tap. I was in such a state, I don’t even have the words to describe it. Here I was having just given birth to my first child, so I have emotions and hormones running through my body, while all this terrible stuff is happening to my baby. I could hold her, but I couldn’t feed her because she was too weak. We ended up being in the hospital for a week before she recovered. It was an out of body experience for me.

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What do you value most in a friendship?
Acceptance and valuing who you really are.

How do you create your look? Where do you shop
It’s usually weather dependent. I’m not kidding. We live in a location with 4 seasons, so I think about the temp (will it rain or snow?) and go from there. I want to be stylish, but comfort is also a huge factor. My mood also drives my decisions. For those days when I’m running late, I tend to gravitate towards my basics and build from there to liven things up. Usually with great shoes or some accessories. Other days, I want to make a statement, so I’ll choose a print or pattern or clothing that might be more dramatic. I really love shoes and feel like I can never have enough. Black boots? I have many. Sometimes I want a heel and sometimes I want something flat. Then there’s the material. Suede or patent? With or without details? Ankle or knee high? So many choices!

And I can’t forget the finishing touch…lipstick! I’m obsessed. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect red lipstick. I carry so many in my purse because when I need to reapply it, I might change up the shade.

I shop everywhere! I love investment pieces and will do research online before buying it to make sure I get the best price. I love quality tailoring, luxurious materials and silhouettes that flatter my body. I’ve had really great luck at Nordstrom, Shopbop, Scotch & Soda. I love to shop boutiques when I travel so I can find items that not everyone else will be wearing. There are also times when I want to try a new trend that probably won’t last past a season. That’s when I’ll check out Zara or a similar place.

I haven’t changed my earrings since 8th grade

Kiera likes to describe her style as “basic-ish”, but put together. She thinks about clothes in a practical way which usually goes something like this: “How many different ways can I wear this? Does it go with what I already have?”

Kiera likes to describe her style as “basic-ish”, but put together. She thinks about clothes in a practical way which usually goes something like this: “How many different ways can I wear this? Does it go with what I already have?”

She likes to stay in the same color palette, but dabbles in different textures and necklines. Her favorite brands to shop are Madewell, Jcrew, and Forever 21. Madewell & Jcrew are at the top of the list because she can shop by outfit and feel confident that the color palettes are curated to work together.

In the case of Kiera’s style, “basic” really means fundamental, foundational & classic. Relying on these principles for her wardrobe saves her mindspace so she can think about other things. She thinks it’s important to make an authentic first impression and this includes what she wears. She tries not to stray too far from her “brand” which is why a lot of the things she wears look similar.

Kiera grew up in an advertising family in Wisconsin, where her grandfather started an ad agency. He dreamed of being a cartoonist, but when he pursued that dream in California, he was turned down. So he returned to Sheboygan, Wisconsin to set up shop with his wife, at the picnic table in their garage, and Jacobson Advertising was born.

One of their first clients was Swiss Miss, and Grandma Jacobson did all the rose malling on the packaging.

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Creativity ran in the family because Kiera’s dad was also an artist. He attended Macalester College and graduated with an Economics degree but started a glass etching studio. He took over the family advertising business when his dad was ready to retire.

As Kiera was deciding what career to enter, her parents didn’t pressure her to go into advertising. When she went to her dad for advice he told her: “If you’re not sure, go into writing.”

She ultimately decided to study journalism at the University of St. Thomas and discovered that she had the advertising bug. Kiera entered her first ad competition in her hometown paper and won!

While she was enrolled at St. Thomas, one of her professors recommended that she apply for a Target internship. She submitted her portfolio and Travis took a chance on her. After interning for a year, she was offered a full-time position as a Junior Writer.

That was 7 years ago and since then she has been promoted to Senior Manager. That’s where Kiera and I cross paths, working together at Target. The reason we became friends though, is because she lived in India for 4 months. Weird, right? I only got to know her after she returned from India and our mutual friend Nam connected us.

It was great to sit down with Kiera and talk more openly for this project. I got to hear her story and all about the impact living in India had on her life.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? My Grandpas. They passed away when I was in 2nd & 3rd grade. I hear such awesome stories about them.

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One of my grandpas was super involved at home from church to the community to leading weekend activities for kids. My other grandpa lived part-time in an artist village of Mexico and started libraries, brought eye glasses and instruments to kids and as I’m told, found his way into quite a number of adventures in the desert. This was the same grandpa who started the advertising agency. I know I owe a lot of who I am to both of them and the families they raised.

Would you like to be famous?
I don’t think so. It would depend. I would like to be known, not famous. I want to be known as a loving friend. Whether it makes history? It doesn’t matter.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
No. I so rarely talk on the phone. If I do, it’s usually with people I already know well, so when I have free time I call and talk to them.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Being active and in good conversation with the people I love. Good food… Hola Arepa… wouldn’t hurt.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I think I sing in the car, or when I’m cleaning. Google Home makes me feel like I’m not singing alone. The last time I sang was probably yesterday.

What has shaped your life in a profound and meaningful way?
Oh boy, a lot, but one comes to mind, just in terms of what’s happened this past year. When I was in 7th grade, I had the chance to travel to Europe with 20 other 7th and 8th graders, for three weeks. I’d never been away from home for that long and had never traveled alone – I didn’t know anyone going. I still said yes and came back a more confident, independent, open-minded person.

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A year and a half ago, a similar opportunity came up and I again had to say “yes”. I moved to India to work for four moths. I had no idea what to expect and it was totally outside my comfort zone. It was a real growth moment in my life. So much was happening while I was there that it took awhile for me to process it. I had to learn to live in it and not worry about understanding it.

This quote from the book “The Better Life” by Claire Diaz Ortiz put it in perspective: “Sometimes when the big things happen in life you can’t actually process them at the time they happen. Sometimes, you can only really understand them in retrospect. Because sometimes they are too big for the small moments.”

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Depends. Is it a fit 30 year old? Then for sure! This is a hard decision because I’m a physical person. I’d ultimately choose mind though because I’d rather sit and have conversations with people than run around alone.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I hope I die doing something that I love. I recently heard a story about a man who died while he was fishing. He still had the pole in his hand!

Diamonds or pearls?
Pearls, of course! I started wearing pearls in 8th grade and haven’t changed since. They are classic and go with everything. I never applied much meaning to the pearl until a family friend gave me my first real pair as I was about to embark on my adventure to India. With the earrings, they enclosed a note that said: “Pearls mean wisdom through experiences.”

Feminist AF

You will find Anna’s most curated style expression by looking at her accessories because most of them are from people and/or places she loves.

You will find Anna’s most curated style expression by looking at her accessories because most of them are from people and/or places she loves. Her goal is not to be a fashion icon, but to express herself thoughtfully and with pieces that have meaning. Her clothes don’t scream: “Notice me!” but her jewelry, quietly understated, always has a great back story.

Her favorite things are necklaces. She has about 30 in rotation and usually spends the most time picking out what jewelry to style with her outfits. She thinks about what may unfold that day and who or what she wants to have close to her. A couple of years ago, when there were layoffs happening, she knew it was going to be a rough day so she chose to wear an elephant pendant because her sister gave it to her, and she thought it might give her strength on a really shitty day.

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Anna currently works as a copywriter at Target and you see her work in the world every day. She went to the University of Kansas Journalism School (Rock Chalk Jayhawks!).

In addition to her full time job, she volunteers at a women’s shelter in Plymouth, MN. During her 4 hours every other week, she answers phones and provides administrative support for the women’s advocates. “Why a women’s shelter?” I asked. Anna said that a few years ago, there were 4 women killed by their domestic partners in a span of 6 months. It really disturbed her, and made her want to find a way to help.

The shelter she volunteers at provides emergency housing to women escaping domestic violence, as well as counseling, legal assistance and other resources to help them move forward with their lives.

I got to know Anna a little better through this project. We peeled back the layers, little by little with a few fun questions developed by Arthur Aron. And just like her treasured necklaces, she’s got a great story to tell.

Given the choice of anyone is the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
My Grandfather on my mom’s side. I never met him because he died 4 years before I was born. My mom tells me the stories about how he raised her and he just sounds like an amazing man. My mom had polio as a baby. It attacked her left leg, stopping its growth, which meant spending a lot of time in the hospital as a child. Her dad wanted her to live a normal life. He was determined there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do and made sure she never missed out on activities, like ice skating, by creating homemade braces for a pair of skates.

I’ve also heard that he was quite the jokester and loved all animals, which makes me think he and I would have a lot in common.

Would you like to be famous?
Not beyond a certain point. It would be nice to be known for something benefitting the community, but I’m not interested in celebrity.

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Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
All the time, or I just put off making calls for weeks. I don’t know what it is. It’s usually complaining to Comcast or a long conversation with a friend that I haven’t seen for a while, so there’s a lot to catch up on, and it’s hard to dedicate that much time.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Spending time on a lake in Minnesota in the summer with all my favorite people. Ending the day with a BBQ and yard game. And beer. Definitely beer.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I had to sing some lyrics I’d written for a company presentation last Friday.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Mind

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I have a ridiculous fear of death, so I don’t think about it.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My family. My parents have been married for 46 years and I feel fortunate to have grown up in a 2-parent household. My older sister is my best friend and my family travels together. In fact, my first international trip was to France when I was 9 years old. This sparked a life of exploration together with my family.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
My dad traveled to Asia for his job and the opportunity to move to China for a year came up. I was in 1st grade, so this was the worst possible idea in my 1st grade mind. Knowing what I know now, I wish my sister and I weren’t so against it. I wish we would have gone for it.

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If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
A real, legit ability or a super power? If I could have a super power, it would be to fly because that seems super cool. Becoming an artist is a more realistic ability that I’d want.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
The first thing that comes to mind is officiating my sister’s wedding. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

What do you value most in a friendship?
Just being there for each other.

What is your most treasured memory?
Climbing to the top of Lone Mountain in Montana. It took a few years and other family members made it when I didn’t. But I finally got to the top when I was 15 years old.

Share an embarrassing moment in your life
I was studying abroad in Italy and we went to an outdoor market near our school. I was really excited to try bargaining and practice my Italian. My friend, Skylar, and I found a watch we wanted to buy and thought the price was $15, so we negotiated to $10. The vendor didn’t argue at all, which was weird, but we left that booth feeling really badass about our awesome bartering skills. When we visited another booth and found the same watch, we realized that the price was actually $5, not $15. So we basically negotiated to pay the vendor more than the listed price. Oh, and the watches stopped working before we even got back to the States.

Diamonds or pearls
Neither because I like funkier stones.

No stilettos, but I fucking love lipstick.

If you are a conventionally attractive woman, you’ll do better in life. Katie used to buy into that notion, but has decided that these societal standards aren’t for her.

If you are a conventionally attractive woman, you’ll do better in life. Katie used to buy into that notion, but has decided that these societal standards aren’t for her. She’s never fit that “convention” and has grown into loving that about herself. In the past, she dressed to “hide” things about her body, but now she lets that roll peek out and still feels beautiful.

Little by little, she empowers herself by disobeying the established rules about how curvy women should dress. You see these rules everywhere. Wear this to hide that, accentuate something else. “Eff that,” says Katie, “I’m going to wear what I want.”

For her, it’s all about dressing for herself and not everyone else. She thinks this newly developed point of view is part of maturing and wanting to feel confident. She defines her own fashion rules and that’s what inspires her confidence.

I met Katie at Target, where she works as a lead strategist. She’s that happy blend of analytical perfectionist and zealous creative who strives to create meaningful conversations between people and businesses. She’s worked on big accounts like Bayer, Frito-Lay, Wrigley, Papermate, Nestle, SC Johnson, Chevy & Allstate. For her work on Bayer, she received an Effie finalist nod.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the “Mayhem” character for AllState. Katie took over as lead strategist on that account in 2015. Yeah, watch out, because she’s only getting started.

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Katie has great style. She’s that woman at the office that can pull off a t-shirt, jeans, sneakers and ball cap and make it seem business professional. I wanted to get to know her even better, so we got together and talked about family, confidence, adult braces and various other interesting things.

Given the choice of anyone is the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Alive or dead?
It’s your dinner party.
My Grandmother. She’s deceased, but I would really like to talk with her. Connecting to my roots generates energy for me. Knowing that I’m part of a continuum, 1 in a long line people gives me a sense of who I am. History and heritage are very important in my culture.

Would you like to be famous?
Yes I would! I believe if you’re given an opportunity, you should take it. Use power for good! I do this in small ways everyday, but if I were famous, I would have scale.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Yes, I rehearse conversations and presentations. My mind works faster than my mouth. I’m a stream of consciousness note taker and then I organize later.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
5 minutes before I met with you! I Snapchatted with my new niece.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
For some reason, I feel like my ticker is going to give out on me.

Name 3 things you and your fiancé appear to have in common?
We’re very emotional. We both have a deep desire to cultivate family, which is actually a behavior that you have to practice everyday. We both like to make stuff. He’s a guitarist and I’m a singer. That’s how we met, through music.

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For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My fiancé, Tim.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Teleportation. I’d love to randomly pop up in Paris.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time?
I thought I wanted to be a physician, but it turns out that I’m really bad at organic chemistry. So, I’ve been thinking about becoming a doula or a midwife. Pregnancy and birth are really cool and I’d love to give support during this process. I want to be a vessel of communal knowledge because we’re losing it.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
I can’t say that I’ve had it yet. I’m still in the first act of the movie.

What do you value most in a friendship?
I wish I had a singular word for it. It’s this notion of empathy and behavior. Someone who understands you and actively has your back. There’s probably a word, I just can’t think of it.

How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
I had an amazing childhood until I was 10 years old. My baby brother died unexpectedly and it really changed the family. I feel like I had a catastrophe level family event, and you don’t get out of that unscathed. I now have a huge, warm & amazing extended family and because of Tim, I have 2 amazing extended families! In some ways, I’ve had it much better than others and in other ways, I’ve had some hard knocks.

When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
Yesterday. As I was leaving my newborn niece, I cried. I cry multiple times a week. I love it!

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Back to style. How do you create your look? Where do you shop?
In general I am a high/low/freegan shopper and dress for style over trend or retailer aesthetic.

In my closet: I’m an ASOS fangirl, thrift store, Burberry, Forever21 (yes, I still shop there), Louis Vuitton, vintage (I have a fringe jacket that I will never throw away), True Religion, Sam Edelman, surprisingly lots of Target (especially since I started working there), I try to buy clothes when I travel. I went to Vietnam last year and had a bunch of over-the-top sleepwear made.

Get Katie’s looks
Look 1
Brown dress: ASOS
Lips: Bite Beauty in Kale
Necklace: SugarFix by Target
Shoes: Bought online from a retailer in Tokyo

Look 2
Blue dress: ASOS
Lips: Revlon (the label rubbed off so I’m not sure of the color name)
Necklace: Forever21
Shoes: Target

Look 3
Floral dress: Michael Kors
Lips: MAC lipstick in Dubanet
Earrings: Bauble Bar
Shoes: Sam&Libby by Target

Look 4
Lips: MAC lipstick in Dubanet
Hat: New Era/Chance the Rapper Limited Addition Sox Cap
Black turtleneck: ASOS
Black jeans: Target
Shoes: Dolce Vita by Target

Feminism & Femininity

Since Hannah was a little girl, she was asking questions about equality. When she was just 6 years old, she asked why there weren’t gingerbread girls when there were only gingerbread men.

Since Hannah was a little girl, she was asking questions about equality. When she was just 6 years old, she asked why there weren’t gingerbread girls when there were only gingerbread men.

Feminism was a concept that came naturally to her, but as she grew up and started to make style choices, she questioned herself. Was she a good feminist even if she wanted to dress feminine? It felt like she had to tone down either one in order to fit in. Dress too girly, bad feminist. Dressing like a tomboy didn’t feel right either. Girly is who she is and so she’s arrived at a place where she’s found strength in her femininity and confidence in showing up as herself.

She is persistent in her pursuit of justice, for all people. It shows up in her personal life and her professional life. She is always looking out for the best interest of everyone and will speak up to rally people to do the right thing.

Hannah has great style, and she’s a very interesting person. Whenever we interact, it’s always filled with laughs and challenging conversations. Challenging in a good way. She doesn’t take any crap and I respect that. I wanted to get to know her even better, so I sat with her and talked about more important matters.

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Would you like to be famous?
Absolutely not! I only care about being recognized by the people I care about. Strangers’ opinions don’t matter to me.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Totally! I have phone anxiety. I would rather discuss things in person because so much is lost over the phone, especially in meetings! When I’m working on personal things like calling a doctor or my accountant, I have to make a checklist because I worry I’ll forget what I need.

What would constitute a “perfect” date for you?
A spontaneous dinner out with my fiancé. We always have such good conversations cozied up in a restaurant. Or better yet, it would be a day where I just let him plan it because he’s super thoughtful. I love NOT being the planner every once in awhile.

When did you last sing to yourself?
Alone in the car, or anytime my fiancé starts singing. He, his name is Geoffrey, will start singing and then I’ll sing back at him.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Not really. I’m one of those people that when I feel ill, I think: “Oh my God, I have cancer!” I’m a stubborn worrier so I feel like I’ll outlive everyone & I don’t want that.

Name 3 things you and your fiancé appear to have in common?
Style, love of music & we both value independence in our relationship. Honestly though, it’s our differences that make us work.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m really grateful for my family. I have a loving, supportive and open relationship with my parents. They have always been supportive in our differences and didn’t project any expectations on us.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my parents would have pushed me to do more things even though I was afraid (perfectionist!). The desire was there, but I had too much fear and my parents couldn’t see through it.

Can you tell me your life story in 4 minutes?
No, but I’ll tell you for as long as it takes.

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I was born and lived in Minneapolis until I was 13. My parents had a generally good relationship but were also super open and honest with my younger sister and I about the realities of relationships – they’re not easy! My mom was an independent and driven artist with a million friends – making it up and figuring it out as she went. My dad was quiet, a recovering addict, a craftsman, and speed demon, happiest on solo motorcycle trips. There was a lot of love, but also a knowledge that things were tough at times too.

We didn’t have money growing up and I was keenly aware of that. It made me a worrier. I didn’t ask for much because I knew what our money situation was. When we would go shopping at Target for our back to school clothes, I was always very pragmatic in my choices, never asking for more than I thought we could afford. I also didn’t want to make my mom feel bad for what she couldn’t give us.

In middle school, my parents announced we were moving to Cannon Falls, which is a small town of 3,000. I was incredibly upset and nervous, but ended up finding a new confidence in the change of context aided by kids who were just excited to have a “new girl in town”. I still worried about fitting in, especially since we were pretty different from most of the families in town who had lived there forever.

I was a good student, but failed to be like the cool sporty girls I was friends with. Instead I focused on art and choir and joined the musical. I always loved clothes and fashion, but tended to dress more preppy and “normal” as a way of fitting in.

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My parents split up with I was 16. It was tough, but our open communication remained and we all figured things out together. I credit this time, and fights with my dad, for teaching me how to communicate through anger and frustration. I couldn’t wait to get out and go away to college. I ended up at UW-Madison, after a quick visit and somewhat hasty decision, where I studied art and graphic design. I found myself feeling frustrated and not as challenged as I wanted, and decided to study abroad at Central Saint Martins in London. The program and students were super impressive and intimidating, but it really taught me the importance of self motivation. I definitely learned that I needed to be challenged to be happy. A fear of complacency and a desire to push through my nervousness is what motivated me to move to New York City after college.

I moved there with only $2,000 to my name and no job. Totally crazy, but I did it! I experienced a lot of personal growth and increased confidence while living there. I got my first job at Tiffany, 1 month before the economy crashed in 2008. When I got the job, I felt the relief of making it out. “I’m not going to be poor,” I thought. Then less than six months later, I got laid off. It sucked and I was scared, but it ended up leading to so many better things.

So much after that felt random. Like shit just happened – and fast! I assisted a stylist on a photoshoot and suddenly landed another gig as a lead stylist. I worked freelance for a few years at One Kings Lane while also going back and assisting other great stylists and working for a variety of clients and generally learning more about the industry. From there I went on to work at Gilt and was so lucky to have the support of a wonderful woman and manager who believed in me and valued my point of view. She helped open the door for me to start art directing. Her faith in me gave me the confidence I needed to move into this new role. I learned so much there about my creative vision and my ability to communicate and lead a team. It was fun, and really hard too.

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When I felt like I had learned and achieved all that I was meant to, I resigned from Gilt without a job, took a ceramics class and did some freelance. I needed to clear my head and refocus a bit. Slow down and make what felt like more conscious decisions about my life. It was during this time that my now fiancé, who I met in New York, and I started thinking more seriously about moving back to Minnesota. He’s from here too!

New York had been great, but we needed a new way of life that didn’t just focus on us. We needed something permanent. So, we moved back and we’re getting married this fall!

How long did that take?
A lot more than 4 minutes. Probably more like 40.

Back to style. How do you create your look? Where do you shop?
I focus on basics, quality and fit. I want to be better about not buying fast fashion, both as a way of supporting makers and small business and being more environmentally responsible. In New York there was a lot of “looking like you’re not trying” in a $200 t-shirt. There’s a part of that approach that is still in my head, but from a more practical perspective. Now that I don’t live in New York, I actually feel more free to experiment. I care less about what people think. This is for me!

The perfect white tee is ESSENTIAL and is shockingly hard to find. My current summer fave is from H&M. Another is a linen tee from Stark. When I find a good one, I’ll wear it down to rags. I wear my vintage Lee jean jacket almost everyday. It just goes with everything! I love the fit of Madewell jeans when I can’t make vintage work. Otherwise, I’m not super brand loyal. I like crafting my own mix of vintage and modern. It’s really exciting to see smaller brands led by women, like Lauren Winter and Winsome Goods really succeeding. I want my look to be personal and unique, always finding the balance between feminine and masculine. When in doubt, I throw on a classic black leather jacket. It’s an instant confidence boost. And lipstick. Always red lipstick 🙂

What’s your favorite red lipstick?
Lady Danger from MAC

Rebel, Rebel

Meet Carly, the fashion rebel. If you invite her to a party requiring a dress code, she won’t follow it.

Don’t expect Carly to abide by any fashion rules you impose on her. Uniforms & dress codes will be ignored because she needs the freedom to express herself through her clothing in order to feel confident & comfortable.

This fashion rebel cannot conform. She’s tried. In high school, she was often called to the principal’s office for not following the school uniform. She’d wear the school colors, but could never bring herself to wear the polo shirt and khaki pants. She’d improvise with different types of clothes, but it never satisfied school leaders. She’s even been written up at one of her jobs for her fashion choices.

Carly didn’t get in trouble for dressing inappropriately, she got in trouble because she couldn’t follow someone else’s rules.

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“When someone tells me what to wear, it takes away my power. I want autonomy over my own body.”

Carly grew up poor in Philadelphia where she only had her brain and her body to represent herself. Everyone knows that just isn’t enough in high school. When you grow up without the advantage of a clothing allowance, it can be difficult to find ways to present yourself so you’re not solely judged on your economic situation. Carly turned to fashion to escape being labeled as a “poor” kid.

She started working when she was 14 so she could afford new Nikes & Guess jeans. Clothes and shoes were her prized possessions and that’s when her interest in style & fashion began.

Carly moved on to college where she graduated with a degree in psychology and art history. Recently, she attained her B.S. in Computer Science while working full time at Target, where she currently works, and brings her rebellious style with her everyday.

“Poverty isn’t who you are, you’re just born into it”

Carly has great style, and she’s a very interesting person. Whenever I interact with her, it’s always a delightful experience. I wanted to get to know her even better, so I sat with her and talked about more important matters.

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
How successful I am, where I’ll live and retire.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time?
Yes, traveling to Peru by myself and I just booked it for September! It’s my first time out of the country. I also want to go to Tulum. Peru is a graduation gift to myself. I’m excited about the history, architecture and fabrics.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Right now, my education & my half marathons.

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What do you value most in a friendship?
Passion and real conversations. Being able to talk about anything emotionally and laughing. Get deep and laugh in the same conversation!

What is your most treasured memory?
I have a lot of good memories. One that stands out is going to New York with my Aunt & Uncle. They would take me shopping, to dinners & plays. They were like my second parents. We would go every couple of months by train or car. We’d spend hours just walking around the city. They would tell me: “This is how you should be treated in life.”

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What is your most terrible memory?
I have a lot!

If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?
I wouldn’t. I try to live everyday like it’s my last. I always show up warm and loving. I’m always reflecting to make sure my interactions are what I meant them to be.

What does friendship mean to you?
Love. Being able to be totally vulnerable. I can’t really explain it. It’s more of a feeling.

How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
It’s gotten stronger. We’re super close now. I had to go through a period of time where I had to analyze her so I could understand why she was the way she was. Having done so has made me more empathetic and allowed me to be close to her.

What has been an embarrassing moment in your life?
It was the first day at a new school. My teacher scolded me for writing an incorrect word. I didn’t hear him and when he saw that I confused the word “reading” for “greeting” he yelled at me.

When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
As a kid I cried a lot. I could cry on demand. My family gave me a lot of crap about it so it makes it hard for me to cry as an adult. I cried by myself about 2 weeks ago.

Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
My baby brother. He lives far away and we’re so close that when I think about that possibility, I get really sad.

When did you last sing to yourself?
This morning getting dressed. I sing everyday. I always have music playing so I sing along.

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Would you want to be famous? In what way?
Depends on what I’m famous for. CEO of Google? Yeah. Celebrity? No.

How do you create your look? Where do you shop?
It’s important to mix old and new for me to keep it unique. I try to buy my jewelry from local jewelers. Earrings are from There There Collective and my rings are from local native jewelers. I buy them mostly at pop up sales. Besides buying vintage, some of the places I usually shop are:  ASOS, Zara, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Bona Drag and ShopBop.