(My very first photo-shoot with Anna, 2012)
When I was 13, I subscribed to my first fashion magazine Teen Vogue for only $12 a year. It became my favorite thing to receive in the mail. For every monthly issue, I read vigorously – every single word. I remember analyzing the front cover headers, the photos, the personal articles, and the finale: trending style inspiration. When the pages ran out, I would flip through again to see if I had missed anything. And in desperate moments I would read the index. “Where was this piece borrowed from?” “Who styled and photographed this look?”
Enter hour two, I would be found lying down with Teen Vogue in my nose, cutting up scraps of inspiration. Street style, home renovations, perfume advertisements, new campaign spreads – anything I found inspirational or admirable. These pages were carefully collected and set aside for what would become my first collage & scrapbook.
The actual scrapbook was a yellow, spiral-bound sketch pad I had discovered on the outdoor clearance rack of Borders, a local bookstore that is no longer. I filled the pages with bits and pieces of my inspirations: Mary-Kate Olsen, LANVIN, Kristen Bell, Marc Jacobs, and Chloe. Over the next few months, I finished the 50-page project in the style of what is now known as a ‘dream board.’ I recall showing it to my parents and family, visitors who came over our house, and frankly anyone who might be interested in my small accomplishment. I still go back to this scrapbook once in a while, to remind myself of the impulse and passion that ran in my veins during my teenage years.
As I grew older, I found myself lost in direction and muddled deep within a pit of mixed counsels: “You are great at organizing, you should look into Administration.” “You love learning languages, try linguistics.” “Haven’t you always wanted to become a teacher?” “Do business, like your father.” In the midst of this chaos, nothing really stuck with me. I bounced around, from one major to another, only to realize that none of these majors offered at any University of California would satisfy my creative desires: to create, visualize and style outfits, research trends, publish travel diaries, and sit for hours blogging about the future of fashion.
Quite frankly, I never wanted to attend university to study art, or anything of the like. I had many friends advising me to study art, or go in the fashion industry - but I think in my mind I took for granted that this part of me would always remain in me. I thought, "I'll always have this passion within me, so why study it?" I never knew passions could fade when it lacked careful nurture. I also neglected to realize that every skill is a tool: if it’s not being sharpened, it’s as good as gone.
In my late teens and early twenties, my heart again raced for fashion. I jumped into creating YouTube videos along with my sister, who was already producing content for beauty and makeup. I focused on visual styling and short clips on thrift buying. I indulged in the world of Polyvore and Lookbook, and shot my first blog post look just outside our neighborhood. As my platform grew, I launched an online shop with hand-picked finds at local thrift stores. I spent days rummaging through vintage shops, consignment stores, and local pop-ups to find pieces that reflected my style. It became the most rewarding and my most time-consuming hobby.
(My first shop: Solatido, 2012)
In the summer of 2013, I checked a life box and transferred schools to Santa Barbara, a beach town on the coast with beautiful weather and leisure. I packed all my LA clothes with me, in hopes that I would find new opportunities to share them with others. However, the busyness of life, the infectious cultural apathy, and lack of inspiration led me to move these thoughts and dreams to the back burner of my mind. In my final year at university, I lost all hope and desire to pursue creativity and switched careers to something 'practical.'
For one, it looked good on paper: a stable career with decent pay and a work-life balance. However, deep inside, I was turning away from something monumental in my life. With that decision, I foolishly exchanged my passion for a sense of comfort that everyone seemed to chase. Once I got there, the grass on my field started to look brown. Maybe this isn't what I hoped it to be. I was alive, but I wasn't living.
In the winter of 2016, something changed.
I can't pin point what or who influenced me, but I started to see things differently. I don't know if it was my co-worker showing me her sketches for apparel design, hours of honest discussion (about dreams and regrets) with my husband, my eye opening trip to Seoul (capital of street style), my sister who is a dream machine of inspiration and effort, or the growing platforms of online inspiration that keep me in check. All things considered, I knew I had to ignite my soul again and give my dreams another shot.
I entered 2017 with expectant hope that I would make this year a time of pursuit and action.
Fast-forward to today, I am in a much better place of awareness. I still work a 9 to 5 job, but I have an ongoing agenda of creative projects I hope to unravel over the next few years. (In this age, side jobs are the key to creative bliss.) I picked up writing again, I am reading and doing research, and I will soon invest in my first decent camera. (No more crappy digitals!) I no longer plummet myself into a rabbit hole because of my regrets, my doubts, and my fears. Instead, I think: I'm not too late to start something, I'm not "just like every creator out there," and yes, I have my own unique talent to showcase. I believe the same goes for every dreamer out there. We don't have all the answers with us now, but I think that's a great place to start. However my story unfolds, I'll be back to write about it!
Till next time.