Meet The Man Behind The Cover Of The March 2021 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: Steven Ozbun

A veteran entrepreneur, music producer, and home builder, Steven Ozbun is currently the CEO of the sunglasses and apparel brand TradingLooks.com. He managed to grow his company from a team of 3 to well over 150 team members as well as expanded their product line from zero revenue to a whopping $20 million annually.

Ozbun calls his first true love to be music. As an 80’s baby, he was influenced by some of the most iconic artists of all time such as Elvis, Cher, and Prince. Because of this passion for the music industry, he established Spinindustry Entertainment which was a production company that produces his music, as well as undiscovered talents, no one has heard of yet. What’s truly unique is the vision Ozbun had for this type of music – it was a blend of house music and hip hop which is somewhere around 120 to 128 bpm repeating hip hop phrases on a house beat. Ozbun goes by the artist name of “OZ music nation.” Under this name, he has produced 20 original tracks and has released five mixes. From a passion project – Ozbun has grown his passion project into something much more.

Just recently, Ozbun founded “Continuum Residential” which is a design and build firm specializing in finding first turn historical candidate homes and re-imagining them leaving character and modern, amenities. This is all done while doing their best to use the properties’ original footprint.

Originally going to school to be an architect, the vision comes naturally for him. In the Continuum Residential portfolio are five homes in different phases of construction in Point Loma spread out across Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Plumosa Park, and Loma Portal. The properties span across architectural types mid-century modern, Tudor, Spanish, and beach bungalow – all homes are being re-imagined with hotel-like amenities and true to era modernized flair.

In addition to these brands, Ozbun also continues to provide marketing and strategic consulting services to select clients in consumer-driven industries. You can learn more information about these services via his website www.stevenozbun.com.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Steven to discuss his journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about your journey to entrepreneurship?

2008 was a great year to launch a company, right? For most, absolutely not. We didn’t let this get in our way. We hit the ground running and never looked back so we were so excited about our marketing and website products and the problems they solved. I loved the industry and the people. I had a blast, I loved what I did. In about a decade we grew from a team of 3 to well over 150 team members, expanded our product line from zero revenue to $20 million recurring, annually and most of all, we were filthy rich in company culture. Our team loved their jobs and our clients loved our team, products, and successes.

Why did you start Trading Looks?

I love sunglasses, I remember once, I spent half of my paycheck on sunglasses yet they were constantly lost, broken, or borrowed indefinitely. So I decided to create a way to solve the issue of expensive sunglasses that do not last by providing fresh new pairs regularly at a low monthly fee.

Why do you think so many startups fail before reaching their full potential?

Creating something from nothing comes with a set of extremely challenging pieces and situations. I see many startups fail due to being too concerned about the immediate impact a decision has on the company rather than the long-term effects, losses, and gain that decision may be catalyzing.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

As a business owner, our number one customer is our team. Always put your team first, make sure they are valued, love what they do, and are in the right role for their success. Watching a team grow into leaders is probably the most enriching piece of entrepreneurship.

What is your definition of success?

Rich is happiness, rich is friendships, rich is love, health, and success. Success is not the title on your business card or the zeros in your bank account. Success is failing miserably, success is being broke but happy, smiling; no matter how your day is going. Success is an accomplishment, reputation and giving it your all, and being proud of who you are. Are you set up for success?

What are your future plans for your business?

More marketing. It’s exciting to grow brands in extremely different markets and industries. I have always been into real estate design and development as well as entertainment and fashion.

Meet The Model Behind The Cover Of The February 2021 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: Madison Croft

Madison Croft is currently 19 years old and she has been modelling and acting internationally since the young age of 14. She’s a personal trainer and owner of MadBodz Fitness – a thriving small business. She loves her job as every day she gets the blessing of helping people on their journey to improving physical and mental health. Maddie has always loved the saying “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and she feels she has definitely achieved this! Her ultimate goal is to have a successful career in the modelling and acting industry and she always says that she will never give up on that goal.

Towards the end of last year, Madison was crowned the first runner-up at the first-ever Australian Multicultural Fashion Awards for the year 2020. It has been a long time coming since she has been participating in pageants and modelling since the age of 14. She is currently a personal trainer and owner of MadBodz Fitness, and she is very passionate about educating people on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. She also works as a gymnastics coach, a model, and an actress.

Most people won’t know this, but at the age of 14, she was suffering from depression because of constant bullying at her school and even on social media. It was at this point that she was advised that by joining pageants, she would be able to make friends with similar interests and likes, and she would become much more confident and self-reliant – that’s the main reason why she started competing in pageants. After three years in the field, she says that she has made more friends and now possesses much more confidence in her communicative abilities.

Being a beauty queen and a model has its own perks of course. Madison enjoys having the opportunity to meet new people, encourage, empower and educate other teens on several issues, do charity work, and be an ambassador. The kicker for her is that she’s able to do all of these amazing things at the age of 16!

Of course, every upside will also have a downside as well. She does not look at them as downsides though – she prefers to look at them as lessons from which she can learn from. During her stint at pageantry, she has learned to stay true to herself, be who she wants to be, and not conform herself to the opinions of others.

Being successful in the fashion industry is tough. She has learned to be confident in her own skin and form, and not to be concerned with changing anything about herself for other people. She doesn’t focus on her looks too much these days, instead, she is more focused on her charity work and public speaking instead. She has always had her family’s support and encouragement in her foray into pageantry and she believes that her family’s support is the key reason for her tremendous success at such a young age.

Moving forward, Madison dreams of having a successful career in acting, modeling, and the fitness industry.

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Latest Photoshoot For Sassy & Co

Sassy & Co’s mission is to provide you with affordable, ethical, and sustainable clothing and accessories you can feel good about.

Fast fashion is still the worlds largest polluter shortly after the oil industry, causing mass devastation to our planet and people involved, with many local communities affected, the pain is endless.

The history and hands that are behind every item of clothing are to be respected, taken care of, and cherished. To mend rather than discard and to protect rather than trash.

When clothing is made properly, it lasts longer and is a little more expensive.

Learning to treat our clothing as an investment rather than disposable will be a major key in turning this issue around.

Meet The Stunner Behind The Cover Of The November 2020 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: The Beautiful Roxette Arisa

Photo Credit: Lasonic Sivongxay

Beauty and fashion expert, wildly successful Japanese American YouTube / Social Media guru Roxette Arisa is making a name for herself in the skincare, beauty, and fashion space with over 75 MILLION views and 1.2 MILLION subs on YouTube alone. Whether she is giving tips on how to perfect your makeup for mask-wearing, providing how-to-tips for taking that lust-worthy passport photo, comparing designer and drugstore brands with a split face tutorial, or giving how-to-style basics by using clothes you already have in your closet, Arisa is a quickly rising star who is highly respected for her expertise in the beauty and fashion world.

Arisa’s rise in the beauty and fashion world is quite different from her contemporaries. Growing up in Culver City, California she always knew from a young age what she wanted to be: an Olympic figure skating medalist. She began skating at the age of 4, training and practicing to perfection. By the age of 15, she moved to Detroit where she was selected for the Jr. National Team as part of a duo ice dancing partnership. Arisa then moved to Canada, where she was being groomed to compete internationally for Canada, and in 2016, at 17 years old, she and her partner placed Silver at sectionals solidifying her stance as a competitor. But soon after, her world was rocked when her partner suddenly retired, and in 2017 she found her dreams of competing in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeong Chang all but a fleeting dream. The reality was that it would be near impossible to find a new skilled partner in time. But Arisa had found another passion.

Since a young age, she had worn makeup for skating competitions and as she got older, she realized that she had found an appreciation for applying and learning new makeup techniques. She often trained in skating for 8+ hours a day, but at night she would spend her time watching makeup tutorials online and she decided to create a YouTube page herself. To her, makeup was something that always gave her confidence and she wanted to share her advice with others. Before long, her following and views began skyrocketing and she realized that when one door closes another one opens. She decided to retire from skating and instead focus on her new passion – the beauty and fashion world. She packed up her bags and moved back home to Los Angeles. Around this time, brands began to take notice. In only a couple of years, Arisa has quickly become a favorite for beauty and fashion brands alike, and has become a beauty ambassador to Smashbox, e.l.f., partnered with brands like Revolve, Olay, Murad, NARS, Maybelline, MAC, Instagram, Clarisonic, Neutrogena, Kate Somerville, CeraVe, IPSY, L’Oreal, Lorac and created her own collections for Milani and SIGMA to name a few.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Arisa to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the industry?

Growing up I was a competitive figure skater for 20 years and was always doing my makeup and hair for competitions to match the competition dresses I would wear. The confidence I felt when I put on a red lip or a smokey eye was a little bit addicting and I just fell in love with the world of beauty which led me to find the beauty community on YouTube and to eventually start a channel of my own. For my first couple of videos, I remember filming on my floor with my laptop webcam and a lamp turned sideways to give me some “light,” which is so funny to look back on. It’s been an amazing journey getting from those lamp and laptop days to now when I’m able to combine my two passions – beauty and fashion – on all of my platforms.

How did you develop an interest in fashion and what drove you to pursue that passion onto social media?

I’ve always loved fashion. I think fashion and beauty go hand in hand. Fashion is a form of self-expression and at the end of the day, I’m an artist – whether that be in makeup or in putting together an outfit in my head that I know is going to make me feel and look bomb. To me, fashion is a feeling – I want to feel confident and I want to inspire my followers to be confident.

What do you like most about being an influencer?

I love being able to connect with people all around the world. It’s such an amazing feeling to meet someone and know that you touched their life in any way possible. I definitely would say I have a special bond with my followers and think of them as my friends and my little online family.

In what way has social media changed your life?

I think at this point social media has really changed the world. I mean it’s the fastest-growing form of advertisement/marketing, it’s a way to connect with anyone and everyone around the world, and it’s a place to share what means the most to you. I know I definitely would not have had half of the experiences and opportunities that I have had without social media. It’s still surreal to me that I have built my career from the ground up by sharing what I’m truly passionate about. I’m forever grateful to my fans and followers because I really would not have the life I have today without their support.

What are some of the difficulties of being in the industry?

I think the biggest difficulty is comparison. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others online but you have to realize that everyone has their own journey and their own path. My dad always says “Everything that is happening to you, is happening at the right place and at the right time for YOU, because that’s just the way it was meant to happen.” That’s something I like to think about when I feel myself falling into that deep hole of comparison.

How does your thought process differ when creating content for Instagram versus content for YouTube?

Instagram and YouTube are totally different platforms. Instagram is all about the aesthetic and when I’m creating content for IG, I’m looking for something that will catch the viewers’ eye while scrolling. On YouTube – I feel like I get to share every part of me. I really get to connect with my followers on YouTube so my content is more laid back and truly a piece of me.

Photo Credit: Lasonic Sivongxay

What are your long-term goals for your social media accounts?

I really do think of my social media accounts as an art form. I want to continue expressing my creativity and growing and learning with my followers. I love photography and cinematography so I would love to expand on those art forms and implement it into my work on social media!

When choosing whether or not to work with a brand that wants to work with you, how do you decide? Which brand sponsorship(s) are you most proud of?

It’s actually really easy for me to decide what brands to work with because I never work with a brand or promote products that I don’t genuinely use. That’s something I’ve always stood by ever since I started making videos. I think of my followers as friends so I would never want to break their trust by promoting a product that doesn’t work for me. I’m super proud of the work I’ve done with Maybelline New York. They are a brand that I have been using since I was a teenager so it’s just so surreal to be able to work with them now. I also did a really cool AR video with MAC Cosmetics where my subscribers could actually try on different shades of lipstick in the video. That was a fun project! Smashbox Cosmetics and Dior Makeup stand out to me as well when I think of projects that I’m super proud of and grateful that I got to be a part of.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Miley Cyrus! I love her and everything she stands for. A lot of people say we look alike!

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I have lots of plans and aspirations when it comes to my career, some of which I can’t talk about yet *wink wink*, but one of the things I would love to do is get into more traditional media – super interested in hosting and acting! On a personal level – I’m trying to give my apartment a little makeover right now and finally start decorating it. I’ve only lived here for 3 years – wish me luck!

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie you’ve seen. How Do You Know? with Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? I’m a true believer that beauty shines from the inside – that’s what my mom and dad always taught me.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? One of my dreams is to go to the South of France!

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” try to recreate Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U” performance at the 2001 VMAs! Unfortunately, with my fear of snakes that definitely won’t be happening any time soon.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? One of my figure skating coaches once told me I needed to get my ears stapled back because they were too big. I think it’s important to love every part of yourself – this is a journey I’m still on but I think my ears make a nice little setting place for all the gold hoops I wear.

The Fashion Do’s and Don’ts For 2020

When it comes to fashion, trends can be pretty predictable but the outcome can be a total disaster. Time and again, we have seen cringe-worthy fashion statements that never missed sharp biting comments from the interested public, even famous celebrities get lambasted after a red carpet display of tragic fashion sense. But really, how does the fashion world define elegance and style?

The fashion world is a big open space where everyone expresses himself or herself with utter braveness. It can be a frightening place for someone who does not grow accustomed to fashion success so here’s a quick peek on how to avoid embarrassing fashion fails.

Fashion Do’s

1. Do wear bright and bold colours with equally expressive prints. Often, the fear of becoming a fashion victim is so consuming that people rather stay on the safe side. Remember that most of the time, even the most seemingly inappropriate match can turn out edgy and highly fashionable.

2. Do wear clothes that you are comfortable in regardless if it’s the latest trend or not. Fashion is a form of self-expression. How else do trends start if no one is brave enough to try them first?

3. Do invest in basic yet classic apparel. Buy white shirts, leggings, jeans, tights, black socks khaki pants, and black dresses. These pieces are timeless and never go out of style.

4. Do fall in love with great accessories, from shoes to pieces of jewelry, belts, bags, and clutches. Learn to mix and match each item, as they will help reinvent your clothes and give a totally different look even if you’re wearing the same outfit from your last event.

5. Do break fashion rules. Endless exploration brings the fashion world to where it is now. Do not be afraid to try different things. This might transform you into a fantastic social flower so wear whatever you want but don’t overdo stuff.

Fashion Don’ts

1. Don’t over-accessorise.

2. Don’t wear clothes just to please or impress others.

3. Don’t wear white to a wedding party if you’re not the bride. Surely, the last thing you would like to happen is to steal the special celebration.

4. Don’t show your undergarments and definitely, no bra straps exposure ladies. Fashion is evolving and that means strapless bras are in existence. Get them!

5. Don’t be the fashion faux pas. Always dress appropriately and never lose your sense of style.

Can you keep up with these fashion rules to be glamour-ready?

Meet The Model Behind The Cover Of The October 2020 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: The Beautiful Abi Grigsby

Abi Grigsby, the beautiful, charming, and angelic model has established herself as one of the hardest-working models in the industry. She initially got into the modelling industry by entering beauty pageants. She first joined the Top Model of the World Philippines pageant back in July 2016 within 2 weeks’ notice. The pageant needed a certain number in order for the competition to go ahead and she was contacted by the director of the pageant to join. She eventually became the second runner up, which shocked her as she had no previous experience at all in pageants sho she wasn’t even expecting to make it into the Top 5.

The following year she entered a pageant called “Mutya Ng Pilipinas Australia” (Pearl of Australia) beauty pageant. She gained a lot of exposure in the modelling industry by joining this pageant which lead her into me meeting the majority of the photographers that she now works with regularly. When she competed overseas she also gained several contacts with various modelling agencies and photographers over there and throughout 2017 she also competed in the Miss International Australia pageant where she finished as Second Runner Up, as well as winning the Miss Model of the World Title. Furthermore, she competed in the Miss Teen Universe Australia pageant in December of that year. All of these competitions lead her to meet so many creatives in the industry; photographers who were looking for fresh faces to shoot, as well as makeup artists who needed a model to work on for skill enhancements. Slowly, through these connections, she was able to build the network that she currently has.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Abi to discuss her journey in the modelling industry and here’s what went down:

What do you like most about being a model?

The thing I enjoy most about being a model would have to be the newfound confidence that I have gained over the years as a model. I was someone who really used to struggle with self-esteem issues, but it wasn’t until I started modelling that I came to accept and be happy with how I look, and the person that I am.

I have also been fortunate enough to work with various creatives who each provided a different style for each shoot, which has given me the option to explore with different looks. I started modelling For Milliner’s designs in late 2018, my first designer being Anna Bella Millinery, who is based in London. I modelled at the Melbourne Derby Day, showing off her dress designs and her hats with other models. I also modelled for Felicity Northeast Milliner for her spring collection in 2019, which was featured in Mornington Peninsula magazine.

I had never modelled such high-class designs before, so this experience itself really helped me feel comfortable in my own skin, and opened me up to another world!

The Downside to being a model?

The downside to being a model that I have encountered would have to be that people tend to make assumptions about you and your personality when you tell them that you’re a model. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they thought I’d be a snobby/conceited person because of the fact that I model, rather than taking the time to get to know me first.

A lot of people will make assumptions about you based on your profession, but I try not to let this bother me and stay focused on what I want by working hard and not allowing room for distractions.

Another downside is that many people who aren’t in the industry assume that modelling is easy, or requires little to no effort at all. To be a model takes great perseverance and determination, as many models such as myself face constant rejection and negative comments about our appearance/body. It takes a lot of work to get into the industry, which is something that many people look over. It can get discouraging at times, but I find it’s best for myself to always remind myself of the hard work I have gone through, and to realise that I don’t owe everyone an explanation.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the modelling industry so far?

Thinking back to when I started, I can’t actually pinpoint an exact memory from modelling that has stuck with me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every step, but the most memorable experience of being in the modelling industry would have to be the whole experience that comes on the day of a photo shoot. I live an hour and a half away from Melbourne city, which is where the majority of my shoots takes place. I always enjoy the travel into the city, as well as travelling to where my photoshoots take place, as the majority of the time it is not at the same place. Aside from the travel, I do enjoy dressing up and getting glammed up for my shoots. I feel most like myself when I am dolled up and in front of the camera!

The Photo Studio Fitzroy;Fashion Satomi Matsura; Abagail Grigsby

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I’d say the most interesting people I’ve met would have to be some of the photographers and makeup artists that I meet while I’m on set. Many of the creatives that I work with are a lot like me, they often take up photography/makeup as a side job, rather than their full-time job. It’s nice to meet people who are similar to you, and share similar interests while also working other jobs, and working incredibly hard so they are able to project themselves further in the industry.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the modelling industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson I have learned would be to not compare myself to others. Before I began modelling I never thought I would have a chance, as I compared myself to many other high profile models, such as Miranda Kerr. I always assumed that because I didn’t look like these girls I saw in billboards and commercials that I wouldn’t make it at all in the modelling world.

However as continued on and booked more jobs, I realised that every different look will serve a purpose for each job/photographer. There will always be someone out there who will need a look like yours for a certain job/promotion, so I’ve learned that I shouldn’t bother worrying about looking like someone else when looking exactly the way you do is more than enough.

Is your family supportive of you being a model?

Yes, fortunately, my family is very supportive of my modelling! My mother wanted me to start modelling when I was 13, however, I had very little confidence back then and I was also very shy. I did not see myself as someone who could get far in the industry at all, and I also at the time had assumed that people would think of me as very conceited if I started modelling. I didn’t have a very positive view of the modelling world, or of models themselves, which was a real deterrent for me at that time.

As the years went by and as I developed a love for beauty pageants, it also shifted my focus onto modelling, and it wasn’t until I started my first few photoshoots that I really started to enjoy what I was doing, and then made the decision to go as far as I possibly could in the industry.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

The main thing I would do differently would be to not jump at every opportunity that comes my way, no matter how big of a deal it may seem to be at first. I used to do this a lot when I first started in the industry, and I would just throw myself out to any opportunity that came my way, without thinking things through clearly. This resulted in a lot of waste of time and money for myself, as I was promised certain jobs would lead to very high exposure/good money, while actually resulting in none of that.

So if I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to rush things too much and to take it slow. Not every opportunity is what it claims to be, and when the time is right, the right opportunity will come!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is to take my time. Often I’ve been really impatient and have compared myself to others who have gotten further in the industry in a shorter amount of time. I’m fortunate to have a close group of friends who support me fully and encourage me to remain patient and on track, and who assure me that things will work in my way if I continue to remain focused and not be put off by others in any way.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My future plans are to travel overseas and to pick up both modelling and acting overseas. With the current Covid-19 situation, that will likely be put on hold for a while. My plan was to travel towards the end of this year for a few months and to then see if I could establish a career in a different country, but again, I will need to remain patient in my endeavours, and hopefully, things will be able to pick up for my career in the near future.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Just go with it. (On Netflix)

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? As cliche as it sounds, inner beauty will always be more important than physical beauty. The way you treat other people and your kindness is something that greatly impacts another person, without even realising it. It’s always better to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside!

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Travel the world!

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d… ” try bungee jumping.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? The one “flaw” I will never change is being too picky/ too much of a perfectionist. I’ve often been teased about this by my friends, saying I care too much about things that they don’t perceive as important. But it’s this trait that I have that has caused me to get to where I am today, as I’ve focused a lot of my energy towards what I know I want in life, and have not allowed distractions to get in the way.

GRIAD4823

Boux Avenue Just Launched Its First Ever Unretouched Lingerie Campaign And… WOW

Boux Avenue has just released its first-ever unretouched lingerie campaign, as part of its ‘Your Shape, Your Style’ campaign and it’s fronted by well-known names such as Malin Andersson and Zara McDermott, Ama Peters and Kaz Kamwi. Each brand ambassador wears lingerie styles from Boux Avenue’s new season collection to match their bold personalities, with the unretouched imagery celebrating their individuality and staying true to themselves.

Size inclusivity means celebrating bodies of all different shapes and sizes. Hence as part of Boux Avenue’s new SS20 campaign, it launched its first unretouched lingerie campaign, continuing to celebrate its ‘Your Shape, Your Style’ campaign, encouraging every woman to embrace their own unique style and shape.

Malin comments: “I’ve always spoken openly about body image, and how in my teens all I saw were airbrushed images in magazines – and that I thought it was how I was supposed to be. I remember it consuming me so much I obsessed day after day with calorie counting and trying to look like a size 0 model – whilst also losing myself in the process… I’m so glad to be working with Boux Avenue – a brand that represents women of all shapes and sizes. I share with you my unedited shoot post lockdown, perhaps not eating the best or working out that much – but I present to you ME. I stand tall and bold with their colourful new collection and ask you all to LOVE the body you are in.”

Available in sizes 30-44, B-G cup, Boux Avenue’s new season lingerie is available to purchase now via this link: Boux Avenue

Meet The Woman Behind The Cover Of The September 2020 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: The Amazing Dr. Mahtab Hanna

Dr. Mahtab Hanna is an award-winning British jewellery artist and designer-maker with a Persian heritage, whose designs are radically different from others – the cross-pollinating of Eastern and Western history, culture, religion, character, thoughts, and politics play a large part in the inspiration process leading to her creations. Whether its unique pieces or a limited edition series of work, her quest is to define within those pieces what she is aiming for, what the client is trying to communicate, and the reason behind each design. Some of her specialties include fine and contemporary jewellery, sculpture, and body adornment.

In 2017 Mahtab held a solo exhibition entitled “Political Jewellery: Silent Protest” at the P21 Gallery in London, and she has been featured by The Goldsmiths’ Centre (UK’s leading charity for the professional training of goldsmiths and a community for design, creativity, and craftsmanship), New Designers, Cox & Power, Masterpiece, Gallerie Marzee, amongst others. Mahtab’s trailblazing achievements include being awarded her Doctorate from Central Saint Martins and during those 4 years of her Ph.D., she had two children!

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Mahtab to discuss her journey in the fashion and jewellery industry and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I am a British jeweller with a proud Persian background. It all started when I first wore my mother’s jewellery, I became passionate about the small design details on those jewellery; how its made, the precious stones, and how people wore them. It was then that I saw people, their clothes and jewellery as a canvas.

This led me to study jewellery and goldsmithing for over a decade leading to an MA from the Royal College of Art and a Ph.D. from Central Saint Martins in Jewellery.

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I love fashion, its an undeniable ingrained part of the substance of being a woman. Whilst there are so many fashion designers, there aren’t enough female jewellers in my view.

I entered the industry by showcasing my work and being showcased. I expanded from my artistic jewellery lines into fashion jewellery and body adornments, leading to my 2011 catwalk show at The Royal Exchange in London.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Being a designer is about sharing your life, your experiences, your feelings, your journeys, all under the umbrella of new creations. It’s a conversation with people you may never meet but have communicated with. You are influencing their confidence; how they communicate themselves and how people see them. Amazing!

Every designer is an individual, their creations are unique to them, just like their fingerprints. The concept behind my Goldfinger piece was that it would be customised for each individual wearer.

Ultimately, extending the experience of jewellery wearing is to challenge and ambush the boundaries of function and ornamented decorative art, highlighting communication, concluding with stimulating contemplation.

While creating each piece is a process and expression or development of a vision I have, jewellery is created for other people. It is important to remember this without compromising the original vision I have throughout the design and creation process.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

One of the most frustrating issues is that of designs being stolen or copied without the due respect to the original designer or maker. What was thought through in the design has been lost because the item is now simply “a thing,” not a messenger.

Of course, this is not a problem that’s just exclusive to jewellery, but the entire fashion arena.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

There have been many memorable experiences, such as being featured in Vogue Italia, selected as one of the top luxury jewellers in the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, and featured in Qatar Airways magazine. I also appeared in a TV program called Four Rooms where top dealers tried to negotiate to buy some of my pieces.

Perhaps the most memorable was being selected to be the cover for the Goldsmiths’ Company inaugural post-graduate programme and being mentored by the late Dr. Stuart Devlin, one of the jewellery industry’s royalty.

Naturally, there is a lot of satisfaction from seeing my creations being used in films, photoshoots, and publications.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The word “interesting” applies to every human, in my view. Those that have had a profound effect on me include the renowned British jewellers Shaun Leane and Theo Fennell. Their support for upcoming jewellers is a testament to their commitment to the industry.

Didier and Martine Haspeslagh who have a passion for jewellery made and designed by painters, sculptors, architects, and designers from the late 19th to the end of the 20th century.

Audiences have taught me the array of views on my pieces, clients have taught me the sheer personal nature of jewellery, the industry has taught me the sense of community. Therefore, many people who have interests!

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or yourself.

There’s a lot of politics behind the smiles in any industry, and fashion and jewellery is no exception.

I try to engage in one of the core values I place in life: from every person I meet, I try to leave the conversation having learned something or having exchanged knowledge. This is, in my view, the essence of being a designer – every lesson is valuable and shapes me.

The single most valuable lesson has been to remain faithful to my own values. Always consider the options but trust yourself to take the decisions – leadership starts with you!

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I have been blessed to have a family that is completely supportive and unflinching in their love throughout my journey, through the victories and the challenges, especially my darling husband, Rafah Hanna.

It is critical for any creative person to have someone to support them, not only during the achievements but also at times of growth and learning. This is the person that will stand by you as you face those that do not have your best interest at heart.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

In the early days, I would want to focus much more on brand growth, especially internationally.

Another thing I would change would be to closely study those that have taken a similar journey leading to success, learning from their experiences.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My mother often says to me – If you can be inspired, you can definitely inspire.

What are your future plans? What new projects are you currently working on right now?

I am excited to tell you exclusively that I am working on publishing my book related to political jewellery! How jewellery is used as a tool of messaging and communication to affect protests and opinions in the matter of politics.

I will also be having an international exhibition with the same theme related to the book.

My “Pawns” Chess Set is an example of my political jewellery designs, which I also made. It is made from Sterling Silver and Bronze and relates to the most extreme form of protest – war: a highly emotive and evocative subject throughout mankind’s history.

Politics, religion, money, and natural resources are all causes of wars, and these are all represented on the stage within this work in their own way.

The chess board is made from sand and soil, both of which represent another cause of war – “land” – as well as the battlefield.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Frozen 2 – as my daughter, Anais, and I both love it!

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Beautiful is such a personal thing – we may share a view of beauty, but it is equally about your values, thoughts, and mood even. I consider beautiful to be yourself, it is to fight for those that cannot fight and stand for equality.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I would like to run workshops whereby I would mentor upcoming jewellers and designers, sharing my experiences with them, helping them to confidently progress in their chosen careers.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d… ” I don’t actually recognise the notion of fear. Life and careers are a series of challenges, fear is certainly one of them. It’s your job to face them, analyse them, and find paths to strengthen yourself to be able to proudly overcome them. Consideration and respect towards anything, person, or decision is a far greater asset than fear. Fear simply holds humanity back.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? I sometimes don’t know when to stop working, trying always to reach a state of perfection! However, I wouldn’t change that as it drives me towards even higher quality.

Designer Spotlight: Introducing The Incredible Carolina Dalfo

Carolina Dalfo is a 29-year-old fashion designer who’s originally from Argentina but is currently based in New York. Her academic career includes a BA in Fashion and Textile Design from UADE in Buenos Aires and a MA in Critical theory and the Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Besides being a designer at such prestigious and important brand like Ralph Lauren, She’s the founder and chair of LATA, the Latinx Alumni Together in the Arts Association at the School of Visual Arts and the Owner of DALFO, her own line of silk scarves that will launch in the next couple of months.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Carolina to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

My name is Carolina Dalfó, I am originally from Argentina, but I am based in New York, where I work as a fashion designer. I have experience working for leading brands such as Ralph Lauren, Robert Geller, Opening Ceremony, and Gustav Von Aschenbach and along with companies such as Lululemon, Dreamworks, Pintrill, and Hare on special projects and collaborations. My work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Vogue Russia, Vogue France, Women’s Wear Daily, The Washington Post, The New York Times, W Magazine, Esquire, and The Impression. Besides being a designer at such prestigious and important brand like Ralph Lauren, I am the Founder and Chair of LATA, the Latinx Alumni together in the Arts Association at the School of Visual Arts and the Owner and Designer of DALFO, my own line of silk scarves that will launch in the next couple of months.

How did you get into the fashion industry?

When I was in my early teens, I became very interested in Art, especially its ability to conceal a deeper meaning and unfold for us the more we examine it. I believe it was that same quality that attracted me to fashion. The university I attended in Buenos Aires had a very open approach to Design. We were not only trained on how to translate an abstract idea to a tangible garment, which is ultimately what Fashion designers do but installed in us the idea of fashion as a system that observes and absorbs from its environment to reflect and inform social dynamics. A sign of the times. The possibility of seeing Fashion like that was very appealing to me and as it had happened with art years before, I was intrigued by that hidden essence. Fashion is more than meets the eye.

What do you like most about being a designer?

There are many aspects of being a designer I like. I have met so many talented people whom I have developed many great products for. Many of those colleagues are really good friends of mine now and always a source of inspiration. As a designer, you never stop learning, all the work I’ve done, and all the work I’m doing is constantly shaping and improving my own process. I really like that about being a designer. There are no walls, no ends, just endless exploration, and constant evolution. Another aspect I enjoy is creating something I’m proud of that customers love when it comes out. Designing something that will make someone feel good is a very nice feeling.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

Clothing has a direct impact on how people perceive themselves, but unfortunately, they are sometimes conditioned by made-up rules about what they should or should not wear. I strongly believe clothing should be a way for people to feel empowered, not intimidated, so I find these rules not only unnecessary but counterproductive to helping people love themselves. Fashion as a whole should be more inclusive, in many senses.


In addition, there is also a worldwide conversation that is already happening about waste. There are too many products being created each season that turn obsolete the minute a newer version goes on the market, which only results in a dynamic of endless supply and demand that is damaging the planet. Thankfully, people are becoming more and more conscious of their consuming habits, but there is still a lot of work to be done, both as designers and consumers.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

One of the memories I treasure the most is during the Robert Geller Autumn Winter 2016 show during Fashion Week and tearing up watching the show on a TV screen backstage. Designing a collection is a fast but intense process and a runway show is the first time you share your creation with the world. I’d been in that position several times before, but in that specific moment, all the elements came together to create the most beautiful environment. It wasn’t just beautiful clothes anymore. It was pure beauty. I will never forget that.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Robert Geller is definitely in my top five. I started working with Robert when I was a very young designer, so he was the one that opened the doors of the industry for me and showed me how the mechanism works, a mentor. Robert’s team is very small. We all shared the same space and we would go for lunch and coffee runs in the afternoons, so it was impossible not to bond on a human level beyond Fashion Design. Robert is into Fashion in a way not many “fashion people” are, so I had the opportunity to develop my own taste and Design style while learning from him. To this day it’s a bit crazy to have a designer I admire so deeply as a friend. Fashion has introduced me to some amazing people. Joey Keefer and Ryotatsu Tanaka, who I met at Geller. Dylan Taverner from Lululemon Lab, who we worked with when we did the Robert Geller x Lululemon collaborations. Elizabeth Ozarowski, who I worked with when I was at Opening Ceremony. My favorite people to meet are those who are extraordinarily talented but incredibly humble, and the people I mentioned are exactly that.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Besides learning to always feed my curiosity, resilience is probably the most important lesson that fashion has taught me. Fashion can be a frustrating industry at times, but there is a reason why I chose to be a designer. When times get tough, I try to go back to that excitement and love I feel for design and get the power to push through. It’s also a good lesson for life. When something doesn’t go your way, keep going.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Yes, definitely. My brother Enrique, who is a Pastry Chef, and I were lucky to be raised with the mindset that one should dedicate their life to something one feels passionate about. My father is a doctor and my mother is a Mathematics professor and they are both outstanding professionals in their fields and very passionate about what they do. Despite their fields being so far from mine, I never felt pressured to pursue a different career. To this day my parents are very encouraging of both my brother’s and my personal projects.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

That is a great question. When I was just getting started, I used to compare my career to other people. I am and always have been a hard worker. I have no problem being the first one in and the last one out. No matter how hard I worked, there were times I thought I wasn’t doing enough just because I wasn’t advancing the way I had pictured I would. It took me a while to understand I shouldn’t compare myself to others because that only creates a distraction and affects my own growth. I am now only focused on my career, shaping my path the way I want it to look like.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Growing up, my mother always told me that how you choose to communicate is as important as the point you are trying to make. A mother knows best.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Before the pandemic, we had some events coming up for LATA at the School of Visual Arts that had to be canceled. I am looking forward to rescheduling those events and connecting with more Latinx Alumni on that platform. On a personal level, I have been working on DALFO, my own line of bold and colorful scarves for a while now. It has been a lot of work, but it is the first project I venture on by myself and I’m excited to launch it soon.

Rising Star Spotlight: Get To Know The Stunning Stephanie Hunt

Being a model can be difficult, often requiring people to make tough sacrifices. However, it can also prove to be a highly rewarding experience. For Stephanie Hunt, modeling has allowed her to travel around the world, get involved with high profile names such as Guess, Revlon, designer Melba Aros, Lady Jayne, Toscow Jewelery, celebrity hairstylist, David Babaii and magazines such as Camilla, RUSSH, Cosmopolitan, and FTV as well as meet a lot of interesting new people.

Stephanie has certainly proven that she can rely not only on her looks for her success but also on her focus, drive, and ambition. Added to that is a healthy dollop of good sense! ‘Challenges’ are a normal part of working as a model (“Modeling has definitely thickened up my skin!”) and to Stephanie, one’s attitude towards them will define you, “love and believe in yourself! I know that sounds so corny, but it can be really tough being around intimidatingly successful and gorgeous people and still feel as though you fit the bill.”

According to Stephanie, the biggest factor that determines how successful you will be is how much you want to succeed. Along with this strong passion, you should have a strong sense of integrity. Often, these values will have a bigger impact on your potential success than your looks. You should also take as many opportunities as you can, which will allow you to build your network. For many young models, a strong network is more important than seeing financial returns. In addition, it’s key to master social media. This is becoming increasingly important, allowing you to send a clear message to your fans. Once you’ve chosen your brand, use each post to re-enforce it. Social media also allows you to build a strong platform to get more people interested in your brand. You should use this tool to connect with your audience.

Stephanie’s early struggles with low self-esteem have served to spur this young entrepreneur ever onwards. She not only juggles her modeling career with her fulltime job but she also regularly volunteers at an animal shelter! It “serves as a great reminder of what my priorities should be, and what really matters in life. Having a  healthy balance between work, my personal life, and my volunteering has been the key to staying grounded for me.”

That healthy balance seems to be her recipe for success as well with many plans in the works for this talented (she speaks French and plays the piano!) young lady. But to Stephanie, it will always be “that with self-belief, hard work, dedication, and a lot of resilience, you really can achieve anything.”