Five Incredible Blind Women Who Are Breaking Barriers And Looking Good Doing It!

There are some people out there who are just gorgeous on the outside and others whose personalities accentuate their beauty. But how about those people who are just stunning both inside and out? As America celebrates thirty years having passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, we thought we’d highlight some of today’s most amazing blind women, who are not only trendsetting powerhouses but first-rate fashionistas at the same time.

1. Lachi

Lachi is an award-nominated recording artist, songwriter, and author who has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry. On top of releasing consistently charting songs, Lachi is an outspoken advocate for disability representation in media and entertainment. She also models for new and established Adaptive-Clothing brands. Repping New York City, Lachi’s Instagram feed is dripping with confidence and class. You can follow Lachi on Instagram via this link: Lachi

2. Molly Burke

Hailing from Canada, Molly is a Youtube personality and motivational speaker with a channel boasting over two million subscribers. An advocate for the blind, Molly’s video content centers around fashion and makeup, focusing on her perspective as a visually impaired woman. The former Miss Teen Canada always knows how to keep it glam all the time. You can follow Molly on Instagram via this link: Molly Burke Official

3. Marilee Talkington

Marilee Talkington is a Hollywood actress, director, and writer, with her most recent role in the Apple TV series “See” alongside Jason Mamoa. She is one of the few visually impaired women authentically cast in a blind role. Marilee is prolific in her activism work founding, co-founding, and advising numerous programs helping blind and sight-impaired actors. Marilee is definitely here to change the game. You can follow Marilee on Instagram via this link An Artist Warrior

4. Haben Girma

Haben is a disability rights lawyer and speaker, being the first deaf-blind woman to graduate from Harvard Law. Having been recognized by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change, Haben remains consistent in her advocacy efforts. From a commanding twitter feed to op-eds in the Washington Post, Girma is no strange to speaking her mind on all things disability rights. You can follow Haben on Instagram via this link Haben Girma

5. Anastasia Pagonis

Anastasia is a young Paralympic swimmer touting a few competitive metals under her belt. She continues to openly share her empowering story as she embarks on a journey of advocacy. With a national debut on NBC’s George To The Rescue, Anastasia has maintained a suave public image. She is definitely one to watch. You can follow Anastasia on Instagram via this link Anastasia

Rising Star Spotlight: Introducing Emerging Designer Cristy Thapa

Cristy Thapa is currently on the verge of launching a fashion website and her fashion line. This is the latest in a long line of accomplishments from this talented woman. For example, she is a registered nurse, she has won several titles such as Ms. International Beauty Ambassador 2018, Ms. Australia International 2018, Ms. Charity International 2019, and Ms. Australia United Nations 2019 and she has also helped design outfits for multiple fashion shoots. She is the first Nepalese who has represented Australia in an international platform not only once but twice. Let’s take a closer look at this inspiring woman to find out what attracted her to the fashion industry.

She initially began in fashion by working as a creative director in various fashion shows. This meant that she was responsible for making decisions about the kind of clothes that would appear in the show. Cristy thoroughly enjoyed this experience as well as being able to meet a range of new people. Being a creative director also exposed her to a wide range of new opportunities. Because of this experience she was able to work with a popular fashion designer in her logbook shoot. Cristy loved this memorable experience, as she got an even deeper insight into how the fashion industry works.

One of the most important things that Cristy learned is the way that people are affected by fashion. She believes that the type of clothes people wear will have a big impact on both the personal and professional aspects of their lives. This is partly what has inspired her to become a fashion blogger and designer. Cristy derives a lot of happiness from experimenting with different fabrics and color choices. She discovered this passion early, dreaming of owning her fashion line when she was in high school. Through years of work, she has been able to start achieving this dream.

Cristy actually has big dreams for the future. First, she is planning to launch her website, (www.thearcreations.com) soon. Through this site, she plans to report on the latest news and events from the fashion industry. By bringing her unique perspective to these events, she’ll help people get interested in this field. She also plans to help people from underdeveloped countries better understand the fashion industry. Many of these countries make beautiful fabrics and Cristy wants to show them how to convert these fabrics into beautiful clothes. By doing this, she also hopes to make a powerful change in the lives of people in these countries. Also, she wants to start her own clothing line. Initially, she intends to focus on crafting excellent wedding gowns and eventually move on to creating high-quality men’s wear items.

Cristy wants to work for a social organisation where she can bring changes in the community. She wants to be a role model and a successful entrepreneur who can be the source of inspiration for existing people. She also wants to serve the community and be the voice of the underprivileged – she is definitely someone to watch out for in the future. So, keep your eyes open for Cristy Thapa as she continues to make an impact in the fashion industry.

Meet The Woman Behind The Latest Issue Of Sassy & Co: The Stunning Natalija Ugrina

Natalija Ugrina is a stunning actress and fashion model who is currently based in Los Angeles, California. She was originally born in Croatia and was raised by her mother, Ketrin Buljević, who’s a writer and a poet. She kickstarted her modeling career at the age of 16 by joining Elite Model Management which enabled her to work with various fashion designers and appear in notable publications such as Vogue Italia, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar as well as grace high-profile fashion shows from all over the world. Eventually, she decided to shift gears and pursue a career in acting. She moved to Los Angeles to study acting at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute which led to numerous acting gigs. Some of her film credit includes the College Ball movie, Fight of Fury, and A Life Well Lived. She has also appeared in music videos such as 5 Seconds of Summer’s “She Looks So Perfect” which garnered over 300 million views as well as Action Bronson’s music video for “Baby Blue” featuring Chance the Rapper. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where she constantly works tirelessly to build her career. Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Natalija to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

Could you please provide background about yourself and how you were discovered?

I was 16 years old when a modeling agent approached me in Split, Croatia, and immediately signed me up for the Fashion TV International Model Contest. I ended up being one of the finalists and I eventually decided to move to Italy to pursue my career. Shortly after, I signed up with Elite Model Management and worked for several fashion designers. I walked during Fashion Week in Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, and New York. I also appeared in several high-profile publications like Vogue Italia, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar. Even though being 6 feet tall and slender opened many doors in fashion, I was always fascinated by acting though. I decided to get more serious about it and what’s a better place to start than Hollywood right? I then signed up for The Lee Strasberg Institute where I studied method acting.

After graduating, I booked my first acting roles and decided to continue my studies at the UCLA Extension Acting Program. I appeared in several commercials (Budlight, Nike, Kia) and even played a news anchor in the “College Ball Movie” starring Tom Sizemore. I was never into social media that much but every time I go to castings and auditions, I often get asked “How many followers do you have?” so I decided to create an account on Instagram. What started as something fun, became a huge part of my life and a full-time job. I get paid to travel, try out new things and I can really say I’m living a dream.

What does it mean for you to be a model?

To be confident with your body and project that confidence through the picture.

What’s the biggest challenge to modeling?

With the lifestyle that I have, it’s really hard for me to maintain a healthy relationship and it’s mostly because I travel all the time. Every guy I meet seems to be okay with it all at first until they are not (laughs).

Have you always wanted to be in the modeling industry?

I actually never wanted to be in the modeling industry but I’ve always been very tall (I’m 6 feet tall) so it was a logical path to take. I’m grateful I did, as I now live such an interesting life – I meet so many different people and visit different countries. But, my only true dream is acting and it’s all I want to do in life. Sometimes though, you need to take certain detours to get to where you want to be.

What sort of person usually follows you?

Usually, it’s people that are interested in fashion and travel as that is mainly what I post and that’s also why I have all sorts of people following me – I love it! I would say though, I do have a slightly higher percentage of a super young crowd, mainly because I am very active on TikTok.

What’s your personal mission in life?

I hope to be a positive inspiration for people, help whenever I can, and be the source of change. When people follow you, I think it’s your responsibility to spread a positive message and do good.

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

Even though I’ve met so many celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc… I find that the most interesting people I’ve met were the ones I met during my travels, especially in poor countries. I find it fascinating how some people have nothing and yet, they have the most beautiful smiles and they are willing to share the last piece of their meal with you. Those people are the true wealth of this world.

How active are you on social media?

Lately, especially since the pandemic, I feel like I live on social media (laughs). But seriously, being an influencer is much more work than what everyone thinks and it actually takes most of my day especially since I am active on several platforms. I remember not posting a story one day and my followers started asking me if I was okay and it something happened. They are all so used to seeing new content from me every day.

What is your favourite social media platform?

Even though I initially signed up just for fun, TikTok became my favourite platform by far! It’s fun, easy-going and you don’t have to think too much about the content and aesthetics. People are less judgemental there than other platforms and also very supportive! Another thing I really like about it is that you can have literally zero followers, but then when you post a video you can have a million views overnight. Everyone has a chance to be recognized and everyone’s talents can shine.

What will you advise other models who may wish to follow your footsteps?

Always be yourself and never try to fit into someone else’s standards! I remember when I started modeling, the agencies wanted us to be almost “anorexic” but look at how everything has changed nowadays. Love yourself the way you are and don’t follow the beauty trends. If you truly believe in yourself and modeling is what you want to do, then the right agent will eventually recognise you.

What are your future plans?

Other than acting and modeling, I was always interested in producing as well and I’m currently working on my own feature movie so stay tuned!

The “Lightning-Fast” Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: I can’t think of a really good movie, but my favourite show that I haven’t seen in a while is “Money Heist.” I can’t wait for the new season!

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Nothing is more beautiful to me than people who wake up with a smile – truly excited for every new day and what it has to bring, grateful for the blessings they have, and not resentful for what they don’t have. The world is a beautiful place, it’s all about the perspective and it’s better to look at everything through rose coloured glasses.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I would love to live in the Caribbean at some point in my life and actually own an island! Dream big they say.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” jump with a parachute!

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Speaking up even when it’s against popular opinion. I’ve been judged a lot of times for that but I’d always rather say what I think and fight for what’s right. I truly believe that one person can change the world.

Top Fashion Brands To Watch Out For In 2020: Lepou

Lepou is a boutique store with luxurious collections of the trendiest resort wear and swimwear.

Lepou was founded in 2001 by Failepou Peni. The invaluable experience gained from working within this environment and community inspired Failepou to fulfill her lifelong dream and launch her eponymous line alongside her co-workers/daughters Maisyann and Judy-May.

When Failepou is designing, she is inspired by shape, nature, and color. Every design focuses on how she can flatter a real woman’s body and thoughtfully design clothing that every body type can wear. Failepou’s technical knowledge of a garment’s proper fit and design, combined with her innate creative abilities, results in an effortless and wearable line that reflects the kind of woman she is herself; strong, sassy, fun, and fearless.

Failepou believes in the importance of community involvement, inspiring others, and giving back. When she is not designing, she is an ambassador for speaking and encouraging many young adults, in getting in touch with their ability to create and find their place in this day and age.

Failepou is of a strong Christian foundation and gives all glory to our heavenly father Jesus Christ, for her inspiration and where she was yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Failepou’s label ‘GRACE on LEPOU’ is dedicated to the fuller and voluptuous figure or otherwise known as plus size. Women who are not afraid to embrace who they are as an individual human being, no matter what shape or form but that they are strong, wise, and invincible. Women who have no desire to conform to what other fashion statements dictate in what they should/shouldn’t wear or what color is best. One who loves life, loves feeling grand, needs no introduction, and knows her worth. One who is also humble, but don’t think for one minute that you could fool her as she carries herself with GRACE while loving the finer things of life. Loves a challenge, a challenge she knows that will be in her favor. Loves to explore, share, and has the freedom to express herself. Loves to wear her fashion senses not because she needs to but because she can. Women that own it!

Failepou’s latest collection at the Pacific International Runway fashion show embraced the timeless cuts and beautiful details of the Victorian era. It incorporated stylistic structures, beautiful trimmings of lace and embroidery, and luxurious fabrics.

Designer Spotlight: Find Out More About The Talented Lucy Laurita

Lucy Laurita is a Melbourne based fashion designer who has a wealth of expertise that can only be accumulated over time. Since launching her own label Leiela in 2005, her reputation for glamorous high fashion and exceptional personal service has continued to grow.

Recently rebranding the label to Lucy Laurita, her gowns are sold through various independent boutiques – she also offers a made to order service by private consultation.

Lucy is passionate about her involvement in the creative community. Over the years, she has made costumes for various theatre productions and was proud to be selected as the costume designer for ‘TITANIC The Musical.’ She also credits her incredible enthusiasm and drive to an unending love for what she does, a sense of humour, and the ability to never stop learning.

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

Tell us your full name and something about yourself.

My name is Lucy Laurita, a mum blessed with two gorgeous kids while balancing life as a fashion designer specialising in Women’s Event Wear. As any creative would probably know, it’s not a career, it’s a lifestyle. You live it with all that you are.

Australian born, with an Italian heritage, I’m lucky to have such a great cultural mix. I now appreciate all the things I didn’t appreciate in my youth and I’m passionate about embracing diversity and offering a hand up to those in need. I’m also proud to be a Mental Health Foundation Australia Multicultural Ambassador.

The Lucy Laurita Gown Collection is exclusively available at Momento Dezigns, SANA Boutique, and online at Frockaholics.com. The design aesthetic is classic, simple lines that enhance the natural beauty of the female form. The gowns are designed to softly fall over the body, elegantly gliding as the woman confidently moves.

When you look at my collection, you need to live the idea that together we have created a story.

Lucy Laurita Viva Gown Silver Paloma Sequin: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinald

How did you get into the fashion industry?

My young self of about 8 years old decided then that I would grow to be a fashion designer.

Did they call me a dreamer? Yes, they did. Was it going to stop me? No.

My mother was a talented dressmaker who made all our family clothes. I was always in awe of her ability and her attention to detail in each garment she made but at the same time, I was a little annoyed that she refused to do more with her talent. She refused to teach me so I could only observe as she created.

I was shocking in my sewing classes in high school. I worked hard to put together a portfolio to end year 12, and I made it into the Melbourne Institute of Textiles (which has now been taken over by RMIT). I loved my years there, I made the most of my free time and I even got a part-time job as a workroom assistant for La Folie – a designer brand that was located on Chapel St South Yarra, Melbourne. It was here that I learned so much about garment construction. My boss was so patient with me and in hindsight believed I was capable.

How were you actually ‘discovered’?

My time at La Folie was coming to an end as the owners decided to move back to London. She asked me – “Lucy, who would you like to work for, where do you see yourself in the fashion industry?” How amazing was my boss right?

All I knew at the time was that I wanted to be creative, even theatrical in my designing but I had no idea of my niche. She made a call to Jenny Bannister. She’s an iconic Australian Fashion Designer, it just so happened Jenny was looking to hire a new design and production assistant and I fit the job description. I was in this role for 8 years till she began to wind down her production, it was that turning point in 2005 that I started my own brand, LEIELA.

Lucy Laurita Serena Gown Ivory Georgette: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinald

What do you like most about being a designer?

The opportunity to make other women feel comfortable and confident wearing a gown. The way we dress and the way we feel in what we are wearing is very powerful, making a huge difference to our success hence affecting our mental state. We thrive when we feel confident and it is a privilege to see a confident woman in one of my designs.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

Not enough sleep, creative minds are always active. I do my best work overnight so when I’m in the midst of preparing a new collection or planning a runway show I’m awake till 3 or 4 am then up at 7.30 am for breakfast with my family.

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

I would have to say working with director Mitchell Butel and The Sydney Symphony Orchestra creating gowns for “Funny Girl The Musical In Concert.” It was an honour to work with some of Australian’s most acclaimed talent. The cast included industry heavyweights such as Michala Banas, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Casey Donovan, Virginia Gay, Verity Hunt-Ballard, Dami Im, Maggie McKenna, Zahra Newman, Caroline O’Connor, Queenie van de Zandt, and Megan Washington. The show was held at the Sydney Opera House.

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

I have been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people each with their own interesting journey that has inspired me in some way. There is one that has been particularly memorable though. An intriguing gentleman knocked on my studio door in Ascot Vale, Melbourne years ago. He said he was in Melbourne for the day on a business trip and had found my designs online. He desperately needed a ‘Gatsby’ inspired gown as he was hosting a surprise party for his wife. He was a little vague about the details but very polite showing me and my assistant at the time a small photo of his wife to select a gown for her. We selected the gown and he kindly asked to have it shipped over to Sydney, so at that point, I needed to ask for his full name. He was Darryl Courtney-O’Connor AM, he was the founder of one of the biggest hotel chains in Australia and New Zealand, he was also the founder of the International College of Management Sydney as well as the Chairman of Tourist Corporation. I was blown away indeed, the reason for the ‘Gatsby’ themed party by the way just happened to be because part of ‘The Gatsby’ blockbuster movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed on one of his properties. Was his wife expecting a Gucci or Prada? I may never know but I’m sure glad he found my designs appealing.

Lucy Laurita Cameo Bubble Gown Silver Lurex Mesh Ice Blue Lining Front: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinaldi

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

To believe in my ability as a designer and as an advocate for causes I’m passionate about. It took me a long time to associate myself with my brand. It was only a few years ago when I had a chance encounter with International fashion designer Henry Roth. He’s a TV presenter, a Project Runway Australia mentor and currently, in the process of authoring a book I can’t wait to read called ‘The Stories I Told My Son.’ He became my mentor and he transformed my brand to become my personal brand. With his encouragement and guidance, I was able to rebrand and introduce myself and my label as Lucy Laurita. Henry Roth gave me the opportunity to learn something that was not innate. To believe I had something to contribute, that I made a difference to others and I had earned my title as a fashion designer – to own my name as my brand.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Yes, very supportive, they are always involved with the various projects I work on. The bonus is when my husband and kids get to get to come along to a stage show where I’ve dressed the talent. My kids gain valuable life experiences through being involved in charity events and meeting many talented Australians in the entertainment industry.

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

More meaningful collaborations. I hope to continue joining forces with other creatives to do what we love and to be able to give back to our community. I am currently a Multicultural Ambassador for Mental Health Foundation Australia – I’m proudly raising awareness and helping to eliminate the stigma relating to Mental Illness. This is a cause I am deeply passionate about and will continue to support, hopefully making a difference by reaching those silently suffering.

Lucy Laurita Angel Gown Ivory georgette Back: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinald

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: A Star Is Born

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Authentic Kindness. A kind heart always shines through and lights up a room.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Set up a sustainable foundation to assist disengaged youth.

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

Lucy Laurita Suraia Top and Skirt set: Model Ruby Wilson / Headwear Viktoria Novak _CBR Fair – S2020 / Image by Eric Red Photography

Meet The Woman Behind The Latest Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: The Fashionably Beautiful Kaila Methven

Photo Credit: Tony Duran

Kaila Methven is the brains behind possibly the world’s most expensive lingerie label, and she’s not only successful she’s also drop-dead gorgeous.

At just 16 years old, Kaila interned at her first Paris Fashion Show and went on to earn a Master’s Degree from the International Fashion Academy – Paris. She completed advanced training at Polymodo in Florence.

Kaila has so far been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Maxim and she has dressed some of today’s sexiest stars including the likes of Demi Lovato, Katherine McPhee, The Kardashians, and more. Kaila has just released her new vivacious, ultra sexy lingerie and intimate apparel line called “Lady Methven” and it was created for the everyday woman. Combining childlike innocence, erotic playfulness, and female power, Kaila dares everyone to fall in love again. Sassy & Co Magazine recently sat down with Kaila to find out more about the luxury lingerie brand the whole world is currently gushing about and here’s what went down.

1. What sparked your interest in fashion?

I’ve always been creative since I was a little girl. After interning at Dior fashion shows, I learned a lot and I knew eventually that I was meant to be Madame Methven – the sexiest lingerie designer of all time.

2. What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?

Looking at other designers like Donatella Versace and interning for Vogue, Christian Louboutin, John Charles, and John Gilliano…they all inspired me to start my own company but with a Madame Methven twist.

3. How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

My fashion has evolved as I’ve evolved in other projects, such as the EDM world. I was inspired to bring my lingerie side to enhance festival wear, seeing as festival wear doesn’t have much more than nipple pasties. As more projects and collaborations started, I learned more and pushed myself harder.

4. Are there any types of clothing that you avoid wearing?

Anything that isn’t black or gold I won’t wear, I stand by my brand. I feel that as a CEO I need to always represent my brand and look professional. I do love wearing my Disney shirts at home and occasionally for running my errands.

5. How is your work received internationally?

I have a wonderful team that helps me with generating press on various fashion outlets around the world. I feel very blessed to have this but I feel most blessed by God for letting me be known worldwide and enabling me to attend to many people all over the world as possible with my Plur Association and my Madame Methven line.

6. How do influences from outside of LA find their way into your work?

Mostly social media, Instagram, and Facebook. There are so many more opportunities out there and during this pandemic, there seem to be a lot more resources and inspirations out there to find more about.

7. What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

Sage and incense always stay lit inside my house because it keeps my mind at ease so I can concentrate more. It gives me positive energy so I can continue to be inspired to create more projects.

8. What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?

You must sacrifice some things in life in order to be successful. Strive in what you believe in and believe in what you do.

9. What is your current fashion obsession?

Some lace pajamas, because of the pandemic it’s what I always wear. They are quite comfortable and they can actually make you feel sexy – since bikinis haven’t been really fashionable lately due to COVID-19 anyway. I’ve never worn pajamas more then I have in the past 3 months and I wear them in the morning, afternoon, and night time.

10. How do you think lingerie is dictating fashion trends for 2020?

Lingerie has been a growing trend for the past couple of years. Since brand ambassadors of various lingerie companies have also helped with the recognition of lingerie as part of society, it helps bring more awareness. You can see a change when it comes to empowering women to feel sexy and be women again.

11. Can you give some tips to men who are looking to purchase lingerie?

To the men out there who want to purchase lingerie, try to put yourself in a woman’s Christian Louboutin shoes, then ask yourself; “what would I look sexy in?” And then visit my website: www.madamemethven.com.

Otherwise, all women love black because you can never go wrong or get dontell or lace, women love expensive lingerie like mine with custom made rubies pearls and diamonds.

12. What advice would you give to young designers?

Get ready to enter the battlefield because you’re going to have 100 doors close on you! But you should never stop knocking on doors because one day one of those doors will open and then it will really be the fight of your life. You will eventually create some magic but it’s going to be a very long journey. Sometimes you would want to cry and just stop, but Couture fashion is one of the hardest careers out there to get into. You can always reach me by dialing 1(833)MadameM.

Find Out More About Internationally Renowned Celebrity Photographer Michael Grecco

Headshot of celebrity and entertainment photographer Michael Grecco

Michael Grecco is an award-winning and internationally renowned celebrity photographer and TV personality. He has been regularly shooting magazine covers for various national magazines such as Time, Wired, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN, People, and others. His high-profile clients included renowned celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Patrick Dempsey, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Robert Duvall, Martin Scorsese, Janet Jackson, Mel Brooks, Lucy Liu, Ben Stiller, Penélope Cruz, Morgan Freeman, Jet Li, Will Ferrell, Joaquin Phoenix, and many more.

Michael is also the Executive Producer and appears in the TV Show “Punk.” Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Michael to discuss his journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

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

It all started in summer camp when I was a kid. The mystery of a black and white image coming up in the tray of a developer was mystifying. I fell in love right away. I shot all the sexy camp counselors at the free swim. I thought, what a life! At that point, I was hooked and went on to study art photography at the local college programs in Westchester, NY while in high school and photojournalism while at Boston University.

Before graduating, I started working for the Associated Press. I shot politicians during the day. And at night, I was a club kid shooting the Punk and New Wave scene in Boston.

When People Magazine then offered me a job, I made the leap from Boston to Los Angeles and switched from photojournalism to celebrity portrait photography, shooting magazine covers instead of for the pages inside.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I think my journey to success started when I was asked to travel the world shooting the “Entrepreneurs that Matter” for a special issue of Business Week. I had shot an artsy jewelry story for the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine and Business week saw that and asked me to replicate its artful approach for the businesspeople they wanted to shoot. That opened the door to all sorts of new opportunities in the magazine and the commercial world.

American recording artist, record producer, film director, and fashion designer Kayne West poses for a portrait photographed in Los Angeles, California on April 26, 2007.

What is your main source of income?

My income is varied. It’s from assignment fees from directing and shooting still imagery. It’s from licensing imagery, infringement enforcement, a book in the works, etc. I’m also working on two businesses related to photography where I would be building technology platforms to help the industry.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I always look for weaknesses in the market and try to turn them into opportunities where a new brand can be created. Both platforms I’m working on now are businesses where there’s a hole in the market that can be filled.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

Instagram is a natural as a photographer. I assume I have both a client base there and a fan-boy base. It’s also pretty easy to find someone there. I also like Facebook because you can tell a little more of a story to friends. I guess in this day and age you can’t really live without either.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

I’ve done it. But it isn’t my demographic. When it works, I get a lot of people looking for a low-end photographer with no budget. It’s tough to find the professionals that hire me since they move from job to job and it’s hard to get their personal emails to direct PPC to them.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

I like organic search. I think that’s when people are looking for someone like myself. And if they’re searching, they can understand the difference in visions and service.

American comedian and actor Will Ferrell poses for a portrait in Los Angeles on March 09, 2007., 2007.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I think all forms of marketing have worked at one time or another. When direct physical mail was popular, that worked if you did it well. Early on, when email marketing was effective, it worked when done well. At this point, you have to engage in all of them at once. You cut the things that have no ROI and continue to do the ones that work.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

I like to think my brand is known for smart imagery and a well-designed website. It sends the message that everything we do is well designed and thoughtful. The goal is to engage the viewer harmonically and from an intelligence standpoint.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Every time I have to cut a marketing program because it has no ROI is always tough. You really have to be thoughtful in what you’re cutting. There’s also the psychological effect that you might be missing out on something in the future that you don’t know about, which makes it even harder.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Oh, it’s always all the little business sayings you’ve heard in the past.

Use other people’s money when starting a business.

…or, Early to Fire, Late to Hire. That’s an ad agency saying to be flexible and cautious.

You can always look back at the mistakes and see them as investments you shouldn’t have made. But you didn’t know that at the time. So hopefully, you learn and you don’t make the same mistake twice.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

That your mistakes are your greatest learning opportunity. If you don’t learn from them, they’re wasted. But if you use them to your advantage as you move forward, they’re not mistakes. Appreciate them for what they are, simply something that didn’t work.

SONY DSC

What new business would you love to start?

If I told you I would have to kill you! (laughs) I did allude to them above.

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

Not piss off the people I pissed off with hubris. Be a better listener. I would have wished for all the skills I’ve had to learn as an adult. But the whole concept of a time machine is like fixing your mistakes. You need them to grow and to learn. They’re how you become a better business leader and a better human being.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Not really. But I’m a big fan of Ted Talk videos.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

If you want it bad enough, you will succeed.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Want it bad enough!

Actors Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller pose for a portrait to promote their film ‘Starsky & Hutch’ in Los Angeles, California on February 24, 2004.

Find Out More About The World’s #1 Influencer/Expert In The DIY Sewing Revolution

With over 2.1 million social media followers and 12 million website views annually, DIY Fashion Expert/Girlboss Mimi G has defied all odds to emerge as the most influential woman in DIY fashion, propelling herself into the ranks of Martha Stewart, Lauren Conrad, and Chrissy Teigen.

MimiGStyle.com began as a hobby, and has blossomed into the world’s leading DIY fashion/sewing online destination, where Mimi G models her original designs/patterns ranging from business wear to swimsuits that fit the everyday girl, create free tutorials of her on-trend sewing patterns (Turn Your Jeans into a Skirt, Refashioned Sweatshirt into Dress, Men’s Shirt Into Off Shoulder Button Up), personally answers every DIY sewing question (i.e. what fabrics to buy, what projects to start with, etc.), and so much more. She also created the world’s #1 online sewing school SewItAcademy that works for everyone from the first-time sewing novice to the expert seamstress. SewItAcademy helps fashionistas of all levels master the fundamentals of sewing, work at a pace that allows time to practice, learn the importance of specific techniques, break free from mundane methods, and create trendsetting clothing and accessories.

Mimi G has worked with celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Aniston, companies like Target, Revlon, and Google, and has been featured in People Magazine, Parade Magazine, POPSUGAR (to name a few) for making sewing hip and accessible.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Mimi G to talk about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please provide a background about yourself and how were you actually ‘discovered’?

Well, I am a mother of four and a serial entrepreneur who took her love of sewing and shared it with the world. I overcame sexual abuse as a child, domestic violence, homelessness, teen pregnancy and came out at the other end of with a clear vision for my life. I spent many years struggling to make ends meet and working 16 hour days in a field I liked but knew wasn’t my calling. I did the best I could to feed my kids and keep a roof over their heads like many of us do until I started this thing called a blog back in 2008. I didn’t know what a blog really was so those first few years were really just a time of discovery. It wasn’t until 2012 when I decided to blog consistently and launched Mimi G Style, Inc. that I started to focus my energy on teaching and providing tutorials. It was fun to teach people how to make their own clothes when they had never even considered it. My blog grew rather quickly and after that first year I was averaging about a million page views, I quit my job a year and a half in and now 8 years later we reach nearly 12 million people a year and have over 12,000 students in Sew It Academy. It’s amazing. I don’t know that I was “discovered” because there has been so much that has happened in the last eight years that people didn’t see. Growth, planning, strategies, luck, lol but I owe my success to the people who follow and support and share me with friends and family. Starting a business is not something that happens overnight and I feel like I am just getting started.

What do you like most about blogging?

I like having the ability to reach millions of people by sharing my love of style and sewing. It serves as a great journal of sorts to look back and see all that I have done and it’s the way I market new products to my followers so it keeps everything in one place and consistent. Blogging is different now, we like fast information which is why social media is so powerful so you have to really understand the benefits of having a blog and how to use it even with the ever-changing social media climate.

Can you tell us about your Style & Sew It Academy?

I think my style is always changing, I have moods and I dress according to how I feel. I like simple, easy to put on looks that require little to no fuss. I am a jeans and tee kind of girl but will throw on a cool jacket or cool shoes to take the look up a notch or two. I love clothes and I love shopping but to be honest, shopping can be a little stressful if you are not a sample size or, if like me, have a 10” difference from my waist to hips. That is the reason I started sewing again in my 20’s, I wanted my clothes to fit right. It is also the reason I started Sew It Academy.

I launched Sew It Academy in May of 2016. I founded Sew It Academy to help people who wanted to learn sewing and fashion design but couldn’t afford to go to a traditional design school. I set it up so that you didn’t need any experience to start and just about anyone could afford it. The first course is me showing you what a sewing machine is! (laughs) For the price of two lattes a month we teach you everything you need to know to make your own clothes, fix clothes that don’t fit off the rack, work and design your own collections or work in the fashion industry. There is a ton of free info on YouTube but not all of it is good. I wanted somewhere that had structure and really taught people fundamentals that they could build on. There is no online sewing and design school that offers the variety that we do. We teach sewing, pattern making, draping, fashion illustration for both menswear and womenswear and above all it’s affordable.

What sort of person usually follows your blog and YouTube channel?

Who’s your main audience? I have a very big mix of people who follow me. The youngest I have met was 8 and the oldest was 80 and everything thing in between. Sewing and DIY is something that in my experience has appealed to a wide variety of people. I think in general people follow for the style, for my personality, for sewing or just because they are intrigued that I can make my own clothes. (laughs) I have a very large black and brown following and that is important to me because as a woman of color and a Latina I am always aware of how important it is to be seen and to see yourself represented.

What’s the biggest challenge of running an online business?

There are a lot of challenges when running a business in general and a lot of what I do happens online but the overall challenge is creating content on a regular basis. You have to be visible and stay visible in order to reach people and make an impact among so many other people. My focus is always around creating engaging and visually appealing content. It can get a little difficult when you feel like your whole life is an opportunity for content but that is the world we live in and certainly the way you need to approach an online business if you want to have continuous success.

Have you always wanted to be in the fashion industry?

No, not really. I have always loved to sew and design but I didn’t know how that was going to transpire in my life. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I decided I wanted to be a “fashion designer” I went through the process of creating a collection in between my full-time job and even put it on the runway here in LA but after that experience, I knew that although I felt accomplished I didn’t want to spend my time trying to sell a collection. There is a lot more to being a fashion designer that people realize, you have to market and sell your line and very little time is spent doing the actual designing. I love the process of creating garments so after starting my first DIY blog and sharing how-to videos that what I really enjoyed was teaching. I won’t say that I don’t want to do retail at some point because I think I do and will but I can now choose how I want to do it.

What’s your personal mission in life?

I have many, but my main personal mission is to be a great mother, I want to be an example to my kids and have a lasting impact on people I know and those that I don’t. I have worked hard to show my kids that you are more than your circumstances and that the power to be great is found within. I want them to see that despite my struggles I am able to make a positive impact on the world. I have a million friends in my head, all of whom follow me and support me and although I don’t know them all personally I want them to feel empowered and inspired by what I have to offer. My mission in life is to be the best person I can be.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

I have had so many! but at the end of the day, the most memorable moments have been when someone recognizes me not the street and wants to share their story with me or take a pic. Every time I meet a follower I am reminded at how amazing my life is and how fortunate I am. I have one story who stays with me always. I got an anonymous email from a woman who shared that she had just gotten out of rehab and was in sober living housing. She told me that she had once been a professional engineer with a great career, her own home, a nice car and little girl who she loved. She met a man, fell involve and that was the beginning of a very difficult road. The man she had met and was now sharing a home with was addicted to drugs and had introduced her to them. She became an addict, lost her job, her house and eventually her daughter. She said it took her a long time to get her life together but she did. When she graduated into sober living she was not he computer looking something up and came across my blog. She shared that she spent hours looking through my blog posts and that I seemed to jump off the page, she said she felt like she knew me. She started learning to sew with my videos and that new hobby she was learning from me helped keep her sober. She is now a coupler and travels sharing her story. She ended her letter to me by sharing that now when she speaks to groups she talks about a DIY blogger that helped save her life and she has no idea who I am. I still don’t know who she is but I think of her often and wish her well. My blog started as a place to make cool things and learn but over time it has become a safe place for people to find themselves and many times heal.

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

I have had the pleasure of sitting with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, and Tim Gunn but the most interesting people I have met so far are fans who have had amazing journeys since learning to sew. So many of them have started small businesses, created additional revenue for their families and have even changed careers. I am forever amazed at the stories I hear and how many exceptional people have been brave enough to share their lives with me.

How active are you on social media?

I am pretty active, I post daily and sometimes more than once a day depending on the platform. It is my way of staying connected and engaged with my followers. I spend a lot of time building the sewing/DIY community so I make sure to stay visible and present.

What is your favorite social media platform?

I love Instagram! It is the easiest and fastest way for me to communicate with everyone and to also share the side of me they don’t always see on the blog.

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

I have so many plans! I am looking to continue growing my business podcast where I get to share all the business advice I wish someone would have shared with me before I became an entrepreneur. It is geared toward people looking to start a business from a hobby or passion. Business SHET (solve, help, earn, trust) has had over 190,000 downloads in less than a year and I am hoping to continue providing resources. I am also finishing my long-overdue book. I also have a few surprises up my sleeves that I can’t share just yet but it will be really exciting.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Judy with Renee Zellweger was amazing!

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Laughter. There is something incredibly beautiful about joy and how people express it.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I would love to sit with Ellen DeGeneres and teach her to sew!

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” go hang gliding in Hawaii.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? I tend to procrastinate but I work great under pressure so I think I’ll keep it.

Meet The 11 Incredible Designers Who Showcased At The First Ever Sassy & Co Fashion Extravaganza

The first-ever Sassy & Co fashion show showcased and unified the people, style, and talent of emerging fashion designers down under.

The mission of the Sassy & Co brand has always been to make its mark on the Australian fashion scene, and beyond.

Sassy & Co is a fashion platform launched to give a face and a voice to the culture, designers, and budding entrepreneurs down under. It acts as the fashion-forward leader in the latest emerging styles and fashion designers and it also promotes the importance of community, ambition, and growth. Meet the 11 talented fashion designers who showcased at the 2019 Sassy & Co fashion show:

Armando Clothing

Photo Credit: Raymond Bartholomeusz

Armando’s mission is to build a strong sense of purpose, empowering men’s freedom to choose what they wear without being scared and judge.

GTAB

S8 OUTA BANX is a hip hop, RnB, streetwear collection based on the rapper movement of the 1970s. A time where a music revolution was occurring underground in the Bronx of New York. A time where the youth were craving a way to voice their stories and let the world know their struggles.

The collection has an influence in voicing the stories of youth from 2200, a western suburb of Sydney. Its underlying messages speaks out about domestic violence, drug abuse, homelessness, racial profiling, and racism. It hits close to home with each passing design.

The fabrics are heavy on denim and print. The prints have lyrics of the designer’s rap album which will debut on the runway during fashion week.

In regards to the pattern making, it is created in a way these clothes could almost substitute as a sleeping bag for the homeless youth.

Lakshmi Bee

Photo Credit: Dave Choo

Fast fashion is still one of the world’s largest polluters shortly after the oil industry, with disastrous effects on the planet and people involved. It’s a global-scale problem from the production of fabric to the finished garment.

Yes, it is a massive issue to fix, but as always, great change begins with simple steps.

Lakshmi Bee wants to share simple ideas that you and I can take to help combat this issue, beginning with your own wardrobes.

Lakshmi Bee is made up of a mother and daughter team (Lakshmi and Susan Gowda) and they’re on a mission to help heal the world and people through fashion recreation.

Trendy B

Trendy B’s goal is to put the “fun” in functional fashion. They know that looking stylish can make your whole day better; that’s why they’re committed to being your source for the newest trends. They design clothing you love so you can focus on looking great!

Lisa Swinbanks

“Made in Australia with love; Inspired by English Classical Literature and Japanese Art.”

Growing up in Tokyo with a Japanese mother and an English father, Lisa Swinbanks’ designs stems from both her roots.

After graduating in Applied Fashion Design and Technology at Ultimo TAFE in November 2015, Lisa Swinbanks began selling her designs at Manly, Kirribilli and Mosman markets.

Her designs are classic, simple and sweet. Using monochrome tones, she combines feminine elegance with a flirtatious twist.

Fabrics are sourced locally and in her home country, Japan.

Lanikai the Label

Founded by Claire Vella, Lanikai the label is an Eco-sustainable swimwear brand based in Sydney and Bali.

The label was born with a mission; To create responsible swimwear without compromising quality, style, and functionality.

With ethical and sustainable values as the core of their brand, their philosophy intends to lessen our environmental footprint by creating responsible fashion that makes a positive impact on the planet.

Leatheron

Photo Credit: Raymond Bartholomeusz

In the year of 1997 Tommy Ge, the founder of Leatheron started with a creation at the very tender age of 12 years old, where he had designed his first-ever cream leather jacket. Realizing at a young age what his calling was, Tommy Ge started his career in Retail world, throughout many years in Retail from managing several big brand names, Tommy Ge realized that he wanted to develop a garment which was ‘Timeless, Genuine, and Unique.’

Inspired by a Hong Kong trip, Leatheron was soon to no longer be a dream but a reality. Throughout the journey, it became a sudden realization that fashion was a destination, a lifestyle that’s always on the go.

Leatheron is for the career-driven woman who works hard, but plays harder in style with poise, working the look from enjoying a latte by day and sipping a cocktail by night. The fashionista who knows how to live life to the fullest.

Leatheron is for the man, who works hard to get the job done, he’s career-focused yet enjoys the essence of fashion. The Leatheron man appreciates quality over quantity, ready to wine and dine his lady in style, he’ll dress to impress.

Leatheron trades at Paddington Markets and The Rocks Markets on Saturdays, Bondi Markets and The Rocks Markets on Sundays.

KARIMADON

KARIMADON is an exciting and dynamic fashion brand of ready-to-wear women’s apparel that range from classic and fashionable gowns and dresses to trendy casual and workwear pieces at affordable price points. The brand is well known for its couture quality special occasion dresses and gowns.

It was established in 1980 and is owned and managed by a family Corporation. To date, KARIMADON has 17 stand-alone stores and 4 outlets found inside major malls of the country.

KARIMADON provides a woman her clothing needs for her various stages and requirements in life. From her Debut to her Prom needs, her Work Wear to her Party clothes and eventually for her Wedding gowns and dresses.

The brand makes sure that all women can depend on KARIMADON to make them feel special, stylish and beautiful wherever they go.

Dolly

Dolly offers stunning dresses for women of all ages. Their dresses are in line with the latest fashion trends in Pakistan & India.

OOGII

OOGII is an International journalist, News Anchor, and designer whose Sydney brand creates glamorous and comfortable shoes, exquisite handbags and custom designs worn worldwide!

La Koi Swimwear

Influenced by the European luxury lifestyle. Sleek sensuality and soft sophistication are showcased in the stunning swim designs from Australia.

This exclusive swimwear combines function, style, and comfort in a luxurious fashion.

La Koi swimwear made for a sophisticated and confident woman, who cares about quality and style. LaKoi Swimwear is defined by exquisite details and collection is tailored in Australia using fine quality Italian fabrics.

The idea for the brand name came from Chinese culture. A legend of the Dragon Gate in which a Koi fish swam upstream, through waterfalls and other obstacles to reach the top of the mountain. The legend says that when the koi finally reached the top, it became a dragon, one of the most auspicious creatures in Chinese culture.

Like The Koi Fish, a daunting journey but rewarding none the less.

Rising Star Fashion Designer Spotlight: Meet The Fabulous OOGII Flower

It never ceases to amaze us how much precious time most people waste trying to find that imaginary shortcut that’ll lead to massive wealth and entrepreneurial success when the only real way is staring them right in the face: genuine entrepreneurs who want to be successful in business needs to put in a lot of careful planning, research, and hard work – and that’s what Oyuntsetseg Olonbayar aka OOGII Flower has done over the years.

OOGII started her career at the age of 20, by getting a degree in Journalism. She then entered a competition that was searching for someone who would be a newsreader on Mongolian National TV. After a lot of effort and perseverance, she eventually won the contest, which is held every 14 years. Eventually, though, she realized that her passion was not really in being a newscaster but in fashion. So, she left journalism to focus more on creating her own fashion label. This risky move has eventually paid off, as she has built one of the fastest rising fashion empires. She went from creating glamorous and comfortable shoes to making exquisite handbags and now accessories. She has also expanded from an online business to a retail store in Japan and just recently in Mongolia.

Like many successful high-profile fashion designers, OOGII’s career has had a lot of highlights. For example, she got the chance to collaborate with Germani Jewelry to create a range of products for weddings. In addition, her high-quality designs have received positive comments from several customers. One of the most memorable feedback she has ever received was from footballer named Robbie Farah and Japanese Sumo Wrestler, Harumafuji Kohei. They gave her a really good review because they were impressed by the comfort of the shoes she makes. Fashion has also paved the way for her to meet a range of interesting people. For example, at a function celebrating International Women’s Day, she got to meet influential designer Carla Zampatti which is still one of the highlights of her career in fashion.

OOGII believes that the fashion industry can be difficult for people to get into. There are several things that designers need to learn before they can actually start making money from their designs such as learning to limit their production costs. You also need to have a realistic idea of how many products you’ll be able to sell while using the best materials. For example, OOGII uses sustainably farmed snake skins to create her shoes. By mastering this aspect in her business, OOGII has made it easier for her to produce more high-quality shoes at a comfortable pace. Despite her rapid rise to success, she hasn’t lost sight of the most important things in life. OOGII admits that she has been fortunate enough to get plenty of support from her friends and family. Her family and fiancé help keep her grounded and ensure that she continues to stay true to her values and beliefs.

Crossing from journalism to fashion has enabled OOGII to travel to many new places and meet inspiring people. Now that she’s on a roll – she has no intention of slowing down. She wants to start designing her own clothing label soon, as well as creating multiple new products. Brace yourself Australia, because OOGII is soon to take the Australian fashion scene by storm!