Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Tell us a little bit about how you started your career in fashion design.
I didn’t make the move to become a fashion designer until I was 27 – the same year I learned how to sew. I went back to school to get my MFA in fashion design so I could learn the entire process of designing, constructing, and producing garments from beginning to end.

Describe your workspace. A well designed, white walled, clean, inspirational space.

Melissa Fleis Melissa Fleis

What was your time like on Project Runway?
Crazy and unforgettable. The show not only challenged me creatively – it also challenged my skills, and my abilities to take and resolve criticism from professionals in the industry.

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? My creative process differs for each collection. Sometimes it’s the individual garment that hits me first, and other times it’s the inspiration. The next step is always creating a cohesive mood board, and then sketching out my designs. Sometimes you can sketch more than 25 ideas before settling on the right design.

What does a typical day look like for you? No day is the same in this industry, especially when you are the owner and creative director. One thing that remains the same though – is every morning, I always make myself my coffee, and check my emails. From there it can vary from sketching, to sourcing fabrics – to running to factories or holding meetings.

Melissa Fleis Melissa Fleis

What are you currently working on?
I just finished my latest collection for 2016 called, Resurface.

Talk about one of your most treasured projects. One of my most treasured projects has to be my finale collection for Project Runway, and showing it at New York Fashion Week.

Where do you pull inspiration from? Modern architecture, and early 20th Century German Art Movements always work for me. Ultimately, the main theme, color story, and inspiration can hit me at anytime depending upon where I am, who I’m with, or a random image/artist I find online or in a book.

Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I’d love to see my brand go global and have a few stores of my own. I’m also interested in other vessels for design, like interiors and collaborations with other artists.

Lastly, any life advice? Work with the fear.

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Tell us a little bit about how Little Barn Apothecary came to be.
We both have a deep-rooted passion for holistic and organic lifestyle choices from the food we eat to the cleaning products we use inside our home. We decided we needed to change up our self-care routines too and started creating products for ourselves to use. After a few years of making products in our kitchen we decided to share our formulations with close friends and family, when we got responses for more and saw how much everyone enjoyed using them we took a leap and starting to create our brand. A few months in we left our career jobs, found our focus and have been hustling ever since. Joshua is a beauty and spa veteran with 17+ years of training and experience; Brad comes from more of a biology and mixed hospitality and marketing background. Together we blend our talents and make a pretty amazing team (not that we are biased or anything). We both bring a good bit of experience to the table, and where we are weak we experiment and learn. Day to day, we are constantly learning a new facet; whether it be product development and research or sales and business in general.

Describe your workspace. We worked out of our home based studio for the first 9 months of being in business and this past October we moved into a 1,200 sq ft. micro factory space in Atlanta in order to expand our production and fulfillment along with hiring two production assistants.

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process?
Google, YouTube and late night pots of coffee have become dear friends of ours. We’ve taught ourselves everything, sure it made it more difficult and we had some mistakes along the way but that’s what has given us the passion and allowed us to mold our brand in to exactly what we want it to be. Fortunately we are now able to outsource some tasks if we don’t have the time to dedicate to it.

What does a typical day look like for you? Everyday for us is a whirlwind! We have grown from a local Atlanta brand to now having our products offered in 200+ boutiques and spas across the US with international distribution in Canada, Australia and Singapore. We are typically knee deep in production mode 3-4 days a week and take time each week to discuss as a team new product development and creative strategies for continuing to elevate our growth.

What are you currently working on? There is always a constant flow of new product development taking place – we have some really exciting launches happening in this Spring season!

Little Barn Apothecary Little Barn Apothecary

Talk about one of your most treasured projects.
We take all our inspiration from the earth around us and feed from the energies and healing powers of botanicals and plants. We believe our earth has given all the elements and tools we need to create and craft effective formulations. With the right chemistry simple formulations can become some of the most effective.

Share with us some of your biggest achievements and challenges. Our biggest challenges and achievements have been keeping up with demand. In the beginning phase of the brand we were shipping hundreds of units of products fast forward to today where we are shipping close to 5-6k products on average each week. We are always striving to refine and improve our operational efforts to enhance the customer experience and we now have the most amazing team (small, but mighty) in place to accomplish this.

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Where do you see yourselves in the next 5-10 years?
We are in the beginning stages of finding a location in Atlanta to open our first brick and mortar shop which we hope to see come to life this fall. We’re not taking any breaks, we are full steam ahead, 2015 was our first year and we are proud of what we accomplished, 2016 and beyond will be even better. We are humbled by the support and praise we receive, who would have thought, two guys, a kitchen, and a wild dream. We are honored to be able to share our products and make a positive impact on the beauty world!

Lastly, any life advice? We always encourage anyone who has a passion to follow it. Start small – work smart and hard.

Creative Q+A: Hannah Minkner

Creative Q+A: Hannah Minkner/ lifestyle photographer

Talk about your photography style. My photography style has emerged from working with very little. I would describe it as slow and deliberate. Last year when I began my brand Minkmade, I was shooting with my college photography class camera, a 2007 Nikon D60. I still have it! With this camera and the lenses I owned, my image quality was lacking. I would rent the best quality lenses I could find, and I shot manual focus. This forced me to slow down and make sure I was in focus! Today, I shoot with a new camera and an assortment of vintage and manual focus lenses that again, force me to slow down. I also have begun enjoying film photography, which helps me to embrace imperfection and surprise. My advice to aspiring photographers is to take time to study your gear, to see if any of the problems you have experienced can be solved through careful shooting rather than in purchasing a new camera. Perhaps this year you can travel with that money you have saved, and photograph places, people and events that inspire you.

Hannah Minkner / photography Hannah Minkner / photography

Describe a typical day. One of my current challenges is that I do not have a typical day – I would love to have a typical day! I work from my home office and sketch photoshoot ideas in my sketchbook, keep up with social media, and edit. I enjoy shooting portraits in my own midcenture-modern 1960’s neighborhood, and I also enjoy traveling with my photographer friends to the amazing ghost towns, deserts, and forests that my lovely home state Arizona has to offer. I like to say that we have everything but an ocean.

Two constants:  One – my local coffee shop, Buzzbberry, which has a drive through and is dog friendly. Back in the day I used to rollerblade through the drive through window!! It has an amazing 90’s, anything-goes eclectic charm. I have worked many hours at this place, sitting at the window and watching the sunset as I drink my coffee. Two – My puppy love, Waffles. She is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and my favorite fluff-butt.

Tell us about some of your achievements and challenges as a photographer + creative. It takes a long time to develop a style! It really is about becoming confident in your abilities, and then collaborating with the right people so that you can consistently create compelling content. I think that if you shoot regularly, and that if you are shooting things that inspire you, you are doing ok. I feel that getting to that point is one of my biggest accomplishments. When you are just beginning, people may not trust you because you cannot show them an impressive portfolio. Getting past that point was my biggest challenge.

Other than that, I am very excited to have had an article in Hearth Magazine Volume Three, and to have been able to travel out of state for weddings and editorial shoots. Last year, this was just a dream.

Hannah Minkner / photography

Talk about one of your favorite shoots to date. I loved being able to shoot with Pura Vida, Kore Swim and liveFAST mag this June with model Madeleine Browning and liveFAST writer Gabrielle Nelson. This road trip took us from Phoenix to Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, and we had a blast. Rocking to 90’s jams in our packed car, sitting up to my neck in luggage, we stopped for instagram photos whenever we felt like it. We got our breakfast on LA style with the out-of-this-world locali badass breakfast sandwich, and shopped at vintages stores such as classic, dangerous-for-your-wallet Wasteland. Photography was unplanned and in the moment. Styled by Madeleine and Gabi themselves, we simply traveled and let the photo opportunities reveal themselves. Photos at Santa Monica Pier, The Original Farmers Market, in the car, around the stylish Mojave Sands motel (which we had all to ourselves), and out in the hot, hot desert next to Papi and Harriet’s.

What types of projects do you enjoy the most? I love small collaborative shoots. I enjoy being able to share my creative vision without restriction.

Hannah Minkner / photography Hannah Minkner / photography

What are you currently working on? I’ve started a new photo-video series with my models called “Girls in my neighborhood”. It is very personal to me, since I grew up in this area when I was very young, and made the decision to move back here now that I am grown up. I love the quirky nostalgia of these winding old neighborhood streets.

Where do you find your inspiration? I’m inspired by my grandparents treasured possessions from the 1950’s 1960’s 1970’s. I grew up admiring these objects curiously. I love educational shows from that era as well, and field guides. Which of course means that I am obsessed with Wes Anderson. I have always loved looking out the window during road trip and flights, and being inspired by scenery.

Hannah Minkner / photography

When it comes to the creative world, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? I’m so nervous to say! I tried this five years ago and it came true ;) So much pressure! I’m joking though, I do hope to bring my film making to a higher level over the next few years. Aside from that, I am very open to most creative endeavors. We will see!

Lastly, any life advice? Take care of yourself, and allow yourself to say yes to opportunities that you know you can handle and enjoy. Also allow yourself to say no when you need to sleep, focus on your health, or create your own personal work. Never be afraid to ask for help, and offer help to others whenever you can.

Creative Q+A: Jessie Farris

Creative Q+A: Jessie Farris / graphic designer

Describe your design style. My style is constantly evolving. I recently forced myself to do a little re-branding of my personal site. Although it was a painful process, I did learn more about my personal design style. I strive to straddle the line between simple, bold, and efficient. When it comes to typography and color I am definitely in my element. At my day job I am designing mobile apps but my nights are filled with freelance. I love being able to have the flexibly to work on personal projects along with my day job. I really love being able to balance out my work.

What does your typical day consist of? My typical day of consists of a run followed by black coffee and scrambled eggs. If I can accomplish all of that in the morning then I know I’m going to have a productive day. I then spend the remainder of the day collaborating with the talented designers and developers over at IBM. I work with so many great people. They inspire me daily. I usually end my day at a coffee shop working on freelance or stuffing my face with all the great food that Austin has to offer, namely fish tacos.

Jessie Farris / office space Jessie Farris / home

What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on several branding projects. One for a construction company, which I’m having a lot of fun with. The other is for an energy consulting company. Both of these brands are pushing me out of my element, which is a welcome change. At work, I am designing an app that helps to bridge the gap between remote collaboration and whiteboard brainstorming. As you can see, I get to work on all sorts of fun projects.

Tell us about some of your achievements and challenges as a creative. This is a tough question. It’s hard to go back in time and decipher your achievements and re-live challenges. I don’t know if this is considered an achievement but one of the things I love about being a creative is all of the cool and interesting people I encounter on a daily basis in real life and on the internet. The creative community is pretty welcoming for the most part. I love stumbling on various blogs and getting to know some great people via twitter and instagram.

As for challenges, I think finding your voice and understanding your own personal style is a challenge. It’s easy to get sucked into design trends. Being able to know who you are and respect your personal style is difficult. I also think finding a balance in life as a creative is challenging. It’s so easy to get sucked into your work 24/7. Too much of one this isn’t good for anyone. I think that’s why I love running so much. It creates such a great outlet when I need a break from work.

Jessie Farris Jessie Farris

Is there a designer/artist/photographer/blogger that you look up to and why? I definitely look up to Bethany Heck. She is an amazing designer and I learn so much from her on a daily basis. Her work is out of this world. Check out her website and see for yourself. It is pure internet candy.

What is one of the most enjoyable projects you have gotten a chance to work on? At my pervious job I was able to work on a really fun infographic for Ironman. As an avid runner, I really felt in my element making that infographic. Also, I recently enjoyed my time collaborating with TMBR on a project for the 2015 Jackson Hole Wine Auction.

As a designer, what inspires you? Living in Austin, TX I feel like there is inspiration on every corner. I have met so many great designers/makers and am able to explore so many cool spots. But honestly, I find a lot of inspiration in running and the outdoors. I’m an avid Pinterest addict so I would be remiss for leaving that out.

Jessie Farris Jessie Farris / quote

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? Oofta, this is the hardest questions of them all. If someone where to ask me this question 5-10 years ago there would be absolutely no way I would say working for IBM and living in Austin, Texas. So in the next 5-10 years I hope to see myself happy and healthy above all. Otherwise, I hope to be loving a small family of my own or wholeheartedly loving my career.

Lastly, any advice? The biggest piece of advice I can give is to be yourself. You will never regret staying true to who you are. It can be difficult in many circumstances but in the long run I seem to always be happier when I go with my gut. Stay true to yourself.

Creative Q+A: Mary Claire

Creative Q+A: Mary Claire / photographer

Talk about your photography style. My photography style is romantic, bold and compelling. I am very hands on and work with each of my clients to create a thoughtful, artistic vision that suits their individuality. I believe in natural light and using imagery to tell a story.

Describe a typical day. Usually I wake up around 6 or 7, drink a protein shake & answer emails, workout, and edit.  I love to mix in random lunch dates with friends throughout the week; too much time at the computer can be draining.  I love to cook and make my husband dinner every night and we usually watch Netflix together and talk about our days.

Mary Claire photography Mary Claire photography

Tell us about some of your achievements and challenges as a photographer + creative. I absolutely love being in a creative field. Planning creative shoots is one of my passions and I always try to push myself outside of the realm of the expected. One of the biggest achievements for a photographer is to be published and I’m thrilled to have one of my shoots featured on Green Wedding Shoes and another in the Utterly Engaged print magazine, which comes out in January.  Admittedly creative fields are not without challenges. Every day I find myself questioning my work, sizing myself up against other photographers, and taking each rejection way too personally. When you are so closely tied to your business in a personal way it feels like you are putting a piece of yourself out there and that is the most terrifying and rewarding experience.

Talk about one of your favorite shoots to date. This is so hard. I put so much time and thought into each shoot that I end up feeling a close, personal connection to each one. One of my favorite shoots ever is the first styled bridal shoot I ever did. It was amazing to reach out to other creatives and have such a positive response and to work with talented, dedicated people. We created a classic yet passionate bridal scene and to this day I think it’s one of the shoots that best represent my style and vision. It can be found here.

Mary Claire photography

What types of projects do you enjoy the most? My favorite types of projects are creative projects for clients. As much as I love styled shoots, working with real individuals to create their vision is exhilarating. I love working with people who are passionate and creative and want my help to create imagery that represents their brand and/or love story. This can include other people in the wedding industry (photographers, florists, stylists etc.), musicians, boutique owners, fashion bloggers, and brides.

Where do you find your inspiration? I am inspired by stories. From a young age stories enchanted and engulfed me and I would spend hours upon hours reading books of every genre. I am also inspired by people and their individuality. I studied psychology in college and this further inspired my fascination with people and their psyche. Photography is the perfect outlet for exploring, understanding, and representing humanity.

Mary Claire photography Mary Claire photography

When it comes to the creative world, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? In the next 5-10 years I hope to still find myself as a photographer, I hope to be continuously inspired and enthralled by my projects. Ultimately my dream is to mainly focus on creative and styled shoots but to work with all different types of people to bring their dreams to reality and create imagery that inspires.

Lastly, any life advice? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and to personalize your business. People want to know YOU, pretty pictures are great but without an emotional connection it means nothing.

Kinfolk Tour with Lisa Warninger

Kinfolk Magazine Tour

Ever since I discovered Kinfolk Magazine a few years back it’s been a huge aspiration of mine to visit their home office in Portland, OR. Unfortunately I do not see myself traveling out west anytime soon, so I got in touch with my photographer friend, Lisa (who’s actually done some shooting for Kinfolk in the past!) to take us on a little stroll through their headquarters. It is such a charming + beautiful space with that simple aesthetic that I love so much. It mimics the pages of their magazines so perfectly!

Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour

Where did the idea for Kinfolk come from? We came up with the idea in an everyday conversation with a few friends while we were attending college. We noticed a void in resources and inspiration for our age group that appealed to our interests as we frequented our get-togethers and meet-ups. There seemed to be a growing interest in breaking out of former weekend routines to explore different, more creative ways of spending time with friends (sans the loud club music and bar food). Perhaps what was missing was a reminder that it’s easy and satisfying to invite friends into our homes—a reminder that we don’t need to plan for weeks in advance, send formal invitations and make place cards to enjoy entertaining. We recognized this lack of inspiration, and decided to create the resource ourselves.

Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour

Who are the founders of Kinfolk? The core leadership team behind Kinfolk consists of two couples: Nathan and Katie Williams and their good friends Doug and Paige Bischoff. The Williams and the Bischoffs met while completing their university studies.The lead designer Amanda Jones has been there from the beginning, as well as community director Julie Pointer. Nathan is the editor in chief and creative director. Katie, Doug and Paige are on the business team focusing on operations and finance. Filmmaker and photographer Andrew and Carissa Gallo share a space in the Kinfolk office and create many of our original films.

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What is Kinfolk? Kinfolk is a growing community of artists, writers, designers, photographers, cooks and others who are interested in creating small gatherings and finding new things to cook, make and do. We understand that coming together to share great food and casual conversation can make us feel balanced, grounded and energized.

Kinfolk is a journal where we share ideas about low-key, back-to-basics entertaining. Every element of the magazine—the features, the photography and the general aesthetic—mirrors the way we feel entertaining should be: comfortable, slow, fun and engaging. The magazine brings together our interest in art and design with our love for spending time with our favorite people. The essays and articles in Kinfolk encourage both quiet time spent alone and frequent meals shared with friends.

Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour / holly marie designs Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour

The magazine is designed to elicit the same feelings we have when we’re enjoying the traditional, simple, old-fashioned entertaining that we love. We use a lot of white space and clean layouts to encourage relaxed reading. We also want the elements of the design to resemble an old novel, hoping this will encourage the reader to sit down and read it as a book—to review it pensively, thoughtfully—instead of giving it a quick peruse like traditional magazines. We also keep the reader’s experience in mind by carefully selecting images that don’t feel busy, and don’t have background noise or too much action. Most of the images are very simple and straightforward, symmetrical, with a lot of clean space that is easy on the eyes.

The simple intention for our new subtitle (“Discovering new things to cook, make and do”) is to highlight the fact that our pages contain what we consider a blueprint for a balanced, intentional lifestyle spent in the company of others, where we share new things to cook, make and do.

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Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Portland? One of our favorite restaurants is a Scandinavian-inspired place called Broder. We also love Cup and Saucer, Pok Pok and Bollywood Theater. Don’t forget to get some Salt and Straw ice cream from next door after! You can check out our City Guide section on our website for more of our favorites!

Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour Kinfolk Magazine Tour

Creative Q+A: Ashley Weiler

Q+A: Ashley Weiler / freelance stylist

Describe your style. What I love about fashion is that you have so much freedom to experiment with styles and trends. My closet consists of a lot of black and navy, patterns, sweaters, textures and vintage pieces. I like to have fun with fashion by wearing things that might not make complete sense, but work.

Share a little bit of insight into what or who inspires you when it comes to fashion styling. I’m in a constant state of inspiration, so I try to channel the things I experience into something creative, like fashion styling. I’m currently immersed in the beautiful, diverse culture that is Los Angeles, which has made such an impact on my creativity. The fashion, art galleries, coffee shops, people, and nature (it’s here, promise) have been so crucial to this! I often find myself drawing from these sources when it comes to styling.

Ashley Weiler

What was it like interning at Darling Magazine + what were some of your main responsibilities? Interning at Darling Magazine was just the most delightful experience! I was surrounded by women who had so much passion, value and purpose within their work and lives, which was such a beautiful thing to see in an industry that sometimes lacks those qualities. I was the Style Intern, which allowed me to work closely with Darling’s fashion editor, assisting on photoshoots and pulling/returning garments to showrooms. I learned so much about fashion styling, leadership and, of course, the art of being a woman.

Now, as a freelance stylist, what does a typical day look like for you? I’m fresh to the world of freelance, but it has been good to me thus far. I mostly have been working as a stylist’s assistant, which has been a wonderful learning experience. My day usually begins with an iced coffee and sending/responding to emails. I then jump right into driving to showrooms and shops to pull looks for upcoming events/shoots. Everyday is different, which I absolutely adore.

Ashley Weiler

Talk about one of your most treasured projects. I recently worked on a fashion film with a couple of friends for their fashion brand, VENIA. I was so grateful to be a part of moment that breathed such life into their amazing designs and mission.

Are there any tips or suggestions you may have for someone interested in entering the realm of fashion? It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative qualities that are associates with fashion: negative comparisons, rejection, hostility, etc. My suggestion is to avoid those avenues and try to be that rare, genuine, positive light in an industry that needs it so. Look for the beauty in those complex situations and be confident in who you are as a creative.

Is there an artist/designer/photographer/blogger that you look up to and why? So, so many! I think I’ll stick with a classic on this one. I will forever admire Irving Penn. Regardless of what he was shooting, his intention was always to capture beauty and I so admire that.

Ashley Weiler

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? My only serious goal for the future is to travel the world with my guy. I really don’t care where I’m working, as long as it’s with great people and if it financially allows me drink a lot of six-dollar lattes.

Lastly, any life advice? Never, ever stop absorbing information. The more you learn, the more you grow and that’s a beautiful thing.

Creative Q+A: Blythe Thomas

Q+A: Blythe Thomas / music + fashion photographer

Talk about your photography style. I picked up film photography nine years ago, and did that far, far more than digital. I would only really do digital photography on summer abroad programs. Since getting to college, I’ve shot primarily in digital but am looking to jumping back into film. I edit my digital photos now with fade and grain similar to film photography. I love when old and new worlds meet. Photos now today seem to be so polished and airbrushed out. That’s a cool style style, but I’ve found as I’ve grown over the last year, I prefer to add that classic film look into my photographs.

Blythe Thomas / photography

Describe a typical day. It depends what day! Haha. Honestly since I came back to Nashville early June, it’s either a shoot day or edit day. I’m still a student though, and unfortunately have to go to class for one more semester. But a typical day right now is waking up, usually screwing up the coffee I’m trying to make, buying coffee then instead at Bongo Java by my apartment, going to class, spending the entire time in class on my laptop either editing photographs/designing/scheduling/emailing people back/looking up inspiration on Pinterest (aka not paying attention), hanging with friends, eating at points, and sleep. School time has become work time but with that Charlie Brown teacher noise in the background, haha. If it’s an editing day, I’ll just post up at a coffee shop, knock it out, and hopefully see familiar faces coming in and out. On a shoot day, I’ll shoot for a couple hours and, if I’m really hyped, immediately try to edit them. No day is really the same, no day is very typical. Which I’m very thankful for. But I try to use Sundays as rest days now. I found I was burning out too quickly. Freelancing makes it easy to work long days and hours. So I try to be mindful and balance work, play and rest… still working on that balance though haha.

Blythe Thomas / photography Blythe Thomas / photography

Tell us about some of your achievements and challenges as a photographer + creative. Achievement wise, I’ve been very blessed in this field. I was getting opportunities I didn’t deserve early on that I appreciate so much now in hindsight. There were things in high school that happened that seemed like I had MADE IT at the time haha, like placing 2nd in a photo competition or having my film photographs featured in a local gallery. One of the coolest highlights of my career to this day is shooting the CMA Awards red carpet and show in 2012. I was an intern for CMA at the time and they just allowed me this incredible freedom that day to shoot whatever, whoever, wherever. I can’t thank them enough. I then got to shoot the 4-day CMA Festival that following July, and that was a real catalyst for me going full time with photography, though I prefer portraiture rather than concert/event photography for me personally. Those are awesome achievements I’ll be forever grateful for, but I love the day to day victories of just individual clients simply loving the final product, whether it’s a photo or video. I work closely with one of my friends on her music and handle all her creative direction. I get so much satisfaction seeing her stuff take off. It’s cool playing any small part in the success of someone else’s life, especially people that just deserve it. I love, as I get older, seeing my friends dreams’ come true, and it’s a bonus if I get to photograph it and celebrate with them. It makes my life more exciting.

Challenges wise, I definitely fell victim to the comparison-game early on. There are a million and one amazing photographers in Nashville… and a billion everywhere else. It can either be intimidating (like it originally was), or it can grow you. I love reaching out now to those people I should be ignoring and competing against. I love learning from my peers, I look up to so many of them. There’s a fine line though of looking up and learning from others, and then being sure to focus on yourself. That’s why now I honestly just try to compete with myself and grow from what I’ve done in the past. I never want to put myself on a pedestal and think I have nowhere else to go/grow. So the challenge is constantly being able to come up with new ways to edit, think, and create content I’m proud of. But it became a lot easier when I let go of what other photographers were doing or who they were shooting. Focusing on myself helped a ton in gaining my own confidence.

Blythe Thomas / photography

Talk about one of your favorite shoots to date. This is always hard! I love whenever I shoot with my friend I mentioned before, her name is Louisa (go check her out)! It’s always fun shooting/working with your best friend and being on that same creative wavelength. We also work on more than just photography, so it’s cool for me as an artist to work in different areas of creative media. Photography wise, I loved though this one shoot I did in Pasadena (a suburb outside of Los Angeles) last March. I had just met the girls that I shot with that day, Aubrey and Megan, and we just hopped in the car and started driving towards mountains in a distance that we though looked cool. We dropped a pin in some random place and just drove into those mountains, racing against the sun and losing cell phone reception. A Free People-esque shoot was the goal, and I definitely think we achieved it. It didn’t hurt that the girls were GORGEOUS and honestly just had to stand there for the pictures to come out well. It was definitely some of my favorite scenery I’ve shot in (I love Nashville, but California, to me, offers such cooler, desert-y backdrops). That shoot grew me as a director and editor. I had to direct these two girls at once (which I had never done more than one before at that time), and try to make them feel comfortable even though they didn’t know me at all. It was the first time I really had done that, and I loved it! They’re still some of my favorite photos/memories I have on a shoot. I love when you collide with strangers and creativity just flows and works! I love to play music and rock out on shoots though, so it’s usually a good time and I hope to get client’s comfortable and feeling good, even if we just met.

What types of projects do you enjoy the most? I love shooting with musicians/other artists. The vibes are just always fun and usually they want something more out there in terms of content. Fashion shoots are also so fun. I’ve shot with Rocket + Lace and considerthewldflwrs now, and both times, I just loved interacting with all the people/models/designers the day of the shoot. I love how unique both of those brands were. My favorite shoots are always though when I connect with the person in front of the lens, whatever or whoever they are.

Blythe Thomas / photography Blythe Thomas / photography

Where do you find your inspiration? I get inspired by other photographers, mostly classic film photographers. I grew up looking through old photo-books and looked up to artists like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Vivian Maier, etc. Mostly street photographers, as that’s what I started on for years. I still look at those old school images, as well as patrol Pinterest and flip through magazines like Kinfolk, Darling and Free People catalogs. Sometimes inspiration strikes randomly though, and I’m lucky I have a couple friends on call who are always down to help (whether it’s a hit or a miss).

When it comes to the creative world, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? Another hard question. I have a bunch of mini dreams. I want to go on tour with artists I am passionate about and believe in and vice versa. Just for a season of life, not forever. But I want to travel so badly and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it: documenting life with best friends and listening to good music. But I would also love to keep doing portraiture shoots with artists/musicians here in Nashville and fashion/editorial shoots. To grow my portfolio in those two areas would be the ultimate dream. They’re the things I’m most passionate about shooting, so to be able to do that full-time forever, that would be everything. I’m open to being pulled to LA or NYC, but ideally I’ll stay in Nashville full time and just go out on assignments. I’m really open to whatever plan God has in store though, He’s made this an awesome life so far in just a year and a half of doing this full time. By the end of five years, a studio would be awesome and a consistent work flow. 10 years? Being able to bring kids on a shoot. I know that’s probably naive, but I like to think mine could be chill enough to handle it ;).

Blythe Thomas / photography

Lastly, any life advice? Be all in. A pastor preached this once to me/my church church (January ’14), and I’ve adapted it in everything I do/believe in/every relationship I have. Be present, be rooted in what you’re doing, always be a little restless and challenge yourself to grow and become better. Don’t think you’re done growing, that you’ve learned enough. Don’t be a bully to yourself though, acknowledge and celebrate your victories but know there is always more if you choose to find it. Be a good friend, be humble, be determined, learn how to say no to things (the world still spins even if you skip hanging out with someone one night), always reply to emails, meet deadlines fairly quickly seeing as how we live in an impatient world, celebrate, challenge yourself, take a break, and be all in. Being all in means you just go for it, whatever the outcome. So, just go for it.

Creative Q+A: Ashley Ording / Anthropologie

Q+A: Ashley Ording / web stylist for Anthropologie

Talk about your style. In short my style is feminine with a sense of humor. I’m drawn to vintage pieces but I love mixing them with modern ones, and there always has to be some kind of weird twist. Oh, and I hardly ever wear pants but on those rare occasions you can bet that they are covered in sequins or metallic polka dots.

How did you come about working for Anthropologie + what are some of your main responsibilities? Anthropologie reached out to me almost three years ago and I almost couldn’t believe it. Although it meant moving across the country from San Francisco to Philadelphia, I couldn’t resist such a wonderful opportunity to work for a brand that I adore. My position is Web Stylist for apparel, and I’m one of only three ladies that styles all of the on-model looks on the web site. I’m also the stylist for all on-model social media shoots at Anthropologie. It’s absolutely my dream job and I have learned so much in the two years I’ve been with the company.

Ashely Ording Ashely Ording

What does your typical day consist of? On any given day I am either creating outfits with the newest product yet to be shot, on set styling that day’s model, or assisting my fellow stylists while they are on set. A normal day involves going through a lot of product, making sure our prop room is organized, keeping track of which items are a priority to shoot, and researching outfitting inspiration. I am also responsible for making sure that our retouching team is aware of any particular tweaks that need to be made to a certain look, such as brightening a dark shadow or removing a stain. There are many details to keep on top of and the pace is always fast, but I love every bit of it!

Is there a designer/artist/photographer/blogger that you look up to and why? Currently I am quite enamored with Josep Font, the designer who recently took over designing at Delpozo. I’m obsessed with nearly every single look he creates, it’s crazy how talented and imaginative he is.

Ashely Ording / styling

Name five items in your closet that you cannot live without. In no particular order: one – a 1970’s beige soutache lace vest, two – 1980’s burgundy crocodile Ferragamo flats that I should probably throw away at this point, three – my crazy floor length lace trimmed 1960’s robe that I wear nearly every single day around my apartment, four – a beautiful but delicate 1950’s sleeveless silk cropped top that is the prettiest shade of pale brown, five – is it fair to say all of my vintage dresses as one thing?

What inspires you? Women with innate personal style who dress to please themselves and no one else. I love it when you can tell that someone doesn’t give a damn about what others think about their taste. Those people are the most stylish.

Ashely Ording Ashely Ording

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? It’s funny, my boyfriend and I have been discussing this very topic quite a bit lately. I’m good at planning in the short term but when it comes to 5 or 10 years from now things get a bit hazy in my mind. I can say that I would like to be creatively fulfilled, still styling but in an even more involved way, and living somewhere new and inspiring. I know that I won’t be in Philadelphia forever, so it’s fun to dream about where I might end up.

Lastly, any life advice? Ah, I doubt I’m terribly qualified for this one but I can sincerely say that listening to my own instincts and no one else’s has served me well. Do what you love to do, wear what you love to wear, and follow your passions always. You may get a few funny looks along the way, but you won’t have time to care if you are fully engaged with making your own life a fantastic one.

Creative Q+A: Vivienne Mok

Q+A: Vivienne Mok / fashion photographer

Talk about your photography style. I would describe my style as feminine, dreamy, timeless and personal.

Describe a typical day. I have been traveling quite a bit lately, so there hasn’t really been a “typical day” recently. A “typical week” would include things like: preparing/installing sets for shoots or location scouting, choosing/confirming models, requesting/picking-up/returning clothes for styling (or sometimes stitching some pieces myself for specific projects), meetings, lots of e-mails and lots of hours in front of my screen editing or retouching etc.

Vivienne Mok / work Vivienne Mok / work

Tell us about some of your achievements and challenges as a photographer + creative. A couple years back, I would never have imagined becoming a self-taught freelance photographer one day, living the life I’m living today. Looking back at this in itself is an achievement. When I was in school, I studied Fashion Design. After that I worked as a designer in a Parisian fashion house for a couple of years. It’s only during that time, that my interest in photography started to grow and eventually and naturally I decided to pursue that path. It is so rewarding to be able to do what you love (and I am really grateful for this) and meet great people that have similar beliefs as you do. I have learned a lot these couple years, and grown as a person. Of course, there are always challenges being a freelance photographer such as time-management, keeping yourself motivated when you feel stuck, finding a good balance, being clear about your priorities, etc, but these challenges will be there in life anyway.

Talk about one of your favorite shoots to date. It’s hard to answer this question as I have different favorite shoots for different reasons.

Vivienne Mok / work

What types of projects do you enjoy the most? I would say personal projects, as I have no restrictions.

Where do you find your inspiration? Faces, I find them fascinating, and also things from my daily environment, beautiful moody landscapes, moody movies, pretty old things that have a story to tell, nature and natural light. Also I feel that traveling always brings new ideas to mind.

Vivienne Mok / work Vivienne Mok / work

When it comes to the creative world, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? I think that I cannot know what will happen in 5-10 years…! As long as I keep learning and evolving that’s good. I also hope to be able to meet and work with more people who want to do something with social impact and sustainable for our future.

Lastly, any life advice? I would say, “stay true to yourself” and be patient because “there is time and place for everything”.