It's April 2nd, and snowing in Boston - delayed April Fool's Joke? Probably. Since I misguidedly started packing up my winter wardrobe, I begrudgingly selected an oversized grey sweater to keep me warm on this uncharacteristically frigid day. What kept me smiling, though, was the anticipation of a chat with Marina Zoullas, founder of If Stars Align: a company that fosters individual creativity during the design process of gorgeous sweaters and other apparel. You bet I wished I was snuggled in and sporting one of her colorful, custom designed numbers on this day.
Marina is a high schooler in New York City. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she’s either working at the showroom of the clothing brand LoveShackFancy, doing research for FXB, the organization she interns for, or making art. She’s passionate about women’s empowerment and the eradication of poverty around the world, which she supports through her website: http://givegaincollective.com - a collective of organizations that empowers women through the work they produce. She loves to be creating, whether it be through her blog, http://honeyandoats.com, her website, If Stars Align, or any homemade remedies she’s making for her skin. Though she’s just a 16-year-old junior, this is just the beginning for her and she already has a couple of projects in the making for the future.
Having founded her company on two principles, Marina conveyed this same emphasis on uniqueness and individuality throughout our quick conversation:
How do we reveal who we are through what we wear?
How does our clothing define who we are and how we can show it?
ISA is a way for you to define your look, not others.
(From Website's About Page)
Right off the bat I asked her some questions about her vision for her company:
What gave you the idea to start your company?
I’ve always been making stuff and I’ve been sewing for about 5 years now - up-cycling clothing. I have this jacket and sewed fur cuffs into it from a garment my mom had that she was going to get rid of. I like making things individual to myself. I feel like the fashion industry is now branching out to individuality and accepting people with different styles.
I started [If Stars Align] last year, in May, when I have a blocked out month during school to work on a personal project.
Images courtesy of site.
What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned while getting it off the ground?
I’ve learned a lot about myself and that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So learning when to just put it out there. I've spoken to a lot of people in the industry and the best advice they've given me is, “Just put it out there, don’t wait for it to be perfect because it’s never going to be perfect.”
Where do you see ISA going in the next few years?
I’m a junior in high school right now, so where I see the company growing is in putting more of a message behind the brand. Right now a lot of it is sustainable and fair trade in where I’m outsourcing the materials. But I want to incorporate a component of supporting women. It’s hard to find articles of clothing that have some action behind it. The fashion industry is one that wastes a lot of water, and now there’s more awareness about the environment, but I also want to make sure that my company has a social impact; so not just trying to minimize the footprint of how it’s being made but also making difference.
If one of your role models could wear one of your designs, who would it be?
I think my clothing is for everyone - so maybe Emma Watson because she’s someone who does a lot of work with the UN but also has a big following and is making a social impact.
Images courtesy of site.
Though Marina and I only had a virtual meeting via FaceTime, I could sense right away that she's the perfect catalyst for putting forth a socially conscious, customizable clothing brand. Based off of more personal questions, it's clear that Marina places a large focus on purposefully composing her outfits - a girl after my own heart.
Go to outfit: What's your uniform?
I love blouses, I have a billion white blouses that probably all look the same but for me they’re all different - some have embellishments. I usually wear a feminine blouse with, high-waisted washed out denim jeans to toughen it up a bit, and then probably paired with sneakers.
What's the soundtrack to your life?
I just listen to the Latin music that all kind of say the same stuff and it definitely does not reflect my life. I’m not a huge music person (as in I can never learn the lyrics, even if its in English). I like something more that’s upbeat and dance-y. Which is probably pretty representative of my life right now since there’s a lot going on with junior year.
What's one piece of jewelry that's iconic you?
I always have an evil eye on me. I love evil eyes and it’s part of the Greek superstition - my dad always had one growing up so now I do as well. I usually wear it either as a necklace or a ring or a bracelet. I just love eyes.
What's a trend you're envious of right now?
Because spring and summer are coming up, I'm loving the super long, flowy, beachy dresses. I’m very short so I can’t wear it. I think unless I'm wearing 6in heels I don’t think I could pull it off.
What's a trend you want to die?
I’m not a fan of naked dresses. Like to the beach sure - if it’s a see through cover up. But I’m not a fan of the bejeweled, feathery dresses that people wear on the red carpet.
Last question: How would you describe yourself as a human bean?
I would go with an edamame bean. I know I don’t have to literally choose a bean but I feel like I’m an edamame because there’s the outside shell, but then you bite into it and the inside is sweet. Kind of like me - since it takes me a long time to warm up to people.
Suffice it to say, after just a 20 minute chat, I felt like I could tell that this sweet edamame bean is going to do big things. That is, if stars align.
To purchase some of Marina's designs, head on over to her shop.