If I Were a New York City Storefront

 

I often dream about owning my own little one room shop when I grow up.

It'd be filled with one stock items so that everyone who came through and shopped would know that what they found was uniquely theirs. Maybe I'd sell objects of one color, and change that color every month. Whatever the concept, I know that finally financing a purpose for all the quirky tchotchkes and eclectic tastes I have will make me smile. 

Trotting around NYC this summer, I'm often looking for those little, eye-lifting moments that make me smile. It's curious what I'm drawn to, and because of it's aesthetic inconsistency, I can't help but wonder: what would I look like if I were a New York City Storefront?

Someday's I'd be all dolled up, really feeling my look, and not so subtly strutting through the SoHo streets:

On days that are way too hot, I'd long for a breezy and verdant escape:

A handful of days I'd lean into the art scene and wear a mashup of a minimalist concert t-shirt paired with slick, black culottes in this vein:

On the days I miss Miami, I'd proudly wear my tropical pants to the office:

Some days I'd be blushing after having participated in rosé season on a friend's rooftop:

On days I feel a little reserved, I'd wear something a bit feminine yet subtle, perhaps in this shade of green:

Other days I'd embrace the Man Repeller vibe and wear all of my favorite garments at once, despite the glaring pattern mismatches:

And some days, days that are hard or scary or overwhelming, I'd wear several different emotions on my face:

But at the end of the day, no matter the day, I'd wear a smile - because everyone in this city could benefit from a little kindness:

Xx, Maia
 

Rooftops: Friend or Foe?

 

If you didn't already know, rooftops in NYC are summer's hottest spot - yes because hot air rises... but also because they provide the best city views and furthest respite from the sweaty sardine sidewalks. The best kind of rooftops, however, are ones replete with friends, food, and a touch of "will my dress fly off of my body or not?"

This past weekend, I had the great fortune of escaping the city streets by heading way up town. Like up, up, up in the air town. Thanks to the birthdays and brunches of two of my friends, I got to bust out my favorite summer dresses and my even more favorite summer moves. 

The thing about rooftops, though, is their high levels of precariousness. You're forced to be hyper aware of your surroundings lest you teeter too close to the edge. The wind up there picks up to race car speeds and has the potential to not only snatch away your modesty but even whisk away the bagel right out of your hand. 

Yet, with that heightened uncertainty comes some level of liberation. If you know your belongings are likely to fly away, do you really even care anymore? Or do you become one with the wind - as free and flowing as the gusts effortlessley re-designing your hairdo. 

Being up above that high can make you long for the stability of the ground, whereas once back on the ground, all you dream about is being back up above it all. Guess the grass (or the flowy Reformation dress) is in fact always greener. 

Xx, Maia
 

Inside Raquel's Dream House, "less is bore"

 

Post the summer move to NYC, I found myself resting in the bed of my new apartment sublet: head pressed against the back wall and feet touching the opposing wall. My room is cozy, to say it sweetly, and after two days of experiencing New York living for myself, I decided to restore my faith in ample square footage and visit a popular SoHo Pop-Up exhibit: Raquel's Dream House on 79 Greene St. 

Arriving promptly at 11am (anticipating a line around the block since Gigi Hadid visited the day prior and the exhibit was closing soon after), I was met with an empty, 3 story apartment display all to myself. 

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The idea behind the whole concept was as such: 

What kind of room is possible? 
We imagine:

a room that commands
a room that tells a story
a room that defines
a room that quotes
a room that shapes a medium
a room that shapes a support
a room that shapes a subject
a room that shapes a space
a room as state of mind

To quote a line from Ettore Sottsass: “These objects, which sit next to each other and around people, influence not only physical conditions but also emotions. ...They can touch the nerves, the blood, the muscles, the eyes and moods of their observers. ...There is no special difference between architecture and design. They are two different stages of invention.” 

An adventure of mixed tenses and reconciled opposites, Raquel’s Dream House coheres in the materia prima of design. Design conceived as an alchemical vocabulary for working and inhabiting. A room as a way of seeing. 

Raquel Cayre

The first floor operated more like a gallery display, with art populating the walls and decorative Daniel Buren pillars presenting an "Urban Light" LACMA-esque photo-op.

Heading upstairs on the colorfully painted stairs had to be my highlight (typical), pre-selfie in the groovily pink mirror. Come to think of it, there were many mirrors speckled about the space. 

Many of the rooms put together funky seating with even funkier art objects. Think fuzzy wall hangings, life-sized pictures of interiors, and the most beautiful designed piece that really puts the ~table~ in table tennis. 

The space attracted a lot of light - whether pouring in the higher the floor or concocted by quirky, artificial fixtures. 

I found myself pulled towards these rooms and pieces in particular, probably because colorful things have a magical magnetism on me. 

While there was "seating" aplenty, this was more of a visual dream house than a livable one. 

This house had it all: from meta-interior decoration to man caves. To keep myself from nestling into the couches and never leaving, I decided to devour the space with my camera instead. 

And if you wanted to take away more than just photos of furniture, there was a little tchotchke sectioned that rivaled the famed gift shops of art museums everywhere! 

In a city known for it's cramped and crumbling quarters, it was quite refreshing to explore this sprawling architectural playground. 

Xx, Maia
 

Cool Beans: If Stars Align by Marina Zoullas

 

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)

Image courtesy of site. 

Image courtesy of site. 

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. 

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To purchase some of Marina's designs, head on over to her shop

Xx, Maia