YOUR STYLE, YOUR SUPERPOWER
Carrie: Marissa, I know that you have a very busy lifestyle going back and forth between New York and London. What’s the difference between living in those cities in your opinion?
Marissa: I love both cities. London is where I was born and raised and has a certain charm to it. It seems like a quiet village in comparison to the loud streets in New York. The pace is also much faster in NYC.
Carrie: But those aren’t the only places you’ve traveled to. Your career has taken you all around the world. What is your favorite place you’ve visited?
Marissa: L.A. is great. The sunshine encourages you to get up super early and be creative. I also make sweaters in downtown L.A. and love the people I work with there. After a full day at the factory, I get to hit the beach and the hills, which is amazing. I also enjoy hanging out in Laurel Canyon because there’s a good energy there. I get to paint and sketch while listening to Fleetwood Mac.
Carrie: That sounds so relaxing. Now let's rewind a bit. How did you first get interested in fashion design?
Marissa: I grew up around it, so it felt natural to me to get involved in the fashion industry later on.
Carrie: What, specifically, about the fashion industry is most special to you?
Marissa: You can create anything you want and there’s no right or wrong. I also love how clothes can help you express who you are and what you’re feeling.
Carrie: I assumed that’s what you aimed to do with your clothing line, Rotten Roach. How did you come up with the idea to establish your own brand?
Marissa: I started it with a friend in NYC. We both live in tees and she’s an art dealer, so we wanted to come up with comfy shirts that look like wearable art.
Carrie: How does Rotten Roach different from other brands?
Marissa: The line has a sense of humor to it. We also work with amazing artists on the collections such as Hugo Guinness, Poppy Chancellor, and David King Reuben.
Carrie: Rotten Roach has certainly brought you a lot of success over the years. What would you say is the biggest accomplishment of your career to date?
Marissa: Filming for Extra and having my collection of tees stock at Selfridges.
Carrie: Those are both so exciting! But let’s not forget another big achievement: when you were listed as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in 2016. What was your initial reaction when you heard the news?
Marissa: I felt so grateful to have the support and recognition of Forbes. It gave me more incentive to work even harder in the future.
Carrie: I can imagine that your determination will continue to be recognized. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Marissa: Wearing a t-shirt.
Carrie: When did you first discover you had a passion for dance?
Ava: At a very young age! I started dancing at age two but probably realized I wanted to be a professional when I was eight.
Carrie: What’s your favorite style of dance and why?
Ava: Contemporary. I feel like it’s really a fusion of all styles and I love that you can tell a story through your movement.
Carrie: When you were on Dance Moms, you spoke a lot about being bullied. What does it feel like to be bullied and how did you rise above it?
Ava: It’s a terrible feeling. Most of my bullies were online and I could not believe the things that they were saying. It’s hard because a lot of people say to block out the haters, but from my point of view, that’s impossible. As humans, we take in every word that someone says about us and blocking them out is not dealing with them. The thing that helped me get through the bullying was finding self-love. It‘s an amazing thing because once you have this, you are confident enough in yourself to know that those comments don’t matter and you are perfect just the way you are.
Carrie: What is the most important lesson that being on Dance Moms taught you?
Ava: If you love something, go for it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, are not good enough, or don’t fit into the mold they have created in their heads. If you love something enough, you can do anything! The experience on Dance Moms made me so strong.
Carrie: What advice do you have for people who struggle to overcome bullies?
Ava: Find self-love and surround yourself with people who love you and lift you up. Also, make sure that if bullying is going on, talk to someone about it. Holding these things in is one of the worst things you could do for yourself.
Carrie: Do you see yourself as a role model for young women?
Ava: Yes, for sure. I think that my platform comes with a huge responsibility to influence and inspire young women. My message is to practice self-love and I am now touring around the U.S. to spread that message. It has been one of the best experiences I‘ve ever had!
Carrie: Who is someone that inspires the way you go about life and why?
Ava: My mom because she is just simply the most amazing human being ever!
Carrie: Since Dance Moms ended, your modeling career has really taken flight. How do you believe it has skyrocketed over the years?
Ava: Well, I have definitely skyrocketed in height...lol. It has been amazing! I absolutely love runways and have built some great relationships with big designers. I am really excited to see where my career in modeling takes me!
Carrie: What has been the most exciting moment of your modeling career thus far?
Ava: I would probably say the Amazon show for NYFW was one of the coolest runways I’ve been a part of.
Carrie: You’ve also been venturing into music lately! What have you been up to?
Ava: I actually have an EP coming out very shortly! I wrote the entire thing and cannot wait to share it with fans.
Carrie: What are your other future plans?
Ava: To continue to be a positive influence and inspire others as my career unfolds.
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Carrie: Which was your first love: acting or singing?
Ruby: Well, my first love was actually musical theater! I did a lot of both acting and singing on a daily basis when I was a little girl.
Carrie: Who are some singers that inspire you and why?
Ruby: Hailee Steinfeld because of the way she can balance acting and singing, Ariana Grande because of her angelic voice, Beyonce (for obvious reasons), and of course, my favorite, Todrick Hall. Todrick is such an amazing storyteller with his songs.
Carrie: Do you prefer singing covers or original songs?
Ruby: I love doing a mixture of both, but my original song, “Cherry Pop” just came out! Make sure to check it out!
Carrie: How did you build your YouTube and Instagram following? Which came first?
Ruby: My Instagram came first. One of my 30-second song covers went viral and it felt like my Instagram grew overnight! Funny thing is, I got all the words wrong, but I was having fun. I think people liked that. My YouTube followed.
Carrie: You’ve also had some exciting acting adventures over the past few years. What was it like playing the role of Emma on Modern Family?
Ruby: The cast of Modern Family was so amazing and welcoming! I happened to be friends with one of the other girls cast, so we had fun together. I had a blast on that set.
Carrie: How did playing Emma on Modern Family differ from playing Winnie on Grey’s Anatomy?
Ruby: First off, only one of those characters is still alive. So, I would say that’s the biggest difference! Also, the feel of those two shows is different. Modern Family is more upbeat and funny, whereas Grey's Anatomy is more dramatic and intense.
Carrie: What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
Ruby: I would say the most exciting moment in my career so far is getting to play Holly Hobbie on the new Hulu original series, Holly Hobbie! Make sure to tune in!
Carrie: What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
Ruby: Honestly, I just want to be successful in the business and have fun with my acting. I would also love to be on Broadway one day, and while I am throwing out my dreams, let’s include becoming an E.G.O.T. winner!
Carrie: What advice do you have for teens who want to pursue a career in music but are too afraid to get their voice heard?
Ruby: Just keep going! Or, if you haven't even started, just start! Any art is an ever-growing process—you just have to keep going. Make sure you are having fun in the process and remember that music is not only about singing! There is music composition, songwriting, and so much more. Don't let your fear of singing stop you from growing in your love of music.
This or that: music edition
Bebe Rexha or Charli XCX? Bebe Rexha.
Ariana Grande or Beyoncé? Both.
“Havana” or “In My Blood?” "In My Blood."
Pop or Rap Music? Pop.
Imagine Dragons or Panic! At the Disco? Imagine Dragons.
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Carrie: When did you first develop your passion for dance?
Eva: I started dancing when I was three-years-old. I was all about fun and friends and took basic classes like tap, jazz, and a little ballet/stretching. I started competition dance at around five and loved performing and being on stage. At that age, I learned my first solo, which was a lot of fun. As I got older, I started to see that movement, music, and story come together as more of an emotional connection for me, and hopefully for the audience as well.
Carrie: What’s your favorite style of dance?
Eva: I enjoy edgy, hard-hitting contemporary most, maybe because I'm always happy and it's fun to take on an intense personality. I also love jazz and musical theater. I love performing—maybe that's why I feel a pull toward acting.
Carrie: Which dancers/choreographers inspire you?
Eva: I admire so many, but of course my teacher and choreographer Michele Larkin, as well as Tessandra Chavez because of her unique style and artistry. My sister, Kayla Igo also inspires me—she has always been behind helping me make changes that work for me and my style and pushing me to be my best.
Carrie: How have you trained over the years, both physically and emotionally, as a professional dancer?
Eva: Usually, I am at the studio every day, from a couple hours to eight, depending on what we are learning. Solos and duets are extra and optional, so we need to squeeze those sessions in on our own. My sister is a dance teacher as well, and she gives me specific exercises for strength and flexibility. I also love going to dance conventions and learning from as many choreographers as I can.
Carrie: Let’s talk about World of Dance. What was the audition process like for Season One?
Eva: A casting director actually saw my solo "It's a Man’s World" on YouTube. She contacted me through direct message on Instagram and invited me to Chicago to audition. I performed two solos in front of a panel that included [famous choreographer] Tabitha D'Umo. They filmed the performances and I was also interviewed.
Carrie: What was your favorite part about competing in the show?
Eva: My favorite part of competing in Season One was getting to know and watch so many pros in action, and seeing how they were fierce competitors but still friends and supported each other. I also loved working with Tessandra Chavez and Kyle Hanagami, who were both supervising choreographs, as well as Nappytabs. It was a dream come true! Season Two was shorter for me, of course, even more so because I went back home in between rounds. There was less of a chance to experience it fully, in my opinion.
Carrie: What was the most challenging part about being a contestant on World of Dance?
Eva: Season One was a lot different than Season Two, at least behind the scenes. Season One didn't have the separate Junior Teams division, so all of the minors had school together every day! We also stayed until we were eliminated, so it was nonstop school, rehearsals, choreography adjustments, early call times for wardrobe and makeup, and then filming. It was fun, stressful, exciting, challenging, and exhausting! It was also hard being away from home for 34 days straight, but I was very sad when it was over! I loved meeting so many legends and new dance friends, and of course, all the people behind the scenes were amazing. Season Two, on the other hand, was way bigger—there were more divisions and a lot more acts. Everyone came in to film during different weeks, so there was way less interaction. A challenge from both seasons was song clearance. Trying to prepare several solos and then finding out the song can't be used is so frustrating, especially if you put a lot of time into practicing to it.
Carrie: How did the mentoring sessions on both seasons help improve your dancing?
Eva: The mentoring sessions made the judges far more human. When you are on the stage, they are giants and you are very small. The one-on-one sessions were close and personal and took a little bit of that intimidation away.
Carrie: Is there one specific piece of advice a mentor gave you that has stuck?
Eva: To use my feelings in my expression and interpretation. We all feel, and the more we express those feelings, the more we connect as humans.
Carrie: Why did you decide to come back and compete in Season Two?
Eva: I was invited back for Season Two, and it was a hard decision! Of course, there was the fear of doing worse than before. But in the end, I thought "why not?" If I didn't do it, I would wonder what would have happened for the rest of my life. There are hundreds of dance competitions and all of them crown someone as the "best". But there are millions of dancers in the world that go unseen and never get the opportunity to shine. I say if you get that knock on the door, open it. Who cares if you win? Everything is an experience to learn and draw from, and everything happens for a reason.
Carrie: Did you have a specific strategy going into Season Two?
Eva: Same as Season One: to work hard and stay true to myself—God’s Plan.
Carrie: Unfortunately, you were eliminated during the duels round during Season Two. Do you have any regrets?
Eva: No! Of course, it stunk to go home, but I have been competing for a long time, and I know that sometimes you win and sometimes you don't. In the end, you’re judged by human beings who see different things and have a personal preference. Rejection is part of art.
Carrie: What advice do you have for people who are afraid of failure and rejection?
Eva: We are all afraid, both kids and adults! We will lose a lot more than we win, but when we lose, we learn, adjust, and improve.
Carrie: What are your future plans for your career?
Eva: Last year, I didn't compete with my studio because I knew I was going to miss a lot, so I am now going to compete on a moderate scale. I'd like to explore acting in the future, and I have been working with Five Dancewear on my own line of dance clothing. I’m just going to take opportunities as they come.
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Carrie: So first of all, how did you get hired as an editor at PureWow? Were you always interested in beauty?
Jenny: Growing up, I was always obsessed with beauty and loved to write, but I never really put those two things together. After I graduated college, I started out in nonprofit, then I zigzagged over to finance. But when I moved to New York, I realized that a job that combines beauty and writing really does exist. It kind of clicked for me, so I went after it. Before I was hired at PureWow, I was a beauty editor doing mostly print work at Real Simple. I knew that I had to make the switch to digital at PureWow because it would be a smart move to start getting that experience.
Carrie: What about beauty is so special to you that it stuck during those years you worked in finance?
Jenny: I think that what really drew me to beauty is the fact that it's so universal. Everyone has a beauty story, memory, or product that they can associate to a special time in their life. So many personal stories can be shared through beauty, and its accessibility--in terms of price points--makes it easier to do so. And it's so global, too. It's so fascinating to learn about the different trends all around the world. Beauty is just a topic that you can explore forever and never really run out of things to talk about.
Carrie: Now that you’re working as a Senior Beauty Editor at PureWow, what’s your favorite part of your job?
Jenny: This is so cheesy to say, but honestly, how do I choose? I mean, I love the versatility of it. I’m constantly being pulled into new projects. Everyone is really open-minded and creative at PureWow, and they are always willing to try new things. No one takes themselves too seriously there, but we take our work seriously--it’s a really good balance. Everyone is just so nice and fun to be around. I met some of my closest friends there that I now hang out with after work hours. It’s crazy to think that PureWow used to have such a small office--I was employee number thirty-something. Now we’ve outgrown our old office space and we have well over 100 employees. It’s been really exciting to see the company grow.
Carrie: How do you think PureWow differs from other media outlets?
Jenny: Our voice and the way that we approach our content separates us from other media outlets. We like our website to be a happy, a safe space. I feel like there are plenty of awesome sites and publications out there that cover progressive topics, but PureWow puts together stories so that they have an element of lightness to them. Our tagline is “Elevate your Everyday” and we really think about that when writing our content.
Carrie: Now it’s time to get into some beauty questions. What are the top five beauty trends of the fall?
Jenny: I really love the return to hair accessories. We also saw those big, thick leather headbands from Tom Ford and cloth clips at Alexander Wang. I also saw those plastic circle headbands on the runway that I used to wear when I was in grammar school. People are even embracing the natural textures of their hair this fall, which is really exciting because I mean, who wants to spend a ton of time on their hair every day? I also really like all the graphic and bold eye looks we’re seeing in tons of shapes and colors. My favorite example of that was the gold leaf eyes at Ulla Johnson--they were just so elegant and unexpected. Speaking of unexpected, I also love all the bold lip colors that I’ve been seeing. People are wearing bright pink or orange on their pout, which is really refreshing, especially because we’ve seen so many no makeup-makeup looks for a while. As for something that will always be a trend...highlighter. I will never give mine up--I just love a little bit of glow. Oh, and skincare is totally a timeless trend. If you take care of your skin, everything else follows. Skincare always comes first.
Carrie: That was nine trends! I can’t wait to try them all. Now, I’m curious to know what the craziest beauty dare you’ve ever done is.
Jenny: One time, I got my armpits lasered while being filmed on camera. Oh, my goodness...it hurt! Also, once I had to do a challenge where I did different tasks while wearing a sheet mask that can slip and slide off your face. The activities were so ridiculous--one of them was to trim a bonsai tree!
Carrie: Hilarious! Next question: if you were stranded on a desert island, what one beauty product would you bring with you?
Jenny: Honestly, this is such a boring answer, but I would have to say my sunscreen. I use Vive Sana Serum Crema, and it has the best texture. I’ve been particularly obsessed with it lately and have been using it nonstop. It just melts into your skin and gives you an amazing glow afterward without leaving a chalky cast.
Carrie: I love how you would take a skincare product with you over makeup--skincare is so important. What’s your number one skincare tip?
Jenny: Use SPF! You should also always take your makeup off before you go to bed.
Carrie: Agreed! I always make sure to do that. What advice can you give to someone who is a makeup beginner who doesn’t have as much knowledge as you do about products?
Jenny: Before you start the trial and error process, go to Sephora to get your skin shade matched. Sephora is so accessible, and not only will they shade match you, but they will send you home with a sample before you commit to buying it. Even if you do decide to buy it and change your mind, there’s a really generous return policy.
Carrie: As we wrap up our discussion, I was wondering where you see both yourself and PureWow in the coming years.
Jenny: Both the company and I are just going to continue growing. We’re going to expand way beyond where we are now. The media world is constantly changing, so we can never truly predict the future. Instagram Live wasn’t even around until this year! The landscape is constantly changing, and the only thing we can do is be flexible to the change and go with it. That’s one of the things PureWow is exceptionally good at. So no matter what happens, I think we’ll be good.
Carrie: What were your expectations going into Bachelor in Paradise?
Astrid: I was hoping to meet some new people, have some fun, maybe get a little tan, and potentially meet someone I vibed with. I never imagined I would meet someone like Kevin that I had such a strong connection with. While in Mexico, I would always say how my expectations were exceeded and how lucky I felt to be given that opportunity.
C: How would you describe your first day there? Was it what you expected?
A: The first day was a bit scary, especially because I didn't know any of the cast members going into this season. But overall, I was just excited to finally make it down to the beach and experience Paradise for myself. I felt like I had a small advantage in that my friends had all been on the previous season and prepared me for it, so I was almost like a veteran going into it.
C: How did you and Kevin first meet there? Was the connection instant?
A: Kevin and I met on the first day, but it was just a brief hello where we introduced ourselves. He and I are both similar because we observe a lot--we were both more on the quiet side on the first day. I immediately got close to Bibi and she had known Kevin from Bachelor Winter Games, so on the second day there, she mentioned to both of us that we should get to know each other. Kevin pulled me aside for a conversation that day and we talked for hours. The connection was instant.
C: You and Kevin didn’t have a date in Paradise for a long time. How did you keep your relationship active?
A: The nice thing about Paradise vs The Bachelor is that even when you don't get a date, you are still getting to spend time with the person you're wanting to get to know more. Being on that beach felt like I was on vacation with my boyfriend. Plus, we got to watch everyone else's drama, so there was always entertainment. After a few weeks, we did go a little stir crazy, but Kevin set up a date for me on the beach where he wrote out a date card. It was all about "Sunset & Chill" with a wooden TV and candy. The fact that he set it up himself actually made the whole thing more special.
C: What was the most challenging part about being in a relationship in Paradise?
A: The hardest part about Paradise was trying not to compare your own relationship to others. There would be couples everyone thought were solid that would all of a sudden flip a switch and break up, so it was difficult to not worry about your own relationship.
C: Was there a lot of pressure on you and Kevin because you were considered one of the strongest couples there?
A: I wouldn't say there was a lot of pressure, but it was definitely hard not to jump ahead when we constantly had people comparing themselves to us. We always had to make an effort to ground ourselves and not let others influence us.
C: Right before the fantasy suite date, Kevin broke your heart and blindsided you. What was your initial reaction? How did you cope?
A: My initial reaction was just to get off that beach. I couldn't process what was happening and needed to get away to think clearly. I flew to Charlotte to stay with my best friend Malissa and hid away for a few days before I told anyone I was back home. My mom flew into town as well, so I leaned on her to help me sort through all my feelings regarding that last day on the beach in Mexico.
C: How did you and Kevin reconnect?
A: Kevin reached out to me immediately after we left Mexico. I took a day to myself before I spoke to him and heard him explain himself. I wanted to talk to him before I shared everything with my friends and family because I didn't want anyone to cloud my judgment with their opinion. When we spoke, we both knew we needed to have this conversation in person, and later that week, Kevin booked a ticket to come and see me. When he came to Charlotte and we saw each other, we knew the spark was still there and we just took it day by day to figure out where we wanted the relationship to go.
C: On the reunion show, you and Kevin officially confirmed your relationship. How did you two talk out your differences?
A: We both took the time between the end of filming and the reunion to figure out what we both wanted from this relationship as individuals. By the time we filmed the reunion, we both knew we wanted to be together, but we also wanted the show to be done before we jumped into anything. There was never a time when we weren't in touch as the show was airing and our priorities were always to each other.
C: Where do you and Kevin stand now? What’s next in your relationship?
A: Kevin and I are doing great right now and enjoying spending time with each other. We've been together in Toronto and have traveled since the finale aired, meeting each other’s friends and family as well. We both have several trips booked to see each other throughout the rest of the year, trying to make the distance as little as possible. Once the new year comes, I will start moving some of my stuff into his place and will be spending most of my time in Toronto.
C: Do you see a future proposal from Kevin?
A: We're taking things slow and enjoying dating each other without all of the pressure of engagement we had in Paradise. We are, however, both in the stage of our lives where we want to get married and start a family, so we've definitely talked about it happening down the road.
Carrie: Let’s start off by talking about something that has been a part of your life for a very long time: your YouTube channel. How do you continue to brainstorm innovative ideas for videos?
Caitlin: I look at my own life and draw inspiration from whatever stage I’m currently in. For instance, I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last six months, so I’ve been focusing on travel content. As I’m settling down and getting a new apartment, I’ll be doing lots of home décor, organization, and budget-friendly videos. I always keep my audience in mind and ask them frequently what’s going on in their own lives, as well as what areas of life they could use help in. I try to look at every comment and message I receive, so I’m really in tune with what my viewers like from me.
Carrie: What message are you trying to get across to your channel’s viewers?
Caitlin: While my content has shifted creatively over the years, my goal is always to inspire girls to be the most authentic versions of themselves in all areas of life. I love sharing health, wellness, and overall boss babe tips. I aim to be a goofy big sister figure to my subscribers!
Carrie: You recently took your career a step further by creating a blog of your own. Why did you decide to launch your website?
Caitlin: I have been creating content on my YouTube channel for eight years--crazy, right? It got to the point where I missed that feeling of being new to something. Filming and editing videos are second nature to me at this point, and I felt like I hit a wall creatively. I decided to launch my blog at the beginning of 2018 as an extension to my YouTube that gives my followers a new destination to connect with me. I’m still learning so much about the blogging world, as it’s so different from YouTube. But I love running my own blog because I’m starting all over again in a sense. It’s re-inspired me!
Carrie: Speaking of being inspiring...your Instagram feed is totally #goals. What advice can you give to someone who wants to maintain an "aesthetically pleasing" Instagram feed?
Caitlin: Take it from me, it is so much easier when you're posting what you want to post about, not what you think you should be posting. There was a period where super bright, colorful feeds were all the rage, but I knew that just wasn’t me. Instead, I opted for a neutral black and white feed, because that’s what reflected my style and aesthetic at the time. Plus, it made me stand out! Look to your surroundings for inspiration and for color tones where you live. Create a palette and stick to those main colors for your Instagram feed for a cohesive look. Take a lot of photos and plan them in advance so you have options and can see what photos look good next to each other. Don’t let it control your life--just have fun with it!
Carrie: How did you grow your Instagram following to where it is now?
Caitlin: A lot of my Instagram followers come from my audience on YouTube and have been following me for years. I never paid much attention to my Instagram following when I was in college and just posted random photos of my daily life. It wasn’t until I graduated that I started seeing the potential of working with brands on Instagram like I had been on my YouTube channel. I slowly transitioned my content into a more curated style, but still genuine and relatable. Collaborating with other creators with a similar audience is a great way to gain exposure and potential new followers. It’s been a slow growth, but I’m so grateful for my followers because they are real, and chose to follow me for a reason. I’m disappointed that so many influencers buy their followers or likes these days. That’s just not worth it to me. Posting consistent, high-quality content that’s also relatable is what has helped me grow.
Carrie: I couldn't agree more. Being authentic is key, and people have really gotten to see the authenticity in you on your social media..especially through your travel experiences. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why?
Caitlin: Oh man, that’s a hard one! I went on a three-week trip to Europe, and Germany was the highlight of the trip. I also went to Munich and the energy was amazing there. The Bavarian Alps were also insane! Definitely a must-visit. Amsterdam was awesome, too; it was super vegan-friendly, there was adorable architecture, and all the canals through the city were magical.
Carrie: What’s the most exciting part about traveling the world?
Caitlin: Getting to experience so many incredible places with my boyfriend, Alex! He takes all of my photos, so he’s usually traveling with me. Having someone to share these stories and special moments with is so rewarding.
Carrie: That’s so sweet. Switching up your clothes based on each place you travel to also seems very exciting--I know it is for me. How would you describe your personal style?
Caitlin: I don’t know if I could label my style, as it’s constantly evolving. But often, you can catch me wearing all black, neutral outfits. I’m pretty minimal when it comes to accessorizing. I gravitate toward laidback outfits that are versatile.
Carrie: What’s one item in your closet that you can’t live without?
Caitlin: I have a few key pieces I find myself grabbing over and over! I’m obsessed with my hexagon Ray-Ban sunglasses. For shoes, my platform Converse have been traveling with me everywhere. And of course, a good pair of comfy jeans. I basically live in Parker Smith denim.
Carrie: Lastly, where do you see yourself in five years?
Caitlin: Alex and I will probably be married at that point, still living on the west coast, but probably not in L.A. anymore. I don’t see myself stopping blogging or making videos anytime soon, but I’m always expanding and taking on new outlets. I’d love to have my own brand or product at that point, so we’ll see!
Carrie: When did you first discover you had a passion for singing?
Makayla: I first discovered I had a passion for singing when I was around three-years-old. I saw the movie “The Phantom of the Opera” and sang it all the time!
Carrie: Which singers inspired you growing up and why?
Makayla: My mom inspired me to sing, as well as Whitney Houston because they are so inspiring and their voices are touching.
Carrie: Why did you decide to audition for America’s Got Talent?
Makayla: It has been a dream of mine since I was very young!
Carrie: So I can imagine how thrilling it was when you were sent straight to the live shows after your audition. What was your initial reaction when you received the golden buzzer from Heidi Klum?
Makayla: I was shocked! I didn't expect that to happen! I spent a couple of weeks after it happened thinking it wasn't real.
Carrie: How did Heidi mentor you throughout your AGT experience?
Makayla: Heidi was very supportive and uplifting. She would bring me down to her dressing room to take a picture with me and to ask me how I was doing before the show. She also would ask me how I felt about my song.
Carrie: During the first live show, you were one of the three Dunkin Save acts, meaning that you were ranked either sixth, seventh, or eighth in the voting. What was going through your mind as you awaited the results?
Makayla: I was genuinely terrified when I was one of the Dunkin Save acts. I didn't want my journey to end just yet.
Carrie: How did you feel when America saved you?
Makayla: When I found out America saved me, my legs literally gave out. I felt like I had been given another chance to prove that I was not just a Dunkin Save.
Carrie: What was the best piece of constructive criticism you received from the panel of judges during your AGT experience?
Makayla: The best constructive criticism I had was from Simon when he told me how important song choice is. Also, Heidi told me to find a song I connect to, which helped me choose my song for the semi-finals.
Carrie: The song “Who You Are” that you sang in the in the semi-finals was extremely well-received by both the audience and Mel and Heidi. Why did you choose to sing it?
Makayla: I chose to sing Jessie J's "Who You Are" because it is very empowering and talks about how you should be you. During the competition, there were times when I was told to do certain things a certain way and I wasn't happy. I chose this song and made it my own, and I am incredibly happy I did. I feel like I did my best, gave it my all, and left my heart out on the stage!
Carrie: You were eliminated in the semi-finals but accomplished so much throughout the competition. Do you have any regrets?
Makayla: Absolutely not! AGT was an incredible journey and I made so many wonderful friends who I love. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Also, I learned so much!
Carrie: Can fans expect original music from you in the future?
Makayla: For sure! I was already writing my own music and now I am really going to put more time into writing!
Carrie: Any other future plans?
Makayla: I dream of singing at the Grammys and Super Bowl one day. Those are two of my biggest goals, but who knows? There may be bigger and better things in my future!
Carrie: Hi, Chelsie! After seeing your flawless makeup at Beautycon and hearing that you’re an entrepreneur, I knew you would be the perfect person to interview. Why did you initially decide to start your makeup brand, “Stardust”?
Chelsie: I started Stardust because I wanted women of color to have more options when it comes to making themselves feel beautiful. I believe highlighting is a really popular way to do that today, as it’s a key staple of a lot of makeup looks. It wasn’t always like that so I wanted to take advantage of people seeing that our generation has created something for black women to have options with.
Carrie: I love that. In your opinion, what makes your highlighters unique?
Chelsie: What makes Stardust’s highlighters so unique is that they are vegan, cruelty free, mineral-based makeup products. We have various shades and the color pay-off is so strong. The highlighters can suit so many different skin tones and serve multiple purposes, as an eyeshadow, blush, highlight, body shimmer, and more.
Carrie: Are there any products you dream of creating for your brand in the future?
Chelsie: I would love to create highlighting brushes and highlighter palettes in the future.
Carrie: That sounds so amazing! I would definitely try those out. How about a dream collaboration? Is there any celeb you’d love to get involved in Stardust?
Chelsie: Maria Borges, a Victoria’s Secret Model!
Carrie: I can totally see that happening! That would be absolutely incredible. Now, what is your number one makeup tip?
Chelsie: Less is more!
Carrie: How about your number one skincare tip?
Chelsie: Exfoliate a minimum of four times a week—that’s what I do.
Carrie: Note taken! Your skin always looks smooth, hydrated, and bright. Lastly, what are your future plans?
Chelsie: Although I can’t reveal too much, I can tell you that I will to continue to work hard and enjoy life. I promise there are exciting things on the horizon that I’ll be able to share soon.
Carrie: I can’t wait to hear what they are! Thank you so much for talking with me, Chelsie!
Carrie: I am so excited to learn more about the journey that got you where you are now. How did you first get into singing?
Rebecca: Oh man, it feels like I’ve been singing forever. I started performing and dancing when I was three-years-old, and once I started, I really never stopped. I was singing in school productions and recitals every year growing up, but it wasn’t until I was ten-years-old that I joined a musical theatre performance group in my town. That same year, I also started taking singing lessons, so it became a huge part of my life.
Carrie: What about music is most special to you?
Rebecca: There are soooo many elements that make it special to me. Music gives me a feeling of liberation and pure joy that is like nothing else. I think the truest version of myself comes out in moments on stage when I let myself feel all of that. I love to see that from the other side as well. Being able to witness other artists lose themselves to the music while I’m dancing in the audience is just as beautiful to me!
Carrie: Let’s talk a bit about “Friday.” Were you under a lot of stress when the song went viral or was it exciting to you?
Rebecca: I’d say both--it varied by the second. I got to do things that I never dared to dream of because of “Friday.” I worked with Katy Perry, went to the Grammy’s, and even won a Teen Choice Award. But at the same time, there were so many moments where I was stressed and completely overwhelmed.
Carrie: I’m guessing that a lot of the stress stemmed from the hate messages that were coming your way. How did you deal with the cyberbullies?
Rebecca: It was not easy at all. One of the most difficult parts of the whole situation was that I was only 13-years-old. I was just barely scratching the surface when it came to starting to discover what made me ‘me.’ People’s words affected me because of that, no matter how hard I tried to act like I was unbothered. But the more time passed, the more I was able to process everything, and I’ve been able to heal.
Carrie: The fact that you were so brave in the midst of adversity is truly inspiring. What advice can you give to teens who are currently being cyberbullied like you were?
Rebecca: It’s much easier said than done, but I think it’s so important to talk to an adult you trust. Bottling up pain can weigh down on you and make you feel like you are so alone, which just feels awful. Just know that asking for help doesn’t make you a burden on anyone else.
Carrie: It’s amazing how you were able to rise above the negativity and put yourself out there again this year on The Four: Battle for Stardom. Why did you decide you wanted to be on the show?
Rebecca: I have worked hard on making a lot of personal progress over the years, but I remained frustrated because people still saw me as “the ‘Friday’ girl.” The Four fell naturally into my life and I couldn’t shake how excited I was about the opportunity to showcase who I am now and how I’ve grown.
Carrie: What was the most challenging part about being a contestant?
Rebecca: Besides long hours, all I can say is, for anyone who plans on competing on a show like that, bring blankets, gloves, scarves...anything to keep warm! TV studios are kept so cold because of all of the people and lights!
Carrie: I can imagine! After you performed, what was the most valuable pieces of advice that the panel of judges gave you?
Rebecca: I think one of my biggest takeaways was seeing that there is no reason to ever hold anything back when you are given an opportunity to make an impression. Be you and be shameless, because that will be something people will remember.
Carrie: Following the show, you were also given another incredible opportunity to travel to Bermuda on a trip sponsored by Revolve. What was that like?
Rebecca: Bermuda was absolutely beautiful--now I can check it off my bucket list! It was a crazy week filled with fun activities and beautiful places; sometimes it was almost hard to believe that everything was actually real. Everyone on the island was so friendly and I miss it so much already!
Carrie: What are your future plans?
Rebecca: I’m back in the studio and writing, writing, writing! I’m so excited for what’s next because I’m going to up the ante from what I’ve released before. Other than music, I’ve also been able to live out another love of mine recently: acting! I’ve been fortunate enough to film a few movies this year which will be out soon. I can’t wait for my fans to be able to see them!
Carrie: I certainly can’t wait! As we wrap up the interview, what advice can you offer people who aspire to be singers like you?
Rebecca: Just go for it! Start writing and keep working on expanding your craft. There is no cap on how far you can grow as a musician, and trust me it really is all about the journey. It’s totally normal to write or sing something and then hate it a week later, but don’t let that discourage you. Let that be your motivation to keep going!
Carrie: Pre-Bachelor, how did you first develop your passion for makeup?
Gina: It kind of happened by accident. I always loved doing other people’s makeup when I was younger. I would always make my friends and family suffer through my makeovers.
Carrie: But it’s clear that your skills have drastically improved, since you’re now the official makeup artist for The Bachelorette! How did you first become associated with the franchise?
Gina: I used to work with Chris Harrison [the host of all Bachelor shows] at the TVG Network. While we were there, he auditioned to be a host for The Bachelor and when he got the job, he took me on the show as his personal makeup artist. I didn’t work the first season but I’ve worked from the second season on for the past 17 years now. For the first few years, I would do Chris and whoever the Bachelor was, but then I eventually started doing the Bachelorette.
Carrie: How has your relationship with The Bachelorette franchise progressed over the years?
Gina: Throughout the years, I’ve probably worked on every Bachelorette, whether it was for the show itself or for a special episode. The first Bachelorette I did makeup on for her show was DeAnna Pappas. In the beginning, I didn’t travel with the Bachelorette or do her makeup for her dates---she had to do that on her own. But for the past ten years, I have traveled everywhere with each Bachelorette and done her makeup everyday we shot an episode, both for her dates and for the rose ceremonies.
Carrie: What was it like working with Becca Kufrin, the most recent Bachelorette?
Gina: Becca is the sweetest. She is always smiling and fun to be around, which is exactly how she is portrayed on screen.
Carrie: Was there a particularly funny moment you two shared on set?
Gina: Honestly, there wasn’t one specific moment. We always had fun when she was in the makeup chair!
Carrie: How would you describe her makeup style?
Gina: Fresh and clean, although we did glam her up at times.
Carrie: Over the years, how have you kept the Bachelorette’s lipstick from smudging when they kiss different men?
Gina: You can’t really prevent it, but it helps if you start with more natural colors. I like to use liner all over the lips and a matte lipstick on top. Lip Stains work as well. Some brands that I would recommend for a Bachelorette-like pout are Armani, Too Faced, and BITE Beauty.
Carrie: When it comes to the Bachelorette’s eye makeup, how do you keep it from running after a sob sesh?
Gina: I use a lot of creams and water resistant products. I like those types of products from Kevyn Aucoin, Nars, and Make Up For Ever.
Carrie: What was your greatest challenge when doing Becca’s makeup on set this season?
Gina: Humidity and water were probably the most challenging aspects. It’s hard to keep makeup on and looking fresh under those conditions. But the fact that we used creams and waterproof mascara--even when she went swimming in the ocean or layed out in the sun--made it hold up great. The trick of keeping makeup on while dealing with those elements is not to touch your face, and if you have to, just blot.
Carrie: What’s one beauty product that a Bachelorette must wear at all times under those conditions?
Gina: If I had to pick just one, I’d say sunscreen.
Carrie: What is the best piece of advice you have given to a Bachelorette in the past?
Gina: To have a good skincare routine. It’s a must. Makeup doesn’t matter if your skin isn’t balanced.
Carrie: What are your future plans?
Gina: I would love to continue with the Bachelor franchise, since I’ve pretty much been there since the beginning.
Carrie: With all the impressive work you’ve done on the show the past 17 years, I’m sure you’ll be involved with the franchise until the end.
Carrie: Stephanie, I admire how you sing with such a strong devotion to your craft. Has music always been your passion?
Stephanie: Yes. My grandfather introduced me to music at a young age, and from that moment on, I started to fall in love with it. It’s as if I always knew that I wanted to make music for the rest of my life.
Carrie: What about music is so special to you?
Stephanie: I love the fact that I can connect with people’s hearts and make them feel something special through my music, no matter where they come from.
Carrie: How does your native country of Guatemala impact the spirit of your songs?
Stephanie: In Guatemala, everyone is a hustler and hard-worker--people are filled with energy and light. I always try to project those values in the music I write by coming up with rhythms that make people happy. I also try to include empowering messages covered in love stories through my songs.
Carrie: What, specifically, is the message you are trying to get across through your music?
Stephanie: I want to make people feel good when they listen to my music. The songs should inspire them to do what they love and pursue their dreams--after all, we only live once.
Carrie: Why did you decide to bring your music from Guatemala to America?
Stephanie: I’ve always dreamed of becoming an international artist and touring the world with my music. Guatemala is a very small country that lacks a music industry, so even if you have talent, it’s very difficult to make it big as an artist. Bringing my music to America and opening doors for me here will not only bring me one step closer to my dream, but it will inspire other people in small countries to dream big. I want to prove to them that there are opportunities out there if you are willing to work hard and fight for them.
Carrie: You certainly received a huge opportunity recently when you became one of the original seat holders on The Four: Battle for Stardom. How did you come to be on the show?
Stephanie: It was a big surprise for me. I got a call from the production team saying that they loved what I was doing as an independent Latin artist. They believed that going on the show would be an incredible opportunity for me to take my music to America. I was very excited when I found out so I decided to audition. I sent a couple of videos singing my original songs acapella, then I had to audition for the executives through Skype. Finally, they flew me to Los Angeles for the final audition in front of the music team and all the executive producers. That same day, I found out that I was going to be an original member of “The Four.”
Carrie: That’s incredible! Which judge did you connect with the most during your time on the show?
Stephanie: I connected immediately with [Sean] Diddy [Combs]. He gave me a standing ovation for my first performance and always had amazing feedback for me. I respect him a lot for everything he’s done in his career, so it was incredible to see that he liked what I’m doing as an artist. Also, even though Fergie is the host and not a judge, I really connected with her as well. She hugged me and said the most beautiful words to me backstage when I left the show.
Carrie: What was the best piece of advice you received from the panel of judges?
Stephanie: They told me not to perform any song that I don’t feel 100% connected to. In the end, the most important thing is to always stay true to yourself, because that’s what will make the audience connect with you the most.
Carrie: Now, as someone who loves fashion, I am really curious to find out how you picked out your outfits for the show. Did you work with stylists?
Stephanie: Being a member of “The Four” gives you access to work with an incredible styling crew that helps you decide what to wear for interviews and for the show. All of the outfits they picked were amazing and super fun to wear. For the comeback episode, though, I had to make my own outfit, since I wasn’t a member of “The Four” anymore. I decided to ask my grandmother for help and we designed and created a cool outfit. But getting it done on time was certainly an adventure...lol.
Carrie: How did it feel to be a part of the comeback episode?
Stephanie: It felt amazing to hear that so many people from around the world voted for me to come back on the show. Being the only Latina called back, I knew that it was going to be tough. I needed to challenge an R&B artist in front of an audience that is not familiar with my genre of music. But I decided that no matter what, I was going to perform with all my heart for the people that supported and believed in me from the beginning.
Carrie: Do you have any regrets from that episode?
Stephanie: Honestly, I don’t regret anything about my performance. I gave it my all and I think the audience really felt my passion through that song.
Carrie: What’s coming up next for your career?
Stephanie: I just finished recording my new single, a powerful Latin song that I wrote after I left the show in the second episode. I’ll be shooting the music video in Los Angeles very soon, and I can’t wait to release it and share it with the world. I’m also starting to plan a potential tour in the U.S. and some places in Latin America to meet all my fans and perform live for them. Stay tuned on my social media for more info!
Make sure to follow Stephanie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @zelayasteph. You can also check out her songs on her YouTube VEVO channel “Stephanie Zelaya VEVO,” on Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer.
Photo Credit: Mono Delespacio and The Four
Carrie: So why did you initially decide to submit for The Bachelor?
Astrid: My friend--who had been watching the show for years--actually submitted me. The first season I watched was Jojo’s in order to familiarize myself with the franchise as I was going through casting.
Carrie: You must have been so excited after seeing the amazing places that contestants traveled to. What was your favorite place to visit while you were on the show?
Astrid: Unfortunately, the only place I got to travel to was Wisconsin. As a Florida resident, I was freezing the whole time, and I can't say scooping cow poop was a great experience...I doubt I'll ever return.
Carrie: At least you had great friends by your side! Who was your closest friend during your time on the show?
Astrid: My closest friend in the house was definitely Kristina [Schulman]. Initially, our mutual love for wine brought us together and from there, we quickly became inseparable. To this day, I still talk to her, as well as Rachel [Lindsay], Alexis [Waters], Raven [Nicole Gates], Danielle [Lombardi], Jasmine [Goode], and Sarah [Vendal] on a daily basis.
Carrie: Sounds like you formed a great girl squad! You all went on a bunch of fun group dates together, too. Which was your fave?
Astrid: My favorite group date I went on was the track and field date--Carl Lewis and other Olympic athletes were there! It was so much fun competing in different competitions and Carl was a blast to be around. I think the girls had more fun hanging out with him and each other than they did with Nick on that date!
Carrie: What’s your opinion of Nick at this point in time?
Astrid: Although he’s not my type, I think Nick is a pretty interesting person. He was easy to hold a conversation with and I can see how his dorky personality could be appealing to some. I'm not sure that any of the girls in the house would have been a long-term match for him, though.
Carrie: Overall, what do you think was the biggest lesson you learned as a contestant?
Astrid: I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I need to make more time for myself rather than constantly trying to help other people. I spent so much time giving advice to other girls and trying to help them figure out their relationships that I didn't focus enough on my relationship with Nick. This is something I do in real life as well, but I am starting to get better at putting myself first.
Carrie: What have you been up to since the show ended?
Astrid: Following the show, I went back to my job as a patient care coordinator for Dr. Soler, a plastic surgeon in Tampa. I am getting to travel a lot more now due to the show and the many opportunities it has brought me. But for the most part, life has gone back to normal, with the exception of me now being a die-hard Bachelor fan.
Carrie: I guess that’s what engaging in such an addictive franchise does to you! Lastly, I was wondering since you’re a public figure now, how do you plan on using your celebrity as a positive platform?
Astrid: One of the things I am most passionate about is helping children with terminal illnesses. My stepdad is a pediatric oncologist and through his work, I have been able to volunteer for a camp in California called Dream Street for nine years now. Since being on the show, I have tried to plug this special foundation whenever possible to help raise money. I have also helped out with events for the Children's Cancer Center here in Tampa, which has a similar mission to Dream Street.
Carrie: It’s so amazing to hear how you took your fame and turned it into something that could help raise awareness for great causes. You have truly inspired me and I’m sure your kindness will positively influence readers as well.
Carrie: Why did you decide to become a fitness influencer?
Katie: I struggled with my weight and body image for most of my life. But right after college, I lost 45 pounds and it completely changed my life. I started teaching barre classes in Orange County and really fell in love with fitness. Becoming a fitness influencer started by accident, pretty much. I began @lovesweatfitness on Instagram as a way to share workouts with my class on the days I didn't teach. I honestly never thought it would turn into anything more than that. I ended up sharing my weight transformation photo and quickly realized that I could help a lot more people than just my class.
Carrie: It’s safe to say that you certainly have helped a lot of people--over 317,000 want to hear what you have to say on your YouTube channel! How did you grow your YouTube following to such a large number?
Katie: YouTube is seriously one of my favorite platforms because I can share so much more in video than in a single photo. I started my YT channel a year and a half after my Instagram, but it's grown really quickly. My goal for YT has always been to give girls tons of free workouts to do that actually get results. I share a new video every Monday--it's a great place to come get your sweat on. I've been trying to do more VLOGs, routines, and behind the scenes at LSF videos, which has been super fun too!
Carrie: Do you find that Instagram or YouTube is a better platform to promote Love Sweat Fitness?
Katie: They are both great for different reasons. Instagram is the perfect place for girls to connect with other girls on the LSF team and make new friends. On Instagram, I really want people to get motivated by my page and feel confident that they can make the changes they want in their life. I struggled so much and I want to show others that changes can be made. So many people have the same story as me, and I want to show them that we can do this together. When you feel alone in your fitness journey, it’s so easy to give up, so I want my account to really be a place for women to connect with each other. YouTube, on the other hand, is best for finding actual workouts you can do and more information on nutrition. I also use YouTube to help my subscribers get to know me better.
Carrie: I love how your videos make fitness look more fun and exciting than ever. So many people struggle to find the motivation to work out these days. What advice do you have for them?
Katie: Find a community of people that can support you! My favorite part of Love Sweat Fitness is that there are tons of girls who feel the same way you do. All of us are looking to lift each other up and change our lives. Being a part of the LSF team is so motivational. When you have others checking in on you and holding you accountable, it changes everything.
Carrie: What is one thing about fitness that people often fail to recognize?
Katie: It doesn't have to be hard--it can actually be a lot of fun. You don't need a gym membership or equipment, just your beautiful self. I used to look at working out as a chore, but now I know it's the #1 thing that makes me feel my best day-to-day.
Carrie: What’s an easy at-home workout you can recommend?
Katie: There are so many! Every workout on my YouTube channel is meant to be done at home without any equipment. One of my new favorites is a Barre Bootcamp video from the Summer Shape Up Series.
Carrie: You also promote healthy eating on Love Sweat Fitness. Why are your meal plans a healthy alternative?
Katie: Eating healthy is so key! The saying "You can't out-train a bad diet" is 100% true. I created the Hot Body Meal Plans to give girls an eating plan that could fit easily into their lives that’s still delicious and fuels their bodies. Trust me, I’m not about boiled chicken...blah! Also, it’s not just about eating fewer calories, it's about eating more of the right foods for your body and knowing when to eat them.
Carrie: Switching gears...I saw you just had a fitness session with AnnaSophia Robb! Can you elaborate a little on that?
Katie: She just started doing some of the workouts for the 2018 Summer Shape Up Series we just launched. It’s a fun eight-week challenge that has amazing workouts you can do each day, summer-inspired recipes, and major contests like a trip to Mexico! Anyone can sign up for free here.
Carrie: That sounds amazing! What are your plans for the future?
Katie: There are so many exciting things coming to LSF this year and the next! Some super cute new gear is coming to the shop any day now. We also just started the Summer Shape Up Series, which is my favorite week of the entire year, and I came up with some major ways for people to get their sweat on at the start of next year. I can’t reveal too many details yet, but I’m bursting with excitement!
Carrie: Hi, Alex! I have been a huge fan of your jewelry since I was a little girl. How did you first get your start as a designer?
Alex: I loved jewelry as a child. But it wasn't until I enrolled at Parsons to formally study jewelry design did I truly discover my passion for it. My professor encouraged me to enter a national design competition that was sponsored by the Women’s Jewelry Association. That year, in 1998, I entered and won the grand prize, despite the fact that I was competing with professional designers from all across the country. Winning that prize gave me a vote of confidence and inspired me to design my own collection.
Carrie: That’s incredible! What about jewelry is so special to you?
Alex: I've always had an appreciation for sculpture because it's so tangible and three-dimensional. But I eventually came to the realization that with jewelry, I could create and design in the same way that I sculpted and be able to reach a larger audience. My designs are bold and personal--you can look at each piece as a tiny masterpiece. For example, if you look at my little letter “a," it can rest on a table like a miniature sculpture. It has a chunky quality and the subtle shiny beveled edge is what makes it special and different. A chain runs through the piece because it is solid and substantial in weight. It's a piece that I hope a woman can treasure for many years to come.
Carrie: I know that I certainly treasure my “c” necklace. It’s so simple yet it serves as a staple piece in my wardrobe. How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Alex: I love clean and modern designs. Whether in interior design or clothing design, I have such an appreciation for classic and timeless styles, so these are all aspects that I incorporate into my collections. Additionally, I love to tell stories through my designs and represent different facets of all women. In doing so, I have also been lucky enough to hear stories from women who have worn my designs for different reasons than my original inspiration. It's wonderful to hear feedback and suggestions from all my customers, and that sometimes inspires my next designs.
Carrie: So people like me can be the muse for your next masterpiece?
Alex: Totally. In general, people and their stories serve as an inspiration. I love to hear how my pieces can touch their lives, or commemorate special moments. One time, there was a man who bought his wife a number “5” charm because he met her in May, they lived on the 5th floor of their building, and got married on the 5th. It wasn't their intention, but that number found its way into their lives, and it was special to them.
Carrie: That’s so sweet! Now, in addition to your customers, does NYC inspire your designs at all?
Alex: My workshop, showroom, and studio are in the heart of New York, specifically, across from Rockefeller Center. As a born and bred New Yorker, I only felt it appropriate that my jewelry was also made here. My philosophy is that if someone wears my brand, they are supporting an essential part of this great city. That's why we rebranded our logo a few years ago with "Made in New York" as an essential element of the design. Also, everything is so central and easily accessible in New York. If I need inspiration, it's all at my fingertips, whether I visit Fifth Avenue or Soho.
Carrie: Totally understandable--this city has so much to offer to the fashion industry. How do you differentiate your company from other brands?
Alex: Storytelling is a really important aspect of my business. All of my “Little Icons” stand for a story: who you are, what you've done, or where you've been, with an infinite number of interpretations for each piece. Although I design with an idea in mind of what the jewelry can mean or represent, the meanings of each piece can change by who wears it. One of my favorite stories is of a woman named Julie who purchased my little number “8.” I designed it to represent infinite meanings: a favorite lucky number, a birth date, a life path number...the list goes on and on. Julie chose to share her empowering story with me. She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and needed a liver and stem cell transplant. She was at such a late stage in her illness that she was actually read her last rites three times. Thankfully, she miraculously received a liver and her sister donated her stem cells. After this rare and successful procedure, she learned she was the eighth living survivor. Later that year, she also lost her sister, but she realized that when she turned the “8” sideways, it was the infinity symbol, which further represented the bond that they shared, and was a way to keep her close to her heart. Stories like these make what I do so remarkable.
Carrie: Wow, that is an incredible story. I love how your brand has such a deep meaning behind it. I hear that you collaborate with local charities as well. Can you elaborate on that?
Alex: I am fortunate to have collaborated and supported numerous charities throughout the years! I most recently partnered with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and March of Dimes on two respective designs to help raise awareness for their causes. Both charities share a special place in my heart and support a cause that I’m passionate about. As a mother, I know the unconditional love and sense of protection every mother has for her child, so I designed the “Activist BABY” necklace featuring a little footprint to support March of Dimes and improve the health of premature babies. I designed my “Activist Pink” necklace for BCRF because I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was a teenager. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this organization and helping other women around the world win the battle against breast cancer.
Carrie: That is so beautiful. Your jewelry just radiates positivity and hope. That was what specifically drew me into your necklace when I saw AnnaSophia Robb wearing it on The Carrie Diaries. What was it like designing that for her?
Alex: My “Little Letters” are a classic accessory for any woman. A letter can stand for your own name, a loved one’s name, a last name..the possibilities are endless. I was honored that my Little Letter “c” in 14kt Gold was chosen as the signature necklace of young Carrie Bradshaw as the precursor to the "Carrie" Bradshaw nameplate necklace from Sex and the City! The fact that The Carrie Diaries takes place in the 80s is a true testament to the classic design and proves how it has stood the test of time in outlasting trends throughout the years. I'm honored to be a part of the Carrie Bradshaw legacy and have our jewelry speak to such a big part of her character.
Carrie: Who are some of the other celebrities you have enjoyed working with?
Alex: It's really so exciting to see anyone wearing my designs. I actually get just as much a thrill seeing someone on the subway or on the street wearing my jewelry, but of course, it's an honor to see a celebrity like Jessica Alba, Behati Prinsloo, or Eva Longoria sporting my brand. It was also amazing to have Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl wear a "bw" initial necklace I made her. People choose to wear my pendants not just as decoration, but as a representation of something meaningful and special to them.
Carrie: What do you see in the future of your brand?
Alex: Trends are great, but jewelry is an investment that is purchased repeatedly to celebrate a special moment in one's life. My pieces are ones that that you will want to keep and treasure. I design for that classic woman who wants to invest in a beautiful piece of jewelry she can wear year after year. We want to continue to foster relationships with our fans and grow with the changes and milestones in their lives. At the same time, we are always evolving and growing the brand for new generations of women to wear, with new brand collaborations, designs, and price points. As a designer, this is a really exciting time, as we have the chance to really interact with our customers and design something that they will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Carrie: Taylor! First of all, congratulations on your new single. I already have the song playing on repeat. How did you first get into singing?
Taylor: I don’t remember a time where I didn’t sing or dream of being a singer. When I was younger, my mom got me a karaoke machine and I would belt out Beyoncé and Madonna songs all day! I saw that music had the power to spread love and happiness to so many people, which is why I instantly fell in love with it. You can inspire others and change people’s lives through the lyrics and melody.
Carrie: What’s your favorite kind of music to listen to?
Taylor: I love listening to pop because it’s not a defined genre, it’s just “popular music.” Pop can contain a variety of different genres, from electronic to hip-hop. You already know how much I love mashups, and to me, pop is like a mashup of everything that is popular!
Carrie: Yeah, let’s talk a bit about your famous mashups! How did you initially come up with the idea to do #MashupMondays?
Taylor: I wanted to feature my favorite songs and mash them together into one. When I first started, I posted one every week for 52 weeks! It means so much to me when people tell me that they looked forward to Mondays and are inspired to create their own mashups. This year, I wanted to take it to the next level and start monthly mashups called #AllHooks. Each month I find different venues with grand pianos, and I do a mashup using the hooks/chorus of three songs! These mashups are really epic.
Carrie: Who are some singers that inspire you?
Taylor: Some of my singing influences are Rihanna, Pink, and Eminem! I love them so much!
Carrie: Do you dream of collaborating with them one day?
Taylor: I would love to collab with Logic, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Tori Kelly, Bazzi, Alessia Cara, Jessie J. I love so many artists, it’s so hard to pick!
Carrie: Haha...then my next question may be tough, too. Which song is forever on repeat on your playlist?
Taylor: That is such a hard question! One of my favorite songs of all time is “Where Is The Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas. It has such an inspiring message about spreading love, which is always needed. Another one of my favorite songs is “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne. It’s such a feel-good jam that reminds me of the summer and Los Angeles!
Carrie: Speaking of feel-good jams, let’s talk a bit about your new single, "Touch the Sky"! What was the message you were trying to portray in writing it?
Taylor: I walked into the studio and wanted to write a song that inspired others to dream big, even if people doubt you! Everyone has people who doubt them and try to tear them down, but you have to believe in yourself and not let anyone stop you! When Nymz (@djnymz) played me the track in the studio, the phrase “touch the sky” instantly came to me. I wanted to portray that anything is possible if you put your mind to it--just work hard and block out all the negativity. Prove all the haters wrong and go touch the sky. I believe in you!
Carrie: I love how you have created such a positive platform. What are your future plans?
Taylor: To keep inspiring people through my lyrics and music! I’ve been in the studio constantly writing and creating. More music on its way soon!
Carrie: I can’t wait to hear! Thanks so much for doing this interview, Taylor. Go out there and touch the sky!
A Clip from One of Taylor's #AllHooks Mashups
Carrie: Hi Jaimi! So how did your journey on The Bachelor begin?
Jaimi: I decided to submit an application for The Bachelor because my friend and roommate at the time was going to the casting call and basically pressured me to fill out an application. She knew I watched the show and thought it would be fun to get all dressed up and go to the audition. And look where it got me!
Carrie: I know! I’m sure you had an absolute blast! What was your favorite group date that you went on?
Jaimi: My favorite group date was in Waukesha, Wisconsin. We went to this cute little farm and I could tell we were milking cows. I have always wanted to milk a cow since I could remember, so I was super excited about that day.
Carrie: That must have been so much fun. What was your favorite place to travel to on the show?
Jaimi: Well, while we filmed I lived in New Orleans and we also had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans. Even though I did not like the group date that we had in New Orleans, New Orleans is still one of my favorite places. I also was sent home in an Uber in New Orleans.
Carrie: OMG! That’s so ironic that your favorite place you traveled to is where Nick sent you home. How did you feel about Nick back then? How do you feel about him now?
Jaimi: I liked Nick back when he first made his debut on Andi’s season. I thought he was different and quirky. After that, my feelings about him changed a bit. I didn’t like how he put Andi’s business out there on Men Tell All and then how he came onto Kaitlyn’s season. When he was on Paradise, I felt like he was trying to repair his image, and I think it worked. But when I met him, he seemed like a bit of a know it all. Like he had been around the block a few times, and yes, he had been. I think he was trying to be comforting because he could tell all of us women were a bit uncomfortable with the cameras and direction. It just didn’t come off that way.
Carrie: Interesting. At least you girls could comfort each other! Who was your closest friend when you were on the show?
Jaimi: My closest friend and hotel buddy (when we traveled, we had to share hotel rooms), was Alexis [Waters]. She and I laughed a lot and didn’t take anything too seriously. We also shared a room in the mansion. I got along great with Dominique [Alexis] as well, even though she was sent home pretty early.
Carrie: So, after The Bachelor ended, you decided to give love another shot on Bachelor in Paradise! How did your experience in Paradise differ from your first experience in the franchise?
Jaimi: I loved Paradise much more. Although I wasn’t on the show for long, I was more relaxed and the vibes were much more my speed there.
Carrie: I totally get it. Would you ever go back to Paradise again?
Jaimi: I would definitely go back. I don’t think I had enough time to find love.
Carrie: Yay! I know Bachelor Nation will be watching out for you. Shifting gears a bit...do you hope to speak out about being bisexual more now that you’re a public figure?
Jaimi: I would love to speak out about my sexuality. If I inspire just one person, I think it would be worth it.
Carrie: Absolutely. What are you up to now?
Jaimi: After being on the show, I moved back to Los Angeles to be closer to family and my long-time friends. I’m still a pastry chef and I decorate cakes on the side. I started an Instagram for my cakes a while back and I’ve recently gotten back into that since I’m back in L.A. and single. I also started an Instagram where I review restaurants, since I’ll be checking out a ton of spots while dating.
Carrie: That sounds awesome! I can’t wait to read your reviews. Thank you so much for doing this interview, Jaimi! Keep doing you!
"this or that" with parker winston
Make sure to follow Parker on Instagram @parkerwinston and add her on Snapchat, "yoitsparke."