We’ve chatted with some amazing bosses on stage and behind the scenes of your fave websites, and now we’re taking on another much-hyped industry. In this week’s #IAmaBoss column, you’ll meet some of the fashion industry’s coolest ladies. Whether they’re crunching numbers, designing pieces or styling clients, these ambitious women know style and business… but they’re also not above hitting the snooze button a few too many times. Scroll on to meet this week’s bosses.
Meet the Bosses
Allison Yu: Allison’s career in fashion began when she was a third-year undergrad at UCLA, working as an assistant for a Hugo Boss account manager. After graduation, she worked as a merchandising/planning assistant at a small boutique eyewear company, out of the upstairs storage room of a store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. After she was laid off, she decided to try marketing for a few short months, but the role didn’t work out and she missed working in retail. After eight grueling months of applications, paying for cross-country flights out of pocket, interviews and rejections, she accepted a temp position at Coach in New York City. She was hired on full-time after four months as a store planning analyst. Currently, she’s a brand specialist on the Amazon Fashion team based out of Seattle, with responsibilities in buying, planning and online marketing.
Aza Maria Ziegler: California native and Brooklyn-based designer Aza began her career in fashion at age 12, when she was featured in Women’s Wear Daily for her one-of-a-kind skirt line. Ten years later, Aza graduated from Pratt Institute while simultaneously releasing her first SS15 collection, “Calle Del Mar” at Center 548 in New York City. In August 2014 Aza joined the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator and released her second collection, FW15. Calle Del Mar is based on Aza’s California upbringing and childhood style. With influence from art, athletic uniforms, vintage embellishments and California surf skate culture, the Calle Del Mar line redefines the tomboy. She has been featured in multiple publications, including Women’s Wear Daily, NYLON, Bullet Magazine, The Huffington Post, Vans Girls and Zeum Magazine.
Iman Leslie: Iman grew up in Montclair, New Jersey and studied economics at Montclair State University while working in fashion production in New York City. She was trained in luxury e-commerce sales while working with a global clientele at Net-A-Porter.com. Iman studied Global Fashion Management at night, receiving a Masters of Professional Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology in May 2012. She has since worked as a wardrobe manager for a film production company and part-time with the menswear company Bonobos and their women’s wear start-up, AYR. Passionate about reclaiming dressing for oneself, Iman created The Style Editor in autumn 2013 after years of editing her own closet and lamenting how many of its contents didn’t suit her actual lifestyle. The Style Editor uncovers what truly suits your body, preferences, and lifestyle and creates a wardrobe that supports your image goals, rather than confusing them with self identities discarded long ago.
What is the last thing you made?
Allison: A gift for my boyfriend. I made a canvas with a transferred print of a map that my friend designed. I used modpodge to transfer printer ink onto the canvas, then put thumb tacks on all the places my boyfriend and I had traveled to, as well as a few places on our bucket list. It was of a US map, so my next project will have to be a world map!
Aza: I am ALWAYS making things, so this is a tough question. I am one of those super tactile people that can’t sit still unless I am doing something with my hands. The last item of clothing I made was a yellow quilted sequined stuffed organza t-shirt. This is one of my signature textile techniques as a designer, and it’s the most enjoyable process, as consuming and tedious as it is!
Iman: Hair accessories for Coachella. They’re made of gold and silver wire with small ornaments attached.
What is your morning routine?
7:15am: Snooze both alarms at least two times each. (Not planned, it just happens!)
7:45am: Text my boyfriend, Winston, “Good morning,” and read theSkimm’s daily email to get a hyper-abridged update on current events.
7:50am: Brush teeth, wash face, apply sunscreen liberally, eyeliner (not-so liberally).
8:00am: Check the weather, choose outfit accordingly.
8:15am: Drink a huge glass of water. Pack the lunch I prepared the night before.
8:25am: Walk a mile to work.
Aza: If I am being completely honest, my mornings are always rushed. I scroll through Instagram and scan emails in bed. Make some coffee, throw on baggy, vintage Levis and an oversized white tshirt. Pack breakfast to go and something for lunch. Throw my yoga clothes in my bag and rush to my studio. I have a theory that the longer I take in the morning, the less likely I am to go to work, so I always rush myself out of the house. I am never productive at home.
Iman: The first thing I do is drink a warm glass of water with lemon, followed by another glass with Amazing Grass vegetable powder mixed in. My favorite is the Green Superfood ORAC, which has a potent blend of antioxidants and helps alkalize the body. Depending on what kind of exercise I am doing that day, I will either brush teeth and go to yoga, or start my body care.
If I am doing body care, I will next put on a mask (I make an activated charcoal one that is super easy, and very effective!), and begin to oil pull with coconut oil for 15-20 minutes, which helps with dental health. While doing that, I skin brush (every other day), then jump in the shower and wash my face. After that I moisturize while still damp, and floss and brush my teeth. If I didn’t go to yoga, I’ll go to a Bar Method class, which is low impact and doesn’t cause me to sweat, though I get a really good workout in.
I can’t start my day without _______.
Allison: Breakfast, coffee and several glasses of water.
Aza: Snoozing my alarm.
Iman: Exercise! I love to go to Bar Method, and do that 3-5 times a week. About twice a week, I go to yoga and switch between hot and vinyasa. If I stayed out too late the night before and don’t have enough time or am too tired for an hour + class, I will do a few sun salutations and flows at home, followed by 15 minutes of calisthenic exercises. Pintrest is great for finding new combinations — a lot of them are titled pre-shower workout and are really concise, but get your blood flowing.
What are your productivity tips?
Allison: Every morning before I check my email or begin working, I ask myself: “What are 1-3 things I can do today that will have the biggest impact?” Following that, I spend 5-10 minutes with variations of: “What are the steps I’m going to take to accomplish those top priorities? Are there any barriers preventing me from getting this done? If so, what resources/alternatives are available to me?” I’ll jot a couple notes down on a post-it and check back on it throughout the day. These 5-10 minutes are crucial to helping me maintain focus throughout the day and stay in control of my time.
Aza: I make extensive lists every morning and organize them by day. Even though I am constantly shuffling, it has really helped me have a realistic time frame about approaching work. Checking off lists is so rewarding, especially when it is a bunch of small stuff. In order to get through emails, I drink lots of coffee and blast The Beach Boys.
Iman: I write down my daily goals after exercising. It’s when I feel my most creative and the day is still yet to be shaped. I’m not the best with time management, so writing things in my daily planner is really important. I also use sticky notes to write down each priority so I can rearrange them as I’m working. I learned a prioritization matrix from a colleague years ago, and that’s been really helpful to me over the years.
Taking a walk after lunch is really great to reinvigorate, and I love it when I can make 15 or 20 minutes to talk to a friend at the same time! I put my phone on silent while I’m working and schedule 15-minute breaks to check email every other hour. I only check things like Twitter and Facebook after dinner because I find them too much of a time suck.
What is one life “hack” you keep in your toolkit?
Allison: To clean my microwave, I heat up a bowl with equal parts white vinegar and water for about 5 minutes. All the crap wipes away within seconds.
Aza: I cook when I am not hungry — roast veggies, sweet potatoes — so that there is always something healthy and whole around and ready to be throw in a salad.
Iman: A boar-bristle fabric brush is a great way to help clothes look their best. It can restore the look of coats and jackets and gets minor food stains off with ease. I also love leather polish, which does wonders on shoes, bags and jackets.
Tell us about one maker who you admire.
Allison: Tina Fey. Her writing (sketches, books, shows) is wide-reaching, controversial, hilarious and thought-provoking.
Aza: Probably my studio mate, Caroline Kaufman. Sharing a studio with her is so inspiring. She is an artist and textile designer, a renaissance woman of sorts. She makes beautifully knit sweaters and printed scarves. She does this one insanely cool textile work where she weaves yarn through athletic mesh. She is starting a home line of hand-painted plates and the collection is inspired by mountain ranges. I am such a homemaker, I cannot wait for them to come out.
Iman: Robyn Andrea Burgess, who has a full-time job, but still finds time to work on her food blog consistently and passionately. Her mission to deconstruct healthy eating is really admirable, and everything she posts is fun, accessible and delicious! I am inspired by her cause and the fervor she pours into her projects.
I wish someone had told me ___________ when I graduated from college.
Allison: It is 100% okay to ask for what you want. It is 100% okay to say no. There is no glory in being a “yes” woman.
Aza: New York City is not the only place on the planet.
Iman: To step outside of my bubble more. When you are such a young adult, you think you have so, so much to prove, and often don’t get opportunities because you aren’t listening enough. I strongly believe you should remove yourself from the self-importance that comes along with that time in life, and invite your mom’s cool friend to lunch for her perspective, or volunteer to gain insights into other ways of life. You’ll likely realize how fortunate you are, and how much you have to give in other areas of life.
Does their advice resonate with you? Know a #girlboss we should interview? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and she could appear in the next column!