Finding Community & Individuality Through Fashion
I immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the third grade. There are few things scarier than starting a new school, in a new country, but I always felt comfortable – and more capable – when I got creative with my personal style. Turns out, my eight-year-old self was quite literally stitching the patchwork for my career today.
My attraction to slightly quirky clothes swelled when I started working in a vintage store after high school graduation. I was no stranger to work – I clerked in a now defunct video store and slipped restaurant menus under Bayonne and Jersey City doors to contribute to our family’s finances. But this gig was different – it was exhilarating, creative, and immersive.
During down time in the store, I posted photos of my outfits on Facebook – long before #OOTD was a thing. It was 2007: the very year that hashtags were created. Even “tagless,” I started building an audience of folks who enjoyed seeing the rewards of high-quality thrifting. What started out as a small act of self-expression became a way to connect to a global community.
As an immigrant, my young adult life came with challenges, but this online community gave me a sense of purpose, connection and distraction during times when I felt most alone. I was an important part of something bigger. It felt fantastic.
As I built my following over the years, new opportunities presented themselves, from launching an online vintage store to dressing Grammy winners. But one thing remains the same. My work is about fostering a sense of community and creativity without borders. My eight-year-old self couldn’t have imagined the world I would become part of, and I take none of it for granted. Each day opens a new door and a new chance to explore and inspire.