Having lunch one day at Panda Express, Rochelle Carino questioned her career as a fashion designer. Feeling lost in the industry, she was at a place where she almost decided that she did not want to do this anymore. While on the phone with her husband expressing her concern for her career, Carino opened a fortune cookie and the rest was history.
Taught by her mom when she was younger, Carino mastered sewing and making outfits for her dolls. She would use old clothes, cut them up and make her own design wear. Her skills eventually elevated to sewing alterations and buttons for her mom.
Her mom’s experience with design was limited, because the real designer of the family was her mom’s sister. Carino’s aunt was a tailor back in the Philippines and was extremely close to her mom. Sadly, Rochelle and her design influencer were never able to meet one another.
“She passed away before I was born,” Carino said.
“Though an unfortunate situation, it made my mom want to express fashion designing more because it was a bonding thing between my mom and I.”
As Carino got older, she put her design career on hold for another passion, dancing. Though designing was no longer her first love she still had an attraction to it because it brought her and her mom closer.
“Fashion is definitely something my mom and I bond over,” Carino said.
“Even to this day, my mom lives in Vegas and I always call her for fashion advice.”
Detour to Designing
Carino transitioned to a dancer, and fell in love with her dancing career.
She danced professionally for two years, and saw a future within this passion. Unfortunately, it came to an end when she got a really injury.
“After my injury, my friends recommended that I get into designing because of my talents in sewing,” Carino said.
“At first I was nervous, sewing was only a hobby for me. But, after I enrolled in designing school I fell in love with designing all over again.”
Enrolling at Los Angeles Trade Tech, was one of Carino’s favorite designing experiences. The two-year program taught about technical styling, sketching, draping and designing elements. The process was five days a week, six hours a day and two years of intensity. Trade tech taught on both the technical side and design sign of fashion. They also taught the business of fashion history, technical, costuming, computer skills and buying and merchandising. The classes also made Carino feel confident as a designer.
After two years of studying, Carino graduated in 2005 with experience in both styling and designing. Her first fashion job was at an Italian leather jacket company. Her next position was as an associate fashion designer for Ruby Rox. Though Carino liked the position, the company did budget cutbacks and turned the position to an internship to save money. She then decided to dabble with stylist consulting at Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills. After working for various companies she realized that she wanted to work for herself. For a while, Carino struggled to find a position because of the recession and down hiring of designers. Luckily for Carino, she had skills in both designing and styling, and became a freelance stylist.
to Self-Titled Collection
The Los Angeles fashion scene is inspiring but sometimes damaging. Designers in the industry are gifted, talented and hardworking. However, many times they do not get the credit that they all deserve. There are not a lot of designers anymore that focuses on the crafting and art of fashion. Now anyone with a name in the social media or industry can immediately start a brand without any type of education or recollection of the fashion industry.
After the gap between jobs, Carino began to doubt her fit in the industry. Working for someone else was no longer an option and she was questioning what was her next step at the everyday restaurant, Panda Express.
“While I was on the phone with my husband, I was telling him about my distress for the industry,” Carino said.
“That same time I opened a fortune cookie.”
The fortune cookie said "take that chance you've been considering".
The calling went off like a light bulb in her head and her excitement for her message startled Chris ONeill, her husband. However, he went along with her dream.
According to ONeill, being married to a fashion designer is a constant adventure where everyday happenings can turn into something amazing and sometimes shaky.
“It's exhilarating because there are deadlines, clients, pop up shops, fashion shows, a parade of new people constantly coming into orbit who could be anything from an awesome model with a great sense of humor and no self-consciousness to a magazine editor considering her designs for an editorial,” ONeill said.
“It never ends.”
This motivated her to start her own self-titled collection in 2011. Her independent line and her designer skills were invited to assist the New York Fashion Week. She put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise money, to go to New York for the first time.
After the cookie, everything fell in place for Carino. She enjoyed her time in the Big Apple and the fashion kept her in awe.
“It is a different kind of vibe for fashion in New York then there is in Los Angeles,” Carino said.
“I love Los Angeles but, New York respects the artwork more and Los Angeles focuses on who is wearing what.”
After receiving a great response from New York, she quit her day job and continued to freelance as both a full time designer and stylist. Each position helped one another.
As a stylist she was able to include her own collection into various photoshoots and campaigns.
The “Rochelle Carino” collection is known for its young, flirty and feminine style. Many critics had referred to the line being too young however, Carino is proud of her collection and believes that “you’re never too old to play dress up.” The collection consists boldly printed dresses, stylish two-pieces, edgy jackets and more.
“If you want something fun and unique, that’s what my brand is for,” Carino said.
“That’s just me, I would wear sequins through the day and not a blink an eye. My friends and I wear what we want and it makes us happy.”
Her personality is one of the hugest inspirations for her collection: girly, sweet and fun. Even during her work, she encourages her models to keep the same spirit of the collection on the runway.
“I remember the first time I walked in a runway show for Rochelle, she told us (the models) to smile,” Nikiya Palombi, model and friend, said.
Palombi met Carino two and a half years ago when she was modeling for the look book’s photo shoot. They collaborated on many projects before but since walking for Carino’s show on Los Angeles Fashion Week they have been friends ever since.
“She said she wanted us to look happy and alive and that we should enjoy ourselves on the runway. I remember thinking "I freaking love this woman".”
Carino believes in creating clothing that brings the confidence out of a woman. Her clothing is also made to show the shine that is within a woman through her clothing.
Palombi’s closet is covered with original pieces from Carino made ethically with heart, passion and women hood. She loves wearing Carino’s affordable and unique clothing pieces with unicorns, glitter and the most comfortable bomber jackets she has ever encountered.
“I'm a girl that likes Star Wars and unicorns,” Palombi said.
“ Sometimes I want to wear black and kick some ass and other times I want to wear a tutu skirt and glitter. I feel like Rochelle's brand is about embracing your own weirdness and having fun with that.”
As her line increased so did her resume. Her work was featured in British Vogue as an emerging artist, Teen Vogue, Bullet Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and People Magazine. She also participated in the Los Angeles and London Fashion Week. Her styling career has also been successful by styling women for various red carpets, editorials, videos and ad campaigns.
Currently, Carino is working, planning big things and loving life. Participating in this year’s award season, Carino worked on stylings from the Golden Globes, Sag Awards and the Oscars. She also has been putting together various pop up shops and is working on top secret commercial custom pieces.
For the future of her collection, Carino wants to open more boutiques to get her brand out there. especially in New York. She also wants to create campaigns to call awareness to local brands.
“Sometimes, she is so overly modest, she doesn't believe a lot of potential opportunities that arise are all down to her; but, they are,” ONeill said.
“ One can be the most talented designer in the whole world, but one has to let the world know that you design.And for me, honestly, the world is far brighter, happier, more colorful and wonderful because of Rochelle Carino- the designer and the woman herself.”
Advice for the Fashion Industry
Being a seasoned designer in the city she loves, Los Angeles, has made her both wise and accepting to learn new things about the Los Angeles fashion scene. She is currently loving the industry she is in and is completely happy with her work. When receiving critique for her brand’s youthfulness, she almost considered changing her brand’s style. Luckily, she continued her vision and learned valuable lessons along the way.
The first advice Carino would give to designers is to be a nice person. Carino is known for her fun energy and admired for work ethic and love for fashion. One of those admirers is ONeill.
“As for her work ethic, she works harder than anyone I've ever met and I don't know how,” ONeill said.
“She could be up until 4am working on a piece, altering, making changes, adding flair and style and then be up at 6 or 7am to pack up the car and race off to a job or a pop up shop. And she goes through the day with a big infectious smile and genuine enthusiasm which is contagious.”
Carino’s second advice is to to not get caught up in who is who or what is the hottest trend.
“The spotlight is for five minutes. If you only do it just for that, you will not last long in the business,” Carino said.
Chasing the same thing is how people fall in the industry, Carino has stuck to her guns and is continuing to shine as much as the women who wear her clothing.
“ Now, I do what I feel is right for my brand,” Carino said.
“I don’t consider it work anymore. I can keep going, regardless of the rejection, because it is still fun.”
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Taking on the fashion world visually is a role that Justice Piggue already acquired as a photographer. Following the careers of other renowned photographers, Piggue decided to reimagine her career, this time as a fashion designer. Designers are challenged with the brutal honesty, as well as the dishonesty of the industry. Piggue learned that it takes a team that is both “Humble and Hungry” to achieve whatever they put their mind to.
With California origins, Piggue was already aware of her artistic dreams in the bright lights, big city. In Las Vegas, Piggue had a growing career as a photographer. Working with various muses such as fashion, music and artists helped inspire her passion for other fields.
“It was out of nowhere that I decided I wanted to have my own clothing line,” Piggue said.
Being a photographer helped widened Piggue’s visual talents and increased her skills needed for her own brand. Her next step was researching ways to create her own brand and she realized she needed a helping hand.
Nalani Carter, Piggue’s friend and business partner, is the second in command of “Humble and Hungry”. While maintaining her grades and finishing school, Piggue approached her with the idea of starting their brand after coming up with the idea.
“At first I thought it was just an idea,” Carter said.
“After she showed me the photos of the brand and we started visiting designers it all hit me.”
Even though, the idea came from nowhere, both Piggue and Carter had dabbled a little into the fashion world. Both have been told consistently that they had great style and Piggue participated in one high school fashion class.
The idea was there but Piggue soon found out, that she needed more than a vision and trust worthy partner to create a clothing brand.
“As I was getting more information about starting a brand, I realized that creating a brand is not a one man job,” Piggue said.
“If you want a successful brand you need more than one person.”
Building A Team
Fashion is typically a hard career to handle alone. One person cannot stand the stress of designing a line, marketing it, purchasing it and etc. It is rarely completely run by a single individual. Of course one individual can have the idea, it takes a team of graphic designers, salespeople and marketers to further that vision. Finding creatively talented people is a hassle, but it can be accomplished. The difficult part is building a team with people you can trust.
Luckily for Piggue, she found that person in Carter, her girlfriend.
“For me it was like creating a business partnership with someone I trusted, out of anyone in this world I trusted her the most”, Piggue said.
Piggue presented the idea to Carter by showing her visuals and ideas of the collection. Carter participated by finding graphic designers that can turn their dreams to real life. Building a brand with a partner is usually not easy but both Pigue and Carter utilized what they called-a collaboration factor.
“The idea of this factor is networking with other people”, Piggue said.
“Even though we know the same people, everyday we interact with different kinds of people who can support our brand.
In the process of looking for a designer, the duo met Rick Juego. Juego was previously a designer for well known brands such Diamond Supply and Crooks & Castles.
As time went by the team grew with various designers and followers for the brand. One of the brand’s followers includes Piggue’s assistant, Angel Gutierrez. Gutierrez has been Piggue’s photography assistant for two and a half years and has contributed to viewing the behind the scene process of the brand.
“I love the brand humble and hungry because it was brought upon hard work and dedication”, Gutierez said.
“Her brand also speaks a lot about her, not only is she a humble and respected person but she's also a hungry, hard working and goes for her dream type of person.
“Humble & Hungry”
“Seven months ago at my grandma’s house, I came up with the name of the brand,” Piggue said.
“After what I went through with this brand, I realized that I had to be hungry to achieve and humble at the same time.”
Popular street wear brands struggle to find the wow factor incomparable to other brands. Other brand’s niche relates to vintage, throwback, skater and hip hop culture. The brand focuses on the grind to get to the top, and their model of being both humble and hungry. The duo’s current goal is to continue to spread their motto and inspire the message throughout the youth.
The current pieces of the brand are the Humble & Hungry Signature shirt and jacket. Both pieces of the introductory collection showcase the brand’s logo with various symbols representing the brand such as a lion and a money bag.
As time goes by the brand’s collection will continue to add new pieces based off of the brand’s response. So far, the windbreakers and shirts have been a fan favorite and are continuously selling out. Though Piggue wants to continue the streetwear style of the brand, in the future, she wants to switch it up by adding various pieces like cardigans.
Their future endeavors include spreading as far as they can possibly can. After stealing the scene in Nevada, the ultimate goal is to grow and progress. They want to progress by doing pop up shops in popular areas, joining local fashion shows and interviewing with blogs. Currently the brand is rising in Los Angeles and Piggue is continuing building her brand with the concepts of loyalty, humble and hungry.
“The ultimate tip is to make sure your team is trustworthy and loyal,” Piggue said.
“Also continue to never give up and achieve everything you put your mind to.
In the world of fashion, it is beyond difficult to gain notoriety. Designers start from the bottom hauling fashion showrooms and grabbing coffee for their fellow associates. They also work day in and out on designing expensive wardrobe to be awed by people of all kinds. The struggle of the young fashion designer’s rise to the top is astonishing and inspiring. My goal is to tell the story of designer’s experiences and how they plan to succeed. I also want to focus on the Los Angeles area. Downtown Los Angeles is home to over 1,200 showrooms representing over 4,500 lines. Each blog post, I will profile an up and coming designers in the Los Angeles area. Each blog post, I will profile an up and coming designers in the Los Angeles area. I will first research about their humble beginnings in the fashion world. This includes their realization for their love of fashion, their education and previous internships.
I will profile their…
If interested in being a featured designer, please fill out the contact form and title the subject, “OTR: LA Inquiry”.
Quitting your job, packing your bags and moving to California may seem like the most impossible thing someone can do however, Londyn Douglas accomplished that and more in a short amount of time. Her fashion career started as a daring thrifter to a styling guru, and now she is making her mark as the curator for “The Club.”
She Got It from Her Mama
Washington D.C offered politics, while Londyn Douglas craved fashion. For years in D.C, she expressed her fashion sense through crazy clothes and vintage finds unlike no other. She was even voted the most creative in high school. Inspired by her mother’s fashion sense, Douglas developed a love for fashion at a young age and carried on her creativity.
“Seeing my mom pick an outfit in the morning for work was one of my favorite things,” Douglas said. “I was in awe with her look and her closet.”
Waking up every morning, Douglas would watch her mom pick her look: from her outfits to her heels. This was her first encounter with fashion.
“I knew when I grew up that I wanted to be just like my mom,” Douglas said. “I wanted to have the whole package: a woman who acts, talks and looks well.”
Not only did she develop her sense, but she also gained the eye for fashion from her mother. Though they do not have the same style, they both shared the love of shopping and finding great fashion deals.
One day while thrifting in high school, she found these amazing pair of blue suede shoes. At that moment she had a fashion epiphany.
“I realized that I had a good eye for finding pieces and that I wanted to help others find great vintage pieces as well,” Douglas said.
California, Here She Comes
Having a stable job as a member service manager for a non-profit organization, did not sit well for Douglas. As she continued heightening her career, her love for fashion was always calling her back. A visit to a friend in California was the first step to determining her change of career. After falling in love with the weather and fashion, she took the next step by saving money, quitting her job and moving to California with her family’s full support.
Her first positions in California were as a buyer for Ross and working for an accounting firm. Carrying a degree in business and marketing, Douglas was tired of working with numbers and logistics. Surrounded by clothes she could not play with, made her unsatisfied once again. Then she took a chance with a Los Angeles fashion business class at the School of Style. Monica Rose, the Kardashian stylist, was the guest speaker for the introduction to styling class. In the class, she learned about Ecommerce, styling for certain occasions and marketing.
After taking only one class she bonded with the founders of the class, Luke Story and Lauren Messiah, who came from her hometown. They offered her a styling internship and position as a customer service and graduate relations manager. Her first styling job was Randy Jackson’s musical talent; she fell in love with the position and wanted to go to the next level.
“From then I continued juggling both the internship and my job,” Douglas said.
“However, I decided I wanted to go full force in this job. So I saved all my rent money for the year and quitted my accounting job.”
The more involved she became in the styling school, the more opportunities came her way.
While editing job postings on the school’s graduate relation page, she spotted a Vogue internship to work with Leslie Lessin as her styling intern. Her first gig was with legendary photographer Michael Comte, who has shot for Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair and more. She applied for the position and got accepted to more and more styling roles after impressing Lesson.
“From then on I started getting clients from her and others who worked with me,” Douglas said. “Once you’re in the industry and do a great job, word spreads.”
Styling was fun but, bills had to be paid. Douglas combined her knowledge of business, fashion and vintage finds to create “The Club” an online vintage boutique with the motto “cool vintage for cool babes.”
From the start, Douglas knew she wanted to have her own vintage boutique like the Melrose and Silver Lake markets. With her knowledge of business, she created her own online boutique with a message of women empowerment and black girl magic.
“I designed my collection for all cool girls doing cool things to wear,” Douglas said.
“I also slid in a message within my line. Both of the models are black women doing something awesome like a ballerina and a writer.”
,A brand with layers, “The Club” is not your typical Los Angeles brand. Offering vintage pieces is a really hard find in Los Angeles, unless you are a daring thrifter. Douglas utilized her fashion super powers to help girls find their vintage love at first sight. Her first collection, the Carry-Out, was also created with a sprinkle of Douglas’ heritage and homage to carryout meals.
“I am a quarter Japanese and I wanted to create a line that touched on my Japanese roots,” Douglas said.
“I created the line and realized they all had an Asian vibe: from the Mandarin collars to the silky Chinese shirts. From then I named every item after a notable Asian dish like the Mumbo Sauce.
A dose of California and Spring Rolls are the best options on the menu for Douglas herself. Appreciating her custom vintage pieces, Douglas also utilized her statement pieces within her styling jobs. Her friends and family are once again supportive of her decision to take her fashion career to the next level.
“What I love most about her collection is the gems she finds and the history behind each,” Bryce Barnes, friend and designer said.
“Also, the styling of each piece, she knows how to enhance the modernity and make it now rather than dated.”
When asked for how far she wanted “The Club” to go, Douglas responded with, “As far as it can go; I have not limit at all.” With a spring revamping coming up, Douglas’ boutique will continue to spread throughout the Los Angeles area.
How to Start Your Own Brand?
Though a new brand, The Club is already turning heads with Douglas’ growing success as a freelance stylist in Los Angeles. Utilizing her many skills and education in fashion, Douglas is the epitome of a thriving businesswomen.
“Starting your own business takes major balls and drive,” Rachel Carraway, Douglas’ friend said. “She's got both.”
Here, Douglas shares her top three tips for launching a fashion brand.
1) Make a plan. The plan is the most important because you cannot just jump into it, Douglas said. “You need to know your audience, designs and if you don’t have a plan you’ll lose site on why you started in the first place.”
2) Talk to the people around you, who know you. Coming into the fashion industry, it is easy to lose yourself against the competition. Luckily the field is forever growing with people just like you trying to make their mark. Douglass learned that being surrounded by people as creative as her can help her greatly in this industry. “They can give you resources and feedback for your work”, Douglas said.
3) Find your resources through the internet. The biggest myth of fashion is the amount you have to put out in order to receive the fashion benefits. Douglas was able to achieve her dreams through networking and researching the many opportunities in Los Angeles.
“You do not need to spend all of your money for school”, Douglas said. “By looking up the styling class on the internet, I was able to make my mark and take the next level in the fashion industry.”
4) Starting and Going for it! “Talk is cheap, unless you go for it”, Douglas said. Craving her desire to work in the fashion industry, Douglas dropped everything and took the next step. Instead of sitting around contemplating over what ifs, she made her dream come true.