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ugust is flying by so fast. Summer is coming to an end. Fall is for new beginnings, I’m ready for this. Our first ever bi-monthly issue is here! This self love issue is curated especially for our readers. For the past few weeks, I’ve been putting my health as a major priority in my busy work schedule. Just a few hours to unwind from all the stress and extra noise. Moving forward with my new healthy lifestyle, I began to become more comfortable in my own skin and started to build up my own wardrobe with pieces that I already have. Whether it’s a comfy tee with high-waisted jeans or a midi dress, the last thing on my mind isn’t for me to stress about. I wear what reflects my personal style. Concerning the recent events here in America, now is not the time to feel discouraged. Voice your thoughts. Spread awareness to those around you. Be involved. Always remember: no response is a response. Don’t be a bystander. We must stay informed, we’re in this together.

Cathrine Khom

founder / editor-in-chief twitter & instagram: @cathrinekhom



classics 08







take care


the orange peel


safety pinned


wolfie submissions



features 32





madison iseman


mei yan

52 58

mikaela kelly conan gray


isabella mente


samantha pleet


amy serrano


baby’s bluff


waves of relflection


chin up, buttercup

ISSUE 51 / CONAN GRAY local wolves is an online and print publication delving into the most creative minds from the world of arts, entertainment and culture. the publication is driven by the passion for the best coverage and photography to create an adaptive aesthetic. as always, features focus on the diverse talent among the many creative industries of everyday people. SAY HELLO / LET’S CHAT general info@localwolves.com press press@localwolves.com advertising advertising@localwolves.com get involved community@localwolves.com



founder / editor-in-chief cathrine khom copy editor sophia khom community coordinator erin mcdowell marketing coordinator elizabeth eidanizadeh music curator sena cheung hair / makeup jessie yarborough stylist katie qian social media nicole tillotson web design jesus acosta logo fiona yeung cover photo paige sara

amy serrano @amyserrano los angeles, ca

mei yan @infrontofapple los angeles, ca

artshack @artshackbrooklyn brooklyn, ny

mikaela kelly @mikaelakelly_ new york city, ny

conan gray @conangray california / texas

samantha pleet @samanthapleet new york city, ny

design / illustration kelsey cordutsky, laura filas, lisa lok, leah lu, megan kate potter, bethany roesler

isabella mente @isabellaamente los angeles, ca


contributing writers sadie bell, kendall bolam, olivia clark, meghan duncan, morgan eckel, madisen kuhn, natasa kvesic, hanna la salvia, michelle ledesma, tayllor lemphers, leah lu, t’keya marquez, mackenzie rafferty, jasmine rodriguez, celeste scott, lauren speight contributing photographers pamela ayala, megan cencula, elliott desai, emily dubin, danielle ernst, amanda harle, taylor krause, chris lampkins, penelope martinez, naohmi monroe, bran santos, myrah sarwar, starr smith, sarah ratner, lhoycel marie teope, ashley yu

lauv @lauvsongs los angeles, ca madison iseman @madisoniseman los angeles, ca

website / localwolves.com twitter + instagram / @localwolves fb / facebook.com/localwolves read online issuu.com/localwolves print shop magcloud.com/user/localwolvesmag


playlist + AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 +



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If a province’s people were judged by their license plates, British Columbians would come off as hilariously vain. Next to “friendly” Manitoba; Alberta, “wild rose country”, and Ontario, which invites onlookers to explore the region with open arms, B.C. differentiates itself with a word most often reserved for your S.O. or a particularly insightful piece of art: “beautiful”. Indeed, the term has been splashed across travel brochures, blogs, and 36-hour guides so often that it’s hard not to start sipping the Kool-Aid. At the centre of the descriptor is Vancouver—the largest city on Canada’s West Coast, the third biggest population centre in Canada, and an area that is, indeed, frequently recognized as one of the most visually stunning destinations in the world. And while Vancouver’s coastal site—with its numberless beaches and view of the majestic North Shore Mountains— does afford visitors the opportunity to experience ocean, peak,


and forest in one fell swoop, the city’s true beauty lies in the everyday. In its pop-up galleries and painted alleyways bursting with creative energy; in its independent shops, boutiques, and markets brimming with artisan goods. In its aging Chinatown, where longtime residents are working tirelessly to preserve the area’s history; in its parks, community spaces, and galleries, where the resilience of the region’s First Nations burns bright in the face of adversity. In its numberless restaurants, where world-class dim sum, Indian, and sushi live in harmony; in its quirky coffee shops, where the caffeine is coveted and conversations, without fail, always lead to rain. And of course, in the fresh scent of the salt- and pine-tinged air that makes coming home so sweet. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then in Vancouver, there’s plenty to see.

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+ BY H A N N A L A S A LV I A +

“Why are you so quiet?” “Do you ever talk?” These are things people used to say to me ALL THE TIME while growing up. What can I say, I’m definitely on the introverted side of the spectrum; something completely normal looking back. However, everyone felt the need to make sure that I knew that this wasn’t a good quality to have. Never thinking much of it, I was confused when people were trying to get me out of this shy “phase” in my life. Soon enough, I started to hate myself for it and it affected the way I acted for so many years. The ones who pointed out my so-called problems just made me even more insecure in my own body. The word “quiet” itself had so many negative connotations attached to it for me and I always felt so much more pressure to be outgoing. Even when I tried to change, I had already let what other people thought of me become my only truth. One of my biggest mistakes. It was only until after high school (as most things are), when I finally got some clarity. It was in the moments where I was no longer with these people, my family included; where I found out I didn’t know myself at all. I slowly began to learn about the type of personality I had, the way I connected with people and the type of people who I needed to have in my life. I came to terms with the fact that I didn’t need everyone to like me and I stopped wasting my time trying to please those who made me dislike myself. If I could go back in the past, I would tell my younger self that I needed to drop these haters and care about myself the way I cared about what people thought about me. Self love and accepting who you are is so complex and way easier said than done. I know. I can’t speak for the struggles everyone deals with, but I will say that things only get easier when you are unapologetically yourself.


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At first glance, the image of self-love is seemingly painted in glitter and warm sunshine. It’s an appealing concept— pampering oneself amongst glowing candles, a full eight hours of sleep, self-help books read with toes in the sand by the ocean; a romantic reverie that promises comfort and contentment. But in my experience, self-love is a lot messier, a lot more awkward, a lot tougher than this shallow snapshot that is so alluring via inspiring quotes on Pinterest. Self-love is not a frame of mind that is picked up instantly; it is not a natural disposition for most. It takes a lot of time, effort, tears, and energy. It takes practice. I have found that the most practical way to make self-love a priority is to incorporate specific habits into your daily routine. It requires consistency and an annoying amount of self-discipline to make a difference in your relationship with yourself. Here are seven ways that you can love yourself all seven days of the week. SLEEP WELL. “Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep.” – Ernest Hemingway. Sleep is an essential part of self-care that so many of us tend to neglect or undervalue. Good sleep hygiene (no electronics in bed, a consistent nighttime routine, no caffeine at night, a dark room, etc.) ensures that you wake up every morning as your best self, ready to take on the day and practice self-love. Make your nighttime routine a time to hyper-focus on self-love. Take a long shower, put on a comfy IKEA robe, brew some herbal tea, read a good book, journal. Ease your mind. Reward yourself for making it through another day.


EAT WELL. Eat things that make you feel good. For me, that means avoiding dairy (#lactoseintolerantclub), trading potato chips for kale chips, and ordering Sweetgreen instead of Domino’s. Recently I’ve concluded that the instant gratification of gooey mac and cheese is not worth the tummy pain and crummy mood that follows. It takes some maturity and selfcontrol to avoid the foods that don’t do your body good, but I promise you it improves your quality of life. Another tip that seems like a no-brainer, but is still worth noting: make sure to eat. Depression, anxiety, a history of disordered eating, and overworking yourself can all lead to neglecting the proper nourishment that your body needs. Try to plan meals and go grocery shopping at the beginning of the week so that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to feed yourself on the days when it’s hard to get out of bed or pull yourself away from your desk. Lastly, stay hydrated! Buy a cute water bottle. Download an app that helps you track how many ounces you’ve had a day. Make it fun.

CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHT PROCESSES. Every day, we experience a range of emotions prompted by both internal and external influences. As cliché as it is, keep in mind that “feelings are indicators, not dictators” (Lysa TerKeurst). When you experience a negative feeling, challenge it. Ask yourself, “why do I feel this way?” “Does it benefit me in any way to feel like this?” Try to step outside yourself and view the thought process from an objective position. If you’re angry with or hurt by someone, try to see it from their point of view. If you’re criticizing yourself harshly, try to see yourself from the perspective of a loved one. Remind yourself of your successes rather than focusing on your failures. “I failed. I suck. I’ll never be who I want to be.” turns into, “Experiencing failure means that I tried. And trying is an admirable, positive thing. I will get back up and try again. I will do better next time.” Don’t let yourself get stuck in pessimism. Work hard every day to shift your perspective from one of negativity to positivity. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS. I’ve written about this in a previous issue. It’s such a simple and effective way to shift how you view yourself. It’s important to appreciate all the good things about yourself and to have faith in yourself. There are so many different affirmations that you can adopt. My favorites are, “I am a force.” “My beauty is unique.” “I am growing stronger through every obstacle.” “I have survived 100% of my worst days.” “I choose to radiate positive energy.” I have a journal called The Five-Minute Journal that prompts you to write your affirmations daily. Getting them down on paper is a powerful way to begin your day on a positive note. It sets the tone for intentional consciousness. HAVE AN OUTLET. Find a way to relieve stress and release negative energy. Make it part of your routine. There are so many types of outlets to choose from—art, journaling, exercise, etc. Yoga is one of my top forms of self-love. It makes me feel so accomplished, refreshed, and energized. Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is a fantastic instructor, whose slogan is perfect for self-love: “find what feels good.” She has several 30-day challenges that will help you get into the habit of loving yourself through regularly practicing yoga. Journaling and poetry are also a beautiful way to sort through any confusing or burdensome emotions that are weighing on my soul. Almost every therapist that I’ve seen has recommended writing as an emotional outlet. Love yourself by learning how to let go. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. This is the less romantic part of self-love that is much harder than drawing a bubble bath and putting on a facemask. Getting out of your comfort zone weekly, if not daily, is an important part of your personal growth, and personal growth is an important part of self-love! Having successful experiences outside of your comfort zone

builds confidence. You get to prove to yourself that you are capable of more than you realized. And having confidence makes self-love a whole lot easier to practice. PRIORITIZE YOUR HAPPINESS. Sometimes we forget that life is meant to be enjoyed and not just something to suffer through. That’s probably because life is full of hurdles and pain and messiness, but that shouldn’t be what consumes us. Make a point to love yourself by doing things that make you happy every single day. Make your daily life something that inspires, excites, and soothes you. Keep your pantry stocked with your favorite foods. Spend more time outside. Schedule time each week for quality time with friends. Take more photographs. Stop hating Mondays. Listen to more music. Make more art. If you love and live near the beach, go to the damn beach. Stop waiting for happiness to find you; chase it with all you’ve got. Self-love is demanding—to alter the view of and relationship with yourself that is cemented by years of self-neglect, or even self-hatred, involves repeatedly waking up each day and resolving to take care of yourself, no matter how tempting it is to hide under the duvet and whisper, “I’ll try tomorrow.” Because, the truth is, Gotye was spot-on when he wrote the lyric, “you can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” Sadness is natural. Inaction is easy. It takes no effort. It’s familiar. It’s safe. A lot of us fear even attempting self-love because of the potential for failure. You can’t experience the discomfort and disappointment of falling if you don’t ever get up, so you don’t even try. But you have to try. Get up every morning, and just try. After all, self-love is a verb. Take care, Madisen

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The world has practically been feeding me love stories since I was born. It started with stories like Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast—the basics. They’re all quite twisted in their own strange ways, but as a young girl, that kind of love is all you want. The kind of love that rescues you from the tall tower or the evil witch. These fairytales tell us that a prince (and only a prince) can save us. As I got older the world began feeding me angsty teenage love stories. Often in the form of dusty novels picked up from the library during long summers, these stories would keep me flipping pages into the wee hours of the night. After turning the last page I’d fall asleep, hoping I’d one day be the quirky girlnext-door that the dark-haired bad boy would fall hopelessly in love with. I’ve heard more love stories than I can possibly count. Each of them compete for that spot in my mind as the “best” love story—the one that tugs on my heart strings in all the right ways, that keeps me teetering on the edge of my seat, reaching for the box of tissues. But the best love story I’ve ever heard has yet to reach the ears of the masses. You’ve never seen it in a princess movie or a romance novel. It’s not the story of the girl who finds love on the train, or on her flight to New York as she’s running away from a toxic lover and a dead end job. It’s also not the story of the girl who finds love in a coffee shop when the swarthy barista slips his number under her extra sweet chai latte. Not even the story of the girl who falls right into the arms of the love of her life under the twinkling disco ball at the roller rink compares to the story I’m going to tell you. The best love story I’ve ever heard starts with a young brownskinned girl in the check-out line at Trader Joe’s. She’s small in stature but has a steadfast aura about her. Her chin naturally tilts upwards. Her lips rest in a soft not-smile, not-frown. Her eyes flicker about the store aimlessly, and her foot taps lightly. From afar she looks resilient, unshakable. She is. In a world like this one, she has to be.


Cradled in the nook of her elbow is a bouquet of roses. They’re a light, peachy color, slightly darker on the edges. They’re almost dying, but they’re on sale. She knows they’ll be limp in a couple of days, but she needs them and they need her. As the line slowly moves along, she feels the lightest tap on her shoulder. She turns around to find a frail, older black man smiling at her. He’s the kind of friendly that’ll start a conversation with anyone just for the sheer pleasure of being on the radar of human’s life. He nods his sparsely-bearded chin at the roses. “Who are those for?” he asks. The girl immediately feels embarrassed. She looks down at the flowers. “Um,” she murmurs, “They’re for me.” Surprise runs through the old man’s face. He was probably expecting her to say, “my grandma” or “my mother.” He wasn’t expecting this radical act of self-love. Eventually, he shrugs, and with a grin says, “Well, it’s better to buy roses for yourself than to wait for someone to buy them for you.” The girl smiles quite awkwardly, not knowing what to say. Luckily, she’s next up in line. She passes the cashier the wilting bouquet. Truth is, she chose this cashier on purpose. He’s an attractive, young black man with almond-brown skin. He has the kind of smile that makes his obligated, “How’s your day going?” sound like a dream. And the kind of eyes that make her equally as obligated, “Fine. And you?” melt off right off her lips. His arms are chiseled from carrying so many old ladies’ bags to their cars. The soft, black curls on his head are like baby tornadoes she just wants to get swept up in. She hopes that he’ll smile at her across the register. That he’ll say the roses are beautiful, but really mean she’s beautiful. She hopes he’ll ask what she’s doing tonight. And when she says “nothing,” she hopes he’ll ask her out to dinner. A request towards which she’ll initially feign apprehension, but eventually oblige before leaving the grocery story with his number scribbled on her receipt.

But none of this happens. He simply takes the roses, rings them up, puts them in a bag, rips off the receipt and hands it to her in one seamless motion. She takes the receipt, lingering a while, hoping for more. But when she realizes this is it, she ends up shuffling towards the door. On her way out she looks over her shoulder, and catches the old man still smiling at her. He nods a silent farewell. She remembers what he said,

But she can’t help but think of that old man’s words. He was no doubt wiser than she with so many years of experience at his disposal. What he’d said was indeed true. She could sulk in her ivory tower every Friday night while her friends all went out on dates. She could buy a fancy gown and go out, hoping that a prince would notice her. She could wish and wish and wish and wish that someone would be her prince charming, carry her weight, buy her roses. Or she could keep buying roses for herself.

It’s better to buy roses for yourself than to wait for someone to buy them for you. His words ring in her mind as she squeezes the bouquet into a tiny glass in her dimly lit room that night. The thing is, this young girl was no stranger to self-love. She’d always been the utterly confident, selfie-posting, independent black woman who didn’t need no man. But what her confident Instagram selfies never showed was the difficult side of self-love. The part that felt like digging your feet through the sand after a run on the beach at sunset. The part of self-love that smiles, laughs, wrestles, yells through the pain of loneliness. She was no stranger to self-love but she was almost sick of it. She was sick of carrying it all on her own—of carrying herself on her own. She dreamed of the day someone would come along and free her of this burden. She needed someone to pour all of her excess into. But no one proved to be strong enough for this. It was hard enough to get a boy like the cashier to even look at her, let alone ask her on a date.

Though she knows it’ll be a difficult task, she decides, that night, to take it on. She’d keep buying herself flowers, holding her head high, and loving herself fearlessly. It wouldn’t always be easy, watching as her friends got swept away by their prince-charmings. But she’d soon come to understand that what was meant for them would not always be meant for her. She too would find her prince one day. But it wouldn’t be so that he could save her. Her prince would be someone who’d complement her, help her learn about the world and help her grow further into herself. He wouldn’t make her question her beauty or worth. He’d be a loyal companion and friend. But until he came, she’d be there for herself. She’d choose herself. Even when she was moody, and grumpy, and selfish, and exhausting. She’d buy herself flowers and cook herself dinner. She’d take care of herself when she was sick, and she’d celebrate all of her victories. She’d love herself unconditionally. And she’d expect absolutely no less from anyone else. BANNER + ILLUSTRATIONS BY LEAH LU

August and September typically signals the start of a new school year, new cool weather, and a new fashion season. But in the midst of all the newness, it’s somehow cleansing to recycle the old into it all. Dig through your closet, your siblings’ closet, or even a grandma’s basement. Pull out that old Abercrombie and Fitch graphic knit that was your wardrobe staple back in the sixth grade. Or the (maybe a little broken) platform shoes that your mom decided to save away in a box somewhere. You might have even thought those things were lame or tired at some point, but it’s surprising how magnetizing familiarity is. A stranger could see that recycled piece and think of the one they used to love—a feeling that starts conversations and brings out the best stories. COVERAGE BY MEGHAN DUNCAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE ERNST WARDROBE THRIFTED BANNER BY LAURA FILAS


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Practicing self love through actions is important, but living in a state of self love and acceptance can often prove to be a much more arduous battle. Loving oneself whole-hearty does not happen overnight - it is a journey through pain and joy, through giving to orders and to yourself, and eventually reaching a point of acceptance for who you are. CURATED BY ERIN MCDOWELL / ILLUSTRATION BY LAURA FILAS In the society that we currently live in, it is not uncommon for us to hear the phrase “love yourself” (one of Justin Bieber’s most popular songs is literally called “Love Yourself”). However, what is self-love, really? If it’s what media promotes it to be, being wholly confident with yourself as an individual, not finding a flaw when you look in the mirror, or even being able to take one selfie and be pleased with it, I doubt many of us could truthfully say that we possess self-love. Self-love is, rather, knowing oneself and being able to prioritize yourself. For example, as someone who values friendships more than almost anything, I often find myself letting friends take advantage of me (unknowingly). Instead of blindly letting myself believe that these were true friends, I decided to show myself some love and respect by cutting the toxicity out of my life. In the moment, losing my long-time friends did not feel like an action done out of self-love. However, in retrospect, being happier in addition to being emotionally and mentally healthier, I want to give nothing but a huge hug to me-from-the-past who sat on the bathroom floor, crying because she was so scared… and that is what selflove is about. You don’t have to love every selfie you take, you don’t have to tell yourself you’re perfect, and you don’t have to

turn a cheek on your flaws—especially if they’re changeable. Self-love is acknowledging that you are an individual with your highs and lows. Self-love is knowing that there are things you could fix, and fixing them. Self-love is helping yourself out by remembering who you truly are. So, who are you? How are you going to love yourself today? – HAERI KIM / IRVINE, CA Living in a black and white spectrum affects the unnoticed grey area. Beautiful colors will find striving to be impossible but they will still strive. Beautiful women of color strive to love themselves in a spectrum that does not recognize them. Their bodies are hated by abuse, neglect, and destruction by those who support the exclusive spectrum. Strive with all the colors they suppress. As granddaughters and great granddaughters of women who have strived before you, for you. Love yourself more than they hate. Strive harder than they hate. – OLIVIA CHEYENE VENEGAS / BALDWIN PARK, CA We all have both sun and moon within ourselves. It’s easy to love the sun — the good, the proud, the triumphant moments. To embrace the darker parts of ourselves — our regrets, mistakes, and unfavorable choices — is the hard part. I’ve learned to wear these darker parts of myself like an armor. They have given me wisdom and made me stronger. Instead of being shadows that I can’t shake, I embrace them and relish in the fact that I am capable of growth. Forgiving yourself, like forgiving others, is a vital accompaniment to self-love. I like my darker layers and I like my light. It requires every part of my heart. – KYLEIGH MCPHILLIPS / SAN FRANCISCO, CA

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look: social media, magazines, movies. But what you need to remember is that the beauty of others does not diminish your own even if you do not look like them. All sunsets are beautiful despite the fact that none of them are exactly alike, and that’s a philosophy that should apply to loving yourself. – MICHELLE TRAN, MOUNT LAUREL, NJ In a writer, self-love is found deep within your coffee stained journal, the one with the crumpled handwritten pages, and the smeared pen marks. Self-love is found in your book of stories and poems, the one with magic seeping through the verses, and chaos hiding in the silence. Self-love is found in your documented honesty, in pieces where you accept who you were, who you are, and who you can become. Self-love is found in a writer who through it all, creates and creates with endless honesty, gratitude, and acceptance. – ELIZ AQUINO / VALLEJO, CA

Through creativity I was able to develop my emotions and show them visually. Through this latest photography and illustration series I was able to focus on what was consider my flaws and learn to embrace them through collage and illustration. This photo specifically shows that when I was little, another girl my age commented on my freckles and made me feel trapped within my own body with those hurtful comments for years. Later on I’ve learned that we are made of stars, and that my body is my home and my freckles are my constellations. What was once deemed as a flawed feature is now a realization that these qualities make me who I am, make me unique, and feel beautiful. Creativity has allowed me to embrace my Flawful Femininity. – LIZ ROSE SCHMIDT / COLD SPRING, USA (PHOTO ABOVE) It took almost sixteen years for me to completely accept the body that I was born in, and every day is a fight to keep loving myself. You win some, you lose some. It can be hard to stop comparing yourself to the people that society has deemed beautiful because those people are everywhere you



Throughout the course of the past few years, I have left many things behind. The eight-year-old Indian girl who rubbed her skin raw to get rid of her imperfections doesn’t reside within me anymore. The thirteen-year-old girl who concealed every thought she penned down because everyone around her wrote pieces that dripped honey and hers barely fell into place, neither does she. When we read books or drown ourselves in TV shows, we fall in love with characters irrespective of their flaws. Yet we sit on the hard marble floor and pick at ours one by one. The journey to self-love and self-acceptance isn’t easy, but it is better than being in a perpetual war with your body. Society has painted a picture of unattainable beauty, but that’s what it is. Unattainable. You will not be able to be happy with yourself if society is orchestrating your actions. As someone who no longer hides her journals or buys foundation two shades lighter, I can tell you how important loving yourself is. Whether it’s the way your hand moves across the soft canvas or the shortness of your auburn hair, when you find one thing you treasure about yourself, you begin this journey. When you become comfortable in your skin, you open a portal of positivity within you. There will be nights when the little girl who blossomed with self-hatred will begin to rise, but you will learn to drown her with all your other self-deprecating thoughts. The journey to self-love is never ending, it is a cycle filled with bad days, but also weeks when you’re in a constant wave of euphoria. Love and treasure the body which will never refuse you shelter; it is your home. – SUMONA SARIN / NEW DELHI, IN Accepting who you are in its entirety is not easy, but you are not alone. Embrace who you are, take care of yourself, trust your intuition, and share your story with the world. When you love yourself, you feel free. – ANALISA MIYASHIRO / SAN JOSE, CA (BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO, THIS PAGE)

I used to dream about running through a forest until I reached a clearing and started to fly. Deep in my subconscious I knew I was trying to run away from myself, the person I was. I wanted to be “perfect” in real life, but I was unable to achieve perfection. I spiraled into self-hate and felt ultimately defeated. I don’t have the answer, and some days I fall back into old habits. But I do know that if my wish to change who I am came true, I would not have the many beautiful joys that my path has brought me.

When people think of self-love, a lot comes to mind: loving your body, owning your style, discovering your individuality...Yet for me? I realized self-love meant embracing your origins. While I viewed myself as Korean, there was no substance behind such classification. In fact, it took me a long time— as a teenage girl living in California— to fully accept how much authenticity and culture that was behind this character. Even during school, I was embarrassed by the idea of bringing foreign lunch, in fear of the smell... the alien-like arrangement... the unknown ingredients. However, I’ve came to take pride in this. In my drawing, there is a magazine that translates to “Korean person, Korean Love.” I’ve learned a form of self-love in appreciating my roots and am forever grateful I did. – ISABELLE SEO YANG / CALIFORNIA, USA (ARTWORK ABOVE)

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Considering myself as a work in progress allows me to be free, to learn something new, to explore and to not be afraid of committing mistakes. It helps me have the passion to seek for opportunities. It connotes that one is not finished and can have a room for improvement and growth. As a work in progress, it always felt humane. And when you free yourself from the concept of being perfect— meeting standards of today’s era, that’s when self-love comes in. I practice self-love by accepting that we are not perfect, and by giving myself room to grow and allowance for mistakes. – PAULINE BIROSEL / MANILA, PH (PHOTO ABOVE)

With each passing day, I see myself in a different light that gradually exposes every single part of me— the lovely and the ugly. It’s easy to love the lovely parts I allow the world to see... the ugly parts not so much, but I have found the parts of myself that I deem as ugly to hold hidden beauty that is unveiled as I choose to accept them instead of covering them up from human eyes— my own eyes. It’s in exposing every piece within me, in opening myself up to myself that I am learning to love me for me and not for who I wish to be— the person next to me. Acceptance of who I am empowers me to put a stop to the comparisons that take place in my mind, and in accepting myself I start to love myself. Self-love is found in ourselves and through that love we learn to love, the person next to us, and once in for all comparison is no longer a barrier as it is revolutionized into compassion— for ourselves and others. – MAALI PADRO / MESA, AZ (PHOTO BELOW)

Self-love is about accepting who you are embracing ever bit of yourself in any way you feel comfortable. For me that can look like dressing up and going out with friends or dressing down and hanging around the house in comfy clothes. Self-love is about being comfortable in your own skin and owning your individuality. Loving yourself is definitely a journey and I am learning each day that I am enough. I try and surround myself with others who do the same. I am constantly encouraged by my friends and family and how they express themselves. As a photographer it is my task to tell other’s stories and make them feel beautiful. – YASMIN GABRIELLE MURPHY / NASHVILLE, TN

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Creativity and colour are bursting from the walls of ARTSHACK, a Brooklyn-based non-profit ceramics and art studio. Artist and educator McKendree Key first opened Artshack’s doors in 2008 in hopes of providing an outlet for kids to flourish in their artistic abilities without the confinement of rules. Three years later, Key teamed up with product designer Dany Rose, and together they continue to foster young imaginations while building critical thinking skills through ceramics, silk-screening, felting and a range of other mediums. In guiding kids through the process of ceramics in particular, Key and Rose aim to remind them that the journey to a finished piece (or anything they want badly enough) is rarely straightforward and clear. “Ceramics teaches kids about form, function, creativity, color and imagination,” Key says. “It also involves science and chemistry. It’s so important for kids to see the entire process, and to get their hands dirty.” Artshack’s doorstep not only welcomes children, but adults too, and when they experience a creative block, Key always advises: “Take a minute and watch what the kids are up to... It’ll put it all in perspective. Kids are the best artists– they always think of things we never would have thought of, like a two headed teapot.” Not only do Key and Rose direct classes for all ages, they also use Artshack’s space for parties. “There’s always something to celebrate,” Key says. “We do wheel throwing parties and handbuilding parties with wet clay, as well as painting parties where you can glaze our bisques items made by Artshack members and kids.” Artshack welcomes newcomers with a smile, and if there was one piece of advice Key and Rose would give, it would be: “The wheel masters wedge their clay 100 times before they throw, and rarely keep what they make.”


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“c er a mics tea ches ki d s a b o ut fo r m, func ti o n, cr ea t ivity, c o l o r a nd i ma gi na ti o n.”


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In less than three years, LAUV has gone from a college student at NYU to an uprising artist that has recognition around the globe. So, how does one musician go from mixing music with his friends in New York City to having almost 100 million streams of his single, “The Other” on Spotify? Simple. Lauv has created music that is not only infectious, but breaking the norm of the pop world. His fans have fallen in love with a multitalented singer who cannot be contained in one single genre. With a sold out tour, multiple festival appearances, and his single “I Like Me Better” entering the Billboard Top 200, you are going to want to keep a close eye on this musician. Blink and you might miss the journey of Lauv. Music has always been a common thread in Lauv’s life. As a young kid, his parents put him into guitar and piano classes, giving Lauv not only the love of music, but the talents to create his own. The style of music he listened to when he was younger gave way to the music he writes today. “In high school, I was really into John Mayer and more acoustic stuff. I’m not into that stuff so much anymore, but it definitely impacted my music.” The style of music Lauv makes doesn’t sound much like John Mayer, but there is definitely a connection in the way he writes


his lyrics. Love songs dominate Lauv’s music, and his sweet and meaningful lyrics really resonate with his fans. Although the traditional singer-songwriter route is not for Lauv, the music he listened to growing up has touched the way in which write he writes his lyrics. On the topic of inspiration, Lauv expressed his love of SoundCloud and how he finds inspiration for his music through the music platform. “I want to make music that mixes sort of weird sounds with more classic sounds,” Lauv expressed when discussing his particular style. Remixes have been dominating SoundCloud these days, giving artists a platform to share their interpretations of classic songs. Lauv described his taste in music as “minimalistic soul trap,” a genre that has obviously had impact on his own music. Soul trap combines modern electronic beats with the sounds of soul music and rap from the nineties, creating a fusion of styles that incorporates a variety of sounds. Lauv creates beats that incorporate sounds in a catchy and simple way, not overwhelming his listeners with too much mixing. Although Lauv loves to work on the production side of music, he finds a certain satisfaction in making music that is completely his from start to finish.

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Lauv is still processing his new found popularity across the globe. “It’s totally crazy, I still don’t quite understand it. I’ll have friends send me videos of my music playing on the radio or in coffee shops, it’s insane hearing my music like that.” In only a few years, Lauv went from opening for other artists to selling out rooms on an eight city tour. “It’s insane hearing a room full of people singing every word to your songs and knowing that they are all there for you.” Lauv definitely hasn’t let this quick rise in popularity go to his head, and that is proven on his Twitter. Social media is such a crucial part in the modern day musician’s life, and Lauv really takes the time to interact with his fans through Twitter and Instagram. There is a whole lot of love flowing in Lauv’s tweets. Not only does he take time to interact with fans, but Lauv also devotes a lot of his social media presence to staying true to who you are, and not letting the world get in the way of doing what you love to do. This lifestyle of staying true to yourself hasn’t always been easy for Lauv, and he admits that. “So many people in LA seem to be focused on individualizing and furthering themselves. Everyone here is trying to be someone big, and that can make it hard to have genuine friendships.” Los Angeles

came as a big change to Lauv, as he had spent his past few years in New York City. Lauv expressed missing the inspiration in New York, being able to walk out of his apartment and have a sprawling city of art and people at his fingertips. The transition from East Coast to West Coast has been somewhat difficult for Lauv, but this challenge has further pushed him to make music that is his own and that he loves. This quick and intense success of Lauv is only the beginning. He recently worked on the song “No Promises” with Cheat Codes featuring Demi Lovato. “I have known Trevor [Dahl] for years, basically since the Myspace age, and getting to work with him on a song that is doing really well right now was a really cool experience.” Lauv is sprinting to the top of the pop world, and all eyes are on him as he continues to make music. So, as we patiently await the arrival of new music from Lauv, loop the recently released “I Like Me Better” music video until YouTube cuts you off. This video will pull at all of your heart strings as you follow a simple and ageless love story throughout New York City, filled with colorful scenes that will make you want to smile forever. We can’t wait to fall even more in love with Lauv.

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Acting in a vast industry that is ever-changing with new actors and actresses on the rise could be a life filled with whirlwind experiences and endless opportunities. Making a name for yourself can be difficult in today’s society because of the competition that actors and actresses are faced with. It’s how they are willing to go about the industry is what matters most. Up and coming actress, MADISON ISEMAN knows exactly how to face that competition head-on. Iseman, a South Carolina native and animal lover extraordinaire, moved to Los Angeles at the age of 16 in hopes to begin her well awaited acting career. Since then, she has been seen in many short films, television shows, and motion picture films. She stars as Bethany in her most recent film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle alongside Jack Black, saying “I got to do a lot of character work with Jack Black because I transform into him, so that was awesome.” Some people know what they want to do with their lives and many don’t. Figuring out what you’re destined to do is hard when you’re surrounded by constant change. When asked about Iseman’s road to acting, she replied “I’m a huge believer in ‘life will take you where you’re supposed to be’ so, if I wasn’t supposed to be in LA doing this, I don’t think it would have been presented to me in the first place. I trust life will take me where I am supposed to be. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”

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“i tru s t life will ta ke me w h er e i a m s up p o s ed to b e. i c an’t ima g e do ing a nyth i ng el s e w i th my l i fe.”

She also hinted at the fact that traveling is a major upside of her career. Through her career she’s been able to live in Nashville, Tennessee for a third of the year for the filming of her television show on CMT, Still the King. Before starring as Charlotte, who happens to be one of the lead characters in Still the King alongside with Billy Ray Cyrus, she was only playing minor roles to start up her career. When asked about the transition from playing minor roles to playing Charlotte, she stated it was terrifying. “A lot comes with playing a lead character on a TV show. You have to ask yourself the questions, ‘where do I want my character to be at the end of the season’ and ‘what ways will my character grow through experiences this season.’ It’s a lot more pressure than just having a one-time guest spot.” Acting is a cycle, as are many things in this world. You audition for a role, sometimes more than once, and as soon as you’ve been casted, the journey of being someone else begins. Many actors have different ways of approaching a role once they’ve been casted for it. Iseman says that journaling is a big help to get her in tune with her character. “I journal a lot. I love to journal in my personal life and as my characters. It helps me feel more connected to them. I was also lucky enough to have an acting coach on our set, and she’s the best. She keeps me on my toes.” Before acting, Iseman immersed herself in videography and photography stating, “From early on, I was always infatuated with the camera. When I was in middle school I started making my own videos and short films with my friends. I was super obsessed with horror films and would make fake horror trailers.” When asked about having the chance to direct a film in the near future, she replied “I’ve always wanted to write a film about my journey to my faith, and how I found God. I don’t think there are enough Christian-based films in Hollywood. I’d love to contribute one day.”


Her faith keeps her going and strengthens her as she pushes through the unpredictable and rocky industry that is acting. She certainly feels strongly about other topics such as animal rights and adoption. “I am a huge animal activist. Adopt, don’t shop! My love for animals goes way back. Shelters are overcrowded these days and so many are abused or have to be put down. There are many ways to help your local shelter. Even volunteering helps!” In finding her true passions, she also said that acting on a television show is not that different from acting on the big screen. “The biggest difference I found is the pace of everything. Television is so quick. They pop out things right and left. Film takes a little more time.” Acting can take a toll on a person for many reasons. Leaving your hometown for months on end, possibly longer, is rather difficult to do. Home is where the heart is so when you’re gone from your home almost constantly, it can be hard. Iseman insists she misses home every day and states that her being in Los Angeles is merely for her career. “I love LA, but it won’t be my permanent home. I’m not sure where I want to end up one day, but I don’t think it will be LA.” Change is a test that is given to us to see if we can withhold our strengths and persist in a world full of rage. Whether we run through the fire or not, coming out stronger is what the idea of change is. When you dive into your passions full on, expect all the possibilities of failure because behind every failure is success. Don’t give up after countless failed attempts. Let that drive in you continue it’s journey for as long as you’re willing to succeed. As for aspiring actors, Iseman does have a helpful tip for those who want to pick up the career, “Don’t give up! It’s so cliché I know, but it’s a cliché for a reason. This industry will test you in so many ways. Hold your ground, be proud of your work, and don’t give up!”

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"h o l d yo ur gr o und , b e p r o ud of yo ur w o r k, a nd d o n't gi ve up ! "

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LA based designer, social media mogul and model MEI YAN is a pink-haired powerhouse of inspiration, creativity, and drive. Yan, after garnering success on social media, recently released her own premiere jewelry collection partnered with Kestan. This line, “Kestan x Mei”, includes three distinct items (a ruffle choker, wrap choker, and flowerinspired earrings), reflect the Yan’s complete individuality and tenacity. Growing up, Yan’s unique sense of style inspired many of her peers to encourage her to study fashion and design. Filled with self-doubt, Yan had trouble believing in the potential of this dream. Years later, with her own jewelry line, Yan has surely proven her self-doubt wrong. And, according to Yan, her momentum has only just picked up— “design has become one of my newest passions and I hope to continue pursuing it.” Her line was heavily inspired by the trend of mixing and matching various textures and styles. Yan’s main goal of this jewelry line was to bring a touch of her style into anyone’s closet. “In a way,” she added, “these pieces are all extremely personal to me.” The line is a culmination of some of her favorite style elements: versatility, femininity, “and of course the color pink!” When pressured to pick her favorite item from the line, Yan was stumped. If she had to pick, she noted, that it would be the Lia Ruffle Choker,


which happen to be the piece she featured in our shoot. She added, “the soft ruffled lace adds the perfect hint of femininity to any outfit.” Bonus Yan fun fact, this choker was named after one of her best friends! An important part of this jewelry line for Yan has nothing to do with jewelry or design at all. A portion of her proceeds are going to the Old Friends Animal Sanctuary in Juliet, Tennessee. Years ago, by chance, Yan followed the Old Friends Animal Sanctuary page on Facebook. “Every time one of their posts showed up,” Mei added, “it would brighten my day immensely. It always broke my heart to see senior dogs live the rest of their years in shelters and I was happy to see a rescue completely dedicated to changing that.” Despite not having Facebook anymore, Yan could not forget about the Old Friends Animal Sanctuary and their message. Yan grew up with shelter dogs and always dreamed of being able to contribute to rescues; a few years back she lost her childhood pet to an illness and it changed her life. The memory of her lost pet pushes her to give back to the animals still at shelters today— “I’m happy that no matter how small, I’m able to give back to them… I want to continue to utilize even the smallest amounts of success to helping whatever way I can.”

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When asked about her personal style, Yan described it one sentence: wear what makes you happy. She added that it took years for her to fully realize her individual style—she was chasing one trend after another and trying to model herself after different people. When she let go of her standards, she finally found her own sense of style that’s highly representative of who she is. Her jewelry line definitely reflects her individuality and hyper-feminine aesthetic. Aside from designing, Yan has been successful in other facets of her brand—add modeling to Yan’s repertoire. When Yan began exploring fashion in her early teens, she had many friends interested in photography. Yan and her friends would throw together random shoots just for fun— “looking back at it, it was hilariously illegitimate, but I’ll always treasure those memories. Yan has come a long way from random little photoshoots, but she still expresses so much gratitude for those first experiences in front of the camera. Another dimension of Yan’s brand is her successful YouTube channel and impressive social media following. Yan recently hit her two year YouTube anniversary in July. Years before starting her channel, Yan was struggling— filled with self doubt and feeling lost, Yan was in a rut. Later, inspired by her passion for makeup and fashion, Yan turned to YouTube— “I just wanted to create something that I could be proud of… I wanted to become someone I was proud of.” While her social media and YouTube successes are both achievements to be extremely proud of, she added that “it’s not easy to make a living off social media… it has been

difficult in the past and still is now.” The key, she added, is self-discipline and pushing beyond the rough patches by remembering your long-term goals and dreams that lie ahead. “Being human is hard… everyone is struggling in their own way so always be mindful, kind, and courteous to others,” these are the words that Yan lives by in her day to day life. Yan was extremely open about her struggles with selfdoubt. She revealed a poignant phrase a friend would constantly tell her in support: “being a butterfly means that you can’t see the beauty in your own wings.” Yan has battled with feeling comfortable and secure in her success—constantly focused on what lies ahead and what she has yet to accomplish. “I don’t think I’ve done anything to be considered a great accomplishment… I don’t often feel satisfied with what I’m doing and I probably never will be.” Yan doesn’t let these thoughts keep her down— instead, she has turned these feelings of dissatisfaction into a constructive drive that has propelled her to keep moving forward, creating, and achieving. In two words, Yan can be described as utterly unique. Her style, brand, and premiere jewelry line are extremely reflective of her individuality. Her humbleness and gratitude leaps beyond her projection on the screen— Yan’s candor about her struggles with self-doubt, and her selfless and understated charitable efforts with the Old Friends Animal Sanctuary are inspiring. Yan’s drive will surely allow her to accomplish more feats and successes. Watch out for this pink-haired powerhouse, who knows what she’ll do next.

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"being a butt er fl y mea ns yo u c a n't s ee the bea uty i n yo ur o w n w i ngs ."

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The life of a ballerina parallels the artistry found within a musician. A ballerina becomes the vessel for the music that surrounds her. The combination of frenetic schedules, intense rehearsals, and dedicating endless hours to perfecting choreography allows for dancers to put their absolute all into their craft. MIKAELA KELLY channels her free spirit and drive to improving techniques that catalyzes her to execute exemplary performances. Her fusion of grit and grace landed her a spot at the prestigious Juilliard School, a New York conservatory known for teaching the world’s best choreographers, dancers, actors, and musicians. As young kids, we become entranced with the world of whimsical fairytales and many of us have given ballet a shot at the early ages of 5 or 6. Yet the arabesque and minor stretches we were taught at five years old are fickle in comparison to the work that Mikaela has to put in her fleeting movements. Regarding where her intrigue in ballet sparked from, Mikaela states “I know many people have that “Aha!” moment when they figure out what they want to do in life or what dream they want to pursue, but I don’t think I ever had one. I began dancing when I was four, I fell in love with movement over the years and have never stopped. Early on in my life I had the revelation that dance was not only something that I could do for fun, but that it was possible to pursue dance as a professional career. This revelation had occurred when I discovered that my mother had been a professional dancer and she passed along her love of movement to me.”

She continued, “As I began to perform and to take dance more seriously, I realized that the power to affect people and to communicate ideas through my body was something I loved.” To close the gap of constructed stereotypes of ballet dancers, Mikaela says, “There are plenty of stigmas and stereotypes that surround dance and ballet in particular, but I believe it is my responsibility as an artist to have integrity in my work and confidence in other people’s ability to see me as a unique individual and not as a set of stereotypes.” From Mikaela’s formative years of ballet, she had an increasing aptitude for ballet, thus never really having the chance to delve into other dance styles. Yet with her introduction into the complexities of dance within Juilliard, she has grown to appreciate her fellow classmates’ talents and fluid dance movements. She says, “Growing up I was classically trained in ballet with very little exposure to the contemporary and modern dance world, so going to The Juilliard School where we explore so many different kinds of dance and movement styles was a bit of a shock for me mentally and physically. The Juilliard Dance Department accepts twelve men and twelve women each year who will all graduate with a BFA at the end of their four years at school. We all take dance classes and academic classes everyday along with our afternoon rehearsals for the current show(s) we are working on, so our schedules are packed during those four years and we received many tools and so much incredible information to carry with us into the professional world.”

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The first couple years of college often teach us far more lessons than our contrived eighteen years of life, similarly Mikaela’s first years at Juilliard have taught her to explore a spectrum of opportunities that the conservatory provides. Mikaela tells us, “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my three years at this conservatory is to simply be open to everything. There is no way of knowing what the future holds or in what direction your life will guide you, so be open to the possibilities and opportunities that this world has to offer and be excited to explore the unknown. I actually have the opportunity to choreograph quite a lot at Juilliard and have recently become very interested in spending my time investigating my own movement vocabulary and choreographic voice. I find myself constantly inspired by the world around me and it finds its way into my creative process. Fascinated by the intimate details of movement and the subtleties of human emotion, I have been exploring these facets in a series of short films and pieces of choreography is the mindset from which I work.”

As for music that is compiled on her current playlists, Mikaela finds that music has become an extension of herself, “Music is such a huge part of my life and because as a dancer and choreographer I use every genre and style for my work, what I prefer to listen to is very eclectic. I grew up with stuff like Genesis and Neil Young, I choreograph to artists like AGF and Jóhann Jóhannsson and I listen to stuff like Frank Ocean, London Grammar and Chon when I’m just relaxing.”

“i believe it is my responsibility as an artist to have integrity in my work and confidence in other people’s ability to see me as a unique individual and not as a set of stereotypes.”

As for Mikaela’s ability to completely immerse herself in her given pieces, she states, “In general the kinds of pieces I dance have a storyline, central theme or intention behind them that the choreographer conveys to us and we have to investigate throughout the work. In some cases however, I am only given steps and movement phrases that require me to find my own meaning within them. I find it fascinating to attach my emotional and mental engagement onto specific textures and feelings that I discover while I rehearse a piece and create a throughline for myself that carries me from movement to movement within the dance.” With each role Mikaela has the opportunity to fill, she manages to find an emotional connection within each routine and bring a newfound originality to the precise coordination. Her attention to detail and commitment to her routines will eventually find her a route to captivate audiences as she performs for the dance company of her dreams. Mikaela’s versatility is shown within who she found inspiration in to the music she finds herself listening to. “I am mainly inspired by choreographers or professional companies as a whole and not necessarily individual dancers or pieces. There are many inspiring choreographers including Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Johannes Wieland, etc., and many companies including Nederlands Dans Theater, Batsheva, Ballet British Columbia, and so many more.”


New York City has become a solace for individuals wanting to unravel their creative dreams. With all the traction that comes with living in the pinnacle of big cities, people often need spaces to find a temporary escape from the busy life. For Mikaela, her favorite places in New York come through the form of rooftops and indulging in baked goods. Mikaela says, “I love rooftops. I lived for a while in Williamsburg and I spent every evening on my roof with a good book and the most beautiful view of Manhattan. I love pretty much every combination of butter and sugar so on any given day you can find me at one of my favorite bakeries or pastry shops in the city shoving multiple cupcakes into my mouth.” Mikaela’s devotion to the art of ballet and willingness not only to improve her own performances, but help others improve their own choreography displays her enchanting motivation and stellar generosity. Concerning what the title of her life would be if translated into a film Mikaela states, “If someone were to make a movie about me at this point in my life I think it would have to be left untitled because my world is constantly evolving and changing; my discoveries are unending and take me in every possible direction.”

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" i f in d myself co nst a ntl y i ns p i r ed b y th e w o r l d a r o u n d m e and it finds its w a y i nto my c r ea ti ve p r o c es s ."


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Living in a small town can often mean that you know everybody and everybody knows you. For CONAN GRAY, creating a strong presence online has given him the ability to reach others around the world through a camera lens in the comfort of his home in a small town in Texas. His channel is nothing short of real. Like a close friend, he shares his current favorites and even bakes gluten free brownies while chatting about life with every subscriber. More specifically, his “Art-Tea” chats are the honest and candid daily doses we all could use more often. “I learned so much about how to treat people, how to be open minded and kind, how to love both myself and everyone else and how to be human. I was able to actually realize that the enigma-of-a-kid named Conan Gray was not alone, not an outcast and not broken. I owe so much of my growth to “strangers”, he says. Conan’s personal style is also worth mentioning. His “how to thrift like a teen” video gives the most informative tips we could all use before heading into a Goodwill. One of the most important being “look through everything.” Having patience and steady eyes prevents the chance of overlooking that piece you just might love. His love for thrift shopping and primary colors sets the tone for his ability to reinvent his style every week. His weekly personas include “punk kid”, “bougie kid” and “golf dad”. His YouTube journey stems back to the fourth grade. Being an extremely sentimental kid living within a quickly changing environment meant that he always felt the need to document everything. One of the most fascinating aspects of his journey is the progression of both his content and himself. The biggest change in the past six months was his newfound disregard to societal pressure. Growing up in very conservative Texas, held the pressure of being what was deemed “normal.” It wasn’t until his senior year of high school, that his channel finally took off. For Conan, this was solid proof that no matter how much you try to be an ingenuine version of yourself, the true version will shine the brightest.

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Life growing up presented to him many obstacles. The most difficult of all being self-love. Growing up, had its fair share of bullies that made for a slow process of realizing that no matter how many insults or compliments are spoken, nothing changes how incredible each of us are as humans. “By the time I graduated, I realized that the only thing that actually determines your self value is you. I practice self love when I take myself on solo dates, when I buy myself clothes after working very hard, and when I surround myself with people who love me as much as I love them. But most importantly, I practice self love every day that I choose to wake up and show the world who I truly am. I hope to teach the world to do the same.” Beyond every obstacle has always been the love of everyone he held close to heart. “My home lies in me and the people who love me. Home isn’t tangible, It’s not a town on a map or four walls that box you in; home resides in the soul.” In a world that is always changing, you will always have yourself to lie in. His excitement for life itself has given him the love and appreciation for “growing up”. He’s well aware that not everyone has that same outlook on that topic, but says “that if you aren’t growing up, you aren’t learning.” From his perspective, a lack of wisdom is far scarier than the rise of a number in age. “Growing up doesn’t have to mean boxing yourself up in a grey office cubicle and never letting the sun touch your skin. As I grow older, I plan to keep swinging on swing sets made for three year olds, ordering coffee in a different accent every time, and getting in ferocious tickle fights with my friends. Growing up doesn’t have to mean losing vibrancy, that is all up to you. Embrace aging, you’re only getting better,” he says. At a young age, he quickly established a need for the arts as a form of self-expression. “I was constantly singing made-up jingles for products, drawing Dr. Seuss characters, and making fairy homes in the backyard,” he shares. His primitive instinct to create served as an outlet that provided him the release from overthinking. When it comes to music, Conan has a wide range in musical taste. His music consumption as a child contained U2’s The Joshua Tree album, The Dixie Chicks and 80’s and 90’s pop mixes his mother had in the car. “Those are the people who I believe developed my love for singing, as my mother couldn’t get me to stop belting “Cowboy Take Me Away” in the kitchen.”


His current music obsession is Lorde’s new album Melodrama. It’s the exact consolation he needed approaching adulthood and knowing that there are others around the world that feel the exact same. When it comes to creating his own music, he’s inspired by the raw, tellall songwriting style that Adele uses. He starts his creative process with memories and the emotions that those memories evoke. This can all be linked to the fact that he has synesthesia, which makes music extremely visual. He described it by example of his song “Idle Town. “It all started when I sang “this town will never change” in the shower.” From there he builds those phrases into a song based on memories, colors and feelings.Being a perfectionist works in his favor, his music hits you in the feels with sentiment that all of us can relate to. Lucky for us, we have his single “Grow” to play while we wait for an EP that’s in the works. “My new single “Grow” is a snapshot of my life, the part where I leave the town I had just learned to love.” Growth has come in many forms for Conan, a recent one was getting into his dream school UCLA. Conan says that it wasn’t his grades that got him a spot, but the essays he wrote that made a true impact. Each one centered on his past, the hardships, future goals and those who helped him stay afloat. “I think UCLA, and many other schools, are now able to identify that there is so much more to each miraculous person than the numbers that they produce from standardized tests; they look for passion, ambition, compassion and wisdom.” Fully embracing change, his big move to LA offers him the opportunity to live in a world where creatives thrive and where he can pursue what he has set out to pursue. To one day be a part of thousands of people creating music that bounces around in their head and settles into their marrow. Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of nowhere you find yourself. For Conan Gray, it all started in a small town in Texas.


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Growing up, ISABELLA MENTE’s dad would read her stories every night before bed. “Because of that, I have been writing for as long as I can remember,” she says. “I believe storytelling is a part of my identity.” But Mente’s love of writing was a secret passion until she self-published her first book 7,300 Days last year. Filled with her unique prose and original sketches, Mente describes 7,300 Days as an “odyssey” and “mental journey through twenty years of life.” Her coming of age poetry, now available at Book Soup in Los Angeles and online, has deeply touched thousands of young people through Mente’s relatable themes of femininity, mental health, love, sexual abuse, veganism and more. “‘7,300 days’ is 20 years,” explains Mente about the title of her book. “On my 19th birthday, I made a promise to myself that I would begin my writing career by age 20.” And it was a promise she would keep. On her 20th birthday, September 29, 2016, Mente self-published 7,300 Days. The book is divided into “days” instead of chapters in order to take the readers through a linear progression of not only Mente’s life, but their own journey as well. “I chose days instead of chapters because life is not defined by chapters, it is defined by birthdays or celebrations that signify the amount of time

we have spent on earth.” The title came to Mente on a plane ride to Europe. Her mother’s family is Italian while her father grew up in Denmark. On this transformative trip, Mente visited the farm on which her father grew up where she says she was the most calm and content she ever felt in her life. “I truly do not think I could have finished the book had I not visited my family’s homelands, especially my dad’s. I believe you have to know where you come from to know where you are going.” Prior to publishing 7,300 Days, Mente was never open about her writing. “I’ve actually never told anyone this before, but the first time I knew I wanted to write books was when I fell in love for the first time,” Mente reveals. “Little did I know I would later write a book about finding myself and how I empowered myself to think of my life more as a story in itself, separated from the art of romantic fairytales.” However, like many new writers, Mente was hesitant about publishing such a personal body of work, filled with her deepest thoughts and secrets. “But being afraid has never been a good enough reason for me. Yes, I knew that publishing what I did would surface some extremely difficult, personal traumas for my family and I. But I had to do it,” she says. “And boy, am I grateful that I did.”

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Mente wrote 7,300 Days partly as a personal catharsis — “It’s way cheaper than therapy” — but also for the readers to whom the book is dedicated. “I knew the journey I have been on and the words I have found to keep me company would be helpful to girls my age going through similar experiences,” she says. “I still cannot believe that I have connected to the amount of people I have through that one, seemingly random decision to share my work. It’s truly crazy how many people you can touch when you start living for yourself with a purpose that fulfills you.” When you open Mente’s book, you will find her words but also original illustrations by Chase Wolcott, Sarah Hesky, Andrew Truhan and a carefully chosen color palette of red and yellow. Mente wanted raw, natural sketches that complimented her poetry. “I gave the illustrators the freedom to insert their own interpretation to the poems because the drawings represent an instant feeling that readers experience as soon as they open the page and see the image,” she explains. The use of red and yellow is symbolically important too. According to Mente, yellow relates to the solar plexus chakra which represents self-esteem and the power of transformation. “The use of the budding roses on the cover signify the the transformation of life. We begin as a closed rose bud, and as we grow we become more open and full,” says Mente. “Our petals droop and our leaves grow thicker, and we beginning revealing more of ourselves until we finally reach maturation.


We can stand on our own, rich with nourishment, ready to share our beauty, experiences, and radiance with the world.” Now approaching her twenty-first birthday, Mente finds herself in a routine that is both “comfortable and uncomfortable.” She has returned to school, studying Creative Writing at the University of Southern California, and is experimenting with her writing to try to find her own voice. “This is another big transitional time in my life that I want to be present for so that when I do sit down to write my next work I have authentic, honest experiences to draw inspiration from,” Mente says. “Like taking a walk after it rains or conquering a fear, I find that I am most inspired when I push myself to experience things that are outside of my comfort zone.” “Be present, live slow.” These are some of Mente’s words to live by and advice to young writers. “It will help your mental health, your inspiration, your overall quality of life, and your ability to be open to any and all opportunities that have the potential to later serve as a great story. Learn to draw inspiration within yourself instead of searching for it. Do not allow your desire to achieve your dreams keep you from enjoying the journey. The journey is the story and the lesson.” You can purchase Mente’s book on Amazon, at your local Barnes & Noble or through the bookstore, Book Soup in West Hollywood, California.


“i find that i am most inspired when i push myself to experience

things that are outside of my comfort zone.” local wolves — 73


You could say all artists live in fantasy worlds. Every one of them is operating in the realms of things unseen, unmade, unimagined, and bringing them to life. It’s one thing to make such a world; it’s a whole other to bring other people into it. We’d say designer SAMANTHA PLEET successfully transports cult followers of her clothing down the rabbit hole and into Neverland. Pleet has always had a tendency toward the imaginary, though she didn’t always envision being a fashion designer. “I was always making clothes and costumes for myself growing up,” shares Pleet, “but for a long time I thought I’d be an actress or [visual] artist.” It was after she graduated from Pratt in the early 2000s, she had her “ah-ha” moment. “I realized I wanted to be wearing clothes that didn’t exist, so I started designing things inspired by pirates and vagabonds and the Renaissance.” So began Pleet’s creation of whimsical, wearable art. Flash forward ten years to her Spring/Summer 2017 collection, which she tells us is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and we see that she’s just as magical as ever. Her reason for designing clothes is rooted in creating a fantastical experience for others to step into. “Clothes to me are so creative and exciting because they let you be whoever you want every day,” explains Pleet. “Everyone has to get dressed, so I love that I can make beautiful, dreamy clothes for women so they can feel like that themselves.” And who doesn’t love playing dress-up?


For each new collection, Pleet begins her creative process with a strong inspiration. Her most recent resort collection was inspired by a French harlequin and Nouveau Edwardian style. From there, she makes a mood board of collected images that fits the design and theme. Next come fabrics and colors. To guide the style, she thinks about what she would want to be wearing for the season she’s designing. And if she had to pick a favorite piece from the SS17 Collection? “I love the floweret shorts,” Pleet gushes, “because they look like Victorian underwear in the style of denim shorts.” The designer loves wearing hers with everything from t-shirts to tank tops to her own line’s cropped blouses. While her clothing may be some sort of magic, the process of running an independent clothing line takes a lot of guts and sweat. “We do everything from designing, to sales, to PR ourselves,” shares Pleet, “so the hardest part is just making sure we can do everything and on time!” With time Pleet has been able to nail down a system, but when she first started, “it was difficult to figure out how to do everything, like organizing production or designing a label,” the designer laughs. She believes that for entrepreneurs, this process is painful, but necessary. “Going through all those steps though allows you to eventually know exactly what you want and what you need to do to get that result.”

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Pleet’s designs aren’t wallflower material; sweeping ruffles, quirky patterns, and vintage silhouettes frequent her designs. We asked her what she would say to someone who thinks they can’t pull off bold clothing. “I think the most important thing is that women feel like they look good in what they’re wearing,” Pleet says. “So the idea of ‘boldness’ becomes tangential when someone looks good and feels confident or, in other words, most women won’t worry about ‘pulling something off’ if they feel beautiful and sexy in it!” In the realm of fashion where we’re constantly being told what we can and cannot wear, Pleet’s voice is refreshing. This empowering view of women and fashion stems from her own inspirations. “I’m inspired by powerful women, with independent, creative voices,” explains Pleet. “Most recently I designed a collection inspired by Queen Elizabeth I and I’m always inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli.” It’s only fitting that the beautiful strength of her muses is what she hopes women embody while wearing her clothes. Speaking of a beautiful strength, Pleet herself has managed to balance a life that many think is make-believe: motherhood as an entrepreneur. “I have a daughter, Valentine, who’s just a little less than a year old now and having her has been so amazing and completely life changing, gushes Pleet. “She is so wonderful and adorable and she has already inspired me to design my own baby line!” What does Pleet have to say to those ambitious girl bosses who are hesitant to have children because of their career? “I would say that if you want to have a baby, your career shouldn’t stop you from doing so,” suggests Pleet.

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“a s wo m e n , we are co n s t ant l y t o l d we h ave to co mp ro mi s e o n o n e p ar t o f our li f e to d o b e t t e r in an o t he r, an d i

is more important than anything. Especially in a creative industry, you always want to help your friends out with their projects because then when you ask someone for help (as you inevitably will) they’ll remember that and be thankful that you were generous too.”

d o n’ t t hink t hat ’s t ru e. p e o p l e al w ay s a s k m e d i d yo u s l ow d ow n o r t ake a b re ak an d it w a s ac t u all y t he o p p osite. i f any t hin g n ow i’m m o re w illin g to t ake o n n ew p roje c t s an d d e si gn m o re b e c au s e i have m o re t han ju s t m e an d my hu s b an d’s li ve s t o co n si d e r.” Any entrepreneur can tell you how easy it is to become consumed by your work. Pleet’s philosophy on friendship and family grounds her in the midst of it all. Though she loves being a designer, she urges us to “go the extra mile for your friends, because they’re the most valuable thing you have.” She stresses the importance of community, saying, “Even when it’s difficult or you’re busy you have to make time for other people because being surrounded by people you love 78

Pleet credits the people in her life for being her constant support. “My parents have always believed in me and in my brand, and my husband Patrick, who is also my best friend and business partner, has been there for me since we met in high school!” Pleet and her family even moved in order to integrate her work and family life. Their new in-home studio and office allows Patrick and herself to spend more time with Valentine and get a lot of work done. “I’m also lucky because most of my friends are in creative industries too and a lot are also designers so we all have similar schedules!” The myth of the solitary artist is debunked with Pleet, who reminds us all that family and friends should always be our priority. Mystic and magic aren’t the only factors that go into Samantha Pleet’s designs. Behind each piece of clothing is the support of valued family and friends, and the hope that the women who wear them will experience a little bit of their own fairytale.


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AMY SERRANO, a stylist and content creator from Los Angeles, California, has made a name for herself by creating amazing looks on her blog and YouTube channel. Her blog is titled Pepperpout, a playful tribute to her surname and love for all things beauty and fashion. There, her radiant personality along with an extensive knowledge of fashion creates a space for content that is entertaining and informative. Her inviting disposition makes the world of style and beauty completely nonthreatening and generates a place for positivity and encouragement. With an ever-growing presence on YouTube, Serrano’s unique voice will continue to draw people in and attract the modern, millennial beauty enthusiast. As children, our biggest influences (besides our parents and peers) were undoubtedly the people we saw on the silver screen. Serrano’s upbringing was no different. She credits her initial passion for fashion to the film Clueless. “I remember being in 3rd grade when I watched it,” she says. “My ‘make believe’ friends (embarrassing I know, but this is real life!) quickly became Cher, Dionne, and Murray. I became obsessed with that movie and even the TV show that followed. I was fascinated with Cher’s revolving closet and her computer that matched everything up. I tried to recreate every single outfit her and Dionne wore by sifting through racks at Ross and Marshalls. I loved shopping and I loved putting together looks.” Onscreen outfits weren’t the only things Serrano drew inspiration from. Growing up in Palmdale, CA, Serrano lived an hour away from the star-studded city of Los Angeles. “I’ve always had this love affair with Los Angeles. I loved Hollywood and pop culture so any chance I got to get out there I would. I loved this whole ‘idea of LA.’ The red carpets, the glam, even the paparazzi… I definitely wanted to be a part of that world which heavily influenced my career choices.” After graduating with a degree in fashion merchandising, it was only natural for Serrano to follow the bright lights of Hollywood and find herself in the city she loved so much. Working as a stylist in LA, Serrano has had many interesting experiences with A-list celebrities. She recalls one of her favorite memories in which she styled Katy Perry at the 2011 Grammy Awards. “I’ll never forget for Katy Perry’s performance she opened with her song “Not Like the Movies” (which is one of my faves). She was wearing this nude, blush, sparkly number while she sat on a swing. As the song went on she would rise higher and higher, and she had to wear a safety harness. Of course those harnesses are an eyesore and usually come in white or black… total outfit killer. So Johnny Wujek who I was assisting at the time grabbed a satin, blushy pink pillow that the event staff had furnished Katy’s dressing room with, sliced the pillow with scissors ( just a few hours before she went on btw) and used the material to cover the harness belt, that way it looked more seamless with her dress as well as more aesthetically pleasing. It was perfect and I thought it was the most genius thing ever!” By working alongside creatives like Johnny Wujek and Maya Krisipin, Serrano’s creativity has blossomed and her artistry has been tested in the most positive way. “I don’t think a lot of people can say they ended up working in what they pursued when they were 14,” says Serrano. “I’m pretty proud to have made my younger self proud. When I look back at old journals or old assignments lingering around, I step back and say ‘wow you did it’ in that annoying referring to myself in third person way.”

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When Serrano isn’t off styling our favorite celebs, she’s creating stellar content for her blog and YouTube channel. When asked what spurs her creative side, Serrano responded, “I’m a hugely visual person so looking through beautiful fashion photography usually ignites some creative juices. Lately, with so many beauty products at hand I’ll get super inspired with the packaging. I’ll create a whole visual in my head for how I want to photograph it whether it’s a flat lay or on me. I think that’s the stylist in me. It’s always a mood you’re trying to convey and that carries on to whatever I create.” With a style unique to who she is as an individual, Serrano wears clothes that display her personality and contain elements of today’s hottest trends. When asked how she pulls this off so well, Serrano described her personal definition of style. “I think the most important aspect of someone’s personal style is exactly that. That it’s personal. I think it’s kind of whack when people try steal other’s style piece by piece. I used to do that all the time when I was younger but I think it’s so much cooler to get inspired and then make it your own.” For Serrano, her YouTube channel has been an outlet where she can connect with her viewers and share common interests and ideas. “My favorite part about the online community is that in a vast pool of hundreds of thousands of bloggers and YouTubers, your audience stumbles upon YOU. It has been a really positive experience for me to see that people are connecting with me and trusting my opinion. I’m a huge believer in that quote ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ so it has been great interacting with girls who understand me or vibe with me in one way or another.” Serrano’s bubbly personality and light-hearted spirit invites viewers to experience new places, products, and outfits alongside her. Serrano’s YouTube channel is open and welcoming—attracting viewers who celebrate fashion and beauty for all that it is. “Nothing comes without hard work” is Serrano’s philosophy—a belief instilled in her by her father. “My dad is definitely the hardest working person I know and he never complains! It’s really admirable. I, on the other hand, went through a period of time where I complained heavily. He told me just do what you got to do (and do it well) and then you can do the things you want to do. I think I’m a by-product of the no patience club/internet age. We all want instant gratification, quick results, but all the best things take time so that really motivated me to stick a lot of things out. I think if it wasn’t for those words in the back of my head I would’ve thrown in the towel on a lot.” Like Nike, Serrano’s advice for young artists is to just do it. “Don’t think too hard about it. Waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ is pointless and eats away at the time you could be living and breathing it. I’ve struggled with this, as well making excuses like maybe I’ll do it when I get this equipment, or maybe I’ll start when I finish this course…. There is never going to be a perfect moment. Excuses are our safety net and we use them to avoid failing. If you get your mind right you can conquer anything.” Serrano’s success is a testament to the hard work she puts into her passions. As she continues to create within the field of fashion and beauty, we can expect content that is of the best quality, because we know the work she has put into its creation. Amy Serrano, with her fierce work ethic and even fiercer outfits, is a force to be reckoned with and we can’t wait to see where life takes her.


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“not hing comes wit hout hard work .” local wolves — 85

baby’s bluff








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waves of reflection

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chin up, buttercup






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CELEB CRUSH: Nick Jonas! All my friends know but now, you know. Huge fan of his music and just swoon alert.

ON REPEAT: LANY’s self-titled album, without a doubt. My favorite tracks include “Flowers On The Floor”, “Super Far” and “Purple Teeth”.

DREAM DESTINATION: Capri, Italy because my love for Italian food is real and I can already imagine stuffing my face with pasta and pizza by the coast.

YOUR HOROSCOPE SIGN: Leo, for the win!

LOCAL GEM: Eightfold Coffee in Echo Park is one of my favorite coffee shops. I love how they have a unique variety of coffee and tea drinks.

ON YOUR FOLLOW RADAR: Haley Boyd, Creative Director of Marais USA (Instagram: @ haleyboyd) Haley has such a cool wardrobe, just major girlboss goals.

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i practice self love every day that i choose

to wake up and show the world who i truly am

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