“You know, I do not know how interesting people will find a biography on a girl that started a somewhat successful website but I hope that at the very least it will be an inspiration to those who are too afraid to take a risk and pursue their dreams because I certainly never thought that my life would lead me down this route.
“What started my path in life as a writer / journalist is my innate love of art. I have spent my whole life painting and drawing. Everything in my life growing up revolved around my sketchbooks. A lot of kids keep journals or diaries but I kept sketchbooks. To this day I still paint and draw I really can’t think of a better cathartic release of stress.
“However, growing up in a strict Italian / Filipino household art would never be an acceptable career choice so I began looking for other ways to express myself. By junior high I was reading a book a week and was ready to give a shot at writing my first book. In high school my love for history and current events took over and I became a complete news junkie. Instead of creative writing my interests shifted to being on the high school newspaper writing on politics.
“But I could never really stop my love of art and looking for new ways of expressing it. So in high school I began expressing my love of art through my clothes. I was your stereotypical anime-obsessed gothic girl but with a unique flare for fashion. If you think Lady Gaga is crazy, I was pretty wild before she ever existed in pop culture during my high school days. Every day was a masquerade for me. I would put together outfits featuring everything from black tutus, neon fishnets, corsets, platform commando boots, and kimonos. I was pretty infamous at my school as that crazily dressed gothic girl. But I really feel that dressing so wildly allowed me to really explore the bounds of fashion blurring it with art, history, shock, and a lot of black.
“Obviously by college my sideshow fashion act had died down a lot and I began exploring practical forms of fashion. I would spend entire weekends going from thrift store, vintage stores, and antique stores blending vintage pieces with high fashion. But it was also was in college, I momentarily gave up on my hope of becoming a journalist or writer. And much like my pursuit of more practical clothing choices I began exploring more practical career options. Pursuing a dream like journalism seemed so impossible, especially at a time when newspapers were slowly collapsing. So I spent two years dead-set on law school as a political science / pre-law major. I even took the LSAT.
“Fate had other plans than law school. In my junior year of college with a group of close colleagues we created an online magazine fashion and music magazine, www.fittheniche.com. The magazine came together with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work. And to my surprise, by my senior year of university, I was the head writer and editor of a thriving magazine.
“At first I did not really understand the gravity of what we had created but looking back on it by the end of our first year I had interviewed dozens of my favorite brands and attended fashion week at LA and NY. People were taking fashion advice from a once-nerdy gothic girl pretty seriously. It still is pretty unbelievable for me what we accomplished with such little resources. At age twenty I was managing a dozen writers, editing a magazine, and working with some of the music industry’s biggest press companies, and planning major photo shoots.
“I soon realized I could never go to law school and completely shifted gears in college. I guess I could never really ignore my need to be creative and managed to find a way to express it despite my law school ambitions. Currently, I have finished college, I am still running Niche, and will be hopefully attending graduate school at USC for journalism next year. I have also been furthering my exploration of art in all of its forms in the culinary realm. I work tirelessly on perfecting some of my family’s traditional Italian recipes. Hopefully, you will be seeing blogs soon with some of the recipes I’ve been creating.
“So I guess I will end on this particularly cliché and sentimental note. Do not ever give up on your dreams. As crazy or as impossible as they might be, you can accomplish anything with a lot of hard work. While it is still very early in my career as a journalist, I would rather be someone who tried doing what they love and failed then be someone who regretted taking the safe route. I know it sounds cheesy but four years ago I would have never believed that I would be pursuing a career in journalism. And here I am, doing just that, being asked by this fabulous website to write about it.”
Photos: Nick Asokan