Jesse Mars: Out of This World

With a look out of this world (and a body for that matter), Jesse Mars is making his mark in pure, sultry style.

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This New York native has kept himself quite busy over the years, modeling for various companies and boutiques, as well as, interning for multiple operations. Through it all, it’s surprising that he manages to accomplish everything to his full potential, while still enrolling in Fashion Merchandising at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and maintaining his incredible physique. But, even with his full schedule, I was still able to press him for questions about his fantastically chaotic life.

Well, with a face like that and a body to match, it must have been inevitable that he was going to end up as a model, right?  “Modeling was definitely not something I went searching for. It took me by surprise. If you were to tell me even two years ago that I’d be where I am today I’d say you’re crazy. Through high school, family, friends, customers, and even complete strangers would tell me that I have a face for the runway and I should pursue modeling. It wasn’t until I went away for college that I found myself in front of the camera.”

It’s quite surprising that he had never imagined himself as a model, yet that just makes for an even better story. So, how did his career even come about then? “As I was walking through the mall, the manager of Abercrombie & Fitch stopped me and asked me if I would consider working for them. I never felt I had the look for magazines or the runway, but I figured there must be something people see in me and I’ve learned to never miss an opportunity that’s given to me, so of course, I said yes and took the job as a model for Abercrombie.”

Ah, Abercrombie. I think we’ve all found ourselves gazing at the models, at some point, as we pass by the store, too intimidated to actually step foot inside. Yet, Mr. Mars definitely had the courage to do so. “Abercrombie was really when I began to build some self-confidence in myself. Customers would often tell me I looked like a mannequin and that I was a perfect representation of the brand. My store manager would have to take pictures of her store models and send them to corporate for cast-of, which were the models that best represented the brand and store. We’d pose in the back of the store like the models you find on Abercrombie & Fitch marketing including strict specifications such as cuffing pants, rolling sleeves, wearing sandals, and taking several shirtless pictures as well.  These pictures were sent to Corporate where they would choose model’s to represent that store and the brand as a whole for the upcoming seasons.”

So, Abercrombie is the start, but what was the first ‘official’ modeling job? “My first modeling ‘job’ was for a small boutique in upstate New York. I was shooting for the upcoming Fall/Winter lookbook. The set was small and calm and it was an amazing first experience. The photographer and everyone on set was extremely friendly and helpful for my first official photo shoot. It helped me get comfortable in front of the camera and let loose around strangers rather than my friends.”

Well, as for the modeling aspect, I believe the pictures speak for themselves. They can take him wherever his aspirations are. “A dream modeling job for me would probably be the opportunity to open for a fashion house like Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabanna or designers Calvin Klein and Michael Kors at fashion week.”

Quite large goals, yet definitely attainable with the talent he possesses. That talent, however, has not only taken him behind the camera, but directly to the heart of the business, as well. “I’ve had the opportunity to intern for two companies.  My first internship was with a boutique in Saratoga called Jackson Rebel. It was owned by my best friend who I actually met while working for Abercrombie.  He took me under his wings and showed me everything he knew about the industry. He basically handed me the reigns to the company and told me to hold on, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I prepared online orders for clients and updated inventory. Learned essential techniques to running a small business such as price points, marketing, and maximizing sales. I would create my own concept boards and assist with the photo shoots for upcoming seasons. My favorite part of interning for Jackson Rebel was traveling down and spending a few days in New York City each season attending trade shows to purchase garments for upcoming seasons. Seeing clothes I would buy at the trade shows being sold at the boutique really brought a sense of pride and accomplishment to my work.

As for the second internship? “I have also interned for my cousin in-law who was the owner of a modern luxury women’s brand, Jordan Wolk. Headquartered in the heart of the garment district, this was a phenomenal experience. I would run errands throughout the Garment District, collecting finished garments from shops and factories and transporting merchandise to prepare for upcoming shorts, events, and conferences.  I helped with the Fall 2013 lookbook photo shoot. It was fascinating to watch everything that happens behind the scenes. The designers were focused on how they wanted each shot to look, the make up artists would jump in when they felt something had to be adjusted, and the photographer Jodi Jones was amazing at communicating with the models to have the best shots imaginable.”

So ambitious, so dedicated. There are bright things in store for Mr. Mars, but what does he imagination for himself?  “I’m looking forward to seeing where this road leads me. I won’t limit myself or set boundaries to anything and am anxious to see not only what New York City has to offer me, but also what I can bring to the table. Upon graduating from the Fashion institute of Technology I hope to begin my own menswear line. It will be very All-American especially when it comes to manufacturing. It has always been something very important to me when I think of my future in the fashion industry. While it is less expensive to produce garments across seas in sweat shops I would rather not cut corners for higher profits. I believe that by investing in America, America will invest in me. As for the design of the line, it will be very ivy-league inspired with a modern, edgy inspiration. But that’s years down the road…one thing at a time right?”

Right indeed, yet I’m sure the road Jesse Mars is on will be moving past quite quickly, for with his skills, ambitions, and Adonis-esque looks, the world is his oyster. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Mr. Mars, but if I can guess one thing, it is a bright future, a very bright future, indeed.

 

Betts and Chet DeHart: The Lucid Twins

Double the trouble, double the fun, and definitely double the creativity, these two twins are taking on the world together, in style.

Bett, Chett, Jonah

Twins Betts Powell DeHart and Chet Howell DeHart (seen above with partner Jonah Levine) are like your average teenagers, only with their own clothing and footwear company. Yes, these two twins, founders of Lucid Footwear and Clothing (LucidFC), are two, quite extraordinary individuals, soon to be heading to New York City all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. Both the DeHarts, along with Levine, will be studying at the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM) College, where Betts will be studying marketing with an entrepreneur concentration and Chet in fashion merchandising with a retailing concentration. Humorous, talented, and on their way to success, I was lucky enough to be able to get to know these two rising stars.

So, how did LucidFC originate?  “Lucid FC (Lucid Footwear and Clothing) originated back in 2010 when we decided we needed to take advantage of our two powers and gifts! We both loved shoes and clothing! Betts is very good at selling them and Chet is very good at trend spotting. We both design the clothing and footwear. It was absolutely a joint plan, like everything we do. We are close twins!”

Ambitious, I like it. But how did two teenagers from Atlanta know even where to start? “We really did not know where to begin. We began contacting overseas manufactures, but that was very slow. After time, we got a lot of help from brand/store owners and we expanded.”

Eventually, they figured out the tricks of the trade. But, I’m guessing it took a while to learn. How were the early years?“We’ve been around since 2010, but no clothing was actually produced until 2011-2012.  Years and years went into trying to produce shoes, we had two pairs released,  and those two were very, very limited.”

From the looks of it, the DeHarts are two very stylish young men. Does this translate to their products? “We aim towards the streetwear crowd. We want them to take off their depressing, ugly graphic tees and put on a clean respectable top. Maybe it’s a t-shirt or a button down. We also like for all our items to be very open in a sense that any one of any style group could mix it in with their own little style.”

The designs look incredible. All that hard work came from the DeHart’s and their partner, Mr. Jonah Levine. What’s his story? “We met him online when were about 13 or 14 years old. He became involved in 2011-2012, when we needed help naming one of our products. Little did we know, in late 2013, he became a part of the brand. He helps us the same way we help each other. All three of us get along very well! Us three do it all, basically.”

Well, the three entrepreneurs have conquered so much (recognized by their interviews in Mass Appeal and Esquire). What goals could they possibly have for the future? “Our goals at the moment are to keep more in stock, I’m not sure if I should be saying that, but oh well! We want to have it where the customers can buy selected items until the next season is available. We also want to head up to NYC and maintain all of our brand’s personality, but also add more to it.  We have been very minimalistic, timeless, and aesthetic, which is what we want. We are planning on adding more cut-and-sewn items, along with improving our advertisement.”

So much success has been built from the DeHart twins’ hard work, determination, and tenacity, which poses the grand ol’ question: would the dynamic duo ever go solo? “We will never fly solo! The three of us work very well together and all three of us plan on all staying together. We want to do more than just a clothing label. We want to own tea bars, nightclubs, and more!”

And there you have it, the next big twin craze. As of today, the lookbook for the summer season has been released, with the summer selection opening to the public on June 18th. All can be found at their website. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I look forward to what the DeHart’s and Mr. Levine have to offer. They’re leaving their mark on the world, one graphic tee at a time.

 

Alessa Pomerantz: The New Aphrodite

Step aside Aphrodite, there is a new beauty in town and she goes by the name of Alessa Pomerantz.

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Yes, this gorgeous gal, soon to make the move from Bernardsville, New Jersey to The Big Apple, is stealing the show, breaking hearts, and dazzling crowds. With a face like that, though, can you really be surprised? Luckily, I was given the privilege to feature Ms. Pomerantz and find out about her loving family, Victoria Secret Model aspirations, and her battle with an unfortunate height.

Judging from the natural beauty she possesses, it should almost be instinctual that modeling was what she was meant to do, right? “When I was little I wanted to be an actress. I went to a few casting calls but never heard anything back, so I realized acting wasn’t really my thing. As I got older though, my desire to be in front of the camera only grew. I would flip through magazines wishing I was one of the models. I thought to myself, “if they can do that, why can’t I?” That’s how it all began, I just didn’t know where to start!”

So maybe it wasn’t her first calling, but she went with it, and I’m sure that she was a natural at it, right off the bat. “My first modeling job was with my brother’s friend, Ben Britz. My brother asked me to bring a guitar to his friend in Brooklyn and in exchange Ben and his wife Elizabeth would do a photo-shoot with me. I was so scared but I figured “hey, why not, this is the start I need!” After everything was set up, I got in front of the camera and froze. I had no idea what to do, I felt so awkward. Luckily, Ben and Elizabeth were incredibly sweet and worked with me until I got more used to posing. We got some great shots that day!”

So, it may have been an awkward start, but at least she found her calling. So, have we seen her on Dior, Chanel, or any other names to knock our socks off? “My modeling career so far has been focused around building my portfolio.”

Ah, a new face, that’s refreshing. Who has she worked with then? “I’ve worked with some amazing photographers! Kurt Von Weisenstein, Chris DeLorenzo, Jill O’Brien, and Ben Britz to name a few. They’ve helped me learn and grow as a model. I wouldn’t have such great pictures if it weren’t for them.”

Well, with such stunning photos as those, it’s not hard to imagine that she’ll have any difficulty in the modeling world. “Well, I would love to get signed by an agency, but being only 5’3” makes it really difficult to be taken seriously as a model. I want to break the stereotype that all models are super tall and skinny. I know I won’t be walking a runway anytime soon, but I would love to do catalog work.”

Breaking down the firmly-set walls of the modeling world is an incredibly large feat, but if anyone is to do it, I’m sure Ms. Pomerantz is our girl. What will the future have in store for her? “Besides becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel? I plan on going to NYU and modeling on the side. There are going to be so many more opportunities for me to model there. I’m hoping to make an impact in the world.”

There is not a doubt in my mind that that impact is imminent and once here, will last a lifetime. Alessa Pomerantz is an absolute delight with true beauty, a supportive family, and a secret love for learning. The world should be prepared for the mark she is about to leave, for she is here, and here to stay.

 

Alexis Zerafa: A Killer Force

“Have you ever killed a man?” I ask, searching for a great hook for this feature. “Not as far as anyone knows.”

Charismatic, brilliant, and apparently hiding some dangerous secret, Alexis Zerafa, founder of ZUZ NYC, is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

photoYes, this gorgeous gal, hailing all the way from Michigan, is interesting, to say the least. Majoring in Integrated Digital Media (smarty pants) at NYU, Ms. Zerafa will be making the move to Brooklyn, New York in the Fall, a trip she is overjoyed to be taking. And what better way to kick off a new chapter in her life than with her own clothing line? Most people buy cars or dye their hair (one of those she actually did) to transition into a new point in their life, yet Alexis decided to kick it up notch, taking the iconic skyline and changing its location.

Yet, this interest in her clothing line wasn’t a childhood dream, in fact, it was all quite sudden. “I was just playing around with some New York-inspired designs, because I hadn’t gotten any college apparel. I decided to spray paint a skyline onto a tank top and it turned out pretty nice. I posted it in the university Facebook group and it got so much attention, I decided to start a clothing line!

And who says Facebook is dying off? With all the attention she received, she even had to enlist the help of some additional workers. “I came up with the initial idea, but I needed as much help as I could get. I have a great team behind me.”

The designs do look quite amazing (see below), yet dawn NYU’s colors, purple and white. Do I spy some favoritism here? “We’re not affiliating ourselves with NYU at all. We want the company to grow enough to reach consumers outside the New York area and hope that it pays for our tuition.”

photo (1)Well, with the way they look, there shouldn’t be a problem with this entrepreneur, but maybe the brand should reach beyond women’s tanks? “The clothing won’t be geared toward a specific gender. So far, we are aiming towards tank tops, T-shirts, and V-necks. There’s a possibility of leggings and shorts being produced as well, but that is still in the works.

It seems as though Ms. Zerafa has this company all figured out, yet one thing still confuses me, in particular. The name. ZUZ NYC? “The name is a long story, but in short it comes from the name of an old Jewish coin and we really liked the sound of it, not much more to it!”

Well, from what I’ve seen, this little dynamo is coming in hot and soon to take New York in style. The website is soon to be released in a few months, yet you can still like the Facebook page and stay updated here. Alexis can’t contain her excitement to begin the next four years at NYU and we can’t wait to see what she has to bring to the table next.

Kirsten Stainer: The Jersey Girl Taking Paris

We’ve all heard of the beloved Jersey Boys, but I think it’s time to put down the mic and shine the spotlight on another Jersey inhabitant, Kirsten Stainer.

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Yes, this beauty is tearing off her suburban ties and running full force into the world of fashion and what better city to do it in than Paris itself? Not only is her tenacity and brains (soon to be a NYU student) something to marvel and admire, but her recent internship with the Donna Karan Collection is something to catch your interest. Luckily enough, Kirsten was able to share some detail into the extraordinary experience she was able to partake in this past May, right in the heart of New York’s Garment District.

How did she covet the well-sought after internship? “I simply broadcast emailed fashion brands and companies from Max Mara to Barneys New York. I received a good number of replies, one of them being Donna Karan, something that certainly took me by surprise since it is one of the more notable brands I applied to.”

While obtaining the internship is certainly notable enough, Ms. Stainer worked solo on the act. “I earned this internship without any contacts whatsoever. I submitted my application to Human Resources just as any other candidate and went through multiple interviews.”

One would guess that after the pressures of applying had subsided and the golden gates of the fashion world opened to her, champagne and designers would come flowing out to dine with her, yet this wasn’t the case: “I earned an internship with the Public Relations department, a division which isn’t quite as glamorous as it may sound. It is extremely demanding…Fashion is an industry that never rests and PR embodies that attribute of fashion perfectly.”

Yes, indeed, Kirsten’s internship pulled her in multiple directions all at once, from garment pulls to caring for every stylist’s needs and whims, yet as grueling as some parts may have been, rewarding was it as well: “On my second day, I was already asked to assist at a photo shoot at the Stephan Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village. My boss simply gave me the garment bag meant for the stylist and right-hand woman to Donna, at the studio. She never told me who the shoot was for, but just gave me a little smile as she sent me off. I was ecstatic, nervous, and just had no idea what to expect. I arrive at the studio and meet the stylist at the door. She escorted me up to the shoot and as I turn the corner, there sits Donna Karan herself, locking eyes with me as I enter the room (sounds as if it was just out of a movie). Remaining as casual as possible, yet impossible to restrain my excitement from meeting one of the greatest innovators in women’s fashion, I shook Donna’s hand and was returned with a beaming smile.

There are some kind words that the lucky intern wants people to know: “If there is one thing that people should know about Donna The Woman as opposed to Donna The Designer, is that she is unbelievably genuine and amicable, anything but condescending. She expressed interest in who I was, where I was from, and what I wanted to pursue in fashion. I wasn’t just an intern in her eyes.”

The future is a shining beacon for Ms. Stainer, a beacon that guides her to NYU, to Paris, and beyond. From her signed copy of the 2011 September issue of Vogue, signed by the famed editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, she is inspired to cement her goals, to take on the world in fashion. “That signed copy of Vogue with Anna’s message, “Dear Kirsten, Best Wishes, Anna Wintour” symbolizes so much for me. Looking at it everyday motivates me to never stop trying in this industry, to strive to achieve my absolute greatest dream of becoming an editor at Vogue.

Tenacity, spunk, creativity, what more could you ask for in such a brilliant star such as Kirsten Stainer? Humanitarianism, maybe? Well, she already has that covered. “Apart from my goals in fashion, I also want to have ample time in my life to propel my work with charity…I want to promote education for girls in areas of the world where they are deprived. I consider myself so lucky to dream big and be able to work tirelessly at accomplishing what I want in life and I believe that every young girl should have the same chance at earning a quality education and aspiring to be whatever she wants to be. It’s the twenty first century and to think that third world countries in Africa and the Middle East believe that suppressing these girls is ration is simply disgusting to me…Even if I could make a change in these girls’ lives in the smallest way possible, I would feel immensely honored.”

An activist, a determined working-girl, and a face to beat them all, the world better keep an eye on Kirsten Stainer. No matter if it is Jersey or Paris, this tenacious girl is taking on mountains, pushing them to the ends of the earth to uncover the amazing potential everything has to offer. NYU is lucky to have a student like her and in hopes of one day, Vogue lucky enough to have an editor such as herself.