In May of 2014, I packed my little car and headed south for New Orleans. I left a very comfortable life in Baltimore for a place that I had little connections, fewer friends, and even less family. People thought I was crazy. I knew I was crazy, but I had an inexplicable connection to this mystery city I had only visited a handful of times. Call it instinct, call it impulse, or call it an incredibly biased first experience with the city- whatever it was I was yearning for in life, I somehow knew it waited for me in the Crescent City.
I first ventured to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII as a Marketing Assistant for the Baltimore Ravens. In addition to winning an emotional back and forth game, I got to see my favorite artist, Beyonce, perform as well as share the experience with my dad who also worked for the team. We celebrated that victory until 4 a.m. The whole experience was unexpected, magical, exhilarating, and a total whirlwind. While I left my first trip feeling so full from the experience, I also left feeling like I wanted to leave pro-sports and found myself contemplating where I wanted to go from there.
Fast forward three years later and I've now resided in New Orleans for two years. I've found success as both a stylist, event producer and make up artist- a seemingly gigantic jump from my polo and khaki clad days setting up NFL fan development activations. I found a home in New Orleans Fashion Week, where I have been able to merge all my professional loves and learn under one of the best mentors I have ever had, alongside some of the most amazing people I have ever worked with. In addition, I've sprinkled in work on regional and national commercials, contributed to publications/blogs, and also work freelance for Laura Mercier cosmetics. The city has overflowed with opportunities for me.
But New Orleans is a city about people, so all the professional success in the world wouldn't be complete without people to inspire, share, and challenge that success. I am most grateful to the city of New Orleans for these people: my tribe. I met Sarah and Lori at Fashion Week but it wasn't until a few cucumber margaritas, hilarious slew of failed dating stories, and conversations about their ambitions (which remain as big as mine) that I realized I had found two very crucial members of my Nola Tribe. When they asked me to collaborate on the relaunch of their baby, Felicity Magazine, I was honored and on board with a yes as quick as when Lori invites me to Salu's happy hour.
Nowadays, as I look out from my apartment in Mid-City to a view of the New Orleans skyline, I thank the city for helping me find my tribe, my professional success, and myself. It's a wild, unexpected, whirlwind of a place that couldn't feel more like home.
I grew up in Chicago in a multi-cultural environment amid a family of artists, musicians, photographers, painters, and filmmakers. From an early age I knew I needed to work hard to gain my own recognition amidst so many creative personalities. With a talented family and a pretty sister, funny was the only option left. I'm a work in progress.
Step one was to find myself. Over the years, this quest to find myself has led me through careers in music, art, graphic design, performance and writing. I attended The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin before graduating from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Travel has always been my obsession and I spent many years moving from one city to the next every chance I got. I chose careers and lifestyles that afforded me the freedom to take off at any moment for road trips, day trips, overseas excursions or simply uprooting to try living in another city. I've traveled coast to coast throughout the U.S., Mexico, China and Europe. One thing I learned was that, like George Bernard Shaw said, "Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself."
Step two, create myself. Out of all the places I've been, New Orleans is the one city that has felt most like home. It contains the perfect blend of creativity and culture in an atmosphere that encourages community involvement. Having lived here since late 2010, it's the longest I've ever stayed in one place and I now consider myself a permanent transplant.
Here I've finally been able to create myself. In addition to my work as a makeup artist, I'm heavily involved in parade krewe culture as captain, queen, and member of multiple krewes. I host my own monthly theater show, The T.M.I. Talk Show and I produce and perform in a series of drag and variety shows at local New Orleans nightclubs. I get to collaborate with amazing and inspiring people to create magical moments and beautiful art.
Step three: now that I'm creating myself, where do I go from here? Of everything I've done, the one thing I've found that I'm good at is connecting with people, helping them feel good about themselves, and making them laugh or feel inspired. Any part of my careers that can achieve this is where I put my energy.
With Felicity Magazine, I'm looking forward to helping create beautiful, inspiring imagines within our photo shoots, as well as showcasing the fascinating personalities of New Orleans in a series of intimate interviews.
Ever since I was a child, creativity has been at the forefront of everything I do. However, it wasn't until I entered college that I discovered the world of fashion and never looked back.
In 2012, I launched my online Tumblr blog where I collected fashion photos from around the internet. As the blog grew, so did my obsession with all that the world of fashion had to offer- the glamour, the fantasy, and everything in between. After I finally turned my tiny Tumblr blog into what is now FurryFilthyFashion.com, I realized I was missing something: New Orleans.
Working with Felicity Magazine gives me the opportunity to retreat back to the streets that I know to rediscover the fashion and eclectic styles that helped shape my life. Lucky for us, New Orleans doesn't follow trends because it has a breath of style unlike anywhere else. And, in our eyes, style is what lasts a lifetime.
The stars were aligned the day Lori and I met.
It was not your typical setting. There was no expectation of finding a lifelong friend and certainly no anticipation of meeting someone who would change my life forever. In truth, at the time, I was in that arduous place in my life in which many people my age find themselves. I knew I wanted to become something great "when I grew up," but what? How? And shouldn't it have happened by now?
My parents raised me to follow my dreams and utilize my passions. They instilled in me the idea that no matter what career path I chose, it should be something that I love. Everyone's heard the saying "If you find a job you love doing, you'll never work a day in your life." That's a saying I firmly believe. So, when Lori approached me with the idea of starting a New Orleans fashion and lifestyle magazine, I didn't hesitate. I knew at that moment, "this is it! this is the moment I had been waiting for my whole life!"
It was more than a match made in heaven; it was destiny. Cheesy? Absolutely. But life has its way of putting things together when the moment is right. That very same day, we got to work and our dream started its path to becoming a reality.
Felicity brings together the two things I'm most proud of about myself- my love of creativity and fashion and that I'm a tried and true New Orleanian. This city is much more than where I am from; it is the essence of who I am. Born and raised in the heart of Uptown, I'm everything you'd expect a local to be. I can eat more than my weight in crawfish, I drink from a go-cup, and when someone roots for anyone other than the Saints, I take it very personally. But the thing I love most about this city is the fact that there's no other place in the world like it. The culture of this city inspires people to be unique, and their fashion and style convey that. Our mission is more than writing articles about local fashion trends, where to go out with friends, or what to do this weekend. Our goal is to relate to our readers in the way you would with your best friend. This adventure is personal and from the heart. Felicity is defined as the state of being happy or a source of happiness. We believe New Orleans and the culture of its people personify Felicity. Our mission is to keep you looking great while doing what you love in a city of happiness and new adventures.
Although I grew up only a couple of hours outside of New Orleans in Lafayette, Louisiana, I never had a close relationship with the Crescent City. It was a place I seldom visited and often saw through the eyes of a tourist. As a child, I took the typical class trips to all the main attractions, and I of course knew of the "infamous" Bourbon Street, which I viewed as a dark, shady, and forbidden alleyway. In truth, I couldn't see the appeal of the city and often remembered thinking it had quite a distinct odor.
As for my other love, fashion, we have always had a closer than close relationship. For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with the simple art of dressing up. So naturally, after studying fashion design in college, I believed I would move to Los Angeles or New York City and pursue my dream of becoming a successful clothing designer.
It wasn't until my first year out of school that I took a weekend trip to New Orleans with my parents and felt like I was seeing the city for the first time. We stayed at a hotel on Tchoupitoulas Street, right across from a surfer bar called Lucy's, now one of my favorite and regularly frequented spots. Maybe it was the fact that moving to New Orleans seemed more attainable after a year of struggling to get an out-of-state design job, but regardless of the reasons, the once unappealing and malodorous city now seemed beautiful. After moving and finding that I had even more of a connection to this place than I thought possible, a part of me assumed my obsession would be short lived and that New Orleans was simply a new and exciting adventure that would eventually become yesterday's news.
That is, until I met Sarah, an uptown-obsessed and free-spirited girl who couldn't be more proud to call herself a local. She talked about the city like it was the most amazing place on the planet and assured me that no matter how long I stayed here, New Orleans would continue to provide me with new and exciting adventures. While she was not my first friend here, she was definitely my first real friend here. We not only validated each others feelings for this incredible city and its people, but we shared a mutual love of fashion and recognition of what this city has to offer. It didn't take me long to realize that these thoughts shouldn't go to waste.
And so was born our New Orleans baby, Felicity Magazine.
After living in New Orleans for two years, I am proud to say the city and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. No, it's not a New York runway, and the typical New Orleanian is not seen walking down the street in a Dolce and Gabbana suit, but what this city brings to the table is even more special than that. It's a relatable; down to earth, "let's have a good time" style that embodies the personality and life of the people here. Felicity Magazine was created to express and share that feeling. It is our New Orleans diary; personal, honest, raw, and full of life, just like the people of the city.