Long time no talk. I’ve been super busy lately, but don’t worry. I have been grabbing content along the way, and throwing in a couple photoshoots, here and there so there is lots to come.
Enough about that, on to todays topic, which is an interview! Interviews are some of my favourite things to post because I find them so interesting, inspiring and rejuvenating to learn about other people.
Interviews basically allow you to ask people the questions to want to ask, but would be weird to ask in the average conversation. Right?
Let’s get right to it.
1. Hey, Alicia! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, my readers and I are so excited! Let’s start with the basics. Please introduce yourself.
Hey, Her Everyday Life Readers!
I’m a New York City bred, Toronto-raised mother of two queens (Jayla & Qara), co-publisher, illustrator, designer, and creative director at Milk & Heels Magazine.
2. I love a gal who does it all, and it seriously looks like you do – that’s actually the reason I was drawn to you. I find you so interesting & inspiring! Can you tell us how your career has grown and evolved + the journey of how you have ended up where you are today?
I’ve always been a visionary. My art/design journey started at 4 years old when my older cousin taught me how to draw Bart Simpson. By age 7, I was drawing runway models and designing my own clothing line. I always knew I was a designer. I thought differently than the other children and saw average things in a different way. I was always captivated by art and design but it was something I knew how to do naturally, so I didn’t feel the need to go to school for graphics or fashion. Instead, I wanted to learn how to compose strategies and how to execute and expand on concepts. I majored in Advertising at the International Academy of design in Toronto. Advertising brought out my skill to market and brand products. The importance of supply and demand was very clear to me so I used my love for fashion and food to land a job as a Jr. art director right out of school at a hair extension company. They branded many products from weaves, wigs, creams braids etc. This position required me to develop and execute POP displays, radio ads, social networking and promotion, packaging design, product photoshoots, illustrations, and campaigns.
Four years into working with the beauty company, I was surprised with a miracle! I was pregnant with my 1st beautiful daughter Jayla. Eight months along in the pregnancy, I was in a car accident that nearly took all our lives. While on maternity leave I tried to earn some extra cash by freelancing to the beauty company. After our 1st project I started to notice something was extremely wrong. I could no longer sit at the computer for long periods of time, I couldn’t focus, I was experiencing back, neck, migraine pains, and my work was poor in quality. This was all due to the car accident. Not being able to do what I was once so great at was extremely frustrating and I developed depression.
To be completely honest, the only thing bringing me out of that darkness was my faith and my newborn baby Jayla. She was, and still is, a ray of light in my life and she was there when I needed her the most. So much love, joy and hope in such a small size! Jayla inspired me to look for another career path in entrepreneurship! What’s the saying: “When life throws you lemons you make lemonade”? And that is what I did.
I wanted to make her proud so I started to draw again and began looking to make a career in an illustration, which was fine, but I didn’t want to use traditional platforms like canvas and paper. I wanted to put my work on clothing, on billboards, wallpaper, desks, plates, shower curtains, party supplies, etc.
The idea was to build a brand out of my digital illustrations (her illustrations are so chic) and license my work to other brands in collaborating. Unfortunately, back then, when I pitched my ideas to some illustration agencies they said, “No one is really doing that; we make money by creating custom work for clients not mass producing products with your designs on them.” I didn’t want to fall in the same place as I did before – depending on a pay cheque for every hour I punched in. To add insult to injury, my body simply couldn’t take that type of workload to support my family. I wanted to put my art on clothing, home decor items, and build an empire, like Hello Kitty or Ed Hardy, but more couture. I had no idea how to get there, zero resources and most importantly no support on this idea. Friends and family just didn’t get the concept, so put that dream on the shelf and waited for the rest of the world to be on my level -which they are now so stay tuned!
While my dream was cooling off on the shelf, I moved on to opening a photography studio. That lasted 6 months and led to me having to file for bankruptcy.
Enough was enough, I needed a better foundation and a mentor to be successful with this entrepreneurship thing, so I enrolled in an entrepreneurship course at Centennial College in Toronto. There, I learned the importance and monetary value of being unique and finding your target market to pay you for it. I also learned about finance, business plans, projections, forecasting etc, all of which I needed. As the years went on, I had more great ideas that didn’t go anywhere. Then I was surprised! Yes, you guessed it, I was pregnant with my second daughter, our beautiful Qara!
Though Jayla inspired entrepreneurship, Qara inspired focus and precision. This is where Milk & Heels was born. My partner Kerrie-Ann and I have been friends for 9 years and had our 1st babies a week apart from each other. As good friends, we always wanted to have a business together but never knew what to do. First, we thought of a children’s book, then a jewelry line. I called her after finding out I was pregnant and said let’s do a magazine! Knowing I always had bold and crazy ideas, she weighed the odds and for some crazy reason decided to partner with me on this magazine idea and I’m so happy that she did. By this stage in my life, with all my many mistakes and setbacks, I grew to understand myself as an artist. I knew now that I could create beautiful things/brands/magazines, but who would market it, sell it? How could we make the content something that readers would always come back for more? How could we take it to the next level? That’s what Kerrie-Ann does. As Editor-in-chief/Sr. stylist and co – founder, she is the ultimate business partner and friend. We’re the Ying & Yang team, still very similar but different at the same time. I think the best keep secret in business is finding your perfect business partner! For me, it’s been Kerrie-Ann on this unbelievable journey to build our legacy in the brand Milk & Heels.
Today Kerrie-Ann and I both allow our strengths as designers, stylist, illustrators and mothers to shine within the Milk & Heels platform. We are currently in the second phase of our business – The launch of Milk & Heels “One of a kind” Limited edition accessory line for children ages 5+ yrs. 2017 is looking bold and fantastic!!!
Before we move forward, I need to interject and say, thank you so much for sharing that. It is very reassuring to know that even someone who is killing it (as much as you) had their up’s and down’s. It gives all of us young enterpenures hope!
3. Let’s go on to the next question. I know that you are the creative director AND co-publisher for Milk & Heels magazine. I know what Milk & Heels Magazine is – I’m not a mom but I do read it – it’s very chic . Could you describe Milk & Heels magazine to my readers? What kind of vibe does the magazine portray? What kind of content does it contain?
Two years into the game, Milk & Heels is the 1st Canadian magazine for trendy moms and children averaging over 120,000+ unique readers per year. Our content curation is filled with statement fashion stories, street style, mom diaries blogs, monthly interview features, style trends for moms, babies and children, and seasonal celebrity cover features. The brand has recently expanded into luxury limited edition children accessories and will continue to branch into children luxury products in 2017.
More about Milk & Heels
Love that! I can’t wait to see these children products. I’m sure they will be gorgeous, just like you and the Milk & Heels brand.
4. Please, I am dying to know. What is the average day like for the creative director of a magazine?
Every day is something different. Last week, we were all focused on our fantastic Fall/Winter issue with the stunning Tracy Moore and her family from Cityline gracing the cover. Today, I’m writing a cool personal interview, then I’ll be painting custom fashion illustrations on interesting items as holiday gifts for all our features this year at Milk & Heels. Then, I’ll be starting our editorial calendar for 2017 followed by pre-production: conceptualizing and planning 6 upcoming photoshoots (2 street style shots, 2 feature interview, and 2 product line shoots). Tomorrow, I’ll be doing something totally different! My weeks are filled with drawing, strategy and events planning, business meetings, posting, marketing, photo shoots, and of course motherhood. Once in awhile, the Mr. and I have date nights or I hang out with my ladies (balance is key)! My schedule is always changing which is great for my body since I can’t stay at an office 6-8+hrs a day.
5. What are some of the best moments you have had in your career life, thus far?
The best moments would have to be having my mini queens! Jayla & Qara are the reason why I do what I do and are the reason why Milk & Heels exists today.
Some of the best business moments would have to be every milestone moment we’ve had that led us to be where we are today. To name a few, some of the best moments include our 1st test market issue, our 1st meeting with our team, our 1st interview, our 1st video made for Youtube, our 1st photoshoot for the magazine, our 1st fashion week, our 1st business meeting, our 1st children accessory line and our 1st time being on TV (which is this Wednesday, Nov 23rd on CityLine between 9am and 10am)! These are all pivotal moments for our magazine and amazing lessons in life that teach us so much and we wouldn’t change a thing.
6. You lead a crazy busy life. Working your killer job & being a mom is a lot of work. How do you stay healthy and balanced on a day to day basis?
1 year ago my family and I learned the benefits of alkaline foods vs acidic foods and decided to make a drastic switch. We now refer to our choice of food as an all alkaline diet vs vegan or vegetarian since we stay away from some vegetables that don’t have a high alkaline count. We try not to eat any soy as well due to the high levels of hormone ingredients. Focusing on eating food that is alive (like greens, etc), non-GMO, and are not spliced helps to keep us all healthier and energetic. I’m a parent by day and business woman in between that so I need all the energy I can get. A huge eye-opener in all of this was when I found out I was on the verge of developing diabetes I had other health concerns last year when I ate meat. Today, all my health concerns have completely vanished! I love this new way of eating I wish I switched years ago!
7. Any life tips / tricks you’d like to share?
Through my journey these are the most valued lessons that I’ve learned so far:
1. You must be willing to listen, learn and adapt to your customers no matter what you might feel or want.
2. People pay for originality. Be yourself , be confident, be persistent.
3. Work smart, not hard
4. Keep it simple. Try not to overthink ideas, strategies etc. The best ideas are the simple ones.
5. Often our worst enemy and competition is ourself.
6. I think the best keep secret in business is “find yourself the best business partner(s)!”
7. Be honest and ask questions! Invite people who inspire you to lunch and talk to them. Ask questions, take notes, pitch your services for free and build relationships. You’ll be surprised what they might say!!!
8. Any go-to healthy meals you want to share? OR Favourite healthy foods?
Lentil stew (poutine style) with homemade french fries and a side of tomato, avocado, cucumber, dandelion, kale, dried cranberries salad (don’t forget the berry vinaigrette)! It’s my favourite healthy lunch/dinner combo. Use coconut oil and red potatoes and stew up your lentils with fresh garlic, turmeric, onion, tomatoes, Himalayan salt, and even jerk seasoning! Yummmm! So much alkaline!
9. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview for us. Do you have any closing statements / remarks you’d like to leave us with?
Thank you all for reading! It was such a pleasure to share my experience as a working business mom to you all. If you have a dream make it a reality by finding ways to make it happen. And only keep positive supportive people around you! Anything less will only serve to bring you down and everyone doesn’t deserve your company.
Feel free to click the links below for the “milky” latest:
Stay Beautiful Kings & Queens! xoxoxo