Fresh Reads: Unlabel / On Reconnecting w/Your Core Strengths

Being sick at home all week sure has its perks. I've been battling what seems to be a cold and nasty allergy cough, and rather than force myself out to spread some germs, I canceled everything on my calendar, moved meetings to satellite calls and gave myself some self-imposed cabin fever. While at times it drove me nuts, not having to go anywhere left a lot more time to get caught up on things like emails, reading and writing. I'd started Marc Ecko's Unlabel last fall; after seasons of slowly making my way through, I powered through the second half of it in one night this week. Boy, was it worth it!

For those who don't know Marc Ecko, he's a cultural ingenue in the realms of streetwear, hip-hop and graffiti. Most famously, he's the founder and face behind Ecko Unlimited and its family of streetwear collection brands as well as the figurehead behind Complex Magazine/Media. As Unlabel will show you, Marc's had many other endeavors in art, video games, high fashion and more. He weaves all of his entrepreneurial successes and failures into a brilliant story on personal branding and starting your own business. He even appeals to the analytical brains by conveying his points with an algorithm; each chapter highlights one piece in this algorithm that eventually comes together in a formula for 'unlabeling' yourself.

As you can imagine, a white Jewish kid from Jersey had a hard time establishing a name for himself in graffiti culture, then in streetwear, then in mainstream fashion. This is where the 'Unlabel' flame is ignited. Ecko shows how he overcame the presumptions and the hardships put in place by the 'gatekeepers' of these 'scenes'; that despite what label one might place on him, he didn't have to live in a box, limited by what that label meant.

I could go on forever about all the things I resonated with in Unlabel - the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship, personal branding, being a creator, breaking down barriers, being vulnerable, thinking strategically, etc. - but what struck me most was his consistent return to 'remembering your core strengths.'

That could be your most popular, best-selling service or product, or it could be the passions, personality traits and skills you know you're strongest in. No matter how far Marc strayed, he always came back to his core strengths.


How often do we stray from our own core strengths?

I do it all the time. Anyone with a smartphone or internet access can probably say the same. I started this sick week almost bored from forcing myself to rest and not knowing what to do. I didn't like anything on TV, so naturally I'd reach for my phone and scroll endlessly. After reading Unlabel, I thought about all the things I'm truly passionate about doing (besides working out.) Reading, writing, blogging, marketing. I should never be bored b/c there's always something new to read about, try, analyze and try again in those four fields alone. Return to your core strengths, Jess.

So while Unlabel was a great marketing / personal branding read overall, I thank Marc Ecko for renewing that fire within me. Sometimes it takes a little sickness and some quality reading time to re-anchor ourselves to what's truly important to us.

Check out Unlabel here.

August Fresh: A Recap

It's been a ridiculous August and I have a severe lack of blog posts to show for it. I'm sorry my dear readers! As I'm sitting here watching Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC light up the MTV Video Music Awards, I thought it'd be fun to share some photos of what I've been up to this month. Tomorrow I'll back with the first of some seriously amazing interviews, outfit shots and recaps of my time as a WWDMAGIC Official Blogger :)

Most of my time has been devoted to LUNA & CLIF Kid Bar. It's our busiest couple of months in the year, but winding down now. I've been having such a blast at all of our events but I'm excited to have a little quiet time to blog in the coming weeks.

I'm stoked to be on the team bringing Slideluck to life this year in Seattle! Part potluck, part art extravaganza. Coming in November to Pioneer Square! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates leading up to the event.

Still getting my workouts & superfood diet on. Been traveling a lot so it hasn't been as consistent, but I refuse to give up on it completely. Never that.

Thoroughly enjoying summer but looking forward to fall, because that means SEAHAWKS FOOTBALL! Caught the last day of training camp a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Bing for having me!

My family is everything to me, and now we will have one more to add to the mix (officially!) Congrats to my cousin Erick and his beautiful longtime girlfriend Ashley on their engagement. 

Super honored to be included in "The Voices of Fashion" piece in 425 Magazine this month! Read the article here.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you know my last week was spent in Vegas covering WWDMAGIC. Such a life-changing experience. I'm still trying to comprehend all the wonderful things that happened there, and you'll see a few posts going up in the next few weeks detailing them!

Aces Interview: Vogue's West Coast Editor, Lawren Howell

If I worked in the fashion industry, Lawren Howell would have my dream job. This San Francisco native spent some time studying art history in Paris and in the creative department at Kate Spade and Jack Spade before landing in the offices of Vogue. Oh yes, she worked as an assistant to editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour and executive fashion editor Phyllis Posnick before being promoted to West Coast editor for the publication in 2006. 

Lawren now manages all of Vogue's West Coast editorial shoots, as well as the annual Vogue CFDA Fashion Fund show and other Vogue sponsored charity fashion shows. She's in town today for the Nordstrom Designer Preview, and spent some time with me last night to answer a few of these questions. This is the first time Vogue and Nordstrom have partnered for Designer Preview, and speaking with Lawren got me that much more excited for tomorrow night's show. Get to know her, and follow us at #NordstromxVoguePromos on social media for behind the scenes shots and more from the show!

Image via Vogue

How did growing up in San Francisco inspire you to pursue a career in the creative and fashion industries?

San Francisco is such an international city. I had an eclectic upbringing and grew up with exposure to such rich culture. San Francisco has beautiful architecture and is such a creative place; there was always art shows to go to. I also grew up in a family of creatives; my sister is now an artist and my brother's in graphic design.

Is there a project you've worked on that's near and dear to your heart? Why?

The Vogue CFDA Fashion Fund is really cool and so much fun to work on. I've made so many friends and learned so much about the different designers that have been a part of it. The show features new, young designers (this year's finalists were just announced yesterday!) I style the show; we do all of it, from casting to hair and makeup, so the designers can breathe and be a part of the audience in their own show. It's fun to see how far they've come. The show first happened 8 years ago, in Pebble Beach with a partnership with Lexus. I've been involved for 6-7 years.

Image via Vogue

Describe your personal style.

There's definitely a 'menswear-y' vibe. I like simple things. Very all-American. I don't heavily accessorize. Less is more; not overdone. I think that's a very California, Northwest mindset. [true!] Not ostentatious. Understated.

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

That's easy! Moving into a house in the next couple of months that we've been working on for the last year and a half. That'll be nice!

Thank you!

Read all of my Aces interviews here.

Bloggers Know Best: Featured in Styled Right Magazine

Last month, I had the honor of being a part of Styled Right Magazine's "Bloggers Know Best" feature. Seattle's inimitable stylist and power girl, Darcy Camden enlisted the help of Swink Style Bar and photographer Nicole Firestone to make us look so fly. We met up at University Village on a beautiful weekday for these shots, then answered a few questions about our personal style and why we blog. I had a wonderful time getting dolled up for the event (Swink did my hair but I did my own makeup - a very big feat for me!) I think Darcy did a great job pulling together four women with distinctly different styles, who are all very much Seattle in their own way. 

Thanks again for letting me be a part of it!

Peep the top shots and the full issue below:

L to R: Dana of It's My Darlin, Mollie of MollieinSeattle, Kate of All Things Kate and moi

Zara bag, heels and tank; AllSaints sequined skirt via Poshmark (similar); Aritzia's Wilfred Free satin bomber jacket (fun print option here); vintage Alexander McQueen denim jacket (pictured above & below)

Subscribe to Styled Right's quarterly magazine on iTunes.

Viva Beyonce!

I know you've probably seen these all over the place, but I don't care. Queen Bey is on a media blitz and I am soaking up every minute of it! Catch her in the pages of GQ, singing at the Presidential Inauguration and the Super Bowl, with Destiny's Child promoting their new album, and on HBO for her "Life is but a Dream" documentary. And that's just in the next month!

Surround yourself with people who will lift you higher. I may not know you personally, Beyonce, but your work ethic and grounded humility inspire me to no end. 10,000 hours for real.

"I worked so hard during my childhood to meet this goal: By the time I was 30 years old, I could do what I want," she says. "I've reached that. I feel very fortunate to be in that position. But I've sacrificed a lot of things, and I've worked harder than probably anyone I know, at least in the music industry. So I just have to remind myself that I deserve it."

Recap: DList Magazine Young Northwest Party

Here's a quick photo recap of DList Magazine's Young Northwest honoree party. I'm so grateful for all of my friends and loved ones who came across the bridge to Bellevue to support a lady! I couldn't have asked for a better group to hang with that night. Wish I'd gotten more pictures with the other great nominees like Dhruva MikkelsenOsiris NavarroCasey Carter & Sasha Pasulka


Photo credit: Danielle Bortone-Holt

Photo credit: Danielle Bortone-Holt

Photo credit: Danielle Bortone-Holt

Meet the DList Magazine Young Northwest 2011 Honorees!

You know how I said I was finally inspired to pick up blogging again in July? Well, that's because my dear friend Jen Joyce nominated me for Seattle lifestyle magazine DList's Young Northwest 2011 issue for Blogger!

For the first time, DList took to Twitter to see who might be a good candidate for the various categories in its Young Northwest honors. Although tweet votes were just one criteria in choosing each honoree, it helped the magazine find talent they might not have otherwise considered.

I have Jen and lots of dear friends to thank for putting me in the running. I write this blog to share information and personal insights with you, and I am incredibly humbled to have this year's Young Northwest honor. 


This sweet photo was taken in Olympic Sculpture Park by the talented Brian Oh.

Dimepiece Designs dress / Vintage bracelet / Ring from Nasty Gal / Hair & makeup by Dior Calloway

If you're in the Seattle area, I'd love to see you at the Young Northwest Party this Friday at Munchbar in Bellevue! You can meet all of this year's Young Northwest honorees. I'll be live tweeting using #DListYNW & blogging at the party, and I hear Report Shoes will be in the house! 

Band – Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme

Entrepreneur – Dhruva Mikkelsen, Shocking Goat

Jack of all Trades – Andy Karuza, Brand Buddee

Trail Blazers – Josh Berman & Ramel Williams, 4Evergreen Group

Blogger – Jess Estrada, Fresh Jess

Writer – Sasha Pasulka, Red Magnet Media Agency

Chef – Jason Stratton, Artusi

Mixologist – Ricardo Hoffman, Zig Zag

Photographer – Alvin Nguyen, Alvin Nguyen Photography

Socialite – Casey Carter,

Artist – Adam Jackson, Adam Jackson Art

Filmographer – Zia Mohajerjasbi, Love & Shoestrings

Stylist – Osiris Navarro, Osiris the Great & Treats Club

Philanthropist – Michael Henrichsen, Play My Birthday Billy Idol

Congrats to all of the honorees, and thank you DList Magazine!

Read the issue online below!

All Beyonce Everything

Beyonce is everywhere and then some for her album and other various projects! Your hustle is so admirable...

Behind the scenes & shots from her "4" album photoshoot in Paris via StyleCaster:

Complex Mag's Aug/Sept issue cover & gallery:

I pre-ordered "4" after watching this

mobile video

Jay-Z took of his wife backstage at American Idol. He's so proud of her, and she of him. SWOON


Recap: Seamless in Seattle

Last week I had the privilege of attending Seattle Magazine's first Seamless in Seattle fashion show at the Seattle Art Museum, directed by Eduardo Khawam.

Seamless in Seattle is an annual event that features some of the city's up-and-coming designers. Applicants submitted their portfolios to a judging panel of esteemed individuals in the Seattle fashion community, and twelve lucky finalists saw their pieces strut down the runway at SAM. Awards were handed out for Best Emerging Designer, Best Student Designer, Best Bridal Wear & Readers' Choice. The award recipients will receive all kinds of coverage from Seattle Magazine, Seattle Bride and at Fashion First in September.

For a city that isn't normally recognized for its fashion and style, it was really special to see some of Seattle's best and brightest designers in the same room together. One of my favorite elements of the night was sponsor VitaminWater's Color Challenge, where each of the finalists was tasked with designing a piece inspired by a VitaminWater flavor. As you can see in the photos below, each of the designers had their own unique take on the flavor assigned to them. It was fun to see how they took to the challenge with their personal style and personality. Take a look, and check out the designers below:

Set 1: Malia PeoplesBri Seeley (Readers' Choice) & Caitlyn Petitclerc


Set 2: Banchong DouangphrachanhGina Moorhead & Kate Burt (Best Emerging Designer)

Set 4: Kathy Sabin-MensahKristine Hawthorne & Kim McCormick

Congrats everyone for a great show!

Enjoying the show w/my ladies Anisa and local designers Sara Seumae & Cameron Levin (not pictured)