Category: Life

September 30 2017

Behind the Scenes of the Skylar Yoo Photo Shoot

This past Monday, we shot professional photos for the shirts we’ll be selling at Skylar Yoo. We’re about a month out till launch, people! Isn’t that crazy?

Instead of worrying about morning traffic to LA, Sam, my friend and manager of Skylar Yoo, Kat, and I stayed at the Ace Hotel in downtown. That hotel is extra special to me because it’s where the thought of having an actual clothing line seemed like a possibility. The excitement of the day caused me to wake up at a frickin’ crazy hour, 5am. (Call time was 8am.) I just didn’t know what to expect for my first photo shoot. Did the photographer understand my vision? Would the outfits work? What if the model didn’t show?

I found my photographer, Karen Chen, while browsing through Instagram. I went to her website, dug around and found out that she had worked three years as photographer for one of the top fashion bloggers today, Chriselle Lim. I was sold. (If you’re out there reading this Chriselle, I love ya, girl. Same to you, Aimee Song. Go Korean girls!)

Included in Karen’s fee was her photography assistant and a MUA (make-up artist, don’t worry I had to Google it, too). I found out at the shoot that the make-up artist was Andrew Velazquez who is currently on a Lifetime show called American Beauty Star. Read about it, here, or you can watch snippets of it on Andrew’s Instagram.

Now, I needed a stylist and a model. Karen recommended Michelle Chan as well as Ford model Victoria Peyser. For a model, I was looking for someone with a mixed heritage. Victoria immediately caught my eye. The 19-year-old is a beautiful mix of German, Irish, Korean and Japanese.

I’d love to give you all the details about the shoot but you would probably be overwhelmed. All I have to say is that it was an A-MAZING day. Like one of those days that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Everything just came together perfectly. No drama, no chaos, every single person in the team brought their A game. We spent four long hours in the studio getting all the product shots done and then jumped around three different spots in downtown LA to get the editorial ones. My favorite part was working with Michelle in styling the outfits. It was so much fun pairing the shirts with jackets, jewelry and shoes. I know it’s such a girly thing but it felt like a cool, creative part of the project. Victoria made the clothes come alive!

Karen is a super talented, super hard working photographer. The girl had a contact sheet with all the photos sent to me that same night (it was right around 11:30pm). Talk about fast turnaround time. I would work with her again in a heartbeat.

Sam and I catch ourselves reminiscing about the day. How the weather was perfect, how hard everyone worked, how stunning Victoria looked in the shirts. I can’t wait to show you the final, edited shots.

At the end of the shoot, Sam, Kat and I went to this really cool vegan restaurant in the Arts District called Cafe Gratitude. We sat around reflecting on the day. All those long hours, working with the designers on the shirts, figuring out our brand and our message culminated in that moment. Though we haven’t launched yet it felt like we had reached a major milestone.

Thank you to everyone for helping us get this far. Skylar Yoo will be making her debut soon!

July 14 2017

Welcome Model Victoria Peyser to Our Skylar Yoo Team!

For weeks and weeks, I’ve been looking for the perfect girl to represent the Skylar Yoo brand. I can’t put into words who I was looking for, I just hoped and prayed she would appear. It now brings me great pleasure to introduce you to Victoria Peyser, a Ford model. You can see more pictures of her, here, or follow on Instagram, here.

We’re set to shoot at the end of September. Can’t wait to show you the behind-the-scene pics!

Excited to have you on our team, Victoria! We’re so lucky to have found you.

July 13 2017

Update on Skylar Yoo

I wanted to give you a guys an update on how the brand, Skylar Yoo, is shaping up. We have 10 solid designs in the pre-production phase, we’re testing out colors to make sure they look exactly right. For photography, I’ve picked out the one that I think has the best experience and the eye. Her name is Karen Rosalie, she worked as the editorial manager for The Chriselle Factor from 2014-2016, leading the brand’s photography and digital content production. She has created strong editorial stories with Chriselle for brands like Viktor & Rolf, Dior, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo. Her work with the Chriselle Factor has been featured on,, InStyle magazine & Harpers Bazaar.

Rosalie led me to the model I think we’re going to sign. (That hasn’t been locked in yet so I’ll introduce you to her once that deal is done.)

Because there’s so much to do before the October launch date, I hired a good friend of mine, Kat, to help me part-time. We’re totally on the same page with everything but it’s tough trying to balance friendship with business. That being said, I thought about it a lot (A LOT A LOT), and I think she’s going to help me bring this brand alive!

Yesterday, I broke down a bit because I’m feeling stressed. Excited, yes, but stressed. Will you all love the shirts? How can I be sure? I’m investing so much time and money into this new venture, I just have to hope and pray that I’m on the right track.

July 8 2017

Why I Love My Huge, Awesome, Amazing Family

I will freely admit that, though I have over 2000+ friends on Facebook, I am truly only close to my family, two girlfriends and two guy friends. I think this is because I have a bad case of social anxiety and a fear of opening up. Though I’ve come a long way, I still get nervous around new people. Speaking up in crowds? Forget it.

That being said, the most important people in my life are my family (and my friends who have become like family). When I get pissed off at one sibling, I call the other. We cry, we laugh, we just get each other. I’m lucky that my sisters are my best friends, though they are polar opposites in personality each brings a unique perspective on life. When I fight with my siblings, (ok, let’s just say it, my brother) we say things that are extremely hurtful, that cut deep. It’s no holds barred. But then, I remember that we’re blood and that ultimately we do love each other. That we have each other’s backs and that we’ll be there for each other when crisis hits.

We call ourselves the “Kimdashians” because we have our drama moments just like the real world Kardashians. (My maiden name is Kim.) Every single person in my family, including my brother-in-laws and sister-in-law, have totally unique, awesome personalities. One brother-in-law was “green” (environmentally friendly) before it was cool to be, he picks up trash on the ground to make the world a cleaner place, he builds beds and tables out of wood he finds in the forest. How cool is that? My other brother-in-law is this super smart guy who can recount the date of any memorable event. He’s an “early adopter,” always getting the latest tech toy, especially when it comes to Apple products.

One of my sisters is a fashionista, she knows what the hottest restaurants are and what the latest fashion is. My other sister is the DIY expert who isn’t afraid to take on a new hobby, whether that’s leather crafting, sewing, making pickles or creating gem stone rings.

I’m the entrepreneur of the family, fascinated by business. I also have a love for art, design and photography, and though I’m not good at any of these, I have developed the eye for curation.

I could go on and on but I’ll just stop here and say that, though my siblings and I have had a rough childhood, we’ve all come out of it stronger people. We’re as close as close can be. I thank God for these people in my life and I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to be a part of this family.

June 25 2017

How My Mother’s Suicide Shattered Me

It’s a nice, warm Sunday here in California. Too hot, if you ask me. I was hanging out with my husband and my boys in my air conditioned house when I suddenly felt this “pang” to write something deeply personal. I told Sam (that’s my husband’s name), “I need to go to Starbucks and write.” Of course, my concerned husband asked me, “What do you want to share?” I told him that it was about my mother’s suicide, which happened exactly 20 years ago this year. (She was 47-year-old when she took her own life.) I’m probably going to cry as I type this, tears started to well up even as I told Sam the general outline of the story. But that’s ok. (I brought a whole box of tissue paper with me.)

So, I’ve made it to Starbucks, paid for my cold brew and am now ready to process the gamut of emotions that will follow.

Her name was Nanju but she would go by the “American” name Nancy. She was an RN (registered nurse) and often worked night shifts at the hospital. My grandmother, her mom, also lived with us and she sort of acted like my mother because my mom was too busy, always trying to put food on the table. We grew up in Wilmington, which as anyone will tell you, isn’t the safest neighborhood in America. We had metal bars on our windows and a long hallway made of metal that greeted guests before they even got to the door.

Growing up, my mom was volatile. I can’t remember hugging her and we never said, “I love you” to each other. Mostly she was all rage. “Why didn’t you do that better”, “Use your head!” These were just some of the phrases she would yell at us. Perhaps it’s because of the Korean culture that one doesn’t verbalize “I love you”, instead, you show it through action. Can’t you see that I love you through my hard work?

We were not close, I just sort of admired her from afar. She wrote poetry that got published in newspapers, she was head of the Korean nurses association, after the LA riots she helped Koreans get back on their feet. She even got an award from the President of Korea for her help in the Korean community.

In fifth grade, we moved to Oregon and started a new life. Our house was huge, we had a pool. I guess we were moving up? We only stayed there for a year and during that time, I got a real glimpse into who my mother was. One day, my mother just up and disappeared. The next time I saw her she was at a mental hospital, strapped in a straight jacket. It was there that she was diagnosed bipolar. I couldn’t process it at the time. I was too young. Had she gone crazy? Who was this woman? I was scared of her.

Fast forward a few years. As the third child of four (I have two older sisters and one younger brother), I was told to just follow in the footsteps of Carol (my second sister). So I did. I went to UCLA with a major in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Was that my passion? Absolutely not. I had no idea what that even meant. I wasn’t brought up to speak my mind, I was directed to follow.

Carol and I would live together at UCLA and it was there that we formed a strong bond. My mom would call us, yelling at us to come home and we dutifully would, scared sh**less that she would beat us up. She had no problem whacking us with a fly swatter or a plastic hanger. The hits would burn and the bruises would slowly fade. The trauma? Well, that would stay with us forever.

It was spring break in my sophomore year at college when I decided to go home, back to Orange County, to see my grandmother, mother, father and brother. I’ll never forget that day. I knew my mom was deeply depressed, she had tried a few times to kill herself, one time by downing a whole bottle of vodka. I went to the gym to work out. When I returned I heard wailing. My grandmother was in the closet and she told me to call 911. I panicked. I couldn’t get into the closet, it was jammed, so I couldn’t see what was happening, or maybe I did go in but my head just won’t let me remember. All I know is that my mother had killed herself. Suicide. Death by hanging.

One of the worst parts of this experience was hearing my grandmother wail. She wouldn’t stop. She beat her chest till it went black and blue. We had to put her into a hospital to get her to calm down. Looking back, I realize that she had lost her last living child, her daughter, and that there would be no greater pain than that.

For the next ten years, I could not open up about my mom. Someone would bring her up and I would just bawl. Not a single tear, literally bawl. I would tell the person to stop, that it was just too much to bear.

Then, two things happened. I became a mother myself and I got diagnosed with bipolar. These events would change my view of my mother forever.

When you become a mom, you realize what unconditional love is. By this I mean, love with no strings attached. You care for your children because of the immense love you have for them. So, it dawned on me, if my mother loved us, as she biologically should, how could she just up and leave us? How could she leave her own mother as well as her four children? How could she be so selfish? Did she not realize that we all needed her? I got angry. I resented her. I especially resented her for leaving my grandmother behind. My grandmother no longer had a home, she would bounce from nursing home to nursing home for the last 10 years of her life.

I’ll wrap this up by sharing with you my first experience of mania. I started to feel as though the government was watching me, I started noticing signs all around me, my brain had literally been taken over. Reason flew out the window. Sam knew something was wrong but couldn’t pinpoint the problem. We decided to get away, so we packed our bags and went up to downtown LA. There’s a lot to this story but I’ll just tell you that it culminated in me wandering the streets of LA at 2am, then blindly crossing a busy street. God wouldn’t let me die, I told myself. He would watch over me. I had lost it. I could easily have caused a major car accident. Not only could I have been killed, I could have killed the people swerving around to miss me.

Sam didn’t know what to do with me. He called my sister and a good doctor friend and they all decided the best place for me to go would be to the UCLA psych ward. I have no memory of what happened during the next ten hours. All I remember is waking up at the pysch ward, alone, with a note next to my bed. Scribbled in my sisters’ and husband’s handwriting were words that shockingly said that they were sorry that they had me put me there, that there was no other choice. Next to the note was a big bag of quarters, my only way to talk to them would be by a pay phone at the end of a long hallway. I ended up staying there for six weeks, until they could figure out what combination of medications would work on me. I couldn’t leave the psych ward, I could only see visitors. Though traumatic, I learned an important lesson: that the brain was immensely powerful.

It’s now been three years. I try not to let being bipolar define me. It’s just a part of who I am. Tying this back to my mother, I now realize how depressed she was when she took her life. For those people who have never experienced depression or a mental illness, you may not be able to understand how you can’t just “snap” out of it. The bad thoughts overwhelm you. It’s nearly impossible to function in society. When I’m depressed, it feels like I’m in a deep hole I can’t climb out of. My life is great, why aren’t I happy?

I’ve learned to forgive my mom. It’s not like she was making a deliberate, calculated decision to commit suicide, she felt as though she had no other choice. I think she was so sad, she thought this was the only way out. Her suicide would bring the family closer, she had once told me. It was a completely irrational thought but she wasn’t of sane mind.

So, I have come to understand her. I wish she could have been around to see her grandchildren. It would have been nice to have her teach me how to do something as simple as change a diaper. I’ve been blessed with amazing in-laws, and though, they’ll never replace my own parents, I am supremely grateful for the grandmother/grandfather relationship they have with our children.

I opened up a lot today and it felt very cathartic. If there’s even one person who read this and now has a better understanding of a family member or friend who’s going through a mental illness, than this post was all worth it.

Note: Instead of donating a portion of all sales of Skylar Yoo to raising the awareness of mental illness, I want it to go towards funding the research of mental illness. There’s still so much we do not know about it. I hope that we can all learn more.

June 21 2017

Why I Failed as a Lifestyle Blogger

After I left the art blog My Modern Met, I had big plans for myself. I was going to be like my Internet idols Joy Cho of OhJoy!, Joanna Goddard of Cup of Joe, and Bri Emery of Design Love Fest. I would showcase to the world my beautiful and exciting life! Look at my colorful, well-put together outfit, listen to the latest podcast, be on the cusp of what’s cool. I have total respect for them, but lifestyle blogging just wasn’t for me.

Did I not remember that I’m a total introvert? That I have a hard time taking a selfie? That I treasure my privacy? How was I ever going to make it as a lifestyle blogger? Two years passed and I gained about 300 followers on Facebook. About 100 people come to my blog every day. Who are you, people? Why would you be spending time on my site when there are so many more interesting blogs out there? 300 fans on Facebook is not a bad number, mind you, figuring I hardly post there. I was too afraid of criticism, and since I didn’t get many likes on any of my posts, I figured people didn’t care anyway.

Then, I had this revelation. Though I still like my privacy, I could be bolder in my life. I could share with the world my failures, my vulnerabilities. A few days ago, when I told all of my 2,000+ Facebook friends that I was starting a new company I was scared s***less. Yet, I did it. Why? Because I think sometimes you have to put your life’s goals out there into the universe. Will some people laugh at me? Probably. Now I’m accountable for my actions. The business could implode and never launch but what’s so bad about that? A little lost money but lots of lessons learned.

What happened next? I chopped off my hair (it was long for over 20 years), dyed it pink and started wearing more fashionable and expressive clothes. I fell in love with fashion. It’s a beautiful form of art!

Now, I feel like I’m back in my element, emailing or talking to artists on the phone about their passion. These people just love their craft, they are completely engrossed in the world of hand lettering. And why wouldn’t they be? It’s fascinating what you can do now – taking a rough pencil sketch and “vectorizing it” to create a colorful, unique work of art.

“Lettering, in short, tells a story by using drawn letter shapes. These letterforms are not fonts that can be bought and simply used over and over again. Rather, they are custom-created for one particular piece and purpose. In this sense, they can be compared to illustration – an illustration consisting of letters.” (From the book, The Golden Secrets of Lettering by Martina Flor.

My UK agency and I are working on the target market right now. Who will wear these statement t-shirts? At first, I thought maybe the market. The really young millennials. Now, though, I feel as though it should be someone who’s fashionable but also mindful and authentic. There’s a story to be told there. Just wait and see….

June 20 2017

Skylar’s Yoo Cause: Raising Awareness of Mental Health

One of the motivating factors in wanting to start a new business is that I’ll be able to donate a percentage of all sales to a cause. I decided early on that Skylar Yoo’s cause would be about raising the awareness of mental health. I myself am bipolar and my mother, who is now deceased, was too. She committed suicide when I was just 20-years-old. I’ve never shared this with anyone online and only a handful of people know. I’ve learned a lot of interesting facts about bipolar disorder (40 here) including the fact that 80% of people with it will contemplate suicide at least once in their lives. In the general population, only 1 in 12 people will contemplate a suicide attempt.

One day, I will be brave enough to write about the traumatic experiences I went through when I first went manic. It includes a six week stay at a mental hospital where I was, literally, locked up. My youngest son was only seven-months-old and it was torture not seeing him. What were all the moments I was missing? Though the whole experience was a nightmare, there were some positive things that came out of it. My love and appreciation for my husband, my family and my close friends became unbelievably stronger.

There is this negative stigma surrounding mental disorders like bipolar or depression, but I made a conscious decision to find the positives.

Does it make you more creative? Perhaps. As stated in Psychology Today, “A recent study carried out at Stanford University by Santosa and colleagues found that people with bipolar disorder and creative discipline controls scored significantly more highly than healthy controls on a measure of creativity called the Barron-Welsh Art Scale. In a related study the same authors sought to identify temperamental traits that people with bipolar disorder and creative people have in common. They found that both shared tendencies for mild elation and depression with gradual shifts from one to the other, openness, irritability, and neuroticism (roughly speaking, a combination of anxiety and perfectionism).

“It is interesting to note that, according to this study, one of the temperamental traits that people with bipolar disorder and creative people have in common is a tendency for mild elation and depression with gradual shifts from one to the other. During periods of mild depression people with bipolar disorder and creative people may be able to retreat inside themselves, introspect, put thoughts and feelings into perspective, eliminate irrelevant ideas, and focus on the bare essentials. Then during periods of mild elation they may be able to gather the vision, confidence, and stamina for creative expression and realization.”

It’s great to see that mental health is now being discussed.

This news gave me hope: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading a new campaign to end stigma around mental health.

The Heads Together campaign is a partnership with experienced and inspiring charities that provide frontline mental health support to people who may need it, whilst raising awareness and tackling stigma. Supported by The Royal Foundation, the Heads Together campaign aims to change the national conversation on mental wellbeing.”

“A spokesman for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said:
‘Through their work with young people, emergency response, homeless charities, and with veterans, Their Royal Highnesses have seen time and time again that unresolved mental health problems lie at the heart of some of our greatest social challenges.

‘They are passionate about tackling the stigma surrounding the issue. Too often, they have seen that people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives. They want to help change the national conversation.'”

I want to create one of these “like-minded” charities to help those struggling with mental illnesses. Let’s see if I can do this!

Art by raquel-cobi.

June 13 2017

Why Smart Habits Beat Ambitious Goals Hands Down

This morning, I read this really great blog post about how making good habits are more important than creating ambitious goals. Here it is in its entirety.

“We all have goals, right? That’s what going further means, although it’s not always the right way to think about becoming your best you.

Last year, we discussed the dark side of goal setting. Research shows that pursuing clearly defined goals sometimes motivates people to lie, cheat, and otherwise engage in short-term thinking to overcome obstacles.

That’s the problem of focusing on results over process. In other words, allowing your ego to strive for becoming instead of doing.

For example, in the arena of fitness, we say we want to lose 20 pounds instead of focusing on the day-to-day mechanisms of eating well and exercising regularly. That’s the difference between an outcome goal and a behavioral goal.

And what is a behavioral goal anyway? It’s the desire to develop a beneficial habit that sticks. Developing the habit is what’s key, because it’s beneficial whether you achieve the exact outcome or not, and means you’ll maintain the outcome you do achieve.

Last week, Shane Parrish pointed out that the distinction between habits and goals is not semantic, because each requires different forms of action.

His examples:

We want to learn a new language. We could decide we want to be fluent in 6 months (goal), or we could commit to 30-minutes of practice each day (habit).
We want to read more books. We could set the goal to read 50 books by the end of the year, or we could decide to always carry one (habit).
We want to spend more time with family. We could plan to spend 7 hours a week with family (goal), or we could choose to eat dinner with them each night (habit).
There’s a reason why the heading of the Further About page is happiness is a way of travel, not a destination. Living your best life is all about what you do on your journey, not where you ultimately arrive.

Keep going-

Brian Clark

Love this!

June 8 2017

Kindness is Free…

Today, I came across this print. It has a sweet message, doesn’t it? You can buy it over on Etsy. (It’s made with real copper foil.)

May 26 2017

Starting a New Company: The Excitement and the Scary Stuff

Sorry about my inconsistency in posting. I’ve been working on this new fashion line I’m going to launch in a few months. Though I’m super excited about it, it’s also giving me a good amount of stress. My dream has always been to be a successful entrepreneur, running a company, inspiring a team. Can I make it happen? Do dreams really come true?

I’ve been reading about companies like S’well, Stella & Dot, and Outdoor Voices who are all created by female entrepreneurs. For some reason, I’m drawn to their stories. These brave women followed their dream, they were relentless, and they pursued their passion.

I look back at the success of the art blog I founded, My Modern Met, and I realize that sometimes you have to look back to feel confident about your future. My Modern Met gets an astounding 37 million visitors a year (or around 3 million a month). We helped launch the careers of countless artists, designers and photographers by making their work go viral. (How cool was that job?) In my seven years of working there, as the editor-in-chief, I wrote over 7,000 blog posts about today’s creative art. (Here’s one of my all time favorite posts. It went super viral.) Though at first, when I started the blog, I was nervous about my writing and my taste (or curation), after a while everything became second nature.

Though I can’t tell you what kind of products I’m going to launch first, under the brand name Skylar Yoo, I can tell you that I’m back working with artists. I have so much respect for creatives, I truly think they’re going to be the leaders of tomorrow.

This blog has changed from being a personal one to a photography based one to a fashion one. Now, I think I’m going to go back to making it personal, sort of like a diary. I hope you don’t mind the change. I’ll post about how Skylar Yoo is coming along, I’ll tell you about my family and I’ll share with you what’s inspiring me these days. Fun Links of the Week (on Fridays) will no longer exist but I’ll post in real time what I think is really cool.

I’ve been juggling between five books these days. One of them that I’m really enjoying right now is called Making Ideas Happen. It’s by Scott Belsky, founder of the art site Behance. (In 2012, he sold the company to Adobe for an estimated $150 million.) On a side note, when I was back at the Met, we actually emailed back and forth a few times. I felt like I was this teeny bopper fan of this big celebrity.

Belsky spent six years studying the habits of hundreds of successful creative people and he developed some really interesting insights. One of them was that everyone should organize their life as a series of projects and that we should manage those projects with a bias towards action. We have to always be moving forward in order to execute on an idea. Another takeaway from the book is this: Making Ideas Happen = (Ideas) + Organization & Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability. A key to getting sh*t done is being organized! After reading that I got my Excel and Word sheets going. I need to organize my thoughts! Instead of having all of my ideas and goals swirling around in my head, I type them into neat spreadsheets. It has helped tremendously!

On another note, there’s this cool Kickstarter that’s going on now that’s about a desk organizer. You’re like, really Alice, a desk organizer?! Before you click away, watch the frickin’ video! His goal was $18,000 and he’s now almost at $213,000! I supported it on the spot. Christopher Jobson, the head of the art blog Colossal, tipped me off to the creator’s t-shirts and I ended up buying a few. I think I like the men’s t-shirts more than the women’s. The designer’s name is Jeff Sheldon and his company is called Ugmonk. The clothes are suppose to be super soft. (I got this red ampersand sweatshirt. Can’t wait to live in it.)

One last thing. Here are the four things I bought on the Colossal Shop this week. I’d been eyeing them for quite some time. Love my miniature spring forest, galaxy lollipops, color wheel pendant, and Colossal mugs (these are nice and big, perfect for your morning coffee). The mugs are half price right now.

Ok, that’s all for now. Be back again soon! Have a super duper awesome weekend.

Art by Christopher David Ryan.

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