Nashelle

Here is some new work out for Nashelle.  I had a lovely time working with the entire team on this shoot. Plus, being on location in Bend, Oregon is never a bad thing.

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Santa Barbara & LA Adventures

I was recently inspired by my friend Mervyn to start filming more “everyday moments” and figured that our vacation would be a perfect time to do so. Michael and I had the best time last week hanging out in California. It was relaxing and perfect. We drank a lot of great coffee, ate incredible food, and spent time doing a whole lot of nothing in the sun…a perfect vacation.

Happy Valentines Day!

Photos by Boone Rodriguez for Junghwa By Amy Stewart.

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For Meaning Will Come…

The other night my husband Michael and I decided to open up a classic book and do some reading together. Now before you go jumping to conclusions about how sophisticated and sharp we are, keep in mind that this is not a typical evening activity for us; we usually watch one of our favorite television shows or play Words With Friends on our phones before heading to sleep. I’m grateful that we decided to switch it up on this particular evening, however-because the content left a deep impression on us both.

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We picked a fairytale in George MacDonald’s The Gifts of the Child Christ, and took turns reading out loud. The story is based around a girl named Little Daylight (also the name of a cool band) born to a king and queen. When the princess is just a baby, a bunch of fairies come to her christening to give her blessings and “remarkable gifts.” Trouble quickly assumes the christening when an evil fairy shows up and ruins the party by bestowing upon Little Daylight a gift (or curse) of a type of insomnia. As you can expect, the king was kind of freaking out at this “gift” from the evil fairy, and he started to grieve. The final fairy is able to give a gift with hopes that the curse will one day be lifted, but it has certain limits and sounds a bit complicated. The flustered king asks the final fairy, “I don’t know what that means…” She replies with something profound and it was a single statement that brought Michael and I to a complete pause and state of awe as he read the words aloud…

“Don’t be afraid. The meaning will come with the thing itself,” said she.

Deep breath.

What a timely word, for anyone, at any stage in life, I would so boldly claim.

Why is it in life that we always complicate our thoughts with the unknowns? Why is it that we so easily jump to the worst-case-scenario as we analyze our plans and circumstances? Or maybe it’s the best-case-scenario that we jump to. Either way, we are “jumping” ahead to the unknown when we react out of fear or anxiety. I can be the worst at this. My personality type is ENFP, which for me means that I feel deeply, dream wildly, and easily get bored. I like to run at a thousand miles an hour, working on twenty different projects at the same time, all the while always thinking ahead to what my next project will be before I finish the last twenty. This is why I do yoga.

I’m (obviously) all about dreaming and thinking about the future and the unknown. I think it can be very healthy. But when we start to fret and over-analyze like the king was in our story, this is where things can become toxic to our minds.

*And then I must add, in addition to the normal and more typical stresses about the unknowns, that sometimes in life, really hard stuff happens that we cannot even wrap our heads around. We humbly come before God in brokenness and ask him, “why?!” I believe that it’s okay to be honest with God, and to share our thoughts and emotions with him, without a plastic filter. I believe God wants this for us. And yet, in my own personal deepest seasons of suffering, I’ve found that is when I seek him the most and thus, feel most connected to him…(more on suffering in a later post).

Although I’ve only lived a short time, I’ve come to find that things have a way of working themselves out in life. Or, put more poetically as our fairy reminds us, “meaning will come with the thing itself.” I’m not sure where you are at in life, but hearing that, my friends, is a fresh of breath air.

Life is hard. It is messy. But do not be afraid. Love you, friends.

Photo by Robert Hamilton

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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

My #1 Trick For Committing To A Workout

For me, the most difficult part of working out is actually getting out the door and committing to it. I’m the queen of excuses all throughout the day as to why I don’t have time. However, I do have one trick that is tried and true, at least for me, and it all starts with fashion.

My workout of choice is Barre3, which I absolutely love and would go as far as saying that it’s completely changed my life-but I’ll elaborate on that another day. One of the greatest things about a Barre3 class is that you can wear comfy workout clothes and you don’t have to wear shoes or socks. This makes it really easy for me to transform my everyday outfits into workout outfits. For example, if I am out and about running errands all afternoon, I’ll slip on exactly what I’m going to wear to my Barre3 class (leggings, tank), but then cover up with a cool jacket and some cute booties-no one knows that I’m actually rocking my workout gear! This simple trick is one that I can really stick with, even if it just means wearing one of the items that I’m going to wear in class. I’ve found ways to get really creative with it. When I’m already wearing some or all of my workout gear, it just seems lame to cancel a workout on yourself, so it’s a really great accountability tool.

At the very least, if I am at the office or somewhere where no single item of workout clothing is appropriate, I’ll pack a bag full of workout clothes in my car…that way when I’m driving home, tired from a long day…my workout bag will be right there, staring me in the face.

What is your go-to accountability tool for committing to your workout? I would love to hear!

Jacket: Andrew Marc

Tank/Sports Bra/Leggings: lululemon

Shoes: Sam Edelman

Sunglasses: Marc By Marc Jacobs


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Chilly Winter Walks

Going on an outdoor hike or walk this time of year tends to call for thick jackets and a fast pace to keep warm. I’ve come to appreciate the changing seasons and what they have to offer. It’s refreshing to get outside even when the weather isn’t ideal, and it makes you savor the warm fireplace and hot tea when you return. Below are some shots from recent hikes and walks; one with my husband Michael along the river trail behind our home, and the other on a trail in Bend with my little brother Philip and his dog Pete.

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December Favorites

Oh, December, you are finally here!

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Photos by Boone Rodriguez for Junghwa By Amy Stewart.

Here are a few things I am loving this month:

1. Sydney Hale Woods Room Spray and Candles

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This room spray smells absolutely fantastic, kind of what I like to call a “woodsy-pretty” smell. The best part is, a few sprays will last all day-unlike scents that fade within a few minutes. The candles are also absolutely divine and are offered in a variety of scents. Both of these products are designed elegantly and simple, but they pack a big punch when it comes to quality.

2. Eminence Organic Skin Care

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I just began using this line a few weeks ago, and I am in love! I started seeing a new esthetician who introduced me to their products, and I have seen incredible results. I feel that this line deserves a review all on its own…perhaps at a later date?

3. Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil

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Did you just gag a little? It’s okay, most people do when I tell them that I take this. But before you judge me too hard, I dare you to google the plethora of health benefits in this high quality supplement. There are too many perks to count in this paragraph (which I’m trying to keep short), but let’s just say-I don’t like to mess around with getting sick in the winter months, and this is one of my non-negotiable daily supplements.

4. My Barre3 Water Bottle

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Barre3 has completely changed my life, so I have no problem sporting their flair, especially when it’s designed so clean and modern. This water bottle inspires me to drink more water throughout the day. I usually pop a lemon in it and try to drink at least 2 bottles of water per day.

How about you? What are you loving lately? Cheers to December!

Looking Back 2014

As much as I love to look to the future, sometimes it’s fun to look back, especially when it brings sweet memories. As the holidays are approaching and I’m taking some time to relax, I’ve had some time to look back through all the amazing projects from this year. Here is some work from my favorite projects and clients in 2014. Huge thanks to my agency, clients, and collaborators in 2014! So much love in my heart for you all!

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That Letter To Kendall

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today, I couldn’t help but notice many people were sharing an article about Kendall Jenner being bashed in an “open letter” by another LA-based model and writer. These people sharing the article on Facebook were echoing their approval and endorsement of the “open letter” to Kendall, adding their own scathing words and remarks towards her and her family.

I went ahead and read through the letter to Kendall, each paragraph my heart sinking deeper. The letter is laced with disdain and disapproval in the way Kendall has risen to her success. The writer calls Kendall out on claiming “to work hard to get where she has come” in Kendall’s response to recent bullying from other models at New York Fashion Week. The letter basically goes on to drive home a point about how hard it actually is to be successful in the modeling world. The entire article has an underlying suggestion that if  Kendall only knew how hard it was to make it in the modeling world without her rich and famous family-perhaps then she wouldn’t claim such outlandish statements about her so-called, “hard-work.”

Here’s the thing: I’m nowhere close to being what one would consider a successful model. I have had some wonderful opportunities and I am so grateful for my agency and clients, but I am not a “top-model” nor am I aspiring to be one. Modeling has continued to be something that I absolutely love and feel honored to do-but I am not a supermodel. Full disclosure aside, I do get that it takes very hard work to be a model. Many of the points that this author makes about the reality of modeling are most definitely valid. It’s hard work and you have to hustle to stay marketable and relevant to brands and designers. But that’s not my issue with the article…

My issue is about how women treat other women. I don’t care if they are famous, rich, poor, black, white, a size 2 or a size 14-what on earth is up with women being okay with bashing other women? Seriously, when did this not only become “okay” but encouraged? Is it appropriate because the individual is famous? Listen, I am not a closet fan of the Kardashian family or anything. I’m actually pretty unbiased, although it would be easy for anyone to make certain judgements. From the outside looking in, I’m not sure that I would consider the family as a whole, “great role models.” But I also don’t know them personally. This isn’t about the Kardashians, though. This is about a peer-another model in my same industry, deciding that it’s okay to write a letter (with implied malice) to someone that she has never met.

So, if I were to respond to this writer of the article, Arisce Wanzer, it would go something like this:

Dear Arisce,

I understand the points you are trying to make in your open letter to Kendall. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, just like the rest of us. Some days I feel like giving it all up, too. It’s hard work and it takes dedication. It takes being okay with people telling you “no” over and over again. You’ve probably worked with much bigger clients than I have, and you’ve probably seen a lot more than I ever will.

I guess I’m just curious to know what initiated the desire in you to write this letter to Kendall? I can’t help but feel that your letter comes from a place of bitterness. If I am indeed correct, I’m curious to know about the root of this bitterness and why it exists. Is it coming from what you read about her in the media? The gossip websites are not exactly what I would consider a reputable, intelligent source. 

Part of me wants to agree with everything you’ve wrote. It’s easy to assume that Kendall might be a total spoiled child who gets every opportunity she wants in life with a snap of her mother’s fingers. And yet, deep down in my soul, I know that Kendall is just as much of a human as you and I. She wants to work for something. At least I hope…I’d like to assume the best in her, just like I want to about you. 

Arisce, let’s come together as peers, in an industry that can be so vain, so superficial, so discouraging-and prove them wrong about the stereotype that often comes with the title, “model.” Let’s come together and decide to empower one another, encourage one another, and ultimately-love one another. Instead of cringing when that other model books the job and we don’t, let’s give them a huge hug and “congrats,” hoping that they’ll do the same when we book the next job. 

I truly hope you’ll have a change of heart and revise your letter to Kendall. You have an amazing platform as a writer to influence the world for good, and not evil. 

Sincerely, 

Monica

I’m so grateful to work with incredible, supportive people in my industry. Some of my best friends today are models who I compete with on a weekly basis. We are both hoping to book the same jobs. But at the end of the day, I don’t see “just another model” in these friends of mine-I see another woman, just like me-who needs encouragement, grace, and hope in this life.

– – – – – – – – –

If you are interested in reading it, here’s the open letter from theblot.com:

‘Dear Kendall,

Take a moment and remove yourself from your current situation, if you can, to a life that isn’t riddled with excess and only hearing the word “yes” to your wants and requests. Now, imagine you’re from a small town and/or Third-World country where your only way to get out of your current social class, achieve your dreams, get a green card or just gain better work conditions is to become a high-fashion model. You have to leave for six months to a year sometimes, signing contracts you can barely understand, let alone oblige to, almost without choice. You’re away from your family, your friends and everything you know. You live in a one-bedroom apartment with six other girls in the same situation in this Big Apple, New York City.

Did I mention you’re only 17 when all of this goes down? That means you have to go to tutoring and/or English lessons in between learning how to “walk” at the agency, attending castings every other day, going on test shoots to get you experience, trying to learn your new neighborhood, going to the gym and hoping to maybe make some money all at once. Oh, and your apartment and test shoots aren’t free, by the way. They are added to your account with the agency, as are your casting outfits and cellphone. These are going to leave you in some serious debt if nobody books you for anything; some girls owe upward of $30,000 after a year of trying to book gigs, so take that into perspective as well, Miss Jenner.

So now let’s pretend you actually lived through all of that, and it’s finally Fashion Week. Exciting, right? This could be your big break! You could send your family in Belarus or Woodbridge, Va., the money they need for your little brothers to have new clothes and/or books for school and/or even afford a plane ticket home for the holidays! Imagine standing in line after line of girls with your exact height and body measurements all day, each one hoping for a coveted spot on the New York Fashion Week runway.

Casting after casting, and you just can’t seem to get your place. But suddenly after a week full of the word “No,” killing yourself at the gym, exhausting yourself in classes, cutting your diet in half, not talking with your family and sleeping in a room with six equally exhausted girls, you get the call. Your agent texts you with an 8 a.m. fitting at Marc Jacobs. Oh my god, you’re going to walk for Marc Jacobs! This is a dream come true, someone finally said yes, and the prestige is beyond what you could have imagined! So you pack your model bag, a bottled water, your walking shoes and agency-approved casting outfit. This could be your big break, assuming they don’t cut your look last minute, a common practice done to no-name girls, so fingers crossed!

The fitting was perfect, your garment is amazing, and Marc was SO nice! And cute, too! One last fitting after that one, and it’s show time; you’re finally going to debut everything you’ve worked so hard for. You get to prove to your family that you left everything behind for a great cause, and you can finally pay back all of your agency debt, not to mention the money your parents lent you to make ends meet.

It’s the morning of the show, and you’re up and ready, grab some fresh fruit to nibble on, pack your bag, and you’re out the door. The subway is packed with lots of models, agents, buyers and fashion people in general, all exhausted, but ready to work. You’ve been bumped/tripped by both a hairstylist’s travel kit and a makeup guys’ enormous Caboodles-like suitcase, all before 10 a.m. You walk into Lincoln Center, and it’s like magic … you can’t believe you’re here! You’ve finally made it!

Backstage is a commotion circus of clothes, hair, makeup, yelling, Fashion TV interviews … it’s an Instagram overload! All the big names are there, your personal heroes including Hanne Gaby Odiele, Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Jamie Bochert, Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs himself — the list goes on! You’ve really hit the big leagues!

But wait, isn’t that a reality TV star over there in hair and makeup? Yea, that’s definitely a Kardashian or something. What is she doing here? Did she take the subway? Was she at the casting? What agency is she with? I didn’t see her last season … Does she need MORE fame? MORE money? A green card perhaps? Doesn’t she get enough cash from that show that all of ignorant America glamorizes? Didn’t her sister have sex with someone on camera and profit from the video sales to get their family its new line of limelight? This girl didn’t do and doesn’t owe half of what you did (remember, you’re NOT “KJ” in this scenario) to get here today, that much is certain. Her mommy surely called a top agency, got her in the door and the design houses just chose to milk her fame like the cash cow that it is. One by one like dominos from Vogue to Givenchy, fashion is selling out to the ignorant masses for money. What happened to the art, the cerebral part of fashion? Did it really all die with Alexander McQueen?

Well, there goes the neighborhood, I guess. Gone is the prestige you once felt as a “chosen one” by Marc, Anna or Ricardo — this cheapens your entire experience. You thought you were special, that your hard work had finally paid off. You didn’t realize that these coveted spots were for sale. The cost? The soul and dignity of a fashion house. The clothes will still sell, and the players will still play, but the image will be forever tarnished by these real life Veruca Salts buying their way in with sleazy fame rights.

You’re on to walk in five, so you’re smoking to calm your nerves. You need to ash your cigarette, and there’s Kendall Jenner’s drink. You already feel a bit better.’

Image from ryanseacrest.com

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3D Fiber Lashes

Okay. Time to get real.

I don’t have anything close to naturally long eyelashes. Sometimes when I am on a job, they’ll put false lashes on me and it’s like a dream come true…for a few hours. Then my dreams die when I wash my face and they come off.

However, I recently found the most amazing product that has redeemed my lash dreams! When I first tried this product, I’m pretty sure I almost fainted from the results, not even believing that I was looking at my own lashes in the mirror. In the photos below, I only put on only one coat of the duo, what I would consider a minimal “day look.” However, this is a product you can really build upon itself, which makes it easy to pump it up the drama even more for a night out or special occasion. Here’s how it works:

-You apply the transplanting gel which looks like normal mascara.

-While the gel is still wet, you apply the transplanting fibers which is where you start to see major length and volume.

-Finish by sealing the transplanting fibers with another layer of the transplanting gel. You can continue to add more layers for a bolder look-up to 300x the length and volume of your normal lashes.

The best part about this product is that it’s completely natural-no cheap fillers or harsh chemicals! You can purchase your own Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes set here.

The only makeup products I am wearing in these photos are Chanel Perfection Lumiere (foundation), BITE Matte Creme Lip Crayon and Cinnamon Plumping Oil, and the 3D Fiber Lashes.

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Custom Design By Liana Mikah *