Posts filed under Photo Essay

Introducing the Kicheko Woman: Lissy Tropea

After a weekend full of fireworks and patriotic musings, I am back at it in the studio. This week, I am excited to share our chat with studio-mate, baker & business owner behind Pies & Petals, as well as our illustrious lookbook model - Lissy Tropea. With a focus beyond her years, Lissy brings intelligence, warmth, artistry, and a love for baked goodness to her surroundings. Her diverse interests range from writing poetry to writing code, playing ukulele to listening to cassette tapes, spending time with her family to growing her business. Friends, enjoy these next few minutes getting to know Lissy. 

You know the drill. Let's start with rapid fire. Who is on your playlist? TennisFránçois & The Atlas MountainsAlvvays

What are you reading right now? Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

What are you watching right now? The Netflix series, Chef’s Table. The second episode had me in tears and up to 4am writing about my love for food… So I’d say that’s up there. And Daredevil, which is also on Netflix. It’s just so crazy + good.

Most used app on your phone? Instagram!

What recipe can you not get enough of? I feel like I should give you one of my pie recipes, but my weak spot right now is Smitten Kitchen’s Double Chocolate Banana Bread. Mmmm.

Do you have a favorite Kicheko piece? I am in love with the quartz necklaces, and the blush sterling piece. Everything is so beautiful.

Next place you want to travel? Realistically, a small beach town with sandy roads and not very many people. Possibly, Vermont! However, dreamily, it would be France.

Name a style maven that you look up to. I'm not sure if you’d label her a "style maven" but I really enjoy Beth Kirby’s feed on Instagram (@localmilk). It's full of clean, bright images with lots of kitchen styling… I like her aprons. Does that count? :)

If you weren't at your current job, you would be...building a kitchen (made out of walls of windows + marble countertops) in the country.

Tell us a little about what you do. What do you like about it? Why do you do it?

I am a Junior Developer at Bittersweet Creative Group and I own a small business called Pies + Petals. With the hopes of someday selling out of a mobile storefront, Pies + Petals currently operates in Centreville, Virginia and delivers to the Northern VA and DC Metro area. I bake pies and my mom, Mary Jane of LéRoy French Flowers, crafts seasonal bouquets to accompany each order. We cater to a variety of events + weddings, and enjoy receiving custom orders. I love the excitement my customers exude throughout the process, from ordering to receiving. It is really enjoyable to witness simple happiness.

However, that’s not my only reasoning for doing it. My original intent with Pies + Petals is to create opportunity for passion, in my own life, in my friends’ lives, and in the lives of others. I’ve already seen this idea taking form, but there is much more to be done. Baking is proven to be therapeutic. In building something from start to finish your mind is allowed to refocus on the physical process in front of you - causing a healthy distraction from anxiety, past experience, and present circumstance, and immersing yourself in an activity that will produce a fruitful outcome. I would like to begin a baking therapy program that would be available to anyone who finds themselves struggling in their day to day life. The program would involve workshops, counseling, and potential employment opportunities. 

What is the best thing you learned last year? Change can be good. 

Best thing you have learned this year (so far)? Distance from your daily life improves your daily life. 

What is one unique advantage of being a woman right now? There is a large community of people devoting their time and efforts to improving life for women. In the past, I don’t think there has been as much focus on uplifting and supporting these issues.

What is one disadvantage of being a woman right now? Women are consistently battling the effects and influences of the media (including social media) and reconciling that with a moving standard of perfection. Also, balancing femininity and strength. 

What injustice breaks your heart? Sexual exploitation will always be the most gut wrenching injustice that I am aware of. I believe we were made for a wholesome existence, and taking away one’s right to his or her own body, whilst instilling fear and a false sense of impurity is life shattering. 

What companies or organizations do you love? 

Homeboy Industries, specifically Homeboy Bakery. They employ people who have been incarcerated, most of whom have been involved in gang activity in the past. These aren’t just jobs running the cash register or cleaning, but each baker is trained in one of three specific areas: cake + pastry, laminated dough, and bread + rolls. This is a perfect example of a shot at a new life with new skills and community rehabilitation.

The Gray Haven is based out of Richmond, VA, and is a a non-profit working with those who have been exposed to human trafficking. I love this organization because they not only provide a program centered on restoration, but they also perform case management, crisis response, and court advocacy tailored specifically to the needs of the victim. The Gray Haven works with local, state, and federal law enforcement, as well as with service providers, to do direct crisis intervention and assessment with potential victims of human trafficking. Their approach to reforming the way the law handles these situations is unique and empowering. 

What is one misconception about yourself that you would like to clear up? I’m not an early morning person. People assume that since I am a baker that I am up at the crack of dawn. Unfortunately, that is very very wrong :). I do the majority of my baking late into the evening. Someday I’d love to get that whole blissful sunrise schedule going, but for now I’ll stick with drinking an ample amount of coffee at 10am. 

What is your biggest challenge right now? Balance.

What makes your heart happy? Gardens, My mom + dad, Road trips. 

What is something silly that makes you laugh uncontrollably? Various members of my family’s dance moves. So bad, but so good. 

Best advice someone has given you or you have given someone…Tomorrow is a new day.

Photos by Erica Baker.

Introducing the Kicheko Woman: Ally Tseng

This week, we're featuring our west coast model and friend, Ally Tseng. Bright, generous, funny and hard-working, Ally embodies the Kicheko woman and our chat will give you a glimpse of her personality, vision, compassion and sense of humor. With a recent career opportunity moving her across the country, Ally now lives in Los Angeles and works as Senior Marketing Manager for DreamWorks Animation, the studio responsible for gems like How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Puss in Boots and Madagascar. We hope you enjoy getting to know Ally! 

Let's start with some fun rapid fire. What's on your playlist?

I’ve been listening to a ton of throwback artists lately! I love anything 90’s hip hop/R&B but recently I went to a Taking Back Sunday concert and I’ve spiraled back to my teenage angst/emo-loving phase! Dashboard Confessional all the way!

What books/podcasts/TV shows are you loving right now?

I’m obsessed with Scandal (#TEAMFITZ ALL THE WAY), but now that the season is over, I need a new show!  I just got rid of cable so I have been binge watching all the shows on Netflix (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one of my favs ).

Most used app on your phone? YELP (duh!)

What recipe can you not get enough of? 

Anything with cauliflower .. oh! And avocado toast.




Next place you want to travel?

I love the idea of traveling abroad, but there are so many options and I get overwhelmed thinking about it! This year I’ve made a goal for myself to travel to 3 US cities- Austin, Portland, & Sedona!  I just came back from Austin and loved it! Next...maybe Portland!

Name three of your style mavens that inspire your own aesthetic? 

Olivia Palmero has always been one of my favorite fashion icons. I also follow Jules Sarinana from Sincerely Jules and Aimee Song from Song of Style.

Which Kicheko design do you love in the new collection?

My favorite is the Kedge Hollow piece because it is a statement necklace but looks delicate at the same time.

If you weren’t at your current job, you would be...


Tell us a little about what you do. What do you like about it? Why do you do it?

I work at DreamWorks Animation doing Retail Marketing for their Consumer Products division.  I love what I do because I get to work on fun entertainment properties and my job allows me to be super creative. I love it here at DreamWorks (not only for the free food) but because the people are so great and very supportive.

What is the best thing you learned last year?

One of the major reasons why we fear change is because of the discomfort and anxiety you feel during that transitional phase but once you realize that that phase is only temporary, change doesn’t seem that scary. 

Best thing you have learned so far this year? 

Never treat someone like a priority when that someone treats you like you’re an option.

What is one unique advantage of being a woman right now? 

We have a more diverse range of shoe options ;)

What is one disadvantage of being a woman right now? 

The lines to the woman’s bathroom when you go out!

What injustice breaks your heart?

The non-support of same sex marriage.  Everyone is human and should have the right to love and marry whomever they chose.


What is one misconception about yourself that you would like to clear up?

Just because I am Asian doesn’t mean I am good at math!  

What is your biggest challenge right now?

Learning how to balance both work and life has always been a huge challenge for me... I’m still working through it.

What makes your heart happy? 

The thought of my family and friends back east.

What is something silly that makes you laugh uncontrollably?

Anything that thefatjewish posts on Instagram.

Best advice someone has given you or you have given someone….

Your career is your responsibility, not anyone else’s.


Kicheko Travels: Los Angeles

Kicheko traveled to the city of angels and oh my, was it heavenly.

El Matador Beach Staircase
El Matador Beach
El Matador Beach

The beaches, the architecture, the food, the sunlit everything. Between our lovely host, Ally, and our friends' recommendations, we had a lengthy list to see, explore and eat from Orange County to Malibu. 

Often, there are weeks that just seem to go by in a blur but our time in Los Angeles seemed to stretch and leisurely meander like it was having a picnic of Roscoe's chicken and waffles in a sunlit field of poppies. Being fully present for each moment helped us see and experience the city with greater detail and needed pauses to just breathe it all in and bask in the rays.

View From Perch
Venice Beach Skatepark
Venice Beach
Getty Museum

I'm excited to share more about the trip including our upcoming lookbook, which we shot in a few iconic places around the SoCal area. We will also share about our meets with some incredible people and organizations that truly inspire our work and mission. I think they'll inspire you too!

Bradbury Building

Work brought us out and I hope it brings us out again. California, I am vibing on you hard. 'Till next time. XOXO. 

Follow us on Instagram for more views and fun snaps of our trip

Maven Style: A Chat About Design & Biz with Zoom Interiors


Beautiful design. Budget friendly. Quick turnarounds. Beatrice Fishel-Bock, Elizabeth Grover, and Madeline Fraser are the friends, founders and designers behind Zoom Interiors, an online-based interior design business whose mission is to provide professional and stylish design for clients who don't have a lot of time and are on a budget. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the boss ladies of Zoom and learned more about their story and their business. Fresh on the scene, there is no doubt they are talented, fun, and hard working entrepreneurs committed to expanding accessibility to beautiful design for those who don't know where to start or don't think they can afford it. Trust me friends, these ladies can show you how. 

On a sunny weekend day at Eastern Market, I met Madeline at my Kicheko tent and we hit it off. She went home with the arc rainbow crystal quartz necklace and I went home with an interest in this budding design business. Beatrice, Elizabeth and Madeline met at the George Washington University through the Interior Architecture and Design program. While abroad in London, the concept for the business began over conversation centered around the question that all approaching graduates ask, “What am I going to do after school?” The trio realized that there was a gap in the market for friends and peers who wanted affordable design but did not know how to navigate this world or knew whether affordable interior design was even possible. They decided to help one friend out lending their design services for free as an experiment requiring only that their client purchase furniture, decor and art at cost. The result was a success for both parties and as a result, this first client referred coworkers, friends and her boyfriend to seek their design services. With a $1400 budget, they transformed a room and its success gave them enough affirmation to launch the business. Zoom Interiors was born.

Beginning the business their junior year, they allowed themselves one year to experiment, at times, working on client projects in the back of classes. They continued to work with friends building a curated portfolio for their website. Their online approach and mission for the business broke with traditional molds of interior design, which inevitably encountered questions and some resistance from professors and colleagues, who were steeped in traditional methods of interior design. Zoom Interiors has now been in business for 14 months and their main offices have moved from the District to Philadelphia. Over the course of this time, Zoom Interiors has amassed an impressive collection of clients from personal room designs, interior redesigns, television set design, and commercial spaces. Working with clients in DC, Philadelphia, LA, New York and Virginia, the Zoom team’s services give the business the flexibility to work anywhere and with anyone.


How it works:


1. Online Survey. Fill out a basic survey asking basic questions relating to style and color preferences. This initial survey is used to fill out a basic profile for a new client. In the meantime, a second survey is sent with more detailed questions asking about dimensions, measurements and technical info.

2. Free consultation. Phone or skype. A member of the Zoom team will review your survey and discuss the project.


3. Zoomboard. At this point, $150 fee per room is required to continue. The Zoom team will proceed designing a moodboard matching your desired preference including colors, patterns, and pieces.

4. Design and communicate. You can discuss and make changes to the board up to 3x until it is exactly what you want.


5. Zoomcart. Once the board is approved, the team will put together a cart with all of your requested furniture, decor, and custom art. A $250 deposit is applied towards the total cost of the cart. You approve the cart and pay the remaining balance.


6. Arrival and Install. The zoom cart will arrive to your home. At the same time, the team will provide you step-by-step instructions and floorplans on where to put the furniture pieces and hang the decor. After assembly, moving and hanging, the zoom process is complete.


Depending on the turnaround time on the surveys, a room design can take anywhere from two weeks to one month. Room refreshes start at $1,000. Brand new room designs start at $2,000. The Zoom team is transparent about the budgets they can work with - everything from $1K to $50K and higher. Their relationships with manufacturers and other lines afford them the best prices in the business, which they pass to their clients. When asked about their clientele’s niche, the Zoom team says,

“The interior design hemisphere is a brutal world for the busy, and more so, budget-conscious individual. We believe everyone deserves to be graced with beautiful spaces to enhance their lives. And it is our mission to do just that- interior design on a budget.”

Each of the designers backgrounds and individual design eye have influenced the role that they now play in moving the business forward. This was a learning process going back to their first set of clients when all three would work together on each project. Beatrice hails from Geneva, Switzerland and Miami. Her design strength is shabby chic and her role is bigger picture managerial, financial and web. Madeline is from Los Angeles and her aesthetic forte is Moroccan and eclectic. She is charged with marketing for the business and is also the in-house artist, completing custom paintings and artwork for clients. Elizabeth comes from Richmond, Virginia and her preferred interior style is contemporary and modern. She is the project manager and does the bulk of the design work from boards to floorplans and install instructions.

I asked each of the ladies if they have a favorite project to date. For Madeline, a PR office in LA where she was commissioned to do 5 custom paintings for the space. She flew out there to help with the install and see the project through. For her, this project was like her baby. Elizabeth responded with a loft design project for a former Bachelor contestant. From the sounds of it, upon the breakup with his now ex-girlfriend, she damaged a significant amount of furniture, which gave Elizabeth the opportunity to redesign the whole space. Photos of that project will soon be on the website. For Beatrice, her favorite was their first client. The experience was their first one and it was so good that felt enough gumption to launch the business. This project was a milestone and will always be her favorite.


The ladies look up to companies like Ikea because they changed the game in the home decor industry for affordable design. The ladies also look up to pioneers like Sophia Amorouso of Nastygal. When asked about their future goals, the ladies responded in unison that they have a 10-year plan and big ideas for the business. One of their major goals is to create a lifestyle brand around Zoom becoming the gurus of stylish and affordable living as well as expand Zoom Interior’s business from not only services but to their own furniture and product line. They would also like to grow their clientele adding more male young professionals to their list of clients. There is a growing number of urban, young professionals who are building careers, buying homes, and desiring stylish design, but do not have the time or expertise to go about designing their homes.

Going the entrepreneurial and independent route is an attractive alternative albeit one that requires a superlative amount of vision, discipline and motivation. Near the end of our conversation, I asked them what the best part of running their business was and they were in unison that it has been the opportunity to work together. They count themselves lucky to spend so much time together socially and also that they get to work together each day. I got the sense that they have been through a lot and have a genuine respect for each other and each person’s work. To be young women and entrepreneurs, it can be an intimidating climate especially in the wake of the Great Recession whose residual effects are still felt even in urban centers. Beatrice, Elizabeth and Madeline are crystal clear on who they are, their mission, and who they exist to serve. That laser focus has continued to form over their nascent growth and while they are creatively minded, they are also businesswomen. Their first year in the working professional world, they consistently seek new opportunities, raise the bar, and are learning everyday. Madeline wears a necklace from a former professor and dear friend with the words “Fuck it” on the pendant. That bold and succinct message embodies the spirit in which they have launched their business and their career.


If you have a room in need of a refresh or design, check out Zoom Interiors to learn how they can transform your space. Follow along on their blog for a plethora of boards and education on interiors as well as fun sartorial shoots of the ladies and other inspiration. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of these ladies and Zoom Interiors in the future. We are thrilled about this up and coming business and the businesswomen behind it. To all of you who want a refresh to a room or have a tabula rasa of a space in need of expert designs, I highly recommend Zoom Interiors. Happy reimagining and designing!


All photos provided by Zoom Interiors LLC

Editorial: Sounds of the House

A Few of my Dad's Favorite Things

A little over a month ago, my life's axis tilted in one of those slow motion, paradigm-shifting ways, like in the movies when you see the realization of sudden news unfold in the face of a character you know and are rooting for. My mom called on an unusually gray afternoon and shared the news, in measured pauses, that my dad had passed away. Since that day, it has been a mix of emotions and mental mazes with each day bringing some aspect of this new reality to bear. As the news took root and I spent the subsequent weeks at home making arrangements and spending time with family, one of the realizations that hit me was that my dad filled our home with sound. He had a love of music, timepieces and play. Some of my dad's favorites were the Lettermen, Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees and ABBA. I have fond memories of these records playing on a weekend morning filling the apartment with these melodies. Now that he is gone, the sounds of my childhood home will be forever different but not forgotten. This first post since Fashion & Philosophers' hiatus is dedicated to my dad.

Edgar Yenesa Magallanes was born in 1953 in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. He had two brothers and two sisters. While earning a degree in economics and studying engineering, he had a dream to move to the United States. After college, he befriended and won the affection of a pretty lady named Eva, who had just moved to the Manila area. Their friendship grew and they were married in 1976. The following year, they welcomed their first child, a son named Gary Michael, to the family. In 1981, my dad was recruited by an IT company, which required him to move to Los Angeles. A risky and faithful move, my dad went to LA to work and eventually landed a job in New York City in the World Trade Center. Shortly after, he was able to send for my mom and brother and they were reunited at Christmastime in 1982. Three years later, a spirited baby girl came along. ;)

As we were preparing for my dad's memorial service, one of the surprises of the whole process was discovering a photo album that I have never lain eyes on in my 28 years. It was a brown leather album with "Family Heritage" in gold script lettering on the cover. Inside were pictures of my dad from childhood to the early years of marriage. My dad has always been very sensitive about his past due to an estrangement from his family ever since I could remember. My mom kept these photos hidden for years and unearthed the album after a vigorous search. As I looked at the photos, this whole other side of my dad's life was finally revealed and I spent hours poring over the photos imagining the stories behind the pictures.


One of the best discoveries from this album was finding photos of my parents in the early years of their marriage. In my recent memory, they have definitely had their share of difficulties. It was nice to see them so happy and in love. In another photo album, the first third of photo sleeves was filled with 3x5 photos with handwritten notes on the back of each photo. We learned that when my dad first traveled to LA for work, he took pictures and wrote little captions and notes on the back of each photo and then mailed them to my mom. These were their postcards.

Processing the last weeks with a few close friends, I asked them about their most poignant memory of my dad. After some thought, they shared remembering my dad's love to dance during parties and celebrations. I was so pleased to find these photos of my mom and dad boogieing in the 70's and putting it side by side with this more recent photo. Still got it.

After a decade of battling various health issues and heart ailments, my dad is now free. I feel a duality of relief and love for my father but also grief and confusion because as much as we know the facts about life and death, loss stings. It just does. Even as his health declined, Edgar's mind and spirit remained strong until his passing. His visiting nurse remarked that "Edgar has a fighting spirit." I could not agree more. With each day, I have been increasingly comforted and loved on by the people in our lives, increasingly aware that life is a gift and compelled to live our limited days fully, and increasingly thankful that God's grace, character and love abound in ways that I continue to explore and appreciate. Though he is no longer with us, his memory and his legacy will live on. The sounds of my childhood home will be different now but fortunately, I have a few of his old records, timepieces, games, and dance moves to remind me of his ways. We love you and miss you dad. Happy Father's Day.