Creative Director for Marie Claire, judge on Project Runway and now celebrity representative for Verizon Wireless, Nina Garcia is a busy woman. The mogul was the last of three female celebrities to stop by the first-ever Verizon Wireless Destination Store in the Mall of America on Saturday and I was one of the media peeps who got to tag along as she experienced the different interactive areas of the store.
Dressed in all black with a Kenzo lion sweater, Givenchy trousers and boots fit to stomp through the streets of NYC, Nina perused the walls of gadgets with the same intrigue one would the shoe department at Nordstrom.
Which isn’t a surprise, really. Nina is an avid Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook user with millions and millions of followers. She’s a techie. And an example of why fashion designers are increasingly creating products to appeal to people like her and her followers (see Rebecca Minkoff, Marc Jacobs for their trendy iPhone cases.) It’s no secret fashion and tech are overlapping more and more these days and Nina is a perfect example of that.
So why was she in town? To scope out the space and be a spokesperson for the Customize It section of the store. We watched her get her photo taken in front of a green screen which was then printed onto an iPhone case by the time she was ready to leave.
Props to Verizon for setting up the coolest electronic store I’ve ever been to (sorry, Apple.) Check out my Vine I made in one of their stop motion scenes set up in the center of the store.
Afterwards, Nina answered questions from the group about her favorite apps, social media and advice for emerging designers.
So what does Nina Garcia use on her phone? To name a few: Lyst, Uber, Trendable and SnapSwitch for Instagram.
Also, Moda Operandi for “if I want to shop before anybody else,” she said. “And I also think that they have things that are early in the season so you can reserve them. And you can have them before anybody else.” Gotta check this one out.
And while I usually use Shazam while I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, Nina says she uses it “when I’m at the shows and I can’t figure [the song] out, I love that.” Of course.
I thought it was also cool how she talked about that, yes, social media and technology can be distracting and tiresome, but it has an integrated role in sparking creativity for her many roles.
“You can lose yourself in that process, I think it’s also very inspirational,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like I’m working, it feels like I’m feeding my imagination.”
If you follow her Pinterest boards, you can tell she’s always “feeding her imagination.” She’s constantly updating and pinning the latest runway looks and trends pretty much on a daily basis (which, by the way, she says she manages herself with little help from an assistant.)
With the ever-evolving world of social media and the state of the fashion industry being so hard to break into, it can be hard for emerging designers to really find their voice artistically and also make a living. Nina gave some good food for thought for any designers who struggle to find that balance.
“There’s a marriage of art and commerce. Yes, you want to have to have art, but at the same time it’s got to sell. But I think that the most important part is really understanding what kind of designer you want to be. What is your message? What is your look?” she said. “And it takes time. It doesn’t happen instantly. I think it’s a question of maturity. It’s a question of working and gaining experience and finding your own voice. It’s like growing up in a way. At 15 or 16 you’re a certain way and at 20 you’re another way. So it’s the same way a designer matures. Maybe you start here and in 5-10 years you’re there. So it’s about keeping a consistency to your image.”
She really could not have been more nice and genuine during this whole time. Not that I was surprised, but she definitely has been pegged on Project Runway as the hard ass judge. But we didn’t see any of that as she chatted up everyone, even us media types and some kids who had special passes to meet her, while we followed her around like little ducklings.
Maybe what really jazzed me about her was after taking our picture she giddily asked, “So do you ever have any Prince sightings?” Why yes, Nina, we do! Tara and I filled her in on our own personal run-in’s with The Purple One and I didn’t forget to mention the gold, light-up heels he wore at the Dakota in January. She seemed to approve.