Written By: Renee Rogers Top Fashionfluencers: San Diego’s Most Stylish Strut their Stuff
Curious as to what the term ‘Fashionfluencer’ is? How about this for a definition: A bold and confident individual who leads their community with style and grace. Check out these top influencers and you’ll see what I mean. Thanks to a mass amount of LOCALE readers and their votes, we’ve narrowed it down to the following select women. They’ve been chosen not only because of their style and ability to stay ahead of the trends but also for their ambitious ways. All of them have honed their entrepreneurial talents and now have businesses they can call their own. Learn how these girls earned their stripes in fashion, and it’ll be easy to see why they’re San Diego’s most stylish.
Mahjuba Levine – Classic Chic With a Twist
Fashion Expert and Stylist of Closet Therapy
Q: When did you begin Closet Therapy and what was your inspiration behind that?
I started Personal styling in 2001, before it was even a career choice. I realized how much my expertise helped people by giving them confidence and looking the best they could. I wanted to give that feeling to as many people as possible.
Q: You were handpicked by Stacy London to be part of her ‘Style for Hire’ team – what was that whole experience like?
When I was contacted, it was a full-circle moment for me. To be part of such an amazing network of professionals who followed their passion for styling and understand the concept is incredible. Stacy uses her celebrity in such a positive way to help so many people. She now gives stylists opportunities to also live out their dream. I am honored to be recognized by her, and she continues to be an inspiration.
Q: Describe your personal sense of style.
My own personal style is classic chic with a twist. My twists are usually a mix of accessories. I love well-tailored clothes with a fab bag, jewelry or shoes. “Right now I’m pairing my metallic gold, pointed-toe Manolo Blahnik pumps with jeans and a casual top.”
Q: What are some of the brands that you gravitate towards the most?
I love mixing brands from high-end to low-end. Some of my favorite brands are Valentino, Givenchy, Zara, J Crew and Helmut Lang.
Q: What are some quick tips for someone who is organizing their closet in preparation for the upcoming season?
Proper storage is key. Storage pieces such as garment bags, boot containers and moth repellent are very important. Organizing your closet by season is a great way to stay on top of your wardrobe, too.
Q: What’s one item in your closet that you can’t live without?
My Helmut Lang blazer…I literally wear it almost everyday.
Q: Who would be your dream client to style?
Every stay at home mom
Q: What’s the most common item that people seem to be missing but totally needing?
Almost every client is missing basic wardrobe essentials. I provide a list of these essentials to my clients during my editing process.
Q: A spring/summer must-have for women? And men?
I don’t believe in “must-have.” I believe you “must-feel-good” in everything you buy. Women will feel good in a caged sandal, they are super sexy. For men, white jeans…its fresh yet still masculine.
Q: Individual styles are just that – individual – why do you think so many people come to you and trust you with the task of revamping their wardrobes?
Due to the overwhelming choices of clothing, people are really lost. They have no idea what looks good on them or where to go to shop. I help them by choosing individual pieces that will compliment them with taste and style.
Q: When you’re not busy styling, what are some of your favorite things to do in San Diego?
Summers are slower months for me, which is perfect. You will find me and my two little girls paddle boarding at Mission Bay or hanging out at Coronado Beach. We love being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful weather.
Summer Albertson – Hollywood Glam Mixed with Effortless Chic
Ambitious Blonde and Owner of Blended Industries
Q: What’s the story behind your boutique Blended Industries, and how did it begin?
Blended Industries is the first Legal Clothing boutique and wine bar in the country, and we proudly claim that title! Prior to opening Blended, I owned a small boutique in La Jolla called Summer Elizabeth. My vision for both stores was to always create a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere that people would want to come back to. Seeing so many men patiently waiting for their wives/ girlfriends to shop, I thought they needed to be comfortable too! What man wouldn’t patiently wait with a glass of wine in-hand while the game is on the TV? My winemaker boyfriend, Jesse Kovacs and I had that “ah-ha!” moment… “What about combining shopping with wine.” It really was genius. Six months later, Blended Industries was born.
Q: What kinds of brands will we find when shopping in your boutique?
We tend to carry established brands as people like to walk into our store knowing the quality, price, fabrication and cut is exactly what they’re used to. BCBG Max Azria has been a staple brand I have carried for over three years. Parker, Equipment, Free People and J Brand are also among my best selling brands. We like to keep certain pieces exclusive, so for the one-of-a-kind specialty items, we bring in custom dresses designed by Project Runway star Michael Costello. For edge and something unique, we carry Karina Grimaldi, Stella&Jamie and Donna Mizani. Our Men’s lines remain very commercial, as guys hate to try things on! They want to see, like, buy. Ha-ha. Some of our most popular labels for men are HUDSON Jeans, J Brand, Original Penguin, Howse of Howe, RUFUS and Velvet men. Guys are really easy, give them a nice pair of comfortable jeans, a soft V-neck tee or a tailored dress shirt and they’re ready to go!
Q: When buying for your boutique what are some of your methods in staying ahead of the trends?
Jesse and I hand pick and try on every piece in our store. I have to check the garments each time for quality, fit and style. If I don’t love it, it doesn’t make it in the store. I stand by believing in what you sell. For trends, I actually reach out to friends of mine in Paris and New York. I have been blessed to have met a lot of people in the fashion industry. Receiving confidential trend reports before seeing it in person at Fashion Week helps gage what styles work for my already existing clientele. Since we are in La Jolla, and it’s such a tourist destination, I do buy with “out of town-ers” in mind. You have to. Not everyone is looking for a cute cocktail dress. Another key factor in buying, fashion repeats itself every 20 years. Look to 90s fashion to see what’s hip or what’s going to be hip. I’ll give you a hint, a lot of mix ‘n match, crop tops, floral denim, neon everywhere, cut-out dresses and a staple piece like a denim jacket. Never forget the most important part of fashion – expressing yourself. A lot of who you are is reflected by what you wear.
Q: Has your background always been in fashion?
I actually have a degree in Psychology and have always had a love affair with fashion. After I realized I liked the dress up part more than the psycho analyze part, I quickly changed my career. Clothes and Shoes were always my thing, and having the ability to put things together on myself and others came as second nature. I started “SE_INC” (Summer Elizabeth INC.) as a freelance stylist in LA and San Diego. It was a blast and a great learning experience.
Q: Describe your personal sense of style.
My style is incredibly unique. I try to break all the rules and go with what I like. I’d say I’m a little old Hollywood glam mixed with effortless chic. There’s nothing worse than a look that appears to be forced or too much, less is more in most cases. You can guarantee I will always have an interesting shoe to compliment my looks. Nothing says style more than a complete look.
Q: What kind of influence has San Diego had on your look?
San Diego is so beautiful and inviting, I hope my style reflects that exactly. I want to keep the laid back look but always add something fun, edgy and different to reflect me. I think San Diego is definitely becoming a more fashion-fueled city. You see beauty everywhere you go. My opinion to those worried about being over-dressed…it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. I think most will agree with me.
Q: What’s your favorite item in Blended Industries right now?
I am OBSESSED with the ‘Nixon’ jacket by BCBG MAX AZRIA, the leather/canvas combo, bright print, and studs…it’s art. When picking certain pieces, I look at versatility. Having a spring jacket that transitions to Fall and Winter is staple, classic and worth investing in.
Q: Blended Industries doesn’t just have Women’s clothing but Men’s as well – what’s your favorite current trend for men?
Definitely vintage tees, leather jackets and tailored jeans.
Q: Besides hanging out and sipping wine at your shop – where is your favorite San Diego spot?
I LOVE Herringbone in La Jolla, great atmosphere, perfect date spot, very fashionable crowd!! For a fun bar scene, Whiskey Girl! For the active folks, I love running La Jolla cove, it’s peaceful, beautiful and serene.
Q: Who would be your dream client to style at your boutique?
I feel blessed to have styled so many people; I can only wish to style many more. Styling is more than just making someone feel confident in their outfit, it’s about meeting the person, getting to know their lifestyle, interests, favorite places to go, and dress them appropriately for each occasion. I love what I do; I wouldn’t trade it for the world.Blended Industries
1025 Prospect Street Suite 220
La Jolla, CA 92037
Selma Alameri – Casual Glam
Stylish Entrepreneur of Brio Ventures
My sense of style is casual glam! I love to take casual comfortable clothes and glam it up.
Q: How did participating as a contestant on The Bachelor influence your style?
Being a contestant on the show didn’t really “influence” my style so to say, but it definitely gave me more reason to be dressed up on a daily basis.
Q: Were any of the clothes provided for you on the show?
None of the clothes were provided for us, everything you saw was everything we brought from home.
Q: What was the experience like on The Bachelor and what kind of opportunities has it lead to?
The experience was probably the most incredible experience of my life yet. I met so many good people through the show, and it sounds a little cheesy to say, but really found myself. It’s definitely brought attention to my sense of style, but hasn’t led to any opportunities in particular.
Q: What are your favorite trends for Summer?
My favorite summer trends would have to be Maxi dresses and sheer tops! Maxis are always an easy throw-on and so comfortable, effortless without looking effortless. Sheer tops are always sexy yet classy. They can be paired with anything and can look casual or dressed up.
Q: What’s your ‘go-to’ accessory?
My go to accessory has gotta be my watch! I’ll always have my watch on! The rest is just icing on the cake.
Q: You’re the Founder and CEO of your Real Estate company, Brio Ventures – what’s the story behind that and how you got started?
My sister, Reem and I started Brio Ventures a few years ago, competing against my brother-in-law, Scott Sinnett, her husband. It’s sort of a funny story, Scott was flipping homes long before her and I ever thought to branch out and start Brio. He was doing so well and her and I would help him here and there and had so much fun doing it. We knew we definitely had an eye for it. We branched out, started Brio, but we still involve Scott in every home we flip. We add a woman’s touch to it, and we love working all together. Although Scott still has his own company (Origo Group), the three of us have built Brio up together.
Q: What’s a typical work day outfit?
A typical “work” day outfit is really anything I feel like wearing that day. Sometimes it’s gym clothes, sometimes it’s boyfriend jeans a cute top and rock stud Valentino’s! It all depends on what mood I’m in, really.
Q: If you could stock your dream closet with only 3 designers who would they be?
Three designers I would love to have in my closet forever would be BCBG, Haute Hippie and Chanel! I would have something for
Ruth Melero – Bold, Unique, and Feminine
Chic Owner of Melero Boutiques
Q: Your first boutique opened a few years ago in Little Italy, and now you’ve recently opened up another in Del Mar – what’s the story behind how you started and what inspired you to open your own boutique?
I’ve always considered myself an entrepreneur. I opened my first retail store when I was 19 years old and always enjoyed the buying process of clothing and merchandise for my business. I then, moved to Texas, finished school and started a restaurant franchise. A few years after successfully establishing myself within the restaurant industry, my heart was still in the fashion world. I decided to leave my restaurant franchise and life in Texas to follow my heart’s true passion. Paris confirmed! I was off to Fashion Week.
Q: Has your background always been in fashion?
As a woman, yes I have always loved and been inspired by fashion. I graduated in Business and majored in International Commerce.
Q: Describe a typical day running two boutiques.
Running two boutiques is great! Both boutiques are currently in transition and things get overwhelming at times, but I am thankful for my amazing team who’s on board everyday. I also began building Melero’s E-commerce site www.meleroboutique.com, which is very time consuming and acts as a third store. Both Melero locations are open and running seven days a week. I take pride in my business, strong work ethic and enjoy working in either store with my clients each day. Growing a business takes a lot of time and dedication.
I have many styling appointments with my clients each month. I offer in-home styling as well as private styling sessions at both Melero boutique locations. My goal is to share my passion for fashion and grow my business; therefore, I am constantly on the look out for upcoming events and opportunities for promoting both boutiques. I love hosting events and putting together fashion shows, so reaching out to local magazines, country clubs and clients is a great opportunity to open doors for Melero, but is also a great excuse for me to throw private in-home trunk shows for my clients and their friends! Each member of the Melero Team provides a specific role in helping me run and grow my business effectively. At Melero we always make sure to stay connected and inform our customers about new merchandise, sales and events. Updating our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and database on a daily basis is one of Melero’s top priorities. I constantly go through line sheets and am on the hunt for emerging designers and new brands. On a side note, entertaining “Jack” my Jack Russell is a huge part of my daily routine. He brings Melero and my customers so much joy and never leaves my side.
Q: What’s one of your most exciting moments or accomplishments so far in your career?
Opening my first Melero Boutique & Gallery in Little Italy in December of 2009 and having three successful years there is very exciting, especially during the rough times in the economy. Having the opportunity to open a second Melero Boutique & Gallery is definitely a huge accomplishment. Thanks to all my customers and clients, I have the opportunity to keep my dream alive and share it with this wonderful community.
Q: What’s your favorite Summer item in Melero Boutique right now?
The Valentino Lace dresses in black or cream and the semi precious stone necklaces. Both items are classic, eye appealing and will make any woman look fabulous.
Q: Describe your personal sense of style.
I love statement pieces, anything unique with its own character. I especially LOVE to buy what can’t be found San Diego. In many cases, these items I find and fall in love with are not available in the USA. My style would be bold, unique but also feminine. When I travel to Paris, each showroom and accessory fair I attend offers 400+ designers for buyers to choose from. I walk the aisles and if something really catches my eye, I stop and have the opportunity to meet the designer. This makes the collection selecting process more rewarding because you find out the story behind each garment’s creation and what truly inspired the designer to create their collection.
Q: Name an item in your closet that you can’t live without?
I have two. Jeans and my black sports jacket.
Q: What are some ways that you stay ahead of the trends?
Class and elegance will always be a trendy. All you need to do is add a touch of an in-season print and a pop of a trendy color and you’re good to go!
Q: What 3 must-haves should every girl have in her closet?
LBD (little black dress), Black Pencil Skirt, Sport Jacket. These three essential pieces are a must. MY three essentials are a great pair of sunglasses, a designer bag and a fierce pair of black pumps.
Q: Besides having two great boutiques in the San Diego area, what are some other ways that you stay involved in the Fashion Community?
Melero participates in a number of fashion shows. We love fashion, but we also love supporting our local community. Melero advertises in the local magazines and also participates in their events. While attending these events we set up booths to promote Melero and all the great things both boutiques have to offer. I donate many hours for my styling services to auctions for non-profits and gala events. Hosting trunk shows at both Melero boutiques for up-and-coming jewelry designers is also another way we love staying involved.Melero Boutique and Gallery
Flower Hill Mall
2710 Via de la Valle Suite B-150
Del Mar, CA 92014
Gretchen and Britt Hackmann – Classic + Trendy
Fashion Duo of Nubry
Q: What is Nubry:
Nubry is a fashion and style blog that creates editorials, lookbooks and social media advertising campaigns for brands.
Q: When did you begin Nubry and what was the inspiration in doing so?
Nubry was born in July 2011 upon the idea that fashion brands can market to new and existing customers through lifestyle editorials online.
Q: What is each of your primary roles with Nubry?
Britt is the Fashion Director. Gretchen is the Editor in Chief.
Q: Has your background always been in fashion?
Britt: I have a BS in Entrepreneurship and an MBA from Babson College. I began my career in academics, developing, strategizing and writing the leading Marketing and Retail Management text books in the world. From there, I moved to consulting on retail analytics. During this time, I began working with Gretchen on her fashion and tech startup, which she built shortly after college graduation.
Gretchen: I have a BS in Entrepreneurship from Babson College. I previously owned a fashion/tech startup and have worked in retail, fashion, and marketing capacities.
Q: Describe a typical day at Nubry.
A typical day at Nubry includes content creation, social media and sales. Content creation begins everyday at 6 am and lasts for 6-7 hours. Afternoons are reserved for meetings with new clients and partners. Our photo shoots typically take place on weekends.
6. Describe each of your own personal styles.
Britt: My personal style is classic.
Gretchen: I push the boundaries in fashion and love to discover new ways to implement trends.
Q: How has being so involved in the Fashion community influenced your style?
Being involved in the fashion community consistently challenges us to find new ways of being inspirational to our fans. Because we are on the forefront of the fashion industry, it is our duty to communicate our fashion sense and knowledge to our readers in a timely manner.
Q: Who is your fashion muse?
We don’t look to one person for our inspiration. Rather, we turn to Fashion Week trends, street style, celebrities and each other as our style is constantly evolving.
Q: What is your primary Trend Forecasting method for your fashion site?
We attend New York Fashion Week for runway trends, which dictate the popular styles each season. During Fashion Week, a very important component is spotting street-style trends. We also follow current celebrity trends.
Q: What’s one of your most exciting moments or accomplishments with Nubry?
That moment when our influence was so great that we were enabled to have brand partnerships we could only have dreamed of having here in San Diego, like with Andaz Hotel and Neiman Marcus.
Q: What are 3 must-haves that should be in every girl’s closet?
A fresh, new pair of heels, a tried and true leather jacket and a collection of go-to bracelets.