Introduction and Interview by Caroline Skou '20
Colette Sierra, Brooklyn-based model and influencer, captioned her most recent instagram, a picture of herself and her non-model boyfriend, “Birds of a feather, working together! It’s a wrap to our first job together!”. “It was so fun,” she told me. “ Even though he isn't a model, brands want to limit the amount of people on set, so they're asking models to shoot with their roommates, boyfriends, and girlfriends.” ‘Bring your boyfriend to work’ day isn't the only thing that has changed for Colette since she started working again in quarantine. But the one thing that has remained the same is her inclusive personal brand. In this MMXX interview, Colette and I talked about Covid guilty pleasures, what it means to be a WFH model, and advice for everyone who wants to start their own personal brand.
What is your Covid guilty pleasure? (Tv shows, etc.)
Midnight Sun for sure! My preteen heart has been so happy.
Where are you living right now? What is your favorite part of the space? Are there any essential elements that make your space feel like home?
My studio in Washington Heights. My favorite part of my space is definitely my kitchen table by the window. Nothing is better than my homemade latte and a city view. My kitties have really made the space feel like home. I am such a cat lady and having my furry friends around has really pulled this hyper social chick through social distancing.
I had always thought about modeling before, but this was my first real push that showed I had the potential to pursue it as a career.
Would love to hear more about your journey becoming a model
I first started modeling two and a half years ago. One of my friends is a photographer and was collaborating with a sunglass brand. She asked a few of us to model the sunglasses for her and the only photos that the company bought were the ones of me. I had always thought about modeling before, but this was my first real push that showed I had the potential to pursue it as a career. So I started to work with other photographers to build my book, and partnered with a couple brands before I was signed at the agency I work with now.
How did your time at Fordham influence your career? (P.S check out our Fordham Collection!)
I loved going to Fordham! I was on the dance team for three years and worked for campus ministry. When I started school I was dead set on being preMed, but with Fordham being a Jesuit school, I was exposed to a lot of philosophy and theology. I really found a passion in that and decided to change my major. Now on top of modeling, I’m also a youth minister at a church in Connecticut. My degree really gave me a broader view of theology in general, and studying the history of the Catholic church allowed me to see it as a culture, on top of being a community.
How has your work as a model changed since quarantine started? How have you seen brands adapting with social distancing in mind?
Since brands started focusing on campaigns again, they've been reaching out to models and their agencies asking to work remotely. So, instead of going to set, the brand will pair me with a photographer and a shoot location. This has opened up a great way to make modeling more personal. I mean, some people don't want to have that influencer burden; you have to style your home, do your own hair and makeup. I don't personally mind it though. I wanted to grow my brand in general, and new possibilities are opening up now with all these brand partnerships starting to pop up. These partnerships have allowed a more normal and consistent schedule for me when it comes to work. It’s been great to know I’ll be working with a brand quarterly or twice a year.
It’s like ‘bring your boyfriend to work day’ to prevent spreading. I think it’s so fun.
Also now that things are opening up and we can start working on set again with the right precautions I actually get to work with my boyfriend. Even though he isn't a model, brands want to limit the amount of people who are coming into contact at the set so they're asking models to shoot with their roommates, boyfriends, and girlfriends. It’s like ‘bring your boyfriend to work day’ to prevent spreading. I think it’s so fun.
How has your style shifted over the last 6 months? Are you staying comfy, or getting dressed up?
A bit of both! My current style obsession is an A-line skirt paired with a crew neck and trainers.
What helps you stay productive right now?
Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. It keeps me pumped up but also nostalgic to sitting in my childhood kitchen drinking a morning coffee with my mom. I also love going for a walk to grab that coffee and then coming home to work. That small 30-45 min “adventure” leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to get to work.
How is working from home going? Is there any project that you're excited about?
I’ve loved it! I’ve had the chance to partner with some really amazing brands such as Bumble, Aerie, HiKi, and SheFit. It’s been such a great opportunity to push myself creatively.
I wanted to talk about body positivity in a way that surpassed contentment with my physical appearance, but instead I believe that the goal is to have your body not be a deciding factor in whether you can enjoy your time.
You mentioned how you’re growing your personal brand right now. I would love to hear you chat a bit more about how you found your personal brand?
When I decided I wanted to create a personal brand on social media, the first thing I did was unfollow any account that wasn't a friend or that didn't represent me. I found I was comparing myself to accounts that would be impossible to achieve instead of honing in on my own brand. So at the time, any media that did not represent me was out. I wanted my feed to represent my beliefs and look like myself while I established my brand. From here, I wrote down 3 to 5 things that I'm passionate about; It came down to body positivity, size inclusion, racial inclusion, and hair!I always tell people looking to become an influencer to find out what you’re passionate about, and follow accounts that are passionate and love those things as well. From there look for what's already out there and then what's missing. For me, I saw a lot of body positive accounts, not a lot of bridging between hair and size inclusion. I wanted to talk about body positivity in a way that surpassed contentment with my physical appearance, but instead I believe that the goal is to have your body not be a deciding factor in whether you can enjoy your time. Your thighs help you to run on the beach, you have a belly to laugh, arms might not look flattering, but it’s because you’re hugging a friend. My goal is to always make my content relatable to everything and not stopping at the superficial. There's so much more to body positivity than being comfortable in a bathing suit. Especially for some of my more conservative followers who don't want to wear a swimsuit because of their beliefs. So I make sure to empower women in ways beyond the physical, so everyone is included.
Anything you're excited for in the future?
I always get a surge of creativity when the seasons change, especially in the fall and spring. These transition seasons always make me excited to get back to work. Especially with these past months being brutal with work being slow, I'm excited to take in the new season and grow creatively.
Thanks so much Colette for the great interview! And check out our MMXX collection here! 20% of all proceeds are donated to No Kid Hungry!!