When someone says #goals,
Alyssa Neilson might actually be who they are referring to. When she’s not giving you outfit inspiration on Instagram or providing tech, political, and beauty news and commentary via Twitter, she’s busy running her own company.
For the sake of not running down her LinkedIn profile, let’s just say this: Alyssa is an early 20s New York native and University of Texas graduate who has successfully started her own creative agency, La Femme New York. One of her clients? Glossier. Just let that sink in. Since Alyssa’s wardrobe includes some of the most carefully curated exclusive sneakers and every minimal girl’s t-shirt dreams, CGS had to pick her brain. Read on for some of Alyssa’s favorites, her thoughts on the streetwear scene, and why she started her own company.
CGS: Being cozy is all about living the lifestyle. How did you get into being a cozy girl, what do you think makes your lifestyle cozy?
A: I have always been a huge advocate of comfort. I'm not really into stuffy, tight clothing. I like to move around, so if I can't do that in what I'm wearing then I won't wear it. I have a really simple philosophy for my clothing: if I can't sleep in it, I don't want to wear it. I think for me, sneakers are the core of my style. I love sneakers and have for almost ten years (I started collecting at 15 when my first ever job was working as a sales associate at the Houston Galleria's Foot Locker!) That was around the same time I got a huge growth spurt to my current height (5'10") and I was really uncomfortable with being so tall so young, when all my friends were like 5'3" and could wear heels to dances and parties and not intimidate the boys. So sneakers allowed me to not only have a hobby and collect, but dress "cute" back in 2009. My first pair was space jam 11s that I still have to this day! I have about 6 or 7 pairs of shoes total that aren't sneakers, which is odd, but I don't care enough to change that!
With that, do you feel that your views on how style reflects femininity differ from the traditional sense? Do you directly challenge it?
Yes! I think, growing up, so many things around us tell us how women are supposed to look and present themselves— and I don't agree with it. I love femininity, but I don't think you have to dress or look a certain way to get there. I just feel a lot more like myself when I'm not in a dress or heels, and that's okay! I think I can be just as feminine in sweats and a t-shirt and no visible makeup. And lots of times, I mix my style with things that are more "feminine" like a fun skirt or dress with sneakers, just as long as I can keep my comfort in the process. If you invite me to a bar, concert or club I'm going to come in sneakers. That's never not worked for me.
What is your take on the streetwear scene right now? Any faves, dislikes, things you would change?
Personally, I just want girls to be themselves! There is so much power in having an identity of your own that is reflected within your closet. Having a more relaxed style means just that—you have to relax. So many people, especially with the rise of social media, are dressing certain ways and you can just tell it's not them or how they dress when they aren't posting. I feel like if all social media sites crashed tomorrow and disappeared, it would reveal real style. I just think that's so weird and I hope that dies off soon!
Streetwear and it's culture are deeply rooted in rebellion and a DIY attitude. Do you see any parallels to that culture and you starting your own firm?
For sure, I've always done my "own thing" whether it be with my style or with creating my own companies. I love being my own boss, because my work wardrobe and my non-work wardrobe can be the same, and I can feel like myself 24/7. I couldn't imagine having a briefcase and kitten heel job, it would be so hard for me to not feel like I'm acting. That being said, I also think if you have to be in a position or field where that is required, embrace it! The only reason I can wear sneakers and sweats into my office is because I work in PR, and it's more creative. If I was a dentist, lawyer, financier, or consultant— I would dress the part there, too, and just make it work. You don't have to sacrifice your style because of a 9-5. And having your own company doesn't necessarily equate to being able to dress however you want, either! I'm launching a mobile app, and while the company is mine by definition, when I have a meeting with investors, I can't wear sneakers or sweats—and I'm so okay with that. With my branding company, all my clients are super nontraditional, contemporary and very "me," so I don't have to change my style for meetings with them which I'm happy about.
What did that exact moment look and feel like for you? When you said "it's time, I have do it myself".
I just knew exactly what I wanted in a company and wasn't really getting it anywhere, so I gave it to myself, and I've been extremely fortunate and lucky. I'm not afraid to use the word "lucky," because a lot of people tend to try to dance around it. I was still applying for full-time jobs and going to interviews for months after I took on clients and started LFNY, but I just knew exactly what I wanted. I needed to make ends meet, and foremost, I didn't want to give 40+ hours of my time to someone and still be struggling financially. I'm just lucky to have found a way around that, and I'm really grateful for my clients who have believed in me.
#CGSessentials are items that you must have to complete your cozy look, head to toe, what are yours? This can include tech, beauty, etc.
I love a good sock. I only wear Hanes x Supreme socks right now, but usually also Uniqlo socks! I have over 200 pairs of socks and I pick them out more carefully than most. I also really love a good water bottle! It's odd, but I'm super into design and function, and I feel that everything I use or wear needs to be well designed and thought about. So I lately don't leave home without a BKR glass water bottle. One thing I will always love is my jewelry, and I don't let my style compromise that one bit. Every day, I wear my chain, my Cartier 18K white gold love ring on my left hand, and an emerald yellow gold ring on my right hand. I've had the same chain since I was in elementary school, but I don't really know the story behind it. My Cartier ring was a gift from my Dad when I graduated high school and my emerald ring was the first ring my Dad bought for my Mom when they were dating! I somehow ended up with it years ago and never take it off. I wear the same jewelry whether I'm in a dress and heels or sneakers and sweat pants.
CGS is all about the unification of women who are into this culture as we challenge push back about it. Any words of encouragement that you've used in your day to day that you'd like to share?
I think it's just super important to be your most authentic and true self. Also, utilize the resources you have around you! I can't tell you how many things have fallen in place for me and how many opportunities I've gotten because someone was willing to help me out! It's always okay to ask for help, and sometimes it takes a lot of courage. But it can really make a difference.