Six Rising Stars in the CapNY Fashion Industry

Model in Downtown Albany
If you ask, or simply look, around – it wouldn’t shock you to learn there hasn’t been much of a fashion scene here in the Upstate New York area. But if you sought out any of the up-and-comers who are paving a fashion path of their own, they’d tell you there is a lot going on to actively change how Upstate New Yorkers dress, shop and express personal style.

An Industry On the Rise

From retail shop owners, to designers, vintage thrifters and personal stylists, we rounded up six rising stars in fashion from across CapNY and beyond. While creating job opportunities and new outlets for people to shop and support the local fashion industry, this group is focused on boosting the narrative about Upstate fashion in their own individual ways. Allow me to introduce you to…

1. Taissha LaReau, Wardrobe Consultant and Stylist

Age: 33
Raised in: New York City
Living in: Albany

Q: How did you get interested in fashion?
Taissha LaReau, Upstate Fashion

A: After college, I moved back to NYC and held a few positions with media agencies and digital publishers. During my time there, content creation and influencer marketing grew fairly quickly. I realized I wanted to pursue a career in fashion. I knew it would be challenging because I didn’t have much experience, so I started a blog and leveraged social media to showcase my creativity. Fast forward to present day, my approach has shifted to help people build functional wardrobes that will last.

Q: What are the services you offer?
Taissha LaReau, Upstate Fashion

A: As a wardrobe consultant and stylist, my goal is to help people achieve their desired look by recommending styles and curating a wardrobe that is functional, fits their needs, and tailors to their lifestyle. I’m a firm believer that less is more, so while working with clients, my mission is to educate them on the benefits of buying smart and letting go of items that no longer suit them so they can make room for new ones. I work with a diverse range of clients and various body types while offering virtual and in-person style sessions. My services range from closet editing and repurposing, to personal shopping, building a sustainable wardrobe, closet organization, photoshoot styling, and more.

Q: How has the CapNY community supported you?

A: I was recently part of an interview with local media entertainment company, Two Buttons Deep, for an episode of fashion-focused podcast, Buttonista. We chatted about my transition from NYC, my business, and how to build a functional wardrobe. I’ve been able to make new connections with local photographers and small local businesses. For anyone aspiring to pursue a career in fashion, I would recommend networking within your local community. It could potentially give you access to opportunities and provide you with insight on how to grow your business.

2. Nicole Nicholas and Randi Poillon, Haute Messes in Dresses

Nicole Nicholas and Randi Poillon, Haute Messes in Dresses, Upstate Fashion

Name: Nicole Nicholas
Age: 40
Raised In: Niskayuna
Currently Live: Clifton Park

Name: Randi Poillon
Age: 38
Raised In: Stony Brook
Currently Live: Clifton Park

Q: How did Haute Messes in Dresses get started?
Clothing rack, Upstate Fashion

A: Growing up, we both had a love for fashion. When we met as adults, we instantly connected through our love for fashion and became fast friends. After years of talking trends, stalking sales, and many shopping trips while pushing baby strollers, we decided to share our knowledge and expertise as personal stylists.

We started offering various session-based styling services, designing graphic tees and custom tie dye sets to be sold online. Once the pandemic hit, we saw an opportunity to change the way we share our love for fashion…We purchased a tiny house that we turned into a mobile shopping and styling boutique!

Q: What are the services you offer?
Haute Messes in Dresses, Upstate Fashion

A: On the racks customers can find Haute Messes In Dresses’ signature graphic tee-shirts and fashionable face masks as well as sweaters, dresses, jackets and denim. We felt it was important to move beyond our graphic tees and offer staple pieces, versatile outfits with great quality and fit.

Haute Messes In Dresses believes the mobile shopping and styling boutique will provide a great alternative for those who prefer to avoid crowded shopping malls and plazas.  

Q: How has the CapNY community supported your efforts?

A: From the time we announced the mobile shopping and styling boutique, we have seen support from people who have been following us from the inception of Haute Messes In Dresses, and from those who just found out about us. Our customer base is all local. We would not be as successful as we are now without the support of these local women.

3. Tory Minkel, Supernatural

Age: 32
Raised in: Saratoga Springs
Currently living: Saratoga Springs

Q: What’s your background, and how did you arrive at opening your own boutique?
Tory Minkel, Supernatural, Upstate Fashion

A: My first official “fashion” job was in high school as a sales associate in the women’s department of a local landmark – the Saratoga Shoe Depot. After graduating college, I moved to New York City and worked in the industry. I quickly learned New York wasn’t for me, so when my lease was up, I packed up and headed to Los Angeles. Throughout my time working in the industry, my long-term career goals became much more clear: I needed my own shop. After a couple years in L.A. I came back to Saratoga.

I’ve always had a progressive view of the industry, and I used that to create the concept for my boutique. I was deeply affected by a fashion sustainability course I took during my senior year. My biggest takeaway was that if a consumer is getting something for a low price, someone or something somewhere is being exploited.

Q: What are the services you offer?
Supernatural Interior, Upstate Fashion

A: I opened my shop, Supernatural, in October 2020 (yes, during a pandemic, social justice movement, and highly polarized political climate). Supernatural is a consciously curated lifestyle shop tucked away in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs. We feature eco-friendly and sweatshop-free womenswear, ethically produced accessories, and plant-based, clean beauty and wellness products. I aim to connect like-minded shoppers with brands that care more about the product they produce than the profit they make.

Q: Where would you recommend someone interested in fashion locally goes for advice or inspiration?

A: My best advice for anyone wanting to break into the local fashion scene is to get a job in boutique retail. Due to the nature of Saratoga being a summertime tourist destination, we have a unique fashion and retail market that I feel requires hands on experience to understand. Most shopkeepers have acquired unique skills and experiences over the years and are happy to share their knowledge with you.

4. David Reali, LYF Supply

Age: 35
Raised in: Schenectady
Currently living: Troy

Q: How did you get into fashion?
David Reali, Upstate Fashion

A: Fashion has always been part of my being. I tend to be more inspired by style, how one uses style as a tool to express themselves –and I take inspiration from everywhere, including pop culture, hip hop and music and from my own friends and family. I always felt like how you presented yourself was very important especially as it pertains to first impression and reputation.

Q: What is LYF SUPPLY and what does your brand offer?
LYF SUPPLY SWEATSHIRT

LYF SUPPLY (LYF is an acronym for, “Love Yourself First”) is an embroidery company that supplies quality, custom embroidery to brands, companies and creatives. We offer high quality pieces ranging from hats, BLEACH’D 1 of 1s, UPLYFTED (upcycled customs) to full cut and sew pieces with slogans and images embroidered to reinforce the self love message, which is our brand’s foundation. We take pride in using colors to curate a mood.

Q: How has the CapNY community supported your efforts?

A: Many local, small businesses use LYF SUPPLY for their embroidery services and recommend us to other people they work with. Superior Merchandise in Troy has been a huge supporter of ours as well as Phases (formerly known as AMC Jewelry).

Q: Where would you recommend someone go to educate themselves on fashion locally?

A: While there isn’t much of a true fashion industry here locally (yet), I think it is important for people to find other ways to educate themselves. Mission Accomplished has a fashion program, but most of mine have come from self-education AKA Youtube University and Skillshare.

5. Kara Curtin, DINER

Age: 26
Raised in: Rotterdam
Living in: Albany

Q: How did you decide to start DINER?

A: I’ve always been interested in fashion as a general idea, but in 2017 I combined a love of clothes with a hunting-for-treasure obsession and started my vintage business, DINER. DINER is an online shop focusing on all things vintage.

I say that half the reason it’s called DINER is because there’s something for everyone! The shop offers clothes mostly, but bags, books, jewelry, shoes, housewares, etc., are occasionally given a time to shine on the site.

Q: How has the CapNY community supported or been part of your efforts?

A: There are some local girls that have been repeat shoppers from day one; that kind of continued love and support means so much to a small business owner. I’m also lucky to feature DINER items at Olive & June Floral Co. in Albany, year round, and during seasonal pop-up shops. It’s always nice to collaborate with another local female-owned shop and get support from others in the community that way, too.

6. Aniah Rose, Model

Age: 25
Raised in: Latham
Living in: Guilderland

Q: How did you become interested in fashion and modeling?
Aniah Rose, Model

A: Modeling and fashion wasn’t my dream until four years ago, after I made my way through high school and earned a Bachelors and Masters degree in accounting. Modeling was always a topic of discussion [what girl didn’t either watch or want to be on America’s Next Top Model] but I never pursued it until the perfect opportunity crossed my path when a local photographer asked me to do a photo shoot, which ended up coming out great! I was approached by a photographer from CapNY who was already active in the fashion community. We set up a three look shoot in Washington Park (Albany) and it came out surprisingly great. The exhilaration of shooting and seeing the outcome made me want to learn about the fashion industry, and I wanted to see my face on the cover of magazines. There’s no turning back on that goal now!

Q: What modeling have you done and what are you available for?
Aniah Rose, Model

A: After that initial experience, I’ve walked in New York Fashion Week, Atlantic City Fashion Week, Miss NY USA, landed paid advertisement gigs, and even became a published model. It’s so beautiful how much my passion for fashion and creative directing has grown. Right now, my goal is to sharpen my talent, freshen my portfolio, and pinpoint my long term motive in modeling. It has been a side hustle, since I’m an accountant as well, but I don’t plan on letting up anytime soon. It’s been tough with the pandemic but my motto is #alwaysworking. Whether it’s thinking of a new theme, helping a girl break through her camera fright, or scheduling future shoots, I’m always working on how to further brand “Aniah Rose” while setting a footprint wherever I go.

Q: How has our local community supported your dream of modeling professionally?

A: My supporters, as well as the long term colleagues that I’ve met throughout CapNY, have been who keep me in this hustle. All we want to do is eat, sleep, create. With that being said, I do remain available during these times for bookings! I love to help businesses and individuals in any way that I can whether it’s me being in front of the camera or directing a photoshoot.

Photographer credit: Tyler Ki-re, Dan Shade, KPhotoZ
Make up artists: Tali Made Beauty
Hair: Lurissa Lawson

Written by: Taylor Rao

Taylor is a Co-Founder of Two Buttons Deep, she writes real estate & features for the Times Union, and hosts the Buttonista podcast.

2 thoughts on “Six Rising Stars in the CapNY Fashion Industry

  1. I might know the most successful fashion model in the cap region. He has shot everything from pull-ups to GAP, Nike, Jordan, Target and more! He’s 4 years old and getting ready shoot his first feature film 🙂

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