Hello, Elysia @elysiapandapgh here.
The best way I know how to describe what I do is….Everything Pittsburgh Fashion! I’m a brand manager for fashion and wellness clients in the area and most notoriously, I’m the founder of emerging non-profit, Style412.
Since moving to Pittsburgh about 10 years ago and graduating with a business management degree, it has been my long-term passion to see the growth of fashion in Pittsburgh. I won’t share my full-length rant as to why here, but every good story begins with a reason they set out on a journey and mine is simply the burning desire for evolution. I believe the time is now.
I’d also describe myself as a “Fashionepreneur” or “Type A Creative” because while I have wiggled my way through the industry as many creative roles (model, stylist, art director) I have felt at most with myself being behind-the-scenes thinking about the big picture. What is this all going to look like in the end? I think that is a very important question to ask -- especially in this new fashion frontier that we find ourselves in. Everything is all so fresh and new. It’s exciting to think about.
Photo by Jenna Bascom
When you hear the word “fashion” what does it mean to you?
I’ve always been interested in and followed the industry of fashion -- so hearing this word, I quite naturally think multi-million dollar global business. But to others, especially non-industry folks, I am learning that I need to be very careful about how I use this word. Coming from a position currently, where I am pitching what I do with Style412 to others, it’s often required that I paint the picture about how this word applies to them or -- their minds just go directly to the glamour of the runway. The word “fashion” is fully loaded and it’s a little scary to use, which is why I definitely prefer the word “style.” It’s more approachable.
What does personal style mean to you?
I think most people are on a perpetual quest for identity; and how that unfolds throughout our lives and self-discovery is an amazing journey. I very much think that personal style is part of that journey and as people grow into themselves --- usually by much exploration, trial & error -- they also start to shape their personal style outwardly.
Photos by Cole Bradley
Personal Style: How do you think it is acquired? How did you acquire yours?
As I’ve grown older and become more comfortable with myself, I’ve noticed more of what I like, what I feel confident in and what looks good with my body type. Developing a style that reflects who I am and how I want to be perceived has always been VERY important to me. I’ve done quite a bit of soul searching and read books on personal style that have challenged me through research and exercises. The Curated Closet by Anushka Rees is a good one! You’d be surprised by how much you learn by taking a photo of your look every day for a month and reviewing them to see if they matched how you look in your head. It’s a process -- one that I’ve enjoyed and one that I continue to shape -- but for the most part, I believe that personal style is acquired by taking a deeper look inwards.
How does your personal life affect your fashion choices?
There was a recent epiphany that I had in the past year related to fashion, identity and environment. I’m a workaholic so where I work is very important to me personally. My realization was that I didn’t want to be in a work environment that wouldn’t accept how I dress -- because I very much view that as an extension of who I am. The countless times where 20-year-old Elysia went to a job interview looking like someone I wasn’t. And no surprise here, those jobs usually didn’t work out for too long! There have been times in my life where I dressed out of my comfort zone to adapt to those around me and what I’ve learned is that it usually doesn’t land me in places where I want to be. Dressing authentically -- for myself-- has risen to the top of what drives me stylistically.
I’m also conscious about not buying cheap crap that comes from a sweat shop abroad. It’s very sad and I think with a shift in the consumer mindset and re-emphasis on quality --- we can easily change how negatively our current fashion industry is impacting both the environment and lives of individuals across the globe. Values 100% influence my fashion choices.
Tell us about the piece of clothing in your wardrobe that makes you feel most confident?
My husband and I were wandering around the West Village and this store, Uma Davidowicz, pulled me in. I found this oversized distressed cotton jumpsuit and it was the most effortless piece I’ve ever put on body. I’ve worn it numerous ways, on numerous occasions and it never ceases to make me feel amazing being myself.
Photo by Rose Colored Creative
What staple pieces do you believe every woman should own?
I’m blazer obsessed. I have felt so many feels wearing a blazer: sophisticated, sporty, powerful, sexy... There are endless ways to style blazers and so many different styles of blazers. Recently, I saw women’s soccer athlete, Megan Rapinoe sport a tuxedo blazer with leather biker shorts to the ESPY awards. I have been conspiring and eyeballing some pieces in my wardrobe a little bit differently ever since….
Photo by Rose Colored Creative
Where can our readers follow and engage with you and your work?
Well, since you ask! My personal journey as a brand manager in the Pittsburgh fashion scene can be found on Instagram @elysiapandapgh. I’d also encourage anyone to engage (especially if you’re passionate about fashion living in Pittsburgh) by following Style412 @style412, which is growing into a trade association / alliance for fashion industry professionals who share the mutual vision of evolving the Pittsburgh fashion scene. It’s only our 1st year operating as a non-profit, so I think it’s safe to say that we have some big plans in store for the future in our city. Lastly, our monthly newsletter is packed with industry insider news, social happenings and spotlights local brands you might not know about.
To subscribe, visit: www.style412.com/subscribe.
That’s a wrap!
I’m always appreciative of any opportunity to talk about my passion, so thank you for having me! My door is open to any additional questions that people may have via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).