Jonathan Baker Discusses The Resilience of Filmmaking in his New Documentary: ‘Becoming Iconic’

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Photo: courtesy of Jonathan Baker

Jonathan Baker isn’t new to the Hollywood scene. In fact, the writer, producer, entrepreneur and first-time director has immersed himself in show business for the last two decades – one interesting venture at a time. His appearance in “Amazing Race” season 6 along with his then wife, Victoria, sparked controversy, but that didn’t deter him from pursuing worthwhile opportunities and make his artistic mark in entertainment. Serving as writer/producer on Warner Bros.’s Through Scavullo’s Eyes, a documentary on fashion photographer, Francesco Scavullo and the comedy, Dirty Tennis, starring Dick Van Patten and Nicolette Sheridan – earned Baker The VSDA and the New York Film Festival Award for Best Comedy Video of the Year.

Back in the film festival circuit with his new documentary: Becoming Iconic, premiering at the Manhattan Film festival, April 21st, Baker presents audiences with a captivating look at what it’s really like to be a first-time director and directing a feature-length Hollywood film. The documentary chronicles Baker’s experience making his first feature film, Inconceivable – released June 2017, and interjects interviews with industry titans: directors, Jodie Foster (Money Monster, Little Man Tate, Netflix’s “Black Mirror”), Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Jacob’s Ladder), Taylor Hackford (Ray, Dolores Claiborne) and John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Short Circuit) on their experiences with directing – particularly the struggles and rewarding moments they endured. Inconceivable is billed as a “sexy dramatic thriller” and is about an unhinged woman (Nicky Whelan) escaping her abusive past that moves to a new town and befriends a mother (Gina Gershon) with fertility challenges and supporting husband (Nicholas Cage). Whelan’s character becomes obsessed with Angela’s (Gina Gershon) daughter. There really isn’t anything “sexy” or “thrilling” about women not being able to conceive naturally or the process of egg donation, but I was intrigued to discover the impetus behind the making of this film and what led to it’s production. The screenplay, penned by Chloe King (“Red Shoe Diaries”, Poison Ivy II) is the daughter of Zalman King, who made erotica films popular with 9 ½ Weeks and Wild Orchid. As I watched Becoming Iconic, I quickly stopped to think about the nuances of making a film, Baker’s painstaking challenges in the film depicted with candor and put my thoughts about Inconceivable to the side. I recently chatted with Jonathan Baker on his journey to filmmaking, lessons learned, and what the future holds for this eclectic risk taker.

DSMC: What was the defining moment you knew you wanted to be a director?

Jonathan Baker: It wasn’t about being a director. Directing became part of my journey. Because I’m a control freak, I didn’t want to work on a project and leave final say up to someone else. I wanted to do it myself. I want to own it from beginning to end. Two directors that influenced me are Robert Evans and Warren Beatty. I was playing poker with Robert Evans once and he said: “Jonathan, if you don’t own your content they’ll run you over.” And, that scared me to the core. That was 20 years ago. He said, “You either write it or you buy it. Because if not, you’ll never have the control you want.” I kept that under my hat for a long time. Wanting to be a creator, but not necessarily a director. Then I ran into Warren Beatty and he said “Jonathan, if you can write and produce and do all this stuff, you might as well direct. I told Warren that there are other people out here who can do it better than me. Beatty said, “If you don’t direct your own pictures you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” These are all monumental moments that you’re absorbing. Whether you get what you want or don’t. You’re still scared shitless! It doesn’t matter. I’m a filmmaker, and I love all aspects of this business. I love to touch every point of it and that’s why I put myself in as an actor in the film.

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Photo: courtesy of Jonathan Baker, Jodie Foster with Jonathan Baker

DSMC: How did your relationship with Warren Beatty come about? How did you first meet? I know he was very influential in the work that you’ve done with Inconceivable, Becoming Iconic?

Jonathan Baker: Warren was introduced to me through Hugh Hefner. I would play cards with him every Wednesday. Every Sunday, Hugh would have movie night at his house. I was peripherally hanging out and was able to get to know him. Ten years later, we were still friends and Warren was looking to sell his house. He had never sold a piece of property ever. I convinced him to sell me his house. Reluctantly, he did. It’s kind of him passing the torch, from old Hollywood to new Hollywood.

DSMC: While making Becoming Iconic, you were also directing your first feature, Inconceivable – which wasn’t the film you initially wanted to direct. When everything was said and done with the production partners, Emmett/Furla, and the studio, Lionsgate, what was the outcome of these relationships?

Jonathan Baker: I wanted to make Fate and Icon simultaneously. Lionsgate just sat by and let everything unfold. They were more interested in protecting the entity instead of protecting the film and me. Emmett/Furla and I have run into problems. Sometimes you say what you do and do what you say. And, when that doesn’t happen, I don’t take that lying down pretty quickly. I’m a force to be reckoned with. I got the job done. You take the high road in this business. Because of the relationship with Inconceivable and me owning 50% of the copyright – I only had half the say. Going forward, I will own the full copyright. That’s where the real problems came about. At the end of the day you make your decisions and have to live with the decisions you execute. As a director, I’m responsible for the content. I worked with Emmett/Furla because they brought in 50% of the financing, but I didn’t let our disagreements get in the way of making the film.

DSMC: How did you connect with documentary filmmaker Neil Thibedeau to make Becoming Iconic?

 Back when I was with CAA (Creative Artists Agency) and talking to Warren Beatty, I went on a quest to interview all these directors; the love of them, the love of their work. For me, the greatest part of learning is getting these commentaries. The commentaries are fascinating. I loved it! The things that you don’t know – that you don’t understand about movies. I thought would be great to start with Warren Beatty. And, work my way down the list. It was a journey for me. Many of the greats didn’t make it into the documentary: Mel Gibson, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Costner. When I was in the midst of collecting all this information, Lionsgate had asked me to direct. And, I had all this footage of these interviews. I thought, maybe I can juxtapose these interviews with my stories. I got Neil to come in and tell my story. In the middle of telling the story we ran into issues with Inconceivable. I sugarcoated it pretty well. It was interesting to say the least. I thought I was going insane, but when I called up these directors, they confirmed that all these obstacles were part of the filmmaking experience. It was just really worse for me.

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Photo: courtesy of Jonathan Baker, on the set of Inconceivable, Nicolas Cage and Jonathan Baker

DSMC: Were you discouraged as a first-time filmmaker by the negative reviews Inconceivable received? Did these affect you? Is this par for the course?

Jonathan Baker: I read them. When you have an ego, and put yourself in a movie, make a documentary and you want to write and direct it, the haters are out there. I get it. The thing is this: if they’re not writing about you then you’re in worse shape. Inconceivable is popcorn movie for women. With this film, the substance was cornered by the performances and that’s what we all had to work with. What I would disagree with is all the people’s commentary. I read them too. I don’t fight their reviews. As long as people actually saw the movie and have something to say about it. For me, the journey of reviews is taken with a grain of salt. Given the options, limitations, and pressures I was put under by the studio, I’m happy with the results of Inconceivable.

DSMC: What do you want emerging filmmakers to take away from Becoming Iconic?

Jonathan Baker: First of all, like Project Greenlight, this documentary needs to be shown in all the colleges and film classes. It’s a 101 requisite for this business. I give complete insights into not making an independent film, but a studio film. What it takes. How hard it is to hold your vision because it’s extremely easy to be derailed from your vision by producers, studios or even production staff. You have to be completely malleable, but still a leader. These are the most important elements from Becoming Iconic. What I hope people can relate to. I get to step alongside these iconic directors that have made a difference and convey their knowledge to others. The greatest gift each of us can offer one another is education, understanding, and guidance. That’s how we are human.

Becoming Iconic will premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the Cinema Village. For more information on the screening and to get tickets, click here. To learn more about Jonathan Baker’s new films and fashion projects, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Big Gay Ice Cream x Hot Sox Sock Hop Event Evokes Nostalgia In NYC

The South Street Seaport District was a backdrop to popular, consumer fan favorites: Big Gay Ice Cream and HotSox. The two brands hosted an event at Mr. Cannnon’s Speakeasy recently, celebrating a collaboration between the ice cream powerhouse and the fashion-forward original novelty sock line – with a launch of the Hox Sox x Big Gay Ice Cream limited-edition socks. The socks have the city’s skyline set against Big Gay Ice Cream’s signature motif with the words “Big” and “Gay” emblazoned on each sock.

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Donny Tsang, @donny_tsang on Instagram for the BGIC Event

With its zany and iconic designs, the sock brand has maintained its pulse on pop culture and art throughout the years. Their collections include the Norman Rockwell line, the Artist Series for both men and women and now the wildly popular emoji designs. Growing up in New York City, I’d frequent Greenwich Village as a teen and would find the wildest and original patterns at their stores. With striped and polka-dot hosiery in my fashion arsenal: I was unstoppable in high school and college. The sock brand has been a beacon of self-expresion since it launched in 1971 with silkscreened bright opaque socks. Now HotSox is in 1,700 U.S. stores and can be found throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Co-founder, Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream has been a fan of the quirky and stylish sock brand and was approached by Hot Sox for a collaboration. Big Gay Ice Cream, with its high quality ingredients and untradational toppings has been around since 2009. You can spot their colorful trucks parked around New York City’s famous streets in the summer. In 2011, they set up a brick-n-mortar outpost in the East Village, a second in the West Village, and branched out into Philadelphia’s Center City with another store. They produced their first cookbook: Big Ice Cream: Saucy Stories & Frozen Treats in 2015. Quint and his business partner Bryan Petroff, have been approached by other companies for merchandising opportunities, but opted out to stay true to the brand until they relaunched their site with original products.

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Donny Tsang, @donny_tsang on Instagram for the BGIC Event (from left-to-right, Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff)

When I asked Quint if these limited-edition socks were designed to advocate for the LBGTQ cause, Doug said although we do support and are active in the LBGTQ community and currently support the Ali Forney Center (an organization whose mission is to rescue homeless LBGTQ youth from the streets and place them in safe environments) their motive was to create a fun, durable, unisex sock to make people happy. And guess what? They do. When I put them on – they stay on – and if only for a brief moment, remind me of younger care-free years.

Whether you love history, art, geography, pop culture – or just fashion, check out HotSox latest sock designs and the limited-edition Big Gay Ice Cream x HotSox retailing for $12, here

For everything Big Gay Ice Cream News and Products, click here

¿Cuál de estas divas merece la corona de “Carpool Karaoke” para 2016? ¿Madonna, Lady Gaga ó Adele?

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cortesía del programa “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

Las tres superestrellas han participado en el exitoso “Late Show” transmitido por CBS, en el cual el simpático comediante, James Corden, invita a los más reconocidos cantantes del mundo a pasear en un carro mirando el panorama, mientras ambos cantan las canciones mas populares de los artistas.

Este mes estuvo como invitada al popular programa “La reina del Pop”, Madonna, quien no solamente cantó sus hits “Vogue” y “Express Yourself” con Corden, sino que también nos enseñó sus movimientos de baile excepcionales de “Twerk” y hasta donde llega su flexibilidad, estirando sus piernas a hasta su cabeza y subiéndolas hasta el techo del carro mientras paseaban por Nueva York.

“La Chica Material” le contestó preguntas, nunca antes reseñadas por la prensa, sobre Michael Jackson. Admitió que besó a Jackson y que ella fue la que inicio el beso, después de darle una copa de vino Chardonnay para que se relajara. También habló sobre sus dos personajes: rebelde en el escenario y serena en su casa. Ella dejó claro que en esta etapa de su vida no tiene planes de calmar su carera ó su carácter.

Cuando le tocó el turno a Lady Gaga, que aparte de ser una de las cantantes más cotizadas del mundo con sus fanáticos, “Little Monsters,” tiene título de escritora también; acompañó a Corden por la ciudad de Los Ángeles cantando sus hits, “Bad Romance” y “Poker Face.”

Gaga, obtuvo su licencia de conducir este año y Corden la dejó manejar. Aunque el comediante hizo chistes sobre sus habilidades de conducir, rápidamente le dijo que él quería seguir al frente del volante. Corden le preguntó a Lady Gaga sobre su colección de artículos de ropa de Michael Jackson durante sus giras. Ella tiene la ropa del ídolo en cuartos especiales con cierta temperatura para preservarla; una correlación interesante con Gaga y Madonna.

Finalmente tenemos a Adele, con la cual Corden paseó por la ciudad de Londres. La cantante de 28 años ha logrado ganar un Oscar, un Golden Globe, 10 Grammys y varios premios mundiales por sus canciones, las cuales demuestran la capacidad de su excepcional voz.

Durante el Carpool llegamos a saber datos de Adele que no solo cautiva a sus fans, sino también al público en general. Ella demostró su talento para cantar rap con la canción “Monster” de Nicki Minaj y su afecto por el grupo de Spice Girls, que según Adele, allanó el camino, para las mujeres cantantes. La intérprete de “Hello”, se quedó impresionada con la habilidad de Corden para cantar.

Mira los videos en YouTube y decídete cuál de ellas debe de ser la “Diva del Carpool Karaoke” del 2016. Haz click en el siguiente enlace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nck6BZga7TQ.

Cafés and Career Insights with Photographer Extraordinaire: Monica Buck

 

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courtesy of Monica Buck

Meeting a colleague, friend or interview subject for coffee and learning about their drink order provides you with a glimpse into their personality. Large translucent, refreshing iced-tea with lemon – understatedly simple with no fuss is what Monica ordered. I imagined how she would shoot her drink. With a plate of lemons on the side or multi-colored plump tea bags, whimsically arranged with beautiful porcelain tea cups, perhaps some natural light too – streaming in overhead. If you see Monica’s work, you’ll know what I’m referring to. I, on the other hand, ordered an iced-latte with everything added under the sun. I try to make my coffee beverages taste like anything, but coffee!

The San Francisco-born photographer began to tell me about her career trajectory as a photographer; her German engineer-by-trade and adventurer-by-spirit dad, who motivated her to pursue a career in the arts. The industry’s highs and lows and what inspires her to stay in the photography game.

MV: What drew you to photography? 

MB: My father was a big photography enthusiast. He photographed all sorts of people – sailors, exotic animals. Usually beautiful exotic birds and monkeys. I would love to sift through the images classify them for him.

MV: When did you get your start as a photographer?

MB: I became involved with photography 23 years ago. My family moved from California to Miami and I received my training in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. I did apprenticeships with numerous photographers. My mentor at the time, Laurie Hale, pushed me to achieve my goals; she really believed in me.

MV: Did you have a particular style of photography you wanted to pursue?

MB: I went through BlackBook (Photographer’s bible) and started searching for different types of photographers in my area. I called up Greg Heisler and Craig Cutler and ended up assisting them and learning so much. Initially, I wanted to shoot fashion. I loved this type of photography, but as I started getting gigs, I quickly realized it wasn’t for me; I didn’t fit in. The over-the-top personalities are pretty extreme.

MV: What was your next move, knowing fashion wasn’t your ideal type of work?

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courtesy of Monica Buck

 

MB: I began with a still-life book. I loved arranging props and products and creating interesting compositions in the studio. Plus, I was in control of the shots – to some degree and really enjoyed that freedom. But, after doing it for some time, I found the in-studio work to be constricting. I started to venture into different photography genres. Lifestyle, people, interiors and exteriors and found my groove. I started shooting for more editorial, catalogue and commercial clients. It was great.

MV: What are some the current challenges you face with editorial and commercial clients?

MB: There are many more photographers than there are magazines today. And many of these magazines are shutting down at an alarming rate. Like my parents, I’m a hustler and have embraced the fact that you have to pursue new ways to stay relevant and keep shooting projects that won’t just pay the bills, but are worthwhile and will enable you to grow as an artist.

MV: What recommendations would you give to aspiring photographers? 

MB: Assist the people you admire. Look for apprenticeships in your area and outside. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. Constantly research to see what type of styles you like. Go out and shoot! I follow few photographers on Instagram to see what trends are currently out there. I’m inspired by beautiful things and love to interpret their existence with photography.

To see Monica’s work and to hire her for your next creative project, click here: http://www.monicabuck.com/about/1

 

 

The Etiquette of Hairstyling with Carrie Butterworth

At the so close! But-not-quite a teen age of 12, Carrie Butterworth had the career epiphany most us of lack – until a later age or never acquire – of wanting to become a hairstylist. While many of us were pining over the latest music sensation, saving up for the new “it” fashion item or experimenting with a hair color ready to make our parents disown us, she had a clear vision of her chosen profession. This enlightened artist, blessed with hands to create beautiful, life-changing looks sat down with me to discuss her career as a professional hairstylist in editorial, advertising and as part of a celebrity glam squad.

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DSMC: How long have you been a hairstylist?

CB: I did a lot of interning at salons in New Jersey, but really got a feel for the profession assisting stylists in NYC since 1997.

DSMC: You knew from a young age you wanted to be a hairstylist. Can you describe that experience to us?

CB: I’ve always lived in the suburbs of New Jersey. There wasn’t much experimentation with hairstyles in my neighborhood and people didn’t have any trend-setting dos. My mom took me to a salon in Ridgewood called New Wave and I was so impressed with the haircuts people were getting. It was 1988 and these individuals had these awesome Mohawks and jagged-styled hair. They looked so artistic. The hairstylist was wearing these fierce leopard pants. It was so cool. I knew this was what I wanted to do.

DSMC: When did you get your big break?

CB: I started working with Patrick Melville at his salon in Manhattan. He is well known in the business and I assisted him on these fantastic editorial shoots and campaigns for Saks, Calvin Klein and Bill Blass. We did some work for MTV and backstage at the New York fashion shows. It was nerve-wracking, but exhilarating at the same time. Having these opportunities and being able to handle them really shows what you’re made of – they can make or break you.

DSMC: Who are some of the hairstyling greats you admire?

CB: I really like Oribe and Guido’s work. Stylists who do lush, gorgeous artistic hair.

DSMC: What are some career highlights you’ve experienced?

CB: Touring with celebrities and being their go-to stylist, meeting incredibly talented people who love what they do and being inspired by them.

DSMC: What do you abhor about the business?

CB: I came from the tail end of learning skills – a professional hairdresser is required to know from the old school regime. It’s important to have mentors and absorb as much as you can from them. A lot of my clients do come from word-of-mouth, and from other colleagues in the industry. A few years ago I thought about having an agent represent me. They wanted 20% right-of-the-bat and expected me to bring my own clients. It’s one thing to get hired by new clients the agency exposed me to, and they take 20%, but not take a percentage from clients I’ve built long-lasting relationships with, on my own. It’s unfair and a shady business practice. I also worked with PR firms that have no clue who some of the top hairstylists are. These are people who are supposedly experts in hair care and selling products for brands – their representatives!

DSMC: What is the biggest misconception you find people have about hairstyling?

CB: You don’t have to disfigure yourself with a crazy haircut to turn heads and be shocking. A new look that suits you will do the trick. It’s important to trust the hair professional. Make sure you research the person. Look at past work they’ve done. See if their work falls in line with the style you’re going for and let them do their job. It’s a legitimate profession. Would tell your dentist how to do their job?

DSMC: What advice would you give aspiring hairstylists?

CB: Nothing comes easy. Tenacity and perseverance is crucial in this business. Keep learning. Improve what you do and constantly see what’s new and stay up-to-date in the profession.

*If you would like to book an appointment to up your fabulosity, or are in search of a hairstylist for your next campaign, please go to: http://www.carriebutterworth.com. Follow her on Instagram @hair_by_carrie_butterworth and Roy Teeluck Salon: http://royteeluck.com

 

Photographer Antonis Achilleos Gives us his Insights on the Love for his Craft and the State of the Industry

 

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courtesy of Antonis Achilleos

Make room for Biscuits and Muffins! This isn’t some new pop group on the music scene or new restaurant that popped up in a trendy cosmopolitan enclave. It’s the latest book project photographer Antonis Achilleos is busy working on. In today’s ever-changing editorial and commercial landscape, there are few that can survive the ups and downs of an industry that is wrought with dwindling budgets and musical-chair appointed creatives at the helm – tasked with executing photography campaigns. I was fortunate enough to land an interview with the always consummate, talented professional to give his thoughts on the business of photography.

DSMC: Did you always have your mind set on becoming a photographer?

AA: I have many relatives that are photographers in my family. My father and uncles had cameras around the house. My father lent me his equipment and I’d bicycle around town in Cyprus and take pictures. I think it was inevitable for me to become interested in photography. You could say: It was in the genes! I wasn’t sure it was going to be a career or just a hobby until I came to U.S. for a Media Arts program in photography. Turns out, I found my passion and I’m still working in the field.

DSMC: What inspired you to become a photographer?

AA: The magic of the darkroom. I remember being part of the photo club in high school and I got a whiff of the developer (developing photos) and saw the images forming in the dark. I was hooked.

DSMC: Did you study photography in the states or abroad?

AA: For me, the states are abroad. I left Cyprus when I was 21 and came to the U.S. I considered the photography programs in England and Germany, but the ones in America seemed more attractive to me. I chose the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It’s a small school affiliated with the art institute in the city. The program split the curriculum into photo and film. It was a great experience for a freshman from Cyprus. After 2 years, I transferred to Rochester NY at RIT, which has a renowned program in professional photography.

DSMC: How would you classify your type of photography?

AA: I consider myself a still life photographer who occasionally shoots different genres.

DSMC: What genre of photography do you enjoy most?

AA: All types. I follow all different types of photography to see what’s new and engaging.

DSMC: Is there a particular genre you identify with?

AA: I have been photographing food a lot more. I enjoy the collaboration it brings with a bigger team of people. I love making food look pretty and delicious.

DSMC: Have you noticed emerging trends in editorial and commercial photography within the last 4 – 5 years? If so, what are they?

AA: Yes, I have. Photographers are experimenting more with focus on a subject; they alternate between soft and sharp focus on objects. Warm tones from the 90s and cool tones from the 2000s are making a comeback. Donna Hays magazine used completely blue tones a few years ago and I loved it! I use 1/4 blue on with my daylight to turn the shadows blue. There is great work being done now. The development of digital and new technologies has liberated the industry. If you have a vision you can become a great photographer and it’s evident with the emerging new blogs out there. Check out: http://www.ourfoodstories.com/search/label/drinks

DSMC: How do you stay relevant and continually land photography jobs in this changing industry?

AA: Staying relevant in any field is super important. I try to look at the work created around me and simultaneously stay true – and produce – the work that’s important to me. I’m not going to jump on every new trend bandwagon, because it’s popular, if it doesn’t make sense for me to grow as an artist.

DSMC: Is working with an agent more or less advantageous to your business?

AA: Yes, having an agent is important for me. I have been with Big Leo and Mary Dail for two years now. And, I love being part of that family. I like having someone on my side to share the marketing/business side of the job, which is the most difficult part. Taking the photos is easy. Continually promoting yourself and landing new clients is not.

DSMC: What tips and/or advice would you give aspiring photographers?
Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Be open and willing to do anything and everything in this business. Assist photographers and absorb how they work, learn the trade and stay current. Be a nice person, nobody wants to work with a jerk: at least not at the beginning.

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courtesy of Antonis Achilleos

From shooting cookbooks with top chefs to beautiful editorial stories and advertising campaigns – that take him all over the country. Antonis has made his mark in the photography industry. The sought-after artist is always eager to learn new tricks of the trade and expand his portfolio. You can find his inspiring and extensive range of work at: http://antonisachilleos.com

 

 

 

Q&A with the Fabulously Fierce & Creative: Denise Harris

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Courtesy of Denise Harris

People say one should excel at one thing in life, but not this lady. She’s broken conventions by mastering the skills of creative design and fitness guru. She’s making a name for herself in the highly competitive personal training arena, recently adding a celebrity clientele to her training sessions by word-of-mouth referrals, a recent article published by Vogue.com – and all around hard work and determination.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Denise Harris and asking her about her passions, fitness, freelance life and how they intersect in her journey to happiness.

DSMC: What’s your current profession?

DH: I’m a personal trainer/Pilates instructor who freelances as a designer for various art departments at print magazines. And, occasionally I design lookbooks and website redesigns for friends and colleagues.

DSMC: How long have you been freelancing?

DH: A little over 7 years.

DSMC: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a freelancer?

DH: Finding a good environment to work in. Oftentimes, I come into these situations with editorial magazines where expectations of freelancers are unrealistic. The Creative Director or Art Director quote you a rate, usually a day rate, you accept and then they ask you to work extra hours without amending the day rate. Budgets are a big issue! That interferes with training clients and my personal time.

DSMC: That’s unfair. Kind of presumptuous of them to assume you can stay all night working on a project.

DH: It happens more often than I’d like, but I want to get to a point in my life where I do freelance design 30% of the time and train my clients 70%. I still want to learn and improve my skills as a designer by keeping current with design trends. I think it’s important to stay relevant in any field you pursue.

DSMC: When did you start getting into fitness and making it into a career?

DH: I’ve always loved working out. I was the art director for a magazine and I was tasked with holding meetings, making sure all the changes made by the Editor-in-Chief were funneled through me. I was constantly running around making sure everyone was in the loop and it was exhausting. The work I was doing didn’t matter to me. It made no impact on my life. I was looking for something that was rewarding; that made me happy. I started asking trainers and fitness editors about the best Pilates schools in the states and internationally. Eventually, I began applying to Pilates schools and was accepted to a school in Toronto.

DSMC: Toronto, that’s far, no?

DH: It was, but I had an epiphany. I decided that this is what I wanted to do: become a licensed Pilates instructor. I desperately needed a change to refuel and thought going to a school to Toronto was it! I quit my job – had no savings and used my 401k for expenses – I took a chance. Believe me, it was scary. I took a leap of faith and tried to get a job in Toronto. It was hard. No one wanted to sponsor me. Eventually after many months, I was able to train members at gym a few days a week. I had help from family members to help pay the bills and when I felt discouraged, they gave me strength to persevere….And I guess I found it within myself too.

DSMC: It sounds like you’re successfully paving your way to achieve your goals. What advice would you give aspiring designers looking to break in to the industry and/or professionals eager to make a drastic career change to pursue their passions? Continue reading →