Creative Direction 101: How To Be Your Own Creative Director

Being a creative director is the dream job of the 21st century. As the closest thing to a CEO, a creative director has a lot on her plate. For the past one and a half years since I launched Soeng Signature, I never thought that I’ll be writing this guide and be a creative director of my own brand.

With Instagram as a virtual moodboard, it feels so easy to sit there and copy whatever’s available because sadly, that is how the fashion industry operates. Even though it’s totally OK to be inspired by what you see, what exactly is the point of being a creative director if you really can’t create at all?!

If you are a young creative director and you’re trying to navigate the waters of this role, I got you covered. 😉

Continue reading “Creative Direction 101: How To Be Your Own Creative Director”

A Letter From Your Girl

Dear Varinaders,

Happy New Year! I can’t believe that it has been two years since I launched Lapis and Layers. While the whole purpose of my blog is to discuss about fashion and beauty, I realize that I can’t sit there and distract you with so many stories about myself because as an influencer, how can I influence you if every single product or fashion tip only works for people who are like myself?

Apart from it, I’ve been beginning to realize that a lot of us are attuned to social media. Since I know that so many of us are Intsa-savvy, we are voyeurs who enjoy catching up with our favorite people whether it’s a model, celebrity, athlete, musician, photographer, influencer, makeup artist or friend. Not to forget, while there are a LOT of Insta-famous people I adore, I realize that not many of them are being covered unless they’re associated with a Kardashian, Jenner, Hadid, Jonas or anyone with a high-profile last name.

Although I love reading about celebrities and following them on Instagram, I feel that what’s missing these days is stories of real people who are using social media to build their career and/or platform to unite communities through a common interest. Since their hobbies/passions have always left us feeling curious, I feel that it’s about time that they share their story with me. No matter how big or small the following is, I aim to strip away the zeros, the glamour behind each shot and build up the story behind each personality whether it’s a model, influencer, designer, photographer, etc.

Not only am I keen to interview super inspirational people, I also realize that we, as humans, have a LOT to discuss about as our generation has gone through so many social and cultural shifts for nearly a decade. Rather than letting myself comment on these things (e.g. dressing up for the ‘gram), I have to invite more than one voice as it’s more fun to read roundtable discussion-style articles (like Real Men Talk) as it’s more engaging!

As I am still experimenting with creating content for you, I am shocked that so many of you really love reading my interviews and roundtable-style stories. Seeing your support means the world to me as I had thoughts where I almost wanted to quit journalism.

All of you made me more aware that at 25, I have the power to use my platform to educate ourselves and raise awareness about the effect on how social media plays with our perception of image, choice of career and the way we live our life.

Another thing that I’m adding to Lapis and Layers is a brand new column called Man Crush Monday, where I feature a new man every other Monday per month. Instead of a simple write up, I interview men about their career, hobbies and most importantly, dating tips. However, the main aspect of my MCM column is that it’s rooted by the effect of #MeToo as I read interviews of male celebrities who openly admit to being scared of flirting with women or worse, say tone deaf things about being challenged by it. Also, I admit that it’s partly inspired by my own personal experiences of using dating apps and living a commitment-free single life! As someone who supports #MeToo and using dating apps, I aim to use my blog as a safe and positive space for men to talk freely without fear, take down taboos surrounding dating/sexuality, share their stories about what motivates them and ask them fun questions that women normally get asked about (e.g. beauty, fitness routines, diet, fashion). Given that this will be an eye-opening experience and a new territory I’m willing to explore, I hope that you will learn something from each man.

Cheers to a new chapter, a beautiful month and unwavering support!



Same Ol’ Person, New Name

You knew my name, but I felt like I didn’t know myself until today. Previously, I settled on branding myself around my own name. While “Michelle Varinata” sounded unique, it wasn’t easy to spell out my last name nor was it distinct enough from anyone else who wants to use their name as their form of branding themselves. On top of that, I felt like my own name for a blog didn’t have much of a personality.

Finding a name was not an easy journey. Initially, I wanted to rename it after two of my favorite fabrics: velvet and suede. Then, I thought of using my own hashtag #LivinLaVariNaDah, but that kinda made my blog sound juvenile or some Sophia Amoruso wannabe had I settled with that one. All of a sudden, a random thought slipped in.

When I was a kid, I always ate a slice of cake for dessert. It was fragrant and sweet, but not sugary. As I squinted my eyes, I saw thin yellow and brown stripes. “What is this?” I asked. My mom said, “This is kueh lapis.” I pried my fork into the cake, then realized that it was layered. This kind of cake was something that I couldn’t find anywhere else outside of Indonesia. It was a traditional dessert that my dad had to bring from Jakarta to Singapore.

Although I  ain’t a foodie, just thinking about that cake made me want to embrace my roots. Long before I moved to Singapore, I was actually born in Jakarta. I only spent the first five years of my life there. Honestly, I could barely remember what those early years were like. As I grew up, the disconnect from my Indonesian heritage and my identity was greater. Anytime I mentioned that I was originally from Indonesia, people would just say that we’re too materialistic, dishonest, narrow-minded, lazy and unoriginal. Hearing those things felt mosquito bites that stung. I had to say that I was from Singapore since it generally had a better reputation than Indonesia. Even though I spent the majority of my life on the island, it was complicated being a third culture kid as I felt torn about choosing between two countries as my national label.

Looking back into the memories of eating kueh lapis, I began to see myself in a new light. Rather than hiding my Indonesian heritage, I finally look at myself as a child of the archipelago. Laying a claim to a cultural identity is one thing, but actually having the ownership of it is another thing: it’s empowering!

Today,  it will be called Lapis and Layers.



New Year, New Me!

Hey, Varinaders! Happy New Year!! It’s been four years since I last blogged (crazy, right?!) and I’ve put my blogging career on the backburner since I was still trying to find my angle/voice. Also, I was extremely busy with trying to graduate college and develop my journalism career. Now that I’m ready to relaunch myself, I seriously can’t thank you all enough for standing by!

Unlike my old self, who was a bit more camera-shy, I’m ready to hit it out with a review column called Forever the Freshest, channel my inner Martha Stewart (minus the food) with #LivinLaVariNaDah and expect me to hear my thoughts on celebrity fashion. For those of you who wanna cop my outfits, I’ll treat you to an #ootd so you can more or less get the exact look. While I’m super stoked to share more of myself, feel free to catch some of my work for The 405, Galore and hopefully, many more!

Are you ready to get this party started?! Stay tuned!!