spotlight: diane walker

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 9.07.05 AM
Diane Walker, Creative Director and co-founder of Sweenie Manufacturing Corporation, a full service design and manufacturing company, has been connected to the fashion industry for the majority of her life.  At the ripe age of 18 she traveled oversees to Paris and Milan for modeling, but after spending time in front of the camera realized her stronger desire to work behind it.  She quickly relocated to New York via California, attended Pratt Institute and was on the road to fulfill her passion of becoming a fashion designer.  After graduating from Pratt, Diane worked in-house for private label companies, but her ultimate goal had always been to run her own.  Her skill, ideas and talent could not be contained (or limited) in the four walls of a corporate environment and after 15+ years of working for others, she broke free in pursuit of her dream.  Sweenie Manufacturing was conceived in 2008 with co-founder Stacey Demar.  They have become the “go to” brand incubator for emerging fitness designers with a focus in active, swim, and yoga.  Diane works hands on from conception through execution phase and brings clients design ideas to life.  The company has launched powerhouse brands such as Body Rock Sport, HotDrop Apparel and Naked Sports Gear, with a growing list of clients including celebrity fitness expert, Simone De La Rue of Body by Simone.  Running a design company requires constant creativity and focus on new and innovative collections.  Since Diane spends much of her time helping others develop their vision, I was curious on what inspires her own.  Here’s what she had to say….
diane - close-up

Diane, what is your soul style?

Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money compared to others from the wealthier part of our North Cali farming community.  Instead of trying to compete with the best, I became creative and learned how to refurbish/restructure the clothes I had and mix them with newer pieces.  My influences at the time were Madonna and Cyndi Lauper – not to date myself.

As I moved on and gained experience in the fashion industry, I wore clothing that projected confidence and commanded the respect of becoming a head designer.  These days, I am more comfortable in my skin and dress in ways I feel are most flattering.  I mix high and low fashion and shop from retailers that range from H&M to Coach.

How do you describe your style?

I think my style varies and depends on what I feel like and where I’m going.  Sometimes it can be a pencil skirt and tee and in other moments, baggy jeans rolled up with heels and a crop top.  My style is mostly casual and comfortable with touches of femininity.  I always like to add a drop of rock edge whether that be with statement rings or leather pants. 

diane - element shot 1What does your style say about you?

My style says that I’m confident in who I am and my ability.  Because Sweenie is focused in the activewear markets, I get to test and wear the product we produce.  Some days it’s just me in a pair of cool metallic leggings and a lace tank, heading to contractor and fit meetings.

Did your style evolve over time or has it stayed consistent?

My style has evolved over time.  When I first started in the fashion industry, I dressed slightly masculine because I thought it would help me be taken more seriously.  Over time though, I learned to own my femininity and softer sides, while simultaneously embracing the strong and edgy.

Must have item in your wardrobe? 

A new asymmetrical fleece vest that I purchased last month in Greve, Italy.

diane - element shot 2Do you have a fashion design idea you want brought to life?  Contact Diane at diane@sweeniemanufacturing.com OR Stacey at stacey@sweeniemanufacturing.com for all inquiries.

To be featured on Your Soul Style, e-mail me directly at yoursoulstyle@gmail.com.

weekend getaway

new paltz - home picThis past weekend Dina and I headed upstate to New Paltz in celebration of our one year anniversary/to get out of the city and decompress. I’m not much of a nature gal but three days of eating farm to table style, hiking, relaxing and breathing fresh air is exactly what we both needed. New York City living and the hustle is part of our DNA, but occasionally removing ourselves from the intensity is a requirement for sanity. Once in town we grabbed a bite at Cafe Mio before heading to Mohonk Mountain House where we each had a massage. With an elaborate spa that included an outdoor, 100 degree mineral pool, it didn’t take long for us to unwind. We later arrived at the White Heron Retreat, our B&B for the weekend. Amy McTear, the owner of the property, decorated the cottage in a Southeast Asian zen vibe, reminiscent of our honeymoon in India. Statues of buddha, floating flowers, tea lights and a day bed were just a few of the elements. We felt transported back which was nice considering the occasion. The space had a fully equipped kitchen and the fridge was stocked with organic eggs and veggies to cook breakfast with. Amy also left us a bottle of red wine and dropped off homemade baked goods she had just whipped up (think blueberry muffins and a cobbler!). Yes, this is for real.

DSC_0017 - Version 2Friday night we headed to Armadillo for dinner. Mexican done very right since the ingredients are mostly locally sourced. Food just tastes better when you know the tomato was probably picked from the farm up the road, right?

DSC_0067On Saturday we ventured out for a hike in Minnewaska State Park. This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, but hiking is not my forte’. I ponied up regardless and Dina and I were on our way, first taking the easier route around the lake and then off-roading on the unpaved footpath for more adventure. It felt good to pursue an out-of-the-box activity, especially with my wife of one year holding my hand and leading the way. The views were breathtaking, but the experience together is what made it most meaningful.

20131026_094456DSC_0860DSC_0106DSC_0960 - Version 2DSC_0214DSC_0158Our hike was followed by a well-deserved lunch at The Village Tea Room and a stroll up Main Street. Although shopping in New Paltz would have been more appealing to my early twenty-something Deadhead self, I enjoyed the down-to-earth energy, eating delicious food and perusing the local mom and pop shops.

DSC_0254Saturday night was dinner at A Tavola, an award winning Italian restaurant in downtown New Paltz. Another memorable meal with more locally sourced goodness. I don’t typically eat gluten, but once reading that the bolognese meat sauce was braised for seven hours, I decided (for this night) to throw in the towel. Plus, I had already downed Amy’s amazing blueberry muffin while we were hiking earlier so usual eating habits had clearly gone out the window. When in Rome! Worth every bite, it was delicious. We shared the pasta and scallops, which were also perfectly prepared. The winner dish was our appetizer – roasted cauliflower with hen of the wood mushrooms, a poached egg and shaved parmesean cheese. It was beyond. The imaginary Iron Chef judge in me would describe it as a perfectly composed and well balanced plate!

DSC_0285Sunday after a leisurely morning of relaxing and cooking breakfast, we headed out. We made a pit stop at Adams Fairacre Farms in Poughkeepsie to pick up food for the week. Dina and I were like two kids in Disneyland. They just don’t make ‘em like this in New York City. Apples the size of our heads, farm fresh veggies and a jug of goats milk are just a handful of the items that made it into our cart!

DSC_0295Overall, Dina and I had a fulfilling weekend and returned home relaxed, re-connected and with our belly’s full from delicious eats! We can’t wait to head back and explore further! Hudson Valley is a short ride from Manhattan so if you’re in the tri-state area and looking for a quick getaway, this may be your spot.

The White Heron Retreat is offering 15% off to all Your Soul Style readers! When booking your reservation, mention Your Soul Style to receive this awesome deal!

Head over to my instagram for more outtakes from the trip!

Have a great day and stay tuned for another spotlight feature post later this week! xx jenny

spotlight: dina weisberger

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 10.00.12 AM

One of my goals for Your Soul Style has been to share weekly posts featuring how YOU define your style.  Yes, you!  We all interpret style differently and our expression is unique.  This is what makes us individually beautiful.  I want to hear about what your special something is.  I want to hear your stories.  Like a jewelry designer who explained to me that unless she deconstructs and re-creates her pieces, she doesn’t feel emotionally connected to them.  Or one of my male clients who feels comfortable in only black and gray.  Or my wife Dina (above) who leans towards menswear inspired choices, but keeps silhouettes tailored so she can simultaneously embrace her femininity.  And I never feel complete without a scarf around my neck and vintage bangles on my arm given to me by my Mom.  All of us have our way of showing up in the world which helps to silently define us.  These are our style uniforms!  Your Soul Style will be a platform to share and inspire each other with our individual perspectives.  Answering questions like, What does style mean to you?  Where do you draw inspiration from?  What does your style say about you?  I want to know it all!  Are you ready to join the movement?  Keep an eye out for weekly posts spotlighting people from all different walks of life.  

DSC_0728

My brave and beautiful wife has agreed to be my first feature.  So I asked her the question I’ve been asking myself for years:  Dina, what is your soul style?

Style is about expressing my individuality and making something mine.   It’s about walking down the street and not seeing someone in the exact same outfit.  It’s about being comfortable in my own skin and using it to feel my best.

How do you describe your style?

My style is a blend of preppy-nerd influenced by street and surf, topped off with a touch of masculinity.  I can never have enough hats, sneakers, or glasses in my repertoire.  Some might call it ‘butch chic,’ but to me the term butch just makes you think of your 5th grade gym teacher.

What does your style say about you?

My style says, I care about how I look, but I’m not seeking your approval.

Where do you draw inspiration from?  Do you have a style icon? 

I love Carolina Herrara.  I’ve never bought her clothing, but there’s something about her look and presence that I really admire.  

Did your style evolve over time or has it stayed consistent?

My style has been pretty consistent.  I’ve been mistaken for a boy since as far back as I can remember, but it’s never had me waiver in terms of how I dress.  I love and embrace all of my feminine qualities, but putting on a skirt or a dress is pretty much the equivalent of dressing in drag (..and not the ‘fabulous diva’ drag). 

Do you have any style challenges?

Translating my weekend wear into a funky and stylish, yet work-appropriate outfit for 9-5.

DSC_0737

Do you have a favorite fashion/style moment?

Any event I get to wear my Paul Smith navy suit and black shirt.

And your worst?

My sister’s wedding, dressed in a velvet emerald green bridesmaid dress.

Must have item in your wardrobe?

A fresh pair of kicks.

DSC_0717

To be featured on Your Soul Style, e-mail me directly at jenny@yoursoulstyle.com.

No criteria.  No expectations.  Just you!

style, naturally – part II

weekend wear_final_1Happy Monday!  Remember this post discussing effortless style?  Nothing beats it – wearing easy and laid back ensembles that you feel confident in.  Dina and I have made it a ritual to hit up the farmers market on Saturday mornings.  We go pretty early to avoid crowds and the last thing I want at that hour is to a) think and b) be uncomfortable.  But I also don’t want to look like I rolled out of bed.  You feel me, right?  These “sexy boyfriend jeans” from GAP are perfect for these days.  Relaxed and roomy, yet (like their name says), “sexy”.  Pairing them with my go-to, (haven’t taken them off my feet) Zara booties and moto jacket also helps alleviate the shlump-factor.  I feel like I’m in my pajamas without actually being in my pajamas.  There are ways, my friends.  There are ways.  Comfortable + stylish = mission accomplished.

SHOP THIS OUTFIT:  moto jacket: Sfera (similar), shirt: Zara, jeans: GAP, shoes: Zara, bag: Louis Vuitton (similar), sunnies: Ray Ban

what’s your magic?

DSC_0246

There aren’t many experiences in life that bring you real magic.  The kind that makes your heart explode and mind expand in unimaginable ways, allowing emotions to run pure, wild and free.  Euphoria.  This week my best friend brought new life into the world when she gave birth to her sweet son, Jonah Mason.  That was magic.  Walking down the aisle into my wife’s arms to vow our life together in front of everyone that mattered to us.  That was magic too.  And then there was India.  Yesterday after reading A House in the Hills where the feature was on a trip to Cinque Terre, Italy – I began to take (as Sarah put it), “a stroll down travel memory lane” too.  India is an assault on your senses – both good and bad.  It rocks your world without asking, propelling you towards a spiritual journey that brings a 360 degree perspective to your own life.  It takes you so far outside your comfort zone,  there is no choice left but to dive inward and explore the thoughts, questions and obstacles that cross your mind.  An inner challenge between everything you thought you knew, but didn’t.  You become acutely aware of the smallness of your existence and come to understand the grandness of the world.  Time has stood still in India.  Traditions that have been diluted in other countries continue steady and strong.  Culture is woven into all aspects of living.  From dress to food to lifestyle – it remains a rich country, with deep sustaining roots.  Out of all places I’ve been in my life – India has left a permanent mark and changed me forever.  There was me before I went.  And there is me now.  Here’s a peek into some of our photos from the trip.

I hope you too find a little magic this weekend.  xx jenny

* I dedicate this post to my best friend Mika and her husband Ryan who experienced real magic this week.  Welcome to the world, baby Jonah!

DSC_0005_2

IMG_1254

IMG_3446

IMG_1506

DSC_0335

DSC_0339

DSC_0311

DSC_0312

DSC_0411

IMG_1126

IMG_1214

IMG_1202

IMG_1200

DSC_0092