I also write, direct, edit, art direct, and produce various content for swiMMMers ear, a creative agency I co-founded with my husband.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I decided to go to boarding school when I was 12. I didn’t come from an affluent background where this was common. I just saw that some kids from the school at which my mom taught were able to go and I wanted to try it. After receiving a full-tuition scholarship, I found myself in a car with my then (and now)-divorced parents and my belongings on route from Dayton, Ohio to Newport, Rhode Island armed with nothing more than determination. In four years I went from culture shocked freshman to student body president my senior year.
That determination led me to DC for college and law school and into careers within the law, interior design, and non-profit fundraising. I received my bachelor’s from The George Washington University in 2008 and thanks to the recession, I scrambled to find a job amongst a surge of qualified people. I landed my first job out of college at a law firm as a paralegal and then began working as an intern at Dreams for Kids, DC, an adaptive sports non-profit for children with disabilities...simultaneously. My tendency to have side hustles transpired into a development coordinator position with Dreams for Kids as well as an interior decorating stint, born out of necessity to supplement my income, during my second year of law school at Catholic University of America.
I am an artist, so law school was not my favorite three years. However, by the end of my first year, I was able to focus my studies on Fashion Law, a then-emerging area of law. I became an integral board member for Fashion Law Week, DC, a legislative aide for Liz Robbins Associates where I worked on legislation that would introduce copyright-like protection to fashion designs, and gained experience with products liability, trademark, and advertising issues pertaining to a multinational Fortune 500 company.
After law school, I moved to Brooklyn and opened my own brand consulting business for artists. My first client was signed to a major record label. After successfully assisting clients in music, I was afforded the opportunity to serve as general counsel of a manhattan-based fashion non-profit. I missed working directly with clients, however, so I exited that company to hang my shingle (opened my own law firm). Oh, and that interior design stint came in handy, because it blossomed into a part-time gig as a design associate. New York City almost requires one to have multiple sources of income, especially when one is starting their own business. My clients ranged from indie to signed music artists, clothing boutique owners, start-up entrepreneurs, visual artists, and more.
Although I love fashion, music is home for me. I was raised by a jazz/funk/RnB artist (mother). My step-father plays for the Four Tops. I also married a musician. My husband and I founded our creative agency, swiMMMers ear in 2015, based on our love for music. The three M’s stand for “music, math and mechanics.” I direct, edit, conceptualize, write, and, art direct original content for swiMMMers ear. We also throw small-scale music festivals and shows in Brooklyn.
I wrapped up a two-year clerkship with a federal judge in 2017 which helped me gain a perspective and deeper understanding of the law, to which I otherwise would not have had access. I also wrote judicial decisions that were referenced by multiple judges in the areas of copyright and constitutional law. In other words, the decisions I wrote became precedent.
I joined the Fashion Law Group as a contract attorney shortly after my clerkship ended and soon became Of Counsel for the firm, which means I am tasked with building and sustaining the Fashion Law Group’s New York client-base. I’m still armed with the determination of my younger self, this time with a lot more life experience and wisdom.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
Most attorneys tend to lack the flexibility to charge lower fees. I have very low overhead costs, which allows me the ability to charge lower fees than usual and even create barter agreements with my clients. I also think that most attorneys focus on what’s immediately in front of them as opposed to seeing the bigger picture. I tend to do both, which allows me to create value from the issues I tackle for my clients.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right now, I’m working on an exciting international copyright case for a client who is an artist and photographer, negotiating publishing agreements and film score composer agreements, writing about current intellectual property issues, researching blockchain and its potential impact on intellectual property and the sustainable fashion movement, drafting proposals for sustainable fashion workshops geared towards youth 12-18 y/o, and getting ready (lol, what a bogus assumption) to be a mom in a couple short months.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
My style/perspective/taste is expansive, constricting, colorful, grey, bright, subdued, real, imaginary, and everything in between. I’m always evolving, so my style/perspective/taste evolves as well. I developed and directed a music video concept for one of swiMMMers ear’s clients which tested my ability to adapt to terrain I was not used to, like directing, editing, filming, casting, etc. The project turned out better than I could’ve hoped thanks to my husband’s patience and talent and our kick ass client: Dave + Sam. Peep the video below:
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
I’m pretty content with the frequency with which I utilize my multiple skills.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
I’m frustrated with limited thinking, especially during the times we live in. Expansive thought and shifts in perspective can help us create sustainable solutions for the future while addressing the past to take the best action in the present.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Scheduling, taxes, bookkeeping.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
I would say to my 24 year old self (in law school) that its ok to admit that you are an artist. Also, I would've told myself: “You’re gonna be a fucking phenomenal woman, partner, friend, lawyer, mother and it’s ok to be different!” more often.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I would speak to an expert about blockchain technology as it is used to track food and textile sources throughout the world. I would also pick this expert’s brain about the inevitable impacts blockchain will have on intellectual property.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
I’m looking for any and all projects pertaining to law for creative industries. I’m also looking for projects where I can do more art direction.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
My ideal client is someone who is able to communicate clearly and timely. Someone who is passionate and professional about their work. Also, I love to help clients develop their ventures/brands/art, so my ideal client is someone who trusts me with their work.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
My rate varies depending on the client/project. If you are working with a limited budget, I will still help you. Even if that means putting you in contact with members of my network who need to take on pro bono (free) projects. I’m resourceful, remember?
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Send me an email. I'll respond right away.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Commit to growth.
This member profile was originally published in October 2017, Updated April 2018.