Tag Archives | Entrepreneur

San Francisco Stories: Entrepreneur & Studio 15 Founder Jia Wertz

In my first two San Francisco Stories posts I chatted with two of the young women that I’ve met through the fashion scene in San Francisco – Model, Vegan & Livzo founder Nataliia Karpenko and Model, Actress, Singer & Dancer Jenefer Taylor.

Today I’m here with business owner & entrepreneur Jia Wertz. If her name already sounds familiar, you may be a fan of her clothing company Studio 15 or have fallen in love with her pieces, just like I did, during one of our shoots the past year: Alice In Wonderland, Spring RomperCocktail Dressing, Spring Dresses

San Francisco Stories Entrepreneur Business Owner Studio 15 San Francisco Fashion Food Fitness Lifestyle Blogger Street Style

When I was initially introduced to Jia I was in awe of her. We met here in San Francisco right at the time she was deciding to relocate to New York. She had always wanted to live there but never made the move, so on a recent trip back East she decided it was finally time. And within a month she had relocated and was kicking fashion industry booty in the City That Never Sleeps.

Read on for some fun back-and-forth with someone who inspires and motivates me on a daily basis.

MCLV: Studio 15 offers a great collection of pieces – From dresses to separates to accessories – How do you decide what makes the cut? When you’re curating your collection for the website, what do you look for?

JW: The two main things we look for when curating our collection are quality and which trends are popular in the moment. From the weight of the fabric to the seams, we inspect every garment very closely. The quality of the craftsmanship has a direct correlation with how flattering the pieces will be on our customers.


San Francisco Stories Entrepreneur Business Owner Studio 15 San Francisco Fashion Food Fitness Lifestyle Blogger Street Style


MCLV: Quality is important to Studio 15 and only the best frocks make it to the website. Do you have a set criteria when you’re on buying trips or do you just keep your high standards in mind while you’re browsing?

JW: We definitely keep our high standards in mind when browsing, but one criteria that we always look for is that each piece is lined. There are a few exceptions, but 90% of everything we carry has lining; it just makes such a big difference in the fit of the garment.

San Francisco Stories Entrepreneur Business Owner Studio 15 San Francisco Fashion Food Fitness Lifestyle Blogger Street Style


MCLV: One of the best parts of shopping with Studio 15 – After ordering a killer frock mais bien sur – Is that a percentage of the proceeds go to support female entrepreneurs in developing countries. Can you tell us how you founded this meaningful partnership and how you got involved with such a worthy cause?

JW: Well, I have had a love for fashion since I was very young, but I always knew that I wanted to do something more than just that, and I absolutely love helping people. I decided that I would combine the two things that I love doing – Fashion and giving back. I was lucky because finding the partnership was easy.

My brother has worked with non-profits for most of his career and is the Executive Director for Kleos. Two years ago, prior to joining forces with Kleos, I made a trip out to Gulu, Uganda to volunteer with the organization; that trip was eye-opening, to say the least. I got to work with these women first-hand and see what their lives are like, what they have been able to do with the loans they have received, and the positive impact those loans made in their lives. There was no doubt in my mind, after that trip, that I wanted to help these women and partner with Kleos.

Thanks for joining me for another fun edition of San Francisco Stories – I’ll be back soon with a Must Read interview with the Queen of Leather – Candice Cuoco of House of CCUOCO.

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San Francisco Stories: Model, Vegan & Livzo Founder

I’m excited to introduce a great new series for Moi Contre La Vie called San Francisco Stories.

Since moving to the Bay Area nine years ago I’ve met more extraordinary and interesting people than I can even remember. Intellectuals and academics who challenge the status quo on a daily basis, brilliant entrepreneurial minds that are changing the landscape of the business world, and determined, ambitious innovators who are carving out a niche for themselves by following their passions.

In the SF Stories series I’ll be introducing you to some of these amazing people who I’ve met in the hopes that they’ll inspire you as much as they inspire me!

Deciding who to feature for the first SF Stories post was a challenge but I ultimately decided that my fabulous Ukrainian friend Nataliia was the perfect choice. She’s active in the technology sector here in San Francisco, devotes her considerable talents to worthwhile charitable causes, supports the Bay Area’s burgeoning fashion industry, and has an Instagram account that always inspires me with pictures of gorgeous hikes, delicious vegan meals, and motivational quotes.

SF Stories Nataliia Karpenko Livzo GoLivzo Vegan Model Entrepreneur


MCLV: One of the things that I love about San Francisco is that everyone you meet has such an amazing and diverse work life. You’re a great example of someone who keeps herself incredibly busy and challenged with all sorts of fun projects. For example, in addition to being an editorial and runway model, you also work in San Francisco’s innovative technology scene. How would you describe the work that you do on a day-to-day basis?

NK: I work in tech full-time and right now, in addition to working on building a social network centered on preventative health and wellness called Livzo.  It’s been great working with my cofounder and being able to support this amazing industry. We’re focused on seeing how we can bring relationships between health experts and patients to a more productive level. Additionally, I share my time with fashion technology startups through business development strategies. And finally, I am involved in the community through charity work for cancer research fundraisers and charities that support women.  

MCLV: When you’re balancing jobs and working on various projects simultaneously, staying organized and on top of your schedule is key. Do you have any tips or suggestions for people out there who are trying to keep their own personal balancing act going?

NK:  It’s important to know what your short and long-term goals are because it will help you to understand what needs to come first and what can wait until later. I need to do a lot of multitasking to manage my company and my team so I set high priority tasks first. Another tip that’s helped me is to isolate myself when I’m working. I even change my “office” environment by going to a local coffee shop. Having a calendar also helps.  I make sure to plan all meetings and deliverables into the calendar. And of course,  it is very important to be healthy and provide your body with proper nutrients to keep yourself going. These are the top ways that I’m able to be more  productive with my projects.  

SF Stories Nataliia Karpenko Livzo GoLivzo Vegan Model Entrepreneur


MCLV: I’m a huge fan of your Instagram feed where you share some of your delicious meals. From restaurant dishes to home cooked breakfasts, you clearly enjoy a great meal. You’re also a vegan – Can you tell us about how you maintain your diet while traveling, eating out, and cooking at home?

NK: Being vegan isn’t an easy thing, especially when you travel. My favorite vegan cities in the US  are New York, LA, and surprisingly Vegas. When I travel anywhere else, I need to be more cautious when ordering meals from the menu because dairy products or traces of fish are often in the food. When I travel I’ll actually start a conversation with waiters or even the chef. What I’ve learned is that you need to offer a brief explanation of veganism. Sometimes, I get meals with dairy because it’s uncommon in most places to serve vegan meals. I regret having to return a meal so I’ll try to avoid that though by communicating everything in advance.

MCLV: Can you share your favorite recipe(s)? Top ingredients? Favorite foods you can’t live without?

NK: I’m addicted to salad in the morning. I couldn’t live without my morning arugula salad with blueberries and almonds. I really like to pay attention to having a balanced diet and be sure I am getting enough nutrients. I am an athlete and an entrepreneur, and they both take a lot of energy. It’s stressful, so I have to make sure I fill myself with daily protein and carbohydrates such as quinoa, a vegan plant-based product that has complete protein similar to animal based protein. I also enjoy tempeh and edamame, which are high in protein as well.

MCLV: You also post some envy-inducing pictures of your weekly hikes, runs, walks, and other great outdoor activities. Staying healthy and enjoying some relaxing downtime are important when you’re busy – What does your weekly workout regime look like to stay in shape?

NK: I’m so fortunate to live in Marin County near Mount Tamalpais State Park. It allows me to hike at least twice in a week. I try to combine cardio and strength exercises, I prefer to do light weights  by bouncing on a BOSU  Ball. I focus on entire core body strengthening and also Pilates, which help me to improve my posture. That’s important with my sedentary lifestyle because during my day, I am sitting in my office and that affects my posture.  Another thing that really keeps me motivated is using fitness apps to track my fitness activities, count calories, and advance my physical performance over time.

SF Stories Nataliia Karpenko Livzo GoLivzo Vegan Model Entrepreneur

MCLV: Any fitness or healthy living tips you can give MCLV readers to help them stay motivated to live a healthy, active life?

NK: Having good company or having someone with similar goals helps.  It’s ideal to have someone who will go on a late run with you after work or hike with on Saturday. If you don’t have anyone to do  that with, then seeing others success through Instagram and Facebook or with apps like Map My Run or Fitbit to see the challenges others are taking is good. Connect with people and also follow  a good blog .  I love Pinterest and sometimes I spend an hour looking for the perfect quotes or pictures that help me stay motivated. Also, I think participating in big competitions like marathons is a huge motivator. I participate in marathons, which keep me on top of my routine .

A huge thank you to Nataliia for stopping by MCLV and sharing her story! Be sure to check out her website Livzo!

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