Tag Archives | San Francisco Stories

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: Singer, Dancer, Model & Actress Jenefer Taylor

Welcome to the second installation of the new MCLV series San Francisco Stories. In SF Stories I’ll be sharing features on some of the interesting, innovative, and creative people who I’ve had the good fortune to meet during my years here in San Francisco. From entrepreneurs like Livzo Founder Nataliia Karpenko who I featured in my first post – Catch up on that here if you missed it – To Designers, magazine editors, healthy living gurus, and start-up mavens.

Today’s interview is with a talented and beautiful young lady who I saw walk the runway at San Francisco Fashion Week in September 2013 and whom I followed on social media long before we actually got a chance to meet.

When we were finally introduced I was impressed to discover an ambitious, creative, artistic soul with dreams of conquering the music industry. And perhaps film and fashion while she’s at it. 🙂

Singer Dancer Model Actress Jenefer Taylor SF Stories San Francisco Fashion Fitness Lifestyle Food Beauty Blogger

Read on to hear about her healthy approach to fitness and nutrition, what she’s hoping to accomplish, and where you may be able to find her in the next few years…

MCLV: Singer, dancer, actress, model – You clearly enjoy exploring various creative projects. Which art form would you say is your favorite?

Jenefer: 100% singing! I LOVE IT! It’s been my passion and makes me happier than almost anything… Aside from dogs. Saying I am obsessed with animals would be an understatement.

MCLV: With the many hats you wear, having a strong, healthy body is important. What tips do you have for people who want to start 2015 on a healthy note? 

Jenefer: Don’t obsess over where you want to be. Be aware of where you are now and make choices daily that will get you to where you want to be. I’ve found that when I fixate too much on an ideal, it can be nerve-racking. Instead I choose to reward myself daily on my improvements and keep pushing harder.

MCLV: With call-backs and auditions popping up at a moment’s notice, you need to be in fighting shape at all times. What are your top work out and healthy living tips?

Jenefer: Well, I walk every day. It’s so therapeutic and it keeps me happy. I like to walk and listen to music to reflect. But I mix it up with private training sessions, kick boxing, yoga, and ballet. I’ve recently picked up running and even though it’s hard sometimes for me to start, I’m always glad I did after the run. I start my mornings with hot water and lemon to kick-start my metabolism. And then, other than that, I just drink LOTS of water, always get in a green drink and sleep when my body tells me I need it. 

Singer Dancer Model Actress Jenefer Taylor SF Stories San Francisco Fashion Fitness Lifestyle Food Beauty Blogger

MCLV: From Porsche to Neiman Marcus, you’ve worked with some amazing brands during your career. Do you have a favorite experience or an especially fun project you could share with MCLV readers? 

Jenefer: The Porsche commercial has been the most exciting and rewarding so far! We got to shoot it in San Francisco and I was lucky enough to work on set as a precision driver. Never before did I imagine myself flooring it to 60 miles plus and driving through the streets of SF, with police escorts in front and back and multiple cameramen in the backseat. It was like the city was ours for the day! It was exhilarating and I could have kept driving for days. Plus the people on set, really made this experience. Everyone was a rockstar that weekend! 

MCLV:  You’ve recently made the move from San Francisco to Los Angeles – With regular trips back up north, of course. What are the biggest differences between SF and LA on a day-to-day basis? What changes, if any, have you see for your career?

Jenefer: Oh my gosh! LA is packed. There are so many people here! The traffic sets it apart from any place, for sure. Haha. I went to Pepperdine so I am familiar with SoCal. But it was different in college. I feel this time, living here I am really focused on my career and because I am so dialed in to my passions, it has been amazing! There is just so much opportunity and every day presents new avenues to explore.

Changes to my career? I think the biggest change I’ve noticed is feeling more empowered and excited… Even more so than I was before. I just started advanced classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and my fellow actors are so supportive! I have two teachers, Allen and Art, who are just so talented and have such great feedback to scenes performed. Everyone has such high energy, is super dedicated and really goes after what they want. I feel a real sense of community in these classes and it’s one of my highlights every week!

Singer Dancer Model Actress Jenefer Taylor SF Stories San Francisco Fashion Fitness Lifestyle Food Beauty Blogger

MCLV: What’s in your five-year career plan? Where do you see yourself?

Jenefer: Hmmm. I’ve learned “plans” don’t necessarily work out the way we always think and that’s not a bad thing… When I was in High School, I always thought I would be married by 24 and have 2 kids by now. But that’s not the case and I’m so happy about that! REALLY.  I have a journal I use. I like to write down my biggest goals and then under them, write down every possible thing I can do to reach them. Then in a couple of months, I check back in and see what I’ve accomplished and what else I can pursue.

Before I booked the Porsche commercial, one of my entries in my journal was “book a national car commercial.” The Porsche commercial was global. In 5 years I want to own my own home, be in love, be the face of a major brand (perfume, makeup, clothes… Something like that), be working on set as a lead actress/singer in a major feature film and I would also like to have my own non-profit… Probably something with animals.

MCLV: What words of wisdom do you have for people who are new to the entertainment or fashion industries who would like to follow in your footsteps? 

Jenefer: Be grateful. Because when you’re grateful life is just better. Know your gifts and know where you need to improve. Have goals, be precise and stay motivated daily! Focus on being the BEST version of you, you can possibly be. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. When someone knocks you down, get back up again. Elvis Presley was told he couldn’t sing. He didn’t let that stop him from becoming the King. And believe in yourself. If you truly want something, find a way. It’s that simple.

Thank you for stopping by MCLV Jen!

Be on the look out for the next project from this talented performer by following her on Facebook or checking out her website.

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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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