We <3 Chelsea Exton

We recently had the pleasure of teaming up with the lovely + beautiful Chelsea Exton, otherwise known as macherechelsea, who writes the Cleo Collective blog.  Since kimono’s are as cool as ever, we joined forces + designed a kimono together!  It was so cool to see another mind’s design perspective, from colors, to dye techniques, + all the trimmings.  As an ultimate lover of crochet doilies + appliqué’s, I was thrilled that Chelsea went in that direction.  What’s that?  You want a GIANT vintage doily on the back of your kimono?  Uh, yeah, duh, hello, of course!!

We met up at our shop for the design meeting + Chelsea’s super cool mom from Gayle Dawn Photography came with her to photograph the whole meeting.  Talk about a power team!  Both Gayle + Chelsea were as sweet as ever.  It was really, so awesome to work with both of them!  Gayle later photographed Chelsea in her new kimono, check that out right here.

We also got a quick little Q + A time in with Chelsea…lucky us!

KR:  How did you get started with Cleo Collective?

CH:  Cleo Collective is actually my 2nd blog.  I started a blog called California Closet when I was in high school.  Have you heard of Hurley?  They were really intertwined with my high school + I did an event called “Walk the Walk” with them.  It was a national fashion show at the US Open where 50,000 people were in attendance, or something crazy like that.  My senior year I was voted ASB president + then became in charge of this whole event.  Hurley invited 500 schools across the nation to participate + then it got narrowed down to 6 through video competitions + online voting.  We got to go into the stores + create displays and everything.  After we got voted into their top 6, they sent us their entire fall line to re-construct + re-design.  Since I had been in costume design, I was given the main role of fashion designer.  That was really awesome.  I got to design outfits for almost 30 people.  Lauren Conrad was one of the judges.  Also, Robin Shadow + Fez from That 70’s show [were also judges.]  One of my designs won the people’s choice award, so my school ended up winning $5K from that!  After that it clearly solidified that this is something that I would like to do.  After college apps were due, I needed to find something to stay fully emerged in this, and thought what can I do?  I had been following a lot of fashion blogs and thought why can’t I do this?  I had a lot of html experience, and my brother + I are both pro’s at computer stuff.  My mom was starting her photography business at the time + I was like, I should really do this.  So, I started California Closet back then in 2011.  Technically, that blog is still there in the internet universe.  I did that blog for about a year + I ended up getting an internship at Wild Fox from that.  I loved doing [the blog], but after I started school at CSULB, I didn’t have any more time, but it was always on the back burner.  I took a hiatus on [California Closet].  I still have 3 or 4 more semesters left at school, and I’ve been thinking about what I would want to do after graduation.  I’m studying art history right now, and French.  I’ve also dabbled in some fashion classes.  So I thought, OK, I should start doing fashion stuff again.  There was a girl on my shuttle that was in my art history class that said, “I don’t mean to be creepy, but I always look to see what you’re wearing”.  My wheels started turning + I thought, I really need to start doing this again.  Right before Spring Break, I was like, let’s do this.  My mom’s business had grown immensly since 2011, so that really inspired me to see it go from the ground up.  I had already built a little bit of an instagram following from doing a lot of art stuff + my previous blog.  It all kind of jumped from there.

KR:  How did you come up with the name?

CH:  It’s from my initials.  My mom was like, “We should do something with your initials, like Chelsea Lauren Exton Originals or something.”  I really liked the name Cleo.  I also want to write + illustrate children’s books one day, and I was looking for the name of a character.  I was like, wait, I could use that!  At the same time, I was starting the blog, so we [she + her mom] thought Cleo Collective, so it could be my fashion, recipies, music, art, and kind of a whole amalgam of things.

KR:  You sort of answered this question already, but what are your plans after you graduate?

CH:  I’m seeing where blogging goes right now.  I’ve had a lot of opportunities arise from that.  The Greek company, Nidodileda want me to be their California sales rep.  They don’t have any stores in CA, they are only in Greece right now.  That just got proposed to me last week.  That could be a total awesome job.  I need to get my business license first in order to do that.  One day I would love to own my own clothing line, but that takes a lot more preparation with courses + stuff.  I definitely want to start making re-purposed vintage jewelry…I love turquoise stuff.  So, yeah, I’m kind of just seeing what blogging brings about + so far it’s been pretty cool.

KR:  What are your top 3 favorite brands or designers?

CH:  Well, we’ve already talked about Free People.  I’m really liking Nidodileda, that’s the Greek company I’ve just discovered in the last month or so.  They are very Free People in their essence…free spirited…just really, really pretty stuff.  It’s not necessarily a brand, but I really love turquoise + Southwestern jewelry.  My grandma had a house in New Mexico, so we’d spend summers going there.  She would always gift me with turquoise jewelry for my birthday or Christmas.  I think my love of that, stems from that.  Anything turquoise, vintage fringe…boho chic, but at the same time I sometimes think I’m Audrey Hepburn + dress like I’m living in Paris or something like that.

KR:  Since you’ve started Cleo Collective + California Closet, to this present moment, what is one major thing that you’ve learned about yourself?

CH:  I think it’s that if you really have a goal or are determined, you can really create it for yourself.  And, don’t have anyone tell you that you can’t do something. When I first started doing my initial blog a lot of people were like, “what are you doing?  Stop.”  I was just like, thank you for your opinion.  Now they’re like, “Hey, you want to hang out?  Let’s take pictures + you can post about me.”  It’s really cool to just stay with what you want to do + don’t let anybody get you down.

KR:  What are your top 3 favorite bands or artists?

CH:  Ooooh.  In terms of artists, I’m just going to give you a general time period. French Impressionism is my absolute favorite.  I really like how dreamy it is.  I took a whole course on Manet, Monet, Renoir, and I’m studying French.  I’m hopefully living in Paris this fall actually too.  So, I really like that whole time period of art.  I don’t really like a lot of present day art really.  I mean, I like the stuff you have on your walls, obviously, but I’m a huge history buff, so I look back to all that stuff for inspiration.  I just took a class on Roman-esque art, which is from the medieval times.  I think that’s a really interesting period to source inspiration from.  With fashion, everything is very cyclical + comes back around.  I think it’s really cool to look back at.  OK, music…I really like Jack White, I’ve always liked Jack White + also The Doors.  There’s a lot of indie, blue grassy bands that I like too.  I used a song yesterday in a video by Caroline Smith + The Goodnight Sleeps called Calliope.  It’s a really, really good song.

And of course, here are all the pretty pics that capture this whole experience…

Chelsea + I in front of the shop.  Image by Gayle Dawn Photography

Chelsea + I in front of the shop. Image by Gayle Dawn Photography

Our design mess.  Image by Gayle Dawn Photography.

Our design mess. Image by Gayle Dawn Photography.

Adding the finishing details to Chelsea's kimono...

Adding the finishing details to Chelsea’s kimono…

Chelsea looking amazing in the final product!  Image by Gayle Dawn Photography.

Chelsea looking amazing in the final product! Image by Gayle Dawn Photography.

Our version that sold in our online store in just 30 minutes after Chelsea posted it up on instagram!  Dang!

Our version that sold in our online store in just 30 minutes after Chelsea posted it up on instagram! Dang!

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