Self Made Dame: Vintage Vandalizm

October 20, 2014

World, meet Jasmin Rodriguez, the dame behind Vintage Vandalizm, her love letter to the world through her insatiable style spanning urban to retro with her untouchably unique taste.

Vintage Vandalizm

I love this woman so much. I was lucky enough to stay with Jasmin in New York 3 years ago and hang out with her for a couple days and she is such a little powerhouse, tough on the outside, vulnerable on the inside and absolutely formidable. I have such a deep appreciation and respect for her and just love watching her evolve and go from strength to strength, I am so blessed to call her a friend and honoured to interview her for my Self Made Dame project!

How did Vintage Vandalizm begin?

It began when I started thrifting. I was 14 years old and in High School. I started up-cycling damaged vintage pieces. If I ever found something damaged, I made something out of the fabric or restored it to its original condition. I was in school for Art so I was always creating things. I started drawing my illustrations on jackets and blazers I would find at thrift shops in which became a little hustle for me at the time that supported my thrift habits ;). One of my customers was a stranger I met on the train who liked a blazer I had painted a girl on and asked me to make him one. When I gave him his design he loved it and said “It’s like Vintage Vandalism!”… That was when my name was born… and it didn’t hurt that I was also surrounded by the amazing graffiti scene; an art form I love so much. All of my friends were graffers. I was born in the 80s and my mother was a Break Dancer so I was born into this amazing culture that became a part of my name and style. It all made sense.

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Where did you work while starting out with VV?

I believe I was working for Betsey Johnson at the time. I worked for her for about 7 years on and off doing freelance work. It was one of the best jobs I ever had. It isn’t easy to maintain a blog while you are working full time in NYC but I made it work.

What is the best thing about doing VV?

I’m not sure I understand this question. Are you asking about blogging? If so, the best part about blogging is that I get to inspire others just like me. I started VV because I couldn’t relate to many people and I thought, maybe there are other people in the world who feel just like me who can relate to who I am. I am so far from conventional and for a long time I felt like the black sheep because of it. I learned to embrace it and it has been a gift and a curse ever since. A gift because I stand out authentically so I get so much love from people, have gotten great opportunities, and have been recognized by many media outlets. A curse because there are lots of unhappy people in the world who don’t really like people who aren’t puppets, have their own opinions, and play by there own rules. People are always trying to put me into some box or make me small but I am not that limited. I’m a little bit of everything and that’s ok.

And the most challenging?

I guess the most challenging is when you work really hard on your blog and you don’t get the recognition you deserve, you know? I am extremely authentic when it comes to my style, I am not into trends and what’s in or out of fashion. Blogging used to be a raw platform for anti-bullshit bloggers who wear what they like and don’t have biased opinions based on trends, I don’t see a lot of that happening with bloggers these days. If I wanted to see the fashion that I see all over magazines, I’d subscribe to magazines. So I stopped giving my all to my blog and started to put my energy towards other projects. I was working, working, working and not really getting anywhere fast enough. So I still blog but not nearly as much as I used to. Plus I like to enjoy life more away from social media.

What skills did you learn from creating VV?

I learned A LOT. I learned how to utilize photoshop, design my layout from scratch, HTML, advance my writing skills (which still needs work lol), use a DSLR camera, etc. I also learned the importance of guerrilla marketing and how to use it to my advantage. Ive become a social media maven. All of these skills will deem useful when I start my own business someday. I cannot tell you how much I have grown.

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What’s your mantra?

Never limit yourself. This applies to everything in life. Your goals, your dreams, your style, your talents. There is so much to do here on earth, there are so many things to be inspired by, and there are so many great things you can be, why limit yourself to just a few?

VV has opened the doors for some great opportunities and now you’re the head buyer for Pinup Girl Clothing, tell us more about that…

Yeah, I still pinch myself haha. I never thought in a million years that I would leave NY, move to Vegas, and work for the top retro company in the world. It doesn’t hurt that I work with such inspiring women who contribute to who I am daily. I have been the jill of all trades in the fashion industry for almost 11 years and was experienced in so many areas so the transition was pretty smooth and I learned a lot very quickly.

How do you feel about women’s magazines? What would you like to see more of in them?

I would like to see less filtered and biased opinions on Fashion. I would also like to see less crap and exaggeration about celebrity women that bash and criticize them for doing something human like picking their nose or wearing no makeup. These are the things that affect women and make us believe that we are to be perfect at all times. Women get hated on the most in magazines and it’s terrible to see how this controls and affects women who are vulnerable to this type of mind-fuckery. I’d like to see magazines embracing women for what they really look like and who they really are. The more we embrace what makes us human the less we feel the pressure to be photoshopped to perfection.

What are your favourite blogs/magazines that you turn to for inspiration?

Sadly, I don’t read other blogs. I don’t even buy magazines any more. Give me a good comic and that’ll grab my attention for hours. Give me some vintage magazines from the 1950s and 60s and I’ll be inspired for life!

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What’s your favourite me-time activity?

Honest to god it’s video games. Now that I have a LIFE here in Vegas and a job that lets me breathe its nice to just kick back and play the games I have that have collected dust all of those years in NY when I had more than one job and no time for myself. I have such a huge imagination and video games are therapeutic for me. I can’t expect many people to understand that but I like being able to travel to different worlds playing different characters. I am almost ashamed for saying this because I am almost 28 but this is who I am. Give me some Grand Theft Auto and some Zelda and I’ll be distracted till the sun comes up.

You’ve just moved to Las Vegas from New York, what has the change in environment meant for you and VV and why did you decide to make the move?

Its a huge change. A total 180 from what I am used to. First and foremost I feel like I now live in a city that doesn’t rob it’s residents. The rents are out of control in New York on the rise which makes it extremely difficult to really LIVE because you are working all the time to make ends meet. Your dollar doesn’t go very far there. I went from a tiny studio to a 3 bedroom house with a backyard for less than my rent in New York. It opened my eyes. It made me realize that NY isn’t the one all be all after all. I was wasting my youth working, working, working and felt like I was running on a hamster wheel going nowhere fast. Sure I miss some things about NY like my friends and family but I can always visit them and vice versa. It isn’t easy being in a new city where you have to make friends but I was lucky and met some friends who are like my extended family here. I still have all of my opportunities, if not MORE since I moved here. I feel so fortunate that such a scary decision turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I am so much happier now.

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What does being self made look like to you?

A hustler. A self made person is always working hard towards self improvement, is fearless, and determined to conquer their goals. They are so determined for greatness that a failure is just a stepping stone to the win.

You’re a style inspiration to so many, who are you style icons?

I don’t really have a style icon. My mother and aunt Alex inspired me as a child and I love the women I see in old films but that’s about it. I’m inspired by anything and everything really, but I can’t name one celebrity who moves me.

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Did you go to college, if so, what did you study?

I tried to get into the Fashion Institute for Technology for fashion design and got denied 5 times. That’s when I took non-matriculate classes and realized college was a business and I just saved myself the stress of having an overpriced education I could get for free at my local library. I learned nothing from those classes and learned more from the books I bought. The last year I got denied and cried I ended up in 5 magazines thanks to my blog. If that’s not self made and a realization that you may not need school to get ahead in life, I don’t know what is. Thank you FIT!

What has been your greatest accomplishment?

Influencing women all over the world to love and embrace who they are and what they look like. Its amazing when you can inspire just by “being”. I didn’t know I had that much power. I am reminded every single time someone stops me on the street and tells me they love my blog or follow me on Instagram. My followers have motivated and inspired me so much. I always felt like an outsider and they all give me a sense of belonging.

What do you still want to accomplish?

I still want to be a designer. I want to create clothes for every type of girl. The girl who likes street wear, the girl who likes rockabilly, the girl who like goth, the girl who likes glamour, and the girl, like me, who is a little bit of everything. I want to keep inspiring women from all over the world to love themselves as I realize this is a really huge struggle that affects so many women daily. I also want to be able to visit schools to talk to children about bullying and learning to accept all different kinds of people throughout life. There are so many classes on math, english, science, and history but none on humanity. We need to learn how to be human again and to understand that though we may not have the same style, religious beliefs, or sexuality, what makes us different is what makes us unique and the more we embrace others for being different, the less we are subjected to oppression/bullying. I have too many goals so I try to move one step forward every day.

Vintage Vandalizm

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