Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Last week, I was invited to attend the second stop on the Lafayette Loves Women Artists Spring 2018 Collection tour.  The event was created by the upscale fashion company,  Lafayette 148 New York, to inspire women's inner creativity:

"Lafayette Loves Women Artists is a way for us to create a “moment” to celebrate the Women Artist and inspire all women to connect with their inner creative to use their wardrobe as a vehicle for self-expression,” 
Emily Smith, Creative Director, Lafayette 148 New York.

The event series is being held at upscale department stores around the country where Lafayette 148 pieces can be found: Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue and Nordstrom. Here are the remaining dates for the tour:
  • March 8, 2018: Spotlight Stephanie Nass, Neiman Marcus Fashion Island
  • March 15, 2018: Spotlight Deanna First, Nordstrom La Jolla
  • March 22, 2018: Spotlight Stephanie Nass, Saks Fifth Avenue St. Louis
  • March 24, 2018: Spotlight Deanna First, Nordstrom South Coast
  • April 14, 2018: Spotlight Deanna First, Neiman Marcus Atlanta
For their Houston stop, that occurred on March 1st, Lafayette 148 partnered with Pastry Chef & Dessert Innovator Stephanie Nass.  Chef Stephanie Nass has found a way to seamlessly fuse food and art and has been celebrated for her innovations and edible art.  Unfortunately, I had to work during the event. However, Chef Stephanie, aka as Chefanie, was nice enough to answer some questions for me about her career and working with Lafayette 148 on this series.

Chef Stephanie,
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for myself and my readers!  Here at Live Life in Style we love featuring strong female entrepreneurs and their story!

What started your interest in the culinary arts?
I grew up in a home where food and sharing meals were deeply important. I was cooking and baking since I was a young child. When I moved to France in high school, I took formal cooking lessons and knew that cooking was what I wanted to do professionally.

What was it about desserts that made you choose that as your area of expertise?
I was creating art-inspired meals for Victory Club, the supper club I founded in 2014 to bring young professionals together over the culinary and visual arts, and in researching additional ways to create food that looked like art, I came across a product similar to Chefanie Sheets; however, it was very hard to buy at low quantities and even harder to customize. I designed some samples and Chefanie Sheets were launched Summer of 2016. I have focused on desserts to showcase Chefanie Sheets but am passionate about cooking savory food as well.

What were your initial career goals with your BA in Art History degree from Columbia University?
Even when I started college, I knew I wanted to have my own food business. When I wasn’t in class, I worked in restaurants in New York City. After college, I became a financial analyst to learn how a company is run and to best prepare myself to run my business.

How did you come up with the name Victory Club for your members-only dinner parties? How were people able to become members? And do you still host this club?
It came from my former online moniker “Folded Victory,” which derived from an Elizabeth Bishop poem. Folded Victory Supper Club contracted to Victory Club.

It seems like you are a master at meshing art, fashion and desserts! How did you come up with this wonderful idea to collaborate with artists and fashion designers?
Thank you. I love various forms of creative expression. I began merging the culinary and visual arts in my art-filled apartment for the initial Victory Club meals. When I launched Chefanie Sheets, I begin creating cakes to match my clothes. Working with artists and fashion designers felt natural, and working with Lafayette 148 has been a dream because the quality of the clothes is so high, and I love this season’s patterns so much. My favorite pattern is the blue splatter print dress, which looks especially great next to a tall vanilla cake wrapped in the same pattern.

How did you come to work with Lafayette 148 New York?
Lafayette 148’s design team is inspired by art and architecture, and the spring collection is inspired by women artists. The company reached out to me as a culinary artist, and I was so excited because I have loved Lafayette 148 for many years. We’re doing a series of events this season that celebrate female creativity, and I hope it is just the first way of many that we’ll work together.

How would you compare your experience working in a restaurant to owning your own business?
Apples and oranges. I loved working in restaurants – there is great camaraderie among the kitchen team, opportunity to learn from other chefs, and the highs that come from a successful service. Now I know how thrilling it is to grow something from nothing by running my own business over the last three and a half years. I love both, but I’m very glad to do what I’m doing now.

Is the culinary arts industry competitive? And if so, how do you strive to stand out as unique?
Yes, the culinary arts industry is competitive, but I think every industry is competitive. My business is unique because I draw from my personal experiences, inspirations, and values.

Is the culinary art industry hard for women to succeed in?
I don’t believe I have ever been at a disadvantage because of my gender, but I also look at negativity as noise and don’t spend as much time dwelling on challenges as much as achieving my goals.
What tips do you have for anyone looking to have a career in the culinary arts?
Start yesterday. Aim for excellence. Be kind. Meet as many people as you can. Love food. Celebrate good news.

What are your plans after your collaboration with Lafayette 148?
To continue doing great work!

Any plans to bring your dinner club to other areas…. like Houston?
Yes, I look forward to working with friends in Houston to bring people together over the culinary and visual arts soon.


*Photos in this post provided by Lafayette 148 New York*

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