Fanola Babe, Sydney Mastrandrea is a creative, kind, and talented graphic designer. She is down to earth and is dressed stylish 24/7. Sydney works in fashion for the iconic brand, Something Navy, and even has a signature pair of pants named after her. We had the pleasure of talking to Sydney and getting to know more about her, her role at Something Navy, and where she draws her inspo from.
F: You are very talented at graphic design and content creation. When did your passion for that begin and what's your favorite part about it?
S: I think my passion began probably around sophomore year of high school. It really started with photography, and that led to me taking classes at an art institute while being in high school, and then that took me to a semester at Parsons where I studied graphic design and photography. I wound up transferring and I went to the University of Miami where I studied creative advertising and graphic design because I loved art and I loved being creative digitally. I just wanted to be on a more clear path of where I wanted to be going with my career. Art and graphic design have always been a way to express my creative side and it’s super relaxing. I've just always found art to be a nice outlet.
F: How was that transition from growing up in the suburbs to moving to the city?
S: When I was in high school I had always dreamed of a life in New York. I think weirdly that's what made me want to transfer from Parsons to Miami because I felt like I had my whole life to be in New York and that I wanted to experience something different for college. I feel like going from growing up in the suburbs, which was kind of a small bubble then moving to Miami, a city, I feel that I thrive more in a city. I like a faster pace and a little added chaos, I feel like it makes me better in a way, and more productive. I think I would be bored if I wound up staying in the suburbs. So I really love being in the city, I work in fashion and the best place for me to be is in Manhattan.
On how her college experience helped find her passion:
During my time in my sorority, I ran our social media, and I did a lot of graphic design there. I was doing a lot of creative things while being a member, which helped me bulk up my resume, but also improve my skills. I really liked that aspect of it, there were so many creative and talented people in my sorority and I feel like my sorority is what made me realize what I wanted to major in because I met a lot of girls that were studying what I wound up studying.
F: Anyone who follows you on Instagram can tell how fashionable you are. When did your passion for that begin?
S: I've kind of loved fashion since I was in elementary school. My mom worked for Chanel for a few years, and so fashion has always been a part of my life. My mom was super fashionable, I always loved stealing vintage things from her closet. I also think I always had a very different sense of style from my friends, especially growing up in the suburbs. It was always a joke that I was always wearing so much black in a town where so many people were super preppy. I always liked it, and I think it kind of comes with that more creative side of me. It was another way that I was able to express myself. I always knew that with graphic design, digital art, and photography, that the path that I wanted to take with that was fashion related. I think it's always been something that I love and that has interested me.
F: You work at Something Navy, how has it been working for such an established fashion company at a young age?
S: It's been really great, honestly I got so lucky. I remember my senior year of college was when Something Navy was getting super big and I remember thinking to myself, "Oh, it'd be so cool to work there!" but I never could have dreamed that it's where I wound up, especially my first job out of college. I've grown a lot there, I started as an intern, and then I worked my way up. When I started, we were a team of 6 and now we're a team of 30. So it's been really cool getting to be there from the early stages and seeing all aspects of the business grow. I've made so many great friendships with my coworkers, and it's just a different kind of thing working with a team that went from so small to so big, and just getting to see it all happen has been really amazing.
F: How did you find out about Something Navy and what is your position there?
S: I don't remember when I started following Arielle, but obviously that's how I found Something Navy. This was kind of at the time that their Nordstrom collection was super prominent, and when I graduated college, I was having a really hard time finding a job and I was going on a lot of interviews just to go to interviews and just find a job, rather than really finding something that I was excited and passionate about. I was in the final rounds with another company, and then I saw that Something Navy was hiring an intern, so I went in for an interview and I became an intern for Something Navy for a few months and it was great. It was like no other internship I'd ever had, I never felt like an intern there, I went in every day and felt like I was doing really important work and they never treated me like an intern. I really felt a part of the team, and I felt like the work that I was doing was making an impact.
After a few months, my role turned into a full-time position. At the time I was the Digital Media Assistant, and then during that time I was really blog focused and I was doing a lot of work on the website. I was writing, merchandising, working with different kinds of affiliate networks, and then my role developed into a Graphic Designer! I now work alongside our art director, it's just the two of us, which has been really amazing. I feel like I've gotten to learn so much by being able to be her right hand and really being involved in the whole process from shooting our eCommerce, to creating digital assets for marketing, for emails, and creating really special campaigns. Being along the ride from working with Nordstrom in a partnership to being direct to consumers has been super different, but I feel like I had such an advantage coming in pretty early on because I was able to see how we went from one thing to another.
I feel really lucky, I'm only 24 and I feel like I've learned so much in my past few years being out of school because of where I am. I'm really happy there and my role has obviously changed a lot, but I think that's part of being at a startup and just kind of finding where you fit best. I always knew that I wanted to get into art direction and graphic design, and I think it's been helpful because I do have experience in other things like social media, and marketing. At the end of the day, we all are kind of working with each other. I do things that sometimes aren't totally fit to my job role, just because that's the kind of all hands on deck sort of company that it is, which is really special, and exciting.
F: You mentioned that you had followed Something Navy and the founder of Something Navy, Arielle Charnas prior to working there. How was that transition from being a follower to now working at the brand?
S: I can't speak highly enough about Arielle, she's an amazing mom, she's an amazing boss, she's super creative, she IS Something Navy! I think the most important thing that I realized is that she’s human. It’s really crazy because people are so kind of obsessed with her life, fascinated with her kids, and her company, and everything, and to me, she's human. She is so real and I have so much respect for her, yeah she's my boss, but there's also a level of friendship. She always shows how much she values her team and the work that we've done to build the brand with her, it never feels like it goes unnoticed. I think just the biggest difference for me from being a follower to working for her is just realizing that on social media, we just see a smaller portion of somebody's life, but she's super down to earth and awesome, I feel really lucky to have her as a boss.
F: Did you have any part in designing the Sydney Pant or was it a complete surprise?
S: Arielle had come up with the idea and worked with our design team to create these pieces, and she just came into the office one day and she said that she wanted to name these pieces after who they remind her of on the team, and the Sydney Pant became the Sydney Pant! I was so excited about it, and they are my favorite piece in the collection. I think they are the perfect mix of a little bit of feminine with the cool bows on the side, but also casual and they look great with a pair of sneakers. For me, they felt very me and I was so flattered that she thought of me and named them after me. It was really cool to get to see it come to life! I really wasn't expecting it, it was the nicest thing ever, and made everybody just realize how much she appreciates us and values our insight and our opinions. Going back to being a small company, everybody knows each other on such a different level and it's nice to feel like you're influencing other aspects of the brand besides just what you're doing every single day.
F: Where do you usually draw inspiration from for design and content creation and where have you drawn inspo from during quarantine?
S: I am addicted to Pinterest! I know that sounds so cliche, but I think Pinterest and Instagram are my number one. I use them all day, every day, I have folders and folders of saved things. I like to pull inspiration from photos and create mood boards, whether that be digitally on Instagram and have saved folders or print photos out.
I also feel like most of my inspiration comes from what's going on around me. I feel like right now since I'm quarantining at my house in Long Island, everything's much more kind of simple countryside, and I feel that even in the way I'm designing, the way I'm dressing, everything is much more minimal.
I hold most of my inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram and also runway fashion. I like to follow trends and see what people are excited about and just see how other brands are marketing their clothing and stuff like that. I don't know where I would be without Pinterest and Instagram, because that's just how I see everything that everybody else is doing, and I think that's what makes it easy for me to decipher what I like, what I don't like, and what inspires me.
F: How have you been taking care of your hair during quarantine?
S: Fanola has really changed my hair, I had a phase in college where I went blonde so my hair was super damaged. Then I went back to dark, but before I went blonde I had really healthy thick, silky hair. Once I bleached it, it wasn't like that anymore and I started using your products when I was using the Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner because I liked my hair to be super long and I have long layers. I was running into the problem all the time that I had no volume at the top of my head and that my hair was just kind of hanging, no matter how many layers I have, I was just losing that volume.
I was looking for a volumizing shampoo and I started using Fanola and I fell in love with it! Now I use the Nutri Care 10 Action Spray and the Nutri Care Split End Cream. I put the cream on my ends and I spray the spray every time I wash my hair before I want to blow dry it because I feel like it really keeps my hair hydrated and healthy. I feel like ever since I started using Fanola it's brought a lot of shine back to my hair. I can't remember the last time I used a hair product that wasn't by you guys, because I have noticed a major difference in the health of my hair ever since.
F: How have you been taking care of your mental health during quarantine?
S: I've been going on bike rides a lot to the beach at the end of every day, which has been really nice and just taking that time for myself. Whether it be going on a bike ride or walking my dog, or maybe even just on the weekends, going to the beach alone rather than going with people, I'm the kind of person that really likes my alone time. So weirdly this whole quarantine situation hasn't been the worst thing for me! I'm still working a lot, so I think just taking that time at the end of the day to unwind and get outside, be active, and move my body has been really helpful for me. I've been reading, listening to podcasts, doing things that for some reason when I was living in New York, I didn't have time to do. I think just taking that time to myself and being active has been really helpful for me.
F: What is the first thing you are going to do when quarantine ends?
S: Hug my friends!