Rewind back to December 2014, when my beloved friend, Kyle Hjelsemeth requested my help to surprise Stephanie Liu - another dear friend and his partner in life - with an unforgettable holiday surprise. We conceptualized (conspired) to shoot at Le Labo, where he’ll be creating a customized Jasmine-scented perfume, and document the entire gift-making process. Because that’s simply the type of person he is, as the associate director of field development at Chloe & Isabel and man on the mission with a scent story. These photographs have been sitting in my hard drive for almost a year and now they’re finally coming to light.
I recently sat Kyle down, in the midst of a busy schedule and the holidays, to speak with him on what it means and takes to be a Styleteller:
Kyle, you’re quite the multi-hyphenate, consummate professional. Give us the short and sweet version of how this came to be.
I was once told that my personality is like what, taking the least path of resistance. While that can be negative, I've chosen to live my life saying yes to experiences and letting the sweep me up in the rush. I've marketed for high-powered architects, luxury design labels and accessories brands...and yet dabbled in college recruitment and sales management + training.
I love the perspective and focus on innovation this varied path has brought to my life.
With such a demanding workload and constant need to be connected, what do you do to maintain work/life balance? A bullet-list will suffice.
My girlfriend and I were just laughing the other day that we don't have traditional hobbies. I hike, read, exercise, cook...but none regularly. I live to work because I enjoy the challenges of the projects which have my attention. I don't live to work to work. But, I do enjoy a good travel story and a nap, and reading Twitter headlines in my downtime.
Tell us something you learned about yourself recently and how it has changed you (for better or for worse).
Recently I've learned that my impressions of situations might not always be correct from the onset. This has changed my perspective because I take a little more time to read situations and people. This has slowed down my pace of thought so that I don't spend time needlessly on incorrect assumptions.
Since we’re here at Le Labo, what is your scent story? Why do you think it is the perfect surprise gift?
I love the idea of fragrance because your sense of smell is so deeply connected with memory. I wanted to create a gift that my girlfriend would not only love for it's uniqueness, but would remember / be reminded of for however long the scent should last.
If there’s one person you could have a drink with - who would it be and what would you be sipping?
Karl Lagerfeld, and I would be drinking whatever Karl told me I should be drinking
Where do you foresee the marketing landscape for fashion in the years to come?
Fashion is at a truly interesting place in time. A legitimate place of change. Every year designers are lauded for how "fresh" they are, when in reality the ideas have been seen and done before, and if they haven't been seen or done before, the public probably won't adopt these ideas. We're at this actual change in the nature of fashion that is being pushed by technology. Technology in applications, technology in textiles, technology in hardware. We can absolutely do things that are actually fresh / new / innovative, and that's exciting for the work of marketing / cross-promotion.
How do you uphold the mission of Styletelling in your day to day life?
My friends always throw a compliment my way about how fresh I look, or how cool a new watch I just got is to them. I don't think I'm stylish because I honestly prefer the classics that most "stylish" find boring. The way I stay true to the mission of Styletelling is by giving that compliment back where it's due. Everyone has something interesting about their look, and I always try to pinpoint that and inspire others to believe in their own sense of expression and find value in what they're bringing to their visual identity.
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