Meet Erica Kennedy: one of my favorite authors. She's beautiful, stylish, smart and, best of all, a heck of a good writer. While jetting between New York and Miami, the seasoned journalist has written features for everyone from Us Weekly to InStyle to Paper magazine. Haute on the heels of her New York Times Best-selling book, 'Bling,' Kennedy is treating fans to her sophomore effort: 'Feminsta'. For it, she's pieced together a tale about Sydney Zamora, a fashion-loving journalist with a big bark and the bite to back it up. From the very first chapter of this page turner, we are sucked into a world of Lanvin, lust and love. I caught up with Kennedy last week to chat about her book, her style and most importantly her definition of the buzz word she's created, 'Feminista.'
What is a feminista?
Feminista is just my modern spin on the word "feminist" (a word I think a lot of women are uncomfortable with because it conjures images of a militant man-hater with hairy armpits). Feminista is a fashionable feminist. It's about the yin and yang of what it means to be a modern woman today. We're strong and vulnerable. We're ambitious and nurturing. We want cute shoes that show off our pretty pink toenails and we can also fix the HTML code on our blog! We might want a career and a family -- or maybe we just want the family, or just the career. It's about being the woman you are, however you define that.
Your main character Sydney Zamora embodies the concept of a FEMINISTA perfectly, but are there some other celebs/ popular examples of folks who embody that ideal too?
Yes! I did a whole post on The FEMINISTA Files about it. Well, Oprah for sure. She's talked about how she couldn't hack it as a news reporter because she got too emotionally involved with stories she was sent to cover but it's that very thing -- her sense of empathy and willingness to share her emotions with a global audience -- that has made her such an influential force in our culture -- and a billionaire! Jennifer Lopez is a great example because she's ultra-feminine but about as ambitious as they come. Tres feminsta. Tyra Banks is a great feminista icon. A former model who can be totally silly and girly but is also a shrewd businesswoman and a force to be reckoned with. Kimora Lee Simmons and Heidi Klum are similar types of feminista- both models who've built their own brands but they would both say their most important role is being a mommy.
What is your fashion background?
I was a recessionista before the recession! I like playing with clothes, to me that's just another form of creativity, but I don't spend a lot of money on labels and such. I used to be a publicist at Tommy Hilfiger and when you realize what the mark-up is on clothes, it sickens you to pay retail. Anyway, It's not who you're wearing but HOW you're wearing it. I'm kinda bohemian in my style, I guess. I shop anywhere -- at discount places, I adore the Lincoln Rd. flea market in Miami where I live now, I'll buy vintage on eBay. I love to browse online at Swell, Urban Outfitters or Forever21.com (never go into the actual store, it gives me vertigo) and put stuff on my wish lists. I love a wish list for so many reasons, most of all because you can see when the ish you're watching gets marked down.
And as a fashion forward feminsta yourself, what are your favorite labels and why?
Vintage. Because I don't want to look like anyone else. Actually, as I type this, I'm wearing a knee-length Levi's denim mini embellished with patches of African fabric -- that I made myself!
Some might say its contradictory for a feminist to call herself a fashionista as well? Thoughts?
It's not contradictory for a woman to call herself anything if that's what she is. And that's exactly why she wouldn't call herself a feminist. She'd call herself a feminista.
Read more about the book and get in touch with Kennedy directly at her blog The FEMINISTA Files.