Five Minutes with Alyssa Bernal

Hi, I’m Alyssa Bernal and I’m 25 years old from San Antonio, Texas. I am a singer/songwriter and got my start on YouTube. I'm now living out my dream in Los Angeles!

How did you get into music?
I got into music because I grew up into a family of musicians. All of my dad’s side of the family are musicians and it’s in my blood.

How old were you when you started?
I’ve been singing since I was 3 or 4, there are so many home videos. I grew up pretty shy! I came to the realization when I was about 18. I went to a private catholic high school, where the new music director inspired me to put myself out there. That’s about the time I got an account on YouTube and realized I wanted to do music because of the comments and positive feedback I was getting and how much my music impacted people.

What was it like putting up your first YouTube video?
It’s funny because I created an account to put up silly videos of friends and I knocking off. And then I realized people put up singing videos, but there weren’t that many at that time. I got inspired because the ones that were up weren’t very good, haha. So I thought “Hey I can sing.. I’m pretty good..” so I started doing that. The first video I did was “Killing Me Softly” and it was really cheaply set up. I didn’t even set up the camera on books or anything. I just held the camera like a recording device and just sang into it with the instrumental playing. I got really good feedback and made me feel good, so I continued!

What’s the best story you’ve heard?
There was a soldier and his roommate that got stationed together and went into battle together. His roommate passed away and when he cleaned his stuff up, he saw his laptop open watching one of my videos. That soldier sent me a request to sing “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley and it’s one of my most viewed videos. I’ll never forget where I came from because of that and that’s one of the main reasons what moved me to do music.

What’s the weirdest comment you’ve ever gotten from a fan?
Oh… Once in awhile you’ll get those feet comments. Hahaha.. Like, let me see your feet or something. I’m sure there are weirder ones but it won’t be appropriate to share. People on YouTube are not shy about speaking their minds!

Who are your top inspirations?
Musically, I listen to a lot of soul, blues, and acoustic. Like John Mayer, Joss Stone, Norah Jones… just that singer/songwriter circle growing up, which kind of molded me to who I am today as an artist. Everyday life, people that I meet out here, like you, my boyfriend, our friends, dancers, just people who are striving to do what they love. The idea of doing what you love and getting paid for that.. I mean there’s stress but at the end of the day you do what you love and that’s inspiration for me.

How would you describe your music?
Just recently, I changed my sound drastically. I’ve gone more of a darker path kind of like a mix of Lorde and Ellie Goulding. I say that as reference but when you hear my music, it still sounds like my own thing. It’s more mature sounding, 808, hard beats and lots of synth. If I had to categorize it, it’d be… dark pop.

What are you working on right now?
It’s been so long since I put music out that I think I’m going to put out single by single. I have a few songs and music videos ready on deck. I want to reintroduce myself and intrigue my followers again.

What are your goals for your career?
Put out an EP. Put out an album. And I really want to go on tour. I’ve only been on one nationwide tour and it was amazing. But I really want to go to the Philippines. It’s cool because on YouTube you can check out the demographics of your followers. I really want to hit up all those top countries and meet my “lysseners” – that’s what my followers call themselves. :)

Favorite food.
For the longest time, it was Chicken Phad Thai. It’s a cross between that or sushi, but lately, Pho has really been creeping up there!

Favorite meal of the day.
Dinner, but my dinners are always super late like 10:30pm, 11pm.

What time do you sleep?
Anytime between 11pm – 4am. Hahaha. Life of a musician…

Instagram or Twitter?
Hmm.. I’m favoring towards Instagram right now.

What do you do during your down time?
Sleep hahahaha. I also like to snack! Hahaha. I like what everyone else likes to do, hang out with friends, watch scary movies.. go get pho!

What’s your day-to-day like?
Hmmm. It’s different everyday. When you’re self-employed, it’s really laidback. I wake up around 10 or 11. My boyfriend is a producer and he always has tracks that he wants to bring to life with lyrics so when I’m really bored, I’ll work with him.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone who wants to get into the music industry?
Put yourself out there on every outlet. Back then I was super fortunate when YouTube wasn’t as popular and I just got really lucky. I did it for fun, and at the end of the day you should do everything for fun.

Get creative.. Think of new things and do something that makes you YOU. Something that makes you stands out. Always update people! You have to start somewhere, whether it’s word of mouth from family or friends. People will always support you. When I was starting out, I was so scared of rejection, but I found that sharing your talent with the world only inspires others and will in most situations get lots of support.

What’s the best way to follow your music?
YouTube: Alyssa Bernal
Instagram: @alyssabernal89
Twitter: @alyssabernal
Facebook: @alyssabernal

photographs by Courtney Yeh

five minutes with sheri chiu

Sheri was born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, and uprooted to Hong Kong in a matter of 10 years. Sudden change was difficult, but she discovered her passion for writing in high school. After graduating, she returned to New York to pursue her journalism and sociology studies at NYU. At that moment Sheri stepped into the world of modeling to explore her interest in beauty and art. Now, as the Paris Editor of Schön!Magazine, she spends her time interviewing those in the fashion industry and critiquing art exhibitions.

How did you start becoming a model?

I had spent four years organizing high school fashion shows in Hong Kong, and was curious what it meant to be on the other side of the catwalk. I attended NYU’s Asian Cultural Union model audition with absolutely no knowledge of a proper runway strut and was rejected. At the time, I believed this rejection to be the equivalent of “You’re not beautiful enough.”

The Chinese Student Society was also holding auditions for their own fashion show, so I mustered all the courage I had to try “modeling” one more time. A second rejection would confirm that I didn’t have what it took. An additional “no” would have probably propelled me into other activities and cultivated outside interests.
They said yes. One of the leaders of the fashion show suggested that I create a Model Mayhem profile if I wanted to collaborate with photographers to build a photo portfolio. I was 18-years-old and had never been photographed professionally, but the idea was enticing. I explored the website and found images of everyday girls looking absolutely confident. They were alive and happy, and I wanted exactly that. Some part of me wanted to be captured as I was, because I understood how ephemeral youth was. Another part craved to be seen as beautiful enough to be photographed. It was a way for me to construct a better self-image.

And now you work for a magazine as well? 

I'm a Paris Editor of Schön! Magazine, I discovered the publication because I was a model in one of their editorials way back when. I contacted the Editor-in-Chief to express my interest in covering Paris Fashion Week. Slowly but surely, I received bigger and more exciting assignments such as interviewing model Coco Rocha and Italian Vogue Senior Photo Editor Alessia Glaviano. The Schön! family has been very supportive and fun; I consider myself lucky to be part of the magazine.   
What's your favorite type of photo shoot?

My favorite type of photo shoot is one where I feel I’m inspiring the photographer and vice versa. I love to interpret a concept or emotion and illustrate it through pose. No matter if it’s a fashion editorial or artistic nude shoot, the energy on set is really important because it helps to create that unique image.

How do you feel about nude modelling?

Since I consider myself an art model, I would say that I love nude modeling! If done tastefully, photographs that depict nude models can be considered art. In terms of modeling, I think it’s a wonderful form of liberation that allows me to explore ideas and sensations through movement and body language. It’s graceful and honest. It questions preconceived notions of the female figure, sexuality, and censorship. I think nude modeling can show others the importance of appreciating and taking care of the human body.

How have people in general reacted to your work?

People in the art and photo industry have been supportive of my work because I think it speaks more to them. Friends from high school and college have reached out to me, after years of separation, to talk about their own struggles of beauty and acceptance. I think that is what really makes me happy – knowing that others appreciate my work for the message behind what meets the eye. 

Top 3 inspirations
Film director Lars Von Trier. He was the first director to shake my core to the point that I sobbed for 15 minutes after watching the movie “Dancer in the Dark.” From that moment on, I’ve watched his most important films, all of which are ambitious and profound in meaning and cinematic scope. Von Trier inspires me to explore the magic in darkness.
Malala Yousafzai is known for human rights advocacy for education in Pakistan. She’s the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, and continues to fight for female rights even after being shot on a bus. Yousafzai is constantly threatened by the Taliban, but never backs down from what she truly believes in. She calls for worldwide access to education and rights for young girls, especially in countries who prohibit them. Yousafzai is inspirational on so many levels; I really admire her.
Lastly, my husband Nicolas Guérin, has been my creative fuel for the past five years. He has taught me so much about cinema, literature, and the arts. I would say that I began to develop my cultural mind after meeting him. With Nicolas, I’ve been able to explore deep and personal photo shoot themes. We have worked on image-making together, both of us behind the lens as photographers. Where Nicolas brings his technical know-how and portraiture expertise, I add a dose of naivety and experimentation, which in total can create unexpected photographs. He has supported and pushed me in this critical stage in my life, for which I am truly grateful.

Who's the dream photographer you'd like to work with? 

Paolo Roversi or Sarah Moon because they create more than just photos. They are artists. Their work resembles paintings, masterpieces that could never go out of style. I feel that Roversi and Moon’s images provoke splendor in use of color and light; they are narrative and dark.

What do you like to do on your down time?

I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. I also love to discover new films with my husband. He’s taught me so much about the most captivating directors in cinema such as David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick.

I read in one of your posts that you work out everyday. What is your workout routine?

That used to be correct! I stopped for several months, but I plan to get active again. I suppose like most people, I tend to hibernate during the winter months! For a normal workout routine, I do 30 – 40 minutes of cardio, followed by intense stretching. I do abdominal exercises next because that’s my most fickle zone. I like squats too. If I go to the gym, I would use the machines focusing on arms and legs: 3 sets of 15 repetitions. To wrap it up, I generally do yoga for 15 minutes to cool down and meditate.

What’s your favorite thing to cook?

I really like cooking chicken panang curry. It’s easy, and it was the first successful dish I served at dinner parties. Now when a new person visits the house, I serve them the coconut milk based curry that puts them in a comfortable mood.

Favorite food.
I love anything made out of potato. French fries, baked potato, mashed potatoes, they’re all good! I also can’t resist chili or macaroni and cheese. I’m a sucker for anything that sticks to the ribs.

If you could have one super power in the world, what would it be?
To be in two places at once.

If I could grant you this wish right now, which two places would you choose first and why?

I would love to be simultaneously in New York City and Australia because New York is my home and I think a part of me will always stay there. I chose Australia because it’s summer there right now! I’ve only visited Sydney for one day during a plane layover, but I would love to return to Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef.  

Which photo is your favorite so far?

If I had to pick, I would say the image with the headpiece and dress made out of vegetation. This image is actually a snippet of a much larger video project produced by Nicolas Guérin. We had an entire day of reenacting different scenes, written by Nicolas himself: from a “fawn” dancing and meeting a man for the first time, physical and emotional domination, and a moment of complete serenity in the photo you see here. The entire creative team was exceptional, especially hair stylist Mike Desir and makeup artist Daria Day who transformed me into a creature of nature. This image means a lot to me because it was a terrific day of imaginative exploration, a day where everyone brought their very best to set. It’s really fun and rewarding to work on a personal project with a team of close friends.

What is your future goals for your work and for life?

I’ve been producing and creatively directing photo shoots with my husband for several months now. I would love to do it more professionally and see where it goes.

Do you have advice for those who want to pursue modeling?

First and foremost, finish your education, because modeling isn’t a reliable source of income that will support you throughout your entire life. Study the work of photographers and other influential personas in the industry. Study something that isn’t related to fashion to broaden your knowledge so you can use it in modeling or outside of it. Being a model is like fulfilling certain job requirements. I cannot be a rocket scientist because I didn’t take a science course since high school and I don’t have the technical training. Likewise, I can’t be a runway model because I’m too short. It’s important to understand what you can and cannot do, but not feel rejected because you don’t fill a certain criteria. Work with what you do have, and do it to your best ability. Learn about body movement or dance because no matter where you go, grace is always important. I used modeling as a tool to repair my broken self-image, so before you seriously consider doing it, I’m going to tell you what someone once told me: You don’t need anyone telling you that you’re beautiful. Believe it yourself.

See more photos and follow her amazing journey in Paris below!

Instagram: @nakiesheri
Twitter: @schiuonthis

Five Minutes with Follow Me Foodie

My name is Mijune and I am the voice behind Follow Me Foodie. Follow Me Foodie is a food and travel blog/website. I started Follow Me Foodie in July 2009. I am based in Vancouver, but travel frequently for work.

What do you do as a food/travel blogger?
My business is hard to explain, but it involves an umbrella of different services. I do promotional/marketing campaigns with tourism companies, businesses, and other lifestyle industries. It really depends. I also write for hire and am involved in ambassador programs. My blog is where I share my stories of food and travel. It's used as an educational resource too so it's read by locals, tourists and industry professionals.  I also do public speaking on various topics from social media to personal branding, to restaurant recommendations and education, I also host event and private food tours occasionally by request.
How do you spend your day to day?
Wow! It really depends where I am. Every day is different especially if I'm traveling. On a typical day in Vancouver I'll be writing, answering e-mails, engaging with people on social media, trying restaurants or attending events. If I'm traveling I'll most likely be dining out. I also like to read and research a lot (about food and place).
What was your latest project and what’s upcoming?
I just got home from a 2 week trip in Italy to celebrate Rustichella Pasta's 90th birthday in Abruzzo, and to attend their PrimoGrano pasta competition to support Vancouver chef Alex Tung. My next trip will be Omnivore Festival in Montreal where I'll be meeting young and upcoming chefs who are inspiring ideas and leading food movements. 

What’s your favorite part about your job?
It has to be the learning aspect. Of course getting to eat and travel is AMAZING and I'm very grateful to never be hungry and to be able to see so many places, but meeting people and learning about things is invaluable. I've learned so much about food, culture, place, myself, and just life in general. 

Are you an amazing cook? What do you like to cook? Are you known for something?
Ha! I'm not sure if I'm an "amazing cook", but I love to cook and cook for others. I don't have as much time anymore, but when I cook I like to entertain for about 4-6 people and go all out. I rarely repeat a recipe or follow one and kind of go with the flow. I like being creative in the kitchen, although it's important to be able to follow a recipe and learn from it. 
I love the “shit foodie’s say” video because I do exactly all those things as someone who loves food styling and eating. What happened after the video caught so much attention?
The video was so much fun! It ended up going on the front page of the entertainment section in a major newspaper in Vancouver, The Vancouver Sun. It also spread international all the way to Australia which was unexpected. With internet nowadays it's so easy for things to go viral, but it still has to be good content. I'm not sure if my video was good content, but I think it made people laugh which is good enough for me!
How does living where you are help with your job?
I'm very lucky to live in Vancouver, BC. We have the water and the mountains so we get incredible produce from our backyard. It rains a lot which I actually don't like, but in return we get a bountiful harvest. We have a great farm to table scene and it's multi-cultural and diverse, so I get to try some of everything. We have some incredible chefs and restaurants and they inspire my work... without them, I have nothing.
What's your big dream in life?
Every day has been a dream. I have to pinch myself sometimes and be grateful for the moment I'm living in. Of course I have bigger dreams and future goals, but I try and live in the moment because it could all disappear tomorrow. In the last few years I've been able to dream new dreams, and that in itself is enough of a gift. Can't wait for the future, but living in the present. 

Favorite travel spot.
Ohhh too hard! It really depends! Every city and country has something to offer and I leave no place unvisited if I have the opportunity to visit. It doesn't matter how big or small the food scene is... as long as there are people or any sort of life (be it in animals and plants etc etc), there are ideas and things to learn. 
Worst foods you’ve ever tried.
I try things until I like them, so I hate saying something is "gross" or "bad" (presuming it's edible and cooked correctly). I didn't enjoy tarantula or sheep's penis in China... that being said, I'll try it again. I'm open minded about food and they eat these things in other cultures, so I don't want to judge. 

What kind of food feels like home?
Mom's cooking. Mom cooks with her heart. A lot of the time it's nothing really traditional. She's an artist so she gets creative in the kitchen! 

What are some challenges you’ve encountered? 
I'm still encountering challenges and my career is full of them. It's not easy being a full time food and travel blogger, let alone getting any respect as a "blogger" or "foodie". I still have challenges everyday and I've had to learn to be patient, persistent, and positive. The challenges are good because I learn from them... they can be super frustrating as well, but what job isn't? When you love something so much, it's going to break your heart. I'm happy to love what I do. 
How do you look for new restaurants, recipes etc?
I meet a lot of people and research a lot. I ask a lot of questions too and one thing leads to another... before I know it, I have a bucket list of 50 new restaurants and recipes to visit and try. 

For someone wants to blog or become a foodie, what advice would you offer?
Just start. I have no advice because it's an industry where everyone finds their own way. It's really your personal voice and a way of sharing it. My advice is just to start... start and let everything else figure itself out. It has to start from an honest passion.
How long did you blog for until you got a loyal fan base?
Hmm I'm not sure... at some point we all started with one follower. I prefer to call it a social network base or "friend base" rather than "fan base" though. It's not about numbers for me. I just want people to share this passion with me and if I can get people inspired, that's fantastic! I want to engage with everyone!

What would you say is the next upcoming food trend? 
Hmm I'm not keen on using the word "food trend" because everything has been done before. Just like fashion, "food trends" recycle themselves. We remember old ideas and repackage them. 
You might like to check out these posts:
However, if I have to name a few places getting more attention, I'd say all eyes on Peru. Peru's food scene has been bubbling in the last couple years and I can see it getting more popular in the North American market. 

Follow Mijune's foodie adventures here!

five minutes with _csma

Crazy how small this world is… A co-worker of mine introduced me to @_csma’s instagram profile because he really liked her photos. I started following her and became a fan of her work. Just from her Instagram, I could tell that we had a lot in common. She posted a lot of photos of food, interior design, chairs, and landscape - all the things that I love! She chose restaurant and places that I’ve been to or have been dying to try. She was definitely someone I wanted to meet. So I decided to message her and see if she wanted to get brunch! Of course we later found out how many mutual friends of friends we had, and that we ALMOST went to the same birthday party a week ago. 

I wanted to share some of her amazing photos with you guys, so here's five minutes with Christie aka _csma! 
My name is Christie, I’m born and raised in Orange County and I’m currently an Ophthalmic Technician. I work for an ophthalmologist, who is an eye doctor and surgeon. Most of my job consists of scheduling, checking patients in, vision checks, images of the back of the eye, and assist with surgeries. Probably the weirdest thing I do is putting drops into people’s eyes, especially if they’re really squeamish about it. You learn a few tricks – like I would say “OK all done!” and the minute they open their eyes, I squeeze it! I actually studied business accounting in college, which has nothing to do with what I do now. My friend actually got this job for me and I knew nothing about it.

What do you like doing outside of work?
My favorite hobby is reading. I will read anything and everything, but I particularly love dystopian novels. I also love travelling but mostly it’s local. I was really lucky that my parents thought it was really important to take us travelling at an early age. They thought that if we travelled more, we’d see more, learn more and be more receptive to other ways of doing things. They really wanted us to see that not everyone lives the same. The next trip we’re trying to plan right now is to China and Hong Kong. 

In terms of local spots, I really love Abbot Kinney. My friends are all sick of me asking them to go there ha-ha. I love the shops and food out there. I love Victoria beach near Laguna, Thousands Steps Beach, have you been? If there’s a low tide, there’s a big cave that we can walk into.
You  were an Instagram suggested user! What was that like?
I got home from work and was checking Instagram as usual and saw there was a direct message from Instagram. I thought that it was just a mass message that was informative. When I opened it and it said congratulations you’re a suggested user, I thought someone was pranking me. But after awhile, when a lot of people started following me,  and liking all my photos, I was like.. Oh!! I AM a suggested user! It was pretty interesting seeing it blow up like that. My immediate feeling was panic because now it matters what I post. You get the pressure to post better photos but it pushed me to care a little bit more and taking more time to edit the photos.

How big was the jump?
It went from around 4000 followers to 34,000 from just two weeks. They sent me a book for being a suggested user and it was really cool! It’s a book that my friend was actually featured on. It has the history of Instagram, where the common tags came from and who started it. #puddlegram, #throughthefence.. a couple that I haven’t heard of.
Do you have a background in photography?
I’ve taken some classes. I took a film photography class once which was really fun. What was more fun for me was the actual developing of the photos. Being in a dark room, projecting that image, testing light strips and adding filters to add more contrast. Trial and error and manual editing if you will. It’s a lot of fun going through the whole process. I want to get back into it but it’s hard to find a dark room. I don’t want to bring it to CVS and develop it, I want to do it myself. The iPhone camera got so good, I don’t use other SLRs anymore. Back when I had a blog, I used my Sony NEX a lot more. I’m thinking to start blogging again so I can use the camera more!
How do you choose your locations to shoot for your Instagram?
I like to follow a lot of local instagrammers, which is probably the fastest way I come across new places. If it’s a cute shop, the architecture looks interesting, the food looks good, I’ll grab my friends to go check these places out. A lot of times is my friend who wants to check out new places. My other friend likes to go hiking so we’ll go with her. If my instagram is too dark, I’ll go choose places are more light and airy to balance it out. I tend to like white and lighter photos.
What iPhone photo app(s) do you use and would you recommend it?
The first one I use is VSCOcam which everyone uses. I love VSCOCam – all my photos are processed through there. I also use Snapseed. You have greater control over your images or areas that you want to change or edit.
What are some tips you’d give to people who want to take awesome Insta photos?
Lots of natural light. Make sure your lines are parallel or perpendicular. In photography, you learn the rule of three, so if you drew a tic tac toe grid, and put the subject where the points intercept, it makes a better photo. It’s not always the case but it does help. My biggest trick is caring about how the entire instagram looks when someone clicks into it. The easiest way is to map that out is reflecting my VSCOgrid to look like my instagram so I can see what it’ll look like before I post it.
Follow her adventures here!!

five minutes with Tricia Ling

Super excited to introduce Tricia Ling of mydiylab - our newest sponsor of Hey Yeh! I met Tricia in college at a dumpling making party ..of course haha.. and immediately bonded over the love for our hometown, design, parties and food. We ended up hosting many events and parties together and kept in touch after college! I've been super inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit and her energy to continuously learn. 

Read on to spend 5 minutes with Tricia to find out what cool stuff she's doing and get the 20% off discount code below for some awesome goodies from her store!
My name is Tricia, and I am from Hong Kong. I graduated from Syracuse University with an Interior Design degree. After I graduated, I moved back home and worked at a vintage shop that focuses on mid-century design. I decided to quit to run an online craft supply shop called mydiylab full time.

What was it like to quit your job and start your own company? 
It was scary quitting my job. It was lurking around my mind for a while when I was still working, but you know how it is when you have a full time job. It's easy to just keep putting things off. So when I finally decided to quit, opening the shop became my first priority.
What were some things you were nervous about?
I was nervous about everything - like if I'm good enough, if I priced everything right, if the photos look OK… literally everything. The final push was when my boyfriend bought me a new mac book air to show his full support. I knew I had to start.

Before I started, I did a lot of reading. I read a couple of books about selling on etsy, and many blogs on running an online shop. Those really helped me guide my way and give me a starting point.
What is your goal for mydiylab?
I want to be able to bring a well-curated DIY supply store to my customers with a friendly price. I want my products to look modern, sharp and strong. Ultimately, I want to work from home and be able to juggle family and work life. 
What are you working on now?
In regards to mydiylab, I am expanding the collection to more than just paper products. I've been contacting a lot of vendors to test out new products and I am starting my own line of supplies. 

I've also been looking for another creative outlet outside of running the shop, and recently discovered my love for web coding. I dived in head first, and am getting better at it!
Do you have any advice for people who want to start an online shop or go freelance?
I just want to say to anyone who is thinking about it, it sounds a lot scarier than it is. There is never a better time than now. You will never be more ready than you are now.

The first leap is always difficult, so you can ease into it by starting at your full time job. Once you have a steady stream of customers and you are ready for irregular income, do it.

Use Discount Code: heyyeh at checkout for 20% off at mydiylab!