Faces of Friday: Kaylen Ralph

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The purpose of Faces of Friday:

Faces of Friday is an interview-based series that I launched to provide readers with insight into the lives of some of the unique, inspiring, & influential people I have had the honor of meeting/ knowing. Life can take you to unexpected places and the people you will meet throughout the series are willing to share with you where their lives have taken them.

I believe that one of the most important things in this life is the connection we share with one another. Identifying with another human being is an amazing gift, and it can inspire you to learn, grow, create, and open your eyes to what the world has to offer.  We are not alone in this crazy thing called life.  Life is a beautiful thing filled with beautiful people, and not everyone gets the opportunity to share their story. I want to provide others the opportunity to share their story and I want to give you the chance to hear it, learn from it, and maybe, just maybe, identify with it. I believe wholeheartedly that we were all meant for incredible things.  I hope you enjoy reading these stories, and I hope that they touch you in some way. We are all learning to navigate life’s murky waters, why not learn from each other along the way?

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Where are you from?

Rockford, Illinois and 815 proud.

Where do you live currently?

Three blocks from Lake Calhoun in Uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Did you pursue higher education? What did you study?

I attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism and graduated with a B.J. in magazine journalism. Along the way, I realized that I was interested in the writing and publishing of many mediums and decided to pursue my Bachelor of Arts in creative non-fiction writing, as well.

What do you do for a living? Is this always what you had planned to be doing?

What I do for a living and what I do for a fulfilling life are, at this point, two separate things. However, I’m very lucky to love my “day job!” I’m a personal stylist for Anthropologie, and I spend my days working with women who have found themselves in one of the most vulnerable places there can be on this earth — the fitting room. It’s my mission to help these women dress for success, happiness and personal confidence in their daily lives. Fashion is such an exercise in self-expression and it should be the most democratic of art forms, but so often #fashion is positioned as an inaccessible fortress that only the elite and skinny can access. I call bullshit, and I love seeing other women come to that realization as well through one-on-one styling consults and personal interactions. However, even one year ago, I could not have imagined that I’d be working as a stylist professionally. In 2013, as a graduating senior in college, I co-founded The Rivetermagazine with my dear friend and collaborator Joanna Demkiewicz.

The Riveter is a longform women’s lifestyle magazine that is in print quarterly (for now) and always online (check out our brand new redesigned website and original content here!) Joanna and I started The Riveter for a very simple reason that has continuously evolved over the last three years. We were completely discouraged and disillusioned by the male-dominated industry known as “literary journalism,” and we wanted to create a publication for which women could write the kind of longform, investigate and/or narrative work that male writers and men’s magazines are recognized and recognized for often and without question. What’s evolved over the last three years is a sense of advocacy for not just our writers, but our readership and the readership we aspire to, as well. I can say this because I’ve already revealed my personal and professional love of fashion, but the glossy publications we have long accepted as the entire “women’s magazine” genre are synonymous with fashion magazines. The Riveter is a publication and brand that flips that notion on its head, literally turning a traditional women’s magazine inside-out. Literally. We prioritize the content that other women’s magazines relegate to the middle and instead lead with it. The bread and butter of our magazine is longform journalism by women, and even our department content, regardless of word count, has analysis that packs the punch of a longform piece. Our entire magazine is written and edited entirely by women, which shouldn’t be such a revolutionary thing, but it is. You’ll find that men still write most of the cover stories in women’s magazines.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, brunching, cooking, pretending my friends’ dogs are my own, traveling when I can (especially if it’s to see my sisters, watching ALL the TV (Mindy Project, all Shonda Rhimes, Broad City, Vinyl, Girls…shit I watch a lot of TV).

What are you the most passionate about?

Women achieving widespread economic and professional parity without sacrificing their personal well being in the process.

Ensuring women always have a platform from which to tell their stories and the stories of others because our collective perspective is just as powerful as our each person’s unique voice.

Making these basic goals as widespread as possible so that they don’t fall to the shoulders of a select few who burn out and give up in favor of the radical concept we call “work-life balance” as if it actually exists.

Holding women accountable to beauty standards prescribed by no one other than their damn selves.

the above pursuits are crushing and debilitating.

My girlfriends.

Men who help women with all of the above and are kind and forgiving when the overwhelming pressure of

Pizza & wine.

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What is your personal mantra?

I dream hard/ I work hard/ I grind ‘til I own it….wait…might have heard that somewhere.

Has life taken unexpected turns? And if so what were they?

Life has been one big adventure ever since I moved to Minneapolis two years ago. I’ve made the most amazing friends and have found myself in such a variety of professional situations. Every day is a school day, and I’m always front row, ready to learn.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

In high school I was obsessed with packing my schedule full of activities. Ever since I was in the fourth grade, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and was pretty prescriptive with participating in activities that would help me achieve that goal (I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls, ok?) Then one day, my dad sat me down and told me that if I continued to be too busy filling the pages of my (life) story, it’d be so too tightly written for me to ever read it back to myself. I don’t know if he got that metaphor from somewhere or if, in his infinite wisdom, came up with it on the spot, but I have never forgotten it and, 10 years later, still find myself attempting to find those breaks in the pages.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Listen to your dad.