We had the good fortune of connecting with Hillary Ciccarelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hillary, how do you think about risk?
Risk is such an exciting and important factor to the life of an entrepreneur. Anyone who has ventured out of their comfort zone knows that the entrepreneurs risk can be adventurous and at the end of a long work day, fulfilling. At 18 years old I moved to Los Angeles to attend an acting conservatory American Academy of Dramatic Arts instead of attending a four year university. I would call that my first risk. I worked in fashion to support myself through school and by 21 I was working in sales with Ralph Lauren a luxury designer on Rodeo Drive. While in fashion sales, the creative outlet of painting spoke to me. My entire life, up to that point had been involved in the arts in some form. Growing up I was a ballet dancer and in high school I went into acting. I never took a painting class or attended art school, but I always loved the creative outlets with the various disciplines in the arts. As a child, I was always drawing sketches and it was something that I loved doing and always returned to. When I was working and I felt the urge to start painting, I would go to galleries and look through images of works and teach myself the artist style and learn their technique. When I started to paint, I was at first afraid to put my work out to the public, but like in a ballet performance where I had to trust that I had prepared with my company Central West Ballet, I had to trust that my work would be judged by the beholder and once finished, it was out of my control – I let go. As I practiced, I began to develop more skills and eventually created so many works everyone was calling me an artist. Taking these risks in believing in myself and following my instincts has allowed me to move forward in each stage of my career. After having two art shows in Los Angeles and given such positive reviews, I knew I wanted to grow a career as an artist. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to expand my art and have my own company. Although, I didn’t know where to start and I always thought that I needed a wealthy benefactor to have my art noticed, as I produced piece after piece, I built a community. Then Covid hit and I lost my 9-5 job like many people. I became determined to make my own company happen. I love art so much and the way it makes others feel. I noticed people love art but are not always interested in collecting it. Since I have a solid background in fashion, I thought of the idea to create clothing designed out of my artwork. I didn’t have a war chest to compete with established brands, so I thought of reasonable price points that could allow my art inspired clothing to be accessible to all women. Form and function was the goal. Another risk that I reasoned was worth a shot. The response was amazing and in a short period of time I have grown as a brand. A year into my line of art inspired leggings I’ve added accessories, swimwear and men’s clothing. In taking small risks over time, I have grown to bigger risks with greater outcomes. I encourage anyone to take a risk with their ideas and not wait for anyones approval – bet on yourself. Life can give you the outcome you are not looking for in taking risks, but it always takes you to your next thing. There is no failure because you learn, you grow and it always leads you to your next chapter.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is usually very colorful as I enjoy the unexpected. Choosing colors normally you don’t see together and then watch how it unfolds into beauty. My most popular style is to pour and not use a brush. It allows me to really use my inner emotions and have creative fluidity in my work. The more I let go and let it unfold, the better the art piece becomes. I’m most proud of these works because it has taught me to trust and not judge myself. A lesson I have learned along the way is, when a painting looks safe and pretty but I choose to paint further and mess it all up, is when the real magic happens. This carries over in all aspects of my life. Pushing myself further to what could be greater than what is safe, always ends up being worth the risk. I want people to know my brand is about art and making it available for their everyday life. Art is for everyone and I want people to know and feel apart of that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite things and places to go in LA. Hiking and being outside is one of my favorite things. I like to go to Griffith Park, Malibu, and Runyon for regular hikes. These are great to check out if you have never been to the city. I also really love the beach. I mostly go to Manhattan beach or in Malibu, Matador and Point Dume. Malibu is so beautiful and quiet, while Manhattan Beach has nice restaurants and shops. Then of course, there are many art museums. The Broad is wonderful to see, as well as, The Getty Center, LACMA, and the Hammer Museum. All are a few of my favorites. I really enjoy the Huntington Library in Pasadena. The day spent looking outside walking along gorgeous flowers, reading or having a picnic is lovely. Music is great here in the city as well. The Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre are special to me. Again, being outdoors with live music is always a great time. As for food, you must try Sugar Fish for sushi, In-N-Out if from out of state, Polo Lounge at Beverly Hills Hotel, Chateau Marmont for the LA vibe, and for yummy authentic Italian food you must eat at Osteria Mamma. For fun extra things I like bowling at Shatto 39 lanes, music and drinks at the Dresden, comedy shows at Upright Citizens Brigade, karaoke singing in K-Town, and sitting poolside at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank my hardworking single mother, Karen Ciccarelli for putting me in ballet and supporting my life in the arts. I would also like to thank my friends and other family members who have encouraged me and believed in me. Thank you as well to Kat Uyenco for recommending me for this article.
Facebook: Hillary Ciccarelli Apparel
Youtube: Hillary Ciccarelli
Kat Uyenco, Emmalie Ciccarelli, Angelique Alvarez, and Lauren Wathey.