We had the good fortune of connecting with Kandace Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kandace, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
There are a many great quotes and sayings out there but one that resonates with me is this by Princess Diana: “I don’t go by a rule book. I lead from the heart not the head.” Its very true, if your heart is not in it I don’t think you will go far. As an artist i have to feel it in my heart when i work and create. Many times i get people raising their eyebrows and have concerns… I always tell them , trust me you’ll love it . I feel it in my heart and nothing is more satisfying when you get feedback from your clients appreciating and in awe what you’ve done for them.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As regards my art…I guess we need to go back to the beginning. It all started with art school. I went to Otis College of Art and Design. I started out in the fashion program and jumped ship my senior year to the fine arts program to study photography; my final art show in 2009 is where I merged the two together for the first time. This was the start of my painted horse series. After Otis, I got a taste of the “starving artist“ lifestyle, working three jobs at once, all the while hoping to follow my heart and do more with my art. Wanting to expand and grow my craft, I decided to add an additional skill-set to my repertoire. Off I went to Aveda Institute of Los Angeles to study Cosmetology. Doing hair felt good and seemed to be right up my alley as it involved being creative and working with people. Upon graduating from Aveda, I was still working odd jobs to stay afloat, but the art world was calling to me to take my talents and go out on my own. Meanwhile, my labradoodle baby, Murphy, was getting older and needed more attention from me. This is where SwingDoorStudio was born. I wanted to create a place where I could showcase all of my artistry — the designer, the photographer and the hair dresser — under one roof and be able to work near my aging dog as well. So I began building a studio. It was a lengthy process with quite a few challenges throughout. Even after a few years now of being in business, the artist in me never rests. I’m constantly maintaining and upgrading the studio to keep her looking her best. I need my space to be open and airy, where my clients and I can feel inspired and relaxed at the same time, where we’re surrounded by nature. The freedom of being able to switch between different facets of my profession allows me the ability to keep the passion for each. The artistic approach permeates everything I do and sets me apart from others. I’m proud that I’m not a one trick pony. On multiple occasions I have been honored to be the dress designer, the hairstylist AND the photographer. I am most inspired and fulfilled when I get to combine my skills and vision through the entire process. Challenges always appear; there’s no easy way to it. You have to trust yourself and go for it. Do what you love to do. Focus on your work and the reward will follow. I will leave you with a fun quote by the late great Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland “You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret: All the best people are.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love having visitors. I love sharing and showing off this beautiful place I am oh-so-lucky to call home. I live in what’s known as the South Bay, in the delightful pocket of Redondo Beach. It’s a wonderfully diverse beach community, and my friend and I would take full advantage of its natural offerings: the salty breezes, the sandy beaches and the wildlife that are right out my door. Birds are flying overhead, diving in the ocean or running along the seashore. Seeing the mammals of the sea is always a thrill. The dolphins, seals and whales are true treasures. I’d love to get out there and get active on the beautiful beach with my visitors. We’d get into something fun. Beach volleyball, acro-yoga, even a simple beach walk are all invigorating and inspiring experiences. We would have to do some paddle boarding, surfing or maybe a nice long beach bike ride up to Marina Del Rey. Food is spectacular all over LA and most certainly in the South Bay. So many great options! When at the beach, it’s always delicious and fun to have a local breakfast burrito or a homemade sandwich, hit up a taco truck or get a mouthwatering beach burger. We’d have to get out and about, though, because I’m a girl who loves to show off the entire LA experience. I’d take the guest down to Long Beach and spend a night on the Queen Mary. She’s gorgeous, has great food and is a treasured piece of history. When you step onboard you take a step back in time. Spending a night with The Queen is lovely and a tad spooky in all the right ways. Just a great time! There is so much to do in LA, but a few things we would not miss are The Getty Villa and strolling through its beautiful grounds while sipping a gourmet coffee. The Hollywood Bowl is spectacular and we’d have to find something to see there. Also, a night of dancing at El Floridita is always a blast. Maybe we would hit up the burlesque show at La Descaarga one night and get dressed to the nines and go to historic and beautiful Santa Anita Race Track the next afternoon. A morning tea at legendary Langham Hotel is always a treat, and then we would head over to the Rose Bowl swap meet and engage in an enchanting treasure hunt. There is so much to do here, and there’s nothing better than sharing it all with a best friend!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My strongest support has always come from my family; I am lucky to have a big and loving team in my corner. Through life’s up and downs they have been there cheering me on, picking me up, slapping the dust off, pushing me to keep moving forward. The women in my life have really been the force behind my success, and certainly my unwillingness to give up. It started with my Grandmother, a woman very much ahead of her time, who used her grit to push through life’s hardships and fight for what she wanted. Her tenacious drive was happily passed down to my two leading ladies, my mother Kim and my Auntie Robin. Both have always been in my corner, teaching and guiding me with love and support. They, along with my three sisters, have been the backbone to my strength, my rocks in difficult times, and glorious revelers in times of celebration. So my shout-out goes to family the leading ladies in our lives.
Kandace Wilson – SwingDoorStudio Tony Tran photography